Saturday, April 30, 2011

April in Paris

I'm back!! Blogging will now re-commence! I'm literally just off the plane from a 10 day trip to France and Belgium!! (my first!) Nice to be home though and there is so much to do in the gardens, plus writing/book work and the radio show starts tomorrow.. (argh - deadlines!!) Plus, I'm still on Brugge time, where it's now 2:36 am.. so, I'm off to bed, but with a promise that I will blog tomorrow (after the radio show) about the wonderful markets we discovered on our European adventures.. plenty of photos too.. artichokes as big as my head, tomatoes (black, fluted), forced asparagus, greens, and much much more.. how does that old song go.. 'I love Paris in the springtime..'

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Soon!! I promise..

Hello cyper friends.. So sorry for the long silence.. will be back to full-time blogging in just a few days with some fantastic photos and details to share!!

The Weekend Gardeners starts up this Sunday - May 1st from 11 to 1 pm Atlantic time.. tune in on News 95.7 FM, News 88.9 FM or News 91.9 FM or live online at Don't forget we welcome your questions and thoughts at 1-877-801-8255 during the show!

Can't wait to get back to the regular blogging schedule!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Coming up on The Weekend Gardener

Owen Bridge at the Wolfville Farmer's Market
I can't believe it's that time of the year again! The radio show starts up again on May 1st and my producer and I have been busy booking guests and organizing contests. The show runs every Sunday from 11 am to 1 pm Atlantic time and you can listen in Nova Scotia on News 95.7 FM, or in NB and PEI on News 91.9 FM or News 88.9 FM.. or, if you're nowhere near the Maritime provinces, catch us on It's only live though.. no podcasting yet..

The first show of the season is going to be fantastic!! Some of my favourite guests from past seasons, as well as a new New Brunswick guest.. We're also going to chat about a wide variety of topics - from no-fail trees and shrubs to new plants for 2011 to growing herbs to all about seeds.. we've got it covered!

Joining me on May 1st will be Cathy Oulton from Bloom Greenhouse and Garden Center in Halifax. She's a tree and shrub expert and we'll talk about her favourites, as well as what's new for the upcoming season.. We'll also touch on perennials and the amazing new container plants.. As well, Aaron and Anna of Sweet Valley Herbs in NB will join me to chat all about growing and using herbs! Finally, Owen Bridge of Annapolis Seeds will be in studio to share his favourite heirloom tomato varieties and some of the other unique seeds that can be grown in Maritime gardens. Can't wait! I hope you'll join me..

Very light blogging until the May 1st show.. so sorry, but will have plenty of fun things to share with you when I'm back to 'almost' daily blogging in late April.. be patient please!! :)

Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Seedling Update (take 3!)

I now have about 8 trays of seedlings started under the lights.. but, I need to get my act in gear and get the cukes, zucchini and rest of the gourds started. Today! (I hope).. The tomatoes, peppers, brassicas and more are doing very well, but some of the tomato leaves were looking a bit yellowish, so I dosed them with some Seaboost this morning. It's a locally produced liquid seaweed fertilizer.. just a squirt in the watering can and the plants perk up in record time! I also like Gardener's Dream, another locally produced fish and seaweed fertilizer.

Some of the dwarf tomatoes from
I was looking at our giant pumpkin seedlings this morning (thanks again Pete!!).. the kids are soooo excited  about having genuine giant pumpkin seed. They each started 3 and we now have 4 healthy looking seedlings. Mind you, one of them is on steroids! It's 4 times the size of the other ones.. funny how plants do that sometimes. Seeds and seedlings just seem to grow at their own pace. In fact, some of the peppers that I had seeded 5 weeks ago, have just come up! I had given up hope, but kept the soil moist, just in case - and lo and behold, they have germinated!

My kohlrabi seedlings - about 50 in total.. 
It's so interesting that the dwarf tomato seedlings really do grow much more compact then the indeterminate types. They're stocky and well branched and I can't wait to get them into the garden. Speaking of which, I've been busy spreading that manure and it's such a sweet spring pleasure turning the soil and seeing such a large amount of worms. I've been working the soil for so long now, that it's just rich in worms. Originally, I despaired of ever having worms! So many gardening books say things like 'if you don't see at least 30 worms per shovelful of soil, your soil is poor.' Yikes!! I don't think I seed 15 worms now in a shovel, but I know that my soil is very fertile. My plants tell me so.. 

