Our Arctic June

So I know I’ve only lived here a few years but everyone says this has been the weirdest, coldest June they’ve EVER seen. Given the warmth at the end of May leading up to it — we’d had a week of lovely warm spring weather hovering from mid to high 20s — I got crazy and planted my tomatoes and squash and excitedly went off to MontrĂ©al for a week. I’d only been there 2 days when I heard Nova Scotia, including Halifax, got hit with a surprise freak frost that killed all our tomatoes and most of the cucumbers that had just started to push up from the soil.

But what can you do? I’ve now replanted tomatoes and cucumbers and thrown in some collard greens and zucchini to boot. And even more exciting … I found some sea kale to add to my perennial beds! To read about this amazing plant, click on the plant name. I’ve also added 2 dwarf cherry trees from the ‘Romance series’ out of the University of Saskatchewan: ‘Juliet’ and ‘Valentine’. Click here for information about them.

Mouse over pictures below for caption; click for larger photo.

Despite the arctic June, flowers are budding, insects are pollinating, and we’ve been harvesting lots of delicious greens: lettuce, a few different types of mustard, kale, arugula (my fave). And alerted to the ripeness of certain berries by the noisy, thieving starlings, we’ve been eating lots of haskaps, always the first berries in the spring.

And our side garden, that little strip between our house and our neighbours’ driveway, that I pay hardly any attention to since installing it, seems oblivious to the weather and is looking gorgeous! This used to be nothing but lawn and most plants were gifts from gardening friends and strangers alike. So despite the wind and the cold and this crazy June, I am nothing but blessed. I am now hoping for a beautiful hot summer (well maybe not TOO hot). Mouse over pictures below for caption; click for larger photo.

Late Bloomers

In an earlier post, I’d said that the cucumbers were unsuccessful this year, that none had survived the cold spring. But a few weeks ago, while harvesting mustard seeds, I found this cucumber hiding in the shade of what had once been very tall, leafy mustard greens.

Hidden cucumber now revealed.

Hidden cucumber now revealed.

We’ve since eaten this very delicious fat little cuke. We’ve also since harvested all of the tomatoes and, while we’ve canned some of them, stacks of them await our attention. In fact most of the gardening these days has turned to harvesting and clean-up. So it’s a delight to see the Jerusalem Artichokes just coming into their glory and the zucchini, which took so long to come to fruit, keep on giving into the fall.


First year Jerusalem Artichoke (AKA ‘sunchoke’) in bloom.


Zucchini plant still producing and looks like it will be for awhile.

And the tomatillos are still producing…food for us and flowers for the bees.

Tomatillos getting ready to burst.

Tomatillos getting ready to burst open.

Harvest 2013

It’s harvest time from our first year in the garden. We’ve been blessed with parsnips, carrots, tomatoes, 3 different kind of beans, peas, broccoli, beets, kale, all kinds of greens, onions, and of course garlic.

We’ve given away food and now we’re figuring out the best way to store food for the winter. We’re making soups, canning, and freezing.


Cold weather predicted for tonight (Sept 23) so brought in the rest of the tomatoes, gave some away, made relish and chow chow with the rest. Oh, let some ripen.


Baby corn picked by Evie. Corn not successful but cute anyway.


Weeding the broccoli helps route out pests and slugs.


Picked a bunch of tomatoes when they were still mostly green and made some Green Tomato Chutney.


Nothing more beautiful than dirty parsnips!

Garlic is a standard.

harvest 5

We had SO many tomatoes this year!

harvest 3

Beets (and their greens) were a favourite.


Friends kept telling us that Halifax didn’t really have spring. That it just sort of goes from winter into summer. One day the trees are bare and the next they’re full of leaves. How could that be? we’d ask. You’ll see, they’d say knowingly.

After experiencing my first spring here, I see what they mean. You have to experience it to really get it. I mean, it’s spring. Plants come up. Well, plants come up that would come up even if winter continued.


Yellow daffodils, white tulips by the back steps.

tulips (1) tulips

But winter seems to hang on for all it’s worth. My indoor seedlings are outgrowing every pot that I put them in. But finally…it’s time to transplant them outside. Whether it’s time or not, it’s time. It’s time for me. I can’t wait anymore. And before you know it, tiny seedlings are growing into food.

seedlings (1)

Tomato seedlings, snap peas to the right.


New greens coming in, garlic in the bed behind.


Squash seedlings in front of tomatoes. Prayer flags protecting baby beans from crows.