Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Harvest Summary

If I could summarize the past season in one sentence it would be this:   Disappointing, but not altogether surprising.

My preference is to post the reviews on the individual veg first and then do an overall summary.  However, since a big part of the harvest results this year were affected by factors that influenced the entire garden, I decided to start my end of season reviews with the overall harvest tally instead of finishing with it.

Memories of Summer

Thursday, December 24, 2015

We Wish You A Merry Christmas...

I'm listening to "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" on the radio right now.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Harvest Monday - December 14, 2015

This week's Harvest Monday post is short and sweet - one harvest, one photo.  Perennial bunching onions:

Evergreen Hardy Perennial Bunching Onions

Saturday, December 12, 2015

When Good Weather Is Bad

Little by little, the last of the gardening chores are being completed.

First up was the asparagus.  I had been waiting a very long time for the ferns to turn brown and the time finally arrived this past weekend:

Browned Asparagus Foliage

Monday, December 7, 2015

Harvest Monday - December 7, 2015

It's the beginning of December and I still have harvests to report.  I wish I could take credit for that, but I think most of it goes to Mother Nature - we have had some cold temps but also a lot of unusually warm weather.  It's 1C (34F) right now but it's supposed to go up to 11C (52F) this coming weekend - talk about a roller coaster!

I finally harvested the last 2 leeks - a mama and her baby:

Jolant Leeks

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Garden Bloggers Fling - Day 1 (Evening)

I had been planning to include our last destination in my Toronto Island post, but felt that it was long enough already, so I decided to do a separate post for the final event of the day - the Buzztini.

Destination #5 – Buzztini at the Fairmont Royal York

Bloggers were on their own for dinner that first day and then met back up at the Royal York for an apr├Ęs-dinner event, a Buzztini, which featured honey infused concoctions.  Unfortunately, I missed the presentation part of the evening – another blogger and I went for dinner at a local restaurant and there was an excessively long wait for our food.  How long is excessive?  We didn’t keep track of the time but it was well over an hour.  Even though we didn't complain (other than asking when our meal would be arriving a few times), the server must have also thought it was a bit much as she cut our bill in half with no prompting from us.  Very nice of them, but I was still very disappointed that we ended up missing out on the "bee talk".

The Royal York set up a honeybee aviary on its rooftop seven years ago, consisting of 6 hives.  Last year, a “bee hotel” was added in an effort to attract and provide a resting spot for wild bees, essential pollinators that have suffered a rapid decline in recent years.  We had a wonderful, albeit distant, view of the hives from the windows of the banquet room we were in:

Rooftop Bee Hotels

Monday, November 30, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 30, 2015

Looks like the winter jackets and boots are out for has been rather chilly.  Cold is relative, however - it's -1C (30F) right now which always feels a lot colder in November than in February.

We had a beautiful, crisp day yesterday and it was completely still - not even a slight breeze.  That prompted me to get out with the camera in the morning to get some frosty shots.

Frosty mint

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Garden Bloggers Fling - Day 1 (Afternoon)

Now that the garden is done and I have a bit more time, I'll be getting back to posting about the Garden Bloggers Fling I attended back in June of this year.  I've written about our Welcome Evening and how we spent the morning on Day 1 of the Fling.  Now on to the afternoon...

After a delicious lunch at High Park – did I mention how yummy the box lunches were? – we all got back onto the bus for the relatively short trek to the Ferry docks in the heart of downtown Toronto.

We were off to the Toronto Islands.

Destination #4 – The Toronto Islands

The Toronto Islands are a group of small islands just off the downtown waterfront.

Google Maps image of the Toronto Islands

Monday, November 23, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 23, 2015

Not much to report this week - only one basket of veg, which I harvested a couple of days before our recent cold snap:

Last of the tatsoi & broccoli together with a handful of mizuna

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 16, 2015

Only a few harvests in my basket this week, the first of which was another picking of mizuna plus the largest (which isn't very large at all) of the Kolibri kohlrabi:

Mizuna and Kolibri kohlrabi

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Soggy Mid-November Update

Fall weather is finally settling in and I have been busy cleaning up the beds, putting away trellises, mulching paths and doing the myriad of tasks that close out the season.  These soggy photos were taken yesterday & today, in between bouts of rain & gusty winds - you'll have to excuse the fuzzy quality.

