Saturday, August 5, 2017

When your Garden Bolts

It's mid-summer & it's hot & dry.

What do your gardens do? They bolt. The plants all decide that it's time to send up flower stalks & produce seed for next season.

All before you are able to harvest & eat them while they are still tender, sweet leafy greens...

Can be disappointing & frustrating.

The lettuce I managed to cut right back & have many large fresh salads before they bolted. The roots, which were left in the ground regrew fresh plants, which have now taken off & started to put up their flower stalks. When lettuce does this, it turns bitter. I want to see if I can save some of the seeds for next year, but lettuce seeds are very small & it might be more a pain than rewarding effort. But I must try everything at least once my quest at gaining Mad Gardening Skills...

 The cilantro I am letting go to seed on purpose so I can harvest some coriander for use this winter. Might save some of the seed to put out next spring & hopefully the plant will self-seed & I can have some fresh cilantro growing this fall before the frosts hit!

But it looks a mess with the peas & tomatoes in the back going a bit insane.

 The mustard blend I seeded also bolted in magnificent fashion. This is what's left after I pulled out half the patch a week or so ago.

I have since removed them all & planted other things in this place.

Mustards are a cool weather plant that would prefer to grow in spring or early fall. Will try them again in September when the rains return.

And the pac choi - yup - another cool weather plant that would have preferred to wait til the fall to be seeded.

I had high hopes of harvesting some of the plants before they bolted, but these things happen in a matter of days (felt like hours in my garden).

So they have also been removed to allow room for something else to grow during these remaining weeks of summer.

Let's hope that what is still left in the gardens does not become revolting by bolting before we can enjoy eating some of them...

Friday, August 4, 2017

Growing Figs

When we moved in & started to rescue the gardens & the plants that had been neglected for so long, we discovered a fig tree planted in the front North East side of lawn.

Wrong place for a fig - requires lots of sun & heat & would more than likely prefer a pot (although that is currently being discussed).

So we dug it up & moved it to the back gardens - full Southern exposure - into a large pot & have been carefully tending it back to health.

There are lots of small fruit on it this year. I'm not sure how big they will get (being in a pot might indeed be a factor) & I'm not sure if they will indeed ripen.

Fig research is interesting - 2 crops in one year & in our climate, the 2nd crop might not ripe as it is later in the season... I don't know... I'll keep doing research & I know there is a neighbour down the street that has a fig planted in their yard (southern exposure) & I like to look at it when out for a walk. It looks very healthy...Maybe we can compare notes next season to see about the best option for growing them in our climate.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Summer Blooms - Part 2

 The sweet peas are finally blooming & bring such a sweet smell indoors with small bouquets tucked here & there.
 The calendula & borage plants are running wild & filling this space with such a flurry of bees & hummingbirds... it's a good place to sit at the end of the work day.
 I try to get up-close & personal with my plants. Really take a good look at them, see how they are put together, how they work with each other in the garden space, what's happening down at the soil surface? Do they enjoy being neighbours with each other?
 Wild plants have a place in our gardens too. I did pick up an ornamental St. John's Wort, which is now just flowering & it is so different than the wild wort - I like these small, crazy clusters of flowers & will move the ornamental variety to a place where it can be appreciated better than within the wilds of my back garden.
The beginning of the berry patch is now starting to take off - with poppies! The crab apple is fruiting very nicely & the gooseberry has been harvested & just eaten fresh. We shall see what happens here next year as I want to expand with maybe raspberries or tuck in some squash or who knows?!
Letting my hair down in the middle of the veggie bed after a long day of work. How do you communicate with your plants?

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Summer Blooms

 There is just something about the sun shining through flowers that I love at this time of year.

Our back garden is such a peaceful place for us right now & one of my favorite things to do is sit at the edge of the gardens & look up & into my plants.

Borage brings feelings of nostalgia when I get to grow it. The plants I have this year are extremely productive - the bees are just thick around them & I'm harvesting some of the flowers to dry for winter teas. Not sure if they will add much in flavour, but they'll remind me of the plants from the summer.

Trying to capture a bee on any flower is always a challenge & we've noticed that there are so many different bees out this year. Feels good to see the variety & know that we are helping the insects in our neighbourhood.

Hmm... wouldn't it be an interesting challenge to learn about having our own bee hive? Lots of people are doing this in our area as we know there is a Bee Keepers Club & seminars & supplies.

Maybe something to look into a few years down the road...

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Aphids are Here!

The black aphids have hit again! I decided to grow nasturtiums in the veggie bed as an 'aphid trap' & it seems to be working.

Now, I know aphids are part of the system & in order to bring in the insects that eat them, I have to let some of the live to feed these predator insects, but after a week of watching the aphids get thicker & thicker on the nasturtiums, I had to pull them out & compost them.

There are other plants with aphids that are not in the veggie bed - borage has been hit & it's beside the rose bush - which is wonderfully free of aphids.

I just seem to have a lot of tiny ants that love to farm these aphids, so I'm wondering what I can do to discourage these industrious insect farmers...

This year we have so many insects in the garden that I'm not going to get too worried about total infestation or possible loss of product (honestly, I'm mostly growing flowers this year as I was so late in putting the veggie bed together). I know next year will see a whole new population of insects - new varieties & different timing in their populations.

For now, I'll monitor the aphids & hope that the lady bugs will join the crowds in the flowers

Monday, July 31, 2017

Garden Companions

I have two small furry companions that enjoy hanging with me in the garden - on most days...

Spook likes to hide under the tall leafy plants in the heat of the day or when the birds see her & start chirping loud warnings that annoy her (& us).

She loves to be with me when I'm planting things too. Fresh dug dirt & a nice hole are a couple of her favorite play areas & if I try to shoo her away, I get attacked for my efforts.

So far this year, she has kept the vole population down & only yesterday, she finally (that I'm aware of) ate one of her kills - a wee sparrow. As much as I don't want her catching & eating birds, I would prefer her to show me her catches & I can either give them back to her or remove them for proper disposal.

Bugs this year have managed to avoid being part of her diet. Although the summer heat is still gearing up & we are just now starting to see grasshoppers... I guess I'm lucky that she is a carnivore & doesn't eat my veggies... unlike the dog...

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Broccoli Harvest Again

It is starting to feel like a jungle in the garden & sometimes you walk by a plant a couple of times before realizing what it is doing. Or how it is growing.

Or how it really wants to be harvested!

The broccoli are wanting to flower, so I harvested another 3 heads.

They are not very large, which is fine considering I had to harvest all 3 at once. We are enjoying the crunchy stalks & how sweet they are. Almost better eating than the crowns!

I can see some of the side shoots are starting to grow & will be perfect for stir fry dishes or on a raw veggie platter (which is how we are preferring our veggies right now).

Looking forward to seeing how many more cuts we can get before the plants go completely wild & flower.