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.

First Harvest of 2016!

While I was back home visiting my parents yesterday, ripping apart their yard (post coming soon) and checking on my leaf mold piles, I made my first harvest of this year! In freaking April! Usually we are just breaking out of winters grasp at this time of year, so to be able to harvest something is a big deal.


Rhubarb! And not pidly little stalks either! Bright pink, and huge! After I took all the leaves off, I had 2 large freezer bags of “fruit”. One for me, and one for my rhubarb loving best friend.


I think I’ll be making rhubarb and apple crisp. And harvesting more rhubarb next time I go home. (Not to mention the 3 crowns I have in my own yard that should produce very well this year)

I also chopped up all the leaves and stem ends and brought them back home with me to put into my composter.

Do you have any suggestions of what to do with the glut of rhubarb I think I will be blessed with this year?

Update on the Herbs (2016)

I figured it was time for an Herb Update. I’m doing way better with keeping these alive this year too! Here is the big Herb Post where I sowed most of these. I have potted everything up, and sowed some Dill as well.

Spearmint in the back, Lemon Balm in the front

  • Lemon Balm
    • sown: January 23
    • potted up: March 5 (3″ pot)
  • Spearmint
    • sown: January 23
    • potted up: March 5 (3″ pot)
  • Lavender
    • sown: January 23
    • potted up: March 5 (Recycled 6 cell that flowers from the garden center come in)
    •  
  • Thyme
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Summer Savory
    • sown: March 11
    •  potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Sweet Marjoram
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Russian Tarragon
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Oregano
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Catnip
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 7 (Party Cups)
    •  
  • Flat Leaf Parsley
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • ‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Chamomile
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (3″ pots)
    •  
  • Rosemary
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (3″ pot)
  • ‘Red Rubin’ Basil
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9
  • ‘Genovese o Comune’ Basil
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • ‘Lemon’ Basil
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • ‘Lime’ Basil
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • ‘Cinnamon’ Basil
    • sown: March 11
    • potted up: April 9 (Party Cups)
  • Sage
    • sown: March 11
    • These won’t get potted up until they go out into their final pot, as they were sown in larger cells that flowers from the garden center come in.
  • Garlic Chives
    • sown: March 11
    • Just like the Sage, these won’t get potted up until I put them outside in their final pot.
  • Stevia
    • sown: March 14
    • Not potted up yet, I’m just happy that I have ONE that has survived out of the 3 that germinated. Scratch that, I’m just happy that my future Mother-in-Law sent me the seeds so I could get this far. I STILL haven’t found any seeds around here.
  • Dill
    • sown: April 9 (Party Cup)
    • Typically, it is recommended to direct sow Dill, but I figured I would  try and get a little jump on the season. I usually miss out on my Dill because I plant it too late, or I forget to take into account the growth of plants around where I sow it, and it gets shaded out before It really gets established. So maybe, just maybe this will help my Dill situation. Worst case, they don’t like getting transplanted, and I have to direct sow. Best case, I end up with loads of Dill

 

Sorry for the lack of photos on some of the herbs; they turned out blurry. Their pictures in the next update will be better (I hope). I hope your herbs are growing well! Spring is on her way here, I even saw a Robin today.

Tomatoes 2016 – Part 3

I feel behind on my tomato seedlings this year. I think the combination of having started later (to try and prevent my usual tomato forest) and the ridiculously nice Spring we have been having so far is what is making me feel this way. Either way, Everything will get going pretty quick, so I shouldn’t be too worried.

Either way here we are. Third round of tomatoes are being sown today. Round 1 has their first true leaves, and Round 2 is starting to put on theirs. So in a couple weeks I should have an update on all the tomatoes together.

Today (April 3) I am sowing:

  • Sub Arctic Plenty (New for me this year)
    • McKenzie Seed: “Developed in Alberta for prairie climates, this cultivar is an early, upright tomato. It will set fruit, even under cold conditions! Bountiful yields of 2-2.5 oz tomatoes. Keep well fed and watered. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom.”
    • Days to Maturity: 40-59
  • Tumbler F1 Hybrid (Trailing)
    • McKenzie Seed: “Excellently suited for hanging baskets and containers, cascades of wonderfully sweet 1″ cherry tomatoes tumble down over the edge. Also a great producer in the garden, this early ripening bush variety can produce up to 4.4 lbs of fruit per plant. An exceptional and tasty tomato! Determinate. No staking required.”
    • Days to Maturity: 55
  • Tiny Tim
    • McKenzie Seed: “Extremely early scarlet red, miniature cherry tomato. Deep well-drained soil is best. Perfect for decorating salads and vegetable trays. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • Days to Maturity: 45-55
  • Manitoba
    • McKenzie Seed: “Very dependable early varity, excellent for the Prairies. Bright red, juicy fruit. Deep, well-drained soil is best. Eliminate blossom end rot problems by deep watering the plants so the root system will be less affected by fluctuations in soil moisture. Determinate. No staking required. Heirloom”
    • Days to Maturity: 55-60
  • Green Envy
    • Burpee Seed: “Meaty & Tangy Fruits. Green when ripe, these sweet 1″ long cherries fruit in abundance. Indeterminate.”
    • Days to Maturity: 60

I have grown all of these last year, apart from the ‘Sub Arctic Plenty’. Last year, I’m sure my ‘Tumbler’ tomato in the hanging basket produced way more than 4.4lbs of delicious cherry tomatoes. It was also the first to fruit – I had tomatoes in June!

