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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


I’m pretty chuffed about the beans.


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


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.


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


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


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.


June 9, 2014: The State of the Garden

A few garden developments over the weekend:

1. My newest acquisition: a pineapple sage.


2. The first calendula flower has arrived.


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


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.


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.




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!


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.

June 4, 2014: The State of the Garden

Despite the slow, late start, things are happening over here.


In very exciting news: today we have a bell pepper.  Last year, I was unable to produce a single one; I’m hopeful that this is just the beginning. (I took about 17 photos and this is the clearest of them all; you get the idea.  Next on my list of fantasy projects: a garden photography course.)


This morning, this sage was very bushy.  I gave it a good haircut, and the trimmings are now in the dehydrator.


The zucchini is also looking promising…


…as is the cucumber.


I also have my first chive blossoms.


Yesterday, I made the year’s first pot of Total Garden Tea: raspberry leaf and orange mint.


Look closely at that mint.  Do see that it’s covered with tiny golden baby spiders? They seem to have infested the deck.  I love spiders, but I don’t necessarily want millions of them in/on my house, so I’ve been patiently scooping up nests of them with paper towels and delivering them down into the main garden, where I hope they will grow up to eat bad guys.

The first nasturtium is also looking happy.


Today I cut the first full head of lettuce; it will go into my salad at lunch.


The collard greens were my first yield, and I’ve been clipping leaves from time to time, but they haven’t grown as huge as I was expecting.  It’s getting a bit hot for them now, so I might harvest them for tonight’s dinner and plant some more in August.


For two years in a row now, I’ve had no luck with rapini.  I started some inside and direct-sowed some others at the beginning of April, but the ones that weren’t eaten by squirrels grew into pathetic little runts and then bolted.  The bees like the flowers, so that’s something. I’ll try again in the fall.


I almost didn’t bother with peas at all, as it was the end of April before I could plant them.  They’ve grown, but haven’t flowered, so I’m not expecting any peas this year.  I’ll wait until the end of June before deciding whether to pull them up and plant something else.


A friend gave me some seeds for the legendary Montreal Melon, a species that was an international sensation in the early 20th century, and that a local group is trying to re-introduce.  I’m a little worried about mine, as it hasn’t been doing brilliantly since its move outside, but it’s started to flower, so my fingers are crossed.


I’m really excited about the carrots.  I took some trouble with them this year in hopes that I’d get something more than spindly little crooked stumps.


I wanted to buy self-watering EarthBoxes for my tomatoes, but EarthBox doesn’t ship to Canada, and they cost about $90 apiece on Amazon.ca.  I couldn’t find suitable self-watering containers anywhere, so I finally ordered pretty red tomato bags with lovely collapsible trellises from West Coast Seeds.  The chicken wire and netting and clothespins detract from the aesthetics, but the tomatoes seem fine with that.  (You may have noted the yards of netting over absolutely everything.  It’s ugly, but it works; the squirrels are frustrated by it and so focus their energies on other things.)


My husband says he’s always relieved when I begin starting seeds in February, because it means our experiment in home ownership might last another year.  It’s true that everything changes when I can get out in the yard.  Yes, there’s still moisture in the crawl space and windows to be replaced and a shower door that leaks and a mysterious crack in the kitchen ceiling.  But look!  Plants!  Lots and lots of plants!