So…

I’m bad at being a garden-blogger. It’s the height of summer, my tomatoes are growing amazingly, I’ve had handfuls of raspberries, my hollyhocks I started from seed last year are blooming like crazy (even though they are all butter-yellow I’m still obsessed with them), I have cooked a few meals with fresh herbs that overwintered, and eaten a mountain of fresh peas (I even shared some of them!)… and I haven’t written a word of it here.


Like seriously, the last thing I talked about was squishing caterpillars. Speaking of, the Delphiniums are bouncing back! They aren’t their usual 6 feet tall, and amazingly full towers of blossoms, but there are some flowers, and there is a lot of life!

Hollyhocks!


I will legitimately try and get some posts written. I’m impressed with my garden so far this year. Things I sowed from seed last year and flowering and I’m just amazed at how bountiful my lazier approach this year has been.

Sweet Potatoes!! They are loving our HOT (AF) Summer.
Potential Pumpkin!! ūüėÄ
Raspberries. These take me back to childhood. My grandma and her neighbour had a raspberry patch between their houses and I remember picking raspberries with my grandma…
Nasturtiums
Tomatoes!!!!! No squirrel thieves in this area of the yard
Serrano Chillies
‘Black Beauty’ Zucchini
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Squishy Squishy

 

A few weeks ago, I started to notice that my normally beautiful delphiniums were not thriving like they usually do. Something was eating them and also using them for a baby bug nursery.

I thought it was maybe aphids or some kind of fly, so I tried an organic spray that I had been given. Everyday I sprayed every inch of my delphiniums. I did this for an entire week and there was NO difference. There was also zero activity on my rose that is right next to the delphiniums. So I looked a little closer and there was little caterpillars covering both plants. The little buggers were the exact same colour as the plant. So I went to the internet and tried to find out what these caterpillars were, and what was the best course of action.

My best guess is that they are delphinium worms or ‘delphinium leaftiers”. They are the caterpillar of the Golden Plusia Moth. Apparently there is not much chemically that will be as effective as just picking them off and squishing them one by one.

They overwinter in the stems of last years growth, and since I typically just leave my plants standing all winter instead of trimming them back to soil level in the Fall; That is likely why I have a big problem this spring. So I will try to get my delphiniums all tidied up this fall, so there is no home for the worms this time around.

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Now that it has been a couple weeks of squishing every caterpillar that I see, my plants are starting to come back. I ended up cutting everything back to the base because of how bad the caterpillar infestation was. Then I grabbed a set of gloves and got to squishing. Don’t squish them near your face, because they are quite explosive, and you’ll be covered in electric-green coloured caterpillar guts. Not that I speak from (multiple) experience ;). Now I just check on the plants at least once a day to squish any caterpillars that have surfaced. I used a pair of the thicker nitrile grease monkey gloves, and just hose them off and re-use them.

I don’t anticipate my plants being able to flower this year, but I do think I saved them from destruction. I wish I hadn’t tried the spray I had been given, and just started squishing things from the beginning, but now I know for the next time.

Not many photos, because I wasn’t intending on blogging about this whole situation. Mostly because I thought my poor beautiful delphiniums wouldn’t pull through. Now that they are, I feel confident in sharing my squishing technique. Sorry Golden Plusia Moth, but you are going to have to find a safer home for your next generation.

 

 

Peas & Beans (2017)

This is a super low-photo post, but I hope to update you all once things start growing.

PEAS

Initially, I planned to get the Peas sown around the beginning of May (as they can take a little cold and frost). But, as you can tell, I’m writing this post on May 22, and I just finally got around to¬†sticking them into the ground yesterday.

I was going to sow a few different varieties. I do have a good collection of seed to pick and choose from. However, I stopped myself at 2 varieties because I was struggling to find homes for them all. I had some self seeded peas popping up, conveniently right where I wanted to put a little tee-pee. Since they are probably ‘Sugar Snap’, I sowed more ‘Sugar Snap’ around them.


The second variety is ‘Blauwschokkers Blue Podded Pea‘. I grew them last year, and while they are not the best tasting pea, they are beautiful. Plus, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I never got around to tasting them as a mature, podded pea.

BEANS

Since I never got around to sowing any Beans last year, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss them this year. Beans are one of my favourite garden treats. I sowed 4 different climbing/Pole varieties, and 2 different bush varieties. Since some of my seed is quite old, I over seeded in the hopes of good germination.

Bean Varieties this year (and some quick notes in the brackets):

  • ‘Enorma’ Runner Bean (green with HUGE pods, if you let them grow)
  • ‘Cobra’ French Climbing Bean (green beans… delicious taste, lots of beans)
  • ‘Trofino Violetta’ Pole Bean (beautiful purple beans. Personal Favourite)
  • ‘Scarlet Emperor’ Runner Bean (green beans, large pods if you let them grow….with beautiful red flowers)
  • ‘Royal Burgundy’ Bush Bean (deep purple, good taste, LOTS of beans)
  • ‘Gold Rush’ Bush Bean (yellow beans… First year growing them)

I am always amazed at how different beans are. Since my hands were covered in dirt, I didn’t manage to get a photo to show you just how different they all were, although I wanted to. I would recommend grabbing a few different kinds of beans for your own garden. You can grow a rainbow of varieties. You’ll never want beans from the store after you have grown your own. Bonus… they are one of the easiest things to grow.

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Sometimes getting photos is hard when the feline is starved for attention. Such a good helper-cat. ūüėČ

Someday I will have a HUGE garden where I can have more than a handful of each plant.

