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!

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:

 

Garden Update July 31

Well, another 2 week garden update.  It’s been busy and I’ve been pretty tired lately so blogging hasn’t been on the top of my list.  However, the garden is doing pretty great!  I have a lot of cucumber’s starting but none that have produced anything, today I did some manual pollinating so hopefully I get a few!  Some of my peppers weren’t doing so great in the greenhouse so I cleaned it out completely and put all the plants on the deck.  I’m hoping they perk up.  I’ve had some zucchini’s, tomatoes, a pepper and of course greens harvested.  A lot of flowers have started to open which is fun for me, I’ve never really grown flowers before.

Without further ado here’s the pics!

July 24:

July 31:

Until next week friends!

Garden Update July 17

How did three weeks go by? It’s been a busy time around here.  The first of those 3 weeks was full of work for me, I worked 6/7 days which was nuts.  After that I spent time catching up around the house and garden and then we were off to Saskatchewan for a wedding.  This past week I’ve been doing things here and there around the house, doing a TONNE of walking (a post on that to come soon with an update on my health) and a couple night shifts thrown in there.  So to say we’ve been busy is a bit of an understatement but it’s been good, so so good.

The rain hasn’t stopped in what seems like weeks.  The yard and gardens are water logged and squishy and I’m really hoping for some sun this week to help the veggies grow.  Despite the lack of sun things seem to be doing well although my tomato plants are really begging for sun, a lot of the fruit is split on the bottoms and the leaves are curling on a lot of plants – sure signs of overwatering.

I’ve had quite a bit of harvesting to do, mostly leafy greens, lots of kale and swiss chard.  There have been 4 tomatoes that we have enjoyed and 2 zucchini’s which have been sautéed and loved.  The spinach and radishes are completely done, pulled and composted and I’ve replaced them with three different types of lettuce.   I thought we would be drowning in greens but actually we keep running out and having to harvest more!  I’m finding that I’m just becoming more creative in incorporating them into our meals and so far everyone has enjoyed it which is a very good thing :).

Despite me not writing posts with updates I’ve been taking pictures with intentions of blogging so here’s pictures from the week of July 3.

Now from the week of July 10:

Finally, this past week:

Well that’s it for now.  Hopefully this week I’ll have time to do some more blogging that’s not just gardening.

Ciao friends!

Garden Update June 26

I’ve been waiting all day to be able to post this.  I literally had these photos done by 730 this morning and here it is 1030 at night when I should be sleeping.  It’s been a good day but a day that has been full of family and friends being together and the in between has been time to sit and just be.  So I may pay for this in the morning but I really wanted to get this update up.

The garden is thriving and I couldn’t be happier.  We are now enjoying garden goodies daily.  One of my regrets is not planting more lettuce earlier on but I will be planting more this week.

Let’s start in the big garden, the tomatoes are doing lovely.  I must admit though, they are now getting to the point of growing like crazy and I’m a little overwhelmed with the upkeep.  I thought I’d be able to do weekly up keeping but I’m finding it now has to be done every few days.  I can’t complain though, they have some beautiful looking tomatoes on them!

 

I have thinned everything out to the best of my ability and now it’s just weeding and harvesting to do.  One variety of carrot did really well, the other is pretty sparse.  The seeds were a few years old so that’s likely why.  My terrible planting is really evident by how much (or little) space is between things.  I’ll be pulling all the radishes this week.  We aren’t huge radish eaters so I didn’t plant a lot but what I did plant has done really well.  I’m actually really impressed because I’ve tried to grow them several times with no luck.  The three varieties of lettuce I tried growing did absolutely nothing – there is some romaine growing though.  In the place of the radishes and where the lettuce didn’t grow I’ll be planting a mixed variety of lettuce which I have been growing in a container and we really like.  I’m not sure how the beets are doing, but judging by their tops I think they are ok.  The spinach and kale are doing really great, I did a big harvest today which is almost gone already, we are eating greens like crazy lately.

Now the smaller garden:

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The butternut squash plants are struggling, I’m not sure if I let them grow too long in small pots before planting them.  I’m going to pick up a plant tonic to try out and see if that makes them happier.

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The spaghetti squash, zucchini’s, and cucumbers are doing well though:

The pumpkin seeds I thought were duds finally sprouted.  I doubt anything will produce from them but I’m willing to wait and see.

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The flowers are doing well other than the Violas which I’m pretty sure never germinated, there are some plants growing there that I’m almost positive are just weeds but I can’t pull them just in case!

The greenhouse gardens are doing well.  Everything is coming up, some more slowly than others but I have high hopes.  I ended up deadheading the snapdragons after this photo.

