Sunday, June 25, 2017

What A Little Rain Can Do

 We had a few cool days with some rain & then the temperatures warmed up again, which means that the gardens are fairly exploding right now!

I'm trying my hand at broccoli & we'll see if they grow heads that we can harvest. I would like to try sprouting broccoli next year & I'm tempted to start nibbling on the leaves right now to add different flavours to our meals.

The kale mix are also producing nicely too. I still prefer winter kale over the summer grown plants - slightly sweeter & far fewer insects. With the summer season upon us, I am already starting to think of what I can have in the gardens to help us through the autumn & winter. I'm going to be seeding more kale for sure!

 The potatoes are growing daily & I'm rather impressed that they are doing so buried under the wood shavings. I've run out of shavings & I'm not sure I can pile much more up on top the of the plants - I should look for some extra wood to place in front so that I can fill in that space.

I've planted dill seeds in that space in front, so will wait to see if they sprout before expanding the potatoes too much more.

The lettuce plants are growing almost faster than we can harvest & eat them! I make wonderful huge leafy salads for lunches & dinners & underneath these plants I have some zesty salad seeds starting to grow, which I hope will feed us later into the summer. But I'm forgetting that the summers on this side of the island are hotter & sunnier than the ones I had back on the west side of the island. I might not be able to grow salads for too much longer unless they are under other plants in slightly shadier & cooler conditions.

We are still enjoying the spinach & it is growing in a good spot in the veggie bed where it is sheltered by the peas on one side & the tall potatoes on the other. I will be sowing more spinach when the cooler weather returns as I am so amazed at the incredible flavour of fresh-from-the-garden spinach over what you can get at the grocery store.

The veggie bed is constantly changing with harvests & fresh seeding or plantings. It is a growing, living thing that I am enjoying so much once again.

I also rather appreciate the California poppies growing in between the flagstones in the middle.

And a random squash has sprouted there too. I'm not sure if it is pumpkin or another variety, but now that I'm remembering what used to be in the spot last year, I do recall that I had composted 2 pumpkins here last winter before we cleared the area in preparation of building the bed.

Will be interesting to see if I get a pumpkin!

Wonder what else will get growing...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

I can Almost Taste the Sweetness

 I've never grown strawberries on purpose before.

They were always accidental finds tucked away from the main growing space.

This year, I dug them up & planted them specifically to see if I could indeed grow them mindfully.

They are slightly behind in the growing season - pretty much like everything in my yard - but I enjoy watching the process.

 I put down a thin layer of wood shavings to assist in keeping the weeds down & the moisture in.

So far, the dog has ignored the plants & I have no intention of sharing our crop with her. If I'm able to encourage more plants to grow in the wild corners of the yard, I might be more inclined to let her have one or two.

We have some hot weather coming this week, so hopefully the berries will pop & we'll be able to enjoy them soon!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Thinning the Apples

 Yesterday I came across several articles about thinning out apples on backyard apple trees & I knew this was something I had to do this year in a more serious manner than what I did last year.

I think I had to do an emergency thinning last year in mid-July as the tree was almost uprooting itself due to such a heavy load of fruit!

But learning how to let go of a potential fruit is a tough thing to do! Making that decision of which one to remove & which one to keep...

~ sigh ~

 So I carefully removed the smallest fruits, the ones with blemishes or insect damage & I checked the whole tree for general health & removed some of the new growth in order to keep it compact for the space in which it is growing.

I do think this year we might have to find some support system for the tree as it just doesn't seem to be rooted very strong & the winds really do blow it around. Will do yet more research on this & hopefully a couple of lines attached to the fence will assist in keeping the tree from tipping over later in the year.

As you can see, there are some sizeable apples I removed & it looks like a lot. *it is a lot!!!*

I'm looking forward to eating some fresh crunchy apples later on this year & hopefully, we'll come up with a better idea of what variety they are!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Eating Green Things

 Am finally eating green things from the garden again!

How I missed it over the last 2 years!

Since I don't yet have the room to start my own seeds earlier in the season indoors, I purchased quite a few veggie starts to get things going until the seeds I planted directly in the gardens could grow & start providing food for us.

The lettuce leaves are so tender & delicious that it is hard to not eat them before bringing them inside to share in a meal!

