3 of 10 Gardens on the 2013 Dawson Creek Garden Tour : )

Next we drove to Rolla to see the gardens of Linda & Darryl Veiner. This picturesque property is Peace Country perfect. Surrounded by dazzling yellow fields of canola, endless skies and a garden setting worthy of a magazine. Linda had recently used the space for a family member’s wedding and there’s a chance she will rent out the yard for other Peace Country brides and grooms. I can’t imagine a more lovely setting in which to exchange vows.

Take a look…

 

From the lawn, to the pots brimming with blooms, to the deep gravel driveway and paths, everything about this property is immaculate.

From the lawn, to the pots brimming with blooms, to the deep gravel driveway and paths, everything about this property is immaculate.

Loved this birdhouse nestled in driftwood...

Loved this birdhouse nestled in driftwood…

Faux fences are a growing trend in gardens. This was is done to perfection.

Faux fences are a growing trend in gardens. This was is done to perfection.

A beautiful pond set against a backdrop of bright yellow canola...

A beautiful pond set against a backdrop of bright yellow canola…

The cloudy skies didn't do the last picture justice...so now picture that same yellow background with our famous blue skies overhead!

The cloudy skies didn’t do the last picture justice…so now picture that same yellow background with our famous blue skies overhead! Though even cloudy skies look breathtaking from the scope of this yard…

Fire pit area...see how perfect it would be for a wedding?

Fire pit area…see how perfect it would be for a wedding?

A waterfall tucked in the corner...

A waterfall tucked in the corner…

A closer look at these pretty benches and the boulders behind them...

A closer look at these pretty benches and the boulders behind them…

And the plants! Here Creeping Charlie is used to create a lush cascading effect.

And the plants! Here Creeping Charlie is used to create a lush cascading effect.

New Potatoes for Easter

Potato germinating

Came across a neighbour while scouting out the garden section of a department store the other day. It was snowy and cold and all those packets of seeds looked oh-so-tempting. Sort of like being handed a menu after a 48 hour fast. You want everything!

My neighbour confessed she had taken one of her stored potatoes that had started to sprout (even the spuds know spring is coming!) and planted it in a container in the house. She was hoping to have new potatoes to feed the family at Easter.

“Maybe it’s been too long of a winter,” she laughed, looking slightly abashed at her plan.

I think she’s brilliant. In fact, in keeping with imitation being the highest form of flattery, I am going to plant one of my own sprouty spuds this week. Maybe others in our zone 2b or not 2b will want to do the same. After all, there’s nothing as mouth watering as new potatoes in the summer…unless it’s new potatoes in the spring!

2 of 10 Gardens on the 2013 Dawson Creek Garden Tour

The second garden we visited on the 2013 Dawson Creek Garden Tour was the home of the famous Buttery Bites Caramels and Heather and Dan Porrill and family. Dubbed Starbright Farm the property is located in Baytree, Alberta. The place is nothing short of incredible. At every turn there was something new to gape at and gape we did! The pictures we snapped hardly do the place justice. You really need to visit this place for yourself and luckily you can. Heather operates a store that sells her Buttery Bites Caramels (just like Grandma used to make), fabric, llama jerkey and more, as well as a seasonal tea room on the deck of their home. If the gardens, animals (chickens, geese, donkeys, llamas and more) and country store on this picturesque working farm aren’t enough to attract you, Heather is a culinary wizard. She is one of those people who dreams big and then actually goes out and sees those dreams through to fruition. A must-visit for everyone; residents of the Peace Country and beyond.

Here are just a few glimpses of the treats in store for you…and like I say, they don’t do the property justice.

A shoofly plant thrives in a container on the steps of the store surrounded by Peace Country antiques.

A shoofly plant thrives in a container on the steps of the store surrounded by Peace Country antiques.

The entrance to the garden has a massive arbor covered with a hops vine. Undaunted by the rain, Heather spread out straw for visitors to walk on. That's my husband Darcy heading in and Heather to the right.

The entrance to the garden has a massive arbor covered with a hops vine. Undaunted by the rain, Heather spread out straw for visitors to walk on. That’s my husband Darcy heading in and Heather to the right.

Every nook and cranny held something delightful. Here some tin mugs dangling from the arbor.

