gardening, Sustainable Living

More Poor Success​: Flowers Update

Among the vegetable container bins, we used a few for flowers this year. Thanks to the following two packages that did not come up, we’ve reseeded that empty bin with more turnip seeds.

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On the side of Mom’s house, we also tried to plant the following package of flower seeds, but they did not come up either.

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The following pictures are of Benary’s Giant Zinnia’s flowers which are doing really well both in a bin at Mom’s and in a bed in front of Grandma’s house. Because they have not flowered yet, I’ve included a picture of what they should look like from the Seed Savers website where we purchased them.

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They are going to be gorgeous when they do flower!

Pansies:

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Two types of Clematis blooms ready to blossom as well as multiple buds ready to bloom as well….

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Johnny Jump Ups:

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Lilly:

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Matthiola:

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These were planted from seed too and we’re unsure as to how big they will get or what they will look like. We have lost the seed package and a google search shows them looking like this….

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I can’t say that our plants coming up look like this, but we will see.

Grandma’s Lavender:

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We’re calling the flower gardens a poorer success because only 50% of the flower seeds we planted are coming up.  The rest of the flowers that are doing so well, have been established for 2+ years now and belong either to Mom or Grandma and can’t really be counted as part of our successes.

Bring on the Bees!

 

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gardening, Sustainable Living

A Poor Success; The Vegetable Garden Update

What a poor year for the garden! With too much rain and below seasonal temperatures it is a wonder the gardens have even survived this year at all. In fact, we know friends whose gardens have flooded out completely.

In the beginning, it felt like failure for us too; the chives from seed did not come up, the parsley from seed has been VERY slow, something keeps digging into the winter onions, some type of bug has eaten most of the turnip tops, and the pepper seeds which were planted twice have not come up at all (and maybe not the tomato ones either….jury still out).

However, after all of these failures, disappointments, and complaints, once we walk around and see how well all the other plants are doing – we see success.  There is a plus to container gardening when there is too much rain; they drain better than the ground. I’m thinking that maybe in smaller amounts the soil in the container will be warmer than the soil in the ground as well which may help.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate the success we are having despite a poor start and poor weather co-operation….

The Multiplier Green Onions:

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The bin is only 1/2 full at the moment because we’ve been harvesting and eating! So fresh and full of water it feels like eating celery at first. They are sweet and mild enough to enjoy from end to end, eating them raw (dipped in a little salt of course).

Green Onion from Seed:

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From seed, these will be a little slower, but we will be able to enjoy them later in the season after the multipliers are done.

The Chives:

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They’ve grown a lot since last year. We haven’t touched them yet and plan to wait for ‘onion gap’ between the multiplier green onions and the from seed green onions before we do. We will use the chives in place of green onions in recipes for a similar flavour.

The Cucumbers & Zucchini:

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The Tomato and Basil:

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I realize that this does not at all look like a Tomato Plant hahaha. We planted four Mortgage Lifter tomato seeds and something came up in the exact location that we planted them. More than anything, it looks like a cucumber plant and we did try growing cucumber in this bin last year. I guess we’ll wait and see what happens.

Here is a picture of the Tomato Seed package showing the fruit, but not the plant….

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The Basil plants were just picked over yesterday for first harvest this year and they smell great!

The Okra Plants:

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A little smaller than what they should be due to the cooler temperatures, they still look well and hopefully will continue to grow in the July heat that we’re expecting (and hoping to see).

The Horseradish:

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So impatient for these to get started, we can see there’s no worry going forward about the kind of harvest we’ll have for this plant. I’ve even had a dream about grinding it up; it was so hot and spicy my eyes were burning & I woke up sweating!

The two kinds of Lettuce:

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We’ve harvested from both a week ago and had such an abundance that we did not get back to the ‘patch’ before the first plant got bitter. While it was cool in the morning yesterday, we cut it down and gave it a really good watering to encourage new growth. The second one, because of the speckles, was easy to pull off the longer, older, tougher, bitter pieces and again after a really good watering, will be ready for another harvest in a few days.

The Garlic:

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A little crowded on one side; probably because the bin is not 100% level and some of the garlic seeds got so wet, they rotted. We will leave them alone until next spring.

The Parsley:

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Slow to start, it looks like we won’t have a ‘dud’ crop after all and there will be lots of parsley to dry and enjoy for another whole year. We are almost finished last year’s crop that we dehydrated.