I tried growing Swiss chard last fall as a winter veggie, but the winter was rather harsh and we didn't have much of an opportunity to eat it before it all died.
Right now, they are doing very well & I'm making more of an effort to eat it in different ways in order to enjoy it fresh. I'd rather not harvest it to put in the freezer right now, unless it starts to grow crazy fast & we are unable to keep up with it.

Fresh is best!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Growing Peas on a Bamboo Trellis

 The veggie garden is starting to fill out & I'm always learning new things about how to grow things.

Last year we grew sweet peas in front of the lattice panels we installed but I had to tie them up. I guess the little tendrils of the peas didn't like the larger size of the lattice slats.

This year, I'm growing sugar peas, shelling peas & the sweet peas again, but have decided to try using a bamboo trellis to get the peas to twine up & around something a little smaller.

I pushed the bamboo stakes (which around about 7 or 8 feet long) into the garden soil at an angle & made a weave fence that supports itself & should be strong enough to hold all the peas (& now pickling cucumbers I just seeded).

I'm curious to see which of the vertical growing supports the peas will choose this year.

Things are still slow to take off with the peas and I'm sure once they do, we'll be eating peas almost non-stop for a few weeks.

The dog will be so happy to have peas again!

I can't wait to see what this area will look like in a month.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Start of the Apples

The apple tree survived the winter & had a large spring bloom. It looks like it was successfully pollinated too, so after the June Drop, I still might have to go in and remove a few apples from each spur. 

Last year we were concerned that the poor tree was going to tip over & uproot itself due to the large amount of quite large apples, so this year we are going to remove more & see what happens. We might have to anchor the tree towards the time when the apples become large & start to ripen. 

Right now I can see that the tree is putting on a new growth of branches, so I'll have to do some more research to find out how & when to prune the tree to keep it manageable. 

But we are looking forward to home-grown apples & maybe this year we will figure out what variety they are!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Garden Blooms

Just a few shots of what else is blooming in the yard.

~ California poppy in the sandy stones of the veggie bed  ~

~ cranesbill geranium  out in the front garden ~

~ annual poppy grows where it wants - this one is in a potted maple ~

~ Sweet Williams - such fragrance! Hope to grow many more ~

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rose Season - Part 3

 Now this rose is heavenly! A floribunda called Sunsprite it is very fragrant (sweet licorice is what the tag says) - we can smell it throughout the back garden space & I love having a few blooms indoors so that we can enjoy them up close.

Again, this plant has massive thorns & while not exactly against the back of the garden space, we find that it doesn't attack us when we wander close.

Which is a good thing as we just planted a cherry tree a few feet away!

Last year it bloomed for months. I hope it does so again this year!

Friday, June 16, 2017

Rose Season - Part 2

I'm keeping my posts short at this time of year. There is just so much blooming & growing!

This is our Chocolate Rose.

We inherited it from mom's garden a few blocks away as there was some garden renovation last year in her space.

A heavy but loving prune last year cleaned it up & this year we are being rewarded with a big flush of flowers.

I like the subtle red of this rose. It looks like velvet!

But watch out for the thorns! This plant is thankfully not in the middle of the garden, so won't grab you too quickly.

Right now, the last bit of chamomile is blooming up & around the flowers & it looks quite fetching.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Iris - Part 3

 Tucked in & around other plants, iris do very well at showing off in stately fashion.

I don't know the names to all the different parts of these flowers & there are so many different varieties & colour combinations that it can boggle your mind when trying to find out which one is in the garden.

So I don't worry too much about it.

I like this one - it's not the blue that I thought it might be & it contrasts very nicely with the pinks & purples.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Rose Season Starting

I've not had much luck in growing roses previously, but am finding myself falling back in love with these prickly plants.

There was one already established in the front corner by the driveway when we moved in & I spent a lot of time last year pruning out all the dead branches. I think I may have removed at least half the plant by the end of the season.

As a reward for pruning and some fresh soil, this rose bloomed and bloomed and bloomed! It currently is just starting to share some flowers and I can see that it is going to be very prolific again.

I wonder if roses like having their flowers cut for indoor arrangements & produce heavier as a result....

This variety looks like a tea rose mutant. Compact bush with slightly fragrant flowers. Once the rain stops, I'll go & cut myself a small bouquet to bring in and admire.

