Sunday, December 30, 2018

Winners and Losers of 2018

Here we are with one day left in 2018.  It's been one of those years & I'll be glad when it's firmly in my rear view mirror.

In my last post I wrote about what went wrong and what went right this past gardening season.  Regardless of the proportion of each (because no year is all good or all bad) one thing is for sure – the harvest will be impacted.

This year, the losers outweighed the winners by a fair bit…but there were still a lot of winners (hurray!).  The great thing about having a variety of veg in the garden is that a growing season where absolutely everything does badly is a rarity.  Usually, conditions that are not favourable for one type of veg (i.e. peppers and melons will sulk in cool temperatures) are relished by others (lettuce & broccoli thrive when summer temperatures are on the lower end).

Eggplant was one veg that appreciated our hot weather this summer
Pictured above:  Farmers Long

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Look Back at 2018

The year is coming to an end and it’s time to look back and reflect.  What went wrong, what went right (not a lot this year!), and how lessons learned will impact the garden & how I do things in the future.

Harvesting a few tomatoes to snack on ๐Ÿ˜‰

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Garden of Dianne & Dan Latham (aka 'Latham Park')

In the past few years I've been on numerous garden tours, thanks in large part to the annual Garden Bloggers Fling and the GWA conference.  There are many gardens that I have yet to write about - in fact, I still have to go through the photos from this years travels.

Today, I'm going back...way 2016 and the Garden Bloggers Fling in Minneapolis.  My favourite type of garden is a "gardeners garden" - you know, where the homeowners love really shines through - and the garden of Dianne and Dan Latham was just that.

Dianne & Dan's garden, described as a mini-botanical garden, is often referred to as Latham Park.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

End of Season Tasks - What Was Done and What Wasn't

The calendar may say it's still the fall but when I look out the window, I'm seeing a very different story.

This doesn't look like November to me...

Today the temps are supposed to go down to -17C/1F ๐Ÿ˜ฎ.  That has got to be a record for this time of year. The season has officially come to an end with a flurry of activity....and most of that was done with winter gloves, coat and boots on, something that I always try to avoid.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A (Very) Late Garlic Planting

The fall weather this year has not be cooperating - I can't recall an end to the season quite as cold as this one with zero warm ups.  In fact, this morning, we woke up to a bunch of white stuff on the ground - this is the earliest snowfall we've had in a very long time.

It's late in the season - some may say the season is already over - but several tasks were still on the to do list.  The most pressing of these was getting the garlic in the ground.  I was waiting and waiting and waiting for that elusive "nice" day to get this task done - but I finally realized that it was not going to arrive.

On Sunday, it was just above freezing BUT it wasn't windy and the sun was out.  From the looks of the long-range forecast, this was as good as it was going to get so I decided to get out there and plant the garlic.  I had to do it in stages...prep the bed, come inside for a warming break, plant a couple of rows, come back in - you get the picture.

Had to get out the heavy duty, insulated gardening gloves

The fact that I waited much too long to plant the garlic hit home when the manure I planned on incorporating into the beds was half frozen.  I did my best to break it up and even brought a bucket of clumps inside to warm up for a few hours.  When various members of the family asked what's in the bucket, I nonchalantly replied "sheep poo" as if that's the most normal thing to be carrying around in a bucket, inside the house, in November.  You know you've trained your family well when the only response that generates is an understanding nod ๐Ÿ˜

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

More beans please!

It’s been a chilly few weeks here – temperatures have been topping out at 6 or 7C (43F) each day which doesn’t really motivate me to get moving on finishing up the remaining tasks in the garden.   There’s still a small laundry list of things to do before the garden is closed for the winter – cutting back the asparagus ferns, digging up dahlia tubers, harvesting the remaining carrots, chard & broccoli and, most importantly, planting out the garlic.

For those that follow along on Instagram, you know we were getting our front walkway redone.  It was a narrow, weedy mess and on the “to do” list for a few years now:


The walkway was widened and we cut back a lot of encroaching growth….what a difference it’s made!  One of those things that you kick yourself for not getting to sooner.


There are a few invasives in the bed on the right hand side, between the house and the walkway, that I’ve been trying to get rid of (periwinkle and self-seeded spirea).  I’ll be laying down black plastic topped with mulch & leaving that in place over the next year - hopefully this eradicates them & I'll be able to remove the plastic and plant some better behaved shade tolerant perennials by the following year.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Apologies to all...!

