Annuals & Perennials: working together

Today would have been my mom’s birthday so it seemed like a good time to plant some veggies in her honour. Not that she was the gardener in our family, that was my dad’s specialty, but she could always find a way to feed us with whatever he grew. My cousins, to this day, talk about how my mom taught them to eat cucumbers instead of bananas in their peanut butter sandwiches. So what could be more appropriate than planting cucumbers on her birthday?


I’m trying a new thing this year in my attempt to keep out unwanted creatures. In the bed above, there are 2 hills at each end into which I sowed probably 10 cucumber seeds each. The rest of the bed contains 4 rows of yellow wax beans. The straw is good on the beans until they start showing themselves and that usually discourages any cavorting but I wanted the cuke hills uncovered. I have no idea why. Just seemed right. So the prayer flags keep the birds off and the stakes surrounding keep the cats out. Or that’s the idea at least. As an aside, I don’t think I’ll ever have to buy stakes again as I have so many of all sizes from the stems of the tall flowers/grasses I can use for biomass…echinacea, sunflowers, filipendula, miscanthus, and so on and on. It’s exciting to see all aspects of the garden come to fruition.

And speaking of fruition…

This is the first year I’ve grown saskatoon berries and those bushes are now in bloom. Ahead of them were the haskaps giving the newly awakening bees something to live for. The currants and blueberries have just begun to show buds and even the kiwi are coming alive.


One of two Saskatoon Berry bushes in bloom. That’s mugwort in the lower right corner and strawberries upper right. The strawberries actually surround the berry bush.


One of two Black Currant bushes with 3 Good King Henry spinach plants to the right. These are all part of the perennial beds so, believe it or not, that spinach survives the winter, popping up early with the first greens of the season. Bit of Lemon Balm showing on the left.

It’s still early here for the annual plants and even for the perennials to be showing any kind of good growth…that’s why there’s still so much straw mulch down. Some of that will come up as the plants take over. In other words, better pics next time! But I can’t resist a few more…


Hazel nut tree. This was basically a stick when we put it in the ground last fall and I had no idea it had such beautiful leaves.


Hazel nut tree. A different variety and not as pretty as the one with red leaves but I’m hoping it will make up for that with plenty of nuts! Walking Onions (perennial) in the upper left corner.


Peas starting their race to the top. Yes I know, the trellis not pretty.


About 2 week old onions (annuals). The flags are to protect the carrot seeds planted between the rows of onions from the birds. Supposedly.

Earth Day

In celebration of Earth Day, the weather has cooperated and given us spring! We’ve been out in the garden most of the morning generally cleaning up, “removing” any slugs we come across, adding compost and manure, and dreaming of summer. It seems we’ve suddenly fallen behind in prepping the beds for planting… yes, we’ve turned that corner where it’s warm enough to start sowing certain crops. So some purple bunching onions went in today and we’re madly cleaning up beds to plant peas and beans and some of the more hardy greens.



In the bed on the left, underneath the straw and behind the chives, are 3 rows of Deep Purple bunching onions. I left a bit of plot behind to plant something else later, saving some of the onion seeds for a summer planting. And in the bed to the right, slowly but surely, the garlic inches upward. If you look at the picture in the last post, it’s barely visible.

And what is early spring (especially in Halifax where people say we go from winter to summer but that’s a story for another time) without the brilliant yellow of daffodils. Happy Earth Day, everybody!



Garlic Is In!

This is Thanksgiving weekend, it’s getting cooler but the sun is brilliant, some of the maples are changing colour and we planted the garlic this morning. I think we planted about 60 cloves, all from our harvest this summer. I gave them a bit of water since we haven’t had much rain and then we buried them in a bed of straw mulch.

ImageThe rocks on the edges are holding the chicken wire down which we use to discourage marauding cats and birds. And, I suppose, those hurricane winds we sometimes get.

I also found a few perennials on sale when I was at Halifax Seed yesterday so I planted a couple of them out front. Introducing Veronica:


Veronica Spicata ‘Red Fox’

It will grow up to look like this:

red fox

Summer 2013


After that bumpy start of a spring, our first summer in Halifax was actually quite productive. The garlic did beautifully. As did the beets, parsnips, carrots, greens…lots of different greens. The peas were so-so for some reason and the rutabaga never showed up. But that could be because of the crows. Crows were teaching their young to hunt and would drop peanuts, fed to them by our neighbours, into our garden. I think they liked the straw. The youngsters would go routing around looking for the nuts and pull up my seedlings in the process. Very frustrating. That’s when we discovered the prayer flags.


First we talked about putting a scarecrow up but would that help? Really?? Then I came up with the idea of the flags. We would just need them until the plants were big enough to take care of themselves. Et voila. It worked. The minute the flags went up, the crows went elsewhere. Plus it gives the garden a beautiful meditative feel. More so even than usual. Now I’ve planted a 2nd harvest of rutabagas, in the bed where we already harvested the garlic. Seedlings are up, flags are up, fingers are crossed.