Lets talk about 2018

2018… It was a year. That is about all I can say. After the 2 years previous, it is nice to say 2018 was just a year. This is going to be a bit rambly… kind of a stream of consciousness, and I may or may not add in photos, but here it goes…

I just kind of let go of writing here in the Summer. I minimised anything that was causing me any kind of stress. I just needed less things that I needed to do. I couldn’t write what I wanted to write in the way I wanted to write it and it was stressing me out. So I let it go for a bit.

My garden grew really well, and I harvested and dried TONS of herbs that I have been loving using in the kitchen this winter.

My tomatoes grew wonderful… but in September, I should have harvested them all when we had a heavy frost in the forecast. I didn’t, I just covered the plants and lost much of my harvest.  Obviously, I had tomatoes one by one throughout the summer, but I was really hoping the weather would hold off and I could harvest and process the tomatoes all at once.

The last post here was about lettuce and greens. They didn’t make it. I let them dry out and just didn’t take good care of them.

My herbs were definitely the star of the show. Every few days, I could harvest some of the herbs and put them in the dehydrator.

Raspberries were also very prolific, although none of them made it into the house. I did get to eat a few of my strawberries, but as usual, the slugs and squirrels beat me to most of them.

My clematis that I planted as a teeny tiny stick a few years ago, bloomed like crazy, but didn’t produce a ton of foliage. Fingers crossed it makes it through this winter, and I can baby it a bit more in the spring in hopes of a really great growing season for it.

I learned a new way to try and combat the delphinium caterpillars that I’ve been plagued with the last few years. And it doesn’t involve squishing individual caterpillars… I’ll share that in the spring when I’m doing it.

We planted a bunch of fruit trees and bushes at my parents house. So fingers crossed I will have a bunch of fruit this summer and the coming years.

I got really into learning to propagate plants. So I want to share some of that this year.

Right around Halloween, I took some seeds from an organic orchard-run Gala Apple. Cold stratified on wet paper towel in a plastic bag in the fridge…And they germinated… So around Christmas, I potted them up into red solo cups. And they sprouted on January 5th. Which would’ve been my grandma’s 91st Birthday.  It will be interesting to see what becomes of them, the little bit I’ve googled about Apple genetics has been fascinating.

I have a few other kinds of potential future trees in my fridge right now.

So 2019 will be… maybe just another plain year, maybe it will be awesome.

And HUCKLEBERRIES! I fell in love with huckleberries in 2018.

 

 

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Lettuce/Greens for 2018

Just a quick note about how dis-jointed this post may seem: I started writing this post much earlier, and then added to it over a few weeks.

I have this dream of having a garden bed full of beautiful lettuces and greens that last the entire year, but I feel like I need to work on my ability to grow them first. Especially throughout the hot months of the summer. I also want to grow tons of brassicas (cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower/kale etc). BUT until I have a large garden where I can properly net them so they don’t become little caterpillar nurseries,  I’m going to save my small amount of space here for tomatoes and zucchini (and other small bits).

That being said, I will likely put in a bit of ‘Dwarf Green Curled’ Kale in a container that I can easily pick leaves off for salads rather than letting them get to full sized plants. And if, perhaps find I have a bit of space, I’ll add in some of the Dinosaur Kale as well.

I will also direct sow some Spinach, Probably wherever I plan on putting my tomatoes. By the time the Tomatoes can go out, the spinach will probably be trying to bolt.

‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard will probably make an appearance somewhere in the garden as well. It adds a bit of color, and is such a low-maintenance crop to add in.  It does well in shaded/low sun areas. Its great to add a quick bit of green to dinners. I like adding it to lasagne or pasta sauce like I would with spinach.

In addition to the Herbs I am growing primarily for drying; I also picked up some ‘Purslane’ to try (which is direct-sow), and I have had a packet of “Rocket” and also one of “Sorrel” to try. Rocket is Arugula from what I understand (my packet of seeds is from a UK company, but I also have a packet of Arugula from McKenzie seeds.

I’ve had the Sorrel in my seed collection since 2015, but it keeps getting cut at the point of sowing things, so this is the year for it finally. As you can see in the photo above, it is from McKenzie Seeds. The seed packet description is as follows: “Large, succulent leaves with a slightly acidic taste give zest to salads, soups and many other dishes. Remove flowering tops as they appear to maintain tender leaves. The leaves are best fresh but may be dried or frozen for alternative use.” 