All of the hilltop beds are tucked in for the winter.  I gave each of them a topping of compost but there are still a couple missing their sprinkling of grass.  I don’t like to leave the soil bare over the winter and grass stays put much better than straw, which tends to blow around.

Hilltop beds

Monday, November 9, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 9, 2015

This past week I finally harvested the carrots.  I had picked a couple earlier in the month and they seemed quite small – much smaller than they should have been considering I sowed them 4 months ago.

Small/normal sized carrots (left) were separated from the tiny ones (right)

Monday, November 2, 2015

Harvest Monday - November 2, 2015

This past week, we finally got around to shelling some of the beans that had been drying in the garage.  My daughter is not a fan of beans, but even she couldn’t keep her hands off of these guys:

Vermont Cranberry
Both kids found shelling the beans an additive task.  They should come with a warning, much like Lay’s potato chips…you can’t shell just one ;)

Monday, October 26, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 26, 2015

With my main focus being end of season cleanup, I have done very little actual harvesting this week.  In fact, I only harvested one thing – a whopping head of tatsoi:


Monday, October 19, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 19, 2015

We had our first frost on Saturday, a full 2 weeks past our first frost date of October 3rd.  We knew it was coming so I had a couple of days to prepare – I was a busy bee on Thursday and Friday as I harvested, pulled and covered.

A first frost means that this Harvest Monday post is all about lasts…

The last of the summer squash and eggplants:

Sure Thing & Romanesco summer squash; Ping Tung & Slim Jim eggplant

Saturday, October 17, 2015

First Frost

We finally had our first frost, exactly 2 weeks after our first frost date of October 3rd:

Marigolds with a layer of frost

Monday, October 12, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 12, 2015

Firstly - Happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there!  This is one of my favourite holidays.  Our family normally has a big dinner on Sunday but this year things are much more low key as my Dad is in the hospital, so we will be having a small, rather simple dinner this evening instead.  But even when times are tough and things don't go our way, we all still have so much to be thankful for, don't we?

Now on to the harvests - this week I harvested my first ever butternut squash:

Waltham Butternut Squash

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hilltop Update - Early October

The hilltop garden contains a variety of beds including 5 regular raised beds (one of which the kids are using), 3 asparagus beds plus one new bed for the blueberries.

This spring, berry canes were planted along the side of the hill - the blackberry canes run up the east side of the hill and the raspberries are on the west side.  These were only planted this past spring so the few raspberries we have been harvesting every couple of days or so have been a real treat:

Looks like we will be getting a few more in a day or two

Friday, October 9, 2015

Main Garden Update - Early October

I mentioned on my recent Harvest Monday post that this is the warmest end to the gardening season I can recall in recent years.  I have never had so many beds still in production at this time of year.  Mind you, I haven't done much fall planting before either, but still - out of 16 annual veg beds, only 4 are empty right now.  Here is an updated screenshot showing the weather for the coming week:

Screenshot:  The Weather Network
Looks like we are in for a few very nice days before temperatures drop to more seasonal levels.  I’m hoping that this warm weather gives me enough time to put most of the garden to bed without having to don a winter jacket.  Nothing detracts from that chore more than bone chilling temps.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Harvest Monday - October 5, 2015

Our weather is a bit warmer than usual for this time of year.  Here we are at the beginning of October and, surprisingly, there are still tomatoes, peppers, eggplant & summer squash to be harvested.  Our first frost date (October 3rd) has come and gone and no sign of frost yet, although our days do usually start off on a rather damp, chilly note.  Here is a screenshot of this week’s forecast from

Monday, September 28, 2015

Harvest Monday - September 28, 2015

After being away for a week, there was a bit of catch-up harvesting to get done.  But the best harvest was also the tiniest one:

First ever raspberry harvest
We ate the first ever berries from the raspberry canes I planted this past spring.  Yum yum!  We harvested a few more over the course of the week, but nothing weighable, so they are not included in the tally.

