Monday, 21 August 2017

Green!

This cool wet summer has really made everything green (except perhaps tomatoes), and the leafy greens are loving it. But the amount and size of fruit is drastically lacking. 

Fence Panels

One of my favourite things in the garden is fence panels. They galvanized and don't rust and strong enough to hold squash and pumpkins on them.I bought them at TSC stores on sale for about $35. The biggest challenge was getting 16' panels home!

I decided to go with gothic shaped arches, so I measured half way and put a bend in them.  To pin them to the ground, I used 3' re-bar... perhaps overkill.

I pinned the edges about 3-4 feet apart The result is I can walk under them comfortably, while picking whatever I am growing on them. Gravity tends to make the produce hang downwards, making beans and tomatoes a cinch to pick. This one got butternut and gem squash growing on it.


Friday, 4 August 2017

Need Your Help

Well the city of Toronto is considering a Giant step forward into modern times. Back in the 1950's, the city wanted to be... well a City. So they passed a bylaw that prohibited keeping farm animals as pets. I can keep a tiger, snake, pigeon whatever, but not a chicken or a duck per this bylaw. While a 5 foot massif dog that yelps all day is allowed, a chicken or duck is not.

My constituent city counselor though is leading a vote to legally allow a few chickens. Hopefully they will consider ducks as well. He has a poll on though, and needs some votes. Please vote at http://www.councillordiciano.ca/
On the right, scroll down and be heard.

Thank you

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Toadaly Stoked

Well as I mentioned before, I am more included to follow permiculture styled gardening than any other. In fact I found myself thinking I follow a 18th century diet - eating only fruit or veggies in season. yes, I have got a bit of square foot gardening mixed in with french intensive. But I try not spray anything, including organic sprays and am trying to create a natural balance. Although I already added water and the ducks as the predators, and the garden is now full of birds and recently a chipmunk has moved in (and enjoyed my currants and other berries).

But I wanted to introduce more wild life and no toads or frogs seemed to have being attracted as of yet. So when a friend, Anne, at work caught a few toads and brought them into the office, I was ecstatic. Keeping them alive from the ducks may be tough, but with lots of hiding places, they should be fine.

If only I could keep the ducks from dragging the mulch into the pond and the stop the raccoons from pulling out the pump?

Now anyone know were I can find a garter snake?

July Update

Toronto first half of summer has being far cooler than usual and with far higher rainfall.  The garden has responded with masses of lush green, yet lower than normal fruit for heat loving plants. 
Its around this time of the year that I get tiered of summer squash, but this year I have have massive bushes and yet very limited zucchini's. The potatoes plants are looking good, in the new boxes, but I have yet to dig in them to see how the potatoes are developing. The masses of zucchini plants have nearly killed my artichokes by crowding.

Garlic harvest was a few weeks earlier this year and it seems to have really loved the cooler wetter weather. Yes people, I dont plait it, but tie it in bunches of 5's to cure. 

In the garlic's place, I planted a bunch of mustard as it is within the ducks territory and they not fans of the spicier mustard. Most of my lettuce started turning to seed and some new plants are just emerging. I want to collect some seeds from the lettuce, and am going to leave it fully turn to seed. The new broccolini is far larger than I anticipated and I have some major crowding out going on. In particular my purple peacock broccoli which is much much smaller. 

My kale is also liking the cooler wetter weather. Dino kale less so.

Morogo is a South African  leafy green of the amaranthus family.  That I found some seeds for. I had eaten it there before and wanted to try grow some. Its currently about my height!

Now for a few things that are not doing as well. Tomatoes are very late this year. I also have some vines that are very stunted and only a few hitting the 6 foot range so far.
Pepper plants look happy, but the fruit as well has being slow to ripen. This year I am trying some new peppers and although the Jamaican chocolate seeds, dont seem to be growing true to type at all (pretty sure something wrong with these seeds) my Padron peppers have being wonderful. I leaving a few to mature for additional seeds for next season. By Now I should be enjoying some grilled eggplant, but the plants are surprisingly absent of fruit.
Lastly my winter squash is soo slow and the fruit just starting on a few of the vines.


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

Expansion

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!