Montreal Melon

This week’s most exciting garden development: the melon is making melons.

melon

A friend gave me some seeds for Montreal Melon last year; it was too late to start them, so I designated them this year’s project.  I had never considered growing melons.  I grow all my veg in containers, and pack the containers fairly close together to maximize my tiny yard space; I wasn’t sure a melon plant would be happy under such conditions, as they require a lot of room.  I decided to partly address the problem by growing my melon on a tomato cage, so it could grow up instead of out.

melon cage

The plan is to create little hammocks, out of old tights, for the fruit as they get heavier.  Not sure what I’ll do about the raccoons, but so far they haven’t been a major nuisance this year; I will consider constructing a cage as the melons mature, but I might just take my chances.

In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Montreal Melon was a hugely popular garden fruit and considered an exquisite delicacy.  However, it was labourious to grow and did not ship well, and so all but disappeared until recently, when, starting with a few forgotten seeds in an American seed bank, one intrepid gardener managed to grow a plant and harvest the seeds.  Since then, local supporters of the melon have made a project of bringing it back.  You can read a detailed history of the Montreal Melon here.

June 23, 2014: The State of the Garden

Not a lot of dramatic developments in the garden this week; things are just chugging along.  A few highlights:

The first cucumber is almost ready to eat.

cucumber2

We have peas!  We harvested a few on the weekend and made a tiny salad.

peas2

Because I uprooted all the mature basil in a panic about downy mildew, and because the basil seeds I planted in May are growing very slowly, I treated myself to a new basil plant.

newbasil

Otherwise, stuff is just growing.  The zucchinis keep coming, the little green tomatoes are appearing, and – at the risk of jinxing – no major infestations have appeared.  (Frantically knocking wood.)  The weather for the last week has been wonderful.  It’s not too hot, it’s not too wet, and the sun is making its way through our newly pruned trees. My plants seem happy! So I’m happy too.

happygarden

June 16, 2014: The State of the Garden

This week’s most exciting development: the peas are flowering!  I thought I’d planted them too late, but here they are.

peaflower

I had also given the strawberry plant up for dead, but the few sad little sprouts seem to be hanging in there, so maybe I’ll get a few berries out of it after all.

strawbplant

I’m pretty chuffed about the beans.

beans

The raspberries have done flowering and the berries are on their way.

raspberriesafterflowers

The cucumber looks great, but does not seem to be fertilizing itself; the little cukes are not growing up.  I have tried to help it along by hand-pollinating it with cotton swabs, but so far, no luck.

cuke

The little zucchinis are popping up just fine, although I’ve already had to start battling powdery mildew.

zukes

The peppers and tomatoes are flowering nicely, and are looking bushy and beautiful!

pepperstomatoes2

I’ve seen the first slugs, and the standoff with the leaf miners continues – they lay eggs, I remove leaves with eggs, they lay more eggs, nobody’s happy – but I’m loving the way the greenery is filling the yard and the first flowers and fruit are peeking through.

The horrible winter now seems like last night’s dream.  (I almost wrote “a distant dream,” but that would be untrue.  It feels shadowy, but very, very close behind me.)  In Montreal, if we get to experience “late spring,” at all, it usually lasts only a day or two, so I’m trying to enjoy every second of this surprisingly long reprieve: it feels like summer, but you can go for  a run in the morning without risking heat stroke, and you can vacillate about whether it’s time to install the air conditioner.  The garden likes it.  Me too.

garden

June 9, 2014: The State of the Garden

A few garden developments over the weekend:

1. My newest acquisition: a pineapple sage.

pineapplesage

2. The first calendula flower has arrived.

calendula

3. The first zucchini will soon be ready to eat!

zucchini2

4. The new batch of carrots has germinated…

carrot seedlings

5. …as have the scallions.  All my onions, including my scallions, failed last year, but I’m giving these one more go.

scallions

6. I’m a bit worried about one of my poor decisions.  I took some basil inside for the winter, and was very proud that it made it all the way to spring in my kitchen window.  Then in April, I started noticing brown spots on the leaves, and some research suggested that it might, among other things, be downy mildew. Some trimming of the plants seemed to solve the problem, and I was so pleased that they were surviving that I moved them outside, although I kept them far from the other basil plants just in case.

This weekend, I started noticing brown patches on the sorrel in the box next to the basil.  This morning, I discovered some pale spots on the beautiful Swiss chard also in the vicinity.

sorrelspots

sorrelspots2

chardspots2

In a panic, I pulled up and trashed the basil plants (keeping the undamaged leaves for tonight’s pesto.)  Then I calmed down a bit and did some more research.  I’m now inclined to think that the problem here might not be downy mildew, but leaf miners.  A pest, but maybe a bit less serious.  I will spend today removing damaged leaves and will have to monitor closely.  I am NOT PLEASED.  My chard was looking so wonderful!

chard

7. In all, the challenges of planting are mostly over and the challenges of insects and warm weather have begun.  I keep reminding myself that gardening is a hobby and a pleasure, not a chore, and my livelihood doesn’t depend on the whims of leaf miners: if I lose a plant or a whole crop, it’s all part of learning.

In the meantime, today I get chard-and-basil pesto! So it’s all good.