Wednesday, January 28, 2015

October Memories

Reading through all the seed catalogues this time of year, it's easy to get a bit overwhelmed. The first list I made, "the wish list full of want" totalled almost one hundred dollars. Oh my! Get a grip Brenda; be rational and stop daydreaming. Definitely over budget for our small garden! One thing I do know is, there won't be any pumpkins growing in the garden this year; took up way way way too much room. Mind you, they did produce and I am very grateful to have enough cured to get through the winter. The same with the Carnival squash above...too much room, although I am sure you will agree, they are delightfully beautiful, each one with different markings, and sweet to eat. Trouble is, I sometimes see the fruits of our labour through an artists eye. "Oh, just think how beautiful that would look growing up the bean wall. You know... we gardeners are great dreamers! We have to be.
Autumn light here in Nova Scotia, is crisp, clear, and luminous. There's that window in the season where all in the garden shimmers in the sun, and reflection and moods of darks and lights along with the earthy smells of the garden touches your very soul.
Hearty soups are coming out of the kitchen to warm us on those coolish evenings; bonfires are lit to burn the garden debris; the smoke drifts over our hill, down to our neighbours. The last swims are done, the last of the short sleeve tshirts and sandals put away. The seagrass has turned to gold.
Now back to paring down that seed list and ordering what does well, and behaves more modestly than those pumpkins of last year. Wish me luck.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Flashback to September

Going through old garden photos reminds me what did well, what didn't and what we couldn't get enough of. Three top the list: tomatoes, beans and garlic. We have success with garlic in our garden, and even planting it in the raised bed cold frame in March last year, by September, it was ready to harvest. It's the first year I tried that, because I didn't get around to planting it in October 2013. The scapes below grew from Susan Delafield. Big thick cloves under the soil, a very tall scape, and a sculptural beauty in the garden.
As for the beans, seen behind the garlic above, well you know we built that back trellis especially for beans, and in fact, call it the bean wall. But the last few years, I find I cannot put seeds out too early because they get eaten, rot or get nabbed by the crows, mice or squirrels. Now, if I get them started inside, growing to about eight to twelve inches, and then plant out, all seems to be fine. Last year was a bit of a bust and in disgust, after planting three times I didn't want to buy any more seeds. I found a jar of organic dried beans in my cupboard, all different varieties, and so, I pushed them in the soil and hoped for the best. Well of course, some were climbers and some were just shrub but they gave a huge harvest and we had our fill. So the bean wall looked a little sparse in some places as you can see.
Tomatoes are probably the hardest plant for us to grow. For years we were trouble free, 'coasting' as one might say. Oh the bliss of it all. Then we were hit by late blight a few years back and that was the end of that. We now almost exclusively grow Sub Arctic Plenty, which doesn't mind a chilly spring, and gives us loads of tomatoes before the season of late blight. We also grow climbing Mexico Midget, chocolate cherry and sun gold which all seem to sluff off the blight. Plentiful, tasty and resilient are good hallmarks to aim for in a garden year after year and referring to old photos I find, are a great reminder.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Get Up and Go

In the words of Pete Seeger "my get up and go has got up and went". Since August I've ignored the blog because I had lost my motivation and enthusiasm for writing. "Take a break" some of my friends advised but it seemed the more I was away from writing, the less inclined I was to go back to it. "What more can I write about that I haven't already written" I thought. Am I missing the point...why did I start the blog? That reason was based on keeping a journal for me to refer to, and to share my experiences growing our garden on the South Shore of Nova Scotia, Canada. Along the way, I met some wonderful people; the garden was photographed and published in two magazines and also a book. Who knew that could happen simply by making connections, sharing with others what is very personal, our own garden and what it means to me, to our family. Pete Seeger continues to sing, "but in spite of it all, I'm able to grin, and think of the places my get up has been". It has been a wonderful, and truly fulfilling joy, this blog. So, readers, I am loath to give it up.

The new year has begun with optimism. Last year was a difficult one but now, I am happy to say, or at least hopeful in saying, my Get up and Go, is improving. There's always something to write about when you have a three to four season garden. Even now, with snow on seedheads left for birds, beans that were never harvested and memories visited when looking at the bird bath not brought in, but forgotten, it is a beauty to behold.
Outside, the sun is shining so bright, the sky is 'hurt your eyes blue' and the snow is covering every seedhead and branch; fencepost and leaf.

