Monday, May 27, 2013

Nothing really to report (most boring blog entry ever)

 Another beautiful day at the garden.  Not a whole lot to report since it's early days, but the garlic looks like it has almost doubled in size from a few weeks ago.  I can't even recall all the varieties we planted, so it will be fun to find out.










At least one of the tomato plants looks pitiful (not shown here).  Everything else looked like it was recovering from being scorched or parched I'm not sure, I thought we got a good amount of rain and cooler temperatures last week but the garden was bone dry on Sunday and most things were looking a bit sad.  I think we'll have to make more of a point to get out a few more times than usual this week.  I am definitely worried about how it's going to do while we're gone.






About 3/4 of the onions have sprouted, there is one patch that has not sprouted at all and it happens to be in the same area we had trouble growing stuff last year...so either there is a bigger problem with that spot than I thought, or it's just that happened to be where we planted a slower growing variety of onions.  I'll give it another week and decide what to do then.





 The peas were looking pretty ok, again, lacking water I think.
We put some dill in with the cucumbers because they are friends both in and out of the pickle jar.
 The peppers were already starting to grow some buds so they got picked off.  We had prolific peppers last year due to obsessive bud-picking.  Thankfully this year we planted a few different kinds because one can only eat so many green peppers.
So that's it, kind of boring.  No sign of potatoes but I expect to see those coming up by the end of this week.


Still loving my X-Hose though :)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Every Muscle In My Body Still Hurts.




What a great weekend to get the garden going!  So what if I can't move my arms properly after carrying another 60lb bag of compost...

Another trip to Plant World, this time to pick up all the things we're putting in.  We're not doing anything from seed this year because, I don't really know why.  Laziness?  We're trying to keep it simple too.  Nothing too fussy.

That cart holds 12 tomato plants, some cucumber, zucchini (lol!), watermelon, peppers, peas and beans.




The garden was looking sassy when we arrived.  Sassy! A bit of supplemental weeding, some spreading of compost and we were ready to get digging.  

We're opting for trenches this year, because last year we found that we had a hard time retaining water in the soil.  We dug out trenches spanning the entire width of the plot (15') with some room to spare on the side for walking.

In the back as you can see is the garlic looking good.  Next is 2 rows of potatoes.  We have blue potatoes, fancy french fingerling, red and basic white potatoes.  A bit more than last year.  We put the watermelon in with the potatoes because the key to growing watermelon is making sure nobody can see that you're growing watermelon.



This adorable child wandered over from a few plots down, so naturally I put her to work.  If you have time to lean you have time to clean, kid.


Following the potatoes are 2 rows of tomatoes.  We've got 6 Roma, a Beefsteak, we couldn't find Black Krim but we have another black variety, of course a cherry tomato monster and my personal favourite Early Girl.  Who am I kidding they are all my favourites.

After that we have 2 rows of onions, which is many, many onions (and leeks too, don't forget the leeks!)



The peas did really well on the trellis last year so we're giving them half of it again this year, right next to the beans.  We haven't grown beans on the trellis but given that we managed to grow them up a single pole I think this will work just fine.  Finally something sturdy enough to hold it. Behind those we planted a bunch of herbs, hoping that the leafy beans will shade them a bit from the scorching summer sun.



When all was said and done we spent about 3 hours digging and planting, digging and planting but we were rewarded by FINALLY GETTING TO USE OUR X-HOSE.  And let me tell you, this is the best thing that has ever happened to me.  Ok maybe not the best... but it's pretty sweet.
  

It's lightweight, it expands further than the length of the entire garden which means no more dragging it around ruining plants.  It has great flow and a nozzle that provides a number of different spraying options.  Our garden neighbours all came by for a demonstration.

The only thing left to put in now is dill.  This week is forecasting a lot of rain, which I'm pretty happy about.  It's the best time to get a good soak while everything is freshly transplanted   I'm thinking it's going to be a good year :)

P.S. Now taking applications for garden waterers from June 17th to July 8th...if you water the garden you will be rewarded with garden spoils!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Ya Bunch of Jerks...



























Previously on...Garden 104.  We last left off November 5th.  The garden had been turned over and put to bed.

And now, hey look! It's the garden.  Either it has become a nutrient deficient 450sq ft wasteland where not even weeds can grow, or we did a bang up job prepping it for winter and to be perfectly honest, I'm actually not sure.Either way I did a little happy dance showing up to this, because I broke our garden claw last year and wasn't really sure how I was going to weed the garden.  Ryan pulled out that patch of grass in the lower left corner of the picture.  What a guy!




Here's Ryan in November, all bundled up and putting garlic bulbs in the ground.

