Sunday, 29 July 2012

Chore Log for 1st Week of August

This summer is going by much too quickly! Due to the cool start we had, it seems like summer has just begun and yet here we are, almost in August, the last month of summer!  Yikes!

Canada Long Roma-style paste tomatoes...
Quirky looking, huh?

This past week, my short week, my baby girl has been here... therefor, very little was accomplished besides the constant watering :(

In my usual hopeful way, I kinda thought that with her help so much more would be tackled ...
This never happens, of course, but I do this wishful thinking every time she comes home ... 

Instead we shopped and then we shopped some more, ran all around town picking up stuff in preparation for her upcoming humanitarian volunteer trip to Bogota, Columbia :)

Hey, so it goes...  life is surely too short to not take time to smell the roses... or to hang out with your baby ;)

Therefore, as she leaves on Monday, I will need to put a push on the garden clean up when I'm on my own again...

Hot Cocoa florbunda roses

In The Potager 
Many crops beds are slowly being harvested and beds emptied.
- Plant winter veggies, onions and carrots, from seed
- Plant some empty beds with flowers and ornamentals... the others, just weed and leave alone till top-dressed in fall.
- Prune back bottom foliage on tomato plants
- Keep harvesting Sweet Peas, so that they continue to bloom
- Water with compost tea
- Transplant Hydrangea into wash tub
- pot up strawberry runners?

Garlic curing in the shade of the carport

Small Fruits Berm
- continue picking raspberries and blueberries as they ripen
- make raspberry jam
- weed/vinegar spray the mulched berm
- Prune out some of the older canes on the black currant once all fruit has been picked
- Prune back fruited raspberry canes

The raspberry patch... two years old
Greenhouse and Nursery
- Cut back Alchemilla mollis (Lady's Mantle) before it sets seed everywhere
- Dahlias, Gladioli, and Sweet Peas are all blooming away, cut lots of bouquets for the house...  Hah, such a dreadful chore, eh?  ;)
- Deadhead roses and lilies
- Water raised beds this week. I am not one to water perennials much, only water every 2nd or 3rd week.
- Move herb seedlings outdoors once they have sprouted.

I see the first little Morden Midget heirloom Eggplant beginning to grow ... yay!

In General
- Water all hanging baskets and planters thoroughly, till water drips from the bottom, daily
- Feed all baskets and planters once or twice a week or they will quickly burn out and stop flowering!
- Continue to spray weeds in driveway and sides of beds, with vinegar spray, in the hopes that between the heat, the dryness, and the vinegar, they will die off!
- Feed roses, shrubs, trees (do not do this anymore in Alberta! or your plants will not shut down in time for your harsh winter)
- Remove suckers! Do not keep the suckers, they are from the rootstock and are not the flowering/fruiting rose or tree that you love and admire!
- Keep weeding all beds and borders
- Weed out dandelions from the front lawn.
- Deadhead and pinch everywhere to promote more blooms and tidy plants.

Feed your planters to keep them blooming!

Hmm, time to order more bulbs?...  Is always so nice to have blooming daffs, hyacinths. muscari, scilla, crocus, and tulips each spring after what seems like an endless winter!
... and I do so love to plant up pots and pots and more pots with all kinds of bulbs for fabulous, colourful spring blooms!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

The Short List! Chore Log Week #4 of July

Whew, things are really going to have to be short listed this week, as here we are, many days late with the chore log. 

Holy Moly Macaroni! Cut back these really happy Striped Marvel Marigolds!
Allow the tomatoes to see some sunshine!

Hubby and I ran away from home for a few days of r&r, as our Baby Girl (yes, I know she's in her 20's ;) was able to stay and help out with puppy sitting and plant watering. One cannot take a 'Little Lilah everywhere, much as I would love to, nor can one walk away from gardens and greenhouses that need watering daily. Good thing we have a lovely little baby girl!

It was truly fun to get out there to snoop around at some of the lovely, little nurseries in the greater Victoria area. Much prefer to shop at and support these wonderful, out-of-the-way, little mom and pop nurseries to the big chain stores, especially at this time of year. The big guys tend to carry and sell very seasonally, whereas the little guys sell fun stuff throughout the entire growing season.  

