Greenhouse Garden Update – May 4/2014

There still is not a whole lot going on out at the Greenhouse. It is Alberta, so of course Mother Nature thinks that Spring involves 22 C temperatures one day and then a 10-20cm Snowfall warning for the next day.

However, despite the snow, the tomatoes that I planted out in the greenhouse on April 19th are doing great. They have started to put on nice, dark green foliage. They are still wrapped up in a frost blanket, and will stay that way for the foreseeable future. I would be more likely to uncover them if there were less broken windows.

The peas I sowed on April 13th have finally begun to show their faces. Which means I will be sowing the next batch in the next week or two, for succession planting.

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The radishes have really taken off in the last week, and the true leaves are starting to poke through. So it shouldn’t be long before we have a harvest

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The spinach, turnips and kohlrabi are also doing great! It will be nice to have such an early harvest of a few things to keep us inspired and pulling weeds!
I need to get in there and thin out a few of the seedlings, but for now, I’m just happy to see them actually growing! Especially with the snow outside.

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I am still waiting on the carrots and pickling onions to show up. There are a few little carrot seedlings starting to poke through, but there is no sign of the onions just yet.

The tomatoes that are still waiting to go into the ground are tucked away in a double layer of clear plastic and frost blanket, along with my pre-started shallots, and the broad beans. Once this weather stops being so horrible, the broad beans and shallots will move outside to their final homes, and the majority if the tomatoes will be in the greenhouse… The extras are going into other peoples gardens… Or into my backyard.

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The biggest job that needs to get done out there is the digging of the outside garden. While we did the brute force of the work in the fall, every piece of dandelion root and grass root that we missed is now sprouting. So while I would love to just go over it all with a rototiller, I know that will just make the problem so much worse… So hand digging is in our future… A lot of hand digging. I have done about a quarter of it so far, so only 75% more to go!

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Well that is about all there is to update on at this point. Next time should be much more exciting as we really get into the planting season… I should get back to digging before the grass takes over. Have a great day, and I hope it is warm and sunny wherever you are.

Next we will probably talk about Potatoes and onions and all the things that can stand a few of these colder days. (Our seed potato variety count is at 10 right now… needless to say that some kinds really need to get into the ground soon)

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March 22/2014 Garden Update

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It was feeling a lot like Spring around here. Gophers have started to wake up and are chirping away out in the fields. The Geese are making their pit stops here, en masse. The snowbank/drift in our back yard from the storms at the beginning of December was down to about 3 feet tall at its highest point… We could see our patio again. And at work… MUD… So much mud! Then the first day of Spring happened and Mother Nature decided we were getting too used to this “Spring” thing, and hammered us with a winter storm again. Lucky for me, I have Spring in my windowsill. Everything is doing amazing. Now if Mother Nature would co-operate, I can start putting the plants for the Greenhouse garden out there. (We are hopefully getting our soil preparations done later next week over there)

But, without anymore chatter, Here is the updates on my little seedlings. (Tomorrow I’ll cover the Herbs and flowers, just like last week)

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TOMATOES

I may have developed an inability to control myself around seeds. I bought more. But only because I saw the Yellow Pear ones that looked so amazing on the many gardening blogs I read, and I just really wanted them. Right next to them in the display were some Marglobe ones that are an Heirloom determinate variety that I think would be great for my mom. Right next to those were some “Green Envy” cherry tomatoes, and I said to myself “why not”. There may have also been an heirloom pepper in there too, but we’ll cover that in the Pepper section. Then I may have allowed myself to trade some Heirloom seeds… “Boxcar Willie”, “Golden Cherry” and “Black Russian” should be here any day now.  I can stop anytime, I swear (she said unconvincingly).

It took 5 days for the Yellow Pear and Marglobe to start sprouting. Pretty excited for both of these. Green Envy should be up by Monday. 5 days seems to be the general length of time it takes for my tomatoes to sprout.

The Cherry Tomatoes (Hybrid Mix of yellow, orange and red) took a little longer to sprout than I expected (more than 7 days), but once they broke through the soil, they took off! They are very leggy, but I can just plant them deeper when they get potted up.

The Pink and Red Brandywine’s I sowed last weekend, Sprouted on March 20. The Pink ones were a day earlier. Black Krim and Bonny Best are also sprouted. The Black Krim had some spotty germination, but I have 4 solid little seedlings out of the 6 that I sowed.