And here it is now!  I think we only lost a couple over the winter and the ones here are looking pretty strong.


Did a little pre-planning over breakfast with this book my mom gave me for xmas.  Very handy! We headed out to Plant World and bought a whole bunch of onion sets, a few varieties of potatoes and a bunch of herbs.  

We splurged on the "good" compost and did our best worlds strongest man impression carrying these 60lb bags from the car to the garden.

Got the garden all weeded and raked all pretty, look at that pretty dirt! 


 

Spread the fertilizer...


Busted out the best xmas present, ready to water it all down, in order to plant in the massive amount of bulbs and plants when we realized...

THE CITY OF TORONTO HASN'T TURNED ON THE WATER YOU BUNCH OF JERKS!!

*sigh*

So, basically that's it.  Couldn't plant.  Went home with the sads.  Now our plants are living in behind our building, hopefully the city will call me and tell me they turned the water on and I can get out before the weekend to put them in.

As consolation, on the way back we stopped by the florist and picked out a massive selection of flowers for the wedding. Yay!



Monday, November 5, 2012

Taking a Leek (or 6)

Well, it's that sad time of year when it's time to put the garden to bed.

I didn't write much over the fall because there wasn't much to say! 

We got lots of tomatoes canned, we managed 3/4 brussel sprout plants harvested for Thanksgiving dinner (they were really good).  The cauliflower never did give us anything, and we had more peppers than we could get a handle on thanks to some prudent early season pruning.

In the end though, the garden managed to surprise us with 5-6 robust leeks, a handful of nicely shaped carrots, and about 4-5 rutabagas that have no doubt sweetened in the cooler temperatures.

We also got loads of green onions that will go nice in our salads and as a garnish this week.

And also, buried in some weeds are the beginnings of what is surely going to be some epic dill next year (perennial, right?).  I'm looking forward to not have to babysit the fragil dill through the summer heat, now that there looks like there is going to be a lot of it. It's so fragrant too.

This week I'm going to make some leek and potato soup for some new parents friends of mine, and perhaps pick what's left of the fresh dill as a garnish.

This week our task was to take out all the dead stuff, turn over all the dirt and plant the garlic.

Being kind of busy this fall we've yet to really formulate our plan of attack for the garden next year, which is kind of critical in deciding where we're to plant the garlic.

With a wedding and a 3 week honeymoon in the works, we're realizing we're going to be away for some critical gardening time next year.  So our plan for now is to go with staples like potatoes, onions, tomatoes and garlic.  These are things we use the  most of, and will keep the longest.  We're down to our last two heads of garlic that came out in june.

Having learned our lesson (that we love garlic, and can grow it pretty well it seems), we got down to business and planted about 60 cloves, which is about three times what we did this year.

We're supposed to plant it around 3 weeks before the ground freezes, and given the temperatures this seems to be the ideal time.

It's close to the back so we'll be fighting the war on grass, but I think it was a good choice.  I can't wait until next summer when it's time to harvest.  Growing garlic felt like a real accomplishment for us!

So with that, the end of the garden blog for 2012.  It was a good season.  Hot as hell and dryyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

Some things grew really well for no good reason and some things didn't.  I will never understand what happened to the roma tomato plants, but I guess that's just the way it goes.  My uncle says there's no real explanation for these things!

Next year maybe I''ll write more on canning, as I think I've got the hang of it enough to write about it.

A lot of lessons were learned, and bad tan lines earned. I already can't wait for next years garden season to begin.

Sleep tight, Garden 104!



...Oh yeah, one other thing, SCREW YOU BEETS!!








Monday, August 20, 2012

I am absolutely growing weed(s)...

 Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

(Garden before)
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
GAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

So, we go camping for a week and I guess when you add it all up it was almost 2 weeks that we left the garden relatively unattended.  It rained buckets while we were gone, and when we arrived on Sunday I almost cried.

Thankfully, my grandmother, bless her, bought us a brand new pitchfork type garden tool that made tackling this mess a little less awful.

Weeds everywhere.  Vegetables, overgrown.  Dying.  Bad things happening.

I resolved we'd be there the entire afternoon, so we started at the back in the corn.

The corn was actually a disappointment, I'm going to have to do more research.  I'm not sure if it was the earwigs, or if we took them off too soon, too early, if they got too much or not enough water.  The cobs were kind of...chewy. Not sweet at all.  Ah well, a learning lesson.

I guess what *is* good about the corn was planting the pole beans beside the stalks.  I laboriously trimmed away all the corn leaves, leaving the sturdy stalks in place to discover pocketfuls of beans already growing.  Now with the extra sunlight I am expecting a green bean explosion.



(Garden after)


They were really good, had them for dinner steamed with a touch of butter and salt.  YUM!

