Thursday, January 12, 2012

Of Shoots and Other Things

Last year, we had great success with growing pea shoots to use in salads and sandwiches, so.... armed with more knowledge (sometimes a dangerous situation ;-), I've also decided to try broad (fava/windsor) beans. Apparently, the greens taste just like the beans....delicious.
Ready to be filled with compost; Wee be Little pumpkin supervising.
After filling the pots, the entire surface was covered with the overnight soaked peas and beans and gently covered with more compost. Stand by for further photos in a week or so. You can read how it worked last year, here.

Also started two long trays of greens, a variety of lettuces from The Cooks Garden as well as early sprouting green onions, and baby garlic collected from our garlic scapes. Do you think that might keep the white fly off the new lettuce, inter planting this way? Hope so, as white fly in the summerhouse has been a problem in the past.

I've also become quite inspired by "Pot It, Grow It, Eat It" and would recommend it not only for this time of year here in Nova Scotia, when we want to grow a few things in pots on our windowsill or a greenhouse, but it makes great reading for anyone who would like to make the switch from growing annuals or perennials in pots and would like to try their hand at food growing instead. The book, by Kathryn Hawkins, encourages readers to think outside the box... grow Rhubarb, root vegetables, salad greens, fruit trees and more. There's a 'quick potted guide' for each plant... type and size of container recommended, when to plant, where to site the pots, soil requirements and harvest time. She also addresses maintenance and possible problems, so along with the photos and the recipe section on how to use your fresh grown harvest, it really is a great book to have on hand, especially if one doesn't have a back yard. Pots are certainly the answer and this time of year, going through seed catalgues, you can plan your patio or driveway garden.
It has been snowing on and off since Christmas but so far, it doesn't seem to stay for very long. This means, we've still been able to pick greens from the raised bed/cold frame. Although hardly growing, they hold their own under protection. Niki Jabbour, in her new book "The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener", mentions cold frames being in ground refrigerators and that is so true. The greens above are arugula, (the wild and not so wild), a bit of mache, mizuna, oh yes, and a little bit of spinach. Although it was 9 C. below today, and snowing as I type, it is expected to go up to 9 C. above tomorrow. That should allow for a nice fresh winter salad picked for supper, until the pea and bean shoots are ready.
Chickadee and Goldfinch brighten the winter garden


  1. Are the pictures take in the summer house?
    Brenda...could you tell me what the difference is between using a hoop system and cold frame. I know that glass would be more durable, but do they stay warmer as well?

  2. good to see a proper Winter happening-although there is still time here. Things are just doing their stuff too early.

  3. I'm a great advocate of container gardening, and I successfully grow lots of Baby Leaf Salad in seed-trays. I should think that about 50% of my growing space is in pots and containers. This makes for added flexibility since you can move things round to suit weather conditions.

  4. My you’ve been busy planning and cropping Brenda. Wishing you a very productive 2012. Great to see the birds feeding in the snow – lovely image :-)

  5. It just makes you feel as though you are doing something when you plant a few seeds doesn't it - it has been ages since I did any proper gardening so a little stint in the greenhouse is needed to get me back on track. I think I might follow your lead and get some pea shoots going too.

  6. Your cold frame looks so inspiring with all those greens in there. I have old windows but I hung them on my yard barn for decoration. I might have to rethink that.

  7. I've been meaning to try growing pea shoots but so far haven't maybe I should get my finger out!

  8. know, I am not sure if either the hoop house or cold frame is warmer than the other to be truthful. This is actually the first year we have left the hoop frame up all winter. There are a lot of greens germinated under there. So I guess I can judge the result this spring. I can say, the cold frame, for us here in Nova Scotia about zone 6 in our locale, has kept us in greens and kept hardy winter greens, carrots and garlic, very happy through our east coast well below zero temps. On your side of Canada, no question you can harvest all year. Think from looking at Niki J's book, Year Round Vegetable Gardener, it's a lot about timing and what to start when and knowing maturity times of plants for one's region. I have needed this book for a long time! Hope that helps.

    GZ, I so enjoy your blog and your updates on firings..pots beautiful...landscape as well. is that flexibility isn't it..especially when the pots are on those roller type things so you can move them about. Every year I say I am going to put more in pots and don't. Maybe this year!!

