Garden Update August 20, 2017

It’s been a busy two weeks for us over here.  We’ve been out and about enjoying the gorgeous weather and play dates with some friends.  Not a lot of gardening has been happening aside from watering everything and picking the zucchini and ripe tomatoes but the garden has been flourishing for the most part.  This weekend I did get some things done – securing tomatoes, fertilizing them, picking all the lettuce after discovering slugs.

The tomatoes are starting to ripen more and more, we haven’t had more than we can eat yet but they are going to catch up to us soon.  The peppers are starting to really go crazy, the paprikas, sweet peppers and jalapeños especially but the hot peppers are really flowering and looking well.  We’ve been picking and eating carrots daily for snacks and enjoying them immensely.  Zucchini is still going strong and doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon.  The pumpkins, squash, and watermelon vines are growing fast but so far no real fruit has shown up.

Since it’s been two weeks since my last update I have pictures from both weeks.  First up, the week of August 12:

And this week:

That’s it for today friends.  Maybe someday I’ll be able to post more frequently and about more than just my garden, but for now I’m embracing where I am in life and accepting it’s limitations.

Ciao!

Garden Update August 5, 2017

I wrote this post sitting in a  car, driving to my parents.  It’s a long drive and an even longer one with two kids – one being 4 months old.  I figured it was a good time to post another update! We are enjoying our very short trip and I’m really hoping the garden is still doing well when we return! That’s the downside of gardening – travelling is hard to do unless you have someone to tend to the gardens. 

It’s been a busy week around here but I still managed to get some gardening done.  I finally have all the tomatoes supported, including catching up on the big gardens tomato weave – the pictures I have were taken on Tuesday before I finished the weave.  The greenhouse tomatoes have almost grown taller than their supports and still look awesome.  The outside potted tomatoes don’t look amazing but they’ve all been fertilized now so hopefully they perk up.  The garden peppers seemed to have liked the fertilizer, there are lots of peppers popping up now and they look a lot greener and healthier.  We are eating a zucchini a day and I think I’ll be making a lot of zucchini baked goods.  I put up a garden net securing it to the garden box and then to the fence for the butternut squash, watermelon, and cucumbers to climb.  I haven’t had any flowers or fruit on any of those yet – next year I definitely have to start them early in the greenhouse.  

I think that’s it for updates this week.  Seemed like the tomatoes are all getting ready to start ripening – then the fun begins! 

Disclaimer: you are about to see my yard in its truest form – always cluttered with various things Ezekiel drags around.  I did clean it right after these pictures but in the spirit of keeping it real didn’t retake them! 


That’s it for this week! Happy gardening friends! 

Garden Update July 24, 2017

Another weeks gone by and it was incredibly busy for us, full of baby showers, play dates and medical appointments.  I found it hard to keep up with the housework so gardening was not happening.  The most I got done was making sure everything was watered and the greenhouse tomato plants fertilized.  Thankfully the gardens are at the point where a week of neglect isn’t too bad and barely noticeable.  I will say that I’ve basically given up on pruning the tomatoes.  I do some here and there but keeping up with 91 plants is just too much! 

Anyways the garden seems to be doing well! I ate my first tomato – Amish paste variety, it was tasty! The tomatoes are all growing like crazy, I’m especially happy with how the greenhouse plants are doing, the shade cloth has proved to be a great purchase.  The greenhouse peppers are also doing amazing, the peppers in the garden however are still not doing awesome.  I’m going to try a bit of fertilizer but I actually think it’s too much sun.  There are a couple plants being shaded by the zucchini and they are green and amazing, so maybe I need to get another shade cloth and rig it up somehow.  Also a lot of the peppers are splitting, I thought maybe the hail we got before had damaged some but now there are more.  From what I read online it’s probably due to inconsistent watering – which makes sense, so I guess I’ll try to be more consistent with the peppers. The greens, carrots, and onions are status quo.  We ate our first half zucchini last night from Ezekiel’s little garden and he’s getting a couple pea pods to munch on per day which makes him happy.  I  cut our first dill harvest today, made some dill potatoes and froze the rest.  

So here’s the garden in pictures! 


Tomatoes like crazy! 


The pictures make the peppers look happier than they are.


Despite them not looking happy there are still some peppers growing.


I can’t wait to dig up those heads of lettuce! 


Zucchinis are taking off!


Ezekiel’s garden goods.


Loving having an herb garden! 


The greenhouse is just so much fun this year! 

That’s it for this week! I’m predicting that I’m going to be incredibly busy with tomatoes in the next three weeks.  I’m mentally gearing up the busyness of canning in the fall.  I think I’ll be doing a lot of baby wearing 🙂

Garden Update July 16,2017

Look at me go, an actual week update! 