The cooler weather and rain has also done good things for the lettuce which is sprouting nicely.  The beets, which had earlier shown promise have now dwindled again to only a few hanging on.

We've been enjoying the chinese eggplant, sautéed with garlic and ginger.

Leeks are hanging in, and will hopefully be ready for the next camping trip.  On the last one, we grilled store bought leeks, drizzled with olive oil and salt, and then dipped them in a red pepper dip.  Delicious!


We have an awful lot of space we need to figure out what to do with.  I'm thinking maybe cabbage?  Maybe resow some parsnips that didn't come up the first time?

It's time to start thinking about cooler weather vegetables.

The second sowing of carrots, onions and (1st sowing) of rutabaga are doing pretty good as well.  It took us maybe an hour on our hands and knees, meticulously pinching every. single. weed. from that bed. Sore back? Yes.

 The tomatos...ohhh the tomatos.  They needed a serious amount of TLC.

We're growing indeterminate varieties, which means that they don't really stop growing.  Like, ever.

They grow and grow and grow and take over all the space.

The upside of course, is many tomatoes.  The downside is that they tend to crowd each other, and even themselves.  We went down every single plant, and pruned out all the overgrowth, as well as tried to give them a little more support as many branches were just hanging on the ground.  I think next year we should try staking them on tall poles as they quickly outgrew the wire baskets.

There were still quite a few green tomatoes, so now with the overgrowth trimmed back, the sunlight should ripen those up nicely.

We took out one of the plants, as it had given us about a half dozen *beautiful* beefsteaks and then withered away.  Thanks beefsteak tomato plant, RIP.

Now that we're getting more tomatoes that we can possibly eat in a week, the canning process begins.  The romas are kind of meh, so this years canning will probably be a mixed bag of tomatoes in jars.

Oh and speaking of things dying, the zucchini finally kicked the bucket.  I still have a mega-zucchini on my window sill but that shall be the last.  I'm kind of happy, kind of sad.  Give me a month and I'll be craving it again.

The watermelon gave us a lovely little watermelon that we took camping.  I am kind of giving up on it almost, but I trimmed out the dead parts and realized that there is still a nice vibrant green vine, so I'll leave it and see where it goes.  There is potential I guess.

 I can't even describe how many lbs of biomass I feel like we hauled out of this garden yesterday.  I was pleased though that the epic gardener across from us brought his family by and they commented on how nice and neat it was looking by the time we were almost done.

Anyway, lastly the peas have come up nicely against the trellis.  I'm kind of skeptical that we'll get any since they are an earlier season kind of thing, but hey, the cooler late summer into fall weather might be all they need.

This week, I resolve to visit the garden more before we go away again and stay on top of those damn weeds!



Monday, July 30, 2012

Tomato Heaven

It's that time of year, the time when all of the tomato plants have started to really produce.  The full visual effect is not suitably shown here, since I have about 5-6 tomatoes on my window sill at home.

I love tomatoes, so this is pretty much heaven for me right now.  My favourites are Black Krim, not shown here.  They are sweet, and have a beautiful dark skin.  Delicious with a bit of olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper.

Carrots are showing up nicely, they are definitely better than last year since we thinned them out properly.  Some are a bit deformed, but that is only an aesthetic thing.

We're taking them out kind of early as we are eating them up, I think they could still stay in the ground longer.

That purple thing is the first eggplant, which is going into a schezwan stir fry tonight.

And you can see, plenty of jalapeños that we are going to pickle, or add to salsa.

The rain last week was wonderful for the seeds we planted.  Also aided by the new bed trough formation, no doubt.  I think this method is a winner.

Everything but the carrot and parsnips have sprouted, and if memory serves carrots came up last on the first sowing so I'm not too concerned at the moment.

That means we've got peas, cucumber, spinach, leaf lettuce, romaine, frisee, beets, turnip, and a few rows of onions on the go.

Hopefully the temperatures stay warm but not hot, throughout the next month.






Here we have repurposed the cucumber trellis for peas.  The heavy rains did a good job of churning some of the planted pea seeds, so we may not get quite as much as we planted.  We may not get any at all, who knows!


Here are the new lettuce and beet beds.  The beets have come up right away, and in good numbers, so maybe 5th sowing is the charm.




















 In other eggplant news, the chinese eggplants are in but the Italian variety is still coming along.  This is about the size of a softball at the moment.

And lastly, the corn.  Oh...the corn.  I'm really not sure what to expect.  For starters, ear wigs have eaten almost all the silks off of all the ears I can see.  I thought this might mean that the corn will just be cobs with no kernels.  I pulled off an ear that looked especially decimated, but to my surprise it actually had plump, juicy kernels on it.  There were some bare patches, and the top of it had been nibbled away, but at first glance we might actually get some corn afterall...even if it is kind of ugly.

