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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Saturday

Attempting to order my vegetable seeds online this evening and I keep getting a server error which is most unsatisfactory.  The first time, I had entered the WHOLE ORDER and when I tried to send it - failure!  After that I tried a few items at a time, adding them to my shopping cart, and although all those attempts also failed, they weren't quite as gut wrenching as that first one! Lots of typing on this blessed laptop has gone to waste this evening, grrr!

However it was a nice day with a surprise lunch with my nephew and his new girlfriend and my parents and my son!  We went for a pub lunch.  It was nice to see the cousins visiting (my son and nephew), and it is always so apparent that mom and dad enjoy their family interludes to the max.  I know that both of them will be thinking back on today's lunch for several days.

This afternoon I shoveled several wheelbarrows full of composted horse manure over to the garden.  It was pleasant work in the sunshine, although it was chilly, the cold made the job easier because the ground is frozen solid.  It took a bit of chipping through the frozen surface of the compost heap to get things started, but once broken through it was easy digging and I attracted a chirpy cluster of little birds who wanted at the unearthed fresh ground.

That was my daily workout since I didn't get to the swimming pool today.  That is on the agenda for tomorrow morning.  First thing or else the odds of it happening diminish rapidly!


Friday, 1 January 2016

2016 Begins!

Tonight I feel like the Christmas season is now over.  Just came home from a visit to the young son's place over New years eve which we celebrated with a steak and prawn combined effort and resources supper followed by a game of Monopoly, shared with neighbors.  That was the final Holiday Season Happening on our calendar and now we can return to regular eating habits and sleep patterns.

It was a great holiday time spread over a couple of week period of family and friends getting together - lots of laughs and food and cheer. Music and a puzzle.  Sing a longs.   Skype calls with distant folks.  Cards and lunches and crackers and cheeses.  Our parents.    My kids and their loved ones.  Many dogs.  Guitars and a mandolin.  Family photos.  A sprinkling of snow, though not on Christmas day. Some freezing grey days where it rained non stop, but many days when the sun shone in a cloudless sky, and I worked out in the garden on those days, turning my face to the sun to enjoy its presence fully!

One of the raised beds is now planted with some lettuce, choys, kale and swiss chard with a mini hoophouse cover on it.  We'll see if that actually grows in the dead of winter.  I have continued my efforts to expand the garden within the fenced area we made last spring.  I have been laying heavy cardboard over the grass and overing it with a layer of soil, some of it was compost dug from the second horse manure pile left by the previous owners of the place and msome of it was soil from the existing garden area.  The compost pile is difficult to access when the ground gets saturated as the wheelbarrow tire just sinks in.  I laid boards out and ran along them which worked but was hard to keep the barrow on the boards and had a couple of spills, which were frustrating.

I dug up and replanted some of the onions that were seeded in 2014, then transplanted in 2015.  They have grown, mulitplied into tight clusters which can be broken up into several small clumps to plant.    
They were good cut for green onion last year, but still not showing signs of turning into big onions. But the lovely purple blooms were loved by the bees, so i planted some small clumps along each fenceline.

This growing season wil be the first Garden of Eatin' garden for market!  I am excited to see where that project goes this year. Ahead lies possibility and surprise and opportunity in every area of all of our lives.  I hope 2016 is good to us all!

Friday, 11 December 2015

I'm a Better Gardener Than Blogger!


And just like that I am back at the blog.

Apparently I am a better gardener than blogger, but I hope to write more in the new year.

The 2015 garden was a smashing success, with some huge yields of tomatoes, beans, butternut squash, patty-pan squash and carrots, and beets, and garlic - the list goes on and on.

A daily haul from the garden this summer
 


Next year it will be gardening with a purpose in mind as I have plans to sell at the farmer's market and have a long list of people interested in buying fresh veggies from me, so I am pretty excited by that. 

To that end I have been making a very long list of seeds to order, and I'll be finalizing and sending that in soon.

Now, my attention turns to Christmas.  Starting this weekend there are events, dinners, and family visits planned that will fill our days.  Only one more week of work left, then we are off for two weeks!  Since it's been so warm I may get a few days in the garden to continue extending the beds and adding compost in preparation for spring.

 

Last weekend, digging composted horse manure for the garden
 

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Potting Up



This week more of the seedlings started in the IGG have been potted ready to take home.  The Red Bull Horn Peppers and Butternut Squash plants were all large enough to transplant and make room for more lettuce and herbs in the IGG.

