Update (April 30, 2019)

So its the end of April and we got a huge snow storm. Like, there was a 4 foot drift up against our back door.

That was Saturday, and the snow is still here, and there is more falling…. and there is more in the forecast.

None of my  green lettuce seeds germinated, so I definitely need to replace those seeds this year. The Kale was fine, but life got busy, so I never got them potted up into something more appropriate for them. They are currently under snow as I write this.

My tomatoes don’t realise they need to slow down their growth rate, but they are doing fantastic. I knew I would be glad I reined in my tomato starting compulsion when it got to this point. Although, when I thinned the Tiny Tim’s I put the cuttings into a shot glass and they have grown roots and are almost ready to be potted up into actual soil. More Tomato math.

The Peppers are doing well also. I’ll do some proper updates on both the peppers and the tomatoes once I have the time to get photos of them.

I sowed some spinach outside, and before the snow it was just germinating. It is protected so there isn’t 2 feet of snow on top of them, but I’m hoping the cold hasn’t affected them too much.

I have everything crossed that this will be the last bite of winter and maybe I can get the tomatoes out before June.

Also, If you are in Calgary (or will be on May 11th), Stop by the Etsy Calgary Spring Market. It is being held at the Ross Glen Hall at Mount Royal University, from 10am- 5pm.  I’ll be there with all the things I have been making. More regular garden posts will happen once that is not my main focus.  Check out my Etsy shop here.

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Lettuce & Kale (2019)

We are still pretty far away from our last frost date, so while most of the channels I watch on youtube are torturing me with their ability to plant outside, I’m just here telling my little tomatoes to not grow too fast. But I was really feeling the spring fever today. So I pulled out my seeds and decided to sow some lettuce. This will let them get started in the house where it is nice and warm, and I’ll be able to put them out before the last frost. They are pretty hardy.

Most of my lettuce seeds are pretty old, so I just over-seeded the little cells. Last year I had bad luck with my lettuce, but I really didn’t take great care of them. Lettuce just isn’t as interesting as Tomatoes to me, so they fell by the wayside. But I can say how much I missed having our own lettuce in the garden for salads and using on Burgers.

I should include some little blurb about the Kale, but really, just check down below for the types I’ve chosen for this year. The only problem with growing Kale and other brassicas, is that I don’t have the room to cover them to prevent them from becoming the nursery for the cabbage white butterfly. However, I have grown Kale in containers before, getting an earlier crop and having them be finished before the butterflies start looking for a place to lay their eggs. I don’t have a hard and fast plan for the Kale or the lettuce in the garden, so we’ll just see what happens when it comes time for it to leave the safety of my kitchen window.

Here are the varieties I chose:

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  • Little Gem
    • Burpee Seed from 2014
    • Its a Romaine type, but when I’ve grown it before, I would say it is closer to a mix between a basic leaf lettuce and a Romaine. I was all out of the Cos Romaine seed that I had (or at least I couldn’t find the pack of seed in my stash), so this was the next best thing. (For a photo of my Romaine, check the end of this post)
    • 45 Days to Maturity

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  • Red Salad Bowl
    • McKenzie Seed… I didn’t write the year on the pack like I usually do, so I’m not sure on it’s age.
    • Description reads: “For a different and attractive salad, consider this burgundy-red variety. With deeply cut leaves and large rosette plants, this variety is slow to bolt. Has a mild, non-bitter taste. Great for containers.
    • 50 Days to Maturity
  • Grand Rapids
    • Mr. Fothergill’s Seed from 2014
    • Description from the seed pack: “Very Popular variety known for it’s crispness. The light green, frilled leaves make a perfect salad. Easy to grow. Slow to bolt”
    • I don’t have a photo of this one
    • 45 Days to Maturity

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  • Marvel of Four Seasons
    • Mr. Fothergill’s Seed from 2015
    • This is one of my favourite lettuces I’ve grown. It is honestly,  probably a tie with the Cos Romaine. Description from the Seed Packet: “Heirloom, butterhead type with 8-12″ heads. Light-green, with reddish tip on outer leaves. Popular long season type.”
    • 65 Days

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  • Dwarf Green Curled Kale
    • Mr. Fothergill’s Seed from 2013
    • This is my favourite Kale to grow, It seems to be the least likely to become infested with the cabbage worms.
    • 70 Days to Maturity

 

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  • “Dinosaur” / Lacinato Kale
    • Cornucopia Seed from 2015
    • Description from the seed packet: “Handsome heirloom known for its blue-green crinkled leaves, tender texture & sweet flavor. Delicious in salads, for sauteed greens, soups or braised with garlic and olive oil. Kale’s flavor is best in cool weather; mature plants handle frost well for extended harvesting.”
    • This packet doesn’t list any days to maturity.
    • One last note. This is my favourite kale to make Kale Chips with.

 

Do you have any favourite lettuces or greens for me to keep in mind for when I re-establish my seed stash (since most packets are getting quite old)? If you do, share them in the comments below. (Also I’ll be sowing spinach and swiss chard directly in a few weeks)

Below is the best Romaine I ever grew.. I think this was from either 2015 or 2016. 

 

 

Currants (2019)

2016 Currents growing and flowering

This is going to be a quick post, but I want a record of the currants that we planted last year.

In addition to the one ‘Red Lake’ Red Currant I have from a whim purchase a few years ago, I rescued a bunch of them from a burn pit. It is hit or miss on whether they will live or not. I hope they do, but either way, I do have some established to get some Red Currants.

I also rescued a few White Currants. I’m not 100% on their variety name. They have little nursery tags on them, but they are still buried in snow, so I’m unable to check… I have one in my backyard and one out at my parent’s place. They are both more mature than the rescued red ones mentioned above, and I think they will have a better chance of survival.

Black Currants – We have 2 varieties. I believe they were ‘Consort’ and ‘Crandall’. There is a possibility I have that wrong, but to the best of my memory that is what they were. I’m also not sure how many of each we planted. They were also rescues, so we’ll wait and see how they survived this winter.

Why currants? Why not? They are an early fruit, and not something you find in the store. I’m looking forward to making some jam or jelly from them if I can get a decent harvest. This may be a few years down the road, but I am hopeful.

If you have any Currant tips, please share them down in the comments below.

The pictures in this post are from my original Red Lake Currant a couple years ago. I didn’t want to have yet another photo-less post.

2016 current flowers2

 

 

Peppers – Update 1 (2019)

Just a quick note before we jump into this update… It might be a wordy one. I’m writing this over a many many days so I have a decent update on all the peppers I have started.

You know how in my first pepper post, I was a little worried about my saved cayenne seed… and that I might hedge my bets and sow some of the seed from the seed packet in-case my own seed didn’t germinate??? Well!…On March 4, 7 days after I put them in the wet paper towel, I had 3 seeds push out and germinate. I never did use the seed packet to hedge my bets. I’m just so proud of my little seeds! They beat out all the other pepper seeds.

I didn’t quite have enough room in my kitchen window area for them to be in their own individual containers, so I’ve just put them into peat pellets to get them into something they can start life in. I will have to pot these up before they go outside, but the peat pellets will at least give them a decent start.

Habanero – I sowed these in January knowing that they may not germinate. I didn’t do anything special for them, they were just sown in peat pellets along with some other herbs and put in my kitchen window. They were just a wait and see what happens kind of situation.  With it being SOOOOO COLD for all of February, the kitchen window area was much colder than usual, especially at night.  So once my paper-towel peppers started to germinate, I decided to move the un-germinated habaneros to my heating pad. Within 24 hours of being on heat (and in a ziplock-bag to keep the humidity up), they have started to germinate! That was March 5. So the wait to see what happens with the habaneros continues.

