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!

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!

Greenhouse Growing

Well! Dreams have become reality around here! In the midst of my ongoing health issues I’ve managed (with my dad’s help!) to get my greenhouse up and running.  Honestly, everything about it is more than I could have imagined.  I’m loving spending my time planting, water, and watching things grow!

I thought I’d share some progress pictures and share how things are going.  Although having a greenhouse makes growing food in colder weather easier, it’s also a little bit more work and complicated.  Temperature control has been a learning point from the start and I haven’t nailed it down yet but I think I’m doing pretty well so far!

Without further ado…..

   
  I knew my dad was coming to visit the first week in April so I wanted to get the base of the greenhouse layed out.  It was a bit of a trick to get him to help me, I was almost positive he wouldn’t be able to look at it while he was here without doing some of the work.  My plan worked!  He started by just securing up the floor – putting the plywood to the pallets and then we levelled it.  Thankfully it was the exact measurement of the greenhouse! 

  

    
 I worked nights Friday and Saturday, when I came home Sunday morning it was gorgeous outside and I couldn’t resist attempting to put up the greenhouse.  I was silly enough to think that I might be able to accomplish it alone.  In the end it took my dad and I (and an hour of my husbands help) 10 hours of work! That wasn’t even completely finished, the next day I did another hour or so putting the inside reinforcements up.  It was all worth it! 

   
  I decided to put a coat of black paint on the floor to spruce it up a bit and for a tiny bit of heat absorption.  I went to Ikea and bought some shelves and a cheap desk to act as a potting bench.  I went to Canadian Tire and got a cheap portable heater (one that is safe for in bathrooms and high humidity areas) and a cheap table fan.  I also bought two large black garbage cans to fill with water and act as a thermal heating source.  Right now it’s still getting too cold at night for them to do a lot but in a few weeks it should do some more of the heating.  I placed them on top of some sidewalk bricks I had laying around for extra heat absorption. The water in them gets quite warm actually, I was impressed. 

After it was all set up I went to work moving out the plants, repotting and planting more seeds! 

   

That old metal mailbox is an antique heirloom passed down to me from my dad.  It was bought in 1908 and has been in our family ever since, it was sitting in my shed for over a year just waiting for the perfect opportunity and I’m so happy to have it in the greenhouse! 

  
These were the tomatoes pre-potted. 
  

  
This is the extent of what I have so far that has been potted, there’s still so many seeds being started and 4 containers that have been planted.  
  

One afternoon I set up this potting station for Ezekiel to plant his own box.  He really loved the activity and is enjoying watching all the plants grow. 

Here’s some close ups of some of what is growing. 

   
    
    
    
    
   
And here’s the task lists and running inventory.  I’m going wild planting everything with full knowledge that I will have much more than I can plant and so I will likely have to sell or give some away. I just can’t help myself! 

   
 
This post has become extremely long! Next time I’ll write a bit about what I’m learning – things that are working and things I might change up. 

Cheers friends and happy growing!