Apologies to everyone that's left a comment that went to my "Awaiting Moderation" folder since this past June...I've just realized that there are 29 comments in there - yikes!!  I feel so badly!

I have always received an email when a comment needs approval as only comments made within one week of the post are automatically published.  For some reason, I am no longer receiving notification emails of comments that need moderation - and I had no idea!  Since I was always notified in the past, I didn't even think to check this folder until now.  I have a feeling this has something to do with the changes I made to the blog earlier in the year so I'll have to look into that.

In the meantime, I'll be reading and publishing all of your comments today....once again, my sincerest apologies about this goof.  I'll be checking that moderation folder much more frequently from now on!


Update:  Mystery solved!  Email notifications apparently changed after the implementation of the GDPR this past May.  Thank you to Jo from Through the Keyhole for not only letting me know what the issue was but also helping me resolve it (check out her comment below for all the details).

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Plenty of Potatoes? Not This Year...

You can often tell how your potatoes are doing by how well (or not) the foliage grows – more foliage usually means more (and larger) potatoes.  This year, the potato foliage left a lot to be desired so my expectations were fairly low.  Still, the actual harvest was (much) worse than I expected...sigh.

Moisture was not an issue as the drip irrigation took care of our dry spell over the summer and, unlike the area where the pepper beds were, I did not mess up on setting the timer during the May heat wave.

Chitting in April

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Back to the Homeland

One thing that many of you may not know is that I was born and spent the first 5 years of my life in Lisbon.  Up to my teenage years, I would go back most summers and spend a couple of months with my grandmother.  My last visit, however, was back in the 90's when my grandmother passed away.

Sรฃo Jorge Castle in Lisbon

I had been meaning to return but it was one of those things that just kept being put off until “next year”.  And now here we are, over 20 years later, and I finally made it back.

Praรงa do Comรฉrcio in Lisbon

Thursday, August 30, 2018

An Onion Experiment - The Reveal

This past spring, I decided to do a little experiment with onions.  I had read in a local seed catalogue that onions sown in April would grow larger than those seeded in February, which is when they are traditionally sown around here.  I was intrigued by this statement and quite skeptical, to say the least, so I decided to put it to the test.

I chose to use Copra's in my experiment as I have grown them for several years and normally seed a larger quantity of them compared to other varieties since they store incredibly well.

Copra Onions (2014)

Saturday, August 4, 2018

The Best Type of Seed

You know what the best type of seed is?  One that has been shared by gardening friends.  These seedy treasures warm my heart, every time I see them in the garden.

Earlier this year, Dave from Our Happy Acres generously shared a number of different seeds and all of these varieties are now growing in my garden.

First up is a hot pepper - Aji Golden.  This year, the peppers were really set back early on when I went away shortly after transplanting them.  I didn't set the irrigation timer correctly and, of course, there was a heat wave at the same time with zero rain.  I've been taking good care of them since then but most of the plants are still runty.  Even with the setback, however, Aji Golden is performing admirably well, being one of the largest plants in the pepper bed (on the left in the photo below).

Aji Golden (on the left) is one of the few pepper plants
that is recovering incredibly well from the early setback

Monday, July 16, 2018

The State of Things...

Some of you may have noticed that I haven't been on top of things lately - my posts are rather sporadic and even keeping up with blog reading has been a challenge.  I've been feeling a bit guilty and decided that, instead of stressing out and trying (unsuccessfully) to keep up, I'll give myself an emotional break and fill everyone in.  I'll still be blogging, I'll still be reading & commenting, but the sporadic nature of both will likely continue for the rest of the season.  And this is why.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Post-Holiday Update and Harvest Monday!

Some of you may have guessed - or not - that we were away over the past week and a half on a family vacation in Vancouver.  I usually unplug completely when I go away but this time my husband had work to do while we were there so I indulged in a bit of blog reading and writing.

When we returned from our holiday, there were some pleasant surprises, such as the roses beside the house which literally burst into bloom:

Never mind the underplanting of weeds - those will be history in a few days ๐Ÿ˜‰

Monday, June 18, 2018

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

One of the great things about the Fling - I've said this many times, but it's worth repeating - is all the amazing people that you connect with and get to know.  Each time I've been, a few new faces are added to my list of blogging friends and this year, Carol Michel from May Dreams Gardens was one of them.

I had heard of Carol's "Garden Bloggers Bloom Day" but, being a veggie girl, I never thought to participate.  But hey - I have blooms in my garden too - so I made a promise to her that I would join in....and here I am.