Every nook and cranny held something delightful. Here some tin mugs are dangling from the arbor.

A fabulous pallet deck. Note the old barber chair...

A fabulous pallet deck. Note the old barber chair…

I'm sure you've seen headboards used to make garden "beds" before but this one is unique. Love the bucket idea!

I’m sure you’ve seen headboards used to make garden “beds” before but this one is unique. Love the bucket idea!

A beautifully tended vegetable garden that feeds the family and their lucky guests.

A beautifully tended vegetable garden that feeds the family and their lucky guests.

Bicycle tires on a fence! And check out the view behind them!

Bicycle tires on a fence! And check out the view behind them!

Loved this birdhouse made from a gourd.

Loved this birdhouse made from a gourd.

A fence, a corner and some lattice and you have a perfect canvas for hops and sunflowers. A recipe worth copying!

A fence, a corner and some lattice and you have a perfect canvas for hops and sunflowers. A recipe worth copying!

The back deck edged with picture frames and coffee can planters. There's no end to what a creative mind can come up with!

The back deck edged with picture frames and coffee can planters. There’s no end to what a creative mind can come up with!

Scenes created as if for picture perfect postcards popped up everywhere.

Scenes created as if for picture perfect postcards popped up everywhere.

And here are just a few of the critters…

As if this donkey wasn't cute enough, if you look in the far background you can see another donkey nursing its tiny foal!

As if this donkey wasn’t cute enough, if you look in the far background you can see another donkey nursing its tiny foal!

Chatty Geese!

Chatty Geese!

Curious Llamas!

Curious Llamas!

Even the fence for the chicken run was artfully adorned with antiques.

Even the fence for the chicken run was artfully adorned with antiques.

Red table and chairs in the tea room area on the deck. Check it out this summer!  Come for the country and stay for the food. And the caramels. And the store. And the animals. And the garden. And, and, and..

Red table and chairs in the tea room area on the deck. Check it out this summer! Come for the country and stay for the food. And the caramels. And the store. And the animals. And the garden. And, and, and..

Top 10 Cold Hardy Proven Winner ColorChoice Shrubs

So often magazine articles show shrubs worth salivating over only to knife northerners in the heart with a callous “hardy to zone 4…or 5…or 9”. Oh the cruelty of it all! But wait. What’s this? A list from Proven Winners of  their top 10 picks for  ColorChoice shrubs that are hardy to (drum roll if you please)  ZONE 3!!!!!!!!!!!!  YES : ) Better yet, there’s more than 10. In fact there is 42 in all! What to choose, what to choose, what to choose…

  • Pucker Up!® Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera) | Zone 3 | Pucker Up! is a native shrub that always gets a double take in the display garden. Its thick foliage is distinctly quilted, making it both visually interesting and disease resistant.
  • Fire Light™ Hardy Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) | Zone 3 | Fire Light is the newest hardy hydrangea in the Proven Winners line and will be making its way to retail this spring. It was selected for its upright, tightly packed panicles that transform from white to pomegranate pink. It’s small stature (2.5-3′ tall and 3-4′ wide) make it a great choice for large containers or small spaces.
  • Berry Poppins™ Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) | Zone 3 | It’s no surprise that a species commonly called “winterberry” can take plummeting temperatures. Berry Poppins, also new to retail this spring, stays a compact 3-4′ tall and wide and produces more fruit than the comparable ‘Red Sprite.’ Mr. Poppins™ is the pollinator (even though there wasn’t a “Mr. Poppins.” I really wanted the plant to be called “Bert” but was outvoted in that naming meeting).
  • Tiny Wine™ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) | Zone 3 | Continuing with petite plants, Tiny Wine is a new dwarf ninebark that is smaller than other options on the market. Its maroon foliage is accented with white flowers in late spring. Dare I say that they look like snowballs?
  • Happy Face® Pink Paradise Bush Cinquefoil (Potentilla fruticosa) | Zone 2 | Our friends to the north are no stranger to bush cinquefoil giving winter the cold shoulder. These reliable, low maintenance natives bloom from spring to late summer, and Happy Face Pink Paradise’s doubled flowers keep its clear pink color under intense heat longer than other varieties.
  • Oso Easy® Fragrant Spreader Landscape Rose (Rosa) | Zone 3 | There are three Oso Easy roses that fit the Zone 3 requirement, but I love Fragrant Spreader in the landscape. While admittedly a bit silly, its name says it all: this low-spreading rose is continuously covered in fragrant, single pink flowers.
  • Glow Girl™ Spirea (Spiraea betulifolia) | Zone 3 | Interesting foliage is making gardeners reconsider spirea. While a garden classic, it typically lacked extended interest. Glow Girl’s lemon-lime foliage holds its bright coloring without burning through summer and shows burgundy in fall, making it worthy of space in any landscape.
  • Scent and SensibilityPink Lilac (Syringa x) | Zone 3 | Lilacs and cool temperatures go hand in hand, so they, of course, have a place on this list. The lilac I’m most excited to see come in to its own in my garden this spring is the new Scent and Sensibility Pink. Not only is its fragrance heavenly, but it is only 2-3 tall and 4-5′ wide, making it the perfect fit for smaller spaces.
  • Anna’s Magic Ball™ Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) | Zone 3 | Anna’s Magic Ball is cute. Is it terrible if that’s why I love it? But it really is. This tiny arborvitae stays 10-15″ tall in a perfect sphere, and its golden foliage just begs to be touched. I can’t stop touching it. Why can’t I stop touching it? On the serious side, it also has good burn resistance and keeps its color throughout winter.
  • Blue Muffin® Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum) | Zone 3 | At 5-7′ tall, Blue Muffin makes a great low-hedge, covered in showy blue fruit in late summer. This compact native will produce more fruit with a pollinator, and we recommend Chicago Lustre™ (also Zone 3).

