Monday, December 11, 2006

Truly goodnight, now

OK, so I planted a couple of dozen Estella Rijnveld tulips in my front garden today. I had to chip at the first 2" of soil to get down below the frost.

It's raining out right now, and we're supposed to get more rain over the next few days, so I hope this gives them a chance to establish.

I noticed that some of my daffodils have sprouted already: most are still below soil level (I inadvertently dug a few up) but some of them have tiny nubs of green breaking the surface of the soil. Good thing they're frost-hardy.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Time to say "goodnight" to the garden

Time to admit it: summer and fall are over. We've had some light frosts (my Persian Shield plants are crispy dead). My roses are still blooming (see if I can grab a shot tomorrow) but we're supposed to have temperatures in the negative zone for the next five days.

So today was "do things before they freeze" day.

Emptied the pond, brought in the pump, emptied the hose and brought it in, turned the water off from inside the house and drained the pipe, and raked some more leaves (of course, there are many more I could rake).

Also harvested some sage from two different sage plants I have. Brought some leaves indoors, washed, and put them on paper towel to dry off.

Cut up a couple of leaves and made some sage butter to go with my egg noodles under my left-over stroganoff for dinner.

Started wondering why sage also means wisdom and calm judgement... I'll have to go to the reference library and look it up in the good old Oxford, I think.

Anyways, here's a picture of some sage: two varieties.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I'm not going to be eating any home-grown edamame this year

Although it hasn't died, having all its leaves eaten has certainly slowed its growth. The weeds are doing much better! The edamame are the two fuzzy green stalks.

Here's the soybean plant that I shot last week.... no leaves here (well, some are starting at the top). It's the fuzzy green stalk. All the lovely leaves belong to weeds. Rabbits with good taste.

And after a few gardeners told me about how invasive Jerusalem artichokes are, and how difficult it is to get rid of them, I decided to rip them all out.

They're listed in the Ontario weeds section on the gov't website. One thing they say is:

Viable tubers formed during the preceding year will produce shoots during the current growing season. Tillage in late June, after tubers have exhausted their food supply but before new tubers begin for form, will retard the spread of an infestation. Usually two to three tillage operations will be required to significantly reduce a well established population.

I was definitely pulling up small tubers. I should take my garden claw down there next weekend to make sure I pull out any remaining tubers, so they don't grow and multiply next year.

At least, that gave me a sense of accomplishment.

I really do need a rabbit fence.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I need a rabbit fence

This is what the edamame plants look like. All of them. All 10 of them. I'm hoping, because they're all showing signs of new leaves, that they might recover. Maybe, maybe not. We'll see.

Some of the soybeans haven't been eaten: here's one that looks OK, so far. I'm afraid to weed around them: it's like pointing out where dinner is! I'm just glad that Rabbits don't read blogs.

At least, I hope they don't. Memo for next spring: put in chicken wire.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Weeding, Watering, and Wandering

Spent yesterday morning over at the allotment garden. As you can see, the weeds have been enjoying the waterings, too, so it was time.

Time for the tools of mass destruction.

They made short work of the weeds, after which the edamame was a lot more visible.

As you can see, they've each got two round true leaves, and are starting to develop their sets of three leaflets. From what I've read, I think I can expect all the rest of the leaves to be compound triplets.

After weeding and watering, I wandered around the whole garden, admiring what people have done on their plots. I'll put up a bunch of pictures shortly on Flickr. Until then, here's a sample -- a bumblebee on a hollyhock.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


So now I've got sprouts happening.
I checked the glass at home, and 5 out of 7 soybeans have sprouted. OK, they're viable. That means that, in addition to watering the edamame today, I've got to plant the soybeans that I started soaking last night (just to give them a start on growing.

On my way out to the garden, I stopped by East End Garden Centre, and bought myself a watering can and a bag of vermiculite. More on the vermiculite later.

Here's what I was met with at the garden plot -- edamame sprouts! The cotyledons are above ground for more than half of them. I can guess at which of the little plantlets are the edamame based on the spacing.

I should have used the technique from "Square Foot Gardening" that really helps identify sown seed. Where you want to plant a seed, partially fill the hole with vermiculite. Water it. Plant the seed. Fill the rest of the hole with vermiculite. Water again.

