Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring begins when? Not on the day the calendar says it does but on the day I see Mr. and Mrs. Crow gathering materials to line their nest. Or when the first Osprey flies overhead, finally back from the long journey south. It's when you can leave the window open and awake to the joyous sound of birdsong, robins claiming their territory and listen happily when rain showers fall, melting the last of the snow. That's when spring begins for me.

In the garden, Hamamelis 'Diane" has been in bloom for at least a week, but you know, I didn't even notice it. Poor thing, deep in a snowbank, it was awake and calling me, and I missed it's unfurling. But it still has brightness and is the only plant blooming in the front yard. There are many images out there for this variety, some much deeper red than ours, but I bought it as "Diane", thinking of a dear friend of the same name. Have you ever done that, perhaps in memory of someone you love?

Years ago, growing up in Cape Breton, when my little brother was about three, he and dad planted a flowering crab apple tree in the front yard. I can still remember that day, Philly with his shovel, and both of them watering that little stick of a tree in the ground. Although we lost Philly at a young age, that tree meant we never forgot him. It grew and bloomed it's heart out every year and we were happy for it. But, when my dad knew he was approaching the end of his time here on earth, much to the sadness of my mother, he took the tree down. I've perplexed over that for some time, but believe somehow, he needed to say goodbye to that tree before he said goodbye to us. We will never know. But I do think a gift of a tree or plant in someone's memory or their name, is thoughtful and honorable. I know Diane was pleased about us planting the Hamamelis.

Spring smells like damp soil and seeds sprouting under the grow lights downstairs. The delight of seeing little tomato shoots while saying quiet prayers they don't succumb to damp off is a reminder of a hopeful harvest to come. As I have written before, late blight is a trouble here in our Nova Scotia garden, so I start varieties that fruit before the blight arrives or varieties that are highly resistant. Thanks to suggestions from garden friends, and faithful performers of the past, this year we are again growing Sub-Arctic Plenty, and new to us: Torenzo, Mountain Merit and Jasper (seeds to try from Niki Jabbour with thanks). Oregon Spring is also new to us, but Mexico Midget which has done well in the past, still has not germinated. With our long winter, this is the first time I delayed starting tomatoes.

Thankfully, the Lexan covered raised bed, has kept much alive through the winter. Spinach, Purple Wave Mustard, surprisingly, tiny Tom Thumb lettuce and arugula.
Most of that was harvested for salad, but now, all the seeds planted in the raised bed on April first, have germinated.
In the back hooped raised bed, leeks are in and growing (indoor starts) and today, the peas are going in there as well. These are dwarf Peas so we'll see how they perform. It is ten degrees in the back yard. Warm by my standards!
 Ahhh Spring! You were late in coming but nature heralds your arrival. The nests have been lined, the Osprey has arrived, seeds are germinated, and beds are being readied.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Still Waiting for the Snow to Go

Just in under the wire for a March post. It's been difficult dealing with our winter weather this year here on the south shore of Nova Scotia. Homes and businesses have had roof collapses with the weight of it all. Very sad. We had a collapse of the cold frame Lexan cover but the Captain came to the rescue and it's back in place.  March 2014 we were picking spinach but not this March!
It will be interesting to see how this growing year ahead preforms, having deep snow so late in the season. Will blights and bugs be affected for the worse or better I wonder. The forest animals are having a difficult time, especially the deer who have found the deep snow a hardship. The hares seem to be doing okay as we often see their prints in the snow but I hate to think of the damage the mice are making in their tunnels deep below at ground level. As I write, flakes are falling but everyone here is hoping, this is winter's last hurrah. Please let it be so. I am putting on weight, not working in the garden ;-)

An anonymous commenter suggested trying Oregon Spring tomato because it is reliably early and cold tolerant, similar to my Sub-Arctic Plenty.  Thank you whoever you are! The leeks and onions started in February have been transplanted to bigger containers and are happily growing under lights. Just that simple pleasure changes the gift of a day for the better. Sifting through the seed packets I try to decide what goes into the raised beds first....spinach, broad beans (dwarf variety), some of the leeks, scallions and mixed greens.
This year I'm going to put more annual flowers in the vegetable garden. For ages, we always had cosmos, marigolds and volunteer flowers growing where they were not expected. I loved the wildness of it all, and realized I miss that look and feeling. "Mini cosmos blend" grows to 20 inches sounds outstanding and also, a taller 31" called Snow Puff. "Breathtaking, fully double flowers in pure white" from West Coast Seeds.

Old garden magazines are keeping me inspired and doing some hateful spring cleaning keeps me out of trouble. Let's hope today is the last day shoveling snow and instead, we'll soon be spreading compost!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Only Six Days Left in February!

It's not that this February is so bad, there's just so much snow and it won't stop. I'm trying to remember what past years were like. Definitely not the weather we've had this month. The roof is so thick with snow, I turn my head when I see it. What is that passage, "don't worry about anything, just pray about everything". I am trying not to worry.
Looking back at February photos in other years, we've had ladybugs flying all around inside the summerhouse. It was just lovely, heartwarming. "Spring is on it's way!" The days were getting longer. Anxious to get out and do what ladybugs do, they would be thick on the windows.
........But no sign of them yet.

However the peas for pea shoots have sprouted, and the Opal Basil I started, to cut for micro greens, have as well.
The onions have been slow, but not the leeks. I think I am going to bite the bullet and get a heating pad for seed starting. Does anyone have good luck with theirs?

Meanwhile, I plan to take another ceramics course from Marla Benton in Mahone Bay to help me get through this month. If I can't harvest peas right now, I can make them! Hopefully the next few will be an improvement. So difficult to know how glazes will react. There's room for more if you are interested.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Spring Thoughts

Outside, the snow is almost at the top of the garden gate, but inside, seeds planted a few days ago, are warm and cosy. The earliest packets opened are leeks and onions although, generally I don't start onions as we have Egyptian Walking Onions, perennial in their own way.  But every spring I regret that decision especially last year when I bought some Ailsia Craigs from a local vendor in Tantallon. He was kind enough to share the variety name and I await the seeds. You know how you read some onions are so sweet you can eat them out of hand, well that's how I felt about those Ailsia Craig Onions apparently named after a perfectly round island off the coast of Scotland ;-). But, as I had some New York Early and Northern Lights leek seed, the urge to plant now prevailed. They are on their way to sprouting.
This dead part of winter is when I crave fresh green pea shoots so I've started a pot of those as well. As I've written about how I do this, you might want to go to this older post of mine here if you are interested to try.  When they sprout and grow a bit, will post a photo. Although I am trying to be a bit more frugal with seed buying this year, a trip to Halifax Seed Company is always in order, especially when friend blogger Marguerite comes over from Prince Edward Island. It's our go to place to enjoy and share together, when we can make it happen.  So here's what jumped into my pockets and before anyone says anything about the packet of squash and my plan to not grow any this year...in my defense I have to say, it is considered a compact variety.  Well we will see about that heh!
The excitement builds with the handling of every packet. Are those Northern Lights leeks really going to be that blue? And will the peas really be ready in three weeks? Where will I put the Sunshine Squash now that I've committed to growing it?

If you have the same snowstorm today we are having, and winter is getting you down, down, down.....think Spring green thoughts and maybe enjoy getting your seeds out, and your hands dirty inside where it's snug and warm.

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.