 

On April 15th, I sowed in little seeder pots in Seed-Starting Potting Mix:

  • 2 cells of Rocket
  • 2 cells of Sorrel
  • 4 cells of Romaine Lettuce
    • “Splendid quality that develops elongated heads to long ribbed leaves. The dark green outer leaves are coarse, while the inner leaves are a lighter green. Romaine type of Head lettuce especially known for the Caesar salad. Plant in moist, well-drained soil, as soon as ground can be worked in the spring. Thrives in cool weather.”
  • 4 cells of ‘Marvel of 4 Seasons’ Lettuce
    • “Heirloom, Butterhead type with 20-25cm (8-12″) heads. Light green, with reddish tip on outer leaves”

I will likely do a successional sowing of the Romaine and Marvel lettuce in a couple weeks so I can extend my harvest a bit.

One thing I would like to try (someone remind me in the summer); is to save my own lettuce seed. Both my Romaine and ‘Marvel of 4 Seasons’ lettuces are heirloom types, and our summers can get quite hot, so there is a possibility that I would be able to save my own seed from them. Does anyone have any tips/tricks/how-tos/youtube videos to saving lettuce seed?

Update as of posting this live (May 2)… {And sorry for the lack of photos. Its been a busy few weeks}

None of the ‘Marvel of 4 Seasons’ Lettuce germinated. So I guess the seed is too old and no longer viable. I’ll have to keep my eye out fora new packet, or find a new variety to try out.  The Romaine, Sorrel and Rocket are all flying along.

 

Annual Flowers from Seed (2018)

This year, as I was starting some herbs, I had a few extra peat pellets left, and I figured I would try to start a few annual flowers again. I’ve made a bit of an attempt over the years, and this will be no different. Depending on the money situation, I will likely buy any bedding plants, but these will hopefully add a bit of homegrown colour and interest to the garden.

 

Lavatera – My grandma grew this almost every year without fail. She would have this huge stand of these beautiful pink flowers along the back side (south facing) of her house. And every year she would save seed from them for the next year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2016.

  • ‘Silvercup’Lavatera
  • “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 10cm (4″) flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown”

Cosmos – I grew these along with the veggies back when we had the greenhouse garden to use (before we realized JUST how bat-*&$% crazy the owners of the property were). The beneficial bugs loved them, and so did I, so I figured it was worth a shot again in my backyard this year.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Early Sensation Mix’Cosmos
  • “So easy to grow they seem to thrive on neglect! Daisy-like 9cm (3 1/2″) blooms in crimson, rose, pink and white are enhanced by yellow centers, held high on graceful fern-like foliage. Exceptionally beautiful in beds, borders and background planting.”

Asters – These are new to me. I got them many years ago with the intent of growing them, but the seed packet sat there unopened until now.

This packet is from McKenzie seed, and is from 2014

  • ‘Powder Puffs’ Aster
  • “Tremendous double flowers, 8-10cm (3-4″) in diameter, grow upright on long sturdy stems. Lovely bouquet-type habit makes it an excellent cut flower. Resists wilt. By picking off faded blooms, you will prolong the flowering season.”

I sowed these (4 of Lavatera, 4 of Cosmos, and 3 of Asters) on April 8, 2018. There may be more if this snow keeps up and I need a small bit of hope of  the summer to come.

Update before I make this post live (April 26):

  • The Aster’s still haven’t germinated. So I think the seeds were too old
  • The majority of the Cosmos have germinated and are currently working on their first true leaves.
  • The Lavatera had spotty germination. One is doing well, a few more germinated but didn’t manage to break their seed leaves through the hard seed shell. I think I have another packet of seeds that I may try to direct sow, but my lavatera dreams may have to wait until next year.

 

 

Wildflower “Butterfly Garden” Mix

In my quest to grow more flowers last year, I picked up a wildflower mix. It is a “Butterfly mix”. A few years ago I think I picked up a Bee-garden mix, and was looking for it again, but could not find it. Along with the butterfly mix, there was also a hummingbird garden mix and an old fashioned garden mix. However, I didn’t get around to sowing the packet. I got distracted by tomatoes.

