Saturday, October 30, 2010

Finally a 'Success Story'

Well, I could wait no longer - the tomatoes had to come out of the greenhouse so that I could put the raised bed into 'winter mode'. But, I'm very pleased with this year's 'Experiment' & in over-coming my 'Challenge' in growing tomatoes!!
This is what my tomato plants looked like back in the middle of the month - still lots of 'maters, some starting to ripen & others just hanging out. I drastically reduced the amount of water they received - actually, due more to forgetfullness rather than an actual strategy... I would get out there about twice a week to keep my husband in a steady supply of fresh 'maters. (Lesson to remember: do not go on a life-style change that requires you to give up tomatoes for 6 weeks when you have tomatoes coming out your ears...)

In the lower left of the photo is my little patch of winter lettuce - a 'Garden Experiment' that I hope is successful as I don't really like having to go back to store bought greens. We'll see what happens over the next few months.
This is my final harvest result. Lots of green 'maters & I think I'll scour the internet (Epicurious is a great place to find all sorts of recipes) for something to do with them all. They don't ripen very nicely when picked this green - at least these ones don't.

So, after I riped out the plants & dumped them onto my outdoor veggie beds for winter compost, I dug up the bed, add some more soil & manure from the pots I used up on my deck & am trying yet another 'Garden Experiment' for the winter. I planted my left-over peas & some broad beans in here - with the aim of using them them as a green fertilizer/mulch. They will boost the nitrogen in the soil (essential after the heavy feeding tomatoes) & come the spring, will be dug into the soil for further composting.

Now, I know you are wondering about the newsprint - yes, it's coloured (a no-no, but beggars can't be choosers) & it's on top of the soil instead of used as a layer under the newly added soil - but it's only 1 sheet thick & will very quickly break down while keeping any mystery seeds from sprouting in the newly dug up soil. The peas & beans will take a bit longer to sprout & should they do so before the newsprint is melted, than it's easy to remove or just rip a hole for the seedling to emerge. I'll be adding more through-out the winter season anyway...

I've noticed the greenhouse leaks along the peak of the roof - so although I will water at least once a week - things in there get a little more water than I really want them to get during the winter. I'll have to monitor the pots of rosemary & tarragon (as I'd like the herbs to remain on the dry side) & the pots of cuttings (random shrubs - forgot to label them - typical!) and my cuttings of my scented geraniums.

These are my cute little lettuce seedlings. I didn't start them indoors this fall because I was leaving for 2 weeks at the end of September & asking my husband to water those as well as the greenhouse was asking just a bit too much. I need to get a watering can with a sprinkler nozzle - using a yogurt container leaves holes in the soil & disturbs the seedlings too much. Learned that one the hard way...

Back up in photo #3 on the lower right you can see my gladiola bulbs. I riped as many of those out of the ground as I could last week sometime. They are almost dried & ready to be stored for the winter. I'm not really too sure if my garden experiment with glads worked or not (leave them in the ground for the winter versus dig them up each fall) - this year was wet spring followed by dry summer followed by wet fall.... Since I wasn't actually digging the bulbs up with a tool - just pulling on the stalks, there are still some in the ground. I'll try to monitor the glads next year when I find all new homes for the healthy looking bulbs...

Happy Halloween - remember to compost your pumpkin!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Autumn Flowers

Have I yet mentioned that Autumn is my favourite season? Well, it is - even with the cooler nights, the unexpected (& devistating frosts), the return of the rainy season & the slow death of the greenery.... I do miss the colours of the leaf changes that I grew up with back in Ontario though. And the smells associated with Autumn back home - rich, rotting leaves, the funky fungi smell in the woods, the fresh, sweet smells of hay being cut for drying & bailing, the earthy, punget smells of manure being spread & fresh tilled fields...

So it was so wonderful to come home and see some of my flowers still blooming in this mid-Autumn time of year. Some places have gotten snow (a couple times already) while other places are just starting their entry into the season. I hope ours lasts a few weeks longer - especially now that the frosts have already hit, almost a month early!!