It’s been a bit of crazy weather around here and it’s kept me on my toes hoping the garden survives! We’ve had a heat wave but with heat waves come storms.  I’ve thought we were going to get hail a few times and we did get hail once.  I watched and hoped it didn’t ruin everything and thankfully we had no complete casualties although there was some damage.  There were a lot of damaged leaves to the tomatoes and peppers, a couple peppers that were growing ended up ruined, the greens were pelted pretty bad but there’s still lots left to grow and eat.  The watermelon, cucumbers, squash, pumpkin and zucchini all had damage, the most being to the watermelon and cucumbers – I don’t think we’ll get any harvest from either of them anyways.  The other damage was to the flower gardens, they are now laying down and leaning everywhere so I’m going to try and hold them up somehow. 

Otherwise, this week I’ve been working away at getting the tomatoes all supported, pruned and fertilized – still not done, and never will be I’m assuming. I also hung the shade cloth in the greenhouse with some trial and error, but it’s hanging! The plants seem to love the shade, it still gets smoking hot in there but the sun isn’t scorching them.  I got all the peppers either potted up or planted in the garden.  I’ve now realized my big mistake with all the peppers in the garden – I didn’t bother to harden them off. See, I haven’t hardened off the tomatoes at all and they’ve done well so I didn’t even think about gardening off the peppers! So they’ll survive I’m sure but their growth won’t be nearly as good as it would have been had I taken the time to harden them off.  I’ve also thinned out all the carrots and we’ve been munching on the babies.  

Whew – when I write it all out I realize how much I’ve actually done! Sometimes it feels like I’m just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere.  That’s another reason I like doing these updates, to remind myself that although some days (right now it feels like all days) seem like all I do is feed kids, put kids to bed and clean up all the messes that I am actually able to accomplish much more than that. 

So here’s what the garden looks like:


The herbs are flourishing! I can’t wait to use these in my cooking soon! The fill definitely needs to be harvested, I’ll be using it in a lot of roasted/BBQ potatoes. 


Ezekiel’s gardens are doing pretty well! I think the carrots and peas are going to be great! 


The potted tomatoes seem to be doing great! I’ll need to fertilize these ones real soon. 


You can see the greens, carrots and onions had some hail damage but I think they’re bouncing back. 


The squash, zucchini and pumpkins are taking off but the cucumbers and watermelons suck.  



The peppers! So many of them! Some days I look at them and think “they’re doing so well!” Then the next I look and think “they look so sad!” Despite that all, there are quite a few peppers growing and lots of flowers so hopefully we’ll get a good harvest. 


The tomatoes….. allllllll the tomatoes.  One is going to be ripe soon, and I can’t wait to eat it! The tomatillos are going nuts, I seriously under estimated how much room they would need, unlike most of my tomato varieties which growing like a vine and are easily contained – they grow up and way out! They are really pretty though. 


The potatoes look like they’re growing well. It’s always a nice surprise at the end of the season to see what’s underneath the green! 


I love these gardens more and more each day. 


The greenhouse is doing fantastic, and I love it more this year than last.  

Well, that’s it for this week.  Always lots and lots to do, but it’s slower work and I can do a tiny bit each day.  It’s been nice to slow down before the craziness of harvest comes and I’m drowning in tomatoes. 

Ciao friends! Happy Gardening!

Garden Update June 22

I’ve been trying to sit down and write this for a couple days but each time I try a little person needs my help.  I suppose that’s the life of a mom – especially moms of younger ones.  So I’ve resorted to writing this on my phone – convenient but not as trust worthy when it comes to spelling (dang autocorrect!) so forgive any grammatical and spelling mistakes.  

It’s been a good week in the garden. We are going to be having fresh salads next week and I cannot wait! There’s several tomatoes forming, some of the plants have sun damage but there’s lots of healthy new growth which is what really matters. The hot peppers seem to be struggling I guess I should have been a bit more patient before putting them in the garden.  I have a lot still in the greenhouse to fall back on if they don’t produce anything.  My paprika peppers, jalapeños, and sweet peppers all seem to be doing well though! The rest of the garden is sprouted and growing – I’m most surprised by the watermelons, really hoping to get at least one! The wildflower gardens are thriving as well – it’s going to be fun seeing what pops up there when they start to bloom.  

Here’s the pictures this week: 


Gourmet, rocky top, and midnight ruffle lettuce in the back.  


Arugula (super delicious!) and kale in the back.  Swischard and spinach in the middle.


Butternut squash, cucumbers and watermelon, peppers in the back. 


The tall pepper plants are paprika, then there’s the tomato forest! 


The rest of the peppers and the squash at the back. 


