Thursday, July 21, 2011

Week 8 - Nothing is wrong with the zucchini!

In fact, it's producing epic sized zucchinis such that it's a bit hard to keep up with it. We had to google a whole bunch of recipes of things to do with it. Not only are they huge but they are plentiful. The second plant that looked on the verge of collapse has rebounded and it seems like every visit we walk away with at least 2 fruits.

After a week away the garden was predictably plagued with weeds. The first night back I was almost a bit overwhelmed with everything I saw near ready to eat.

We took a head of leaf lettuce and another huge head of romaine. I'm still working my way through that, it is delicious. The leaf lettuce is a total winner, it stays crispy in the fridge, has a great crunchy but yet butter texture. We also got a nice sized cucumber which is lovely and firm, not at all very seedy or watery like some you can get from the grocery store. Also, about 1/2 a dozen pickling cucumbers which seem to be practically dripping off the plant. This weekend we intend to do some pickling.

I was able to snatch a handful of sugar snap peas which are fine to eat just like that, I can only imagine how much more tender they will get after a quick steam.

It looks like the bean pole just about fell over but thanks to our neighbor Steve he has turned it from a bean tee-pee to the leaning tower of beans-a. Get it? Moving on...

Our other neighbor Adam gave me a quick lesson on how to properly prune tomato plants as ours were a little out of control. I removed a few handfuls of stems to allow light, water and bees inside the plant. They are practically collapsing under the weight of the tomatoes

The pepper plant still only has one pepper on it. The jalapenos have a few. I will plan to plant more of these next year.

Onions are bulking up like little weighlifters. I checked on the neighbors plot to get an idea of how you know they are ready. I guess I can expect to actually see the onion bulb visable above the soil when it's time to come out.

We have a pumpkin. It seems to be growing at an insane rate. I'm going to have to figure out how to make pumpkin pie from scratch asap.

Our first real haul was pretty good, and I've been enjoying it all week, especially since I discovered a few bottles of my favourite salad dressing that's been discontinued, at my local convenience store!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Week 6: What is wrong with this zucchini?

The Garden, Canada Day 2011.

It was a hot hot hot weekend at the garden, I'm a bit sunburt. We hopped on our bikes on Thursday thinking it would be an easy trip, turns out it's about 9km entirely uphill, so, yeah, probably won't be doing that too often.

It got watered every day, and still things change every day.

The biggest change I've noticed is that there seems to be possibly something wrong with one of the zucchinis. I put them in cages in an attempt to contain them somewhat from the small pathway. The leaves seems to be disappearing, I see no bugs on them. Maybe they're rotting away? There was a tiny zucchini coming along, looked fine and then suddenly one day it was mushy and rotten.

What's going on here? What should I do? I've just been giving it water as usual and not fussing over it, mostly because I have no idea. There are still some new growth, healthy looking young leaves coming through. Is this normal?

I finally was able to thin out all the onions. It took me a while to get over the idea of plucking out good looking plants but I think it needed to be done. Besides, I used the onion greens and some dill in a wicked potato salad so it wasn't all bad :)

We've got a cute little pepper growing! Someday it will grow up to be a red pepper. Go little pepper go!

More tomatoes are coming in, I'm starting to grow fearful at the sheer mass of tomatoes that are going to be ready at the same time.

Lettuce is good to go as of next week. We have been putting blood meal down and around the base of the plants which seem to be keeping the nibbling animals at bay. I'm really looking forward to this, and the crazy mixed greens we have going.

Pumpkin is exploding everywhere. We've got two pumpkin plants and they are both doing great. The other melon plants are also coming along, but they are a little less flamboyant.

Next weekend we leave to go camping for a week and when we get back we should see a bunch of things getting ready to come out. Definitely something to look forward to returning to!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Week 5 - The Beet Goes On (get it?)

This was the longest I have been between visits to the garden. Up until this week we had been going nearly every day but since it's been raining off and on since Wednesday we figured best to let nature take its course and enjoy a few weeknights off.