The greenhouse plants seem to be doing well – the peppers especially.  The tomatoes I’m not sure about, one of them seems to just be shooting high with very little branches.  I’m interested to see if it produces much.  I’m really excited about the amount of blooms starting on the habanero’s and there’s a few peppers growing already.

The deck tomatoes are doing so much better than I expected and our container strawberries started to really produce!

Now it’s way past my bedtime and 5am is going to come quickly! I have some posts brewing in the back of my mind so I hope to get some time to jot those down.  For now I’ll just say see you next week! If you have a garden blog please share it with me, I’m obsessed with browsing gardens 🙂

Ciao friends!

Weekly Garden Update June 19

Ok, I figured I’d start my weekly updates today and then try to do them each Sunday.

Happy Fathers day by the way!

Here’s a big view of the yard as best I could get it.

Now I’ll take you through each of the gardens and then do the tomatoes and peppers separately.  I’ll start with the greenhouse gardens.

IMG_5175In the left hand garden I have morning glories and sweet peas planted to the back of the garden which will climb up the trellis and hopefully make it gorgeous!

IMG_5177I have three teepees with different types of peas planted at the bases of the poles.  Hopefully they climb up the poles.  Between the poles I have Tom Thumb Peas planted which don’t climb.

IMG_5180In the right hand garden I have bachelor buttons planted in the front of them.  I have a number of edible flower varieties planted that I purchased from a local plant store that supplies really great seeds.  The edible flowers came in a kit and so far all the seeds have done really well.  You should check them out here.

IMG_5181These are the snap dragons I grew from seed.  I started them in February at the same time I started my tomatoes and peppers.  I have never noticed snapdragons in previous years of greenhouse wanderings and had no idea what they were supposed to look like or how to grow them – so all of that considered I’m pretty impressed with them!

IMG_5182Behind the snapdragons I have three more teepees that have a couple different of varieties of beans planted at the bases.  One morning I came out to find a lot of the seeds at the surface, I have a feeling some of them were stolen by some kind of animal – likely birds.

Now on to the large garden:

And the smaller garden – the back of the garden is tomatoes, the middle is flowers and the front is squash varieties and cucumbers (and failed pumpkins).  I’m pretty sure the viola’s failed as well and are just some weeds.

Now the tomatoes and peppers.

Lastly – the containers!

Overall I’m pretty happy with how things are going.  There are some flops but that’s to be expected!

Until next week!

Mid-June Garden Update

Well, now that we are already in the middle of June and the garden has been planted for two full weeks I figured it was time to do a catch up post in anticipation of starting a weekly update.  I’m very optimistic about this years garden, things seem to be flourishing early on.  I learned last year that it’s not what happens in the beginning that matters but the maintenance throughout the season that will make the difference.  This year I’m trying to be very intentional with things like thinning out the plants so they have the appropriate amount of space to grow, as well as pruning the tomato plants.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post but I do promise to try and get out a weekly update on the gardens.  Maybe I’ll even cut this into a couple posts, we’ll see!

When I left off last time we had just finished filling the two biggest gardens with soil and I was just waiting to plant.

Here’s what the greenhouse plants looked like before I transplanted them into the gardens.  I didn’t harden them off before putting them into the gardens which wasn’t the best decision but everything is still alive and growing! 


Here’s a snapshot of the containers that I had planted – they were doing well aside from the rectangular lettuce container that barely grew at all.  When I moved them outside the majority of them declined rapidly.  I’m ok with that, I’ll try some more again soon. 


It was finally time to plant! I planted 4 days before our last frost date on May 25 and had a slight scare with very light frost the next morning – thankfully it was just a scare! 

First thing in the ground was the squash plants and of course tomatoes.  I did 24 in the large garden and 14 in the medium one.  My husband saw me struggling and was kind enough to help out 🙂 . Then over the next couple days I planted the rest of the seeds.  I (very) roughly followed a square foot pattern and it seemed to work ok.  Definitely not the wisest or prettiest ways to plant but it worked.  Also I’m actually really terrible at the planting of seeds part of gardening but I’m trying to get better at it as well as thinning out the young plants to make room for actual growth.  


Finally, here’s some progression shots in chronological order – my favourite way to see progress! 

May 26


May 28 (flower seedlings started in the greenhouse) 


May 31


June 1: repotting the remaining tomato plants (18).  I’ve since got rid of 9 of those, I’m growing 4 on the deck and 5 in the greenhouse. 



June 6



June 9 


June 11


Ok, I think that’s enough for now! You’ll notice that I’m still obsessed with coffee 🙂

If you don’t already – be sure to follow me on Instagram for more up to date pictures.  I will definitely try to do weekly up dates – they are my favourite way to see how well everything grows.  

Ciao friends! Enjoy your week!