Vermiculite gives the seed a good growing medium to start in, and it's *really* obvious compared to the soil. The plants should be easily identified: they're the ones in the middle of the pile of vermiculite! As you can see, I used that technique today when I planted the soybeans. A few rows here, a couple over here, one long one in the middle... lots of walking space around the plants.

48 plants of soybeans in all -- dunno what I'll do with the beans, if they actually grow! I want them mostly for their nitrogen-fixing ability.

That's it for today -- time to go eat some dinner (hmm... boiled and salted edamame? Nah, think I'll go for gourmet pizza tonight).

Monday, August 07, 2006

Finished weeding!

Excuse my hand acting as a lens hood -- one day I'll buy a for-real one (shows, though, that the look through my SLR is smaller than the actual image shot. I was really careful to keep my hand out of the viewfinder's frame).

So now that I'm done weeding, I've started an experiment. I've taken some soy beans that I bought for eating, and am testing if they're viable for growing. I'm doing this by putting 7 beans between a glass and a cylinder of paper towel kept moist. If they sprout, I've got seeds that might grow. If I've got seeds that might grow, I'll plant them in the rest of my plot, just to improve the nitrogen in the soil for next year.

I was finished by about 11am this morning: I've got an evening shot because I forgot to put the card back in my camera when I went out to the spit this morning!

Time for a glass of wine to celebrate

Sunday, August 06, 2006

One row of edamame planted

So here we are: it's Sunday, and I spent a couple of hours weeding today, and got accomplished what I thought I'd get accomplished. Tomorrow I'll tackle the Queen Anne's Lace.

Now you can see all the way back to the corner of my plot -- and I measured today, and it's 20 feet square.
The raspberry canes are more obvious now -- they're not lost among the weeds. Not sure if I'll keep them. They don't look too healthy. Maybe they just need pruning or thinning. I'll have to read up on them.

The one wet row of soil is where I planted the edamame seeds -- that was sooooo easy after doing all the weeding.
I'm not sure if the hose at the back of my plot is mine or not -- I'll have towait until I meet that neighbour. It would save me from either (a) buying a hose or (b) dragging my watering can down with me, which is what I did today.

So I'll be back out there tomorrow, finishing things off, and maybe watering the soybeans. And I might yank up one jerusalem artichoke, just to see how they're doing.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

My own private bed of weeds.

Here are a couple of before shots. I've annotated one so you can get an idea of how many weeds there are. I think the garden plot measures 18 feet square.

And the romantic weed close-up (oooh, doncha love the lens flare)... there's Jerusalem artichokes, which I may leave until after frost to harvest, Queen Anne's lace, purple vetch, rudbeckia, plantain, and other assorted things that have to come out of the ground for me to plant some edamame.

Thank goodness for my Garden Claw. That tool's really doing the job for me. Although I probably looked strange biking over here, with big shears sticking out of my backpack and my Garden Claw balanced across my handlebars, I was able to get down here with the tools I needed under my own steam.

Here's after two hours of weeding. Progress has been made, but I think I've got two more weeding sessions like this one ahead of me. By tomorrow noon I should be able to plant the edamame in this section (which will be larger, and be pushed back to the raspberry canes).

Then on Monday morning I'll wear a long-sleeved shirt as well as my gloves to tackle the big Queen Anne's Lace patch on the west side: the sap can cause photosensitivity, so it's important to cover up when removing it. Notice the garden off to the right (it's fenced in). That's one of my neighbours, obviously.

Here's a better look at my neighbour's xeriscape. Creative, inventive, and I suspect (but I'll ask if/when I see them) low maintenance, now that it's installed.

I've got to go around and take some pictures of the different types of garden here: it's really everything, from herbs and vegetables to beautiful flower gardens of many different types.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Time to do some weeding!

I acquired (well, I'm renting) a garden plot in one of the community gardens in Toronto. I looked at it about a month ago , when I acquired it, and it's got 5' high weeds in it.

Since then, temperatures have been either intolerable, or the risk of thunderstorms has been great (and it's a wide open space, near the Leslie St. Spit). So the weeds have continued to grow -- I've probably ticked off all the neighbouring gardeners.

This weekend I'm going to clear the weeds out, and try growing edamame. I know that it's considered a spring planting item, and I'm running risks planting something with a 75 day maturity at this point in the summer... but, what the heck? If I fail, it's $5 worth of seeds.