The Radishes:

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Harvested and replanted three times already and with lots of seed still left, we will be able to enjoy these crunchy snacks for the next month.

An Empty Bin:

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This is where we planted the pepper seed twice, both times unsuccessfully. Some things maybe really should be started indoors. Here is the picture of the pepper seed package….

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We’ve replanted the bin with Turnip seeds. The turnips at the side of Mom’s house have been eaten up by bugs. We have had to pull out all but a few that look ok to continue on. They have been sprayed with a sunlight soap and water solution to make them sticky and unenjoyable for the bugs.

Turnips:

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Hopefully, the ones in the bins fare better.

The Winter Onions:

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The winter onions are doing well on the side of Mom’s house despite being dug up a few times from some sort of animal. We heard a little tip: put a couple of moth balls around the bed. This is supposed to deter the animals and we’ve put two in to see if they work.

The Beets:

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The beets have done well here too with the winter onions. We thinned them yesterday, kept the ones we took out and washed them up ready to eat in a salad.

The Carrots:

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The carrots are doing poorly here, but we suspect a lot of their seed has washed away along with the parsnip seed that we can’t seem to find coming up.

Grandma’s Garden:

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From left to right; corn, spinach, carrots, with the last row a 1/4 row radish (that was harvested 2 days ago and reseeded) and a 3/4 row snow pea plants.  The carrots will need to be thinned out soon.  We’ve been waiting for a good weather day for Grandma – no rain and not too hot – we want to help, but not take over so she can remain active in the garden. Hoeing is therapeutic at any age! Despite all the rain, her garden has managed to drain well and she’s only lost a small section of the spinach row to flood.

Despite a few failures, some frustration and replanning, we do see success at every turn in the garden this year and hope to see more as the season continues.

 

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gardening, Sustainable Living

Horseradish & The Good Luck Company

Almost an entire month has passed since we planted the horseradish. Instead of ordering online like I did for our seeds, I took an old-fashioned approach, filling out an order form, writing a cheque and mailing away for the horseradish root. I didn’t know I should possibly keep them in the fridge. Instead, I left it in the package in our backroom at the farmhouse where the woodstove is. When we did plant it on May 1st, they were a little dry, kinda rubbery instead of hard and after we planted them, it rained for 4 days and I’ve been worried they’d gone to rot.

Every day I looked at the bin, every day I would get my face as close as I could to the dirt, looking for a small sign they survived. I had added a little dry dirt on top. The other day, I took the dirt off…no sign of plants sprouting. I talked to the roots, hoping they would pop up.

I was beginning to loose hope.

And then it happened!

Yesterday we had a visit from Ivan & Fran Foster; they were coming to see if we had any extra bins to share and wanted to check out what we are growing.

Taking a walk through our planted bins, we asked them if they had ever grown horseradish. Ivan said he remembers sitting on the porch as a kid, preparing it with his brother (my Uncle Harold Foster) with their eyes & nose running from the strength of it. I explained that this is what I want to do; I’ve been looking forward to grinding it up and storing it to eat over the winter (and maybe some other uses too – see links @ end of blog)

(I know I’ll be the only one of us 2 to enjoy it though. I joke we have a ‘Hot Lover’ in the house, and despite eating some hot foods until tears and sweat are produced and he is so red in the face it’s not funny, he does not like radish, horseradish or wasabi)

Ivan could see the horseradish had not come up yet, told us we should have seen something by then, but not to give up just yet.

As always I  took one last look at the bins before going to bed last night ….. and there it was!!

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We had planted 4-5 root pieces and with 3 sprouts finally making an appearance we’re at least 60% at the moment; a passing grade when I was in school and we’re going to take it!

An additional yippee for the tomato sprouts beginning to appear as well. Unable to get them started inside this year, we’re taking a chance at doing them from scratch outside.

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What great luck our company brought to us yesterday – Thanks, Ivan & Fran!

Why am I so interested in Horseradish?…

http://www.herballegacy.com/Horseradish.html

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/horrad38.html#med

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2016/05/30/horseradish-benefits.aspx

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/horseradish.html

http://www.herbalpedia.com/horseradish.pdf

Thanks 🙂

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gardening, Sustainable Living

Grandma’s Garden

We’ve finished planting all our containers and we’ve planted a small patch beside Mom’s house.