Here are a few photos of my Autumn flowers:

Calendula are such easy & wonderful flowers to grow!

Calendula bring many wonderful pollinators to the gardens

My fushias from last year are still blooming!

Helenium with a hollyhock spider (the little white guy)

My one hollyhock to return decided to lie down to bloom late this year.

Mmmmm - loganberries still to be found!

'Moonraker' Cape Fushia putting on a second bloom. Deer ignored this plant - yay!

A surprise gift of blooming gladiolas!


Greenhouse tomatoes still going strong.

My white hydrangea from behind.
The only 'Autumn Joy' sedum plant the deer left me this year.

I've returned to my love affair of marigolds & so have the bees.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Shocking New View(s) - one Month Later

Well, it's been one month since the front ditch was completely cleared by the Highways Department.

I wrote the following in my comments section of the original "Shocking New View(s)" post:

Ok - so the game plan has been altered already. I'm planting Photinia - a red-tipped ever green shrub that can be trimmed to produce a hedge. The new growth comes out in red & then matures to dark green. Since red is one of my structural colours, this will do very well in the front. I will try to get some forsythia later in the month for some extra hits of colour & am on the hunt for a blood-red rhododendron at the corners.

The escalonia might be reserved for the back hedging as it's got pink flowers & there is too much pink in the front already.

Oh - and trying to jam a cutting 3 feet down is next to impossible - I was lucky to get down a foot & a half having my husband use a piece of re-bar. Lots of rocks along that front edge...

Now I'm on the hunt for sword ferns...

It's a bit tough to see the actual cuttings that are jammed into the ground, but they seem to be doing well. We've had rain & now we are having sunshine again. Am hoping that they will take so that in the spring I can feed them & get their first year going proper.

I've found a source for my sword ferns - just need to boat over & help dig them up. Am crossing my fingers that the weather will remain relatively nice for the next week or 2.

Friday, October 15, 2010

My Green Thumb - Tales of a West Coast Gardener - Fall 2010 Article

This article is now published in the Barkley Sound Community Journal - The West Island Quarterly.

Confessions of a Garden Addict

Every morning, with my cup of coffee in one hand & the computer mouse in the other, I explore the world of internet gardening. While the dew is still damp on the grass & flowers, I can share horror stories of what the deer have done, find out the name of a new bug, garner techniques in growing heirloom veggies, swap seeds & in general connect with other addicts just like me… All before the end of my coffee & the start of my day.

I’ve recently connected with the ‘Dirty Girls’ in Skagway, Alaska. There’s a garden coach down in Oregon, a few hard-core gardeners on the mainland & all the way back to Ontario. I’m a member of a garden community that spans the globe & I’ve learned so much over the last few months, I really need to keep better notes on my own yard.

During one of my morning sessions, a web-gardener shared a list of symptoms to help one figure out if they are truly a Garden Addict. I’ve modified some of them slightly to make them my own & for local flavour.

You Know You’re Addicted to Gardening When…
  • you have to wash your hair to get your fingernails clean
  • you talk ‘dirt’ over dinner or while fishing or anytime/anywhere
  • when considering your budget, plants & garden supplies they are more important than groceries or clothes
  • you can give away plants easily, but compost is another thing
  • your form of relaxing after a full day of work is to spend 2 hours weeding the flower & veggie beds
  • on your day off, you have no problem getting up at 6 a.m. in order to work on gardening projects
  • your preferred reading material are seed, bulb & garden tool catalogs & gardening magazines
  • you take every single person who enters your house on a ‘garden tour’
  • you grab other people’s banana peels, coffee grounds, egg shells, etc for your compost pile
  • your boss makes ‘taking care of the (office or lodge) plants’ an official part of your job description
  • you find yourself feeling leaves, flowers & trunks of trees wherever you go – even in city parking lots
  • you always carry pruners, garden gloves & plastic bags in your extra large purse or cloth bag ‘just in case’
  • you like the smell of compost, dirt or a full day of outdoor work better than Estee Lauder
  • you have pride in how bad your hands look
  • you’d rather go to a nursery or garden centre to shop than to a clothes store
  • you ask for tools for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries & any other occasion you can think of
  • you can’t bear to thin seedlings & throw them away – replanting them into empty spots all around the yard makes you rich
  • you scold total strangers who don’t take care of their potted plants
  • you give free ‘lessons’ on how to dead-head flowers
  • And last, but not least – you know that the four seasons are:
    • Planning the Garden
    • Preparing the Garden
    • Gardening
    • And Planning & Preparing for the next Garden