The seed packet description reads: “The butterfly mixture contains a blend of delightfully fragrant and colorful flowers that attract nearby Butterflies while adding beauty to your garden.”

I thought it would be a good idea to de-code the “contents” names that are only in the latin/botanical name.

  • Alyssum maritimum: Sweet Alyssum or Sweet Allison. This is one I’m not particularly familar with. It is a member of the brassica family though, and native to the Meditarinian. Annual
  • Calendula officinalis: Calendula, or Pot Marigold. This is a self-seeding annual or a short-lived perennial. 
  • Centaurea cyanus: Bachelor’s Button or Cornflower. Annual
  • Cheiranthus allionii: Siberian Wallflower. Biennial
  • Coreopsis tinctoria: Golden Tickseed or Plains Coreopsis. Annual
  • Cynoglossum amabile: Chinese Forget-Me-Not. Annual
  • Delphinium consolida: Field Larkspur (Until I did some googling, I just expected this one to be regular perennial Delphinium, but according to the internet, it is an annual wildflower variety. Annual  (NOTE…. Do not eat or allow any animals to eat. Very Poisonous)
  • Dianthus barbatus: Sweet William. Biennial 
  • Echinacea purpurea: Purple Coneflower, Purple Echinacea. Annual
  • Eschscholzia californica: California Poppy. Perennial in warm areas, Annual in colder areas.
  • Gypsophila elegans: Baby’s Breath. Annual
  • Leucanthemum x superbum: Shasta Daisy. Perennial
  • Linum grandiflorum rubum: Scarlet Flax or Red Flax. Annual
  • Linum perenne: Blue Flax or Perennial Flax. Perennial
  • Rudbeckia hirta: Black Eyed Susan. Biennial (Some warmer areas- Perennial, some colder areas-Annual)
  • Silene armeria: Sweet William Catch-fly. Perennial in Zone 5-8, so probably Annual here.

Last year, I also received in the mail the Honey Nut Cheerios “Bring Back the Bees” Wildflower seed mix, And a pack of wildflower seeds from Bees Matter. And just like the pack above, I did not get around to sowing them. I like that the Bees Matter pack included the varieties they included in the pack. I will hopefully get these sown this year as well.

While I appreciate Honey Bees, they are not native here. If they want to come check out my flowers that is awesome, but I am growing them more for ANY pollinators that want to visit, and not just Honey Bees.


 

This is some of the seeds in the “Butterfly garden” Mix

Summer Bulbs

Despite my late start to gardening this year, I am not lacking any enthusiasm. The ultra cold spring we are having (As I am starting the writing of this post, we have a snowfall warning of 10-15cm of snow) is really helping the dream of summer… and the hope that mother nature will make up for this terrible spring with a beautiful summer and long, warm fall.

As I have been picking up gardening bits here and there, I’ve been splurging on some bulbs for some hopeful color in the garden this year. As I am buying them, I’ll add them here and post once there is a handful for you to read about. Any tips for success with any of these, OR others I should try to find for my garden, please leave a comment.

First up, – Gladiolus  I never remember to pull my bulbs at the end of the summer. Maybe this year will be the year. But the tall spikes of beautiful flowers always remind me of my grandma, and my great grandma, and I try to grow some every year, (but their success varies from year to year).  This year, I just bought a mixed pack of 10 for $3.50, at Superstore. If I get some time to care more for them this year, then I may splurge on some fancier bulbs in the future that have names and known colour.

‘Blue Poppy’ Anemone De Caen  – These were too beautiful to pass up, and I can hardly wait to see them in person. I’ve never grown them before, so any tips and tricks you can share in the comments would be very welcome. These are from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99

‘Bouton de Rose’ -Novelty Begonia – I’ve never grown begonias before either, but I always fall in love with them in the garden centres. So I figured this year was the year to finally try them. I’ve been on the hunt for part-shade plants for the front yard that only receives morning sunlight. Like the above Anemone, this is also from a local garden centre (Blue Grass Nursery), and I think I paid $3.99 for the bulb.

Pink Calla Lily  – I grabbed this at Lowes when I was grabbing some Seed-Starting mix that was on sale there. I grew some Calla Lilies on a whim when I was still living at home, and they were so beautiful. I’m not sure why its taken me so long to try them again.