There are more plants out in the gardens that are blooming. Can't wait to share!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Chamomile Harvest - Part 1

The chamomile I grew last year reseeded like crazy & this spring as we were renovating the backyard, I dug up many seedlings to spread around the back & the front flower beds.

I'm trying my hand at harvesting the flowers for tea later this year and my first harvest a few days ago meant that I cut down a large handful of flower bunches.

Well, after a bit of research (plus seeing how many unopened flowers were in those bunches!)I found that it was better to go & pluck all the open flowers off the flower bunches to allow the rest to open later on & provide a larger, longer harvest. Or to let them reseed for next year's growing season.

I have them drying right now & it is going to take a lot more harvests to have a large jar available for the winter tea season! I was going to head out today to gather more, but with the rain falling (much needed), I do not want to pick wet flowers. Plus they have all closed up & are droopy, so I don't want to damage the plants either.

One of the other great benefits of growing lots of chamomile is that I will be using the spent plants as mulch for the winter, which will protect the soil, spread more seeds and add organic matter back to the soils as they break down.

Thursday, June 8, 2017


 When I came home the other day I noticed that another iris has bloomed & this one is my favorite! (so far)...

Actually, this one I discovered at the first house I lived in out in Bamfield & when I moved to another house out there, I took it with me. When I moved to the other side of the island, I brought a few pieces with me & it looks like it rather enjoys where I placed it!

The front flower beds are very dry with sandy soil & are pretty much left on their own. I keep throwing seeds out & planting random drought tolerant plants in the hopes that the beds will start to develop more personality, but with the appearance of this iris (which I believe is called Sultana) I have a greater desire to actually work more with the front beds.

Even with a few rain drops, they are showy and NOT PINK!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Garden Blooms

 Just a few more blooms in the garden.

This is another azalea, deciduous (meaning the leaves fall off every winter) & it's a Molalla Red. I've noticed there are a lot of orange ones in the nurseries this year.

Another new addition to the garden is this Vancouver Sea Breeze clematis - already in bloom! Very pretty & we are hoping it will grow quickly up the pergola & provide some leafy shade for us.

This cluster of orange flowers is not yet identified, but it's such a great pop of colour in all the green; mixed in with the pink & purple columbine & the chamomile.

I've seen this flower growing wild in other gardens, so I'm sure I'll find out what it is in short order. Time to head back out & see what else is in bloom!

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Season of Pink

 It seems that Pink is in High Fashion in the gardens right now.

I generally don't pick pink flowering plants, but this is what was already established here & if they survive the winter & our pruning & relocation, then I will let them stay.

This is a pink azalea that needs to be moved closer to where you can see the individual flowers. It is actually quite lovely, but seen from the far side of yard, it looks like a Barbie pom-pom. Closer inspection would allow great appreciation.

There are several rhodos that are blooming a bit later this year due to the winter & the heavy pruning from last year.

Yes, they are all pink as well...

I think having contrasting foliage textures & other coloured blooms before & after these bloom will help break up this Pink Parade.

This is a lovely ground cover that I've not yet identified. It has a candy stripe theme that is quite nice.

 And this evergreen azalea has such large blooms! We gave the plant a massive prune last year to reduce the size & clear out a lot of dead branches & branches that were growing in the wrong direction.

Looks like it enjoyed the trim!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Peas Popping up

 The peas are finally starting to sprout & pop up. I have a section for the shelling peas - so they'll be here pretty much all season long, if we can resist eating them as soon as they appear...

I'm installing a bamboo weave trellis in front of all the peas to get them growing up quickly. I had hoped that the lattice panels in behind would do the trick, but peas seem to be picky & want smaller diameter items to climb up.

We'll see what happens given the choice of 2 different things to climb on.

I have a section of sugar peas too & I was not sure if the seeds I had planted would sprout, so I found a 6 pack of sprouted sugar peas & popped them in the ground. Well, it looks like I will have a lot of peas as those older seeds are sprouting finally...

Actually, that's a good thing as it will extend the harvest for us & we'll be able to share with the pooch (who loves her veggies fresh from the garden).

I'm also trying my hand at red onion & leek starts & in-between those rows the radish are starting to make a good show.

Feels good to see some green popping up - can't wait to start eating home grown goodness too!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Growing Potatoes

Well, it looks like the experiment of growing potatoes in wood shavings is actually working!

Will head out today to add more shavings & let them grow some more.

Am trying to keep it simple this year.... (right...)