Chuckles Dad came by and took about half of each variety home with him for his garden in Pemberton, which is great, since I planted too many of each and was wondering how large this years garden would actually have to be to accommodate all the plants I have started!

I still have a dozen Ancho pepper plants in the IGG, they are much behind these fast growing pepper cousins of theirs! 

Also, sprouting in the IGG are four kinds of lettuce and a whole tray of basil - want to make at least twice as much pesto this year as well as drying a whole lot more of it, I am almost out of my dried basil and it is to die for, it is so tasty.

Two weeks ago I transplanted the cabbage and kale started in the IGG into the garden and put one of the hoop covers overtop, they seem to be thriving.  Beside them I have put a couple of rows of snap peas, seeded right into the ground and a row of ....something else...luckily I did write this down in my Garden Book, but I don t have that here with me right now.  I think it was some of the Choi seeds.

And, the cut up sprouting potatoes from the fridge have now emerged from the ground so we will have a little taste of fresh spuds in a couple of months. 

I am off to the island this weekend with Bogey to visit young son and his little menagerie of dogs, cat and chickens.  I hope the weather is good, I am taking my camera and my wetsuit and hope to get a little photography and boogie boarding in with the kids!



Thursday, 2 April 2015

The Orchard is In!

The orchard is in!



Last weekend I moved the two pear trees that we planted on the lawn, and besides being in the way for mowing the grass, they weren't really in the best spot for sunlight.

Behind the old riding ring is the most productive of the three apple trees on our property, so I lined up the two pear trees with that apple tree, all about 16 ft apart.

Once that was done, I was enthusiastic to finish the job, so I dug two more holes on the other side of the apple tree, then went to the local nursery and got a cherry tree and an apple tree.


The cherry is an Aaron variety which is self-pollinating, and the apple tree is a graft with Jonagold, Spartan, Royal Gala and Fuji branches on it, so it also self-pollinates. 



Self-pollinating is kind of misleading, as the bees are still needed to do the work, but with many fruit trees, another tree of the same fruit but different variety that blooms at the same time, is required to be nearby in order that cross-pollination takes place.  Because I wasn't sure what the apple trees are that we have, nor the cherry trees, I thought it would be best to choose varieties that don't depend on another tree for cross-pollination to occur.

I fed them with lots of the composted manure, so fingers crossed that they all take off!


This week I potted all the tomatoes that were started in the IGG and they are going home to the hoop houses today.  I seeded basil and four varieties of lettuce in the trays that were vacated. 
 

 

 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Composting



Another busy weekend in the rear view mirror, where does time disappear to?

We had overnight guests, a funeral to attend, friends in for lunch,  dinner out with friends one night, then an unexpected trip up to Merritt to pick up my parents, but it all fit in somehow, as it always does. 
Inside the hoop house you can see the kale growing with it's frilly leaves.  I added more Endive and Lettuce to this bed.
 



I had two garden related activities that I really wanted to accomplish -  number one was to get some more endive, lettuce and peas planted out in the raised beds that have the hoop covers on them.   Done!

Our kitchen compost barrel was full to the brim about a month ago, and my handyman Chuckles made us a new one so that we could alternate them.  The old one (blue one) has been sitting on the ground for a month now, being rolled over each weekend to keep on stirring the contents.


The blue barrel, ready to be emptied, the new white one is on the stand behind.

 






Lovely rich worm filled compost ready for spreading.  All from kitchen scraps!
 

So number two garden chore on my list was to get this barrel emptied and spread the contents onto the gardens.  So, after having dinner with Mom and Dad at their place Monday evening, I went home and in the semi-darkness of dusk, and in the pouring rain I dug about two-thirds of the contents out of the blue barrel, into a wheel barrow and distributed it around all the flower beds in the yard around the house.  It felt good to get that much done, and I love my garden time, light or dark, rain or sun. 

Admittedly,  I like it more in the sunshine, but I will take it however I can get it!

A little about my kitchen composting -

We have been composters for many years.  Now many cities include kitchen compost in their regular recycling pick up, but we would never give this valuable stuff away!

On my counter I keep a fairly large plastic bucket with a good lid, into which goes all peelings, eggs shells, coffee grounds and filters, unbleached paper products and seeds, pits, leftover veggies, etc.  Never any meat products, bones, fat or anything of animal origin. 

