Tuesday, 23 May 2017

May 24 Update

Well I have being less than great at updating my blog. Yes, busy at work and in the garden... But this blog was more about a journal of my growing and a record of what I learned than for publicity,

First the ducks have had to change a few things. Duck fences! Yes they block a bit of light and warm, but some plants don't stand a chance if I don't give them a chance.

Those are my Romance series cherries on the left. My squash box at the end. In the duck fence there is zucchini, fava beans and I am trying some artichokes this year (Green Globe). The new potato boxes in the front. I just added some compost and a layer to - yes keep the ducks from pecking.

The ducks summer house in the background. The duck fences on the left and Garlic is doing very well this year. we have had a very wet cold spring. The white trellis on the right I grew tomato's on last year and this year is slotted for beans. Behind it is my potting bench, less rain back there due to a tree overhang from the park behind my house.
Here is a view with only one bed behind me of my main growing area. The cow panels I added were all made into Gothic arches. They have really being the best investment yet. I bought the half price at $35 a 16'x 4.5' panel. In a arch they give me 4.5' x 16 growing space in 4x 4.5 planting space - oh and my path takes 2'x4.5 feet of that space. Gothic arch as is more my garden. Just stand in the middle and bend, then pin the 4 corners with a stake. Best of all is harvesting. The fruit hands down from, making harvesting on an arch much better than vertical.
Tomatoes on the right, then peppers. Lettuce at the back, peppers and then kale this year.

I got a few roots of "comfrey block 14". I planted it first outside the duck fence, and had to rescue it. I dug it out and replant in a pot inside the "duck fence" I hope its genuine block 14, but if its not, the ducks will kill it if its not. It looks like it will flower though. at some point it needs a permanent home.

Lastly, my Haskaps or Honey Berries were really slow to get establishes. this is here 4th year and they had great growth. The berries are shaping up to be much bigger as well. Unless its the cooler wetter weather.

So far I have made 1 week eating off the garden. Mostly greens. I made a big mistake this year in planting kale in cardboard seed containers bought cheap in the dollar store. I thought I could plan them with less disturbance on the roots. They did really badly and so my lettuce this year has worked better than my kale.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

New Potato Boxes

Well I made some boxes which worked fine for the last 3 years. I just wanted to increase the height and hopefully the harvest.This time I wanted them taller than a duck can reach as the ducks tend to peck on the leaves (and I thought potato leaves were poison).

This time I bought some cedar deck boards. Much lighter and should be more resistant to rot. I cut 4 pieces of square 1.5" wood the same length as the width of the board. This I screwed to the board, with a slight offset. The offset being the width of the 1.5" piece.

 All the cedar deck boards were cut to 2 feet. This was more my limit to size than anything. I then used the 1.5" piece to screw the other 2 sides to it, to make a square. (ok yes not a perfect square, but who's measuring.

Repeat 4 times. And then stack them. Well, not yet. I start with 2 and stack and add the other 2 later once the potatoes are above the 3 and 4 square height
The offset 1.5" pieces prevent the squares from shifting and the whole thing is rather sturdy. my last box reached only to about the 3rd level and I was able to get a bucket of potatoes per box. lets see what I can get this time.

I lost my seed potatoes this year, when the basement fridge packed up. I really liked the Ratte potatoes and could not find any to order this year. I will keep my eyes out to find some for next.

My soil temperature is already 13.5 degrees Celsius and so I have planted out lettuce, kale, rappini, and peas after hauling to truck loads of mushroom compost into the garden.

Sunday, 20 March 2016


Well, running out of space in spring to start my seeds indoors has become a "thing". This winter I spent some time looking at LED lights to see if I could replace my florescence I currently use to start seeds.

To add space I found a $50 pantry on sale at Canadian Tire, its 60" high, has 4 shelves each of 2 foot - the exact size of a regular grow tray. I had bought a couple 2 foot florescent grow lights, but the power plug on the side made them not fit. I could have used a couple 23 watt compact florescence, I may try it as a compare still.

But like gardening, I could try learn something new. So I bought a few "full spectrum" LED's on ebay. With a few heat sinks and and drivers, I made my first LED lights. Overheated 2 days later and went funky. Now I am not very good soldering and creating electronics, but I had to try again. So I dropped the number of LEDs per heat sync and tried again. The LED's I am using are 3 watt, 3 per Heatsink making 27 watts per light (in theory). Wish I had a meter. Now I have always read that these things run cool, but the dont! They still way to hot, so I added a fan, but its still hot. fan should be good for the plants anyhow. The LED's themselves are pretty cheap, so lets see if this lasts.

Here are my 1 week old tomato seedlings in my new closet, and very pink lights. Not sure I should risk them, in this experiment, but there is only one way to test if they work. with 2 of these 27 watt LED's, on the 2 foot x 1 foot shelf, that is 27 watts theory per foot. plenty. But without knowing the actual watts its a bit harder be so certain.

Next ouple weeks I will make the other 3 shelves - maybe dropping it down to 2 LED's per heatsink... we will see if these last. In the mean time I have a small place, that takes as many trays (4) as my grow table and can be used to store the containers for the rest of the year. This may be the way to go!

Monday, 14 March 2016

On Spring 2016

Every year I say I am going to build a or buy a weather recorder. Something to track my own back yards micro climate.  Those Raspberry Pi sound good. What gardener would not want a raspberry or Pie.