Friday, September 25, 2015

There's No Place Like Home

We just arrived home from 8 days in Walt Disney World and it was absolutely fabulous.  I hadn’t been there since I was a kid….waaaay back when Magical Kingdom was the only theme park.  That’s right, that far back.

Cinderella Castle at Magical Kingdom

Monday, September 14, 2015

Harvest Monday - September 14, 2015

We went from hot, hot, hot to sweater weather overnight.  This morning it was only 4C/40F, but it’s supposed to heat up again as of tomorrow, so I’m hoping that my warm weather veg keep going for a while longer.

This past week was a bit slow on the harvest front.  The first of the Stocky Red Roaster peppers were harvested and they were delicious!

Stocky Red Roaster & Melrose peppers
together with a couple of Sure Thing zucchini

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mid-September Update - Hilltop Beds

The hilltop beds are doing very well overall and I'm expecting some good harvests from them in the coming weeks.

The squash plants in the straw bales are starting to look amazing and I must say that I am more than a little surprised.

Straw Bales - Finally coming to life

Friday, September 11, 2015

Mid-September Update - Main Garden Beds

Things are going to be very busy for us in the next couple of weeks, so I thought I would slip in a mid-September update a bit early this time round.  There is still a lot going on in the garden, with some crops finishing and others just starting to size up.  I’m hopeful that I’ll still be getting a harvest of one sort or another until the end of October.

We have been without lettuce for over a month now and I’m really missing it.  My attempt at growing transplants last month was not overly successful and I ended up with only a few seedlings.  They are not that large yet, but I often find that lettuce is a bit slow to start and then, all of a sudden, it goes through a growth spurt.

Transplanted lettuce seedlings

Monday, September 7, 2015

Harvest Monday - September 7, 2015

The only term for the weather of late is sweltering.  Yesterday, the humidex was at 37C/99F and today it’s supposed to get up to 40C/104F…yuck!  I’m about ready for summer to end and am really looking forward to some cool fall breezes.  Still lots to do in the garden, but with temperatures like that, I’m not up for being outside for any length of time.

I did manage to do some harvesting this past week.  The tomatoes have gone from harvest to salvage expedition in the past few days.

Bloody Butcher, Opalka, Aunt Ruby's Yellow Cherry, Brandywine & Yellow Pear

Monday, August 31, 2015

Harvest Monday - August 31, 2015

I’ll start off with the biggest surprise this past week, literally:

Gargantuan Choy
That is a (not so) baby bok choy.  That's right, I said BABY choy, and we harvested two large heads this past week.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Garden Bloggers Fling - Day 1 (Morning)

The Garden Bloggers Fling was all about stimulating the senses – sight, smell, sound, touch and taste (those box lunches were so good!).  Originally I was going to write one post for each day, but since our schedule was jam packed with so many different destinations, I decided to break it up into morning & afternoon posts.

Most out-of-town flingers stayed at the Royal York, a historic & grand (which is really the best way to describe it) hotel in Toronto’s financial district.  Since I’m about 1 hour from the city, I opted to commute each day, either driving in or taking the GO train.

Royal York Hotel
as seen from the corner of Front & York

Monday, August 24, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

Mid-August Update - Main Garden Beds

This past month was about mulching.  I finally finished doing the paths in area #1 and the front of the house and now I have to move on to the paths in area #2, which I hope to finish this weekend.  But even with lugging all that mulch around, I was able to get some work done in the beds and start some fall crops.

