Friday, October 29, 2010

Autumn Gold

The garden is glowing; it just can't stop showing off!

It's this time of year, we find out if the labels were true: "Great Autumn Color". Not only do we want great autumn color, but being selfish as I am, I would like it to last a little while and hope we don't have torrential rains or lashing winds ripping the leaves off, and ruining the anticipated glory.

The Maples, Viburnums, and even the Cotoneaster with it's baby leaves turning gold, are a welcome sight walking the path to the back yard. The Cherokee Dogwood is under planted with (hopefully, dwarf) Spirea. Diablo Ninebark adds color depth all year, but this time of year, I appreciate it even more. Ahem...if you are thinking I plant too intensely you are right)))). Some things will eventually have to be moved..

Framing the vegetable garden below, on the left, is a poor specimen of Paperbark Maple (Acer griseum) and on the right is a downright awesome, Amur Maple, grandly golden.

Nova Scotia, and especially Cape Breton, is well known for it's autumn color and folks travel here from all over, for the BIG SHEW! However, if you plan it right, from the beginning, and purchase or transplant 'autumn color' trees and shrubs into your garden, it's just as much pleasure to sit home and enjoy the 'Show', don't ya think?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Poor Lilacs

My thoughts have been preoccupied and troubled, the past few days. You see, the lilac's have been severely attacked, ..shredded like cat scratching posts, as you can see from the photos, especially when you zoom in. The whole lilac bed is like this, some trunks worse than others. Quite near the lilacs, the red horse chestnut (Aesculus x carnea ‘Briotii’) has been attacked as well, even though it is surrounded by wire to keep rabbits away. The damage is much to high up for rabbits unless of course, they fly or climb.

This brings me to something I did not mention on blog when it happened a few weeks back...I saw a bobcat cross the road, very near where we live. We didn't discover our garden damage until a walk about with D and D on Sunday. On Monday, we phoned the Dept. of Natural Resources to find out what we could do to deter the was then that I found out another driver, had reported the same sighting although he believed it to be a cougar.

We have..or rather, had... a bird feeder nestled protectively, nearby and I suspect, the mice were attracted to the lost seed among the grass below and ..the cat was attracted to the mice. Of course, without photos, I can't confirm that it was the bobcat that shredded the lilacs, and damaged the Chestnut, but I strongly believe it was and it is consistent with their behavior according to Department of Natural Resources.

Having one of Nova Scotia's wild animals in the vicinity, in our woodland area, arouses more wonder than fear. I wouldn't want to lose my Beauty of Moscow and other lilacs though, so fabric smelling of bleach, as recommended by Natural Resources, will hopefully arrest any further scent marking.

Otherwise, our weather has been pleasingly warm and the air is full of the richest aroma of sea, salt, autumn leaves and moist earth. A truly hard frost, that blackens all, has not arrived yet but it is time to put away all the clay pots, make sure each and every bulb is tucked in and above all..keep up inspection!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Rosy Outlook

One can't help but have a rosy outlook, finding fat, thick rose hips along many of the beaches in Nova Scotia, this time of year, often, free for the picking. They thrive in the beach sand, and withstand the salt air so well; they are a major contribution to "seaside landscaping" in our area.

Now that we've just had a hard frost, it's a perfect time to pick these vitamin C packed red pods. Good thing also (gosh do I sound like Martha..this is a good thing)))), quince are ready now, and because they are loaded with pectin, you don't have to use the store bought stuff to make jelly ...just add two or three quince to your recipe.

Inspired by Allotment 2 Kitchen chef, Mango Cheeks (see sidebar and her blog) and her recipe for Rose Hip Jelly, the Chief and I again visited D and S's beautiful seaside property and picked hips. Sheltered from the wind, warmed by bright sunlight with just a few wasps keeping us company, (yes, Chief got stung...did you have to ask?) we picked enough for two lots of jelly.

My "inspired" Mango Cheeks version used about half rose hips and half cranberries to make the 500 g... "Good ole" Nova Scotian cranberries I might add, which can be picked in boggy areas right now, so all and all, it's kind of a "free" jelly and I like free.

Now, I've never had much luck making jelly, but this worked and I think adding two quince helped,.. quince kindly gifted by C and J..other fine neighbours.

It's a rosy outlook and a comfort when you do have good neighbours, and they want to share, and you can share with them. Thanks Mango Cheeks for your inspiration..made me brave to try rose hips))

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Surprise Frost in the Garden

No, it wasn't predicted in our area, but The Captain advised "better cover them over, no cloud cover and a bright moon"...and Capt. Weatherman was right. Still, some plants were only halfheartedly know...that moment arrives when you think...Oh I can't do this another night.

We don't have a lot of annuals to be truthful, and really, the crops remaining at this point ..the brassicas for instance, they just get better with a frost..sweeter, and can remain in the ground for harvesting later. The leeks are standing like soldiers, and the Brussels sprouts, (mangled as they are by bugly critters) looked magical this morning in their sparkling coat.

There's cleaning up to do now, and bulbs to plant. The cold frame is almost ready so that's exciting and what a learning curve...more on that later. There is a hoop frame over a cool weather greens variety making for some great salads and there's still the Chard... so, we aren't going hungry))))).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Cold Frame covered Raised Bed

The burning question was..what angle to build the cold frame. This set us on a journey of discovery... we do not get enough sun in our garden during the winter to have a four season garden so is a late winter/early spring cold frame of any use to us? I think now..yes.

