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.

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Update on the Peppers (2016)

My peppers are growing really well, and just like the herbs the other day, I thought it was time for a little update about them. Apart from general updates, I haven’t written about my peppers for a while, so it was about time.

All these Peppers were potted up into party cups. I usually use home made newspaper pots, but last year, I found that they started to deteriorate when they were used for a few months. For things that were only in the pots for a few weeks, they work great, but less so for things like peppers and tomatoes.

  • Hungarian Hot Wax
  • Habanero
  • Cayenne
    • sowed: March 2
    • potted up: April 1
    • despite the slow start on germination, these are growing well now. I was shooting for 6 plants, but I’m at 4 now. Which is probably more than enough for me anyway.
  • Big Dipper Green Peppers
  • Seranno

 

Okay, so you can’t really tell the difference in size in the photos above… The Habanero’s are small and compact, and are the only ones I still have under the lights. The Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers are the largest. The others are all about the same size, and all in my South West window now. They live on my desk, and this room is probably the warmest in the house. This is helping my space situation, as I can transition the flowers and herbs to my kitchen window until outside warms up enough. The next problem will be once the tomatoes start really taking off. But I’ll save the rest of this ramble for my April Update at the end of the month.

Are you growing peppers this year? What varieties have you gone for?

March 2016 Update

Things are starting to pick up garden wise now. Our weather has been pretty glorious this month. A few little snow falls, but nothing that has really stuck around. It has been a nice change from a few years ago when it was -30 (Celsius)  for nearly the whole month and there was no end in sight to the snow. For once it felt like Spring on the first official day of Spring. So this might be a bit of a long winded update.

**My iPhone is updating right now and I need to go to bed, so I will add some photos in later. I still want to get this posted on the last day of March though. I will have the video up on YouTube this weekend once I am done work for the week and I have the time to put into it. Thanks everyone for understanding! I’ll add in any photos I have already uploaded at the end as possible.**

I sowed my Mexican Purple Garlic into paper pots on March 6. I made a little video to play around with some editing.Once sown, I put them in the fridge to help give them the cold they need to split into bulbs (the ground was still frozen solid). It is an experiment, so I’m interested to see if it will work. On March 22, after waiting for the ground to thaw enough to dig, it was finally ready for the garlic to go outside. Despite the paper pots being frozen solid (because my fridge likes to think its a freezer sometimes), I was kind of amazed to see little roots on some of the pots that broke apart. If everything goes right, I should end up with 20 bulbs of purple garlic! Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Also, while rooting around in the dirt outside (on March 22), finding areas that are ready to be turned over for Spring, I discovered the the Elephant Garlic that I planted last year (that did absolutely nothing), has sprouted! Also, the Spring Bunching Onions are growing well. I’m glad I left them there for the winter. I never would have guessed that they would survive to Spring. All 3 rhubarb crowns are starting to poke their heads up.

On the 26th and 27th, I got some of the digging done outside in the areas that are starting to thaw out. Mostly I got a lot of the winter build up of dog poo picked up. I moved the little stack of wood that will be in our way when we finally start working on the patio. Some of the wood I used to start building the edges of the beds. Any of it that was a little too small or too rotten to use, I re-stacked over on the other side of our house where the mason bee house is. It will be a good bug habitat over there. I’ll be trying to get as much digging done as possible to be able to plant sooner. I also got started on digging the new bed by the garage – For the clematis and hopefully grapes. Ideally we will be getting the patio done this year… but I did say that last year and our bricks are still sitting stacked out in our driveway.

On the 28th, I started working on the bed by the apple tree too. I was thinking of trying to grow watermelon there, BUT it might be too shady there for them. Now I am contemplating putting strawberries in it, or just growing some beans there. Only time will tell.

Moving onto the stuff I’ve started inside:

The ‘Northern Gold’ Onions I sowed on December 27 are doing well. They are a little smaller that I would expect at this time, but with some heat and sunshine I think they’ll perk right up. The second sowing on early January in the individual cells is doing well… Well the 2 that survived a bit of neglect, when I didn’t realize they had dried out as much as they had.

Peppers: The Habanero and The Hungarian Hot Wax peppers are doing fantastic. I potted them up on March 23. The Cayenne are also doing well, even though the germination rate has been shit. I put 4 seeds in every peat pellet, and only one came up in 4 out of 6 pellets. The other 2 I sowed again with 4 more seeds, and only one sprouted. So it looks like I will have 5 cayenne plants not 6. Disappointing considering they are new seeds. The Serrano Peppers I sowed on March 6 are doing great. As are the ‘Big Dipper’ Bell Peppers I sowed the same day. I’ll probably be potting up all the rest very soon. Here is the post from when I sowed them.

Tomatoes: The bunch (Part 1 here) I sowed on March 15 are doing incredible. I am always amazed at how quickly tomatoes grow. The bunch I sowed on March 23 (Part 2 here) are just starting to poke their heads out. Boxcar Willie won that sprouting race – It poked its head out on the 27th. Part 3 will be in the April update.

Ground Cherries: I am so interested to see how these will grow in a container. I have 4 peat pellets of them, so I think I will try 2 in a container, and 2 in the ground. They are starting to put on their first and second sets of true leaves and will be ready to pot up soon.

Strawberries: I originally sowed 12 pellets of ‘Patio Temptation’, and 6 germinated. Then I mistakenly let them dry out, and now I’m down to 3. But they are growing well. Slow, but they tend to grow slowly anyway. I picked up a pack of ‘Ozark Beauty’ strawberry plants at Home Depot, and plunked each one into a red solo cup to keep them growing rather than rotting away in a bag. 10 plants for $5. There were actually 11 in the bag. However, 3 of them still haven’t done anything in their cup. I’ll give them until early April before I decide to scrap the duds. Plus, if the weather keeps up, these can probably get moved outside soon.