‘Tiny Tim’ was a sure favourite. It is a miniature tomato plant. And it was COVERED in tomatoes.

I was going to skip growing the ‘Green Envy’ this year, but they were some of the sweetest little cherry tomatoes I have ever had. When I thought about not having them this summer, I was a little sad, so I figured I could fit them in somewhere. I also only had 3 seeds left, so why keep them around. I’ll have to search for more seed, because I won’t be able to save them, as they are a hybrid.

‘Manitoba’ was great. I didn’t get a ton of fruit from it, but the pot it was in got blown over once or twice, and it mangled the poor plant a bit. The fruit I did get was delicious. We mostly ate them fresh from the vine along with fresh lettuce on burgers, and it was great.

Just for reference later in the season, I sowed these in peat pellets (as I always do):

  • 1x Green Envy
  • 2x Manitoba
  • 3x Tumbler
  • 3x Sub Arctic Plenty
  • 3x Tiny Tim

 

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‘Tumbler’ was the first tomato I harvested in 2015… in late June. As you can see they are a larger cherry type.

The first ‘Manitoba’ of 2015

‘Green Envy’ (2015)

‘Tiny Tim’ (2015)

First ‘Tiny Tim’ of 2015 (and my Index finger showing how tiny they are)

 

Just a quick note about determinate tomatoes. While they don’t need staking for crazy growth like indeterminate varieties, they usually do still need some support, especially once they have set fruit. It is best to stake them when you are first putting them outside because you won’t damage any roots. Then the support is already there when you need it later in the season to help support a full truss of tomatoes. Determinate tomatoes are a little easier to manage then their indeterminate friends. You don’t need to prune them to try and control their growth. Generally, they grow to a certain height, set all their fruit, and then die back (or the frost gets them first around here). So as long as you are taking care to keep them evenly watered and provide them with the other things they need to live (like adequate sunshine), you will get a harvest with hardly any work. (And while you can leave indeterminates un-pruned, it is beneficial to your final harvest in a shorter growing season to try and get the plant to use its energy on fruiting rather than on green growth)

 

March 6, 2016

I didn’t have a specific thing I wanted to talk about today, I mostly wanted to jump around and give you a little update on what I have been doing. Mostly this is a record for myself when I am wondering when I sowed something, or when I potted it up, and when I have made my mind up on what varieties I am growing.

Yesterday, I potted up my Lemon Balm and Spearmint into 3″ pots, and the 6 Lavender plugs into a seed cell. All of those were sown on January 23rd, along with 12 plugs of Strawberries. It is amazing how fast the herbs grow comparatively. Only half of the strawberries germinated, and they are still developing their true leaves. The Lemon Balm could use a trim already!

I thought I already had my hot peppers picked out and sown, but then I found a pack of Serrano Peppers. Obviously, I had to buy them. I sowed 2 jiffy pellets of them. The seed packet says: “Serrano is a small, fiery hot Chilli pepper with a delayed fuse. It is one of the hottest peppers available. It is smaller and hotter than a jalapeño… A favourite in sizzling hot salsas and sauces and Asian dishes.” So it should be an interesting mix with the others I already sowed.

I also started 4 pellets of Aunt Molly’s Ground Cherries and 6 pellets of ‘Big Dipper’ Sweet Peppers. If you want a fun, hardy fruit to grow, try the ground Cherries. 2 years ago when I grew them, they were amazing. They are a bit tart, kind of pineapple-y? I don’t know exactly how to describe them, but they are great. I made a pie with them and it was delicious! Its definitely worth the space if you can fit them in. They want to sprawl out, but I’m going to try and do some in a container this year. We’ll see how it goes.

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I’ve also got some Mexican Purple Garlic stashed away. I found it in January at 40% off, because Fall is the time to plant them. I might pot them up into some paper pots, and put them out as soon as I can dig the ground enough to get them out. Spring is kind of here. It was nearly 20 degrees (Celsius) out yesterday! I mean, we could still get a huge dump of snow any time between now and the middle of June, but garlic is hardy, so it should be cool. It also needs cold in order to split into a bulb, so planting it earlier will be better in the long run.

My ‘Northern Gold’ onions I started from seed back in December and early January are doing well. Or I think they are. We’ll find out later in the year if all of this was a wasted effort or not. I will also pick up some sets so I get at least a few onions for cooking with. I am skipping Shallots and Leeks this year. I do have some shallots still in the ground and I may leave them there and see what they do this year.

On the flower front, The Hollyhocks are starting to pop up, and so are the Carnations. Still no sign of the Columbines, so my fingers are crossed tight that they will germinate… If not, I guess I’ll chuck a different seed in those cells and see what happens with them.

The little cacti are getting little pokers on them. As you can tell I use all the technical words around here. A few more weeks and I’ll do a legit update on them. As it stands, there isn’t a huge change in them to justify their very own update.

I’ve been picking up a bunch of different lettuce mixes, so keep an eye out for a post about them. Every year I seem to pick one thing that I become a little obsessive about it. This year seems to be lettuce.

It is still early in the day, so I will probably crack and end up sowing a few more things, But I’ll keep a record of it for future posts here. Leave any tips you have in the comments section below, and Thanks for reading!