I’ve picked all of the main broccoli heads and am now relying solely on side shoots.  Most are fairly tiny, but there is one plant that is producing huge ones:

Broccoli Side Shoots

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Mid-August Update - Hilltop Beds

Last Thursday, it rained...a lot.  How much is a lot?  This much:

My new rain gauge (courtesy of Bonnie Plants)
was included in my OTHER goodie bag from the Fling
Over 3.5 inches in 24 hours.  Of course, I had watered the garden the day before as the soil seemed quite dry.  These days, you just never know - half the time when they call for rain, we only end up getting a sprinkling or two.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Harvest Monday - August 17, 2015

This week there was one new, surprise crop that I didn’t expect to enjoy at all this season.  Corn.  That’s right – I actually picked a cob of corn.  Of the ground.  Because my corn muncher had severed a mini-cob right off one of the stalks.  And then left it there in the path – untouched.  I’m thinking this rules out a raccoon.

The miracle cob

Monday, August 10, 2015

Harvest Monday - August 10, 2015

Not a lot of harvesting was happening this past week as it was my son’s birthday & his party with his friends was on Saturday.  But I did have two very exciting, highly anticipated first harvests.

The one that literally made me dance around was the first of the potatoes – in this case, it was the first ever potato harvest as I have never grown them before:

First ever potato harvest - Yukon Gold
The large one weighed in at 386 grams (13.6 oz)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Garden Bloggers Fling - Welcome Evening at Lee Valley

I had said I would do a series of posts on the Garden Bloggers Fling and, wouldn't you know it, the summer has just been so busy, especially in the garden, that time has been in short supply.  Yes, I'm sure you're all shocked :)

The welcome party for the Garden Bloggers Fling was at Lee Valley Tools in downtown Toronto:

Lee Valley Tools on King Street West in Toronto

Monday, August 3, 2015

Harvest Monday - August 3, 2015

So what’s new this week?  Well, let me think….oh yes – a lot!

One of the most anticipated first harvests of the season:

First tomatoes of the season

Friday, July 31, 2015

Onion Update

Last year was my first time growing onions & it was so much fun.

Copra Onions - Mid-July 2015

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

What's Happening in the Garden - Mid-July - Part 2

Technically, it's the end of July, but since many of these photos were taken last week, I'll let the Mid-July heading stand ;-)

This year I was super late with the carrots.  I was originally going to try two sowings, but one will have to do.  My spring sown carrots last year really weren't the sweetest, so this will be a good comparison as they will all be maturing in the cooler fall weather.

The carrots were sown on June 29 and they took less than a week to germinate.  I direct sowed the carrots instead of using Granny’s seed mats like I normally do, just because I needed to get these in the ground quickly.  Once the seeds had germinated, I removed the Agribon (which I used to cover the bed so that the soil stays moist) and I sprinkled the bed with diatomaceous earth.  A couple of years ago, I lost all of my summer sown carrots to slugs and I didn’t want a repeat of that this year.

Carrots - 4 weeks

Monday, July 27, 2015

Harvest Monday - July 27, 2015

We are in for a heat wave this week, with highs of 30C+ (86F) & a humidex in the mid to high 30’s (closing in on 100F).

The Royal Red lettuce had already bolted last week and a couple of Simpson Elite’s followed suit.  I decided to harvest all the lettuce in the bed as I really didn’t want to lose it to the hot weather.

Pinares, Simpson Elite & Sierra MI

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What's Happening in the Garden - Mid-July - Part 1

It's high time I review what is happening in the beds as I didn't get around to posting an update in June.  You'll have to excuse some of the photos as I took many of them during a sunny, windy day - not exactly the best picture taking weather.

The tomatoes are doing ok considering I sowed them a month later than last year.  This is what they looked like in mid-June:

Tomato bed in mid-June
The netting was my way of making the bed a bit less attractive to rabbits before the fencing was complete.  And here are the tomato beds now:

Tomato Beds

Monday, July 20, 2015

Harvest Monday - July 20, 2015

There was one very pretty newcomer to the harvest basket this past week – Peppermint Swiss chard:

Peppermint Chard (left); Fordhook Giant (right)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Straw Bales - The Experiment That Was Not

Ok, so let me say right off the bat that this year I cheated when it came to the straw bales & now I'm paying the price.  I made all of these extensive notes and was going to follow a particular conditioning method.  And then it all went out the window when I got bogged down with other gardening tasks.

