Cucumbers for 2016

  
I grew both of these varieties of cucumbers last year, but I don’t think I wrote about them at all. I really should have wrote all the words about them, because they were wonderful. The only thing is, I didn’t have enough plants. That will change this year.

Cucumbers need really rich and fertile soil, so plan out where you are going to grow them. I will be digging some home-made compost in just before I plant these outside. In addition, I grew Peas in this spot last year, so that should have added some usable nitrogen back into the soil, benefiting the cucumbers this year.

They also don’t like the cold, so grow in a greenhouse or wait until after your last frost date. For me, that will be safely in June. I will be watching the 14 day weather forecast to find a good outlook for the seedlings.

Cucumbers don’t like their roots being disturbed very much, so pick appropriate containers to sow into. I will be using home-made newspaper pots. This allows me to plant them straight into the ground, with minimal disturbance. They are also free, which is always a good thing. As far as soil to sow in, I will just be using regular potting soil. I could use seed sowing mix, but it ends up being more economical to use regular (good quality) potting mix rather than splurging on the amount of seed sowing mix that I would need.

I was going to try a new-to-me, larger sized cucumber this year, but then decided to stick to the two varieties I already have on hand and grow them better… and more of them.

I need enough of the pickling cucumbers to make pickling them worth the effort! The Lemon cukes are refreshing and delicious and didn’t even make it into the house last  year.

Varieties:

  • ‘Modern Early’ Cucumber (Heirloom)
    • Days to Maturity: 45
    • I sowed 8 newspaper pots of these on April 24
    • “This pickling variety has short white spined, medium green fruit. Plant outside only after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. This blunt shaped variety doesn’t take too much space in your garden” McKenzie Seeds
  • ‘Lemon’ Cucumber (Heirloom)
    • Days to Maturity: ? Doesn’t Say on Seed Packet
    • I showed 5 newspaper pots of these on April 24.
    • “A true heirloom whose vigorous vines bear abundant crunchy cukes the size and shape of lemons. Flavor is mild and sweet. Tasty and delicious eating either fresh, in salads or for making pickles.” Cornucopia Seeds

These things sprouted in 3 days!! It was incredible! I’ve never had germination this great with cucumbers before!

Are you growing cucumbers this year? What varieties have you chosen?  

  

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Volunteer Broad Beans

I wasn’t going to grow Broad beans this year. They are not my most favourite thing. I like the taste of them enough, but mostly I like their flowers, growing habits and soil enhancing abilities.

However, while working on getting the garden organized and ready for planting things, I noticed that I had a handful of broad beans popping up. I never harvested very many of these last year, and obviously wasn’t very diligent in removing the seed pods when I dug the bed up. So they survived winter and started growing.

Things that survive winter instantly make me like them more. I appreciate the tenacity of it I guess.

So these survivors can stay.

Just not where they are currently growing.

So I just moved them. Two are now over by the Jerusalem Artichokes, and the rest are behind the Spring Onions and Elephant Garlic. This is the little Winter Survivors club area.

These 3 were probably all from the same Bean Pod (Great Germination!)

If you are in a similar situation, just take a garden trowel, dig down and lift the little plant up, being careful to not damage the roots. This is much easier if you have loose soil, If you don’t, just be extra diligent about the little plant’s roots. Then you just move them to where you want them. Like potting up other plants, just wait until they have some true leaves and are strong enough to handle the stress, but not so large that they have really set down deeper roots.

I’ll keep you updated in future posts about how these are doing. If you have any suggestions on what I can do with Broad Beans that might help me enjoy them a little more, I would greatly appreciate it.

Variety: ‘Windsor’

The benefit of these seeds surviving the winter and germinating on their own, means that I can continue to save seed of successive generations. This should produce seeds/plants more suited to this ground, and the conditions in my yard.

There, now this Broad Bean is situated in it’s new home

Grow Your Own – Italian Seasoning (Completed)


You may have thought I forgot all about my project last year of growing my own Italian Seasoning… But I didn’t. At least not completely. I did get all the herbs dried and put away in individual bags. I just never got around to adding them all together into a seasoning mix. Or writing a post about drying the herbs here. So here we are, finally, with a wrap up on the Italian Seasoning I grew all by myself! (everything in the photo above came out of my garden!)