And here’s the other 32…all fully hardy to zone 3. Happy hunting!

Arctic Fire™ Red Twig Dogwood | Incrediball® Smooth Hydrangea | Invincibelle® Spirit Smooth Hydrangea | Bobo® Hardy Hydrangea | ‘Limelight‘ Hardy Hydrangea | Little Lime™ Hardy Hydrangea | ‘Little Lamb‘ Hardy Hydrangea | Quick Fire® Hardy Hydrangea | Pinky Winky® Hardy Hydrangea | Berry Heavy® Winterberry Holly | Berry Heavy® Gold Winterberry Holly | Berry Nice® Winterberry Holly | Little Goblin™ Winterberry Holly | Sugar MountainBlue Sweetberry Honeysuckle | Celtic Pride™ Siberian Cypress | Red Wall® Virginia Creeper | ‘Yellow Wall‘ Virginia Creeper | Coppertina™ Ninebark | Summer Wine® Ninebark | Happy Face® Bush Cinquefoil | Happy Face® White Bush Cinquefoil | Fine Line® Buckthorn | Oso Easy® Paprika Landscape Rose | Oso Easy® Peachy Cream Landscape Rose | Lemon Lace™ Elderberry | Amethyst™ Coral Berry | Bloomerang® Purple Lilac | Bloomerang® Dark Purple Lilac | ‘Filip’s Magic Moment‘ Arborvitae | North Pole™ Arborvitae | Polar Gold™ Arborvitae

1 of 10 Gardens on the 2013 Dawson Creek Garden Tour

Barbara and David Peachey have a big family and a big vegetable garden to match. The Baytree residents offered up their garden for viewing on the 2013 Dawson Creek & District Horticultural Society’s Annual Garden Tour & Tea.

Barbara was as warm and welcoming as her abundant field (patch seems like too small of a word to describe it) of vegetables. She pointed out areas that belonged to specific children and grandchildren. I suspect there will be many more Peachey gardeners to come! The garden also had beautiful flowers planted for both enjoyment and to attract beneficial insects.

Here are a couple glimpses of the garden…

Rows of feathery topped carrots

Rows of feathery topped carrots

Lots of perfectly staked peas

Lots of perfectly staked peas

Strawberries and potatoes...

Strawberries and potatoes…

Maltese cross, monkshood and rhubarb...all staples of Peace Country gardens and deservedly so

Maltese cross, monkshood and rhubarb…all staples of Peace Country gardens and deservedly so

Urban Harvest…Another Heirloom Souce for Seeds

Just added an old–but new to me–source for heirloom seeds to my Online Catalogues page. Urban Harvest is based in Ontario and has been selling heirloom seeds since 1998. Here are just a few of their interesting offerings. All images and descriptions are from Urban Harvest.