The Rainbow blend and Roma’s that I had potted up last week, are doing AMAZING. I am experimenting a little with using 1L containers that the coffee cream comes in, so my seedlings can have a very developed deep root system, but I’ll tell you more about that later in its very own post. Also… the Rainbow blend may not be just Brandywine tomatoes… Some have standard leaves and not potato leaves. Weird.

Needless to say I am very-much looking forward to my tomatoes this year!

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Tomato seedlings

PEPPERS

My Cayenne Peppers are doing amazing. They all look like little pepper plants now. I should have a great crop of peppers from them if I do everything right, since I have about 10 plants… AFTER thinning and downsizing to only the healthiest ones.

My Jalapenos are a little slower than the Cayenne, but still great. They were started a little after the Cayenne’s so they have that excuse. I have 4 still in the peat pellet starters and I will be potting them up this weekend.

And since I have minimal self control around a seed display, I have some heirloom Hungarian Wax hot peppers. I started 2x 3″ pots of these on March 20th. Since its been a little colder around the window because of the snow, I wont be too surprised if these take a little longer to germinate.

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Cayenne Peppers in 4″ pots

LEEKS

Amazing as ever! I may need to think about thinning them again soon… REALLY need to not sow the entire package of seeds next year.

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Leeks – almost need thinning again

STRAWBERRIES

Super slow. Not much new to report from last week. The few that have true leaves are getting stronger though. I will be sowing more of these in the Fall, so that they are stronger healthy plants by the time Spring comes around.

EGGPLANT

Did I tell you I found some Italian Eggplant? “Violetta Lunga di Napoli” is sprouting!

My Asian Eggplant “Ping Tung Long” has sprouted and is slowly moving along. I’m down to 4 of those rather than 6. Two of them couldn’t break out of their seed shell and were not looking good, so I put them out of their misery.

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“Violetta Lunga di Napoli” Eggplant sprouting

GROUND CHERRIES

These are working on their true leaves. I am looking forward to them. They are definitely not something you can find in the grocery store around here.

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Cayenne on Left x3
Ground Cherries on Right x6

SWEET POTATO

The sweet potato experiment from last year, is getting a do-over this year. I have a sprouting potato on my fridge, so I should get some good slips from it. The question will be whether I can keep them warm and happy enough to produce some potatoes.

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Sweet Potato producing slips

POTATOES

I waited too long to order my Pink Fir Apples. We went to place the order and they were sold out… So sad. Next year I won’t wait so long. Now the potato plan will probably just be regular varieties you can buy at the garden center. My Pink Fir Apple dreams will have to wait until next year I guess. I will console myself with more tomato plants.

ICEBERG LETTUCE

I had an old packet of Iceberg lettuce, and I thought I would challenge myself to try and get an actual head of lettuce from it. We’ll see how it goes. At the very least, I will end up with something green to eat. They have all sprouted. Soon, I’ll try and pinch out a few to grow on and hope for heads. The others I’ll just have as salad leaves.

Check back here tomorrow for the update on all my Herbs and Flowers.

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Left – “Ping Tung Long” Eggplant
Right – Jalapeno Peppers

 

 

Things to do during a Blizzard

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(messy) Front door, less than an hour after shovelling out.

We have been a teeny tiny bit snowed in here. Its not really the amount of snow we received, just where it accumulated thanks to the massive 70km/h wind gusts from the North. I couldn’t make it to work on Monday, but that wasn’t because I didn’t try. My little car made it most of the way through the first drift, but not all the way. Luckily, my neighbour was out with his snowblower, and cleared a path for me to go forward. I made it through the next few drifts with enough speed, and then got stuck trying to turn uphill. A handful of lovely people stopped to help push me out and get going again, but it took about half an hour before I made it anywhere worth talking about. At this point, I was only about half a block from home… but there was no way I could make it back the way I came. Then I got stuck in another drift, and more people pushed me out. At this point, I decided that there was no way I was going to go any farther… And in hindsight, I never should have tried at all. My boyfriend came and picked me up from the parking lot where I could safely park my car, and we made it back home… after helping more unfortunate people stuck in the snow. This got me thinking though: What can you do during a blizzard? So here is my list of all the things I managed to do during the last 2 days of the Blizzard:

1.Thank your lucky stars that there are nice people willing to help out a complete stranger in -35 wind chills.

2. Go to Tim Hortons and get a Double Double since you are out anyway.

3.Help push and shovel out other people after you get back home.

