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?

IMG_7943

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.

IMG_7948

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.

IMG_7953

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…

IMG_7961

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.

IMG_7962

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.

IMG_7946

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

IMG_7947

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

Advertisements

September Still My Favourite Month

September is my favourite month for a lot of reasons … the weather is gorgeous, tourists have gone home (nothing against tourists, it’s just quiet again, enough to hear the crickets day and night alike), the garden continues to do its own thing while us gardeners continue to help it along and happily harvest the food it offers up.

IMG_3124

First step of garlic harvest. One bed dug up and laid out for initial drying before move into our basement/barn to hang and dry.

IMG_3192

One bunch of garlic dried and stored. We grew 88 heads this year which should be enough to plant next year’s crop with plenty left to last us through next harvest.

IMG_3092

We planted a bed of corn this year…popcorn! That’s a row of Limnanthes douglasii (poached eggplant) in the middle.

IMG_3260

A barrel of Tom Thumb Popcorn grown from Heritage Harvest Seed out of Manitoba. 2’ plants produce multiple small cobs that average 2-3″ long.

IMG_3166

We’ve had a bumper year of acorn squash, also from fabulous Heritage Harvest Seed. Lost track of how many are growing out there.

IMG_3169

I found it fascinating that every single time the bees entered the squash flowers, they seemed to just lie down and wrap themselves around the pistil.

IMG_3208

This beautiful little guy seemed to like the leaves of the Black Turtle Dry Beans.

IMG_3156

I have no idea what happened here. Part of the life and death cycle all around us.

IMG_3242

More life and death.

IMG_3141

I decided to cut and move all the strawberry plants so they would have their own bed instead of scattered throughout the flower garden as I’ve had them. This way I can cover them, protect the fruit from the birds so we actually have something to harvest.

IMG_3202

Blue Solaise Leek, squash behind them, black-eyed susans to the right.

IMG_3176

And last but not least, COMFREY! A couple of seedlings were given to us by an herbalist friend early this summer and they have grown like crazy. In fact, I’m going out right now to cut some leaves to make a tincture.

You Do What You Can

It’s been a busy couple of days but I love when I get a chance to spend at least some of that busyness in the garden. There are still root veggies in (parsnips, carrots, rutabagas and  a few beets) and they’ll probably stay in most of the winter, kale of course, broccoli, arugula and baby lettuces. I decided to test out a small plastic greenhouse tunnel that my neighbour gave me last spring.

Image

It’s really too small for anything I’m doing but since it’s getting colder at night now, I thought I’d try it on the baby arugula and see if it’s something I might want to pursue on a larger scale for the larger beds. And speaking of neighbours, which we were, ever so briefly, Wally’s maple tree has lost all its leaves already while ours has just barely started to change colours. So he gave me 5 bags of leaves that I’m using as mulch in the flower beds.bedmulch

If I was doing it right, I would have chopped up all the leaves first and dug them into the soil a little bit but what the heck. You do what you can. They’ll protect the soil and the bulbs and other plant roots and in the spring I’ll rake up whatever has not decomposed. Five bags doesn’t go that far either but I’m laying them on thick.

Meanwhile, in another part of the garden that I’ve been doing nothing with, some strawberries have volunteered themselves. I noticed one all by itself a couple of months ago so I encouraged it to branch out, so to speak, and this is what it looks like now…

strawberry2

So I’m adding some nice compost and in a few days, I’ll cut them back and mulch with straw. I’ve worked with strawberries previously and they’ve gifted me with huge yields so… yep, you do what you can.

basket