They Grow Up So Fast!

Only a week after our last (hopefully!) dump of snow the harvest has begun! The first jar of chives has hit the freezer. I simply cut off a fistful of stalks and then snip the stems into a jar and pop them in the freezer. I try to do it before they bloom for best nutrients and flavour – though I like to include a few tight lavender buds if there are any. They look pretty in the jar and taste good too : ) Two big jars are usually enough to get us through the winter…

We often get our last spring frost at the full moon so I usually wait until after the last full moon at the end of May to transplant…especially the tender stuff. However, this year it doesn’t fall until June 04th so I’ve started putting things out starting with the tougher stuff. Still, I never put out my tomato transplants until after June 10th…too many experiences with nurturing tomatoes along for weeks only to have them turn to a puddle of brown mush. Then I’m left with frantically scouring the bare shelves of the local nurseries and not getting the kinds I like. The Brassicas seem to tolerate a bit of frost but tomatoes are complete wimps. Darcy and I love Brussel sprouts so much I always start twice what we need; that way if they get taken out by frost I have back up I can put in. I don’t have enough room to do that with the tomatoes.

Here are some of my transplants being hardened off on our north facing deck. Ignore the cabbage in the forefront that looks a little stressed and brown. I think it missed a couple of waterings. From front to back I have cabbage, coleus, more cabbage, Swiss chard, Brussel sprouts and a bunch of yellow and red yarrow. Starting the coleus from a packet of mixed seed was easy and fun – so much cheaper than buying them from a nursery and what a variety you get!

I like seeding Bright Lights Swiss chard because that way I know what colour they are and I can use them in my flower beds for ornamental purposes too.  I usually get a good balance but this year I have almost all red and only a few yellow…

Every year I choose a couple of perennials to start from seed. This year it was yarrow. It takes a little longer than buying big ones from the nursery but time goes fast and it’s kind of  cool to know you started it yourself from seed. And it’s crazy how much money you save!

Transplants on Deck!

The Long Weekend! Time to plant seeds…and shovel snow

I was outside until 9 pm last night puttering in the garden and collecting manure from the horse pasture with my trusty scoop shovel and wheelbarrow. A horse produces around 50 pounds of manure a day! With two horses I am practically a manure baroness. I was zipping about, feeling very rich and blessed with abundance when I looked up and caught our horses, Mindy and Mage, staring at me. I wonder what they were thinking. Perhaps it’s best I don’t know.

Mindy: “What is the human up to now Mage? Tell me she isn’t…no, she can’t be…”

Mage: “What the…great grain buckets!!! Would you look at that? And check out how happy she looks about it!”

Something tells me I’ve lost their respect entirely.

After I wore myself out pushing loads of manure up our hill and mixing it into my containers and working it into the tomato and squash beds, I watered the upper vegetable garden. Things have been dry. I made plans to water the lower vegetable patch this morning before heading into town. Instead I woke up to a healthy six inches of snow!

The flower garden gets a white watering…

As mentioned in an earlier post snow contains nitrogen, but so does rain. And we’re three weeks into May! Still, it isn’t unusual to get snow on the long weekend. Or any time of the year for that matter : ) It shouldn’t do too much damage. The leaves are just coming out and only the rhubarb, garlic, spinach and chives are up in the vegetable patch. The perennials should be ok too. Check out the chives – they look like a white prickly hedgehog!

And I don’t have to water anything today! And snow soaks in nice and slow compared to rain. And…and…that’s all I’ve got.

Wicked Wind from the South

Whoo Weeeee…the wind has been howling for three days now and despite it coming from the south it is anything but warm. Two days ago the leaves on the poplar trees started to unfurl but it appears they have since started to curl up again against the cold. I persisted in planting the garden anyway – even the carrot seeds! How anything so microscopic can contain an entire carrot is just one of the many mysteries that makes gardening so interesting.  Just why a gardener would huddle over the carrot bed to shield the seeds from blowing away in the wind instead of waiting for a calmer day is also a mystery. Crazy impatience! Afterwards I spread sheets of burlap over the carrot beds and watered them down. I discovered that trick a few years back and it works like a charm to keep the little carrot seeds from drying out for the long two to three weeks it takes for them to germinate. The burlap still lets water and light through – though carrots don’t need light to germinate so a board would work equally well. Both help keep seeds from blowing away. Frequent watering is still a must. Especially during a hurricane…

The only seeds I lost in the wind were a packet of sweet peas. I had opened the package up and then set it down inside a box filled with seed packets for just a second while I picked up the hoe, when a big gust of wind tipped over the seed box and sent the sweet pea packet cartwheeling across the garden. By the time I caught up with it all the seeds were gone. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll find a trail of sweet pea sprouts to mark the path it took…but I doubt it. Strangely enough all the other seed packets (all unopened of course) stayed in the box.

Our trio of Icelandic sheep – from left to right Ulio, Zuess and Whippersnipper – were sheared two days ago. It’s always hard timing it so the fleece comes off at the optimum time. They look pretty happy to have shed all that weight, but I’m thinking perhaps they’re missing their woolly coats on this wind whipped day! Zuess has beautiful fleece which I am tucking away for that winter day when I finally learn how to spin. The other two fleeces are for my containers. I use them to line the sides and bottom. The wool wicks up any excess water and then leaches it back into the soil as it dries out. It might be a good burlap replacement over the carrot beds too – it would certainly insulate and absorb water better. Maybe I’ll use some on one of the beds just to compare…gardeners are kind of like scientists hey? Always experimenting and completely in awe of the world around them!



Rhubarb in the Flower Bed

Ah, the first furls of spring rhubarb…what a gorgeous sight! I spent part of yesterday dividing a rhubarb plant in my vegetable garden and redistributing it into a new perennial border I’m making along our driveway. There’s a lot to be said for using rhubarb as an ornamental accent; especially in a large flower bed where you need a lot of filler for cheap. Rhubarb takes up a lot of space, has interesting foliage, red stems and when it blooms it looks spectacular. All this, and you can eat it too! Of course when you’re growing it to eat you’re supposed to snap off those beautiful white flowers, both to extend the harvest and help the plant direct all its energy to growing stems and roots. But if it’s just the beauty you’re after you can just let it grow…a rhubarb in full bloom is a beautiful thing! Check out this one shown against that big old Peace Country sky…

A rhubarb in bloom against that big Peace Country sky!