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Things to do in the October garden

Well, this was supposed to be posted a couple weeks ago, but I guess I hit save instead of publish! Better late than never, as I head out to rescue tomatoes from the greenhouse...
'The greatest gift of the garden
Is the restoration of the five senses.'
- Hanna Rion (1875-1924), American landscape artist

  • With the first frosts, lift tuberous begonias, dahlias and gladioli for winter storage. Bring hanging basket fuchsias into shelter from frost. {I did this last year & they actually survived to bloom again this year - granted, not til September, but lovely to have flowers in the fall. Will do it again & see if they live for another year. The ones I planted in the flower bed are huge & could do with a heavy pruning - should I wait til spring?}
September 21, barrel of fushias
October 13, fushias still in bloom
  • DIG AND DIVIDE congested or unproductive clumps of rhubarb. In the first two weeks, you still have time to dig/divide or RELOCATE PEONIES. {I hope that these plants don't drown this winter. The peonies got hit with a May frost this spring & lost their blossoms - maybe next year will be better...}
  • CUT BACK raspberry and rose canes that have grown overlong before they can be whipped about and damaged in winter winds. {My ever bearing raspberries are producing more fruit, so I might wait til later on in the season to cut them back...}
Raspberries setting fruit - September 21
Ripe Raspberries - October 13
  • PLANT trees and shrubs, bush and cane fruits, hedges and spring flower bulbs, garlic and shallots this month.
  • Locate POINSETTIAS in a room where no lights are turned on between dusk and dawn. Or cover each plant with a light-tight box for 14 hours each night. Continue the long night treatment until the top bracts have begun to color in December. {I have yet to have success with this - sometimes it's easier to treat poinsettias as annuals}
  • Rest CHRISTMAS CACTUS plants in a cool, bright room. Water only enough to keep the plants from shrivelling. With flower bud formation, resume normal watering.
  • Continue mowing lawns as long as the grass is growing. Keep lawns raked clean of leaves and debris. {After leaving all the grass cuttings on the lawn this year, it is finally starting to look better. Keep the leaves for mulch on flower & veggie beds or add to the compost for some garden gold.}
  • Clean out annual flower beds and plots of spent vegetable plants. SEED the emptied areas with FALL RYE. {I'm trying this to see if I can revive the soil - it will be tilled back into the soil early in the spring a few weeks before planting time}
  • Dig and TRANSPLANT young trees and shrubs that need relocating.
I'm posting this a few days early as I'm heading out to my sister's house in Alberta & won't actually be able to work on my own gardens for the next 2 weeks. We've just had our first storm of the winter season (meaning crazy sideways rain - lots & lots of it - and huge winds). I will make time for a garden tour to see if there is any damage (blown down plants & debris) & do a quick bit of dead-heading on the remaining flowers.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are still ripening & my husband will have lots for breakfast & lunches - how I'll miss the taste of them while I'm away. The basil was harvested yesterday & turned into pesto (frozen in ice cube trays for winter use) & the soil was dumped into buckets for later spreading on beds in the spring.

We should have nice weather for the weekend & I'm looking forward to seeing what potential gardens my sister is planning at their new house - gardening in Alberta is much more of a challenge than here on the coast - fascinating, but dealing with the possibility of snow at any given moment in the year is just too much for me.

Mystery plant in bloom - September 26
I've returned from my trip to sunny Alberta - what a wonderful warm time away! The gardens at home here did ok despite my absence (or because of it?!) but was visited by at least 3 does who found things to nibble on. Time to work on that list of plants they left alone & see if I can find more of them!

Might be bee balm - October 13