I’ll never tire of looking at this! Greens in the back, carrots in the center and onions in the front. 


Barrels of potatoes are doing well – time to add more dirt.


Ezekiel’s gardens are also doing pretty good.  I’m interested to see for how long they do well.  Carrots in the top picture and peas in the bottom.


Wildflower beauty.


Last but not least – the greenhouse.

How are you gardens growing? Any fun surprises? Or hard challenges? 

Happy gardening friends! 

2017 Garden

It’s officially garden season around here, although I’ve been gardening since February! I thought I’d get you caught up to where I’m at and then try my best to get back to weekly garden updates.  Now that the garden is planted I’m not feeling so pressed for time and I have some more downtime – there is still lots to do of course but hopefully I can keep up with weekly pictures and updates.  The last two years I’ve made picture books of my gardening seasons and I love looking back on them so I want to keep doing that.

I ordered the vast majority of my seeds online this year.  I ordered in January from West Coast Seeds, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  What I didn’t order I bought from a couple local stores but kept with those two companies as well as Renee’s Garden, Strathcona 1890 and a local Calgary seed company called Seed Plus Soil.  I’ve grown seeds from all four of these seed companies and have been impressed both with the germination and quality of produce.  I like that they are all non-treated and non-gmo seeds and a lot of what I ordered has been heirloom varieties.

So without further ado I give you my gardening thus far.  I will warn you this post is going to be very picture heavy!

I started my peppers back on February 3 – such a long time ago! I started a large amount of seeds this year and because I let them germinate on top of our fireplace for the extra heat, I had to start my peppers and tomatoes separately.  Last year my peppers were later producers than my tomatoes so I figured I’d try starting them earlier. The varieties I started were:

  • Jalapenos
  • Paprika
  • Thai Red Chilli
  • Sunset Mix
  • Orange Gilboa and Red Yardenne
  • Red Habanero
  • Caribbean Red Habanero
  • Chocolate Habanero
  • Trinidad Scorpion

Yep I definitely went overboard!

On February 15 I started most of my tomatoes.  I planted 13 different varieties (!), I just couldn’t narrow them down! Online shopping for seeds is a bit dangerous but so much fun!  The varieties I planted are:

  • Toma Verde Tomatillos
  • Marvel Stripe
  • Black Krim
  • Red Brandywine
  • St. Pierre
  • Bonny Best
  • Amish Paste
  • Arbason Beefsteak
  • Caiman
  • Roma
  • Fox Cherry
  • German Lunchbox
  • Italian San Marzano

Then it was a lot of watching and waiting for both my plants to mature and my baby to arrive!

They were doing really well! I probably could have transplanted them the last week in March or first week in April but I was pretty fresh postpartum since Eden came along March 17.  The plants had to take a back burner for a couple weeks.  I didn’t start transplanting until April 16 – the same day I moved them all out to the greenhouse, and didn’t finish until May 1! They were starting to look pretty sickly and I wasn’t sure how many would survive.

When all was said and done I had 136 tomato plants, and close to 90 pepper plants.  Insane? Yes absolutely but honestly I’m totally OK with it! Initially I really wanted to start up a side job selling them which is why I planted so many in the first place.  Then life happened (like having a baby) and I didn’t get on top of advertising and setting things up.  I did end up starting a new instagram account to get the word out that I had some plants for sale but I’m not sure I’ll be able to get rid of what I wanted to.  Feel free to check out the account (@plantloveyyc) and if you’re local keep your eyes open for some other things for sale!

Anyways, here’s the progression in the greenhouse:

Considering how sickly they looked when I transplanted them I’m so impressed with how they are doing.  I planted the tomatoes and peppers into the garden just last week with my dad on June 4.  I planted 32 Tomato plants and 36 pepper plants into the garden.  The rest will have to be in pots, although I’m not really sure where they will go! I’m thinking of getting a shade cloth and trying to keep some in the greenhouse again.  If I can keep it cool enough I think it would work.  Also, last year I did little to no fertilizing of my potted plants and I think that had a lot to do with how poorly they did.  This year I’m going to use a liquid kelp fertilizer for my potted plants that I buy from a local plant store here in Calgary (Plant).  The fertilizer is from Strathcona 1890 and you can order it here.

IMG_1292

Ok, so that takes care of the tomatoes and peppers but I planted a whole lot more!

In the deck garden I planted a variety of leafy greens:

  • Ansar Lettuce
  • Ghandi Lettuce
  • Midnight Ruffle Lettuce
  • Gourmet Mixed Lettuce
  • Red Leaf Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Swiss Chard
  • Arugula

I also planted two varieties of carrots and two rows of onions.

 

In the greenhouse gardens I planted two different wildflower packets – a butterfly mix and a bee mix.  I really can’t wait to see them bloom!