So we showed up today to find that not only were our beds intact (I was worried erosion would have ruined them) but things were looking better than ever!

For starters, the beets which I had pretty much figured were a loss, were actually standing upright and at attention. Now I'm disappointed we didn't plant more since it looks like we're going to only get about 4-6.

The Swiss Chard is also perky and holding up well to the animals. We have an abundance of flowering plants, zucchini, pumpkin, watermelon, honeydew melon, cucumbers and tomatoes are all in bloom.
Being the smug urban gardeners we are, we had bought some mixed greens, with fantasies of "oh this, it's nothing! We just tossed these greens together with some homemade vinaigratte..." Now we realize, we've got an abundance of "mixed greens" but no idea which parts of these "mixed greens" are edible. Soooo, we've been eating random parts of the plants to try to figure it out. Bryan and Ryan think it all tastes "great!", I think it all tastes like grass. It's not supposed to be ready for another few weeks so we'll see. We've had to pick a ton of flowers of them because apparently in the realm of lettuce, flowers = bad. Who knew?

Onions are looking good, I've been trying to thin them out but I don't know how much more I can take out. It's actually kind of hard to thin things, emotionally. I don't like it. I don't like ripping perfectly nice looking plants out of the ground to toss in the compost heap, but I need to toughen up. It's for the greater good of all onions.

Beans are climbing in their weird little way. I put in a center pole and some guide wires so we will have a bean teepee. Beanpee?

Shallots are looking shalloty.

Weeding is a breeze for the most part, most of our beds are virtually weed free. Don't ask me how or why. I'll chalk it up to beginners luck.

We took a walk to check out the neighbors plots, I gotta say, ours looks so neat and tidy (it's the female touch I think) and our plants look really healthy and hearty.

Tomorrow we're going to hit up the garden center for some regular thyme and maybe some more radishes or beets to go in where we just harvested.

I've got a pile of radishes sitting on my kitchen counter right now, time to figure out what the heck to do with them all. Here is a video of the first harvest of the year.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Week 4 - What a difference a week makes

We didn't fuss over the garden two much in the last week. There was some rain, we made it out at least every other day to water. It was time to just let it do it's thing for a week and that seemed to be a success.

Unfortunately we have some animals that are treating our space like the all you can eat salad buffet at the Olive Garden, but everything seems to be bouncing back. We gave up officially on the catnip after it literally disappeared, and this weekend we plan to get some bloodmeal and, cayenne pepper to keep the rabbits and cats out. We actually have no idea what is eating, so we'll try a few things. A neighbor down the way has glorious lettuce growing and it's completely untouched, I have no idea why ours is getting nibbled.

But we do have radishes this week, which is about a week early by my calculations. They grew all weird shaped because we planted them too close together, but they taste good. Right now they are nice and sweet and crispy with a light peppery aftertaste. I think we shall be removing the rest of them this week so they don't get too peppery.

The first tomatoes were spotted on the Roma and Beefsteak plants, which is exciting!

We also trimmed herbs for the first time, to create some fathers day herb bouquets. They were due for a trimming and it was great to be able to share the first our garden has to offer.

And lastly, what a difference a week makes to zucchini. Last week it looked like this:

This week, it looks like this!

Om nom nom nom. :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Week 3 - Nothing is dead!

Over the course of the week we dug out the back grass, and made a bed running down the side to plant watermelon, honeydew melon and another pumpkin. We're also trying catnip again, not sure if it is going to survive the neighborhood cats.

The garden has only been planted for a week and already we're starting to see some changes. We got the first tomato blossoms, the zucchini's look like they have almost doubled in size and there is a single almost ripe strawberry.

