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.

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.