Community Garden Plot – Update 3

On Canada Day (July 1st if you didn’t know) I had all the gardening ambition finally and after getting the backyard all sorted, I headed to my community garden plot! I also went ahead and got super sunburnt too.

I only had a little weeding to do. That was nice, because I expected to have a ton of weeding with all the sun and rain we have had.

I sowed some ‘Gold Rush’ bush beans, which are going to end up being the only beans I have this year. I totally spaced on sowing them in the yard. So disappointed in myself on that front.

I also sowed some ‘Bulls Blood’ and ‘Chioggia’ Beets, AND some of the onions I sowed from seed back in December!  Here is hoping that everything grows well with the limited summer we might end up with.

Sorry for the blurry pic… I was trying to not fall into the freshly watered garden.

On a more positive note! The carrots are doing well and the potatoes are starting to flower! So I should get something from this whole venture.

Also, check out my neighbors garlic! I’m so jealous of it!

Previous Updates: 1 & 2

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Jerusalem Artichokes

So when I was in the garden centre treating myself to a Venus fly trap growing kit, I also treated myself to these Jerusalem Artichoke tubers! I’ve wanted to try them for the last few years, and this year will finally be the year. (As long as everything goes right of course)

They are related to sunflowers and the daisy family, and have no relation to regular artichokes OR Jerusalem. They are actually native to North America and were brought back to Europe in 1605 by Champlain. He had found domestically grown tubers on Cape Cod, and took them back to France with him. The Native Americans had been growing them for years before Europeans arrived.

By the mid 1600’s in Europe and the Americas, the plant was widely used as a popular food for both humans and animals.

During WWII in Nazi Occupied France, the Jerusalem Artichokes (along with Rutabagas) became a common source of food because of rationing and more traditional foods being hard to come by. After the war, they went back to being mainly used for animal food.

Other names these are known by: Topinambour, Sunchokes, Canadian Truffle, Sunroot, Earth Apple, Canada Potato, French Potato, lambchoke and fartichoke. Yep, Fart-i-choke. Unlike most tubers, the plant stores it’s energy as inulin (a type of carbohydrate) instead of starch. This can lead to flatulence and lower gut pain, because our digestive system doesn’t break down inulin. But, bacteria in our colon metabolize it instead, leading to the gas.

I am excited to try these out, and I will keep you all in the loop on how they grow, how they taste, and weather or not the fartichoke name fits or not.

Links to learn more about he Jerusalem Artichoke: Wikipedia, Bon Appetit, Mother Earth News, and I’ll let you Google to your hearts content.

 

Venus Fly Trap

Did you know that Venus Fly Traps originate in the swamps and bogs of North Carolina and South Carolina? Because I didn’t. I honestly thought they were rainforest plants.

Yesterday, I stopped at the garden centre on my way home from an appointment in the city, and rewarded myself for being a grown up. I bought a “Franki Fly Trap” Mini Dome Terrarium. They had a more expensive Dome that grew 10 different carnivorous plants, but given my current lack of window sill space (until my seedlings can all go outside), I decided to hold off on that one. We’ll see how successful these are before I attempt to grow 9 other types of carnivorous plants.

The seeds look quite a lot like mint seeds. They are really small, so if you grow them too, be careful.

In 3-6 weeks, I will hopefully have little Venus fly trap sprouts. I’ll keep you posted on the germination and growing of these little guys. It says right on the seed pack that they are “guaranteed to grow”.

Rather than regurgitating exactly what the seed packet says, Here is a photo of it.

Flowers for 2016 (so far)

I have decided to put some honest effort into growing more flowers this year. Bees and Butterflies and other friendly bugs should be happy!

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Lupin & Bumble Bee (2015)

Apart from the bedding plants that I usually buy every year, I already have a few trusty perennials in the yard: 2 colours of Delphinium, a deep pink/red Lupin, a purple Lupin that I grew from seed (pretty proud of myself on that one); and a few bulbs I planted that I am waiting to see if they come back this year. There is also some Foxgloves that I bought AND sowed last year, that should come back, and a few lillies that will also hopefully come back….

