Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Little Update Heading into April

Looking rather like a scary monster, Rheum palmatum 'Atrosanguineum' rises from the deep; the first fresh color in the spring garden so far. I am surprised it is ahead of the rhubarb but surely that will push itself up to the sunshine soon. Almost the end of March..where did it go? We have been busy not just sowing seeds but doing spring chores outside. This was the year to replace the back deck, a big job. It runs the length of the house, with two levels and a wide stair down to the lawn, veg and flower garden in the center of the yard. I guess you would say it is an indoor outdoor least that is how we use it.

One of the tomato flats germinated and is now under grow lights. In the hoop tunnel, there are a few ribbons of green; tomorrow we will have a better idea when we peel it back to water. Arugula has sprouted in the forward raised bed, under a fleece covering. The seeds were sown about ten days ago, and even though we had temps minus C 8 degrees at night, it goes to show how hardy those little plants are. A year ago you couldn't have convinced me, we could germinate greens under a simple piece of white fleece this time of year in Nova Scotia. Other than that, cleaned up one of the flower beds outside the veg garden and so far, looks good for survival rate.

Lots of bird activity around, especially the Mourning Doves! Always the cooing lovers.

Here's Lookin' at Ya!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Growing Pea Shoots..Good food for Us

Did you know you can sow peas for their edible tips all year round on windowsills? Well I didn't until recently.  "Garnish Type, Dwarf Gray Sugar" arrived from Johnny's Seeds with a full page of instructions for preparing, planting, growing, harvesting and marketing. Wouldn't life be easier if every seed package came with an enclosure like that!
However... following directions is not my strong suit and it did seem a lot to read... so yes..((( rushed through that bit.  I didn't notice, for instance, you don't have to inoculate the peas but I ALWAYS inoculate my pea seeds.....hard to break a habit.

My recipe.... Soak the peas overnight; next day, fill a tray or pretty pot with growing medium; cover totally with the soaked peas...totally! Then, sprinkle a light covering of the growing medium over that; top with an acrylic dome or clear wrap and keep moist. Peas do not need light to germinate.

These were planted March 12th and are ready to cut. J's say cut when 2 to 4 inches at soil level but I have read another source that says by cutting a little higher you can sometimes get a second harvest. We are going to add them to our salads, try them in a stir fry and maybe toss with pasta or rice.  Nibbling, I can attest to the fact these shoots are tender and taste fantastic... plus they are great value and easy pea-sy to grow.

Greens...make you feel really good inside don't they.. sliced young garlic, lemon zest, leaves of Winter Marvel lettuce..a titch of arugula..a wonderful Spring Tonic!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's Spring Finally....soil+seeds+a dirt dog

The soil under the hoop tunnel has warmed to F 58 degrees so we decided to plant the hardy seeds today. Lettuce Red Salad Bowl, Black Seeded Simpson and Italian Red Perilla, the latter new to us were the first in. Mizuna, Radish Watermelon, Neon Lights Chard, Radish D' Avignon, Lombardi and Viroflay Spinach also made the cut. Rainbow Mix and Atomic Red carrots; Golden, Blankoma (white) and Bulls Blood Beets were sown, and Pac Choi, a red variety from Johnny's seeds in Maine.
Winter Marvel lettuce, India mizuna, and arugula are really getting growing in the raised bed (cold frame covered) as well as the mache N brought from Provence last year which seems very hardy xo The early spring sunshine and warm days are a real boost to these early greens.

About two weeks ago we sprinkled a package of various early hardy greens in the cold frame and they all germinated. You see, this is what shocks read it can be done but don't believe it..and when they do germinate you  wait for them all to keel over and die..and when they don't...I guess..for me, this gardening business becomes a miracle.

To a more personal level..'The Chief'...

We have been burning a lot of debris in the fire pit the last few days and what goes better with a good fire than a few hot dogs! Chief, might be a bit of a handsome hottie but he sure picks up the dirt! It's hard enough to work in the garden when the body is just coming out of it's stiff and frozen state, but to end the day cleaning this fellow)) ....Cathy, time to trim this puppy...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Harp Seal Lounging in the Sun

Yup...the days are continuing to bring spring closer, and while some might like to find a sheltered garden corner to enjoy a few rays, others really prefer being out on the ice soaking up the heat.