I highly recommend, if in the area, that you all go scope out Down To Earth Gardens and Nursery in Metchosin. Such a super cute place with incredibly great staff and great plants! Also, check out Lynne's Little Elf Garden Centre in Langford. Totally fab plants, plus an amazing gentleman on staff! He loves to talk plants and show you where to find all the really great, fun stuff!

We also hit a few gift shops and antique barns along the way.... got some great little treasures for both the home and the greenhouse. What fun! If you buy tomatoes from me next month, you will get to see, up close, this great antique scale I found to weigh my goods! Chemainus Antique Emporium!
And boy... I sure am lucky that the Mister doesn't mind poking around at these obscure little places with me :)

Lavender and Cream Perennial Bed
Is starting to look really good. The Pee Gee hydrangea's have filled right out, the Bloodgood Japanese Maple has a lovely shape and form to it, and the perennials are filling in, too.
- still needs a bit of weeding, those thistles just keep coming up.

Long Perennial Bed
- Remove Salal
- Thin out Lupin seedlings
- Add llama manure to roses? Hmm, do I have enough?

Picked up some lovely Llama Poop at the Farmer's Market in Duncan :)

In The Potager
Yay, we are now harvesting potatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, peas, onions, shallots, kale, basil, cabbage, cucumbers...
- Too many raised beds to water daily, water half the beds one day, half the next... repeat till summer ends ;)
- Lift the garlic and lay out to cure, under the carport. Garlic needs to cure in the shade as it will cook and spoil in a sunny spot.
-  Daughter has harvested the last of the strawberries, now they all need to be cut back, weeded, thinned out, runners removed in Honeoye bed, runners planted in Totem bed.
- Pull winter onions and set out to cure.
- Think I am now ready and able to thin out and cut back the Dianthus, finally!

These are my 'Winter Onions' with the two types of garlic in behind.
Let me know if you are interested in buying some fresh garlic ;)

In The Greenhouse and Nursery
- Still watering daily
- Fertilise one week with Reindeer Liquid Seaweed as a foliar feed, the next with Gaia Green Tomato food.
- Harvest cukes
- Deadhead roses and perennials
- Sweep daily, pull weeds, rake as needed
- Remove Lungo della Cina cucumber as it is just growing bitter fruits and is very prone to powdery mildew, therefore spreads it to the other cukes.

Bonus task  ... Make pickles in the new (to-me) antique pickle crock that I found in Chemainus on our r&r trip!
Going to try Bobbie Flay's Fridge Pickle recipe first!... but more on that next week!

Hot Cocoa floribunda rose

Small Fruits Bed
- Try to remember to water pumpkins weekly
- Harvest the black currants

Our Fruit Orchard consists of a few apple, pear, plum and cherry trees...
All of the fruit trees are very young, some going into their second summer, some into their third, so we do not yet expect much, if any, fruit off of them as of yet.
The entire property is only 2.5 years old, having started completely from raw land.
However, the cherries did actually fruit a wee little bit this year, so we were able to harvest a few handfuls each, of Rainier and Sweetheart cherries this past week. What a lovely feeling indeed :)

Sweetheart and Rainier cherries from out own little fruit trees :)

Huge Lemon Oxheart tomatoes

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Powdery Mildew

Just a quick note to say ...

Now is the time to really be on your guard against nasty powdery mildew.

With our hot days and then cool nights, I have noticed that the dew point is really high in the mornings. It is during this time that powdery mildew really takes off like mad.


Please do NOT ever water in the evening... Always water in the morning or day time, making sure that all the foliage has time to dry well before night fall.

If you do get powdery mildew on your plants.... the easiest answer is to remove the affected foliage... sometimes this means almost de-nuding the plant, but it will truly be the better for it!

My powdery mildew recipe... and there are other organic answers out there, but this is the recipe that I have used for the last 10 years or so,  and it works like the bees knees!

Okay, well, on almost everything... I have noticed that there are some plants, like cucumber leaves, that do not really respond well, so I just remove the nasty foliage from the plant instead.

