Monday, November 25, 2013

I keep Cutters in My Back Pocket

~ winter lavender harvest ~
I DO carry my cutters in my back pocket - I can't help it...

When I go for walks, I find myself pruning or deadheading flowers & shrubs in my neighbour's yard.

Or there is a cutting I dearly would love to have & you never know when the right opportunity will come along to get that cutting.

Or you are walking through your own yard & come across your lavender shrubs that have flowered for you once again & you really want to quickly bring them in the house before darkness falls in 5 minutes & they freeze overnight.

Who knows what I'll do with these lavender bundles, but how wonderful to have fresh lavender at this time of year!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Surprises in Boxes

 Flower boxes are still a puzzle for me. How often to water, what time of day is best, how often to fertilize, what are the best plants, drainage, sun/shade, novice gardeners ripping out plants instead of weeds...

I volunteer with a few other green & brown thumbs in town to plant & maintain a collection of flower boxes along the boardwalk railing running down the west side of our town. This year, we tried a selection of perennials, herbs, succulents & 'extras' growing in our own gardens.

Come November, the boxes are generally pretty empty for forlorn looking for the winter season. Not so down by the Post Office!!

Our Post Mistress is starting to show off her green thumb in a few of the boxes that grow outside her office. On this late day in November, she still had a box full of flowers & in the sunshine, they really did make many people's day brighter.

I thought we would also try some flowering kale in the boxes for the winter. We'll have to check back towards Christmas to see how they are doing.

I think with the return of the rains & the continuing sunshine, the flowers decided they would show off for a while longer.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's Always Greener in your Neighbour's Garden

~ house mate's kale ~
 November has been a strange month in the garden. We are used to receiving the first & nastiest of our winter storms, days upon days upon days of rain & gray skies, washed out roads, possible power outages & generally ugly days.

This year it seems to be quite different - sunshine & practically perfect in fact! Actually, it feels positively like January - which is disconcerting because we are still 2 months away from that... The days have been wonderful for working in the gardens & getting those last minute chores complete.

One of them is harvesting kale for the freezer to use in the winter, just in case your plants in the garden don't make it.

Our housemate grew kale this year - first time ever & he did such a great job! He's since moved on & has left me an abundance of kale for the winter. I don't mind... I foresee a lot of kale chips in the next few months...
~ my kale ~
  My kale is starting to recover from being neglected all summer. They are actually the exact same plants as the ones in my house mate's garden bed, he just watered them while I didn't. 
~ neighbour's kale ~

 I was visiting my neighbour (see house behind me) & noticed she had a HUGE crop of kale in her garden. Much more than over in my yard & I immediately had kale envy...

Now her's was all flat leaf kale (possibly Red Russian) & I personally prefer the curly leaf variety, but since I wasn't actually going to harvest her kale for ME to enjoy, I was more envious of her ability to grow such a quantity. She's a busy lady, so I hurried over & proceeded to do a 'good neighbourly' deed - I harvested half of it for her, removed the leaves from the stalks, washed, spun dry & bagged it up for her to put in the freezer for winter dishes.
~ neighbour's kale packaged ~
  My neighbour is relatively new to eating kale so I then had to share with her (in written form of course because who is going to remember ideas for food in January?) all the wonderful potential things she can put her kale in.

Soups are the easiest & I love soups in the winter. Beef barley, turkey rice, chicken noodle, curry lentil... How about stews? Stir fries? Breads, loaves & muffins? Or the traditional Dutch treat with mashed potatoes & smoked sausage? mmmm....

I think I'll have to head outside to harvest some of mine too, just so I don't forget to eat it this winter. Oh look - the sun is shining still!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Something Strange This way Blooms

~ flowering in mid-November ~
Years ago I was given a plant from some neighbours who claimed it was either a papaya or an avocado - I can't recall which one they said. It lived in my house for many years & then, when we built the new house, I just didn't have the space inside for it & thought I'd see what it would do outside.

I planted it on the North East corner of the house. It has been 5 years now & I'm pretty sure the plant is well over 7 feet tall. I do nothing with it - no fertilizer, no mulching, no proper watering, no pruning.

I want to see what this thing can do!

 What it's doing now, is flowering.

It flowered last year, but I think there are more flowers this year. I'm trying to figure out if they have scent, but at this time of year, there are lots of wonderful smells outside & I can't quite reach the blooms to get my nose right in there.

I'll have to keep track of these & work harder this year on proper identification. I get side-tracked when trying to identify something I've had for years & have been trying to id for years - it will eventually let me know what it is...

...but if you have a suggestion, I'd love to hear it!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Time to Let Go

~ raspberries at end of October ~
It doesn't quite feel like winter, even with the few mild frosts we've had & the dramatic changes in the garden.

But today was the day to let go - of the raspberry patch & potential harvests like this one on the right. I have to admit that I won't be picking these anymore this season because the temperatures just aren't warm enough to ripen the remaining fruit... (sad sigh)

So I did a bit of 'spring clean-up' a few months early!