Sunday, May 28, 2017

Developing the Fruit Beds

In preparation for when the sod was to arrive last Tuesday, we cleaned up the yard & I was able to move in some soil & start developing one of my fruit beds.

We had picked up a Dolgo crab apple at a Seedy Saturday event this spring & this is where I planted it.

When we moved in last year & started working on the yard, there was a shrub up beside the house that I dug up & put in the front yard. I discovered it was a red gooseberry! So I have now replanted it in this bed & gave it a bit of a prune so it would fit the space. It already has fruit & looks like it will produce a good crop this year.

The rest of the bed has iris & other plants I rescued from the previous gardens. I have also picked up a rhubarb plant that will go in towards the back of the bed. It might be a couple years before I'm harvesting much off it but I'm looking forward to adding it to our spring feasts.

Eventually we will fix that back fence panel & I want to install a compost pile where the large pot is. Raspberries are in the future planning as well.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

New Garden Structure

We have wonderful full southern exposure in our back yard. As sun lovers, especially during the winter months, we really enjoy this aspect of our property.

Now, in the summer, it can get rather hot - too hot with the concrete patio - so the hubby designed & built a structure that will provide shade as the sun moves across the sky.

We may put up some extra shade material on the top during the high heat summer days and we have a lovely clematis (Vancouver Sea Breeze) to plant at the post by the bbq.

I'm going to stick some bamboo stakes by the other post & grow Scarlet runner beans or maybe sweet peas up. There are some stock & dianthus plants, as well as some scented geraniums & I even found some strawberries growing in a corner of the yard.

We are looking forward to watching the birds & insects come to the colourful & fragrant flowers just as we are looking forward to enjoying quiet moments out in the back.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Bring on the GREEN

On Tuesday the sod arrived.

Our dry & dusty backyard is now GREEN! And it feels so much more like a garden retreat or paradise!

We now have to water it diligently (which includes watering all my veggie & flower beds too) so that the grass will take & grow.

There are a few cracks that we will fill & rake & I'm going to give the whole lawn a good blast of EM (effective micro-organisms - more on that later) to encourage the soil ecosystem to flourish.

Amazing how the feel of grass on your bare feet is so calming & grounding. One of the first things I do when I come home from work is to take off my shoes & socks & wander around the yard looking at the plants & watching the insects.

We may have started the spring off very cool & gray, but these warm sunny days are helping the plants make up for lost time!

Time to head out for a bit of therapy. Come on over!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

And then a Little Seeding

Back on the 18th - only a week ago - I picked up some fresh seeds & dug through my collection of herb & veggie seeds to see what I could direct seed & if I could follow 'the plan' that I have on paper.

I've intercropped my radish with the leeks & onions & thrown down some carrots in a small patch. The beets are behind the lettuce & I've intercropped the lettuce starts with some mixed zesty greens.

Along the front I have 2 large areas of arugula & zesty greens - how I miss fresh greens from the garden right now! & I'm trying some new things: pac choi & yu choi sum (which is like a sprouting broccoli) - greens that you can steam or stir fry or each fresh in salads.

I'm also trying summer celery - not looking to grow your grocery store bundle of celery stalks, but tender stalks with savory leaves.

I also seeded lots of herbs: basil, parsley, chervil, thyme, winter savory, sage, oregano & more summer savory as well as some spinach as I know I'm going to be munching on that pretty quick. The sugar peas & shelling peas are seeded along the back lattice & I just picked up some bamboo stakes so I can weave a growing trellis as I don't think they'll grow up the lattice initially.

I still have room for tomatoes, peppers & maybe a cucumber (I did pick up pickling cucumber seeds & should get those started right away). These I will pick up towards the end of next week once the weather is more reliably warm in the evenings.

BTW: the seeds have sprouted!! At least the radish, arugula, lettuce, pac choi & yu choi sum have. The herbs might take a bit longer or they might just be too old. I have a lot of older seeds from my previous garden & we shall see what happens this year with my broadcast seeding.

Sun is shining - need to get out there & build that pea trellis!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Finally a Little Planting

 Back on the 15th I picked up a couple flats of veggie starts & finally planted something in the raised veggie bed.


I've got red onions & leeks up in the back left along with lettuce starts to the right & spinach! I've never grown spinach & the flavour & crunch of fresh spinach from the garden... why have I never done this before??

I also planted a mix of kale & Swiss chard & something called Packman broccoli. I'm not too set on growing actual broccoli heads as I do enjoy eating the stalks steamed.

Then I plunked in some smelly marigolds & some chives & summer savory & cilantro.