Grandma wanted to plant her little plot next to the garage yesterday, so I gave her a hand  because selfish person I am, I still had the itch to be in the dirt

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From left to right she has a row of corn, a row of spinach, a row of beets and the last row is split 3/4 peas and 1/4 radish

There’ll be lots of variety for sure now on the farm for vegetables!

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gardening, Sustainable Living

Container Gardening

It has stopped raining long enough to take a few pics of the containers this year.

With 18 total, below are 6 in front of Mom’s house across the road

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From left to right: chives, flowers, parsley, flowers, flowers, green onion from seed.

At the farm, behind the house are the other 12

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Left side, top to bottom: lettuce, lettuce, garlic, green multiplier onion, horseradish, peppers

Right side, top to bottom: radish, zucchini, cucumber, tomato & basil, flowers, okra

For the zucchini and cucumbers, we are using green metal triangles for support in the hopes they will not grow down into the grass & die like last year. (The tendrils from cucumber plants and squash plants do not like to be disturbed once they have snagged onto something).

Along with the flowers to attract bees and butterflies for pollination and fruit growth (or in our case, vegetables) we have these lovely dandelions

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We have seen one hummingbird and have placed a feeder outside to encourage more to come.

While some of our vegetable selection do not need pollinators in order to produce edibles (herbs, horseradish, onions, garlic, and lettuce), the peppers, tomatoes, and squash will.

The best part about container gardening is the ‘Set It & Forget It’ sensation that I now have.  Except for adding two containers to the line-up, I stirred up the dirt, pick a few weeds, added seed, and let the rain do the ‘watering’. Most of the work was done while sitting on a camping stool.

Ongoing maintenance for weeding and harvesting can be and will be done sitting on a camping stool making it ideal for many types of gardeners 🙂

 

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gardening, Sustainable Living

Spring Planting

After 8 months it’s finally time to get the Garden Blog on the go again.  Our friend Shannon @ The Roost (      ) was right when she told her husband “the rest of the year’s months are just ‘filler months’ until spring planting can start”

This year my hands were itching to get into the soil; I would say I’ve been feeling almost obsessed by the itch for being in the dirt.

Over the last week, we’ve prepped and planted 18 bins & 1 small plot by the side of the house.

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The bins are in the same location as last year, but we added a few more. We’ve planted the following; lettuce x2, radish, garlic, multiplier green onions, green onions from seed, horseradish, cucumber, zucchini, okra, peppers, tomatoes, basil, chives, parsley and 4 types of flowers. For a few reasons we were unable to start the peppers and tomatoes inside this year so we’re taking the chance and starting them from seed outdoors – can’t hurt to try right?

For the ‘In Ground’ garden, we planted winter onions, carrots, parsnips, beets and 1 type of flower.  With a small plot, we decided to go for small rows in order to get variety.

The radishes have already started coming up, as well as the lettuce and the garlic…

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The chives we planted last year have come up and doubled.

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The container they are in also held parsley last year but it crowded out the chives. The parsley has been planted separately and we added more chive seed for a bigger ‘crop’ in this existing container.

We even worked our way into Mom’s front flower bed, telling her we needed the dead dried plants for the compost, which is true, but it was not the reason why I kept going….it was the dirt!

To me, gardening adds art to my life. As it grows, it adds visual art and then I create art by taking pictures and writing about it.

It is an art we can eat…..and we LOVE eating!

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FOOD, Food Preservation, Sustainable Living

Storing The Hot Peppers

 

I had all these beautiful hot peppers grown for the ‘Hot Lover’ in the house, but I knew there would be no way he could eat all of them while they were fresh.

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However, I am not a great ‘preserver’ in the sense that I do not make pickles, relishes or salsas.

But I did not want to waste these easy to grow mixed hot peppers.

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After washing them, slicing them open to remove the seeds, I cut them in 1/2 and arranged them on food dehydrator trays.

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I was thinking that If it worked for the parsley and basil, and if I can buy dried chillis in the store, then it should work right?

And the answer….?

Yes!!

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I used 2 pieces (therefore 1 pepper) in a homemade chilli this weekend and they added so much flavour! Not hot, although a little ‘warm’, it was perfect!

This is a 500 ml jar filled, and only needing 2 pieces / recipe, I’m sure it will last until this time next year when another batch is ready.

Here’s to a little internal heat this winter to keep us warm!

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