On March 5, I also put some ‘Cabernet’ Bell Pepper seeds on paper towel to hopefully germinate, as I am not seeing much change in my ‘California Wonder’ Bell Pepper seeds. I’m not giving up on them just yet, but I do want to have some bell pepper plants this year, and I do not want to buy the starts from the garden centre (but I will if I have to)

Just a quick note about the ‘Cabernet’ pepper, since it wasn’t included in the original pepper post:

  • It is an F1, which means it is a hybrid, and I won’t be saving seed from it.
  • From McKenzie Seeds “Culinary Selections”
  • Another old pack of seeds from 2014, so I’m not expecting fantastic germination. I’ve used whatever I had left in the packet.
  • 76 Days
  • Description from the seed packet: “Elongated bell shape measuring 15cm by 10cm (6″x4″). Turns from a green to red sweet pepper. Use fresh in salsa and salads. Great from stuffing or pickling”

 

By March 7, the ‘Medusa’ Peppers, and more of the Early Jalapeno’s had germinated, and I have 4 peat pellets of the Medusa,  and a total of 4 Jalapenos. I’ve also got 7 peat pellets of the Cayenne and I think I’ll stop myself before I end up with 20 of them.

 

 

I’m finalising this first pepper update on March 27, and as it stands:

  • None of the ‘California Wonder’ bell peppers germinated, or showed any sign of life, so I moved them to the garbage for more space for other things.
  • I also gave up on the Cabernet peppers I talked about above. They were more promising than the other Bell Peppers, but at this point, I’m going to focus my energy on the things that are growing and I’ll buy some bell pepper starts… and some fresh seed for next year.
  • I have 7 peat pellets with the germinated cayennes, with 4 of them growing fantastic and working on their true leaves. The other 3 are a little slower, But my minimum goal was 4 plants, so I’m right on track for my plans.
  • The Jalapenos have been growing the best. I have 4 of them working on their true leaves. Almost all of the seeds germinated, and I could have had quite a few of these, But I’m space poor, so I stopped myself at 4 plants.
  • The habaneros are also working on their true leaves.
  • The Marconi peppers are just starting to sprout up as well. I have 5 peat pellets of them, and I hope they all survive. 2 have Sprouted, and the other 3 are hit or miss, and I’ll give them a little longer to figure out if they want to live.
  • I have 4 of the peat pellets of the Medusa, with 3 of them fully sprouted. Hopefully all 4 make it. They are more of a novelty, but I’m glad they are doing well.

 

 

Raspberries

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Rescued Raspberries in my yard.

Continuing on with the fruit posts, this week I’m talking about the Raspberries. I have a variety do them both in my yard, and out at my parents house.

In my yard I have a more heritage variety that I rescued from a yard that my fiancé was working on a few years ago, and I’ve had a few harvests from them. In fact, last year, none of the berries made it into the house, I ate them all before they even got near the door.

If they survived this winter, I also have some Souris in my yard, and some Fall-Gold (which I’ll talk about below).

At my parents house, we planted some Double Delight and Fall Gold. The birds have done a well good job of propagating the wild raspberries out there as well.

There is a possibility that I will be able to make my own raspberry jam from my own raspberries at some point in the near future.

Double delight is a “promocane” variety. Which means it produces its fruit on the new first year. It has large, sometimes double fruit and ripens in late August-September. Said to be great for both freezing, and fresh eating. Like many other Prairie fruit varieties, it was developed at the Morden Research Station in Manitoba.

Latin Name: Rubus idaeus ‘Double Delight’

Fall Gold is an Everbearing Raspberry. It will produce a crop in June, and a larger crop from late August until Frost. Since it is a fall-bearing Variety, the canes should be pruned to the ground in Spring. (However, I’m tempted to leave them all this year and see how they grow, and then start the proper pruning protocol next year)

The fruit of the Fall Gold is yellow with a slight pinkish hue to it. It’s soft, very sweet and one of the best raspberries I have ever tasted.

Latin name: Rubus idaeus ‘Fall Gold’

I don’t have info on the random one I have in my yard, but they are delicious. Same with the wild raspberries at my parents place. They started as a few small patches in the ditches along the road, but are now all around the open areas in the trees. I never get home in time to get the fruit of these before the birds, but one day!

Like the Haskaps last week, I was going to attempt to get photos of the raspberries while I was back home visiting, but they were deep under the snow. But, as you can see above, I was able to grab some of the labels they came with.

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This is the raspberries I rescued. It is was a few weeks after transplanting to my garden.