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Chives (2015)

Also, chives. To me, they live in that grey area between flowers and herbs. Last year I expanded them around the yard to enjoy more of their beautiful flowers and their resilience to our winter. Because, it is always uplifting to see some green poking out from beneath the snow after a long winter. Out front, I have a few Iris rhizomes that I’ve carried around with me most places I have lived long enough to garden. I think I will move some of the smaller ones to the back yard later this Spring.

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I forgot the name of this lily, but I think it is something like ‘Commander in Chief’. Its planted with the Purple Lupin that I sowed my self (2015)

As for the new additions this year, so far, I have sown:

  • Hollyhocks: I’ve grown these the last few years, but they have yet to flower. So I’m adding a few more in this year. I sowed 9 cells of these originally, with 2 seeds per cell on February 21. Only 2 germinated. I waited and waited and waited. So I resowed 4 cells on March 11, and only 1 more germinated. (the other 3 cells were for Sweet William, but we’ll get to them). So after a month of waiting around for Hollyhocks to wake up and germinate, I have 3 little seedlings.
    • Variety: ‘Country Romance Mix’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “Large 8-13cm rose, white, maroon, yellow and pink single flowers are produced on tall stalks from July to September”
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  • Sweet William: As I mentioned above, after some hollyhocks didn’t germinate, I sowed 3 of the 9 cells with Sweet William. Which germinated within a few days!  I sowed these on March 11
    • Variety: ‘Mixed Colors’ (Biennial)
    • Their description says: “Vivid colors and spicy scent make this a garden standout. The blooms are eye-catching bicolors in combinations of red, pink and white. Flower clusters as large as 6” accross. Very pretty and easy to grow. Self-seeds. Brilliant for bedding or borders. Blooms in its second year. Zone 3.”
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  • Malva: After waiting and waiting for the damn Hollyhocks, I plunked some ‘Zebrina’ Malva seeds in. They were up within a handful of days too. Really making me wish I had just sowed these from the beginning. They are a perennial to Zone 5. They may end up being an annual for me in this case, depending on the winter we have. I sowed them on March 11. They are heirloom seeds, so I can save my own seed from them if possible.
    • Variety: ‘Zebrina’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “A magnificent perennial bearing gorgeous 30″ flower spikes filled with 2″ lavender striped blooms. Malva blooms all summer long and combines very well in the perennial border with phlox or bright yellow Yarrow. Zone 5”
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  • Columbine: I was pretty excited when these came up. I’ve grown them before, but I’ve never kept them alive to be able to flower. I always get distracted by vegetables. So this year, hopefully I’ll be able to keep my attention span for these little seedlings. I sowed them on February 21
    • Variety: ‘Long Spurred Mix’ (Perennial)
    • Their description says: “Strong, sturdy stems are covered with attractive, spurred, nodding two-toned 4” flowers. Intense colors add charm and beauty to your landscape. Easy to care for, free-blooming and heat tolerant. Rich, sandy and well drained soil. Perennial. Zone 3.”
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  • Carnations: I had doubts that these were going to germinate because the seed is a little older, but they popped right up! I sowed them on February 21.
    • Variety: ‘Chabaud Giant Mix’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Beautifully scented 2 1/2″ blossoms, produce a waterfall of brilliant mixed shades of pink, red, white and yellow. Perfect for borders, rock gardens, containers and for cutting.”
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  • Impatiens: Looking for something to put in the front garden bed that is pretty shaded, I found these. Hopefully I can keep them alive to get them out there.  I sowed them March 24
    • Variety: ‘Tropical Fizz Hybrid’ (Annual)
    • Their description says “Brighten up the shady areas of your flower beds with this delightful and vibrant mix of pink, lavender, salmon, red, orange an white. Grows 8-10″ tall”
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  • Lavatera: My grandma always grew these and saved her seed every year. She gave me some, but I’ve misplaced the pack she gave me. So I found an heirloom pack to sow and save my own every year just like she did… as long as I can keep them alive. I sowed them March 24.
    • Variety: ‘Silvercup’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Dense, bushy, mound-shaped plants are clad in attractive, dark green foliage and covered with 4” flowers. The brightest of all mallow blooms! Ideal as a mixed border or a quick growing, compact summer hedge. Easily grown.
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  • Cobaea: I saw these and couldn’t resist. Ideally, they will grow up the south facing wall on the garage with the clematis and maybe Grapes that I want to grow. But, I still need to get the bed created. I sowed them March 24.
    • Variety: ‘Cathedral Bells’ (Annual)
    • Their description says: “Exotic climber for a sunny wall or terrace. Large bell-shaped flowers turn from bright green to a deep purple. Use against walls, fences and pergolas.”
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Well, that is all I have sown thus far… I still want to sow some Cosmos, Marigolds and Calendula, and a few other annual flowers… possibly some Nasturtiums. But I may just pick some bedding plants up and save my space for the veggies I want to grow.

