Friday, December 30, 2011

I've joined twitter!

I knew it was bound to happen someday.. but apparently someday has arrived. I joined twitter yesterday and will do my best to tweet timely, interesting, and if possible, witty tidbits of info. Check my twitter at @NikiJabbour.

Also, let me know what you think about my current background image on my twitter account - it's a photo of the tulips and forget-me-not's that I took this past April while visiting Monet's Garden. Ah.. April in Paris..

I will also soon have some more events to add to my spring schedule.. I have a feeling that Rhode Island and Philly may be in my future..

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Proven Winners Blogs!

Supertunia® Pretty Much Picasso®, one of my 
favourite container plants!!
I'm getting a lot of e-mails about the Proven Winners blog (see the PW badge to the right of the page) and how people can read the posts.. My first post will be online in just a few days, but the other lovely bloggers from across the US and Western Canada can be accessed here - Proven Winners Blogs! Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A look back at 2011..

Is 2011 really almost over? I can hardly believe it! I also can't believe that it was way back in November of 2009 that I started working on The Year Round Vegetable Gardener and it has now been released (it's becoming widely available in the US and will soon be in Canada too - I promise!) At the time, I knew the book would come out late 2011/early 2012, but that seemed a lifetime away. Yet, here we are and 2012 is looking like a busy year - I have over 40 events/lectures/book signings, etc already booked and many more to come. Plus, I need to finish book #2, which is due in Sept (to be published by Storey Publishing in 2013). 

I also love to travel and I was thrilled that 2011 brought some incredible trips. From the springtime gardens and markets of France and Belgium to the heat of Indiana and Kentucky in August. The US trip introduced me to 499 of my fellow garden writers from across North America and it was so much fun to meet those whose work I have enjoyed for years. I also have become a blogger on the Proven Winners website and my first post will be published on the site in just a few days!

Although I had less time for my own gardens this year because of travel and work, we still managed to enjoy a bounty of garden fresh veggies during all 12 months, thanks to our sneaky season extenders. Here is a bit of a visual tour through my 2011!

All the best to you and yours for a prosperous, happy, healthy and veggie-filled 2012!

Europe 2011!

Monet's garden on a warm April day.. truly a paradise!

Forget-me-not's and tulips - a classic combination.

Every corner of the garden was a perfect picture!

I just couldn't get enough of the spring blooming bulbs!
Is it real or a figment of my imagination? Mont St. Michel was a highlight of the trip.
The markets of Bayeux, France!!

Black tomatoes in the French  markets

I so desperately wanted to take some of these veggie seedlings home!!

A big surprise - Howard Dill pumpkins (from Nova Scotia) in Bruges, Belgium!

Garden Writers Annual Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana - Aug 2011

The lovely Penny O'Sullivan, who co-wrote The Pruning Answer Book and is the author of The Homeowner's Complete Tree and Shrub Handbook. LOVE her!
Watch out - it's the Canadian contingent at Garden Writers! From left - me, Kathy Wood, Donna Balzer, Steven Biggs (Donna and Steve co-authored No-Guff Vegetable Gardening) and Donna Dawson, the genius behind
I loved this mischievous little dude that was tucked in an Indianapolis garden.

Doug Oster, Jessica Walliser and me at the Garden Writer's Convention.  Love Jessica's book, Good Bug, Bad Bug and Doug wrote Tomato, Garlic, Basil and they co-wrote Grow Organic. 

Indianapolis Slow Food Garden - a succession planting of arugula

I thought this was a charming sign stuck in the sweet potato bed!

My favourite kale - over 4-feet tall in Indianapolis!

Back home - my garden! 

A late autumn peek under one of our mini hoop tunnels. 
Painted lady runner beans - thanks to gardeningbren!

February carrots - a super sweet winter treat! 
This is my neighbour's garden - honest!! :) Great idea though..

We let our annual poppies seed throughout the vegetable garden.

Love these crazy double poppies..

This nasturtium from boasted a very unique colour combination.
Hort East 2011 in Moncton, New Brunwick! I went to meet some of the readers of Gardens East magazine!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A White Christmas!!

Well, I'm not sure how the last-minute shoppers are feeling, but it sure is nice to see a bit of white stuff before Christmas! We expected 2 to 4 cm (1 to 2 inches), but we ended up with 15 cm (6 inches)! Now that the barrage of fluffy snowflakes seems to be slowing, I thought I'd run up to take a few photos of the snow-covered garden. It's such a thick layer of snow, however, that it's hard to even see where the cold frames are hidden! I should probably shovel them off, but I know the snow will just add an insulating layer to them, protecting the veggies within from any cold weather. Therefore, I will just leave the snow for a few days. If it doesn't melt off by then, I will give them a quick cleaning.  
Here are a few shots from a snowy Dec 23.. 