This Saturday though we had a record breaking 18 degrees. A total melt and workable soil before Saint Patty's day. The next week does not look too bad in the forecast, so I worked the beds, and planted Peas and a few really early kale seedlings. The tulips and daffodils are up, but not yet blooming. The ducks - in a frenzy. Nothing like last year.

Good thing I started this Blog as a reminder and log of what I learn

New Seed Starting Trials

Well every winter I go a little squirely and order more seeds than I can grow in 5 years in my limited garden space. The desire to try new things and learn the much forgot art of the garden. Art it is - as it is not as simple as putting seeds in dirt and spraying some water on them. There is so many subtleties. Much like any art.

This year I did a little trawling on LED lights to see if I could have a better jump on spring indoors. Maybe keep a few plants alive during winter. Although the lights idea has not really taken off as hoped (some cooling issues on my initial design). I came across "non-woven seedling bags)" on aliexpress for 100 bags for $3. The idea of planting seeds then not disturbing the plant roots when planting out appealed to me. The idea of not dealing with reused pots won me over. So I ordered a couple lots and tested them all but seeds needing heat as the bags are a bit deep.

New Grow bags
I bought cheap shoe boxes in a bundle from home depot. 5 for $2 as the grow containers to keep them from falling over. They extra helpful as these things are thirsty. You need a lot of water frequently.

The results though are impressive. The roots auto prune when they grow pass the bag, they deep enough to support a good few weeks growth (I thought). This is 2 weeks in for kale. I doubt I got 2 weeks left till these need to find larger bags or soil

Now if I could use top heat, these would be great for eggplant and peppers! Or perhaps just as second pots. The one down side is the time it takes to stuff them. Its a bit more work than pots. That said, its very therapeutic playing with the soil in winter.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


Well Last year I bought 4 "gourmet" fingerling potatoes to try. This year, I regrew from my own seed stock 2 of them.  Ratte and Pink fir apple. If you ask which one I prefer, its probably Ratte. I grow them in 2x2 foot double stacked wood boxes. This allows me to just lay the potatoes down, then add soil as they grow. This year, Ratte gave me some potato seeds, which I have to try next year. Perhaps this give me some gene diversity.

What is amazing about potatoes is just how prolific they are. No wonder they rapidly became the staple crop of most of Europe.  From a single 2 x 2 foot potato box, I got nearly a full bucket full of Ratte this year, and a 3/4 for Pink Fir. With 4 boxes planted, that's more than enough potatoes for me most likely all year. Given the squash I being growing.

Speaking of squash, I already thinking of my next years crop. Suggestions anyone. My South African Gem squash was extremely did very well this year, but my others did not do that well. For the most part though, my garden suffered from Duck feeding. The little monsters ate every thing from squash leaves to Pepper leaves. Never mind lettuce etc.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Happy Canada Day!

Romance Series Cherries
Ok the pictures were taken around then, even if it took me a week to get this posted. Its being a cooler and wetter than usual spring and the ducks have done more damage than I ever imagined. Still some things are coming along.

No longer am I cherry starved, as my Romance series cherry bushes have after 3 years started to produce. Not a huge crop, but tasty treat that is most definitely worth having a few. The bushes got their first prune and are most are now chest height. They are suckering a bit, but my intent was to create a hedge dividing my vegetable garden from my lawn and smaller garden. They flower, fruit and offer colour. why would one not want a few?

Forgotten Seedless grape
Another first is my seedless grapes. The muscat varieties on my trellis seemed to not have set, but the seedless grapes look like I will get a bunch or two this year. These I planted 3 years ago as well now. I bought them from a retired gentleman in orangeville than traded scions. These seedless being a recommendation on and afterthought.

Purple Peacock Broccoli
Although I am fairly strict on only buying heirloom vegetables, preferring their taste for one. That said, I will buy open pollinated like this purple peacock broccoli I tried this year. As you can see, some gardener has being eaten it raw, giving it little chance to flourish. Having had little luck with regular Broccoli (lots of leaf and little head), this may be a keeper.

Squash Trellis
Another thing that is new this year is my squash Trellis concept. I actually built a few of these. Just 2 feet by 2 feet and 5 feet high, my hope is than I can grow a vineing squash in as little as 4 square feet. since I have a few I am trying this year, and its part of my "extend into winter plan" plan, I have high hopes for it. I side benefit seems to be the ducks stay out!

Last years success on gourmet finger potatoes, is something I am keen to continue. The pink fir and ratte being my favourite, were stored in the bottom of the fridge to see if year 2 would produce. One the ducks have taken to eating, but the other is looking good.


This years cabbage for my sauerkraut and Kim-chi has being mixed bag. The Chinese cabbage did  very well, but got eaten by the slugs and earwigs in the damp. The red cabbage has also not done well. These thick leaved varieties though are looking good. (except for the one the ducks somehow managed to get to). Lettuce and pak choy I have none, after the brake in. I also had a lot of Zucchini and bush bean damage.

I have planted a few flats including a new batch of cabbage to plant out in the next couple weeks. My second season crop.

So far, I am not starving, but the ducks are making life a little more difficult. Especially since I got them to eat the bugs and not the veggies. That said, they come running when I arrive home, hoping for a worm or some other treat, "ducking" their heads and making offering quiet the applause. I also had a egg from DD almost every day since March.

Monday, 29 June 2015

June Update

Its amaizing how fast things get going once they going. That said, I sick of rapini and turnip tops and looking forward to some tomatoes and peppers