Continue reading “Grow Your Own – Italian Seasoning (Completed)”

What I learned in 2015 (Gardening)

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I have taken away so many things from my first real year of trying to grow enough vegetables  to have more than just a nibble in our yard. In 2014 and 2013 I grew everything away from home, which meant that I left it all until it was ready, and I had my best friend to garden with, so It was more of a divide and conquer and have fun chucking seeds in the ground and seeing what we get. So in 2015, with my first JUST MINE garden, here is what I have discovered

  • It is easy to get lazy when Pinterest/YouTube/Netflix/My nice cozy bed are just steps away. By the middle of summer, I was a little gardened out, and still had a lot of time left to wait for anything harvest-able.
  • Where the shade actually is. Areas that I had thought were really sunny, actually got more shade than I thought. And vise-versa.
    • This is something I never would have noticed if I hadn’t grown things in 2 different spots in the yard!
  • It is easy to have grandiose plans in the dead of winter with pinterest and YouTube showing you all these beautiful things, Its an other to make yourself get out and grow them and be realistic about where you live and climate you are in. Especially with work and home stress creeping in, and the 18 other projects you started.
  • Ironically, the amount of tomatoes I grew, was just right! I learned a few things in their placement, but It was nice and refreshing to have a bunch of different kinds of tomatoes. In a few years time If I ever have my own real greenhouse I will scale up my tomato growing again because they really are so much fun to watch grow and take over everything.
  • I wont waste my time with dry-beans or Broad Beans this year. But I will use their space on more Green Beans. I also will just stick with climbing beans to save space. The slug population really liked my bush beans and got to most of them before I could.
  • I will stagger my Peas better in 2016. It was hard to keep up with them before they got too mature. We definitely prefer baby snow-peas, and the sugar snaps. So I will probably just stick to that kind… And the Alaska peas, because they grow so well in the cold here.
  • As much as I want I huge carrot harvest, It doesn’t seem like a possibility here. I have tried every year to grow carrots in my yard, and every year they are sad and tiny and pitiful. So I may just throw in the towel and just grow a few tiny patches of them and use the space for something that I know grows well here… If I can find the seed from a local garden centre again I will get those little round Paris Market carrots and grow them in a container. They are awesome and so much fun.

 

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So In 2016, I have plans to:

  • Have things that harvest quickly, and give a good push to keep going.
    • I won’t skip growing Potatoes, they are so easy and so satisfying to grow, and we definitely missed them this year.
  • I will be more realistic about what we will actually eat.
    • I love beets, but I don’t need 6 rows of them!
    • I will grow more lettuce and stagger plantings better, because I now know that I can grow heads of lettuce!
  • More Zucchini! and Cucumbers!
  • I’m going to scale back a bit and not over-challenge myself. When I go too hard into gardening, all my other projects start to fall by the wayside, and I get into an extreme rocking between the two. So I will be more realistic about my life and time management in 2016.
  • Tomato-wise in 2016, I want to legit-start saving my own seed. I have dabbled here and there, but I would like to actually perpetuate my own stash of heirloom seeds.
  • I still want to give Brussels Sprouts a go again… They grew tiny little sprouts, but nothing worth writing home about. I just need to put them somewhere sunnier I think. I plunked them in the shadiest spots, and they were pretty late going in the ground.
  • My herbs will be a go again, But I am going to be realistic and just buy them. I think I have their ideal location nailed down here, and I have a better way of drying them quickly now. I’m slowly learning what works for me. Also, cooking with your own home-grown herbs is so much more delicious, I don’t really want store bought again.
  • I want to grow more flowers this year. They definitely give a push to go out into the garden. They are pretty, and Its fun to watch the bees and butterflies enjoying them. Also, once I’m out there smelling the flowers, I usually get to work on the vegetables, so it’s a win-win.
  • I will be skipping Cauliflower in 2016. I grew 2 heads of it, but we weren’t ready to eat it, and then it went to flower so I missed out. So I’ll save it for a year when I have more time to keep up with time-sensitive stuff like that. I will have another go with the Broccoli though! They were fantastic.
  • I want to grow a few things with  the full intention of pickling them. I haven’t done much pickling, and I think that I will make that my kitchen-garden goal of 2016.
  • My major seed-to-mature-vegetable project this year is going to be Onions. I will be starting them from seed today! (Maybe some more strawberries too)

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Here is to a wonderful 2016 for everyone and their gardens!

 

Rhubarb Harvesting

This year, I have some lofty rhubarb dreams. I was getting worried that I wouldn’t be able to try out all the ideas I have floating around in my head (and on my Pinterest feed), since my backyard rhubarb doesn’t produce a ton. But then I went home to visit my parents this weekend and all hope has been restored. I mean, like check this mammoth out!

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It is about as tall as I am (5’6″) and I can hardly get my hand around some of the stalks. This isn’t even the only planting either! I had 5 others to harvest from, although they are not as gigantic.

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I will have to find the scale later and update you on the weight of this harvest, but I think it is safe to say that I will be able to make all my rhubarb dreams come true this year.

Just a final thought: I only really intend to use the smaller stalks, the large one in the photo above broke off while I was digging around in the plant, so we cleared it out. Also, while I was digging around for rhubarb, look what I spotted:

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Because I will have to wait until I get back to my own house to freeze or otherwise preserve this harvest, I did some googling to find the best method of prolonging the rhubarbs freshness. If you leave 1-2 inches of the leaf on the stalk, it helps keep it from wilting so much. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it works out!

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