Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Of Cabbages and Things

As the garden winds down preparing for winter sleep; the oak and beech around us begin to drop their leaves, floating ever so quietly, blanketing the ground. The dogwood trees are especially lovely, their leaves turning a beautiful purple, fading to red and finishing so slowly they cling until they can hold no more. Their red berries have been snached away by squirrels, chipmunk and crows so it's usefulness in our garden landscape serves many purposes.

This is my favourite time of year. The robust earthy smells of composting, the crisp cool air reminding us winter is but weeks away, the hurt your eyes blue sky that only autumn seems to display and often, days full of the sound of wind and rain..."time to sleep, time to sleep".
Over the years we've noticed how much more purple we see in the garden especially this time of year. Purple Cabbage is one vegetable garden plant that has not performed really well in the past, and yet other brassicas do alright. But I couldn't resist a few six packs of transplants last spring and in they went. Was the secret this year, a long wet winter and short spring? The result has been a grand harvest.
We forgot how crisp and sweet, cabbage can be when it has been touched by frost, and shredded for slaw or braised with apples, sultanas and malt vinegar. A sprinkling of caraway seed is a nice addition.
Even on overcast days, the autumn colors glow; a good time to re-evaluate the bones of the garden. This year, we've made some tough decisions about what should go and what should stay. As I prepared to put my bulbs in, I felt I had lost my initial vision of a perennial bed surrounding the veg garden. Grasses had morphed into monsters, baptisias were failing, bee balm that is work year after year and this year, totally out of control....needed attending. So while the weather holds time to get the shovel, rake and barrow out, and get dirty. Well, at least there will be a nice rustic cabbage soup waiting for me after a long day if I make it before I go out ;-).

Monday, September 14, 2015

Busy Summer

If you are still out there friends and fellow bloggers, and I do sincerely hope you are, thank you for sticking with me over the summer break! It's been a great harvest season so far and more to come. My high-five cherry tomato this year has to be a variety called 'Jasper'. Sweet candy in clusters; we're still picking. It's a sprawler, so if you try this next year, be aware of that. But it is highly resistant to blight being an AAS winner and so far, so good!

Don't think I gave an update on the animal watering trough we filled with soil and planted with tomatoes, nasturtium and chard. It has done very very well and it looks pretty awesome in the front yard when you drive up. Would be a perfect solution for anyone physically challenged as in reality, it is simply a raised bed. Chief finds it very accessible as well and you know he loves his cherry tomatoes ;-)

The trough is not totally full of compost and has a drain hole to one side at the bottom which has worked well to keep the plants from being waterlogged. Yes it sprouted some weeds but they were soon covered over by the rapid growth which from first photo to second was only five weeks.

Most years, I am on top of garden weeding and harvesting, but the winds have changed in my life and there is too much to be done and hard to keep up. I no longer stress as before, and take more time to enjoy the fruits of our labour....and heh, if we don't get everything eaten or processed, it makes compost.

Off to my neighbours to get a load of dry seaweed and pine needles for the garden paths which are getting too compressed. As a senior gardener, I imagine I am looking towards more raised beds in my future but until then, it's carry on as usual. But remember to stop and smell the roses! Here's Vavoom in all her sweet scented glory.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Rainy Day Musings

We've jumped ahead soooo quickly since my last post in early May! It's a spring I can't ever remember experiencing before. The PJM Rhododendron bloomed along with the Magnolia. Early tulips opened with the daffodils; the cherry and plum tree are a flutter of blossom; close on their heels are lilac and Red Chestnut. Finally, days are warm enough to sit out and relax listening to an anthem of birds and bees. At least two blue jay families have set up home nearby, also two crow families but sadly, the one tiny male hummingbird distinctive by his slight size, has not convinced a female to join him in matrimony. He tries his heart out, swooping on his dare devil flights up and down, but I guess, we will just have to wait and see.
Ignoring his attention!
The beds are almost finished having their spring tidy up, but I am a little perplexed by a fern in the side bed. That's the photo in the header and if anyone would like to give an opinion on this unique scape (there are four or five of them) half deep green with the top almost white. I would appreciate that.

The tomato plants have grown well and we are glad we waited a few weeks longer to start them inside or they would be far too leggy. The're just about the right size now, so managed to get ten in the ground before our three days of rain set in. The rest will have to wait.
I've written before about our experience with late blight about four years back and how we lost so much of our tomato crop. So, with guidance and suggestions from Niki Jabbour and other blog friends, we are planting our so far faithful, Sub-Artic Plenty and new this year, Mountain Merit, Oregon Spring, Torento and Jasper. These should all crop early. Mexico Midget has always taken a long time to germinate but there was no success from the seeds this year, started inside, and out. Very hardy against late blight I might add. I love that little tomato and so does our puppy Chief, so we hope to get some reseeds from the garden itself. My original packet came from The Tomato Man via Niki...thanks you guys.

The raised beds with the lexan cover and sheet plastic cover, have kept up with their greens supply so we have not had to buy any so far. Even the radishes plumped up well this year.
Todays Rainy day Photo
I was so looking forward to the lovely dwarf cosmos I planted in the back raised bed and boy did it germinate well. Did you ever notice how much it looks like dill? Well we had a good laugh over that, as it was not cosmos in the raised bed at all. My foggy memory seems to think someone advised to plant dill when it is cooler and I must have thought, why not give it a try in the raised bed and plant it out if that works. Well, it did germinate. So you might try that if you find you can't grow dill as I had very poor success with it in the past.
The herbs are a wonderful addition to our salads now, along with the green garlic and baby Egyptian onions. Lots of zing along with the mustards and radish. But on rainy days, I don't feel like a crisp salad, so, we make a pesto out of whatever is going, with the usual cheese, nuts and oil, tossed with a bowl of pasta and a squeeze of lemon...hot and comforting.

Here's to a warm, wonderful June and a warm smile from Johnny Jump Up and his orange Pansy friends.

An update...the fern is full of spores and is called an Interrupted Fern! Only the mid area carries the spores which after being distributed, that part of the frond falls off, leaving top and bottom and no middle. Interrupted!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Busy busy

The garden crew of two have been busy. We took down the monster maple by the house, moved the Hamamelis 'Diane' and congratulated ourselves on a job well done! SMILE

I am surprised Diane came into bloom before the winter daphne (Daphne mezereum). The latter is native to Nova Scotia and smells divinely sweet but is a plant for the poison garden. Here is a photo from last year. Even though it is poisonous, the cedar waxwings strip the berries when they are ready.

Deciding to take the curves out of the long bed and edge a straight line was not taken lightly. Maybe we've bitten off too much, as there are spots to be filled now, but surely it will look better when the trees are in bloom. Don't you think, this time of year its good to make a few changes, just to give us a perk and make the garden interesting. That is, if you have help. You see, this is the time of year when the Captain is busy with boats. Boats that must be put in the water, repaired, painted...and floats that must be repaired, made safer, this and that to be hauled out, perhaps an engine installed in another boat. I might get an easy job out of him when he returns at the end of his work day, but he sure is earning his supper on the weekends!! He does most of the grunt work, I do the supervising. Works for me! But edging the beds, that's my job and I love it.
Here are the tools I use. Have had them for many years but still going strong. What can I say....I'm and edger.

So calming and uplifting to see the bulbs coming out of the ground, rediscovering that inner peace the garden brings to the heart and soul. We have a hot day here on the South Shore, best get out there. Happy Gardening!

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.