Plenty more room for seeding & picking up my warm weather starts later in the month!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kale Blossom Apple Cider Vinegar

 The kale survived the winter & we've been snacking on the sweet tasty leaves for a few months now.

The warmer weather means that the kale is going to go to flower, produce seeds & if I am able to collect those seeds, I'll have some to plant next spring. If I don't collect the seeds & they fall down & start to sprout, than I will have some transplants to move into the veggie bed for overwintering!


Wait - there's another win too!!

The blossoms are edible & one of the best ways (other than eating them in salads) to preserve this goodness is to infuse them in apple cider vinegar for use later on in the summer & winter. Great for making tart & tangy salad dressings or a splash in meat dishes or on eggs or whatever your kitchen witch needs!

I harvested some blossom stalks rather early in the day - just after they dried from the morning dew.

Popped stalks & blooms into a tall mason jar & poured in the apple cider vinegar.

Give the jar a few swirls to remove air bubbles & let infuse on the counter over night. I loosely covered the jar & that kept out any insects or curious cat tongues.

Simply pour the liquid through a mesh strainer to catch any bits & I store mine in beer bottles with snap tops (Grolsch bottles work out very well).

I don't store mine in the fridge - things get lost in there, so it lives on the counter beside my herbal salts, herbal oils & other vinegars so that I remember to use it.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Stomping through the Flowers

~ basket of gold alyssum ~
 Now that the weather is starting to warm up, the flowers are starting to catch up to where they should be in blooms.
~ forget-me-not ~

Some of my favourite delicate blooms are Basket of Gold and forget-me-nots. They bloom in profusion & confusion & attract a great many pollinating insects & other creepy crawly critters. And they spread themselves quite easily without my assistance - a necessity in my gardens!

But that also means there are a couple of curious creatures that will stomp & jump & dash & hide & dig into them in search of these wonderful creepy crawly critters!

But honestly, how could you not enjoy watching another creature enjoy the garden space as well?? I'm not growing award winning plants & prefer the wildness that allows them to feel a bit wild when they are out with me.

Maybe they are finding the bad bugs & eating them for me? Well, the cat would...

Maybe they are spreading seeds around or inadvertently dead-heading some spent blooms...

Maybe - just maybe - I'm a bit jealous that they can play like that in the plants & forget that they are domesticated...

Friday, May 19, 2017

Violet Harvest

~ Viola cornuta ~
 This spring has been very generous to some plants. Violets (I call these Johnny Jump Ups) are very prolific right now and have been for a month already.

They grow wild in my yard & I'm constantly digging up wee plants & moving them to where there are holes in my flower beds. They transplant very easily & you can eat the flowers!

I tried a violet syrup (made with honey) but found it much too sweet & just not what I was looking for. The blooms can be used in desserts, on cakes & cookies or scones & my choice of use is for tea.

~ fresh picked blooms ~
 So I head outside every week to gather fresh bright blooms & lay them out to dry. It doesn't take long for them to dry in my pantry closet nor does it take long for the plants to put out new flowers!

~ dried blooms for tea ~
I'm going to dry as many as I can right now so that I can blend different blossoms into a tea for the dreary winter months, but I also want to try a fresh blossom tea & once I find the recipe for that, will do so & let you know what it is like. I've not tried to make my own herbal or floral teas but am discovering all the ingredients for them in my back yard. This might the summer of teas & infusions!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Planting Potatoes

 Earlier this month I finally planted my potatoes!

They don't look like much & it is not a very big area as I don't eat a whole lot of them. I actually don't have potatoes in my garden plan, but when I found a few that had sprouted, I thought I would try a new technique this year.

I scraped out a small trench in the dirt in an area that receives a fair amount of sunlight (despite the shadows in the photo).

Then I just dumped on some wood shavings! This particular type is something I picked up from the local farm feed supply store that I usually use in my compost - Stallion Shavings. It's made out of soft woods like pine - not cedar, which would not be something I would try to grow in unless it were extremely composted.

In order to keep the shavings from blowing around, I put on a layer of fish compost & whenever I water the garden I made sure to water the potato patch as well.

We shall see if the potatoes decide to grow or if I have just created a new compost pile this year.

Fingers crossed - gardening is always about trying something new!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Green Gage Plum in Bloom

 Last year we harvested only 2 or 3 plums off our wee tree & there is still so much I need to learn about fruit trees!

For instance, there are ants inside my blooms - are they pollinating my tree or stealing nectar that would otherwise attract the bees?

I've also notice there are no blooms on a few branches that are growing vertical so I need to figure out if plums grow like apples or should I wait a few more years to see if those branches will also produce fruit... Again, everything in the gardens has been neglected for so long that our initial care & attention has probably set back fruit production in lieu of structural growth...