But I know it will awake before I know it, and meanwhile, I will start growing pea shoots in pots, sprouts in a jar and plant Egyptian onion bulbs on the window sill to snip the fresh green growth. I will find primroses in the shops to brighten my January, and later, cut forsythia to force. And yes, I've written about this all before but perhaps that doesn't matter. Perhaps, what matters is that writing brings back the joy it always did, and to just put bum to chair and "write something for Heavens Sake!"

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Reds in the August Garden

My favourite red in the garden...tomatoes! Finally, they are ripening and we are enjoying juicy open faced sandwiches for lunch most days now. The last few years I've stopped growing a lot of the heirloom varieties we loved because of  late blight. Now, I grow early cropping bush types like Scotia, which was developed here in Nova Scotia and Sub-Arctic Plenty was has an interesting history. Developed in the 1940's to provide the US Air Force stationed in Greenland with fresh tomatoes, it has a unique ability to set fruit early under cool conditions. Good news for me. I do have a few cherry tomatoes, like Tumbling Tom in a container, and a good size Mexico Midget which was never touched by the late blight in years past, so I grow that also. The fruit are the size of blueberries and packed with flavor.

The weather has changed, with the clear skies of autumn, and cool overnight yet quite lovely and hot the last few days. So the other reds that are in the garden, in the flower beds, are looking very handsome and give the eyes a real boost. Crocosmia has survived three years now, only marginal where I am (Zone 6), and this year its outdone itself. The hummingbirds are enjoying it also, as their preferred flower, Scarlet Monarda has just about finished.
There's another plant in the flowerbed that is a long bloomer and also marginally hardy here so it doesn't become invasive. It is Persicaria Firetail and although not tomato red, it is another plant that makes the August and September garden glow.
We are eating beans, both the French Filet and the climbing, white Blancoma and red Cylinder beets, carrots and a fresh crop of arugula and mixed greens...perfect for those tomato sandwiches! Overdid it with the pumpkins, Acorn squash and Blue Hubbard squash, which is climbing over everything even the asparagus that's gone to fern. Rather wild looking here right now. The deer visited one night so we lost a lot of the leaves on the trellised beans but they are recovering. Sigh...where did August go?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mid July Already?

June disappeared. It almost seems it didn't arrive, and then came July with sunshine, warmth and a hurricane reminding us to not get too comfortable. The robin and chicks windvane took a beating but we think we can fix it. One of the industrial windows in the roof of the Red Shed cracked and so we will have to work on that as well....likely remove it although only one of the triple panes are broken. So far, it's been quite a ride into summer.

Every year in a garden, is different. I can depend on insects eating my germinating beans until the first week of July and then, they are left alone. There are other things I can depend on as well, indestructible rhubarb will uncurl from the soil, plantain will grow in the lawn, and clover will blanket the rest. Chipmunks will eat at least half of the tulip bulbs after they have died back and that one and only night we forget to bring in the bird feeders, the raccoons will saunter through the yard keeping us awake as they scream and fight over the seeds.

This year, another wet but cooler year, has seen a leap in the perennial bed that surrounds the vegetable garden, especially in the front.
What should be a pleasing mound of perennial geraniums, daylilies and baptisia, is simply a solid wall each plant fighting to gain dominance. It looks a bit too messy for me, so perhaps some division is in order. Certainly a good grooming. What I've also noticed this year, is a bloom growing on our Yucca! Now we have not seen a bloom for at least four years so there's no telling what a new garden year will bring.

As for the veg garden, well we are getting lots of peas right now, although the hurricane did it's best to lay them low. Put in bondage they are happy again.
The weather has been very good for the lettuce varieties but I must say, Tom Thumb lettuce has to be one of my very favourite, tolerates high temperatures when mature and resists bolting better than larger varieties. These below need thinning.
Thinking an old packet of Dwarf Blue Curled Kale from 2008 wouldn't germinate but not willing to waste the packet without trying...well we have had great success. As it was in the raised bed and covered, it's grown quite well and only now are we starting to see a few green caterpillars on it.
All and all, it is shaping up to be a good growing season here in our South Shore Garden in Nova Scotia. Soon our thoughts will be turning to what to plant out mid August for fall crop, extending the season in the raised beds. Better yet though, fingers crossed no blight...we should soon have ripe tomatoes. How wonderful that will be.

Happy Gardening!