Pretty purple 'Bolivian Rainbow' pepper seedlings
The next few weeks will be light blogging - I have a very special reason why and will share it with you in due time.. (no mother, no more babies!).. I'll keep up as best as I can, but will be back to normal blogging by May 1st.. please be patient! I promise, it will be worth the wait!

Ruffled pansies - love them!!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do you facebook?

Had a great meeting today with my new radio show producer, Meghan! Also recorded the first few promos in my 'radio voice'.. fun!! Season 5 of The Weekend Gardener gears up on Sunday, May 1st from 11 am to 1 pm Atlantic time. You can listen live on News 95.7 FM, News 91.9 FM or News 88.9 FM.. or online at

To keep listeners updated on what's happening with the show, as well as weekly guests, contests and such, we've started a facebook page for The Weekend Gardener. If you're on facebook, please check it out and 'like' us!

I'll be posting in the next few days the details about show number 1!

Happy Gardening!!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Worms, glorious worms!! (and more seeds - oops!)

Hello friends.
I'm running a bit late this year..  mind you, spring has been a bit slow too, so I don't feel so bad! But between work commitments, spring colds and unseasonal weather, I'm falling behind. In fact, I just got my late birthday present yesterday - a truckload of 2 year aged cow manure (sounds like I'm talking about fine wine.. 'manure aged in oak casks for 2 years and imparted with a hint of oakiness')!

I've been putting off some of my planting until the manure arrived and I'm glad I waited. It's rich, dark, crumbly and chock full of worms!! Sooooo exciting! When I say 'chock full', I mean tens of thousands of lovely little wrigglers.. The whole family was like kids in a candy shop. The family fishermen, were running for their rods (not with MY worms!!) and the youngest added handfuls to our new 'worm farm', which has taken up residence in a big plastic container in our garage.. well filled with partially aged compost, veggie peelings and handfuls of shredded leaves.

Worms, glorious worms!! Dozens in every shovelful!

I also finally picked the last of the winter carrots this weekend - we got about 40 roots, each 5 to 6-inches long, super sweet and very crisp. Yum!

Oceanview Garden Centre and Landscaping in Chester
In other news, I may have 'accidently' bought more seeds.. I didn't mean to, but I happened to drop into Oceanview Garden Centre and Landscaping ( in Chester yesterday and they had their seed racks up - I couldn't help myself!! A local source of seeds we can't even order online (they don't ship to Canada) - Cook's Garden and Burpee.. plus, Renee's Garden seed racks - emerite beans, purple podded pole beans, Sungold tomatoes, Costoluto tomatoes, mustards, mizuna and soooo much more! Thanks to Susan at Oceanview for hearing my pleas for greater local variety!! She'll also join me on the radio show in about a month to talk about fun new plants for 2011 and some of her favourite landscape plants.

Hope your weekend was manure and seed filled too! Worms, glorious worms!!

Happy Gardening!
The now-empty carrot cold frame piled with manure!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

More Upcoming Talks..

Bloom Greenhouse and Garden Center on the Hammonds Plains Road
Spring is in full swing and I can tell you that my garden is feeling the neglect! Season 5 of the radio show starts on May 1st (so many great guests for 2011! Can't wait to share them.. soon..), I've been out and about giving lectures and seminars on gardening, visiting the local schools to plant seeds with the children and trying to finish a few big magazine deadlines.. which is the real reason I'm on the computer on a sunny Saturday afternoon and not in the garden.. mind you, as you probably realize, I'm procrastinating by updating the blog!!

Anyhoo.. I have have some upcoming lectures I thought I'd announce.. this Monday, I'll be at the Bible Hill Garden Club to chat about creating a kitchen garden.. it's my favourite lecture to give and it will also feature dozens and dozens of photos from my garden (along with some other fantastic local gardens!). Then, on Saturday, May 14th at 1 pm, I'll be closer to home giving a similar talk on creating a family veggie garden at Bloom Greenhouse and Garden Center ( - or find them on facebook). That will be open to the public and I'll cover all the basics of creating an amazing edible garden - as well as share some of my favourite things to grow!! Hope to see you there!

Ah spring.. now, time to get back to work and finish those articles!!

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

More Garden Workshop Fun!!

If you're in the Nova Scotia area and want to enhance your gardening skills this spring, check out the awesome series being offered by the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens at Acadia University!

Wild Gardening Workshop series at the Harriet Irving Botanical Gardens

Thursday nights, May 5 - 19th 7-8pm $50 

Instructor: Chris Shaw Sanford, Helping Nature Heal inc.

