Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Sweet Potatoes

When it comes to growing a veg that I love, I don't give up that easily if I run into problems.  Case in point - sweet potatoes.  I'm on my third year and have yet to have a good harvest.

This past season, with it's super hot summer, I was convinced that I would get a halfway decent haul.  I grew the potatoes in both black grow bags and large plastic tubs but neither yielded a particularly impressive harvest.

One of the sweet potato tubs,
just before tipping it over to reveal the harvest

Friday, March 24, 2017

Allium progress

2016 was a very disappointing year when it came to onions.  The season started off badly and never seemed to get any better.

Firstly, I tried a different approach when I sowed the seed.  Instead of using a plug sheet as in the previous year, I scattered the seeds in large 2"x4" cells.  I was hoping to (1) gain space under the grow lights and (2) minimize drying out of the soil as it was more difficult to tell when the plug sheet needed watering and I would tend to let them dry out too much.

All was well and good...until I had an issue with damping off and lost a good number of seedlings.  Of course, grouping seedlings into one large cell means that the disease easily spread and I likely lost more than I would have had I used a plug sheet.

Conservor shallots in 2016, succumbing to damping off

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring is here...hopefully

Yesterday was the first day of spring and it was surprisingly spring-like.  With the roller coaster weather all winter, I was half expecting a blizzard.  For the last couple of days, I've been able to comfortably walk around outside wearing only a fleece jacket.  Now, I'm not crazy enough to put my winter coat and boots away just yet - call me superstitious, but whenever I jump the gun, Mother Nature inevitably shows me who's boss.

Inside the house, however, I'm the boss - within reason, of course :)  As there has been little consistency in our weather, I decided to maintain my seeding schedule as is.  There's always the temptation to move things up a bit when the weather is unseasonably warm, but it's a gamble - sometimes it pays off while other times, it doesn't.  This year I have a lot on my gardening plate (more on that in a future post), so I'm sticking to the original game plan.

The onions, leeks & shallots were seeded back in February and are well on their way.  So far, no issues with damping off like last year.  Now excuse me for a sec while I look for a piece of wood to knock on ;)

Onion, leek and shallot seedlings, well on their way

Friday, March 10, 2017

2016 Year In Review - The Numbers

In my last post, I gave a general overview of the 2016 season.  Now it's time for the nitty gritty - the numbers.  If you're not into the numbers, skip down to the paragraph after the "Pounds" table where I give the low-down on which veg did well and which did poorly.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

2016 Year in Review - Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot

If I were to describe the summer of 2016, one word comes to mind – HOT.  Actually make that two words – VERY HOT.  All...the...time.  Think I'm exaggerating?  This is what a senior climatologist at Environment Canada had to say:  "May, June, July, August and September, five months in a row, it was the warmest such period in Toronto's history, in 78 years of records...we also had 38 days when the temperature reached above 30 degrees, more than the three previous summers all together".  See - I'm being completely objective here :)

So what did the hot weather mean for the vegetable garden?  Well, crops that love heat were in heaven – it was a great pepper year and the number of butternut squash that I harvested from the same number of plants more than doubled from 5 to 12!  Crops that are partial to more moderate temps, however, didn’t do nearly as well – turnips and kohlrabi come to mind.  Even though I harvested a bumper crop, in terms of yield, both of these developed a stronger, less sweet taste than in the previous year.  In other words, we harvested more of them, but they weren't nearly as delectable.  I would have rather had it the other way around.

Hot temperatures resulted in kohlrabi that lacked the mild, sweet taste
they had in 2015 and every bulb was a bit fibrous to boot

Thursday, March 2, 2017


Is it spring?  Is it winter?  I’m so confused!  I have a feeling that’s what my poor perennials and trees are saying as well – I can practically see them scratching their heads as they ponder whether it’s time to leaf out or not.

This has been the warmest February that I can remember – one day last week, it was actually shorts weather with temperatures reaching a record breaking high of 16C/61F.  And yesterday - a high of 14C/57F.  Today?  It's -7C/19F with a windchill of -15C/5F.  Crazy.

Of course I, being human and all, enjoy a bout of spring-like weather just as much as anyone else, but this feeling is always tempered by worry.  Top of mind are the fruit trees.  If they come out of dormancy during one of these warm spells, thinking that spring has officially arrived, it may be another fruitless year if all those buds are killed off once winter returns.

My apple trees are in their 3rd year and I was actually hoping to get a few fruits from them this year.  I’ve had to pick off baby apples from the Granny Smith tree for 2 years in a row now – a necessary evil so that the tree spends its limited energy developing a good root system.

Baby Granny Smith apples in 2015