Flowers:

Since I just updated you on the flowers a few days ago, I’ll just link to that post rather than repeat the same story here.

In addition to what is in the Flower post, I have some Tulips that I have been trying to force a little inside until I can dig around enough to get them outside. I just want them to start to make some roots and get a little head start. I put half of them outside on the 28th, and I’ll stick the rest out in a week or two. I always forget about the fall bulbs I find on sale, OR I find them on sale well after my garden is under snow.

When I found the ‘Ozark Beauty’ Strawberries at Home Depot, I also picked up a little pack of ‘Jackamanni’ Clematis that had 2 plants in it. I plunked them into some red solo cups to keep them alive. They are growing very well, and now the pressure is on to get their home created. (Which I started on the 27th!)

Outside, My delphiniums have little buds starting under the cover of their leaf mulch. And I noticed that the Lupin and Hollyhocks have some little surface buds. The foxgloves look like they didn’t even stop growing under the snow. I am also hoping that the daffodils I planted last year will come back. I’m not sure if they got enough energy stored up last summer or not. So more finger crossing here. I seem to be on a bit of a flower kick this year, so don’t be surprised if I add more bulbs and flowers around later this year.

Herbs:

The Lemon Balm, Lavender and Spearmint that were sown January 23, are doing great. I potted them up on March 5, and I’ve had to trim them a couple times since then. I want them to develop good, strong, bushy growth now before I send them outside and neglect them a little. I’ve moved them away from the lights and into the windows to get them a little more used to real sunlight.

The germination on most of the herbs I sowed earlier in the month was pretty amazing. A few things are a bit slower: The Rosemary, Sage and both types of Parsley are just sprouting now, but everything else was up in at least 6 days. I am still waiting for the Stevia, but I did see some tiny sprouts on March 22 when I was gently rooting around the soil. I added a few more seeds, so I will keep my fingers crossed that it decides to grow. As of March 30th, I have 3 sprouts in 2 of the pellets. I really hope that I get more sprouts soon.

Moving back outside, the Chives are putting on good growth. I also check my Chocolate Mint daily for signs of life (still waiting). If I can keep all these herbs going, I should have a decent amount to dry for storage. I’m hopeful that I can save some of my own seed from them as well. My lilacs and the crab apple tree are starting to develop buds. The trees should start developing their leaves too.

How was March in your area? Leave a comment below, and please check out my YouTube video update for this month… It should be up on the weekend, this week has just been too busy and crazy to get everything filmed and edited. We are still waiting to save up for our new camera, so the iPhone updates continue for now.

March 2016 Post Links:

Peppers, March 6 Random Update; Lettuce; Face Cream Review; Mexican Purple Garlic; Herbs; Garden Planning; Tomatoes 1; Carrots; Tomatoes 2; Flowers

‘Hungarian Hot Wax’ and ‘Habanero’ Peppers


Herbs, flowers, tomatoes (round 2)

  

Some of the things under the lights… Back is all flowers, left is Cayenne Peppers, right is Stevia


‘Ozark Beauty’ Strawberries 

  

‘Alaska’ Peas are popping up… I’ll let them get some growth, then they’ll go straight outside… They can handle some light frost.


 

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”
    •  
  • 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.”
    •  
  • 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”
    •  
  • 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.”
    •  
  • 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.”
    •  
  • 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”
    •  
  • 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.
    •  
  • 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.”
    •  

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)

 

 

 

Tomatoes 2016 – Part 2


I was unsupervised again and I may have picked up a new kind of tomato seed. But only one… (so far). I also think that it is important to note (possibly to make myself feel better) that some of these seedlings will end up in my friend’s gardens.

On March 23, I sowed (in peat pellets):

  • 2x Yellow Pear
  • 1x Box Car Willie
  • 1x Golden Cherry
  • 1x Chadwick’s Cherries
  • 1x Principe Borghese
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Yellow Pear (2015)

Yellow Pear is a bit of a mild tasting tomato. But they are one of my favourites. They look very cute and mix up a plate of tomatoes. Box Car Willie and Golden Cherry are both from the seed trade I made a few years ago, that I mentioned in Part 1 of this years tomatoes. They both produced well the year I grew them, and I really want to re-stock my seed of them. Chadwick’s Cherries were new to me last year and they were delicious. They had really full trusses of sweet, bright-red cherry tomatoes. Principe Borghese is an Italian variety that is traditionally used for sun dried tomatoes. I didn’t have the dehydrator last year, so I never tried to dry them, but they were delicious fresh. There wasn’t a ton of seeds in them… almost paste-tomato like.

On March 24, I was unsupervised around the seed rack, and I picked up a bunch of flower seeds (including some sunflowers for this year), a new kind of heirloom pea, some watermelon, and Red Pear Tomatoes. They should be a cute match with the Yellow Pear. I sowed 2 peat pellets of them as soon as I got home from shopping.

Chadwick’s Cherry Truss (2015)

I’m going to hold off sowing the last batch of tomato seeds until April 1… Unless I find some new interesting seeds while unsupervised again. I have Sub-Arctic Plenty, Tiny Tim, Tumbler F1, and Manitoba picked out to sow for sure. They all have a smaller “Days to Maturity” number, which is why I am waiting a little. I may also add in ‘Green Envy’ after I take into account how much room I have. Last year, I jumped the gun a little too much and everything got a bit leggy. I’m hoping that our spring continues to be incredibly nice and I can get the tomatoes out sooner, but we’ll see how it goes. You can never assume anything weather-wise in Alberta.

Part 3 will be around in Early April, so keep an eye out for that.

Golden Cherry (2014)