Buzzy bee enjoying the blooming spirea

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

HortusTV: TV for Gardeners (plus a lifetime discount!)

In the UK gardening shows are still going strong.  In North America, however, the pickings are comparatively slim...or, more accurately, we are starved.

Remember back in the day, when you could turn on the TV on Saturdays and have your pick of gardening shows?  I'm not talking about the reality shows that dominate the airwaves these days.  I'm referring to shows that actually taught you how to garden - the shows that valued substance over "show" and fabricated drama.  If you're over 40, you know what I mean.  If you're under 40, then let me be the one to tell you that TLC originally stood for "The Learning Channel" - where you actually learned stuff.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard " I had no idea that's what the letters stood for".  It's no wonder.

Learning Channel logo from the early 90's
Photo from the aptly titled article "What Happened to the Learning Channel"

Then there's HGTV - another channel that had fairly good programing at one point until the reality show hordes took over.  In fact, there are so few gardening shows on it now, reality or otherwise, that I'm thinking it should undergo a name change too...that 'G' really shouldn't be there.

You know what the problem is?  These channels are run by executives that HAVE gardeners, not ARE gardeners.  They prefer manicures to dirt under their fingernails and their mandate is fat bottom lines not quality programming.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Something Old and Something New

It's been a busy couple of weeks, both in and out of the garden, mainly because I've been trying to get all of the veg and annuals in the ground as well as keep on top of the weeding.  The garden practically exploded with growth once the weather warmed up in early May - during which time I was away, of course! - so I've been doing a big ol' game of catch-up every since.  I feel as if I'm behind, but in fact, I actually think that I'm way ahead of where I normally am at this time of year as I've been devoting several hours to the garden every single day.

Unfortunately, that also means that I've been neglecting my blog writing and reading, which I'll apologize for - I'm setting aside some time to catch up on that today.

It's been a while so let's start off with a little bit of gorgeousness, shall we:

Bright Lights® Pink Osteospermum

This guy just started to bloom last week and I'm smitten.  I received several new introductions from Proven Winners this year including this African daisy - I can't get over the pale pink/purple ombre colouration on the petals.  This is only the first bloom but I'm expecting great things as it's supposed to be more heat tolerant than other African daisies - I'll keep you posted on how it does.  I'm growing a variety of annuals in pots this year - a first! - but that's a topic for another post.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Harvest Monday - May 28, 2018

It's been a busy time in the garden - our recent sprint from winter to spring to summer has done away with the gradual progression of growth.  Instead, we have had one huge leap from virtually nothing to everything growing like gangbusters.

And the heat!  I feel like the witch from Wizard of Oz..."I'm melting!" - although compared to Dave's upper 90's highs (35C+), we are not too bad off, apparently.

On the harvest front, things are still rather slow.  I harvested from the asparagus beds for about 3 weeks, harvesting rather selectively (i.e. only the thicker stalks) over the past week.  Now I'm going to let the plants do their thing and fern out.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Goings On

Hmmm...what's new and exciting?  Well, we transitioned from winter to summer in 3 weeks for one.  We've been getting highs in the upper 20's (80F+) for the past few days, so I'm trying to get into the garden in the mornings and evenings which, unfortunately, is also when the mosquitoes are out.  I'm not a fan of mosquito spray, as is evidenced by the lack of an expiry date on the can - THAT'S how old it is, 'cause everything has an expiry date on it these days, doesn't it?  The spray has come out a couple of times in the past week though as, in order to keep working into the evening, a little spritz on the arms & neck is a necessary evil.  I don't mind wearing pants (and actually prefer that when I'm constantly kneeling on the mulch), but a long sleeve shirt in this heat is a no-go.

I'm a bit behind when it comes to transplanting, but by the end of this weekend I'll be more or less caught up.  The cucumber, melons, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant are all hardening off and will be in the ground by Sunday.

Final stages of hardening off - don't mind the was a bit windy today

The beans will also be sown, this being the last of the large plantings.  Other than that, there are a few odds and sods to go in here and there, such as the basil, chard and a few ornamentals, but that's about it.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Harvest Monday - May 14, 2018

Hello everyone - I'm back from my Texas Garden Bloggers Fling adventure and, as usual, a wonderful time was had by all.

10th Anniversary Garden Bloggers Fling in Austin, Texas

The weather was darn near perfect - none of the days were as hot as I expected for Texas.  Our first day was somewhat wet, but it was nothing a few determined garden bloggers couldn't handle.  And overcast skies do make for great photos!