4.Shovel a path to the house

5.Warm up so you can feel your fingers, toes and nose again.

6. Try to let the dogs out into the yard, but since you cant get the door open from all the drifted snow blocking it, move onto the next item…

7. Put all winter layers back on…

8. Shovel your way to the garage

9. Shovel your way out of the garage, and to the back door

10. Pick away at the 4 foot drift against your back door until the door is able to open

11. Realize that the door handle is frozen and make your way back to the front door

12. You will probably have to shovel your way back to the front door by now

13. Walk through the house carefully trying to not let any snow fall off of you.

14. Get dogs to go outside

15. Shovel a path so they can actually get off the step

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That snowbank on the right comes up to my chin

16. This could take some time.

17. Go back inside and warm up

18. Don’t look outside for at least an hour

19. After you open the door wondering if the storm has calmed down, realize you need to shovel again, since the drift is almost to the door knob.

20. Just repeat steps 4-17, periodically adding in a #3 to the poor people stuck in the drifts outside your house.

21. Become reacquainted with your hatred of the prairies.

22. Be glad that somewhere in that mess you remembered to put some chicken soup in the crock pot/

23. Feel guilty for not doing anything around the house

24. Muscle fatigue from all the shovelling will take care of the guilt. Have a nap instead

25. It has been a few hours by now, so you should probably go shovel some more.

26. Collapse into bed

27. Make sure you set your alarm for 11 to make sure the truck is plugged in, and one last shovel to clear the door again

28. Get up at 5 to start shovelling the hard packed drifts and end up helping neighbour push his truck through the drift.

29. Shove coffee in face, get boyfriend with 4×4 to drive you to work, because even though it is a blizzard, the horses still need to bee fed.

30. Walk to the barn from the road, for fear of getting boyfriend’s giant truck stuck in even more giant snow drifts

31. Fall on face from ice under all the snow at least 4 times

32. Re-evaluate your life choices

33. Hug a pony and make it better

34. Work all day in crappy conditions (repeat #33 as needed throughout day)

35. Get boyfriend to pick you up.

36. Help shovel out more people… and then your truck

37. Make it home 2 hours later than you intended

38. Shovel out yard so dogs can go outside again

39. Re-evaluate your life choices again (but be glad for buying ski goggles even though you don’t ski)

40. Have a cuddle/nap with your cats and dog and make it all better

41. shovel out the front and back again

42. Make an annoyingly long list about it and post it on your blog.

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Not cold, but windy… Have I mentioned I hate the wind?

In all serious-ness though… I am very glad that so many random people helped shovel/push/pull me out of the snow, that my boss and co-workers were understanding in my inability to make it to work; and that my boyfriend got his new truck before all of this happened. My car is still parked at the grocery store, and I don’t know when I will be able to get it back to our house. The drifts are still piling up here – In the back yard, we could have just tunnelled through the snow to the garage instead of shovelling it all out (not that it would be structurally sound, but that gives you an idea how much snow is back there). Also, this Arctic air is apparently sticking around for a while. I wish I could hold up in my house until another Chinook comes around.

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Saw this while I was Christmas shopping and it made me laugh.

Cooking up a storm during a Snowfall

We are in the midst of our second snow storm this season so far. Luckily I am not working, so I am hunkered down in my kitchen, cooking up a storm. I may have gotten in over my head though.

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I am making chicken stock for some chicken soup later. If you have never made your own stock, you should! It tastes amazing, you can tweek the flavours to what you want, and you can feel good about using things that otherwise would have gone to waste.
I will put up a recipe for it soon.

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I am also making lasagnas. Mostly for the freezer. Because after working 10 hours outside all day neither I, or my boyfriend feel much like cooking. I love having a stash of hearty homemade meals that we can throw into the oven when those days happen.
Occasionally we end up with store bought frozen lasagnas, but they mostly serve to inspire me to make my own when I get a chance. Homemade is just so much better. And you know what is in it, and (ideally) where the ingredients came from.

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With the finished chicken stock, I pre-assembled chicken soup ingredients into the crock pot for early in the week when we are both tired and cold from working outside in this.

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Also on the agenda for later tonight and tomorrow: roasted butternut squash and homemade pasta (and ultimately homemade ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash). I also have a large surplus of apples that I may make a pie or apple crisp with. I haven’t decided just yet.

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Stay warm out there friends. I hope to get all my almost-ready posts up very soon!

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