If I succeed, I'll be able to freeze lots of edamame for tasty snacks through the late fall and winter.

I'll take before and after pictures tomorrow!


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Back after a week: most roses in full bloom

My gardens look lovely -- except for all the cotton from the local cottonwood tree! Most of my roses are in full bloom now: Angel Face has only opened one blossom, though, and Hans Christian Andersen (in the back yard) has lots of buds but no blooms.

Meanwhile, in the front yard, Ingrid Bergman is showing large beautiful roses; Lily Marlene is starting to open up; one magnificent Chicago Peace bloom is finishing; the Flame patio rose has a few flowers and many buds. Also, the astilbe is starting to get its white blossoms, and the foxgloves are in full glory. Gawd, it's a beautiful season. The deep red clematis in the front is also in bloom.

In the back, Abraham Darby and Brother Caedfile (both David Austin roses) are in lovely bloom and smelling beautiful; Scentimental has a half-dozen open flowers, too. Just waiting on Hans Christian.

The elderberry is threatening to take over: one young green branch was broken over, however, so I've pruned it. May have to do a bit more pruning. It seems very happy in the backyard, and its pale green leaves contrast nicely with the sand cherry.

The buddleia and Saskatoon berry are doing well, too.

Just gotta get out there and trim back the last of the daffodil leaves, and uproot the darned goutweed that's still sprouting out of nowhere.

That's it from this hot small garden for today!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Yellow Things

Ah! The weekend of yellow things arrived. Many of my daffodils are open, and some migrating birds returned.

This is the Poet's Narcissus, in front of a lot of King Alfred daffodils.

This is "Chromacolor" -- its cup is more peach than yellow, and its petals are pale cream. It provides a good contrast to all the yellow daffs I have.

This beauty is Double Tahiti.

And this is one of my favorite yellows in the garden -- they always seem to come back while the forsythia and daffodils are in bloom.

Also planted this weekend: a viburnum "snowball" bush, a white single Rose of Sharon, and a new rose! I'll post pictures as they flower.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

King Alfred daffodils are in bloom.
So is forsythia.
And my early season species tulips.

Migratory birds are returning.
Seen so far: Ruby crowned and Golden crowned kinglets; yellow-bellied sapsuckers; Common grackles; Red-winged blackbirds; Robins (dunno if they left). White-breasted nuthatches, too.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Where did spring go?

Got my seeds , books, and compost activator and neem oil, but where the heck did spring go?

It's been around freezing mark every day... every night, it's been below -5C.

Oh well. That's early spring in southern Ontario for you: Gets you all relaxed and happy, then *SLAP*s you across the face with icy winds.

I'm going to go buy some peat pots and vermiculite and sterile potting mix this weekend anyway, and start my tomato, asparagus peas, and okra. And then pray that I get my allotment garden, because they're not giving away any secrets at city hall about my chances of getting one.

From Highrise to Haystack was a fun read. I think the author's self-publishing the book. It's available through Vesey's website, under books. If you're thinking of pleasant bucolic autumn afternoons away from the rat race, read her book.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

OK, it feels like spring

Maybe it isn't yet, but with the temperatures up to 16 today, it definitely felt like the middle of spring. I st I started to uncover my back garden, and found that some of my daffodils are over an inch high, my buddleia has buds, as do my roses, and that things seem to generally be growing the way one would hope.

I started to uncover some things -- not most things, just things like daffodils that I know will be able to handle it if we get a hard freeze between now and the end of the month.

Big optimism

At the beginning of February, I stuck it out through 25 minutes of being on hold to get on the waiting list for an allotment garden near Leslie Spit. They look like fair-sized gardens -- about 20 x 20 feet. I was told that I'm in the top ten on the waiting list, and that I'd find out by the end of April if I get a garden this year.

Well, heck, I can't wait that long. Especially when Vesey's sends me an email message that they've got free shipping until March 20th.