Still Alive

Okay, it has been well over a month since I posted ANYTHING here. I am sorry about it, since it is kind of the time of year where I have tons of things growing and all the gardening enthusiasm forever. However… I’ve been going pretty non-stop with making things which keeps me away from gardening. (You can check out the Etsy Shop here to see some of the things!) This was a benefit a little earlier, when I didn’t allow myself to start sowing a million seeds. It’s all fine when they are seeds but then they grow and need potting up and then take up triple the space. Space that I do not have. Plus my creative brain gets to be happy and just do as it pleases.

But it meant that I severely neglected my blog. I tried to think of a schedule that I could try and follow for posts here… but I know myself better than that, and would end up apologizing infinitely for not meeting promises of posts because I got distracted. So instead, I’m just going to do what I kind of already do, and just write when the mood strikes. That might mean I write 4 posts in a day and then schedule them, or it might mean (unfortunately) going weeks between posts. I will try to keep it regular, but sometimes it can’t be helped, and me apologising every few weeks is pretty lame.

I wanted to pop in and show you that I legit do have things going on in the garden. So here are some photos:


Rhubarb is taking off! I hope to use more of it this year.


I rescued some raspberries from a garden that was getting a complete makeover. I wish I had grabbed more of them, as I have room for at least 4 more plants. I’m hopeful these fruit on old wood, and I’ll get a harvest this year from them.


Strawberries are looking good. I still need to figure out how to keep the squirrels off of them.


The Sweet Williams that I sowed last year survived winter and I cannot wait to see them this year. They are for my grandpa.


I bought myself a rose for my Birthday. Partly because it is white and I love white roses, and partly because of its name: “Iceberg”. As you can also see, the delphiniums are growing like crazy too. I even divided them and you can hardly tell I took away anything.


Spring onion patch. These just keep coming back so I leave them. I get fresh Spring onion, the bees get a flower they like, and I get fresh seed. Behind them I sowed the Garlic I had left from my crop last year. They are just starting to poke their heads up now. In the back corner of the photo, in front of the orange bag (full of leaves im going to use for mulch and the compost like), are poppies that survived winter! I’m pretty excited for them and hope they are as beautiful as I’ve imagined in my head.


Both my Taragon and Sage survived winter (in ground-not containers)! Possibly the Thyme, and Oregano too, but I’ll wait til June to decide if they legit survived or not.


I sowed this Lupin from seed! I’m glad to see it survived because my big beautiful one was completely destroyed by aphids last year. A second one also survived as well!


And I started digging everything and getting it ready for planting!¬†AND as you can see in the top left, one hollyhock survived the winter, so keep your fingers crossed for me that the flowers are as beautiful as I remember my grandma’s being.

Ps. My clematis died, so if I still have clematis dreams I’ll have to get yet another new plant.

Asparagus

I would love to have my own source of Asparagus. It is one of my favourite late spring/early summer vegetable, but it is so expensive that I only ever get it as a treat once in a while.

A few years ago (2014), I picked up some Asparagus seed (variety – ‘Viking’). I knew I didn’t have the proper place for it to live, so I didn’t sow them that year… But by the next year, I couldn’t help myself.

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I started the seeds, and they grew fantastic. I planted them out in the least sunny location in my yard. Big mistake, but I didn’t realise how little sun that area got until I planted something that I knew needed a lot of sun. It grew. Not well, but it grew. I didn’t have high hopes for it making it over winter. Much to my surprise, last¬†spring, It poked its head out and grew all year again… Again, not well, but it grew.

So this year, I am hopeful that it survived again. And I am going to attempt to build a proper asparagus bed out at my parents house (if they agree of course).

In preparation of this project, I’ve been doing some research. A few of my notes below are things I already knew, but I wanted to include them if you are new to asparagus.

  • Long-term Perennial
  • Harvest is of the shoots coming up in the spring. You need to let these grow later in the season for the plant to regain enough energy to last overwinter and grow again the next spring.
  • The first 2-3 years of an asparagus bed should be focused on letting the plant establish itself in its new home. This means minimal harvesting. The plants need to establish their storage capabilities in their root systems.
  • Asparagus roots can penetrate around 6 feet deep.
  • When creating a new bed, it should be deeply dug, any rocks removed and then enriched with plenty of rich compost. You want to establish as much nutrition in the soil now, because you won’t be digging deep for 15-20+ years. Putting the work in now, will help the asparagus establish for a long life.
  • According to the University of Minnesota, “Production is most successful in areas where freezing temperatures or drought terminates plant growth and provides a rest period. Without this rest period, reduced yields are likely.”
  • When planting the crowns, you splay the roots out over a raised mound set in a deep trench.

 

So right now, my plan is to create a slightly raised bed (mostly just to distinguish the bed from the surrounding ground). About 2 feet wide, and 6 feet long. This won’t provide a huge supply of Asparagus in the future, but it will provide some, which is all we really want. I will dig as deep as I can to remove as many perennial weed roots as possible. This will also be in the NE end of the garden area, so if a garden is re-established in the future, the tall asparagus ferns will not shade out any of the other growing areas. Once planted, I will mulch deeply with leaf mould and probably some wood chips. This will help reduce the watering requirements and lower the amount of weeding. Adding some extra mulch on top of the bed over winter will also help the plants overwinter.

In addition to the one or two surviving asparagus plants I may have already in my garden, I would like to add in some crowns. Possibly the red/purple kind to add some diversity.

The problem with starting asparagus from seed, is that you are unable to distinguish the male from the female plants. Ideally, you want male plants, as they produce¬†larger spears. That being said, it is worth mentioning¬†the pride in growing something long-living straight from seed (For example, I’m much more proud of the delphiniums I grew from seed my grandma saved than I am of the plant I bought at the garden centre).

 

If you have any asparagus tips or tricks to share, add them in the comments. I’ll update when anything new happens on the Asparagus front.