Thank you so much for following my gardening adventures this year and I hope you and your loved ones have a very Merry Christmas (or whatever holiday you celebrate!!) and I wish you much happiness in 2012! 

Kale orzotto with a blend of kales from the garden!
The mache (aka corn salad) cold frame - stuffed full for winter!
The failed deer fence looks pretty in the snow

One of the sunken cold frames and the deer fence in the backyard.

Where's the cold frame?? 

Another shot of the mache frame with my fancy prop

The giant Chinese silver grass - 10 feet tall at this point. I use the canes as bamboo stakes in the garden each spring.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Amazing Edible Seminar at Lee Valley

With 'the book' coming out in just a few weeks - the official launch date is Jan 14th, but I'm told it could be in stores before then - my spring is starting to book up with workshops, lectures and other similar events. One of these will be taking place at Lee Valley in Halifax on Friday February 17th from 6:30 to 8:30. They just opened registration yesterday and I've listed the details below and the link can be found here - Amazing Edibles Workshop:

I hope to see you there!

Amazing Edibles 2 hours
Friday, February 17, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
"Grow your own produce" is the biggest gardening trend in decades. If you'd like to learn the basics of growing your own vegetables and herbs and extending your harvest season into the fall and winter, join Niki Jabbour for an interactive visual presentation. Niki will share tips on creating a garden that is as pretty as it is productive. Plus, she'll offer ideas on gardening in a small plot or in containers, creating compost, and using cold frames, as well as showcasing a selection of some of the best varieties for Nova Scotia gardeners. Fee: $20.00  

Niki Jabbour is a food gardener and writer who lives near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Her articles have appeared in Canadian Gardener, Garden Making, Gardens East, The Heirloom Gardener and other publications. She is the host of The Weekend Gardener, a call-in radio show airing throughout the Maritimes on News 97.5. Niki blogs at Her garden boasts over 40 heirloom vegetables and herbs that keep her family eating fresh food year round.

All seminar net proceeds are donated to United Way.                                                           
Seating is Limited
Please register early to avoid disappointment.

To purchase tickets call: (902) 450-1221
Unless otherwise stated, previous experience is not required
to participate in seminars.
Seminar tickets are not available online.
Beverages are provided at our seminars and a light
sandwich lunch is provided at all-day events.
Please discuss any special dietary needs
with the staff at time of registration.
In an effort to reduce waste, we encourage you to bring in
your own coffee mug and/or refillable water bottle.
We require that you wear closed shoes
(e.g. running shoes) to all seminars.
Prices are subject to GST.
48 hours notice required for cancellation refunds.
We reserve the right to reschedule seminars.
Lee Valley Tools Ltd.
100 Susie Lake Crescent
Halifax, NS
(In Bayers Lake Business Park)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Cold Tolerant Asian Green Experiment!

As a year-round gardener, I'm always on the lookout for cold-tolerant veggies that may be harvested from our devices - cold frames, mini hoop tunnels, etc - over the winter. Throughout the past two years, I've been experimenting with a wide assortment of Asian veggies like mustards, mizuna, tatsoi and so on. For a seed addict like me, it's a great excuse to keep ordering from seed catalogues and now that the new 2012 seed catalogues have begun to arrive, I've been busy adding new introductions to my ever-growing must try list!

Tatsoi has been a particular champ and thrives in our winter frames.. An interesting observation is that in winter it grows in a low rosette of shiny, deep green leaves - almost flat to the soil - while in spring/summer/fall, it's growth habit is more upright. I have tried it in several devices, but find it does best in a cold frame. Mind you, I've left it completely unprotected and was able to harvest through the snow and ice in mid-January last year. 

Mizuna is another essential cold season green with pretty, finely cut leaves and various shades of green and purple. It has a mild wasabi-like flavour and is great young in salads or stir-fried when mature. It also makes a nice sushi roll if you don't have any nori sheets! 

I've also had a lot of fun growing various mustards during this experiment - from the frilly, lacy foliage of Ruby Streaks, to the wide, huge leaves of Red Giant. Green Wave is also so pretty and is extremely slow-to-bolt in early to mid-summer. Flipping through my new Johnny's Selected Seed catalogue, I've added 'Scarlet Frills to my list for 2012 and Golden Frills - so delicate looking! 

I have a feeling this experiment may not have an end! 

