Wednesday, 18 July 2012

The Harvest Has Begun

With the heat and the rain, I have been able to harvest some of my produce. The radishes are gone, except for the few plants I let go to seed; the lettuce is finally ready and the peas are consumed as soon as they are ready. We did dig a hill of potatoes on the weekend, but we jumped the gun. The biggest was smaller in diameter than a toonie.

As for my tomatoes, they are beginning to produce fruit. My upside down tomato is trying very hard to grow in an upright position. I'm not sure if that will change once it is heavy with fruit, but it definitely does not resemble the commercial upside down planters at all. Visit the Topsy Turvy site and you'll see what I mean. Personally I do not see it straightening out completely even if it does begin to produce a substantial amount of fruit. Does anyone agree?

In addition to the garden starting to produce some fresh veggies, I picked a four liter bucket full of saskatoons yesterday. They are so good with cream and sugar! I had planned on picking more today, but the little bit of rain we got this morning was enough to keep me away from the trees. Our hay hasn't been cut yet, and I have to walk through it to get to the fruit trees. I did not have much desire to get soaking wet before I even made it to the trees. The berries are not as good quantity wise as they have been other years, but I will take what I can get. I love saskatoons!

My sunflowers are starting to finally reach upward; it has taken them some time but it appears I may get some sunflowers after all this year. More food for the birds in the winter, provided the shells fill out. We had larger heads last year, but the shells were empty. I'm guessing they were not pollinated properly, which was a disappointment.

I will soon be able to harvest the yellow beans, as they are blooming profusely. I overplanted as the seed was older, but apparently that has made no difference in seed germination. My lettuce on the other hand was an entirely different story; two plants from at least 50 seeds.

Speaking of my garden, I do need to go out and pull some weeds. The heat and the rain have contributed to an explosion of them, even though I thought they were under control. The nice part about the raised beds is it is easier to weed. The moisture has also increased the mosquito population, so there will be a liberal application of bug repellent applied before I go out.

Happy gardening and have a great day!

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Update on Tomato Planter

I am proud of myself; I haven't killed my upside down tomato yet. I did forget to water it one of those very warm days, but with the inch of rain we got last night and this morning, it has made a full recovery.

The planter is still looking a little lopsided, but hopefully that will all be remedied early next week.

It does appear to have grown a bit over the last couple of weeks, which is more than I can say for the few that are still in the pots from my friend's greenhouse. I did get a few planted in other pots and one of the garden beds, so I will soon see which is the best method of growing them. The pictures below show the others.

The patio tomato in the urn is doing well; it did have a better start than the others as it was in a bigger pot when I got it. The one below is a Beefsteak if I remember correctly, and is in a pot with alpaca beans, hay/straw mix and some soil. It seems to have doubled in size as well from when it was planted approximately a week ago.

What have you put your tomatoes in this year? Anyone else trying to grow them upside down, or even right side up? 

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Telephoto Lens Required

I just did a walk around my yard, and came to a conclusion: I need a camera with a powerful telephoto lens. The lilacs are in full bloom and buzzing with activity. The bees I'm not too keen on, but the butterflies are beautiful. I tried to get a picture several times, but couldn't get close enough. I figure if I had a zoom lens I could stand on my deck and zoom in close enough to get a good picture. This is what I got; not sure if you can see the butterfly in the middle or not. I do have to say, the lilacs are pretty though.

Even with the bigger image I still don't see it. If you do, please point it out to me.

The lilacs are blooming and the majority of the dandelions have gone to seed. Every now and again a little gust of wind comes up and sends the seeds into untouched areas of my lawn. I know they are good to eat, and the alpacas love them - but do they have to grow EVERYWHERE? I spent some time pulling them out of the garden beds (persistent little things) and the lawn, but the sun is too hot for me when it comes out. The alpacas did enjoy their treat though.

I am cooking steak and potatoes on the barbecue tonight, as it is my daughter's birthday...Happy Sweet 16 Robyn! She also requested escargot - I'll try that on the barbecue as well. Instead of the traditional birthday cake, she requested a drumstick cake. It has been made and is now in the freezer chilling. I'm not sure how it's going to work with the candles; she'll have to be fast.

I did a check around my garden last night and found my potatoes, pumpkins, sunflowers and a few other things poking through. I think the radishes will soon be ready, which will go nicely with the lettuce and green onions. I still have a few things to plant; namely my tomatoes. The only one I planted so far is the one in the ice-cream bucket. It is a little lopsided, but I think it will be okay. I have received some advice on how to reinforce the buckets so they don't bend the way the one in the photo has.

It was my first attempt at an upside down tomato planter, so we will see what happens. As long as the twine doesn't break, I'm happy!

Happy gardening!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Upside Down Tomato Planters

Wow! I write every day and yet it has been over two weeks since I posted anything on here. How am I ever going to get to the first page of Google at this rate?

I got most of my planting done before we had a nice shower with an inch and a half of rain. I do still have some potatoes to put in and a few other things, but for the most part I am finished. I went to visit my friend on the weekend and came home with about a dozen tomato plants; at least four varieties. I am anxious to try the "upside down planter" theory for my tomatoes, but instead of buying the planters advertised on TV I will be making my own out of recycled ice-cream buckets. I am almost out of garden beds, so having some tomatoes hanging around will be a good thing.

I wasn't sure where I was going to put them, but I have decided a good spot would be the trellis frame. I have my Virginia Creeper on one side, and the other side is empty. It will be the perfect spot for some hanging tomato pots. These planters would be ideal for the apartment dweller who has limited balcony space. :)

Along with the rain came the exploding growth of dandelions and grass that needs to be mowed again very soon. The alpacas have been getting daily treats of bucketfuls of dandelions as I pull them out of my lawn. I think for every one I pull out another 10 grow. It's like they wait until my back is turned and then spring upward and open.

I will take some photos of the tomato planters when I am making them, which will be tomorrow if all goes according to plan. I will also let you know how I did it, so stay tuned. A friend of a friend said they work well; has anyone else tried them?

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Sheds for the Garden

With every garden should come a shed. Personally I think in this case bigger is better, as it doesn't take long to fill a shed. As the pictures showed in the squirrel post last week, my shed has a lot of stuff in it. I should have perhaps also taken a picture of the pile of things outside while taking pictures of the cleaned out inside.

My shed is a 6'X8' metal structure and not near as big as I would like it to be. I put a wooden floor in it (makes it easier for the squirrel to access this way) which keeps the contents up off of the ground. It did come with a metal base which I screwed the wood to. With the added weight of the metal base and wood, it is more stable than if it were just the shed alone. I have seen what high winds can do to this type of shed, and it isn't pretty. Mine has been slightly moved by the wind, but never tipped over.

For those of you who don't care for the metal type, by all means build your own. Cost wise it is roughly the same - if I had been wiser I would have built my own instead of buying the one I did. The lumber doesn't have to be perfect, as long as it can be screwed together. There are many types of shed plans available either online or at your local hardware store. In all honesty, I think building a wooden one from scratch would have been simpler than putting together the metal one. If I remember correctly, I had to disassemble it once because I didn't line up the panels for the doors properly. When I moved I took it apart and set it back up again; and it has had wooden doors ever since.

My advice would be to start with a shed no smaller than 8X12 feet; that way there is at least room for a lawnmower, a bench, a toolbox and some floor space. Plus there will be room for the smaller gardening tools and equipment such as an electric hedge trimmer, weed eater, rakes, shovels, hoes, garden hoses, electrical cords and more.

Building a shed with windows lets in natural light which is beneficial if you plan on using it for any type of woodworking or transplanting. If the windows are positioned properly and it is insulated, you can even use it for a sheltered place to harden off bedding plants.

If you don't already have a garden shed perhaps it is time to build one (or for the not so handy person, buy one). Many building centers do have them already built, but keep in mind you will pay for the convenience of having it delivered to your yard. I will be doing my own shed pattern searching and hopefully building one at some point over the summer.

Happy gardening!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Garden Ornament Pictures & More

It took a few shots, but I was able to capture the solar butterfly after all. With the wind today and the spinning of the motor, it was a difficult shot to get. I must say, I am pleased with how it turned out.

The next picture is of the bird feeder my sister gave me for my birthday. I took the picture before I attached it to the trellis and filled it.

As I did my little tour around the yard with camera in hand, I also noticed my strawberries were blooming. They do appear to need a drink, as the sun and wind have dried out the bed. I will be adding a layer of alpaca beans to the bed to help keep down the weeds and feed the strawberries.

The final picture is of the pile of pine cones I cleaned out of my shed last week. Remember the squirrels stash?

Have a great afternoon! I must go do some planting now.

Happy gardening!

New Garden Ornaments

Good morning! I hope everyone had a great weekend! I was doubly blessed yesterday, as it was my birthday and Mother's Day all rolled into one. My daughter made breakfast, then we went to our niece's dance recital in the afternoon. Supper was spent with the in-laws, which is always a good time.

My older sister gave me a couple of neat things for my garden: one is a solar powered butterfly ornament (sun powers a little motor which turns and spins the butterfly) and a bird feeder. She also gave me some Citronella bracelets, which are supposed to ward off mosquitoes - I sure hope they work.

My younger sister gave me a cookbook called "The Big Book of World Tapas - 365 Delicious Light Bites for all Occasions". I will be trying several of the recipes soon I'm sure. I will be able to use some fresh produce from my garden for many of the recipes, but it will have to wait until my garden grows.

Today I will be planting my multiplier onions. I am also going to plant peas today, as they are a favorite in our house. Our favorites are the Sugar Snaps, but the Homesteader are good as well - just a little more work to eat them. Perhaps some lettuce and Swiss Chard will be going in as well.

I was very pleased yesterday to see my Bleeding Heart survived the winter. I was afraid it had winter-killed due to lack of snow, but when I went out yesterday I noticed the shoots coming through the soil. I think the Bleeding Heart is one of my favorites as far as perennials go. What is your favorite?

We stopped at one greenhouse yesterday as well and my son bought me a hanging basket filled with strawberry plants. I have the perfect spot for it - right outside the door. I have a plant hanger that attaches to the deck railing and will hang the planter there. I could have spent much longer in the greenhouse but we were pressed for time. There is a new one in our area that opened last year; one I didn't get a chance to go to. I will be visiting it sometime this week, once I decide on which bedding plants I want.

I will take my camera out to my garden and take some pictures of my butterfly ornament and bird feeder. I will be posting them either later today or tomorrow.

Happy gardening!