The big garden had a surprise crop of onions this year.  I had no idea that the seed onions I planted last year would appear again this year.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with them so I let them grow for a while and then they started blooming! So I decided I would just dig them all up and preserve them.  My husband made a batch of an onion/lemon/hot pepper hot sauce that he uses often and I canned one jar.  The rest we dehydrated and made into onion powder.  I bought a dehydrator for this task and I’m actually quite excited about using it as a method of preservation this year.

Other than the tomatoes and peppers I also planted zucchini, pumpkin, cucumbers and watermelon in the big garden.  I planted along the side and back to give them room to grow out of the garden by the fence instead of on my lawn like last year.  I doubt that any pumpkins or watermelons will grow but I thought I’d try for fun! I also planted two barrels of potatoes and I’m hoping for some big harvests.

We have two raised planters that my dad had built for us last year and so this year I’ve designated them for Ezekiel.  He picked what he wanted to grow and basically just put them wherever he felt like it – I tried to give some direction but didn’t want to interfere too much.  I really want him to have a sense of independence and pride over what he grows.  So far his carrots have sprouted and I think zucchini.

We also have an old (I think) antique wash basin that my parents had been using as a flower planter.  My mom had painted it up with the name and address on it and some flowers on the sides and they used it to mark their cabin (or house really) at the lake.  Last year they decided they didn’t want it anymore and I had asked if I could have it when they were done with it and so now it’s mine!  I’m trying my hand at growing some herbs in there – something I’ve never been successful at growing from seed so we’ll see how it goes!

Some other notes on the garden this year:

I knew that my soil would need some amending so I used 6 bags of sheep manure compost on the big garden and 3 bags on the deck garden.  I also used a lot in the front of the house – that soil was AWFUL and the plants were showing signs of decline last year so I knew I had to do something.  I also bought some fertilizer spikes for the front as well as for the rose bushes, Japanese maple and the mysterious tree with beautiful white flowers in the back.

So here’s some progress pictures bringing us to today – the next posts shouldn’t be as wordy or lengthy!

Thanks for plowing through this post if you’ve made it this far!

Happy Gardening Friends!

2016 Garden Wrap Up

Well, honestly the yard work isn’t quite complete and there are some things left in the garden that hasn’t been cleaned out.  Really out of pure laziness and putting other things first BUT truly the garden is done for the year.  It was a rough end of the summer for the garden but it continued to show me grace and provide me with a lot of food which is now either canned into jars ready for the long winter, waiting to be eaten in the pantry or already gobbled up by my veggie loving toddler.

It was a fantastic year in the garden for me.  The best yet, and although I’m definitely ready for a break I’m already dreaming up the plans for next year.  Each year I learn so many new things, this year a lot of my learning was about where to plant what due to the ample gardening space I now have.  I did a lot of experimenting with tomatoes planting them in the big garden, small garden and containers and have decided that next year they will only be planted in the big garden.  The peppers did pretty good in containers but I think next year I will plant some in the garden as well, later on in the season of course.  I may plant my lettuce into some long containers my dad made for me.  It will save space and I can keep it in cooler places on the deck rather than full sun in the garden.  The gardens in front of the greenhouse will have some ground cover and low lying flowers.   They are just not deep enough to get good roots for tall plants so I’ll try that next year.  The garden along the deck will have a lot of squash varieties and some flowers again, probably different varieties.  Flowers were one of my favourite parts of the garden, next year I’ll focus my flower growing on varieties that would be good cut and put into bouquets.  I could have probably done that with this years flowers, I just didn’t have the energy or creative inspiration to do it.

The tomatoes did amazingly, in the end I harvest a total of 136 lbs of tomatoes.  That’s a whole lot of canning (I’ll do a separate food preserving post later on) and I grumble through it but I am so grateful to be putting food I grew myself away for my family in the winter.  The onions produced pretty well too, I didn’t get huge onions but quite a lot and they are cured and now in my pantry waiting to be used.  The habaneros did way better than I expected and we have a full baggy in the freezer to use through out the year.  The kale just kept going and going but unfortunately didn’t get used much because I couldn’t stomach leafy greens for a couple months.  Same goes for swiss chard.  The spaghetti squash produced more than I expected and I have lots left to eat throughout the next couple months.  The other squash varieties did nothing – some I started in the greenhouse and they got root bound before planted so didn’t do well, others I planted in the garden from seed and they didn’t have enough time to produce anything.  I’ll work on that next year.  The other things like carrots, peas, beans, lettuce all did well as well.

I  didn’t take a lot of pictures of the garden at the end of the year because I didn’t keep up on it and it ended up not being very pretty, but here’s what I did take: