Wednesday, October 24, 2012

There's A Little Life In Her Yet....

It has been a while since I've last posted an update on the progress of the kitchen garden.  Fall is now upon us and soon I will be in 'leaf collection' mode.  Until then, I really must get busy and clean up the garden before it all freezes over. Oh, and there's the garlic to plant too. So much to do!

Despite my neglect and the colder temperatures this week, the garden still has some life left. My 'fall' crops, as meagre as they are, are still growing.  Here are a few pictures of what is still growing in the kitchen garden as of this morning:

My 'fall' kale was pretty much eaten by cabbage worms, but is starting to bounce back.  I grew about 6 plants.  There is probably not enough time for a decent harvest, but I will cover it with a bucket over the winter and see if it sprouts back to life again next spring (this technique worked well for me last year!).

I never seem to have enough cilantro in the garden, but managed to get a small fall crop by direct seeding in a few pots:

I grew carrots in a container this year, and will soon 'harvest' what is left of them.
I grew a few beets, mostly for the greens.  I think the ones pictured below are Bulls Blood:
The parsley grew well this year, and has been giving me a constant supply whenever I need it:
Leaf lettuce in a container:

Finally, the swiss chard, as per usual, is the champion of my garden.  I plant it in spring, and harvest it all season long:

Sunday, September 9, 2012

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year....

...And I'm not talking about back-to-school time (although that has it's merits too ;) ).  Here is a snapshot of some of the harvest that I have been enjoying from my small backyard garden (at least what hasn't made it into my stomach):

But that's not nearly as exciting as my first successful sweet red pepper:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cue the Angel Music

In the spirit of the Olympics and all the athletes who 'never give up'...I have peppers!  I have peppers!

I start pepper seeds every year with the hope that this will be the year I finally have success. And every year same result- total fail. Sure I'd get one or two fruit on a plant, but these were usually eaten by slugs or other pests and weren't even remotely edible. This year, I decided to throw in the towel and not even try.  But, after the window of opportunity passed for growing from seed, I kept thinking that I might have missed an opportunity to try again.  The feeling was nagging at me, so I picked up some pepper transplants from Sweet Valley Herbs. 

The one pictured above is a "Pompeii Pepper", which is described as being  an "ideal super sweet patio pepper plant, producing large peppers maturing from lime-green to orange-red".  I planted it in a container with a handful or two of worm castings.   Added a marigold at the end. 

I really  have been babying this plant.  I have been inspecting it every day for damage from pests.  I have been moving it from one spot in the morning to another spot in the afternoon to get maximum sunlight.  I put it to bed at night beside my exterior brick wall, in the hopes that the heat from the bricks will reflect back onto the plant. 

For the first time ever, I have at least 7 healthy peppers on the plant above with more to come.  I also have tons of little hot peppers on this baby:

Lesson learned!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Wild and Crazy Garden

Went away for a few days on vacation and came back to a garden that is looking like a jungle.  The tomatoes are growing like crazy and have already outgrown their original supports. The two zucchini plants are huge- hopefully a good sign for a successful crop this year.  The pole beans were starting to grow back down their support, twisting and twining into a big mess of vines.  I've been trying to clean everything up a bit so it looks less wild and crazy, more tidy and pretty. 

To fix the support issues with tomatoes and beans, I have been stringing twine from post to post in an effort to corral everything. Hopefully it will all hold up in strong wind, but I can't guarantee it will last through a hurricane, should one hit this year.

For the pole beans, I pounded a piece of electrical conduit into the ground and made a tepee out of twine, strung from the tops of the original supports. I carefully untangled the vines and with luck they will continue to grow up the strings, creating a little 'roof'. 

I'm loving two new plants I tried out this year.  The first, Trombonico Squash (ordered from Annapolis Seeds), is growing really well out of container.  It is a vertical climber, so I have it growing up a makeshift support.  The fruit is really fun looking.  I haven't tasted it as yet, but this beauty should be ready soon. 

The second new find is Andeen Paste Tomato, also from Annapolis Seeds. I love the tear- drop shape. Some visitors to my garden thought they were peppers. The description for the plant said that it has 3' vines, but so far mine has surpassed that and is well on its way to 5' and more.  The fruit is quite large, which I can only assume will make it great for sauce making.  I can't wait to see how it tastes!
This year, I don't seem to have any San Marzano paste tomatoes.  Not sure how this happened, but something must have gone seriously wrong at some point during seeding/labelling last spring. I was planning on having 3 San Marzanos, and 2 Black Plum plants this year, but it seems I have ended up with all Black Plum. Not a terrible mishap as Black Plum really produces a lot of fruit that turn into a great sauce.  Still, I shall miss the San Marzanos. 

