Saturday, May 27, 2017

May flowers

Spring may be a few weeks late, but it is coming on like a mother! Most of the bulbs are up and the tulips are blooming like crazy.

I've had my first go at squaring up the hedge and knocking back so we have a bit more room in the driveway.

The rhubarb is also growing like crazy. I've been lopping the seed heads off and we've been harvesting to make another batch of rhubarb wine.

Both apple trees are in full flower. I am hopeful we'll get a good crop this year. I would like to dry more apples for winter eating. The blossoms survived the insane wind storm we had (with the power out for five hours).

We finally finished planting out the flowers we grew from seed this year. Jess is now tall enough to plant the window box below her room.

 The strawberries are also blooming, hopefully with the promise of spring fruit.

 We're also seeing the early lilacs are blooming.

The Canada 150 tulips Jenn was keen on have also come up. An interesting bit of breeding but a touch underwhelming. We'll be touring the neighbourhood this week to pull together some Front yards in Bloom nominations for the gardening club.

More exciting is that the potatoes are up and are jumping each day. I've been weeding the back bed with a vengeance to try to get the bell flower under control this year.

We also put on a new wine kit to cook this week. It is fermenting away in the basement. I'm currently freezing rhubarb until we have enough to make wine with. Probably about the time we rack off the red we have going.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Flowering shrubs and retaining wall

With most of the garden planted, we spent much of this week admiring the flowing shrubs. The alpine currant hedge we have on the south side of the yard has such understated blooms that you can miss them if you don't look carefully.

That is less of a problem with the Saskatoon bushes which have a nice early showing before getting down to work making berries.

About the only thing to come up in the yard this week was the early planting of beets. Good old reliable beets!

We walked around the neighbourhood a lot this week and the edge of the valley has lots in bloom. I can't recall what this bush produces. I'd guess soap berries.

 The crab apple trees are also in full bloom (regular apples seem a touch behind).

The cherries are almost done as are whatever these pretty blossoms are.

The MayDay trees are really going great guns (albeit several week later than last year!). The grape-y smell is lovely.

We've also seem the raspberry bushes fill out.

About 15 year ago I built a small retaining wall in the back yard to hep level the ground out. It needed replacement and was on my list of things to do this fall. Unfortunately, the east-west part of the wall that keeps the potato bed off the path gave out on Wednesday.

So I pulled the old wood out and replaced it. I've left the near end uneven so I can interlace the north-south part of the wall when I get around to replacing it this fall. I have a bit more clean up to do on this today and then some weeding.

I noticed the red elder berry on my evening walk is also about to bloom. I've made a yucky jelly from the berries before but I hear you can make a delicious syrup from the blossoms. I'll see how ambitious I get in the next week.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spring flowers and more planting

Spring seems to have finally arrived and we decided to plant the tomatoes. All of the blush and the crimson sprinter tomatoes we seeded came up and I managed to avoid cooking them while I hardened them off (like last year...). So we plunked them in along with some starters we picked up at Apache (some roma and early girl and beefsteak).

The garlic came up quite suddenly last week and has really jumped ahead. The onions are also now peeking above ground.

We still have a bed in the back where I'm making a determined effort to eradicate the purple bell flower. This stuff is a nightmare. After literally years of fighting it, we're getting the upperhand. But the picture below shows what we're up against: there was 1 inch of growth above ground and 11 or more inches of root (gardening knife is 12 inches of scale).

Only in really loose soil is this kind of extraction possible. In heavier clay, I'm basically stuck topping it and hoping to starve out the tuber. In happier news, the oregano is back and seems to have spread over the winter.

Along with the tomato starts, we also picked up a tomatillo and hot pepper plant. Jess was keen to plant. I questioned her wardrobe choice ("I'm glam-ting!") and, after getting snagged on the black raspberry canes, she saw my point.

The raspberry hedge we put in along the north side of the property is coming up very nicely this year. I'm hopeful we'll get enough to make lots of jam as we ran out this winter).

The peas have come up so we planted the pole beans in behind them to get two crops from this trellis this year.

We're also starting to see the flowering shrubs start. This crab apple tree is one I pass on my daily walk.

Our efforts to move this tulip tarde have only been partly successful and it came up in the back veggy bed again (really thickly) so we'll pull these out when the leaves die back and move more around to plant among the irises.

Rain has kept us inside today but we'll be back out putting on some annual flowers and herbs. Our efforts to grow musk melons were a bust (second year nothing happened so we bought a watermelon start and planted it in the back.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Spring seems to be here for real this time. The perennials (like the day lilies below) are up and jumped a couple of inches in the heat of the past few days.

While we waited for the soil to warm a bit, I dug out one of the compost bins. Amazing how organic debris breaks down and gives you... spoons. I have scheduled a refresher on what you can compost and what you can't for the next staff meeting.

The wheelbarrow of stuff I dug out made some nice additions to the beds that I'm building on top of a huge pile of clay from the foundation dig seven years ago. We then planted a bunch of walla-walla shoots.

Jess also puts in 40 or so potato plants after I loosened the soil I touch. We went with more purple caribe, a russet variant, and a yellow boiling potato.

It is interesting to poke around in last year's debris. I found this Roma and was surprised to see the colour change in the skin over the winter. Very striking against the greys and browns.

The storage onions we put in more than a month ago have started to jump up out front. No sign of the last fall's garlic yet.

The bird house we bought for Jenn last mother's day has tenant (chickadees). Hard to get a good shot with my camera and zooming. The best I could do is this one (you can see the chickadee launching itself out of the house--pardon the distortions through the three panes of glass).

The rhubarb is up. We were drinking some of last year's rhubarb wine and quite enjoying it last night. I think we'll do this again this year. We plants the carrots, turnips, and zucchini yesterday. It looks like the radishes self-seeded last year n one bed so we'll just leave them.

I need to uncover the soil in the corn bed to let it warm up a touch over the week. There is also some early weeding to do.

The good news is that the bulbs are starting t come on. This daf was the first to flower but the tulips should follow shortly. The greening up of the shrubs has bee fast enough to almost watch it happen.