Friday, 31 May 2013

Robbing Robins

Well with all the heavy flash rain 2 days ago causing the DVP highway to turn into a river and then suddenly 30 degree days and 18 degree nights, we have high humidity and accelerated growing time.  Its also causing some plants to bolt early. I am excited about the mustard bolting as it is something I really want seeds from.

As I ate my bagel this morning, I watched as 5 robins did the rounds of my back yard. In the 5 minutes while I chewed no less than 3 worms were caught,stretched, chewed and swallowed. Usually shared with the mate or baby following a few feet behind the colorful male. Under the wood-chips there always seems to be a worm, but at that rate, I hope I dont run out!

30 May
Garlic Scapes
Now I planted some early garlic in mid October and some late garlic in mid November. The early garlic is smaller and already growing scapes. I also lost a few and so they are far wider spaced. My new garlic plant date - mid November as those plants are looking like trees.

looks like a cauliflower
Under shelter of my Ikea net curtain row cover, some of my lost labeled basilicas are starting to flower. Why does it look like I have 5 or 6 cauliflowers, did my dice role up all mostly cauliflower or will they look different when they grow up? (I planted cauliflower, sprouting broccoli, Romanesque broccoli, leaf broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale and then lost the labels)

I have plenty of cilantro, lettuce, mustard and pak choy. My walking onions (next year must remember green onions early) to eat. Its not squash, zucchini, peppers and tomato yet and asparagus is tiny after the pest problem of last year. But I can still make a oversize salad BBQ with a couple pork chops, some mince and a french loaf.

Mom, promise I am not starving!

Monday, 20 May 2013

27 Degrees Baby!

Well a hot weekend with temperatures reaching up to 27 degrees.  So how are things growing in 20 days? Lets look

30 April
20 May
My tomatoes that I put in the ground much larger than the potted and seem to look like the ready to start flowering. Peppers are not growing anywhere near the same speed.
Tomatoes 20 May
Finally I had my bird buddy do a comparison on "back to Eden woodchip bed vs mels mix raised bed brasillica
Raised Bed

Wood Chipped Bed

Friday, 17 May 2013

May 2/4

Well this weekend is May 2/4 long weekend. The "official" opening of cottages, planting and start of summer. Just about everything except my  Belgium giant tomato, Okra and some squash are in the ground so not much left for me to plant.  11 Tomatoes and 33 peppers plants so far.  Tomatoes only have 1 foot of trellis, but 18 inches root area. I will need to do a lot of training and pruning.

I can pretty much pull together a small salad every day already from outside leaves of lettuce, pak choy and mustard. Chives since I forgot to plant spring onions. The mustard is now my big find, I love it. In the garden its deeper purple and is  hotter tasting than the cold frame. I will let some go to seed. In my "mostly" mels mix raised beds, the basilicas are huge, while my back to eden wood-chip bed, they tiny. I did only put the chips down this year though and they should have gone  on in the fall. Perhaps next year I will have my answer on which one is better. 2 tomatoes I planted in the raised beds look like they may be developing flowers. 

I collected those seedlings that I do not have space for,  and some that I lost labels for etc, and put them in a in out front. I offer them to the neighbors just in case they have space and want them. This will be the weekend most will be planting out and I live on a street where most have a vegetable garden.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Pear Blossoms

I forget every year that pears are my favorite blossoms in excitement for the earlier apricot. This year my rather hard pruned asian pear is making a show of it. Whats worse is I don't know if there is a pollinator in the neighborhood.
My Asian Pear

Down the road they have a couple of these in the front yard. I think its a weeping cherry. Spectacular!

Suspected weeping

Monday, 6 May 2013

Floating Row Covers

Well, my floating row cover build turned far more fun than one could imagine. I wanted a modular system and one that could pack down and be stored behind the shed. One that would work in my square foot garden and one that could be used in other beds. Finally I wanted tio potential to cover with plastic as well to extend the fall growing season.

The actual row cover itself was difficult to find.  I could order online at William Dams, or drive there and back in 2 hours. In the end I settled for Ikea net curtain that was on sale for $6, - its very flimsy and tears easily, and not idea how it will handle the sun, but it wont run. Its on my list for purchase next time.

Modular and fitting into my Square foot garden meant, no wood frames. I started off buying the usual electrical PVC piping, that is somewhat UV protected and cheap. $3,80 a 10 foot piece. I added a few rebars and as a tester, a copper plumbing pipe. After a few cuts, decided 8 foot was the right length. I cut the rebar into 2 foot pieces and pushed them into the ground, till only 3 or 4 inches stuck up.I then placed one end of the conduit in it, and bent it over to a inserted it on the rebar on the other end. Cut one of my 2 curtains in half gave me just about 5 x 8 foot and lay it over the "ribs". Now how to fasten it?? I used the broad last 1 inch end of piece of the offcut, that usually joins pipe. I cut twice so it was C shaped and not O and pegged or clipped on the cover. I landed up going back to buy 1 size bigger conduit pipe to cut many clips. Here was the result.