Every day or two, I empty this into the big barrel shown in the pictures above.  The barrel in use has a metal bar through it, so it rests on the metal stand, and can be easily rotated.  Most times when I dump my kitchen bucket, I give the big barrel a spin, to keep everything mixed together. 

It's amazing how much veggie matter we generate!

We alternate the two barrels, so one can rest, fully compost and get emptied onto the gardens as we are filling up the other one, then we switch them, so every 6 months we have a fresh batch of compost to spread.  This amends the soil beautifully, and when it's ready for spreading it is full of fat worms ready to get to work in the beds.






Thursday, 19 March 2015

Gardening is Cheaper Than Therapy

 
 
Tomorrow is the first day of spring officially, although here in the lower mainland of BC spring has been with us for a month or more!

I thought I should post you some new pics of the progress of the indoor Growlight Garden (IGG) and the mini hoop houses .

The IGG on March 3rd
 


The IGG on March 11th
 
These three photos I took this morning:

Closest tray is scallopini squash and roma tomatoes

Left tray is cabbage and peppers, right tray scallopini
and tomatoes
Peppers just germinating now, left tray compared to scallopini
squash in the right tray.
 
In order of germination I have started: cabbage, scallopini squash, early girl and roma tomatoes, ancho peppers and red horn peppers, and butternut squash.

It is obvious to me that I am going to want to transplant at least some of these seedlings into pots (peat pots?) soon as there is a real disparity in the heights of the different plants, and ideally I want to keep the grow lights about 10cm above the plants to discourage leggy growth. 

But since some of the plants (cabbages and squashes) are so tall already, and the red horn and ancho peppers only just germinated this past week,  10 cm above the squashes is a good 20 cm above the peppers!





























I also  noticed some very tiny white bugs two weeks ago, on the damp matting beneath each tray of plants.  They get quite agitated when the tray is removed and they are exposed to the light.  We looked at them through a magnifying glass (they are super tiny things) and then I Googled and found out that they are Springtails.  Called this because they have a hinged body with a powerful tail that propels them quite far, even these tiny ones we have are good jumpers!  Interestingly enough, much of the info I found initially was on marijuana growing blogs!






Magnified juvenile Springtail
 


I took the matting out of the IGG, washed it with really hot water, then dried it thoroughly, then put it back.  Since then, there have been very few Springtails, and I have been checking and squashing them daily, although by all accounts they don't really cause harm.  I am curious as to how they originated, it has to be from a) the peat pellets I put the seeds in b) the potting mixture I put aroung the peat pellets in the trays, c) the seeds themselves, but this seems quite unlikely or d) the matting that came with the IGG (also seems unlikely).

I have not taken a super recent photo of the hoop house interiors, it's been about 3 weeks.

Hoops were left open one day to expose to sunshine and fresh air

I am disappointed that the lettuce and endive did not germinate, so I plan to put more in this weekend.  I think the soil dried out a bit too much, which I didn't think would happen since the beds were wet when I covered them, and the interior of the hoop plastic always has lots of condensation on it.  I have watered them a couple of times, to no avail.  Maybe when I am there this weekend, I will find that they have finally sprouted.







Peas inside hoop house


Of course the peas are going like gangbusters, but they are doing the same in the bed that doesn't have a hoop over it, although I did protect it for the first few weeks with a sheet of corrugated clear plastic.   Now it is just totally exposed.








Peas in bed with no hoop house
 


The kale is now about 2-3 inches tall with the first of its frilly leaves. 



I have tilled the garden bed once, but I need to scrape off the grassy surface of the areas that I want to convert to garden this season.  I tried just hacking through it with the tiller, but besides being very difficult and hard work, it only results in a lot of grass roots being broken up and mixed into the soil which will lead to more work (weeding) soon.

We plan to fence the garden this season as well as expanding it.  It was pure providence that no little critters disturbed it last year, no bunnies, no deer, quite amazing! 



Garden Plan
 
The garden plan was laid out in February, shown here.  It has already been somewhat modified, and probably will be again before everything is planted.

I am going to try some companion planting to see how that works out this season, and I am especially excited about the corn/pole beans/squash combo, as the beans grow up the corn stalks.  But, do they choke the corn and stop it from producing I wonder? 

I am not going to subject all my corn to this just in case!

 
 I saw a cutesy sign in a home d├ęcor shop last night out walking Bogey, it said:

Gardening is cheaper than therapy - and you get tomatoes!