Monday, June 30, 2014

Harvest Monday - June 30, 2014

It seems that every week there is a new vegetable being served up from the garden - I had actually never noticed this before I started to keep track of my harvests from week to week.  I think that paying attention to what is being harvested in this way makes me appreciate what the garden is producing that much more.

The newcomer to our table this week is Swiss chard, which has really taken off.  I had a bit of an issue with leaf miners earlier this month but have had no problems since.  I did sprinkle the bed with diatomaceous earth, but I believe that leaf miners are only active at certain times, so the lack of miner damage recently may be more an indication of their life cycle than anything that I did.

Swiss Chard - "Fordhood Giant"

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Visit to the Seed House

A couple of days ago I did a post on how I was starting some fall crops.  Well, since then I ran out of liquid fertilizer.  Then I realized that I would be needing more netting as I am planning on having brassicas in 3 beds this fall.  The white cabbage butterfly, or more specifically its offspring, wreaks havoc on most members of the cabbage family in my garden unless I keep them covered.

In a prior post earlier this month, I talked about how tulle can be a more affordable option when covering beds with netting.  Unfortunately, in my area, I was surprised to find that the cost per linear foot works out to be the same and the insect netting is wider – it’s 7’ width is just wide enough to cover a 4’ wide hooped bed.  And since I seem to be needing a lot of netting, I needed to get it from a seed house as they are the only ones that sell netting in large packages.  I can purchase a 100’ length instead of just 25’, which brings the cost per bed down a bit ($0.79 vs. $1.00 per foot).

So I needed fertilizer and netting.  My go to source for gardening supplies is William Dam Seeds.  It is a bit of a trek, but I usually find myself there at least 2 or 3 times each year.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thinking Ahead To Fall

It’s the last week of school and things are busier than usual.  Summer vacation starts next week and we are all looking forward to the slower pace that usually comes with it.

I am currently hardening off some lettuce seedlings in the hopes that the lettuce harvest will continue over the summer.  I decided to narrow the varieties down to the three that I think will be the most tolerant of the hotter weather:  Simpson Elite, Pinares & Sierra MI.  The spring sown leaf lettuce has all been pulled but the Pinares & Sierra MI are still chugging along – I will hold off on pulling these (or some of them anyhow), just to see how long they last.

Lettuce - Hardening Off For Planting Next Week

Monday, June 23, 2014

Harvest Monday - June 23, 2014

This week two new veggies were added to the harvests.

First up is scapes.  Not too many, but usually it takes a few days for all of them to come up.  Last year I had many more scapes because I had planted the garlic fairly close together.  My garlic harvest, however, was disappointing as the bulbs were rather small.  So this year I increased the spacing, which unfortunately means fewer scapes.

Garlic Scapes

Saturday, June 21, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-June - Part 2

So on to part 2 of my mid-June vegetable garden tour...
Another Pest In The Garden
So yesterday, I showed my spinach area and, although the plants were small, they were doing ok.  But when I got up this morning, this is what I found:
Spinach Seedling - Keeled Over

Friday, June 20, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - Mid-June - Part 1

We are now past the midway point in June and the garden is really starting to blossom, so to speak. Everything has been planted and most of the hard work is finished.  Now it’s just a matter of tending the existing plants and starting a few veggies here & there for succession planting and fall harvest.  Even though I still have quite a few tasks on my list with regards to the new vegetable bed areas (mulching paths, finishing the fencing/gates, etc.), I am pretty much caught up with all the routine tasks.

Garlic & Shallot Bed

The garlic & shallots are plugging along and the garlic scapes are just starting to appear.  This is about the same time as last year - funny but I thought we were about 2 weeks behind because of the late start to spring.  I do recall, however, that last year we had a very cool & dreary month of June, which probably slowed the garlic down a bit.

Garlic Scapes On The Verge of Curling

Monday, June 16, 2014

Harvest Monday - June 16, 2014

We have another much anticipated newcomer to the harvests this week – Strawberries!

