Transplanting Peas…Who Knew?

Planting seeds

If you subscribe to Growveg.com you will have already received this video on how to start peas in a gutter for easy transplanting into the garden. If not, click on this link and check it out. It’s a great idea for getting a jump on the season and avoiding having mice eat the seeds or birds scratch them up onto the surface in their search of worms (that was always my biggest problem). It would work for sweet peas too and who knows what else? The roots are minimally disturbed using this method. Check it out!

 

Using Rocks to Create Warmer Zones

Did you know you can use rocks in your garden to increase your garden zone rating? Planting a Zone 3 or even Zone 4 tree next to a massive boulder can be a successful use of rocks in our zone 2b or not 2b gardens. The rock will absorb heat during those late spring and early fall days and release it at night, meaning those early and late frosts can be outsmarted.

creeping charlie in a rock garden

Garden of Linda & Darryl Veiner of Rolla, BC

In the winter the rock absorbs the cold, helping to keep the area cooler during an untimely chinook. Constant freezing and thawing can be deadly to less hardy trees, shrubs and perennials. A big rock will help keep the temperature from fluctuating. It will also delay the plant from emerging too early in the spring, by “holding its coldness”.

A Penny for Your Lily

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When I was at Canada Blooms (a horticulture trade show in Toronto, Ontario Canada) a few years ago a propieter of lilies gave me this bit of trivia…

Drop a penny in your planting hole when you plant your lily bulbs and deer will no longer eat your lilies! Apparently the copper in the penny taints the taste and keeps deer moving instead of munching.

Very easy and cool idea…the only problem is Canada stopped using pennies on February 4th, 2013. If you live in Canada and are penniless, try dropping other sources of copper in the hole instead. Pieces of pipe or wire should work just as well.

Deer in a cage

And if copper in the hole doesn’t work a tightly woven eight foot fence will! 

 

 

 

 

 

10 Great Vegetables with Great Names

I love vegetables with unique names. Granted, this isn’t the best way to pick out a vegetable. Just because the name makes you smile doesn’t mean the harvest will. But sometimes you get lucky and are granted both.

The following ten vegetables have great names and are great choices for our cool climate garden.

Photos are from West Coast Seeds. Click on images or the plant names for more information.

Drunken Woman Lettuce West Coast Seeds

1 – Drunken Woman Lettuce

I don’t know if this lettuce gets its name because of its somewhat dishevelled and ruffled appearance or because it is the last lettuce to bolt-or leave the summer party. I do know that this is a fantastic choice for the garden. West Coast Seeds recommends it as the lettuce to plant if you only have room for one and I agree. Open pollinated so you can let a few go to seed for collection.

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2 – Dragon Tongue Beans

These are my personal favorites. They do well in the Peace Country and taste as great as they look. Unfortunately the purple colour is lost when cooked, but that is the only criticism I can come up with. If you leave them to go to seed you can collect small tan beans for drying to use in winter soups. Open pollinated so you can also collect the seeds from this heirloom to replant in the spring. Provided you don’t eat them all of course!

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3 – Avalanche Beets

Personally I love the earthy taste of red beets and don’t mind my hands getting stained in the processing (well, not too much) but for those who don’t these pure white beets may be the answer to your prayers. Sweet tasting and “bloodless” these AAS winning white beets mature in only 50 days. Open Pollinated so you can collect the seeds for replanting.

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4 – Cosmic Purple Carrots

These purple carrots taste good and they keep their rich colour even after cooking. 18 cm (7 inch) sweet tasting roots are ready to harvest in 58 days. Open pollinated.

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5 – Graffiti Cauliflower

A gorgeous, rich, purple cauliflower that does hold its colour when cooked but looks best on a raw vegetable platter. Matures in 80 days so needs to be started indoors to ensure a harvest. This one is a hybrid so no seed collecting, but still a beautiful addition to the garden.

sugar buns westcoast seeds

6 – Sugar Buns Corn

The earliest sugar enhanced (SE) variety of corn with the longest harvest window (two weeks) Sugar Buns matures in 70-80 days producing two 19 centimeter (seven inch) cobs on each 1.5 – 2 meter (5-6 foot) stalk. Hybrid.

kohlrabi

7 – Superschmeltz Kohlrabi

This open pollinated variety can produce kohlrabi the size of a volleyball in only 70 days. A huge variety that is hugely popular and tastes great even when weighing in at 4.5 kilograms (10 pounds) or more! And it is fun to say “Check out my enormous Superschmeltz”

 

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8 – Chinook Leeks

Okay, the name isn’t that unusual, especially for us northerners, but it is still a fun way of having a chinook in your kitchen. Provided you can get past the having to think about winter in the summer part. All monikers aside, this is a great leek for our area. So long as your start the seeds indoors and transplant outside once the soil has warmed up these leeks don’t mind a bit of cool weather. They grow fast, taste great and are easy to clean.

65 days to maturity. Hybrid seeds.

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9 – Red Zeppelin Onion

This is a beautiful onion with lots of flavour and an exceptionally long storage life of six months or more. A long day onion it is beautifully suited to our summer soaked Peace Country days but needs 90 days from transplanting to fully mature so you will need to start them indoors in March for best results. Hybrid seeds.

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10 – Mr Big Peas

When you are this big they call you mister 🙂 These are my favourite peas. An open pollinated AAS winner these peas need something solid to climb on as they can easily reach heights of two meters (six feet) or more.  They will produce prolific crops of large sweet tasting peas that are easy to shell.

 

 

 

seed saving book

A great read if you are interested in seed saving…

 

Pacifier Poplar Sighting

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While out on my walks I keep passing this most unusual young poplar tree. The tree itself is fairly common, but the fruit it has recently produced is not.

I believe it is the rarely spotted Pacifier Poplar or Pacifier Populus. This tree produces its unusual fruit in February in the Peace Country. Locals debate over the meaning of the fruit. Some see it as a warning. They swear the tree is telling us to “suck it” because more winter is about to be dished out.

The more benevolent residents say the fruit is meant as a sign of encouragement. It is telling us to “suck it up” and do our best to get through the next couple months of winter with grace and good humour.

Yet a third group believe the fruit is simply produced to provide a soothing source when plucked. A way to numb out until the big thaw. If that is the case I hope the Pacifier Poplar produces more fruit than the lonely singular one that hangs from it so far. There are a lot of us living up here and one pacifier fruit is not going to go very far.

 

 

 

New Plans for an Old Cemetery

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When I first heard there was a cemetery somewhere across the street from Save On Foods in Fort St John, I was puzzled. According to the location description I walked right past it all the time. How do you miss a cemetery?

It’s easier than you think.

When I finally found it I discovered it holds no more than ten graves and while it was difficult to read the headstones while leaning over the chain link fence (I have terrible eyesight) it looked like most dated back to the 1930’s.

Right now the cemetery is on the edge of an empty lot surrounded by chain link fencing and some temporary fence panels in preparation for the construction of the new North Peace Savings and Credit Union office building. To the south is the parking lot for the existing North Peace Savings and Credit Union and to the north is a boarded up house and beyond that, the government liquor store and other shops.

It is a bit of a bizarre location, until you consider that up until its recent demolition, the site was home to St. Martin’s Anglican Church. But that, in turn, makes it even more intriguing. Why so few graves? And why are they all from the 1930s (though I might be wrong about that).

I bet there are some interesting-but no doubt sad-stories that someone out there could tell.

The North Peace Savings and Credit Union have taken on their unusual inheritance with what appears to be thoughtfulness and respect. They have applied to the city to have the 12 by 15 metre graveyard rezoned from commercial to a parks and natural area. According to an article in The Alaska Highway News, plans include memorial signage, a high branching tree, lighting, and a two-metre high ornamental permanent fence.

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Here is another shot of the graveyard as it looked this afternoon, with the boarded up house and beyond that, the liquor store/mini-mall to the south. Grave markers are interspersed with stumps from what looks like trees removed in the last year or so.

I keep thinking about this little graveyard, the people who were buried there and what it will look like when everything is done.

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This is from the south side of the graveyard facing east towards 100 Street and Save On Foods.

The stumps you see on the other side of the chain link cross fence and the clearing beyond it will be where North Peace Savings and Credit Union will be erecting their new office building. Between the far stumps and 100 Street is where St Martin’s Anglican Church once stood.

In keeping with the time period, I think it would be a nice touch to add a border of pioneer period perennials such as Hansa roses, peonies, irises, tiger lilies, maltese cross, sweet williams and maybe a lilac and/or caragana  hedge. All plants that I believe would have been planted in the Peace Country back in the 30’s or at least shortly thereafter.

Or maybe indigenous wildflowers would be more appropriate or….hmmm. Maybe the bank will need a volunteer gardener.

Or maybe I just need to plan my own garden before I go all guerilla on Fort St John!

Do you know anything about this gravesite? I’d love to know more about it.