The kernels produced a milky white substance which I think means they are actually ready.  We'll leave them one more week and then take what we can, camping.  Should be delicious grilled on the open fire.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Tomato Time!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
 Ah, July....is there a better and yet more challenging month to garden?

It's been really hot so far, and dry.  Dry, dry, dry.  Garden 104 is a dustbowl if we don't water it regularly.  HOWEVER, this week was a real test and I'm pleased to report it passed with flying colours.

It was a busy week and the jerks at weather network kept promising rain and not delivering, and as a result of circumstance we didn't get to the garden to water it all week.   Seriously, how hard is it to read a weather radar map?

On the way there on Sunday I had visions of 500 sq feet of dead biomass, tumbleweed rolling across the plot like a ghost town.  I was afraid the hot sun and lack of water would have torched it, but lo and behold I think it was actually a good thing as immediately on arrival we were greeted by some perfectly (let me underscore, perfectly) ripened tomatoes.
How jealous is everybody going to be when I have cucumbers in september?
Last year, one challenge we faced was having split tomato skins.  It doesn't affect the tomato, but it doesn't look pretty and I guess makes it more susceptible to rotting on the vine.  We suspected we were overwatering them.  This week I think we might have proved that theory, as the tomatoes were all in perfect condition.

Unfortunately, all the neatly labeled plastic plant sticks have all faded and I can't even tell what varieties I have anymore.  The ones we took this week are a medium sized variety, similar to the kind you get in the grocery store on the vine.  Also, tonnes of cherry tomatoes. Yum.

Beeeeeeets.
The other good news was that the cucumber seeds we planted the other week have come up.  This was totally unexpected by me, even though I consider it a minor miracle when *any* seeds sprout, with the hot weather I suspected we wouldn't see them.  This is cucumber experiment #2, we're not trellising and intend to just let them run amok on the ground.  The neighbours cucumbers are looking great still, I'm quite jealous so I'm hoping these come through for us.

Our 3 beets are...I dunno.  I have a feeling it's too hot.  We pulled out all the radishes for this reason, because of a whole row of them, they got really leafy but didn't develop the nice round root.  I suspect the beets will be in a similar situation but we'll see.

Last week, when we pulled out all the potatoes and onions we dumped a lot of worm poop on the ground, to help give the soil *something*.  This week we raked it all over and are trying a slightly different bed shape experiment.

Last year we mounded, this year we dug.  Now, I'm experimenting with using the cultivator to form troughs and planting in the deepest part.

We seeded carrots, parsnips, turnip, and more beets (6th time the charm?).

Experimenting with new trough beds
These are all things that should take some time, and will benefit from the cooler weather in the fall.

Garden neighbour to the right says that you can leave these things in through a frost and that it will really taste good afterwards.

Apparently the cold frost makes the plant put all it's energy into the root, which makes it sweeter and more delicious.

Carrots and parsnips are I think around 100 days, which will put these to be ready around the end of October.  That seems like so far away, and yet we're already 1/2 way through the growing season.
Boo hoo :(

All of the lettuce had been pulled out last week as it really suffered from the extreme heat.  However, I notice that the neighbours lettuce is doing really well so, inspired, I planted three more rows of it.  I found some Frisee seeds leftover and now that we know what to do with them, I'm excited to give it another try.
The new lettuce bed
There is also a leafy variety and a romaine variety in there.

I have mixed feeling on the corn.  Firstly, in the good news department quite a few stalks have ears on them and they are getting bigger every visit.

They are also acting as terrific beanpoles, the beans are winding their way up the stalks.  Our neighbours already have beans, ours are a few weeks behind.

In the not so good news department, quite a few of the ears have all the silk nibbled away by what I suspect are those pesky ear wigs.

I don't know how this is going to affect the corn, I'm not sure if this means it's not going to grow or what.  I'm disappointed, because I didn't anticipate this, being so focused on keeping racoons out.

Anyway, I'm really hoping to have some corn in 2 weeks to take camping so we can grill it.
How can bugs do this much damage?

Be done already!
And lastly, our little watermelon looks to be doing ok!

It's twice the size it was last week and now I'm going to be watching it like a hawk.  I tried to tuck it in behind the brussel sprouts but I'm not sure if it's going to stay out of sight from thieves.

It looks like it is the only melon on this plant so far, so I'm eagerly anticipating it's readiness.



Not a bad haul overall this week, some MASSIVE zucchini's, tomatoes, a few carrots and radishes.  Enough to make some nice salads throughout the week.



Garden hal