Also, I mentioned about the clematis I want to grow. I picked up a bag of them (and a bag of strawberries) at Home Depot a few weeks ago, and plunked the 2 plants of ‘Jackamanni’ into some Red Solo Cups. Hopefully this will keep them going until their home is created and it is safe to put them outside.

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Foxgloves (2015)

 

 

 

Herbs for 2016

I bit the bullet and sowed some of my herbs. I felt a little guilty having a big hoard of herb seeds and never dedicating any honest effort in growing them. So I did it. I stuck some of the hoard into dirt.

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As I mentioned, on January 23, I sowed Lavender, Lemon Balm and Spearmint. And I recently potted them up from the little peat pellets they were started in. I recommend planting some Lavender, just for the aroma therapy of it. You just have to disturb the leaves a little and the air is filled with a wonderful lavender scent. Do it, you won’t be disappointed. And do the same with the Lemon Balm. Its citrus-y scent is delightful (And you can make a little tea from the leaves).

On March 11, I filled up some little seed cells that I have, and sowed the following:

  • 3x Thyme
  • 2x Summer Savory
  • 2x Sweet Marjoram
  • 2x Russian Tarragon
  • 2x Oregano
  • 2x ‘Red Rubin’ Basil
  • 2x ‘Genovese o Comune’ Basil
  • 2x Flat Leaf Parsley
  • 2x ‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley
  • 2x Chamomile
  • 2x Catnip
  • 1x Rosemary
  • 1x ‘Cinnamon’ Basil
  • 1x ‘Lemon’ Basil
  • 1x ‘Lime’ Basil

I also started some Sage and some Garlic Chives in larger seed cells. There is 2 cells of each of those. Also, I will be growing Dill, but I’ll wait until its closer to putting them outside to try and start some inside. I usually forget about the Dill until its too late, and then it doesn’t mature in time to harvest anything more than a few sprigs. I am hopeful that starting the Dill a little early, I can actually get enough to both use fresh, and have some to dry to use throughout the winter.

I am also keeping my fingers crossed that I will find some Stevia seed. I really really want to grow my own sweetener.

Looking at that list seems a little daunting, and I hope that I can keep these surviving until its safe for them to go outside. Ultimately, like last year, if they don’t make it, I will replace them from plants from the garden centre… but lets hope that doesn’t have to happen this time around.

Do you start any herbs from seed? Leave a comment below with any tips or tricks or questions.

 

UPDATE: My wonderful future Mother-in-Law sent me some Stevia seeds! I started 3 peat pellets of them as soon as I opened the envelope on March 14th!! Fingers crossed they germinate!!

UPDATE #2: The Tarragon germinated in 2 days!!!! Not even kidding.