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 8,2017

I’d really love to make these updates more regulated – like say – make an update every Sunday.  Yet this time in my life and motherhood journey I’m learning to be ok with “good enough” for most things.  So I take pictures regularly (confession: currently I have more garden pictures on my phone than kiddo pictures) and when I have some time to sit on my phone (and not scroll Instagram) I’ll write out a post.  Right now my baby needs some momma snuggles while sleeping so I have Jessica Jones on Netflix (my husband and I have recently become obsessed with all the Netflix original Marvel shows) and a post to write.

Since I last wrote I’ve actually gotten quite a lot accomplished in the garden.  I have all the tomatoes potted up, the tomatoes in the garden are pruned, supported and fertilized.  I harvested A LOT of greens and we’ve been enjoying salads daily.  The garden is growing amazingly, the wildflowers are blooming more and more each day, the herbs are coming along well, the tomatoes are mostly all flowering and many have tomatoes, and the peppers are finally starting to perk up and we already have a few growing. 

This next week there’s a couple “have to” items on my list: hang up a shade cloth in the greenhouse and pot up the rest of the peppers.  Along with those two things I’m going to try and work through the rest of the potted tomatoes – prune them, stake them and fertilize them.  Lots and lots to do around here! 

So here’s the last while in pictures:

Now, here’s the garden today:

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.

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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!

Garden Plans and Update

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know that I have really big garden plans this year.  I think maybe I’m biting off a bit more than I can chew but I’m so excited to be jumping into this hobby with two feet. I shared my drawn out plans that I drafted in my Get To Work Book (I love this book, if you are looking for a planner I highly recommend it, the academic version is going on sale soon!) on Instagram but here it is for you too. 

  
A few weeks ago I purchased an 8×8 greenhouse!

I spent days and days (and continue to spend time) dreaming and planning, drawing and making lists.  I’m doing a pretty big revamp of the backyard.  If you want to see pictures of what the backyard currently looks like (or looked like in the summer anyways) you can go back into the blog and find any garden posts.  Basically it has a couple small shrubs and 3 4×4 gardens.  The plan is to add a greenhouse, with some flower gardens lining the walkway to the greenhouse and make the three gardens into one.

When I started this gardening hobby I was on maternity leave and really just needed a very inexpensive way to garden.  I found a couple sheets of plywood in our garage that was left from previous owners and so my husband built me two gardens.  I filled them with the cheapest soil I could find and that was that.  Then last year I wanted one extra garden for tomatoes and so we had some wood from old pallets and my dad built me another garden.  This year I’m ready to make the backyard pretty.  I’ve finally realized that this love of gardening is only growing not dwindling.  To me it’s worth the investment and so I took some deep breaths and spent the money to make the backyard something I love to be in.

The greenhouse is in a box in the backyard waiting to be built.  I have a truckload of lumber and landscaping supplies set to be delivered next week and then just to find the time with my husband to spend a weekend revamping everything back there.  I’m super excited!

For now this is what the seedlings have been up to.  There can’t be very much procrastinating on getting that greenhouse up, the tomatoes are growing like crazy and are very close to needing to be repotted.  I’m trying my hand at growing perennials from seed, so far I only have some Pampas grass going but I’m not really sure how that’s going.  It’s growing excruciatingly slow!  Like always, this year my main expectation is to learn, learn, learn and undertaking growing all my potting plants from seed is definitely going to be a learning experience!

Now for the photos from the last couple weeks:

  
So far these are the seeds I’ve purchased but I’ll more than likely pick up some more.  I can’t help but browse the seeds on my weekly plant store/nursery trips!   
This was the very beginning of the tomatoes, before the peppers even sprouted. 

   
 
The peppers finally sprouted and I’m so excited that everything I planted came up! 

   
   
The first true leaves started showing up around March 8 on the Tomatoes.

   

I planted the Pampas Grass at the same time as some Geraniums.  The grass sprouted really quickly but has been slow to grow otherwise.  The Geraniums were slower to sprout. 

  
My end table is becoming very crowded and I still have some more things to start before the greenhouse will be done. 

   
 
This was the growth a couple days ago. 

   
    
    
   
And this is what they look like today.  Not too bad! 

How’s your garden planning coming? Anyone out there as crazy or crazier than me?! 

 

Tomatoes!

Before my hiatus I talked about my garden dreams, specifically about all my tomato plants.  I figured that would be a great place to start on my updates.

I am honestly and seriously obsessed with all things plants.  In the busyness of my life right now I love to spend time in the mornings and evenings tending to all my plants and it brings me so much peace and joy each day.  I literally go outside and examine my garden at least 4 times a day.  My tomatoes have had me worried on several occasions, but they are really starting to take off in the garden!

Without further ado, here’s a photo timeline.

Seedlings started in the middle of March.

Then planted into pots at the end of March.


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Last year I had all my tomatoes on my coffee table by the window in our living room and I would just rotate them so they all had equal time closest to the window.  Ezekiel is generally VERY good about not touching my plants but I didn’t want to risk them toppling over if he accidentally ran into them.  I ended up placing them on the window sills in my living room and in my bedroom, they are all south facing windows and get amazing amounts of light.  The plants did pretty good but this is where the worrying came in and where I made a few different mistakes.

In my bedroom we had very heavy curtains (which I have always hated but never changed) and I would close them up at night trapping the tomato plants behind them.  I honestly didn’t think it would be a big deal but never thought about the cold air and humidity that would be trapped.  My tomato plants quickly showed signs of not tolerating that.  Some leaves turned brown, others curled.  I googled the heck out of every tomato disease and actually thought that my tomatoes had caught early blight – like I said, I am OBSESSED enough to google tomato plant diseases!

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I wasn’t very hopeful that they were going to last until I got them in the garden because they started looking terrible around the middle of April.  I doted over them and removed the curtains (good riddance!) but they didn’t seem to improve much.  I started hardening them off around the middle of May.

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This is where my next mistake comes in.  Last year I was home all the time so I had the time to put my tomato plants out in the middle of the afternoon for a couple hours and then bring them back in and extend the time outside each day.  This year because I leave for work around 7 am and don’t get home until after 5 I had the “brilliant” idea to put the plants on my deck which gets full sunlight.  I thought that the more sun they got the warmer they would be and the less shocked they would get.  What I didn’t realize is that the leaves that grew behind glass getting filter UV rays were very delicate and I BURNT the leaves!

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I took a risk and planted them into the gardens at the end of May instead of beginning of June and thankfully it didn’t snow! This year I made sure to add compost to the two gardens on the left and I planted the tomatoes in the middle garden to rotate from last year – I’ve heard that tomatoes deplete soil so you shouldn’t plant them in the same area two years in a row.  The third garden that my dad built me this year has a combination of my own compost and potting soil that I purchased and I had to plant three of the tomato plants in that garden.  When I planted them I buried them all the way to the bottom to make sure they developed a really great root system.  I used the bamboo stakes again this year for support.

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Right from the get-go the three plants in the composted soil did much better than the middle garden.  It’s really quite amazing to see.  I have been worried about the middle garden up until this week because they just didn’t seem to be doing great, but thankfully this week I’ve noticed huge growth spurts in all of the plants.  I have so many tomatoes already on the plants! I’m anxious to see how fast they mature.  Last year I did a lot of pruning, and this year I have done a bit but only on the branches that were yellowing and not doing well.  I think this year I’ll just let them be until the end of the season when I’ll likely top them off.

This is what they look like today (sorry about the colouring on some of these, not sure how that happened):

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I’m pretty happy with how they are turning out, and I can’t wait to start canning in the fall!