Sunday, 27 January 2013

Tried and True? Or Something New?

For me, gardening is all about the growing and the trailing.
I love to grow the tried and true, varieties that I have already grown and found to meet or beat standards.
However, I also like to trial new plants and new varieites of plants.

Why? because I know that I will discover the best heirloom varieties to grow on the west coast, through much trial and error! 

I also know that even though I find those 'best' varieties, I will still keep testing others, ones that are new ... to me!

As there are literally hundreds, if not thousands of heirlooms out there, just waiting for me to try them out and maybe to carry them on :)



I get such a thrill simply from growing and trialing.
For me, it is not about how well it produces, never has been.
Is all about the thrill of the challenge, growing something and watching it perform.

Growing and trying anything and everything ... new plants, new varieties, new styles, new colours... whether it is tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, onions, or zinnias, snapdragons, petunias and geraniums...



Last summer I grew an eggplant, the Morden Midget. First time ever! It was lovely! ... produced like mad, was simple to grow, and tasted great, not one bitter one in the bunch. This year, I will grow the Morden Midget, but I will also try one or two other varieties, to see how they compare!

Why? Because right now, I know that I can, and do, highly recommend the Morden Midget for growing here on the island. However, as I know nothing about growing any other variety of eggplant, I am limiting my customers with my limited knowledge.

Each year I learn a little bit more about anything and everything I can think of growing. If I only stuck to the same things each year, I would never learn anything new, would never know if there was a variety that thrives better in our area, tastes better, looks better, brings in more pollinators, etc...


By growing many types of cucumbers last summer, I found that there is only one out of the entire bunch that I would highly recommend in our area.

The variety I recommend in the PNW, that grew well and had great production in a pretty crappy year is the Early Russian. It can be picked young and used as a pickling cuke, or left on the vine till larger and eaten as a slicer,
It had none of the powdery mildew problems which many of the others had, and some even succumbed to (yes, they died from the powdery mildew!).
It was never, ever bitter! Not one bitter cuke all year!
Imagine what it can do in a great cucumber if it did this well in a terrible one?



By trialing about 43 different varieties of tomatoes last year, I was able to pick out ones that did well in our PNW weather during a terrible growing year, and which ones to not grow again.

Each year I grow my favourite outdoor tomatoes, my favourite greenhouse tomatoes, as well as friends and customers favourites.

Then I test run another 20 or more new varieties to find yet more favourites for me and my customers.

And through this all, I keep in mind, that gardening is not an exact science. No year will ever be the same, the same temperatures, same humidity, same rain or lack thereof ... Each year is a brand new experiment, a brand new joy, a new learning experience.
It is so not a job to us garden fanatics, but a truly joyful endeavour.
And... some years are simply better than others.

 

Saturday, 26 January 2013

January Greenhouse Ramblings, New Year 2013

I am back! So very sorry about the computer probs, think we have them ironed out... fingers crossed!

Here is a catch up on the greenhouse goings on this month.....

With the three tropical fruit trees, a fig, sweet bay tree, phormiums, cuttings and seedlings... It's a crazy, wild, jungle in the greenhouse!


The geraniums are coming along very nicely! Great foliage and flowers for spring!

This month I have started....

Peppers, some herbs., a few perennials, assorted annuals ...

All kinds of alliums ... onions, chives, and leeks ...
As I do not start onions from sets, I start seed already in January for nice onions in summer.
I find that I get better and bigger onions, tastier, with much more selections to choose from if I grow from seed rather than sets...
I have a great many choices of heirloom onions on offer this year, from Italy, Scotland, Australia and more ...



Just transplanted the Sweet Bay trees into bio-pots. They are so very slow to take off, hoping that they are ready for sales this spring! Eep!

 
These yellow sticky sheets have been hung above all the seedlings and cuttings to keep an eye on the 'bug population'.
In general is the white fly and aphids that I watch out for this time of year, though fungus gnats can also get to be a problem later on.
These yellow stickies let me know if and when I have an issue. So far, so good!
Regardless, I spray once a week with insecticidal soap so that I do not end up with a huge problem of any bug, at any time. Is a preventative measure for now.


 Have some gorgeous mini-roses in colourful pots, ready to go this spring!


Wow, am so excited... the lemons are finally beginning to colour up! In cloudy, gloomy January on the island! Amazing.


Some mandarins are ready to pick and others almost there... They are very tasty, small but delicious!


The greenhouse helpers have fallen asleep.
This is 'how we roll' at the Nitty Gritty! Is the only way that I can still plant, seed, and get stuff done, and both girls are more than happy to keep me company : )

Little Kali puppy is now 11 weeks old and loves to pull the tags out of all the pots, if I am not fast enough to catch her.

Little 'Lilah is 3.5 years old and so much more refined, though goofy in character when peeps come over, she is super well behaved in the greenhouse.



We have had no rain lately, which has meant clear skies and thus very cold nights (not Alberta kind of cold, but BC Vancouver Island kind of cold ; ) ... and soooo much heating is being used in the greenhouse.

Am so grateful that temps seem to be warming up and the rains returning ; )
Whew! ... now who else says that, eh? Crazy gardeners!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Link For Now....

Okay, as I am still having issues with Blogger...

To tell the truth, I think it is my computer and not Blogger itself, so not complaining about them at all...

However, I am simply unable to repair the problem on my own, must wait for hubby to return ... so will for now, link you up to my blog on Wordpress....

 http://nittygrittygh.wordpress.com/

Please join me there ... for the time being, at least : ) ...thank you!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Having Issues!

For those of you checking in on a regular basis, I thank you!

I am having issues with Blogger and have been unable to post any pics at all... please bear with me!
I am not super tech savvy and so if I cannot figure it out, I may simply have to wait till hubby is back from up north :(

Thank you for following! ... and your patience!