Having found at discount, a piece of Lexan left over from a local greenhouse job, the Capt. built the cold frame. A few weeks back, we set it on the raised bed, sowed seed and waited....

The radishes are growing, and greens have spot germinated...about sixty percent...but not bad.

Here is what Eliot Coleman had to say on the angle of the cold frame for midwinter input:

"Some experimenters have built frames with the lights at a 45° angle facing south to maximize midwinter sun input. Such frames don’t work as well as the traditional low-angle models for two reasons. First, you don’t need maximum heat in midwinter for hardy crops. All they require is the protection of the frame. Second, there seems to be some benefit to having the glass roof near the plants as if it were a covering of snow. The environment inside the traditional low-angle frames better meets the needs of hardy crops."

So again, it's a learning curve. We are thrilled to actually have plants germinating and growing at this time of year.

I do want to leave you with an absolute joy I saw today visiting a garden friend, also with the same first name as myself. This below is the second year for her chard. She says, she harvested last year right up until she couldn't get through the snow any more and it survived the winter. For Nova Scotia..this is pretty darn awesome. Good Health B.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

100th post!

Can you believe this is my 100th post since starting the blog back in March (although 3 didn't make it past the drawing board))? Who would have thought, sitting at the computer and pounding a few keys, attaching a pic or five, would connect me with writers, artists, chefs and farmers not to mention other gardeners, family and friends. What started out with "wow, I'd like to try that dear brother, can you help me set this up?" has grown to include "yes, we'd love to have you visit and want to photograph the garden for your new book???"

Since starting the blog, and following others, the garden has been in a magazine, and should be in a book coming out next year..see That kindness, I would never have anticipated, and it happened because of a connection made here on this blog, with an enthusiastic and most generous writer, gardener and mom extraordinaire.

The Captain, Chief and I, have met new friends and have been hugely encouraged by your conversation on blog. We have found answers to many questions ... "how did you build your cold frame?" and "can we really grow greens in Nova Scotia even in October and November?" and more.

Thanks sincerely, for visiting, following, commenting and..most of all, allowing us to share our garden year with you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Frost Alert!

Dressed in old sheets and fleece, the garden survived our first frost alert (in low lying areas). Well....I didn't really think there was going to be a frost and I don't consider us a low lying area, but... it did land on our neighbour's roof. That's too close for comfort so, glad we made the effort.

A number of years ago, we didn't make the effort...and looked at dead blooms and blackened foliage for well over a month, before the second frost hit. What's ten minutes throwing a few old sheets over plants ...

We will keep this up until we can't stand it anymore, and hopefully, by that time, a cold frame will be built and we can carry on the season just a little bit longer with cool weather salad greens.

Till then, paying attention to frost warnings pays off ;-)

Planted bulbs yesterday, coated in copper, blood meal and chilli peppers (quite the concoction heh). The raccoons did not dig them up, nor did the chipmunks..but that's just one night. Fingers crossed we will see spring blooms.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

To Sit, Watch and Listen in the Garden

Today, a surprise late blooming Actaea, was a fountain of pure delight for the Red Admiral Butterfly. I understand there are two broods of Admirals if the season is kind, and, since our Actaea's were already spent, not only was it a surprise to find this one in bloom, but also, covered with bees, bugs and these beautiful October butterflies. How did I miss this...?... I guess I know why.

Sometimes, I just need to sit down, ...sit and not the garden. I don't do it often enough..too much to do. But today...with the chill of the night and morning having passed, the heat of the afternoon sun felt good on my I sat on the old camp bench...watched and listened.

For some of us, the garden will soon be asleep under the snow. Take the time for a "Me" day in the garden...get back to the why you garden, and the wonder of your garden, and cherish it's joy. I think, our gardens would like that..... to quietly visit with you. today, for me...perhaps she will say thank you.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Vision Accomplished

When the raised beds were built in the spring, they looked very lonely...very white...and very big. They were purpose built to hopefully grow some blight free tomatoes (good luck with that I hear you say)))). So, remember, I had this idea...if nasturtium seeds were tucked in all along the front edge, wouldn't that be "A VISION" in fall!! Could that soften the hard look of the beds and for this year at least, integrate the raised beds with the rest of the garden?

Well the nasturtiums didn't do well to begin with; the earwigs wouldn't leave them alone, and the sprouts limped along doing practically nothing for a very long time...until, the tomato plants started to die back and then they exploded onto the scene. They have now climbed to the top of the trellis, spill over the lawn and are actually becoming THE VISION!

The garden is amazingly, still, putting on a good show. I filled in a few spots with pots when the front bed was redone but all and all, Autumn is awesome!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Autumn Greens...and Blues....A Day Away from the Garden

Yes, these greens look good enough to eat..."Madame, a selection of the finest the sea has to offer"))).

Bayswater Beach Yesterday; the shoreline was strewn with seaweed, usual for this time of year...a great time to gather nutrients to put in the garden where allowed, but, that was not why we were there.

Cousin is back for an autumn vacation with us, and on such a beautiful sunny day we decided to take him to the Swissair Memorial internment site which is just across from the beach. Although a tragic loss, I can't imagine a more beautiful spot to rest for eternity...the sound of surf, birds, rustling leaves, in a woodland garden.

Our Nova Scotia roads and highways are lined with fall asters, wild rose shrubs covered in hips and glistening gold grasses. Where it is cooler, the trees are starting to change color but on the South Shore, the change is not as advanced as other areas. Today is a crisp'ish day; Jack Frost can't be too far away.