The recipe I use ...
9 parts water
1 part skim or low fat milk! ( don't use a high fat milk)

Spray on affected foliage daily or every two to three days...  You will soon notice that the fungus starts to die off as the milk coats the fungus! It will turn all grey/black and nasty at first, and then it will cease to exist.

I have heard that it also works really well as a preventative measure ... just spray on plants (that you know are susceptible to mildew) once a week to prevent problems from arising to begin with!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Greenhouse Ramblings in July

In the greenhouse, the sunshine has made a really big difference.... everything is growing and flowering like mad!

Watering is pretty near a daily task .... So glad we started off with a really full cistern, I guess that's the one bonus that came from our really rainy June!

 Jaune Dickfleischige Heirloom Cucumber

Lungo della Cina cucumbers

We are now picking cucumbers every few days
enjoying a lot of salads and sandwiches...
Am sure that we will eventually be really tired of cucumbers!
But for now, is still a tasty and fabulous treat to pick your own lunch fixings!

These tomatoes were strung up about a month ago and are already nearing the top!
 Hubby will have to string them along the ceiling if they keep up this pace!

Loads and loads of tomatoes on the way!

Plants are getting really tall.. eep!

Ah well, happiness is... growing great tomatoes ;)

Love fuchsias!

Dahlia 'Bishop's Children'
A gorgeous heirloom annual (half-hardy perennial)
with dark bronze-black foliage and mix of vibrantly hued blooms!

Single petalled flowers are crucial to our pollinating insects...
Flowers such as Zinnias, Cosmos, Sunflowers, Asters....
Doubles (like the fuchsia above!) are fairly useless to the bees
as the centres have been turned into more flower petals!

 Please plant a variety of open pollinated, single petalled plants throughout your garden.
Provide the bees, butterflies, hoverflies, hummingbirds, etc.. with a constant source of nectar
so that we will have them around to support our agricultural crops!

The Strawberries in Stacked Pots are looking amazing!

Rosemary, a Mediterranean plant, is totally thriving in the greenhouse with all this sunshine!

 The nursery is pretty quiet and lonely this time of year...

The lovely raised beds that hubby built in March
 have now been planted up with heaps and heaps of roses and perennials :)

As the beds fill in, they will (hopefully) look amazing, kind of cottage garden-ish!

 Another view of the newly planted up nursery beds...
and the empty cedar plank, display tables.

Most of you know Timber kitty
He still hangs out at the greenhouse with us, Little Lilah and me
Just waiting for young guests to come out to visit and pet him.

Little Lilah also hangs out at the greenhouse, in her corner of the new perennial bed..
A corner I left un-planted so that she could watch for guests arriving!

Is just waiting for someone to stop on by and play with her...
Poor lonely Lilah :(
Okay, yeah, lol, I know, spoiled, spoiled, spoiled baby ;)

Love and Peace... gorgeous to look at... with a fabulous fragrance, too!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Chore Log Week 3 of July

Whew, this past week simply flew by!

Watering and more watering was on the agenda this past week... and I suppose, for the next 8 weeks or so to follow :) Gotta love summertime!

Baskets and planters are watered daily now, as are the greenhouse veggies. This certainly cuts down on the time left over for doing the chore list... and as I don't really consider watering a chore, how to fit in the chores with the watering? Hahaha, what a dilemma... now problems like that you gotta love to have....

Once again... I went a wee tad overboard...
Planted up about a gazillion planters and hanging baskets ...
That now all need daily watering :)

Peas in the first pea patch (I planted up two) have been picked, shelled, blanched and frozen.
Just in time actually, as I found Delilah picking her own peas again! She grabs the entire vine, pulls it to the ground and devours it from tip to end.... is very thorough actually, not much goes to waste!

Lilah picking peas...

The strawberries have all been harvested, and eaten, jammed or frozen...
I must say, we had a very successful strawberry year.

The two smaller beds are still fruiting. They are more for fresh eating than jamming, as they are day neutrals and so do not all ripen at once.

Totem strawberries

Also, I see that the Totem's (which are June bearing and so should all ripen about now) are on their last summer.The berries are smaller, there are less of them, and more of them are 'funny looking'.
Strawberries tend to have about a 3 year life span, and these have reached the end.... which leaves me with two options.. I can tear them all out and buy new ones to replace them... or allow these to make runners, take the new plants and root them into pots, then tear out the mother plants and re-plant with the babies.

Any hoo, on with the list...

Much was accomplished last week, yet much remains on the list... maybe I should start calling it the 'Wishful Thinking List'  ;)

The Front Deer Resistant Garden
This is the one area that did get finished and is just in maintenance form....
- Water trees and shrubs deeply once a week.
- Weed out the worst of the offenders in the lawn... I don't really mind weeds in the lawn much, as long as they are green, they can stay, but I do want to pull out some of these really large dandelions... they are getting huge!

The Potager
This area is in constant change and the list will never be done... which is why I like this area the very best ;)
-  Re-plant the bed that the peas were in... Either take down both trellises and put in lots of winter carrots... or leave in one trellis, grow more beans, and still have room for lots of carrots?
- Move potted roses around to better spots for more sun.
- Herb bed still needs to be cut back....
- Deal with the Kale!
- Set up the tables under the carport for drying the garlic... it will soon be ready to go!
- Beets are the perfect size... Make pickled beets!
- keep weeding, thinning, planting, changing... :)
- Oh, and yes, the Dianthus is still blooming away so still unable to cut it back!

Golden Acre heirloom green cabbage

Lavender and Cream Perennial Bed
This bed is coming along nicely :) Rock border is done, most of the weeds are gone...
- Pull the last of the weeds, small ones by the fence!
- Plant some geraniums in there? They need to get out of their pots... and they are the right colour, sooo maybe.

Front Entrance Signage Bed
Done :) As most are deer proof and drought resistant, they need very little care.
- Regular maintenance only!

Long Perennial Bed
Sigh, have not even touched this one yet... chores the same as last week!

Small Fruits Bed
Looks great... so glad we got it all mulched this spring, what a difference it makes!
- Water once a week :)
- weed as needed....

These are some of my pumpkins...
Hahaha, they are in the small fruits bed (hope they don't get a complex) ...
Along the bank... Lots of sunshine and room to sprawl :)

The Birch Bed
is Still on hold!

Greenhouse and Nursery
Maintenance mode for now...
- Water! Daily! 
- alternate weeks with foliar feed of Reindeer Liquid seaweed and Gaia Green for tomatoes...
(I feed everything... the roses, peppers, tomatoes, cukes, melon, eggplant, etc... all with these same two products :)

These strawberry pots are looking amazing and are still up for grabs! If someone is interested, give me a call.
They are called 'Stacked Pots' planters, a new twist on the strawberry pot, they are made in Columbia and are really classy and gorgeous Terra Cotta pots...
There are two planters left... one filled with 'Quinault Strawberries' ... a really large, tasty, everbearing variety that fruits throughout the summer.
The other planter holds 'Hecker' strawberries, also an everbearing variety that fruits all season long, is one of my all time favourites.

 Breadseed Poppies from Renee's Garden Seeds

Have a wonderful week everyone :) 
Don't work too hard in the heat!

My hubby is home this week
Sooo, we will see if that means that more gets done... or less ;)
As we might even run away from home for a few days... 

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

July Ramblings

What a great month this is turning out to be... now that it stopped raining, that is!

Lots of wild life around, especially babies... That's the very best part of living in the woods! Love to see all kinds of animals... although probably less keen to see a cougar!

There is a lovely new fawn and her mommy that hang around the back gate.
'Lilah loves to chase away deer, is actually her job, and she does it with great enthusiasm.
However, I try not to let her out when I know that mommy and the baby are out back :) They are doing no harm back there as it has not been developed in any way... as of yet.

This is what I call my 'secret path'... so far it leads to ... nowhere;)
For now, this is where the bear and the deer hang out... 

There is also a mommy bear and her cub that have cut through the back and side of the property. We sometimes see them this time of year, but they are not usually a bother. They are off looking for grubs and such as they travel along...
I did have a closer encounter than I would have liked though, as Mama was in the driveway while I was watering at the greenhouse. I was less than 50' away from her... too close for comfort with nothing but air and Delilah between us!

Roses are blooming throughout the yardscape, heavenly!

 Perpetually Yours... a dreamy, creamy white English climbing rose.

Tropicana... a lovely, fiery orange, Hybrid Tea rose.

Scarlet Carpet Rose... in tree form... so pretty!

Mme Hardy... is a near white Damask rose, fragrant, gorgeous...
and really hard to come by!
I am so pleased to finally have her!
I first found out about her when I wrote my 'Nursery Rose Exam'
at Hole's Greenhouses in St Albert, Alberta
That is just one of the many tests I wrote at the greenhouse
in order to learn as much as possible, about .. as much as possible :)
I knew right away that I had to have this rose...
and here she is, nearly 10 years later... all mine ;)

The Generous Gardener....a David Austin English rose  

Love and Peace... stunning Hybrid Tea rose

'Gentle Hermione' ... a David Austin English rose...
Such a strong, heavenly fragrance that you actually catch scent of her
well before you come upon the actual rose bush!

Campanula's (Bell flowers) are also thriving this time of year...

Blue Peach Leaf Campanula... with David Austin English rose, The Generous Gardener, in behind.  

White Peach Leaf Campanula

Lodden Anna Campanula (big,pink, clustered blooms) is just beginning to open up...
This 5' tall shrub bell flower will be stupendous when all abloom!

This is hubby's tree pick... he really loves it!
Japanese Snowbell Tree (Styrax Japonicus)
In flower for the first time!
A very pretty tree... graceful in form and in flower :)

Lavender ... am clipping and drying to preserve the delicious scent!

I particularly love all hues of blue ....
The deep blue colour of this Salvia (Sage) is just stunning:)
Often prone to powdery mildew, so far, it seems to be just fine... whew!
I was a bit worried, what with all that rain!

In The Potager....
Lovely purple Breadseed Poppies!

The strawberries remain 'netted over' against the birds.. and slugs, too?

The Honeoye's continue to ripen, the Totem's have kicked in
and even the day neutrals (Tri-Stars and Heckers) are beginning to ripen!
One large batch of jam is ready with another on the go :)
Nothing better than homemade jams and jellies.  

For the most part, the potager has been tidied and trimmed back
as everything grew like mad during the month of June
 with our above average amounts of rain and cool weather...

 However, as the Dianthus is still in bud and bloom...
I have found myself unable to cut it back!

and well...
Hmm, okay, lol, I admit... the Herb Bed still needs a major!!! haircut, too...
but I have this thing about trimming back while things are blooming and thriving ;)

The Garlic is almost ready to be harvested!
Just another two weeks or so
and it will be laid out to dry!

The peas are ready to be picked, blanched and frozen!

and the Kale.. boy do I ever have Kale!
Oh My Goodness, does anyone need/want some?

Carrots are also ready...
so sweet and delicious this time of year!

The 'winter' onions are also at their peak right now!
So glad I planted them last fall...
as there is nothing I like better than onions :)
Usually, I enjoy them raw
 but I also love them fried, baked, bbq'd
in salads and slaws, stir fries...
Hmm, pretty much on anything!

Borage is abloom... and abuzz!
I adore the fuzzy greys and blues of this herb!
... as do the bees!
Borage mildly tastes like cucumber and is very tasty in salads and cool summer drinks...
but for me, Borage is all about bringing in the pollinators!

Just a wee side note...
if you do not want loads and loads of Borage next year, please cut it back before it goes to seed!
It is very prolific!

Snapdragons, strawberries, and asparagus share a bed.

All is looking great this month of July...
We are finally getting the sunshine that the rest of the world has had for sometime now...
Gardens are thriving.

Weeds will be eradicated! Grr! They, of course, grew like mad while the weather was cool and wet...
However, slowly but surely, I have been 'vinegar spraying' them away.
I started off using the pickling vinegar as I thought it might be more effective due to a higher acidity content...
Then I switched to regular white vinegar ( savings of nearly $2 a jug) and found that it works just as well!
I add nothing, just spray with vinegar on a hot and sunny day... it works like a charm!

Dinner Plate Dahlia

Hope you all have a very happy month of July!

Moving Thyme

Sadly, the Nitty Gritty Potager blog is no more... but the good news is that I can now be found at my new blog called the Olde Thyme F...