We have been watering it almost every day at this point and will continue to do so while it is sunny and hot. Everything seems to be taking pretty well to all the moving about, I am going to have to start thinning out the radishes, onions, carrots and beets soon as we planted them in clumps and that probably wasn't what we were supposed to do. I am waiting for them to be secure before I start ripping them out.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Week 2 - Everything is planted

The rain held off Sunday afternoon and with an extra set of hands, three of us got down to business building the beds and putting all the plants in. We spent a fair amount of time plotting out the space, and put in a a lot of stuff including:

A few varieties of tomatoes (heirloom, purple, roma, beefsteak amongst a few other varieties)
Red Peppers
Jalapeno Peppers
Pickling and sweet slice cucumbers
Herbs galore (tarragon, basil, rosemary, summer savory, oregano, dill and catnip for you know who)
Lettuce varieties, a tender leaf and mixed greens
Leeks, bunching onions and green onions
Pole beans
Swiss chard
and a pumpkin for Bryan :)

This is what $130 worth of vegetable plants looks like.

On the advice of an expert at Plant World (my new favourite store), we added approximately 2 handfuls of fertilizer per 10ft bed and worked it into the newly piled up soil. We spent even more time pulling out weeds that we missed last weekend, and as well transplanted a few more strawberry and raspberry plants from the other side of the lot. The transplants from last week held up great, and the strawberry plants have started to produce nice sized green berries. I am practically salivating at the thought of what is to come in a few months time.

Now it's a bit of watch and wait. We will be making regular watering visits as the soil has excellent drainage, perhaps too excellent. The next big project will be dealing with the grass in the back of the lot, as well as continuing to clear out the right side, where there are raspberry bushes galore. Nothing against raspberry bushes, but we've lost about 3 feet to them.

In about 25-30 days we should be pulling up radishes and harvesting the lettuce as the first things to come out of the garden. Strawberries might be close by then as well. I'm regretting that we did not leave any room for repeat lettuce sowings, but I'm not even sure how well they are going to do as it is a bit late to be starting them.

I'm getting hungry already!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Time To Get To Work

Monday May 23rd, 2011.

Ryan and I did some shopping and picked up a Garden Claw, a shovel, a value pack of work gloves (foresight!), a small garden tool kit, a pH tester, and some stakes and twine.

We spent about 4.5 hours while it was nice and cloudy and set about clearing the land. Thank god for the Garden Claw, as it worked on the soil pretty nicely. It took a fair amount of time to clear out the tall and deeply rooted grass (visible at the back of the plot) that had obstructed the front passageway, and we managed to salvage some perennial flower that is pre-bloom in front. Somebody will have to tell me what it is, I think it's going to be pretty though!

I'd like to get some more perennials to frame the front area and make it really "garden-y".

The soil is sandy and a bit on the dry side, so I'm thinking some peat moss is in order. We also want to build the beds and start planting this weekend so I'm not sure what the right way to do that is.

When we got home we got some graph paper and plotted out everything we'd like to try planting and where it's going to go, using some great books given to me by my grandmother. It's shaping up to be either an amazing wonderland of vegetables, or an abject failure. I really have no clue. Either way, I'm VERY glad we managed to get the area cleared so the soil can settle all week and maybe benefit from some foretasted rain.

Lesson of the day: it's apparently OK to poach plants and materials left behind by owners who have abandoned their plots, so we now have a garden hose and a few new strawberry bushes from next door. :)

We Finally Got an Allotment Garden!

Friday afternoon the City of Toronto Parks department *finally* called me to let me know they had reached my name on the waiting list.

I've been on it since February 1st and had long since given up on getting some land this year, so I was pretty excited to hear from them.

Since we were being offered a plot of land at the York Allotment Gardens site, and I had never seen the area, I had to take a guess on which plot I wanted from a handful of options. I picked 104 for no good reason and I am glad I did.

Though 104 was in rough shape, the adjacent plots were even worse, to the right of us a plot almost entirely taken over by a rampaging raspberry bush!

Owning no gardening tools, and having no clue on what to do or how to do it, we left it for a few days to formulate a plan of attack. The site is 30x15ft and as you can see, a bit "wild" at the moment.

This is a picture of the site as we found it on Friday May 20th, 2011.