So last night I ordered seeds. Lots of seeds. Lots of seeds with hopes of using a few of each kind for a vegetable garden on Leslie Street. Wherever possible, if they offered a choice, I've bought organic seed:

Food items

  • Sweet Slice Cucumber
  • Mei Qing Choi -- these are the "baby bok choi" that you see in the markets and supermarkets these days.
  • Eight Ball Zucchini -- hey, they look fun. Round zucchini. And if you're getting too many of them, start harvesting the blossoms to stuff.
  • Sunburst Squash -- these are the little "patty pan" type of summer squash. Harvest them before they get to 2" in diameter, and just saute them (or I want to try putting them on the barbecue with a brush of olive oil) Yum yum.
  • Brandywine Organic Tomato -- kinda ugly. Large, needs to be staked, and won't necessarily give you a lot of tomatoes. But damn, they are tasty. One of these, a buffalo mozzarella, and some fresh basil like we could grow in last summer's dry heat, and you've got one tasty salad for two.
  • Cherry Fox Organic Tomato -- because sometimes you just want little tomatoes. And they're cute.
  • San Marzano Organic Tomato -- I tried making tomato paste/sauce this summer using ordinary field tomatoes. That takes a lot of boiling to bring them down. So now I want to grow my own paste tomatoes for sauce.
  • Asparagus Peas -- strange thing I've never heard of before. Ridged peas that you harvest when they're about an inch and a half long. Saute with butter, the copy says they taste like asparagus. Hey, I love asparagus and don't want to wait 3 years (at this point) to be able to harvest something tasty. So I'll try the peas.
  • Rainbow Organic Swiss Chard -- I love beautiful food on my plate. And if you keep harvesting the outer leaves, it should continue to grow for a long time.
  • Cajun Delight Okra -- I love the hibiscus-like flowers. And okra's great for thickening any kind of soup or stew. Needs a long time to grow, so I'll be starting seeds indoors.
  • Baby Leaf Blend Organic Lettuce -- my own mesclun mix!
  • Sweet Basil Organic Herb -- if we have a summer like last summer, I want to make a whackload of pesto.
  • Italian Organic Parsley -- must have.
  • Organic German Thyme -- Ash's favorite herb.


I thought I could use the lot as a cutting garden, too.....

  • "Queen" Series Cleome -- I want a few of these for the back yard. I don't know if they'd work as a cutting.
  • Mont Blanc Lavatera -- a few for the back yard, some more for cuttings. We had them the first or second year of living here, and they were really hardy -- quite beautiful, too.
  • Royale Mix Salpiglossis -- one of my favorites. They look illuminated from within.
  • Little Darling Snapdragon -- want to scatter some seeds in the front garden, among all the roses, and put the rest in a cutting garden in the allotment, if I get it.


  • Birdhouse Gourds -- just because, OK? Maybe I'll make birdhouses and give them to all the neighbours. Just have to figure out the right diameter for things that are native and won't allow nesting of starlings, european sparrows, or even the native house wren, which tends to dominate its territory.
  • Neem Oil -- dormant oil. To apply to the garden before it wakes up (hope it gets here soon). This can help reduce nasty buggers like the rose sawfly (Ash's bane) and I'll use some at work, too, to try to get rid of the pine scale attacking our little mugo pine in the roof garden. It's supposed to have good antiseptic properties -- also known as tea-tree oil I think..
  • Compost Accelerator -- because we've got a little composter, so it doesn't build up the heat to have an effective pile. Hope this will increase the speed of degeneration!


Can never have enough books

  • Square Foot Gardening -- a revision on the original book about getting the most bang for your buck from a little garden.
  • From Highrise to Haystack -- tale of a couple who moved from the city to the country. Let that be a warning to you.

So keep your fingers crossed that I get my garden, or else I'm going to be giving seedlings away at work.

Also went to Canada Blooms

My fifth (I think) Canada Blooms. Wasn't so thrilled this year: didn't feel like I was learning much from the display gardens. Some silly things, like painted stripped dead trees with big black umbrellas hung in them (get it? umbrella trees - ar, ar, ar). Felt that the plant material from one garden to the next was too similar -- I know that all the plant material is ordered from one woman, and distributed to the different garden-makers, but I wish that there wasn't the feeling that they each got a piece of each pie -- it would have been more interesting to see some variation, rather than the same repetition of plants. Oh well. .. Maybe I'm just getting jaded. Maybe I should have spent more time in the education section, or the retail section. I was expecting to be gob-smackedd by at least one garden, and came away feeling like that Peggy Lee song -- "is that all there is?"

So hey -- it's March 12! Go out, have a look at your garden, and tell me what you've found growing!