Plucked This Morning

thismorning

Two zucchini, four fat cucumbers, the last of the first crop of peas, the first green beans, the very first carrot!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’m pretty chuffed about the beans.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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The State of the Garden: “Spring” 2014

It’s been the longest, nastiest winter in my memory. It finally seems to be lifting, but even now, after four days of above-zero temperatures, the yards are covered with a thick cobbler of ice and mushy snow.  Once this ice and snow melts, it will leave brick and mortar scree all over our front lawn and garden, residue from our February window replacement.  Needless to say, nothing is growing.  At least, not outside.

The only blessing of this wintry hell (and yes, it’s really gotten me down.  I used to like winter.  Not anymore) is the intensification of my pleasure at 1. watching things grow indoors and 2. anticipating the day they can go outside.  For example, here are my collard greens.

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I started them in February, and they’re happily humming along in the sunny mudroom.  I’m hoping they’ll have time to get outside and grow big and strong before it gets hot around here.

Also in the mudroom, some alyssum and rapini…

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…and the arugula, which I feared was lost when the overnight temperatures dropped to -15 (the mudroom isn’t much warmer than the outdoors).  But no!

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Our new windows have nice wide sills.  The cats and the plants appreciate this.  Here, Cat A stands guard over some thyme, dill, calendula and lovage.

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I managed to coddle some herbs through the winter.  I’m especially proud of the basil, which was quite spindly when it came inside in October.  Look at it now! The marjoram is also hanging in there.

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In the basement, I’ve set up a new grow-light system, and the results have been fabulous. I still have the old purple-bulb-lamps-and-shelf setup for emergency transfers when the main system gets too crowded, but the difference a real adjustable starter light makes is remarkable.  I’ve also bought a couple of heat mats so that the peppers and later the tomatoes can stay toasty.

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We’re expecting more rain today, so I’m hoping that the peas can go in their raised bed tomorrow or Monday, and then I’ll keep my fingers crossed that they can produce before summer descends on us.  I’m very interested to see what this season has in store, as Nature seems to be hellbent on proving that we’re not the boss of her.  (Note to humankind: Could you please stop trying to prove that you’re the boss of Nature, and maybe appease her with some nice new rainforests or virgin sacrifices or something?)

 

 

 

 

 

They Grow Up So Fast

Over the last few days, there have been all sorts of exciting garden developments.  Some have been good!  Some have not.

In the bad news:

1. Zucchini down!

zucchinidown

At first, I blamed the cats.  Then the squirrels.  In the end, though, I think the zucchini was too big for its britches.  Which is to say, its container.  Next year, I will rig up some support.  I was tempted to fiddle with it, but after much agonizing I decided to leave it alone, and it’s recovering:

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2. The savoury plant seems to be a perpetual victim.

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This is the second time it’s been knocked off its perch.  Not sure who to blame, but the cat looked guiltier than usual.

3. A couple of the tomato plants have bad cases of leaf roll.

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After doing some research, I think this is due to cool temperatures and high humidity, and nothing dire.  They are still producing like crazy and, although some leaves have a mild black speckle, there is no sign of spots.  Some of the lower leaves, however, are looking chewed, so I’m keeping an eye on them.

4. The beans and the kale are also getting munched.

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I’m not too worried about the beans – they are otherwise fine, and production doesn’t seem to be affected.  The kale makes me sad, though.  Some of the basil plants are getting it too.  I expect it’s slugs, but am investigating other possibilities.

5.  I don’t know if this guy is bad news or not.

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The best I can tell, he’s a diurnal firefly, and therefore a) benign and b) cute! and c) a firefly, albeit without the glowy stuff.  If he’s something else, that’s a different story.  I’ve solicited opinions.  Including yours, please.

In good news:

1. We harvested the first green beans!

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I steamed them and made them into a salad with some zucchini and blossom refrigerator pickles I’d made earlier in the day.

2. So far, the netting seems to be keeping the squirrels out of the strawberries.

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We ate one of these yesterday and it was INCREDIBLE.  However, I just surprised a squirrel sitting on top of the hanger, chattering at the top of his lungs (“I’M STEALING YOUR STRAWBERRIES I’M STEALING YOUR STRAWBERRIES!”) so we’ll see if the net does its job when I’m not there.  (He also knocked over the collards I’m sprouting, so I’m starting to think he’s responsible for the savoury fiascos.)

3. The calendula is blooming.

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4. The peas did well, and yesterday I harvested the last of them.  Today, I pulled them up and planted some more carrots in their place.

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Not sure if it’s a good idea to put carrots in after peas – too much nitrogen in the soil – but we’ll see what happens.

5. We now have two – count ’em, two – poblano peppers.

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6. The basil and sage on the deck are looking great.

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7.  It’s a funny little garden, but it’s full of good things, and I grew it all myself.

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June 9, 2013: The State of the Garden

bouquetThe end of my semester has been insane.  There have been an unprecedented number of student grade complaints; a gruelling two-week contract marking public exams; a major MEd project; a minor renovation that’s turned into a major, expensive, headachey one; and, not insignificantly, two straight weeks of cold, pounding rain.

But today it’s sunny and I have no work to do and no one is tearing, hammering or plastering in my house.  Here’s where I spent my morning.

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The rest of the day was spent doing laundry and poking at the garden.  The gooseneck loosestrife are coming up beautifully.

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A nice surprise: lemon balm has appeared in the back yard.

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The zucchini made its first flower!

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The tomatoes are also beginning to bloom…

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…and the peas.

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The zucchini is actually starting to scare me a bit.

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I should probably thin out the raspberries.

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All in all, despite having nearly drowned, today it’s a very happy little garden.

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Growing Lettuce, Bok Choy and Scallions in February: Step 1

Can I grow lettuce, bok choy and green onions from kitchen scraps?

scrap sproutingYesterday, we went to the hardware store and bought seed starting mix, grow lights, and other paraphernalia for the first stages of our new garden.  I planted my onion seeds in leftover takeout trays, as well as a little pot of catnip for the days when Cat A and Cat B are good boys (assuming that happens.  Someday.)

However, this is insufficient.  The onions will take forever.  I can’t eat the catnip.  (Well, I probably could, but I’d rather not.)  I want to be really growing things.  Showering the mandevilla and turning the Norfolk pine every few days are fine tasks, but I want to grow something I can eat.

This post about growing vegetables from kitchen scraps has been making the rounds.  I have a sunny kitchen window.  I also have re-subscribed to a local CSA, so this week I received some local organic lettuce and bok choy, and I had scallions in the fridge.

So I’ve cleaned the lettuce, stir-fried the bok choy and scallions, and made myself a little windowside garden to tide me over until the spring.  Let’s see what happens!