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!


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:


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


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.


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.

chewedbeans chewedkale

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.


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!


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.


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.


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.

goodbyepeas newcarrots

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.


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

deckbasil decksage

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



More Firsts for June

June is almost at an end.  It’s been cold and rainy – today it’s once again 15 degrees Celsius and pouring – but the garden is soldiering on.  Here are a few highlights.

First cucumber flower (June 23):


First poblano pepper flower (June 23) (I know, it’s blurry.  Even this imperfect shot took FOREVER to get):


First chocolate mint harvest (June 24)…


…which went into the iced coffee you see here, part of a satisfyingly gardeny lunch.  The salad contains all sorts of garden clippings, as well as a saute of fresh-picked zucchini and zuke blossoms.  The coffee was THE BEST ICED COFFEE EVER.


First strawberry (June 25) (I ate it a couple of days later, when it was much redder but still not quite ripe enough):


First green beans (June 25):


First carrot (June 27) (!!!!).  Don’t be fooled; this carrot is TINY, but it is a harbinger of big things to come, I’m sure:



First zucchini flower (June 10):


First pea (June 14):


First chard harvest (June 14):


First zucchini (June 17):


Ingredients for first real garden dinner (June 18) (Husband, after tasting a bit of raw zucchini: “Oh my f%&*ing god, this zucchini is amazing”):


First tomato (June 19):


First bean flower (June 20):


The State of the Garden: May 10, 2013

Spring in a new house with a garden is very exciting.  Here’s how things look today.

I believe these little guys are violas.  Here they are in the morning, still asleep.  When they wake up, they have white faces with tiny purple freckles, like they were made in the ice cream machine with a purple vanilla bean.

violasBleeding hearts have always been one of my favourites; I was delighted to find them blooming in the corner early in the week.  Cat A is a very subtle photobomber.


The tulips and daffodils were sparse.  I think I cut their foliage down too soon last summer.  Even now, though, they’re pretty.


I pruned the lilac tree too vigorously in the fall, but we are still getting plenty of blooms.  I like the tree a little less showy.


lilactreeAs for the vegetable garden, things are happening!  We’re expecting a couple of cold nights this weekend, so I’m concerned, but I have a floating row cover and will keep my fingers crossed.


veggarden2The zucchinis and cucumbers went in last week; they looked resentful at first, but are starting to come around.  The zukes have already grown themselves a bunch of calendula friends.  The beans are coming up (must thin them today), and the poblanos (seen here with chard babies) are doing GREAT.  The onions…well, they didn’t get a good start but a few of them have toughed it out; I’m proud of them no matter what happens.


beanspoblanosonionsThe peas are doing a heck of a job.

peasAs are the tomatoes, in their little walled community.

tomatoesI thought I’d killed the rasberries, but here they come!

raspberriesAs for the bacony garden, it is coming along.  The rapini (which was worrying me) and lettuce in particular are doing great.


lettuceYesterday, I bought my first seedling: a rosemary plant.  Today it’s hanging out with a tray of sage and some chive embryos.

rosemarysagechivesActually, wait – a pot of chives did show up in my CSA box, so I guess that counts as buying a seedling, too.  Those guys are doing great, as is the spinach, even though I’ve already picked it a bit too clean.

chivesspinachWhat am I looking forward to most?  Hard to say, but maybe the many kinds of basil.

basilsI’ve found that when you garden, every morning feels like Christmas.  I wake up wondering: what gifts will the universe bring me today?

That said, it’s been a lucky spring so far…wish me courage for the cold snap, and tell me what’s happening in your garden.

New Adventures: Seeds

Today I bought seeds.  I’ve never bought seeds before, or made any attempt to garden (other than a sad little window box of herbs that rotted on our balcony railing in the dim, rainy courtyard of our last apartment a couple of summers ago.)

I’m a novice gardener, so it might make more sense for me to buy seedlings.  However, encouraged by the gardening books of Gayla Trail, I’ve convinced myself that a) I can’t afford to buy all the plants I want in seedling form, and b) I can start all the plants I need indoors before the last frost.

I ordered a handful of flowers: cosmos, rudbeckia, nasturtiums…

Cosmos Flowers


…but mostly, I bought vegetables and herbs.  Especially exciting: four varieties of basil, some rainbow chard, and pattypan squash.




I purchased from two online seed shops: Salt Spring Seeds in British Columbia and Greta’s Organic Gardens in Ontario, both listed as resources in Trail’s books.  In all, I purchased about 30 packets of seeds.  For someone who’s never bought a seed before, that’s a lot.  And I haven’t even started thinking about the flower garden in the front yard.

Am I nuts?  Possibly.  I haven’t yet figured out where I’m going to start the seedlings; the purchase of some grow-lights may be in order.  What’s more, spending more than I can afford on a hobby that’s still mostly fantasy is…foolhardy.

However.  It’s cold and dark out there.  Everything’s dying.  (Given recent world events, my garden is the least of it.)  In the face of all that, I just spent a whole afternoon planning for the days when things start springing back to life.

It was a good afternoon.

If all goes well, it will lead to salads.

Images: Adrian van Leen, Nathalie Dulex, SP Veres, Dez Pain, Sanja Gjenero, Agnes Scholiers