At Diana Kirby's garden - what's a little rain??

And what should welcome me when I returned home?  A glorious sight:

Horrible lighting, I know, but I needed to harvest
& wanted to get the pre-harvest pic ๐Ÿ˜Š

Well, this photo was only taken yesterday as I didn't take a photo of the bed when I returned, but you get the idea.  The harvests have begun!

First Harvest of the Season

A long time coming this year!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Getting Things Done...and Potatoes are In!

The weather has finally improved and I'm now in full catch-up mode.  Not surprisingly, I'm already a bit achy from the past couple of days of bed prep and seeding.  But it's a good kind of ache, so I'm not complaining ๐Ÿ˜

At this point, the peas, turnips and beets are in.  Say what???  Did I just say beets?  If you've hung around my blog for a while, you know that I am a self-proclaimed beet hater - or, since I prefer not using the word hate when it comes to vegetables, let's just say that I dislike them.  A lot.

So being a beet "disliker", why do I have them in my garden this year?  Well, because I received a few packets of beet seeds from Botanical Interests, of course!  Can't resist free seeds, even if they are for beets.  It's also Year of the Beet so I consider it perfect timing for giving beets a chance to win me over.

They look so pretty - I really hope my taste buds agree

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Icy Mid-April Update

Well, here we are in mid-April…or are we?

Our driveway (aka the ice rink)

Icy Sedum

Can't deny the beauty, though

We just came through 3 days of hibernation.  There was on & off freezing rain the entire weekend, culminating with an ice storm that started on Sunday evening.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Spring? Hello...anybody home?

This spring weather, if you can call it that, is driving me a little crazy.  We are looking at low, single digit highs around here which, for my friends in the US, translates to temps in the 30's & 40's.  I've managed to get in a couple of hours when the mercury crept into the upper end of that range but my time outside was cut short by bouts of rain.

1st task of the season is removing the protective layer of straw from the beds

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Planning for 2018

Spring is taking it's sweet ol' time getting here this year.

It's still too cold to do anything outside - my thermometer reads -5C/23F right now - and the ground is still frozen solid.  The weather should start to turn soon, though - I have a feeling that I'll be out there by next week (hurray!)

Front walkway on March 13th

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Peppery Starts

2017 was a disappointing year for many veg in the garden, not the least of which were the peppers.

The season started off well – in fact, the pepper transplants were the largest and most robust that I had ever grown:

Pepper transplants in 2017

Friday, March 9, 2018

Onions - Three Little Changes

It's the beginning of March, so it's no surprise that the basement grow area has been a busy place lately.  Peppers, eggplant, Browallia, Echinacea, lemon bee balm and a Baker Creek freebie called “Love-in-a-Puff” have been sown.

I’ve also started on the onions & shallots.  This year, I’m only adding one new onion variety to the mix:  Patterson.  William Dam describes this variety as "similar to Copra but with larger bulbs and healthier foliage".  It also says that it's a replacement for Copra which is being discontinued (although I have a feeling they are referring to not supplying it anymore rather than that it’s being discontinued in general).  I am growing Copra this year as well so it will be interesting to see how the two compare.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Brightening Things Up

The new URL is up and running & hopefully all is going smoothly out there in cyberspace.  The thing with tech is that, more often than not, you don’t find out that there’s a problem until after the fact.

I’ve been getting myself organized over the past few weeks – my basement growing area has been sorted out (after being a right mess for most of the winter), seeds have been ordered & received and I even have some green poking out of the soil:

Onion seedlings coming up - this year I'm only starting a small portion in February,
with the majority being seeded in March as part of a timing experiment

There's one change this spring that I am particularly excited about.  My grow lights are undergoing a bit of an upgrade.

Monday, January 15, 2018

A Little Change

I’ve been contemplating a change for a while now.  Not a radical, alter my whole life sort of change, but a small “this has been bugging me for a while” change.  To my name.  No, not MY name – I am and always will be Margaret – but the blog’s name.

“Homegrown – Adventures in my Garden” is a friend that I’m reticent to let go of, like an old pair of shoes.  Well, not really an “old” pair, as far as blogs go, since it's not even 4 years yet, but more like shoes that are well worn in.  And comfortable.  Very comfortable.  I did a lot of umming and ahhing over this blog’s name over the past few months - should I, shouldn’t I - but ultimately, I decided to take the plunge.