My Row New Covers
 Only time, sun and wind will let me know how these hold up to the elements. They only 4x4 feet  and wide open on the sides, so really dont limit anything. As I understand it it scares off the butterfly/moth more, but that is yet to be seen. I can at least get in there to weed or whatever.

Now if noticed, the middle rib is copper of the first row cover. This was my permanent rib idea. Copper gets a lovely patina and is slug repellant. to much could possibly leek into the soil, but if I moved them every so often it should not happen. bending copper is not easy, nor is the pipe cheep. I used the PVC and a old piece of plywood and along the bend, screwed in a bunch of screws. Then removed the PVC and bent the copper pipe on the "pattern" I had made.
Copper Rib Bender
The copper rib fits nicely over the rebar as well and the thinner conduit made a great peg or clip when cut into a C. It does not necessarily feel that much stronger, but it looks much better and should be US and weather resistant far longer than the PVC. I really like it and may be doing more and just leaving them up when not in use. They not in the way in the square foot garden.

I did not cover all my Brasilicas, I think I will let some get eaten a bit and hopefully encourage natural predators. Over plant if you would.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Planting out (4th May)

Yes - Yes, I know I said the 15 of May and Yes, I may be severely punished for this. But such a beautiful day yesterday and 24 in forecast for today. My neighbour already has his air-conditioner running. Nighttime low above 10 in forecast all week, and soil temperatures in at 15 degrees. I was puttering outside and decide the moment had come.

No small part of this was the realization that I needed to up-pot a lot of things. Second was that tomatoes and peppers in peat pots where much smaller than those in regular terracotta pots. I will not be using peat again and perhaps I should consider plastic pots which hold the water better than terracotta. Less "organic" perhaps.

So added to the beds
8 Ping Tung Eggplants
30 Pepper Plants (mix of sweat and hot)
5 Tomato plants (about half I intend to plant)
8 Squash/zucchini (8 Ball, summer, portofino zuch, another zuch??,  straight-neck, spaghetti squash, butternut)
Cipollini, Candy and Wala Wala onions (2nd Batch)

My Muscat grapes seem to be dead still, no sign of budding, although the seedless one is. Otherwise only my Persimmon is not got leaves or flowers. The asian pear is about to burst.

I also drilled holes in some end peaces of 6 x 6 and screwed them onto the shed and near the compost for insect hideouts. I am not sure they will hide in treated lumbar, but we will see.

4 May
I took this picture while the BBQ was on and I managed my first 100% back yard salad. Mostly from the cold frame as you can see the mustard here is still pretty small. Left is my kohlrabi, mustard, french grey shallots, garlic, then broccoli etc you cant see. Second bed starts on left with Pak choy and way in background up against the trellis is my Tomato's. I have over 100 garlic this year, what was I thinking???

Sitting back on the deck having my BBQ, watching birds chase each other around, I see a pretty white butterfly. All idyllic bliss. Then it hits me, cabbage moth!!!! I dont have row covers up yet. So Today, that is my project, try put up some row covers and hope that the eggs are not already laid.

Saturday, 4 May 2013


With all the promise and hope for spring, I know think I know why May was named May. May it be a wonderful season. My phone camera simply cannot do this picture justice and the white magnolia tree down the road was breath taking (the smell too)
Apricot confetti
Bad drivers in convertibles, people wearing outrageous shorts, patio restaurants and children on bikes everywhere. Mixed in with pleasant tweets and not so pleasant squawks of the animals and wild life. Smells of flowers, stink of manure, fresh mowed lawn and BBQ.

4 Growing degree days and look at it. I put in a couple tomato and peppers, the rest in my  cold frame still, but with the week sitting at 20's and the nights at 10 it is about time, although now we early for my targeted mid May planting. I keep the rest till then. Lettuce, garlic, peas, Fava, onions etc all up and green in the beds. The pear is right on the verge of flowering and the apple is leafing out. Freshly mowed lawn has white apricot blossoms all over.
Greening up
May my harvest this year, be a good one.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Day

Well, although I trying to keep a record of the weather each year, a picture says a thousands words. I walked into the back yard and wow, spring really has hit. 22 degrees, popcorn apricot tree, lush grass and leaves and buds everywhere. And I supposed to work at a screen in this weather????

1 May