1) Planting for Pollinators: Birds, Bees & Butterflies, May 5th 7-8pm

Are you interested in attracting a pollinator population to your garden or backyard?  Learn which plants and gardening methods can encourage birds, bees, and butterflies.

2) Gardening For Wildlife: Food, Water & Shelter, May 12th 7-8pm

Creating a backyard habitat is fun, helps native wildlife populations, and can become a beautiful natural landscape with minimal care.

3) Maintaining your “Natural” Landscape, May 19th 7-8pm

A natural garden planted to provide habitat doesn't have to become wild and unkempt and upset the neighbours!  In this workshop, we'll cover organic maintenance techniques to keep your landscape looking great for years to come.

If you can't make the entire series, workshops can be registered for individually for $25 each.

Registration deadline: April 25th

For more info, check out the website at: or find them on facebook!

Garden Blunders!

We all do it.. (though some of us may deny it!).. we all make garden blunders. Is there a better way to learn than by making mistakes? I've made some doozies over the years and though I may look back fondly on them now, at the time, they weren't so funny!

One of my favourites is when I decided to add a bit more colour to a newly planted perennial border (a 4 foot by 20 foot garden) and planted 4 packets of nasturtium seed.. not just any nasturtiums, but the vining types.. That's well over 100 vining nasturtium plants winding their way through my baby perennials.. their rampant vines also spilled out onto the pathways and eventually created a 4 x 20 foot mound of nasturtiums!! By the time I yanked them all out in mid-summer, the perennials were not impressed and I had a 5 1/2-foot tall pile of discarded nasturtium vines - it was bigger than me! (I can't believe I never got a photo of that pile!) At least it was a 'composting opportunity'! (In the worlds of Canadian garden personality Mark Cullen).

Another was when I allowed a few annual chamomile plants to go to seed in the vegetable garden.. that was 5 years ago, and I'm still digging out those darn seedlings every year! They took over an entire swath of the garden (along with the cosmos seed that I also tossed in the garden - what was I thinking?!) I do love chamomile tea and the blooms certainly attract both pollinators and beneficial insects, but a sea of chamomile will choke out a tomato in the blink of an eye! Ooooppppssss!

Of course, my biggest gardening blunder was starting my very first veggie garden in the shade!! Brilliant, eh? It was under the protective branches of a mature maple tree and although we only harvested one measly tomato, we did have a bumper crop of mid-summer greens that seemed to appreciate the respite from the heat.. 

What are some of the garden blunders that you've made..? Can you top mine?! I dare you.. :)

Happy Gardening!

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Whirlwind Weekend and Lebanese Flatbread

Phew.. another weekend come and gone, and it just flew by! I spent Sat and Sunday afternoon at the Spring Ideal Home Show, where I gave a handful of seminars.. thanks to everyone who came out! It was a lot of fun and I loved answering your gardening questions and hearing about some of the fun things that you're doing in your own gardens! I tell you - spend 5 min with a gardener and you'll come away with a whole bunch of new tips and ideas!!

I've also been starting more seeds indoors for the second flush of cool season crops like cabbage, broccoli and kohlrabi. And, after 3 weeks, my first Mexico Midget tomato seed has germinated - see.. isn't it adorable?! (something only a gardener would think!) I was warned they were slow to germinate, but I was getting a bit worried! My Chapis Wild tomatoes haven't sprouted yet either, so fingers crossed.. Everything else is doing well though - tomatoes, peppers (what am I going to do with 40 pepper plants!?), parsley (Italian and curly), zaatar, among many others.

In case you haven't heard of zaatar, which I bought from, it's a Lebanese thyme-like herb that's used to flavour a flatbread breakfast dish called 'Manouchi' (spelling will vary widely). It's a traditional Lebanese breakfast and I make it for the kids a few times a week.. they love it (and so do I!).. you can buy a bag of dried zaatar (not the seed) at your local middle-east grocery stores (look for the green type, not reddish) and it's a mix of the zaatar herb, along with sumac and sesame seeds. Just mix it with some olive oil until it's a slurry (not too oily, but not too dry) and spread it over your favourite pizza dough. Bake like pizza until the bottom crust is golden and eat! Delicious!!

On a side note, just found that top photo of some of the tomatoes from last summer - had to include it as a bit of inspiration as to why we grow our own tomato transplants.. just try finding seedlings for Black Cherry, Costoluto or Sungold tomatoes at your local nursery - I dare you! :)

Happy Gardening - another gorgeous day!