What I was doing was “choosing” to go with a statement that I found on a website that I can't for the life of me find now.  I'm fairly certain it was an extension services site & it stated that if you leave the straw bales out all winter – which I did – they would be automatically conditioned and ready to go come planting time in the spring.

I did do a couple of things before planting the seedings – I topped the bales with some compost and I added some granulated organic fertilizer.  Then I tried to keep the bales constantly moist - I would stick my finger into a bale & if it felt dry, I watered.  I also fed them once per week with fish emulsion.

I had planned on having 5 straw bales, 4 from last year and I was going to purchase another one.  Then I realized that the recommended number of plants per bale was 3 for summer squash and 2 for winter squash.  Seemed a bit much, considering how large squash are supposed to grow, but since it would make my life easier as I wouldn't need to purchase any more bales, I decided to follow the recommendation.

And these are the bales today:
Straw Bales Planted with Squash
Pretty pathetic isn't it.  You would think that I had just planted these out as seedlings, but in fact, they were planted out a month ago.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Darn Figs

So the other day, I was out shopping at a store that sets up a temporary garden centre during the summer.

As I walked to the entrance, I saw this:

Can't pass up a sale

Monday, July 13, 2015

Harvest Monday - July 13, 2015

There were a few exciting harvests this week, two of which I’m particularly happy about.  It was actually a bit difficult to decide which of them was to get first billing, but I figured that this honour would go to the prettiest harvest – chamomile:

1st Chamomile Harvest

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Hilltop Plan - A WIP

Last week I did a post on what is now growing in the hilltop beds.  This time round, I thought I would do a bit of an overview on the hilltop "renovation" in general.  We are not even halfway done the area at this point, but I know I will want to see the progress in the future, warts and all - and there are plenty of warts.
When we moved here, the hilltop was a weed & vine infested mess with a huge 6’ fire pit in the middle.  We would run the mower over the weeds every once in a while but that was about it.  We really didn't want to spend any time or money on this area until we knew what we wanted to do with it.

So this is what we started with:

Before - Facing west
You can see the load of soil I moved up there last fall on the right &
the plant debris filled fire pit in the middle

Monday, June 29, 2015

Harvest Monday - June 29, 2015

Rain, rain and more rain – that pretty much covers what’s been happening in the last couple of days.
And rain is good…until it’s too much.

When is it too much?  When I harvest my cherries and realize that most of them have split, that’s when:

Some may be cracked but still yummy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Hilltop Beds Update

I have been feeling under the weather lately, having had two colds since the beginning of June and now an ear infection...I actually spent most of the day in bed yesterday and still slept soundly last night which shows me how exhausted I was.  And if that wasn't bad enough, my husband's back is now out after moving a huge log over the weekend and then using the weed wacker in the paths between my raised beds (boy do I feel guilty about that!) - with me moping around and him all hunched over, we were a sorry sight yesterday evening, let me tell you!

This morning, I felt quite a bit better and figured I would finally finish a post I started last week giving a little tour of the hilltop beds.  In case you’re wondering about the Bed #’s, they are sequential & start in the main vegetable garden area.

I still have a ton of work to complete on the hilltop (which I will do a separate post about) so please ignore the grass and weeds :)

Bed #17 - Potatoes

The potatoes are growing like crazy.

6 varieties of potatoes are growing in this bed


Monday, June 22, 2015

Harvest Monday - June 22, 2015

This is the final week of school for my kids, which is always a hectic time.  Even so, I have been able to do quite a lot of work in the garden & am finally getting around to mulching the paths in my main garden bed area.  I have so many different things on the go in the garden right now and have started a few update posts, but it's been difficult to find the time to finish them up.  I'll have to do a push this week to get at least one or two posted.

I also did a lot of harvesting over this past week & I’m so happy that the greens have finally started to flow.  No lettuce yet – I suppose I could have harvested some baby lettuce leaves, but I had plenty of other greens to tide us over, so I decided to leave them.  The harvest on those will start this coming week.

The first harvest of NCK came out of the garden this week.

Siberian Kale