Not a lot, mind you, but enough to get us really hankering for more.  I have two kinds of strawberry plants – Fort Laramie, which is an everbearing variety, & an unknown June bearing variety that was given to me by a neighbour.  I started this strawberry bed late last summer, so this is the 1st year that it is producing.  So far, only the Fort Laramie has given us a few ripe berries; the other variety is flowering, but it will likely be a couple of weeks before we start seeing any of its berries.

Fort Laramie Strawberries

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Squash & Why My Neighbours Can Leave Their Car Doors Unlocked - Part 2

In Part 1, I talked about my toughest issue when it comes to growing even a modest amount of squash, the squash vine borer (SVB).  Last year, by using Growing Degree Days, I was able to thwart the SVB by covering my plants until the moths were finished laying their eggs. I was so excited when the covers came off in July and my plants showed no signs of infestation.  Unfortunately, the mountain of squash I was hoping for never materialized.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Squash & Why My Neighbours Can Leave Their Car Doors Unlocked – Part 1

This year I am growing 5 types of squash – 4 summer squash and 1 winter.  In terms of bush summer squash, I have “Dark Green” & “Sure Thing Hybrid” (both are zucchini) as well as “Early Prolific” which is a yellow straightneck.  I am also trying a vining variety - “Zucchetta Tromboncino”.  This one is supposed to be a dual purpose squash in that you can eat it young as zucchini or it can be left to mature on the vine for a winter squash.  I will be growing Tromboncino on a trellis, alongside my cucumbers.  And lastly, I am trying a winter squash for the first time – “Gold Nugget”.  It is a buttercup type that produces small (1-2 lb.) fruits.

This Year's Squash Seeds
The bush summer squash are from seeds purchased & grown last year.  I was able to get a few squash from them, but not a lot.  Let’s put it this way, my neighbours have no issues leaving their car doors unlocked ;) **

Monday, June 9, 2014

Harvest Monday - June 9, 2014

We have another new addition to the harvest lineup this week - Radishes!

"Monstrueux de Viroflay" Spinach & "Scarlet Globe" Radishes

Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Mighty Bean

This year I am growing two varieties of pole bean.  First up is "Cherokee Trail of Tears".  This one is an amazing dual purpose bean that I grew for the first time last year.  As a green bean, it is slim, tender, stringless (unless you let them get too big) and has a wonderful flavour.  Then, if left to dry, it also produces beautiful black beans.  I was very impressed by it even in light of all the bean issues I had last year (which I will get into below).

There are few beans which such a memorable story.  In 1838, the Cherokee people left their homeland in the southeastern US and relocated to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma.  This was as a result of the "Indian Removal Act" which was enacted in 1830 and resulted in the relocation of a number of Native American tribes, including the Cherokee nation.

Cherokee Trail of Tears Sign

Thursday, June 5, 2014

My Garden Plans - 2014

Way back in January I created a plan for the garden.  And, as often happens, it has changed numerous times over the past few months.

I'm a planner by nature, so planning the garden is one of my favourite tasks.  Since I have more than tripled the number of beds this year, I decided to number them (on paper).  This way, not only can I keep better track of how things grow in each bed (some beds, for example, get a bit more shade than others) but it will also make planning crop rotations easier.

Vegetable Garden Plans for 2014

I use Excel for my plans & have NO idea how to create a good digital image file (not for lack of trying).  I did figure out how to create a jpeg image, but the resolution was really bad.  In the end, the best I could do was a photo of the printout:

2014 Vegetable Garden Plans

Monday, June 2, 2014

Harvest Monday - June 2, 2014

The harvests are slowly increasing and I added two more veggies to our table this past week.

First we have collards.  I am growing two varieties this year, Vates & Beira Tronchuda.  I took a photo of these two just before harvesting some leaves:

Beira Tronchuda on the Left; Vates on the Right
You can see that, at this point, the Beira Tronchuda is quite a bit larger than the Vates.  I sampled each in its raw form and they were both tender, but the Tronchuda also seemed to be a tad sweeter.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What's Happening In The Garden - June 1, 2014

I thought I would devote this post to an overview of what is happening in the garden right now.

My garlic & shallots are coming right along after a slow start this past spring.  I was worried that the shallots wouldn't make it as we had a few extremely frigid days in the -40's over the winter, which is very unusual for Southern Ontario.
Garlic & Shallot Bed