We have lived here, close to the sea, about twelve years, but only on rare occasions have I seen seals on the ice.  Today, nearing home, basking in the sun, was this black faced beauty.

Click on photos to enlarge

As I stopped to take photos, I could hear Edsel's rooster on the farm hill beyond, priming his pipes.....imagine that sound mixed with the snorting vocals of a seal in it's sunny bliss...

But, sunshine must not be spent taking seal photos alone, so hurried to the two tasks set out for today.. prune the wisteria and the spirea. This year we did a good whacking off of tendrils so maybe more blooms in 2011 than last year. The spirea is Gold Flame and when purchased, was told to trim early by one third every year to get that  incredible gold red color in spring. Works for us every time. 

We think.... we might plant under the hoop tunnel tomorrow if the fine weather continues. Stand by!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Raising the Mini Hoop Tunnel in Snow

Shivers....well it's excitement that's causing the shivers and not the snow! We dragged the hoop cover out from storage...yes, it's showing wear but it will survive another spring. First thing on the agenda...dig our way into the garden and open the mean feat as there was still ice on the pavers.

Trusty Captain took care of this and you know darn well, I didn't shovel one bit of snow))). Anyway, it was all his idea to begin with.... starting about five years ago. "Why don't I just remove the snow, put up the hoop tunnel....just see if the soil temperature gets warm enough to plant some seeds".  And I said..."Well sure my go right ahead" not being one to stop a creative spirited gardener when I was thinking all along..."good luck with that!". HAH!

So that's exactly what he did..and what 'we' continue to do!! As in the past, early planting will be Neon Lights Swiss Chard, Bulls Blood and Golden beets, Black Seeded Simpson (he's not fussed on that one) and Red Oakleaf Lettuce/Red Salad Bowl, a mesculin mix and Rainbow Mix carrots. However, Atomic Red and Early Napoli carrots might be planted as I have ordered the seed to try. The soil temp under that snow was  C.7 degrees.  I noted we planted seeds out on April 4th, 2009 and March 21st, we will see how long it takes this year for the soil to get to where it needs to be. Oh my, the bed looks rather desperate right now heh!

The above photos show our progress the past few days; the photos below show the progression through the last few years, 4th May 10, 30th May 10 and 13th June 09....hoop cover shifts on occasion for rotation.

Please don't think the garden soil looks all fluffed like this normally..but pickie time, I do kinda make an effort))). Oh, isn't it wonderful to look at GREEN and not just white!!!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What Are The Skies Like?

Big and Blue, the sky has been beautiful for days now; the sun beating down, snow melting nicely. Temps are rising and what! you think we might even be able to rake and tidy soon? Last year on March 22nd, that was exactly what we were doing.... not the whole yard mind you, but over by the summerhouse near the long wall and pines. I am starting to feel hope, that soon, we will see some sign of spring bloom near the foundation where my lone Hellebore waits.

Most days now, the windows automatically open in the summerhouse, the min max thermometer getting up to 85 degrees F. In anticipation of starting seeds this coming week, the old trays are washed and sterilized waiting to be filled.

Seed packets are sorted; suitcase packed. We're having a girls day out seed sharing ....very excited about that. Don't you think it's a fun idea? This leads me to a "true confession"!

I don't think the German Gold tomatoes we grew last year were in fact German Gold at all! (see tomatoes in photo below). The seeds were purchased from an Organic farm in Ontario about seven years ago labeled as such but I am of a mind to think they might be a Yellow Brandywine. The flavor was luscious,  texture firm...they didn't split and grew very large. German Gold online appears to have pink bottoms and these did not. So when I share the seeds, I will feel sorry, not knowing the variety. If you have any idea, or if I am mistaken on the discription of the German Golds, please let me know. That would be sincerely appreciated.

La Roma, Speckled Roman, Carbon Black, Purple Calabash, Scotia, Big Rainbow (the smaller yellow tomato) and the purported German Gold in various stages of ripening 2010