In general, the tomatoes are doing really well.  I've been snacking on the odd sungold, but it looks like the next week or two, I should start harvesting on a larger scale.  The only problem I've had so far this year, is a little bit of blossom end rot on one of the black plum plants, growing in a soil bag.  Not sure why this one is the only one having problems, but I've added a little mixture of water and epsom salts, which I read may help prevent it from affecting new growth.  Time will tell. At least I have 4 other Black Plum plants to fall back on ....

Meanwhile...the other tomato varieties I am growing are for fresh eating:  Cosmonaut Volcov (Hope Seeds), which were so tasty last year and Tigerella (Hope Seeds), pictured below. Tigerella has a great stripped colour when ripe.  I managed to grow this plant from one single seed I had left from a pack I bought at least 3 years ago.

I am on my way to having my first Costata Romanesco Zucchini.  Can't wait.  The plant this year is looking great and I've had no major disasters with it so far (as in years past).  So hopefully, fingers crossed, it will finally have a half decent harvest (at least more than the 2-3 zucchini I had last year).  They taste so great grilled on the barbecue and in grilled veggie sandwiches!

The cucumber plants are finally starting to pick up.  I have one plant doing better than others, although it is in a spot that does not get the most sun.  Had troubles getting my cucumbers to grow from seed this year, so all of the ones I put in the garden were transplants from Halifax Seed. 

The pole beans have been growing like crazy, despite a little visit from some deer a few weeks back.  Pictured below is the True Red Cranberry beans from Hope Seeds.  You'll notice there is a 'hole' on the bottom where the deer had a meal.  It has recovered nicely though and is starting to produce lots of pods.  I grew this last year as an experiment and LOVED the flavour/texture of the dried beans in soup. 
And finally, I've pulled the first Rossa di Milano onion, which was grown in a container. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Deja Vu...Sort of

Yay!  Found my first ripe tomato yesterday- first two, in fact.  Once again, it's the sungold cherry tomatoes that won the race to be the first to be popped into my mouth. After I took the picture below, I sort of had a deja vu moment when I realized I had taken an almost identical picture last year.  But the best news -  last year my first ripe tomato was August 11..this year July 30- two weeks earlier! All the sun we have been having is starting to pay off!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Vandals Strike Community Garden

All gardeners experience it at some point.  You wake up in the morning and something has happened to one of your crops over night- the deer ate your beans, slugs ate your basil, your precious tomato plant snapped in half in the wind.  All that hard work down the drain.  With a sinking feeling, you make peace with what 'could have been' and move on.

I can only imagine what some families in my neighbourhood were feeling this morning to wake up to the vandalism that I saw at the Glen Gardens Community Garden on Glenforest Dr.  Broccoli plants were completely pulled and thrown on the ground. Trays and pots filled with maturing lettuce, peppers and beans were knocked over.  Tomato plants snapped in half with their fruit torn off and strewn about. Even one of the raised beds filled exclusively with flowers was picked through and completely damaged. How devastating!  Added to the cruelty of the act, is the fact that this garden is for people who are newly arrived to Canada. So sad! Not the greatest welcome to our country.

Since the garden seemingly popped up out of no-where one weekend back in May, I have been following it's progress with great interest (it was growing at a much faster rate than my own!).  It is located next to the bus stop I use to catch a lift to work.  Frequently I would run into a nice gentleman, who through many gestures, showed me his plot.  He didn't speak any English, but somehow he was able to communicate how proud he was of his garden.  I'm sure he had no idea that I have my own special interest in growing vegetables, but he definitely was a kindred spirit.  I wanted to tell him that I was impressed with how he interplanted his radishes with his tomato plants.

I would frequently see him and others in the morning, checking out how things were growing (as I do on a daily basis  with my own). Coming home at night, there is always someone out there working hard, lugging water from the apartment building nearby or weeding. 

As they showed me what happened, I could see the devastation in the faces of the gardeners who gathered to inspect the damage.  I thought about this vandalism all day at work and how cruel and thoughtless people can be.   I noticed on my way home from work that people were out cleaning up the damage and 'moving on'.  I took over one of my precious potted (and portable) pepper plants and some kale seedlings to give to them as a gesture.  Hopefully others in the area will do the same! 


Update:  July 31

The vandalism made the news today: