Sunday, 23 September 2012

Garlic Growing How-To!

Oops, sorry all... I accidentally removed this as I was working on my next posting....

Garlic growing in early spring

Tanja ... The Nitty Gritty Greenhouse  ...  How To Grow Garlic...

- Add amendments to your existing beds about 2 weeks before planting ... compost, manure, fish meal, alfalfa, and rock phosphates are all good amendments.

- Beds should be well draining and be in full sun!

- Plant anywhere from mid-Sept to end October

- Crack the garlic, separating the cloves gently from the hard middle part. Plant only the largest cloves, use the smaller ones for cooking. Leave the husks on the cloves! Do not crack more than 24 hours before planting.   

- Optional Step fungicide/strengthener recipe. Soak your cloves for 2 hours before planting, in a solution of warm water, 1 tbsp of baking soda and 1 tbsp of fish fertiliser or liquid seaweed. Though my garlic tops seemed to grow bigger, better and faster, last year, than the bed not soaked in this solution, there was little difference in the size of the bulbs!

- Plant the cloves with the pointy end up, about 2 to 3 inches deep, and 6 inches apart. You can plant in rows or blocks, planting the rows about 8 inches apart. If you grow them closer together you will get smaller bulbs and cloves, though more of them.

- Water in beginning, once a week or two, till the rains start. Then water again in spring, as needed, once or twice a week.

- Cover with 4 to 6 inches of straw for added frost protection, if needed.

In Spring

- Stop or slow down on watering towards the end of June as the stalks begin to yellow a bit.

- Once the stalks have dried/yellowed about half way up the stalks, or up to about 3 leaves... you can gently pull the garlic from the ground.

- Place the garlic, stalks and all, in the shade to cure for several weeks. Do not leave in the sun, or they will cook. However, you can begin to cook with it right away, the curing just helps it to store better/longer.

- When dry and cured, two weeks or more, remove the stalks and the roots from the garlic. Cool, store and share as needed. The larger bulbs can be saved for the next year's crop!
Garlic curing under the carport in July

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Stuff To Do In September

Suddenly, in one day, it the weather turned fall like!

However, we are still in the midst of watering and more watering, as it is so very dry ....

There are 4 pumpkins here that are stacked upon each other
I have removed most of the extra foliage to let the sun light in...
Hoping they 'ripen' soon!

In the potager...

- Beans have been harvested with a few left on to dry for more Romano's next year. My favourite bean of all time! However, one must pick them quickly as they get stringy and tough very fast.
- The peas are flowering so we will soon have a fresh peas with dinner, sounds appealing actually, have never grown this fall crop of peas before so am quite excited!
- The carrots and cabbages will be harvested, as needed, from the garden. Best place to store them is in the ground!
- Pumpkins are colouring up nicely, just in time for fall baking and fall decor!
- Picking a few tomatoes every day. The Martina's Roma's are all colouring up at the same time, yay! So that I can pick them all and roast them at the same time! Mmm, slow roasted with a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and garlic.
- Grr, green tomatoes! Nights are getting so cool, that there is not a huge chance that they will actually ripen on the vine. If you want to bring them in to ripen, please not that you should only pick the ones that are close to changing colours, if they are still hard, green and/or small, they will not ripen on the counter. I say make lots of Chow Chow and Piccalilli!
- Strawberry beds replanted with the babies. If you have lots of runners, dig them up and place them where you want new plants to grow!
- Seed more lettuce. still time for you all to pop in some spinach, lettuce, turnips, radishes, green onions (spring onions) seeds for fresh salad fixings.
- Plant sweet peas!

Pickin' heirloom pumpkins :)

There are grey aphids on the cabbages and kale. Sigh! This time of year, I am not as fazed by them as I would be in spring, as they will not have a long life ;) The cooler temps and rain will soon get rid of them, thankfully, and so for now, I just spray them off with water when I go around with the hose.

Aphids on the Red Mammoth Cabbages... ugh! 

Yard Chores
- Weed! everywhere, lol!
- Tender perennials should be potted up in preparation ... to put into cold frames, greenhouses, unheated porches, etc... for the winter.
- Lift Glads, Dahlias, Crocosmia ... this month if I have time, otherwise it will be next month... still lots of time :) as they are still blooming away.
- Prune back raspberry canes that fruited this year.

Plant garlic! 

Fun Stuff
- Buy lots of spring flowering bulbs! Tulips for pots and the potager, Daffs for the front as they are deer proof!
- Do up more fall planters! Yay! Revamping the ones out front this week!
- Decorate porches, decks, foyer, greenhouse with fall decor.

Smaller fall planters for deck or for table top... 

In The Greenhouse
- Sow some sweet peas in pots.
- Take cuttings, all kinds of cuttings... place them in the shade to grow as it is too hot anywhere else. Do not event think of putting them into the greenhouse as hot as things are right now!
- Fall planters, making up toms of planters, to sell at the greenhouse, on order from great clients, and for myself, of course ;)

Some of the planters I have been making ...

Monday, 17 September 2012

Tanja's Top Twelve Tomatoes 2012

Yes, revised on September the 29th! Two new additions make it now my top 12 instead of top 10 :) You will see why I had to add them, they are amazing!

This year, I started 46 varieties of heirloom or heritage tomatoes at my little greenhouse business, Nitty Gritty Greenhouse ...

I trialed as many of them as I could in my own greenhouse, the hoop house, and in my garden...

Taking into consideration the fact that we had a dreadful June, was so very blustery and cool ...and this, after such a warm and lovely month of May...
Sigh, climate change is messing up all our gardening schedules ;)

These are my favourite heirloom tomatoes for this year, in no particular order...

Black Seaman ,,,, yummers!
These guys were a little bit later than the others ...but were worth the wait!
They are smokey, sweet, and so rich in flavour.  
While the other 'black' varieties did not fare so well outside (thrived in greenhouse though)
this guy produced tons of huge tomatoes, with little to no blossom end rot or cat-facing.
By far the very best black tomato in my garden this year!  
You can see why this one was added late!
Martino's Roma :)
Is producing loads of gorgeous fruit, with no blemishes and no foliage issues...
Just tons of lovely tomatoes, all ripening at about the same time! 
As it is meaty with few seeds, it is the perfect paste tomato for salsas, sauces, canning, etc...
For me, the perfect slow roasting tomato!
Is a mid to late season tomato though, so will not work in short summer areas.

Peche Jaune - also known as Garden Peach
A small yellow variety that produced tons of tasty fruits.
They ranged in size from large marbles to Indian rubber ball ...
Flavour is mild and sweet, great texture.
Very prolific and a fairly early producer.

Canada Long
I cannot say enough about this paste tomato...
The fruit is huge! at least 5" long!
Is very meaty, so makes for a fabulous processing tomato.
Really good producer, with a good amount of these gorgeous huge tomatoes, just one plant is enough to make several batches of sauce or salsa. 
Tastes terrific.  
Chalk's Early Jewel
This tomato produced tons of fruit throughout the whole summer
Ranging from small to medium slicer in size.
Flavour is tangy but not too acidic, with a firm, meaty texture
Dix Doights Des Naples ( Ten Fingers of Naples)
Produces large amount of fruit in these lovely clusters
They are very meaty with very little juicy, seedy bits.
Perfect for pastes, sauces and salsas.
I was actually surprised to find myself liking this old heirloom variety
I tend to prefer the smoky blacks and paste tomatoes ..
But this old favourite of many, has a fabulous flavour!
Is meaty and juicy, great texture, is not at all mealy, phew!
Perfect for sauces and processing with thin skin and much meat to it.
However, I prefer it on sandwiches. One huge slice is all you need!
Is zesty yet sweet, so delicious.
Ludmilla's Plum
This one is a super favourite, think it is my number one tomato this year!
Is meaty, large, pretty and tasty.
Did well in both the greenhouse and in the garden.
Produces just loads and loads of these huge paste tomatoes.
 Terrific for canning, saucing and fresh eating!
Prudens Purple (is actually pink!)
Huge pretty tomatoes with a meaty yet juicy interior.
Is a fairly early producer of these huge beefy fruits.
Is a rival of the Brandywine, with it's own fan club.
... and for good reason.
An all round great tomato!

Chianti Rose
Another top favourite of mine!
Was surprised every time I picked them, at how very pretty these tomatoes were!
A small beefsteak variety that produced a lot of fruit, throughout the entire season
The tomatoes are a very pretty pink in colour!
Have a great texture with thin skin, and a good producer ..
Sweet yet a bit of tang, truly a tasty tomato!

Green Zebra
Fabulous flavour!
Ranks really high, one of my top tomatoes ever grown.
Zesty and zingy, yet not sour.
Fabulous flavour, unlike any other tomato.
A good producer of these 2 inch round, globe shaped fruits.
Tomato is ripe when the tops are yellow!
Potato Leaf White
Love this tomato!
Mild yet sweet and tasty, with a bit of tang. 
Fabulous flavour, great texture, small beefsteaks!
Perfect for unusual spaghetti sauces and fresh eating.
Thin skinned and a very good producer.

Purple Prince (Black Prince)
Once again, was one of the earliest and most prolific tomatoes I grew.
Tasty with a hint of smoke, great dark purple red in colour.
Is the best of the blacks that I grew this year...
While many of the others had tons of cat facing, this variety had NONE!
No blossom end rot, no leaf problems, a super tomato to grow
Great in taste, thin skinned, prolific.
And as a 'Just Because' ... am throwing in my two faves from last year....
I did not grow them myself this year, as I was obviously too good a salesman this spring! Sold out of these varieties early on in spring and had none left for myself ;)
Chocolate Stripes
Juicy, tangy, sweet and smoky in flavour.
A really good producer of mid sized slicers.
A pretty tomato that is oh so good on sandwiches!
My favourite tomato in the world... so far ;)
Black Cherry Tomato
Sadly, I have no pictures of this tomato when it is ripe and has that tint of black to it.
 As you can see, it is very pretty though, shiny and glossy
Thin skinned perfectly round tomatoes grow in long drupes.
They are so tasty, so delicious, and so sweet!
In fact, not being a fan of cherry tomatoes at all ...
This is the one and only cherry tomato that I have ever liked :)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Greenhouse Ramblings Late Summer

Here we are, just days from our fall open at the greenhouse once again.

And boy are there changes afoot, as always...

Finally, finally, got the walls washed down with the power washer and all is glistening in there once again. Phew! Looks so lovely and bright :)

 Pesta heirloom beefsteak ...
Does this not look like a 'circus' kind of tomato?
With all those crazy colours on one fruit!

These are Canada Long paste tomatoes...
They are huge!
...and delish!

Had all those tall tomatoes in there .. most of them have now been moved out to the hoop house, with only the few on the side, that are out of the way, left in the greenhouse.

Above are picture of two different tomatoes that are extra special! My super picks this month :)

All the peppers are now back in the greenhouse as some of our evenings are too cool for them to be in the hoop house.

Chocolate Bell Peppers are beginning to colour up..
There are tons of peppers on this plant...
It is definitely on my 'gotta grow it next year' list

The peppers are really starting to ripen up... looking amazing!
Know which ones are my favourites already!
Cannot wait to get feed back from you all as to which ones you like the best.

Alma Paprika Peppers are finally staring to colour up :) 

The eggplant is amazing... Morden Midget, surprisingly many of these adorable fruits on this small 18" high shrub!

The nursery is also being changed around for sales beginning this Saturday...

Lots of small fruits are available ... Rhubarb, strawberries, blueberries ...

Seascape Strawberries

Duke and Bluecrop Blueberries...

Also some really lovely herbs....

I have this beautiful Lemongrass!
Tastes so fabulous!
 Remember, as always, everything is organically grown and the greenhouse is run on collected water only, as sustainably as possible!
Goldsturm Rudbeckia

Monday, 3 September 2012

Harvesting and Fall Garden Chores

Stuff To Do over the next few weeks... I love fall! Such a sense of accomplishment as one tidies, rakes, tops, mulches, harvests ...  and the gorgeous autumnal colours of gold, rust, red and orange.

For those of you with weed and seed free leaves falling on your lawn and gardens  ... pile them up, run them over with a lawn mower a few times to break them up, and add them to your garden beds for a nutritious boost of lovely organic material!
However, Do Not do this with really weedy trees that have tons of seeds, or you will spend all of next year pulling out tree seedlings!

Grass clippings, if you do not add fertiliser, can also be added to the beds. Spread it out in a light layer, which allows it to dry and brown off, and then incorporate into your soil.. or alternately, leave on top of your soil, keep adding more clippings, and you have a lovely mulch.
Do not place pile the clippings too thickly, or they will matte down into a mouldy mess.

Brown dry grass and leaves are fab to add to your compost, as well... they add the 'brown' material component.

Deep water your trees and shrubs..
Use either a weeping hose, which waters many trees and shrubs at once, leave in one place for about an hour.
Or use a regular hose, at a low trickle, placed at the base of each tree or shrub, for 15 to 20 minutes each. Do not have it on too strong a trickle or it will run off and be wasted, instead of penetrating deeply around the root ball.

This perennial planting looks great year round!
Sedum, Nandina, Heuchera, Pyracantha and grasses.
Throw in some pansies or violas for fab colour spring and fall. 

Herb Bed
- Cut back and dry or freeze your herbs for fresh flavour all winter long... thyme, parsley, oregano, dill, basil. Save dried or mince and make into herbal butters, herbal olive oil cubes, pesto logs.... Yum!
- This is a good time to do divisions and share with your friends.

I finally got that herb bed cleaned up... though the Oregano is still flowering, there were less bees finally, so I did not feel so guilty about cutting it down.

Three kinds of Sage and three kinds of Oregano dominate my herb bed... One is called Hot and Spicy Oregano.. and does it ever live up to it's name! Sadly, the Lemon Thyme was choked out by all that Oregano :(

Chives, Edible Dianthus, Marjoram, alpine strawberries, plus annual herbs such as Dill, help to fill it in. Cilantro and Dill love the cooler weather so this is a great time time to transplant them into the herb bed.

In The Potager
- Harvest veggies ... cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, corn, squashes, potaoes
We have eaten a lot of our veggies fresh this year and shared with friends, neighbours, and the food bank. However, we made several batches of crock pickles, yum, fresh sliced cukes in a brine, that get better each day they stay in the brine, yet are delish after just one day! Tomatoes and peppers have been made into salsas, both hot and mild, plus picked some tomatoes early so that we could process a batch of Chow Chow ( green tomato relish). 
- Ripping out the old strawberry mother plants. The runners have nicely rooted into their little pots so they will replace the old and less productive mother plants. Planting the new bed up this fall.
- Nasturtiums, Glads, Roses, Marigolds, Penstemons, and Zinnias are flowering nicely :) Stop deadheading roses now and allow them to form hips, this tells them that it is time to shut down and prepare for winter.
- Plant more spinach? some leaf lettuces? Maybe mache?
- Plant garlic after mid-September
- Doing soil tests to see what I should be adding to the beds this fall for happy beds next spring.
- Hubby picking up fish compost and manure to top-dress the beds for fall. Meaning, I put about 2 inches of organic matter on top of the soil in the raised beds and let the earth worms and rains carry the nutrients into the soil.

The herb bed in spring
Add tons of bulbs into the potager each fall... for gorgeous colour in spring

General Garden Clean Up
- If you want lovely tulips and daffodil displays next spring, buy them now and plant them before the end of the month
- divide overgrown perennials, share with neighbours or re-plant.
- sow your bi-ennial seeds! and allow your self seeding annuals to sow themselves... ( Love-In-A Mist, Sweet William,
- Dig up dahlias, callas, and glads ... (some leave them in the ground and this is perfectly fine.  I lift most of mine as I like to pot them up in spring for earlier blooms in summer, but leave a few in so that they bloom a bit later, for a longer bloom time)
- Time to compost those spent, tired and draggy looking annuals
- Collect all your stakes, obelisks, poles and cages, wash and store again till next year. This also includes any statuary that you do not leave out year round, such as fountains, birdbaths, gnomes .... flamingos? ;)

Plant lots of bulbs for stunning spring colour! 

Fun For Fall
- Plant lots of spring bulbs for a great spring display
- Layer bulbs in pots and planters for a long blooming and lovely spring blooms
- Do up some fab fall planters with golds, rusts, reds... with grasses, mums, ornamental kale and cabbages, and lots of pansies and violas! The grasses and pansies will look awesome in spring amid the tulips and daffs, also.
- Add shrubs or small trees, etc... as centre points to add fab colour, like Nandina, or Pyracantha with it's glorious berries!
- The is the perfect time to plant new trees, shrubs, roses, and to divide as well as plant new perennials!

Do up some fabulous fall planters to add a huge pop of colour!

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...