    Shirl..I knew you would like the bird photo; was thinking of you when I included it. Thank you.

    Elaine, thank you for following! You are right, this time of year, getting a bit of soil under the fingernails and just finding a spot to sit and push a few peas into the soil feels great. I'm thinking of pasta with olive oil, lemons fresh squeezed and pea shoots just starting to wilt on top, with some parmigiana cheese..oh bliss. How wonderful you have a greenhouse!

    Lisa, thank you. Old windows would work just as well, and in fact, have read, old shower doors, the plastic sliding kind, work really well also. You know, we collected old windows and built the summerhouse around those. Lots of uses and your creativity of using them on your yard barn as decoration is a great idea as well. do need to get your finger out!! BIG BIG GRIN... Pea shoots are, without a doubt, won't believe it..really and truly.

    Thanks for commenting very very much.

  9. Great post. I'm particularly pleased to get the book tip because a lot of the soil round here is contaminated by oil in places and so I rely on pots for a lot of those areas (plus I can move them in winter and use the area to dump the tons of snow that occasionally threaten to cave in the roof).

    I was wondering if you might add your garden to Folia the online gardening website (it's free). I'm always looking to encourage more gardeners to join and I have an interest in Nova Scotia Gardeners because I lived in Halifax when I did a College exchange to NSCAD in '92.

    It's a great resource for gardeners and has helped me keep on top of my 800+ plantings with photo's, notes, journals, milestones etc. They have an extensive plant wiki and a seed stash section where people can also list seeds for swapping.

    Here's the link to my Folia page so you can see how it works:

  10. Thanks Cally, for the kind invitation. Glad you enjoyed the post as well. Hope you enjoyed your year in Halifax and NASCAD...great College, lots of new news about it lately.

  11. Hey Bren.. wow! great photos.. that cold frame is gorgeous with the snow on top and the yummy greens within..

    Erin, a cold frame is more insulating than a mini hoop tunnel depending on the type of frame. wooden frames seem to be the most insulating and will let you grow the widest range of veggies. if you have a polytunnel or greenhouse, you can combine that with mini tunnels or cold frames for even greater protection..

    After talking to you Bren, I've started some shoots too - broccoli and radish shoots. So good! Love the book suggestion too. I will have to look for it..


  12. Is Niki's book out yet? I really need to get my hands on it and start thinking seriously about how to extend my vegetable season. Once again I'm looking at your winter photos of wonderful greens and well I'm green with envy. It feels like forever since we had fresh vegetables. I even managed to kill the rosemary I tried overwintering in the house.

  13. Niki, thanks so much for helping out and answering Erin's question; I'm still a newbie at this four season attempt but loving every learning experience. Your book is wonderful; I am learning so much and reading as fast as I can.

    Marguerite, check out Niki's blog on the sidebar for the latest update of book release. Sorry about the Rosemary..wonder what happened? In the past, I have not been able to keep mine in the house as it is too dry, but in the cooler summerhouse, it's managing okay. Do try the pea shoots, they are delicious, honestly..and fast growing. Beans are slow to germinate so don't know if that's going to be a success or not. Time will tell.

  14. Thank you Brenda and Niki for answering my question. You are so helpful. I can't wait to get my hands on your book Niki. It sounds like a must have for veggie gardening. I also can't wait to see Brenda's garden in it too!!!!

  15. Snowing since Christmas - how wonderful Jane woud say. Not here I'm afraid - just wet and murky. But funnily enough we were talking today about sowing beans next year

  16. Wow .. you are keeping very busy Brenda! I love that you have fresh greens during the winter! And the birds look sweet and happy enjoying a meal at your feeder.

  17. Your snow covered cold frame filled with greens is so inspiring! I hope I can persuade my husband to build me a couple of cold frames in the spring. I will definitely check out your book recommendation.

  18. I couldn't get Year Round Veggie Gardener in my local book store, so I have ordered one online. I am hoping to have it to take on vacation in a week. I like to read a book while we're away. I enjoy that there is a certain amount of irony in taking this book to Hawaii to read it!!