Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ramblings in May

This month is fairly zipping by! We have had record breaking warm temperatures... and now, as usual, gone into a bit of a cool spell during and after the May Long Week-End! Fingers crossed that it does not last the entire month of June as it often tends to do here on the island!



In the greenhouse ... tomatoes, cukes, zucchini's, and other warm weather crops are ready to go... however, the cooler weather is a real worry.
Please look into making some kind of shelter for your babies, like the inexpensive and easy tomato cage hot houses as seen here.


The roses are just beginning to bloom, they look amazing and will bloom like mad for the next few months, taking a bit of a lull in the heat of summer.


 

The Hawthorn comes into full glory at the end of May and thru June... entirely covered in these lovely pink blooms.


The chives are blooming in the herb bed...
 
 

Looks like another bumper crop of Honeoye strawberries again this year1 
 
 
These Breadseed Poppies were seeded last fall and are now just about ready to bloom....

The potatoes are pretty near ready for their second hilling.
That will be the last one, as I grow mine in a trench and then hill them up until the bed is level...
no actual hills in sight ; )

 
 One of these things just doesn't belong here ...
Can you see the huge Green Globe Artichoke in the garlic bed?
Just about time for garlic scapes!

One of the beds of carrots ...
I grow lots of carrots ; )
Rattlesnake and Purple Pod beans just recently planted at the base of the trellis ..
So excited!
This heirloom bean mix is from Renee's Garden Seeds.
They have a fabulous variety of lovely veggies and blooms, with the best combinations i have ever found!
Am a big fan.


Happy gardening everyone!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

How to Grow Great Tomatoes ... and No Blight

Growing Great Tomatoes ....

 
I have written several articles about growing tomatoes, common issues/problems and how to avoid them or deal with them, and some planting how-to's.. Also, how to keep them warm in a cool June!
 
 

But... on to this month's blurb on how to grow fabulous tomatoes!

Amend the bed with compost.

Lay plastic or newspapers or paper weed barrier onto the beds, which helps to warm the soil, and also keeps the weeds away. Most importantly though, it prevents soil and diseases from splashing up onto the foliage when you water.
You can also use landscape fabric, the black keeps the soil warm, soaks up the sun, and keeps the splashes away. This is the only place I recommend using landscape fabric, ever!



Cut holes into the barrier for your tomato plants, at a minimum of 18 inches apart.

Plant the tomatoes on the edges or sides of the beds for good air flow. If you have two or more rows, place the rows 3 or 4 feet apart, again, for good air slow.


This photo shows an heirloom that has grown up and spilled over the sides of the tomato cage... one of the larger and sturdier ones.. if you use a small, flimsy one, you will have problems keeping it upright.

Stake or string up the indeterminate plants. Or use tall cages made out of  fencing wire.
Your typical tomato cages should only be used if you are planting bush tomatoes (determinate types), and even then,I highly recommend the taller, stronger ones, not the wee ones that bend and warp super easily!


Remove the bottom branches of the tomato plant, to prevent disease, about 12 inches up off the ground.

Feed every two weeks with a foliar spray of Liquid Seaweed. Or alternate feedings with Epsom Salt foliar spray.
Alfalfa tea, compost tea or manure tea are also great food for your tomatoes.

Prune off any suckers as they grow, I go around once a week and remove any. You would be surprised at how quickly they grow new ones.
Removing suckers keeps your tomatoes contained and makes for bigger and better fruits. If you leave all the suckers on, you will have lots of fruit, but they will be small, and you will have an out of control tomato plant ;)

Keep removing any foliage, leaves, or branches, as they yellow. Is okay to have a good portion of the bottom of your vining tomato bare of foliage, is better that they are gone rather than risk that they are harbouring disease or bugs.

Notice that all of the tomatoes have had the bottom foliage removed... as it yellows, I take it off.
 
 

 
 
 
 

Saturday, 4 May 2013

A Herbal Quickie

I love to grow herbs.

Most folks grow them for their culinary needs. Some grow them for medicinal purposes. Others grow them for tea, ointments, soaping, etc..


Me? I grow them for the way they look, their pretty flowers, and for what they do for my garden.
Bring in pollinators? Great!
Bring in the good bugs that eat the bad bugs? Fantastic!
Bring in hummingbirds and butterflies? Sweet!
Repel bugs? Fantabulous!

Here is a list of some of the herbs I sell and a brief blurb on why I grow them, or why others might use them.

Anise Hyssop
Me: Beautiful flowers that attract the bees. Is a gorgeous, deer resistant perennial. The flowers make a lovely garnish for fruit salad.
Others -  teas, sweetener, medicinal uses for chest colds, coughs and more.

Anise Hyssop
 

Basil 
Me - Pesto. Bug repelling (fleas, mosquito's, aphids, whitefly) and is a great companion plant for tomatoes.
Others - Cooking, esp Italian foods. Ointments. Teas and tonics for digestion. Gets rid of headaches.

Borage
Me - Beautiful blue flowers that the bees absolutely love! brings in lots of pollinators and looks pretty. Deters the tomato hornworm.
Others - The flowers are great for garnish in drinks or on cakes, etc... Use the leaves in cucumber salad.

Borage
 

Catmint
Me - Pretty blue flowers. Perennial, deer resistant flowering plant. Insect repellent for fleas, ants, aphids, mealie bug.
Others - Medicinal uses as a tea or tonic. Perennial.

Catmint -Nepeta

Calendula
Me - Repels bad bugs in the garden. Plant near tomatoes, asparagus and cabbage, esp.
Others - Balms, salves and ointments. Soothes burns, athlete's foot, cuts, etc.. Cooking. Garnish. Flowers.

Chives
Me - Love the blue/purple flowers in spring. Is perennial. I might use the leaves and the flowers for garnish and salads. Repels aphids, slugs, cabbage worm, and other bad bugs. Plant everywhere!
Others - Cooking. Garnish. Herbal oil infusions.

Chives
 

Chamomile
Me- Great hair rinse for blonde's ;) Ground cover instead of grass.
Others- Teas and medicinal uses. Used for many aliments such as cramping, anxiety, insomnia, IBS, Crohn's....

Cilantro/Coriander
Me - Companion plant, great to repel many bugs. Plant near peas and beans for great crops. Flower brings in good bugs.
Others- Cooking. Medicinal. Coriander seeds for cooking.

Dill
Me- Cooking ( am Scandinavian, we use it on everything!). For canning and pickling. Flowers are great for attracting good bugs. Plant near cabbage, lettuce, corn and cucumbers.
Others - Cooking. Canning.

Lemon Balm
Me - Another great tomato companion, improves flavour and growth. Rub down kitchen table to keep bugs away from your dinner.
Others - Teas. Cooking, goes with anything that goes well with lemon. Medicinally.

Lemon Verbena
Me - My new favourite herb. Looks pretty, smells great and tastes delish.
Others - Cooking, again goes well with most anything that likes lemon. Teas. Potpourri. Medicinally, for stress and spastic colon.

Mint
Me- smells and looks pretty. Repels cabbage pests, ants and mice!
Others - Cooking, teas, drinks. Medicinal uses for stress, digestive system.

Nettle
Me- Not sure, growing this for the first time ever. I mean, really, is a stinging plant that I remember painfully from my youth!
However, is said to bring in the butterflies and attracts the caterpillars away from your desirable plants until they come pretty butterflies. Is also said to make a great 'nitrogen tea' for the garden plus brings in the ladybugs! Also, claimed to speed up the decomposition in your compost bin : ) worth a try, eh?
Others- Cooking. Teas.

Oregano
Me- I grow lots of oregano, different types. I love the flowers, is a great draw for the good bugs. Bees love the flowers, too, so great pollinator plants. My daughter cooked with the Hot and Spicy Oregano. Yum. great planted near grapes, cabbage and cucumbers.
Others - Cooking! Pizza! Fragrance in oils, soaps, detergents. etc...



Parsley
Me - Flowers bring in good bugs. Aids the growth of tomatoes, carrots and roses.
Others - Cooking. Garnishes. Medicinal. High in Vitamin A.

Rosemary
Me - I love the smell of rosemary. Great with roasted veggies.
Others - Cooking! Goes well with chicken



Rue
Me- Is also known as Catscat... keeps cats away! Supposed to keep away fleas, too.
Others- Medicinally for arthritis, bronchitis, or headaches. Teas for croup, coughs, gas, and other tummy upsets.

Sage
Me- Looks pretty in the garden or in a pot.
Others- Cooking. Medicinally. Smudges against curses.

Yarrow- Going to throw this one into the herb list, as well, for many of the 'ancient' perennials are herbs.
Me- I use it as a beneficial insect lure in the garden. Nearly all of the good guys like white yarrow! Ladybugs, hoverflies, predatory wasps, etc... also, the roots and leaves improve the quality of the soil, so just by growing in the garden, you are enriching your soil. Is also said to improve the health of plants growing near it, likely due to the fact that it enriches soil, but I like that idea : )
Others-  Medicinal, the leaves help to clot blood so good for skinned elbows or knees and nose bleeds.

White Yarrow
photo from ontariowildflower.com

Other useful garden herbs - echinacea, feverfew, scented geraniums, lavender, marigolds ...

Salad Burnet
Cucumber flavoured foliage ...  and lovely flowers! 

Friday, 3 May 2013

Yay! It's The Merry Month of May!

This is the month we all wait for here in Canada.
May long week-end is the traditional planting out date for many areas of the country.
Annual baskets are hung, planters planted, tender veggies are transplanted, and warm weather seeds are direct seeded into the garden.

Here is a list of things to plant and do in the merry month of May ...



Transplanting to the garden...
- towards the end of the month, plant your tomato seedlings outside. Still preferable if you have a cloche, hothouse, cold frame, etc... just in case we have some cool winds or wet and rainy weeks in June.
- annuals can be planted into the beds, pots and planters.
- melons, but grow in pots so that they can come in if the weather chills.
- peppers, should also be covered with cloche, hothouse, etc... or grown in pots for another month so that they can be brought inside should the weather be inclement.
- marigolds, nasturtiums, allysum
- all herbs, even the tender ones.



Direct seeding in the garden....

Plant your potatoes, if you have not done so yet!

- cucumbers (cold frame or hothouse or cloche recommended, just in case)
- zucchini
- beans
- corn
-lettuce, spinach, greens
- plant more beets, carrots, radishes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, leeks, onions, parsnips, rutabagas, turnips

Flowers to direct seed
- zinnias, asters, sunflowers, cosmos, bachelor's buttons, nasturtiums, marigolds