Monday, March 26, 2012

First Blooms

We've had a light snowfall tonight, hovering around zero. Years ago, about twenty-five!!!...when my tulips were just out of the ground, I remember phoning a garden neighbour fretting about them..."what's going to happen..will I lose them?" Now, I know the resilience of plants, and most especially of bulbs and early blooms like Hellebores and Witch Hazel.

Last year, two Hamamelis (Witch Hazels) particular, 'Diane', found a home here. One of my dearest friends is named Diane, so that influenced me greatly, but it was the thought that these blooms would be the first to enhance the garden in spring that drew me to them. Their ripped ribbons of petals...large and striking, were planted where the sun shines through them, in late afternoon as seen in the photo above.
The blooms start out rather bright red as above, and then, grow to an autumn orangey red and last almost a month. These are not tiny blooms..they are about an inch across..and when a mature shrub, it must be marvellous to behold. Mine, only in it's first year here, but two year old a joy. I cannot recommend this highly enough..this 'Diane'. She is a true and blessed harbinger of spring.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Greening Up

When I last posted, the bed inside the fence had just been cleared off, ready for planting seeds. The weather really cooperated and in fact, we had two record breaking days of 28 Celsius here in Nova Scotia. If I had put the seeds in the bed, covered it with the plastic and gone on holiday as I did the first year I experimented with extending the season, the new shoots would have been fried. As it was, the cover had to be removed on those hot days and the bed kept moist but diligence paid off. Most of the seeds have germinated, except for the beets and carrots.

The cover still goes back on every night as we dip to zero, and remains on if the day is particularly chilly. I open the ends of the tunnel though, for air circulation because it is amazing how hot it can get under there on a sunny but cold day. I have the luxury of being retired and generally at home to attend to weather fluctuations however, if I couldn't be here, and the seeds had germinated, the ends would stay open all day anyway assuming Mr. Weatherman advised a fair weather day.

Generally, there is little watering to be done as the plastic acts a bit like a terrarium, circulating the moisture. But, not the last many warm days. I have had to water but wait until about two, when it is warm and the sun full overhead in the garden. I notice my watermelon radish have all germinated, so hopefully, it is cool enough for them to form their radish, which are green on the outside, a little rim of white inside and pink inside that!

Because of those two days of heat, the greens in the cold framed raised bed took off! My goodness, it was shocking to see the growth, especially the spinach. The new seeds of Virofly Spinach also germinated and you can see below, the new growth next to the spinach I planted last fall as well as the lettuce both overwintered under the cold frame.

I expect you can tell where this is going...yup...right onto the plate, along with some scallion cuttings, mizuna, arugula, red mustard and garlic greens!

Yummy and Good for you!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Springing into Spring

Are you starting to smell spring in the air? Here in Nova Scotia it's been a tease, but, we're getting there. True, we can still have a late winter snow storm but I will hedge my bets, and begin cleaning off the most protected of the beds on sunny warm days. Yes, I know, I too can hear the naysayers, but, I will be careful, and apply a bit of compost to those vulnerable adding a little protection. I won't rush it though, and judge each section as I go. "How much sun shines in that spot on a warm day; is it a sturdy and reliable plant". The rhubarb really does seem to like it's top dressing applied as early as possible. Mind you, think it's going to be divided this this space!
Last year I had the opportunity to taste test a lot of tomatoes at Owen Bridge's Tomato Fest at Annapolis Seeds. Please check out his website for an incredible list of seeds to order. The taste test winner in my book was Costoluta Genovese and I was lucky enough to be given seeds in an exchange this year. Hope you have an opportunity to do this with your garden friends as it saved me a lot $$.

The tomato varieties decided on so far are Costolto, Black Krim, Mexico Midget (especially because the dog loves these the most and can pick them himself) Chiapis Wild, Cuor Di Bue, Tibet, OSU Blue, Sungold cherry, Black Cherry, German Gold and a Roma paste undecided. Spring enthusiasm is kicking in, along with the recognition of what needs doing now. I will start my tomatoes this week coming. Eight to ten weeks before the last frost date is what I go by, so for our garden that is May 15th. Even then though, if that date comes and it's just too miserable with a poor forecast, I do not plant out.

The hoop row cover, made it through this mild winter just fine. It's the first year we left it up and if I had been...ahem..more organized last fall, and had the book Year Round Vegetable Gardener at hand, it would have been planted with more carrots at the very least. A few days ago, we pulled back the plastic cover and removed the fleece (white Remay) and straw.

Except for a few golden beets and smallish carrots, I removed all that was left, which wasn't much, let me tell you. Still, look at that was so soft and crumbly, the worms must have been working it all winter. I can actually get a trowel straight down into it. When the sun shines, it is steamy hot inside the cover, quite incredible. Planting seeds in there today as the weather is looking really good for the next week. Mostly it will be a variety of early hardy greens, carrots Atomic Red and Early Napoli, Beets Bulls Blood, Golden and Blancoma. I may put the Remay back on to protect and insulate the seeds and seedlings but in the past I have not found this to be necessary.

That's the update round here. The squirrels are full of spring thoughts as well, playing and well, you know, basically up to no good. They are running like mad things all over the garden....tails straight up in the air...So precious..
Do they really need to be this destructive?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Saying it with Flowers

Baptisia australis, commonly known as blue wild indigo
Someone left a bouquet of flowers outside Vicki's house today, tucked under her streetside shrub border, way to the right of the Baptisia australis she and I used to compare..hers to mine.."how big will it grow" we wondered and "can you believe it survived"! We weren't close...just garden buddies sometimes, neighbours, friends that smiled when we met, often a hug, but mostly, strong acquittance. We didn't hang around with the same folks but she knew my property well, having been close to the people who owned it before us.

We had a garden open day about six years ago, and she came with her son, who said..(and you don't forget when a young man says this)..."it's a little piece of heaven". My heart melts to remember that, to know, he had that same spirit inside him, and know he felt the same way I did and know, he inherited that from his mom. So long ago it seems. But now, his mom is gone, and we, her community, weeps.

I was thinking of scattering forget me nots in the sandy soil near the stone wall, outside her house. What can one do, when a death has tragically happened and you are so unprepared for it. Loss of life... can we find a way to make that spirit live on in our garden; grow blooms to remember as a testament to a life and love of gardening? The bouquet today, gently tucked, bright spring flowers nestled in snow...clearly they didn't want to impose on the family's grief. Flowers..the gift of love, longing, remembering.