My blend of Asian greens ready to be covered for winter.

Green Wave mustard - just look at that frilled edge!

Red Giant and Green Wave make nice planting partners - a colourful garden edge!

Tatsoi.. a lovely and super-hardy winter veggie

Late November Asian greens - getting a bit overgrown because of the mild weather!

New growth on the mizuna - where is winter!?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Proven Winners First Blog Post is Up!!

To add on to my 'big announcement' yesterday of becoming one of Proven Winner's Garden Guru's, I thought I would mention that the first PW blog post has gone LIVE! It's by the lovely Genevieve Schmidt and you can find the link to her first post here - Proven Winners Blog

My first post will be in a week or so.. I'll keep you updated! By the way, I hope you take some time to check out the blogs of my fellow PW Garden Guru's.. I linked to them in my last post and I have also added them to my blog roll. I was lucky to meet a few of these wonderful garden communicators in person in Indianapolis last August at the Garden Writers Annual Convention and I hope to meet the rest of the crew in the near future!

On another note, I just got back from a gorgeous garden in Halifax.. it will be featured in an upcoming issue of Gardens East magazine - March/April, I believe. Typically when I am working on gardening articles in December, it's bitterly cold, snowy and impossible to see the actual gardens.. today, it's mild, green and the earth is so spongy that I'm glad I didn't wear my heeled boots! :)

Off to the Rhodo Society Christmas party tonight! Good food, friends and plant fun!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Big Announcement - Proven Winners Garden Gurus!!

Pretty Much Picasso - LOVE that green edge!

Well, it’s finally happened! My dreams of becoming a national spokeswoman have come true and I am now an official garden guru for Proven Winners! To be honest, I have been a proven winners girl for awhile (just don’t tell the head honchos at PW), so it seemed like a natural fit when they asked me to contribute to their website and blog.

Perhaps we might seem like strange bedfellows – a nice, veggie girl like me and a company that prides itself on its ornamental plants – but my garden does extend beyond the realm of edibles you know (not that you can tell that from most of my blog posts!). In recent years, I have become rather obsessed with their awesome line of hydrangeas, as well as their container plants like ‘Pretty Much Picasso’ Supertunia and ‘Diamond Frost’ Euphorbia.

And no, this doesn’t mean that I have to go to garden shows and drape myself alluringly (Is that a word? Maybe I should say dramatically?) over the newly introduced plants like a model at a car show. Although, that does sound rather fun! Instead, it just means that I get to ‘test-drive’ (sorry, another car reference) a wide variety of new plants and introduce my favourites to you!

I’d also like to invite you to check out the blogs of my fellow garden guru’s who are also contributing to the proven winners site at I’m thrilled to be associated with these talented writers and am looking forward to following their gardening adventures as well!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Veggie flowers!

This is the time of year when I spend a lot of time going through my photos from the past year as I start to put together calenders, Christmas cards and photo books to give as gifts this holiday season. Therefore, I've been putting off my 'real work' and instead immersing myself in a visual history of the last 12 months. As I re-organize and review all my photos (over 2000!), it's a good time to weed out similar images, but I also find that it inspires me with new post ideas! Hence today's post - on flowers from my veggie garden.. I did toss in a few flowering herbs, but most are my veggies in flower. I tend to not let too many veggies go to flower (and eventually seed), because space is valuable and once something has stopped producing, want to re-plant that bed ASAP. Yet, occasionally a few specimens are allowed to produce seed - like the mache below because it is such an easy way to ensure a non-stop harvest.

On a similar note, I've also been quite busy with writing - I have 3 big deadlines looming in just a week and I really need to move the progress of book #2 along a bit faster.. Book #1, The Year Round Vegetable Gardener will be hitting stores in just a few weeks (Woo hoo!) and the excitement of the upcoming 'official' book launch (early Feb) and all the other events that are booked is beginning to set in! 

I will have another exciting announcement in just a day or so! But for now, I hope you enjoy these veggie flowers.. 

A single mache plant will produce thousands of seeds!

The flower buds of Giant Red mustard taste like broccoli.. yum!

Everyone loves chamomile.. especially the pollinators!

Evergreen long white green onions are super cold tolerant for winter harvesting and produce pretty summer flowers.

The pole beans - before the deer came!

'Sylvetta' arugula - also very cold tolerant for winter cold frames. 

The soft blue blooms of endive is one of my favourites.

'Painted Lady' pole beans - I love the bi-coloured blooms

It's hard to capture the intense yellow of zucchini flowers - we grew 7 types this summer!