CREAM OF SASKATCHEWAN

$3.25

A small pale yellow fleshed watermelon that probably was brought to Saskatchewan from Russia. It has a quite thin, light green with dark green striped rind, with sweet flesh and black seeds. It can grow well in cool climates. Weigh up to 3 kilos. 25 cm in diamatre. 80 days, Heirloom. 21 seeds

bean_lina_sisco

Bird Egg Bush Bean

$3.25

According to Seed Savers Exchange. “these beans were brought to Missouri by covered wagon in the 1880s by Lina’s grandmother. Lina was one of the six original members of SSE, which was founded in 1975”. We are happy to be able to offer these grown here in Southern Ontario and certified organic like all of our seed. Dried cranberry type bean. Tan with deep red markings. Productive and hardy. Bush. Heirloom. 85 days. 30 seeds

.corn-double-standard

CORN DOUBLE STANDARD

$3.25

An early maturing, open pollinated, bi-colour corn. Good germination in cool soil with excellent old fashioned flavourful ears approximately 14 cm (7”)long. Full sun. 65-75days. 50 seeds.

tomato-black-seamanCM

Black Seaman Tomato

$3.25

NEW FOR 2013
This Russian Heirloom tomato produces small semi-
determinant, potato-leaf plants that yield an
abundance of rich flavourful mid-sized tomatoes.
This is one of our new faves. Heirloom. 70 days

Enjoy!

Seed Source for Northern Gardeners

Brrrrr!!! Minus 27 Celsius…it’s a chilly one out there today!!!

Saving seed

Saving your own seed is the best feeling of all…but catalogues and local nurseries are pretty fun to browse through as well!

I’ve been going through my seeds to see what I have to order and came across a few packets I got from Best Cool Seeds last year. They’re a company in Alaska that specializes in cool climate gardening. The seeds arrived as promised and they always throw in a couple freebies. I realized I didn’t have them listed on my Online Catalogue page so I added them today.

For those of you that might be interested here is the blurb from their site (and just in case you’re growing suspicious, no I don’t get anything for telling you about them : )

Here’s their blurb…

Best Cool Seeds is the online store for Denali Seed Company, America’s foremost authority on cool climate gardening. The garden varieties sold in this e-store have been performance tested in Alaska in private gardens and in university trials for over 50 years. Our veteran horticulturist has taught and worked with gardeners in arctic and sub-arctic locations for over 30 years and only varieties that will mature in these regions are sold in this e-store. Our horticulturist has selected the varieties available in this e-store because they excel in cool northern climates that include arctic and sub-arctic regions, and mountain areas.

BestCoolSeeds the online store for Denali Seed Company offers open pollinated seed, organic seed, heirloom seed and hybrid seed for Denali exclusive vegetable varieties, flower seed, wildflower seed, vegetable seed and herb seed specifically for far north gardens. Our garden seed is performance tested in Alaska to offer seed for short season vegetables and short season flowers perfect for use in cold climate gardening, arctic gardens, sub-arctic gardens, high altitude gardens, northern gardens and for northern greenhouse gardening. We do not use chemicals, all our seed is untreated seed and we sell NO GMO seed. (genetically modified organisms)

For more interesting seed sources (including lots of Canadian ones) check out the Online Catalogue tab above. And if you have any others you think Peace Country Gardeners–or Cold Climate Gardeners anywhere–might be interested in please share!

I love how she looks like she is doing the two handed seed packet grab...just like a true cold climate gardener unleashed in a seed store in February!

I love how she looks like she is doing the two handed seed packet grab…just like a true cold climate gardener unleashed in a seed store in February!

Now back to seed sorting and stoking the fire…

December 2010 Wood Stove 001

10 Tips for Getting Rid of Cabbage Worms

Small White - Butterfly

Cabbage moths are kind of pretty…unfortunately they’re pretty destructive too! When you see them fluttering around your brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) it can send you into a flap. I love wildlife–including insects–but I don’t like to eat them. Cabbage moths love to lay their larvae on the leaves of brassicas and when the larvae hatches into worms those worms love to eat their way through your brassica patch. All that love can leave a hole in your brassica leaves!

Cabbage leaf covered with caterpillas pest

Here are 10 tips for thwarting the moth and its wiggly green offspring…

Tip 1 – Get Shaking! Zip down your rows with salt shaker in hand and lightly dust your plants with salt. Don’t go too crazy or you could damage the plants. The larvae is super sensitive to salt and will expire in a day or two. Reapply once every two weeks or after a rain.

Glass Salt Shaker

Tip 2 – Spray it! If you are nervous about overdoing it with the salt shaker you can choose to spray it rather than sprinkle. Simply mix 2 tbsp. (30 ml) of salt with 1 gallon (4 litres) of water, pour into a clean spray bottle and mist your plants. Do this in the evening or on a cloudy day to avoid any leaf burn. Once again reapply every two weeks or after a rain.

Holding a green flower spray

Tip 3 – Handpick. While this method isn’t for the squeamish, it is very effective and as organic as you can get! Grab a coffee can or similar container, lift the leaves and pick off the worms. What you do next is up to you. Some people feed them to their chickens, others fill the coffee can with water and drown them and still others pack them off and set them free. Though if you choose the latter method just keep in mind that it could come back to bite you in the brassicas. Whatever you choose, please be humane about it. Don’t leave the worms to die a slow death in the can.

Person picking up fresg cabbage in the garden

Tip 4 – Go undercover. Thwart the cabbage moths right from the start by covering your rows with a floating row cover such as Reemay. One of the nicest setups I’ve ever seen was at the home of Joan and Larry Evans in Fort St John BC. They built wooden frames and lids and then stapled reemay to the frames. The result was protected brassicas that were easily accessible. Here’s some pictures of their setup below…

An immaculate vegetable garden with a gorgeous fence and gate

An immaculate vegetable garden with a gorgeous fence and gate

These frames are covered with frost cloth keeping out the cabbage moths as well as extending the growing season!

These frames are covered with frost cloth keeping out the cabbage moths as well as extending the growing season!

Tip 5 – Find some friends! Companion planting is another popular method. Intersperse your brassicas with onions, garlic, dill or rosemary (all repel cabbage moths) and geraniums (traps cabbage worms). A huge patch of brassicas provides an easy to find feast, while mixing your plants up confuses the moths.

Another glimpse of this healthy, healthy, garden that tastes as good as it looks!

Tip 6 – Cover your head! If you have your brassicas scattered here and there rather than all together you can use old nylons or small squares of reemay and elastic bands to individually cover the heads of broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage etc. Make sure you leave extra fabric so the vegetable can grow. Nylon works great since it naturally expands. Whatever material you choose make sure it is porous and allows light to get through.

Tip 7 – Transplant early…or late. Keep track of when cabbage moths congregate and you can start brassicas in advance so their harvest occurs before the moths arrive, or stagger your plantings so you harvest later when the moths have left for the season. I haven’t tried this but it sounds good in theory.

2013-07-21 10.02.05 copy

Tip 8 – Hot and Cold. If it’s too late and your produce is plumbed with worms, all is not lost. The most popular solution is to soak the infested produce in salt water for an hour. The worms should succumb and float to the top. Others recommend putting the vegetables in your fridge for a couple hours and then taking them out. The worms will crawl from the cold towards the warmth leaving the vegetables behind. Of course, this means you now have worms crawling across your counter. You could set them outside on a picnic table for half an hour or so instead.

yellow caterpillar

Tip 9 – Chemicals…sort of. Bacillus Thuringiensis, commonly known as Bt is an organic method for getting rid of cabbage worms. It is safe to use right up until a couple days before harvest. Bt occurs naturally in the soil but has been isolated for use as insect control. It works by messing up the digestive system of immature larvae causing them to die from hunger or infection. Not much nicer than leaving them to die in a can, really. But it is safe to use around pets, birds and children.

Tip 10 – Don’t worry be happy. Welcome the addition of protein to your vegetables or simply pick out the worms. Westerners are extraordinarily fussy about what we eat. In a lot of countries worms, grasshoppers, ants and other insects are welcome additions to the dinner plate. So do I mind eating the odd worm with my broccoli? Yes, yes, I do. So I guess this is a case of do what I say, not as I do!

Broccoli