Thursday, July 26, 2012

A little tour

Ah, the guilt of being a lax blogger.. this summer is rather busy. Not only am I trying to keep up with magazine deadlines and the weekly radio show, but the manuscript for my 2nd book is due in 5 weeks! Yikes!! That means my lovely summer days are spent working madly on my computer and the garden has suffered tremendously. Firstly, the deer have been making nightly pilgrimages to the garden.. my beloved beans have been desiccated. Secondly, the dry weather has made the soil like dust. We did finally get a rain 2 nights ago, but when I snuck up to plant some leek seedlings yesterday morning, the soil was still dry 3 inches down.

I knew that this would be a busy summer, so I tried to plan ahead and choose plants that wouldn't need me so much - tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, pole beans (damn deer, sniff), kale and such. The heat has been kind to the tomatoes, which are over 6 feet tall, but my lack of time means that they are inadequately staked. Oops! Maybe this weekend I can get out there and do a bit of work. I did find time to start some fresh trays of seedlings indoors for fall/winter though. I have more kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, endive, lettuces, swiss chard and a few other tidbits coming nicely under the grow lights. Soon, they'll be moved into the garden.

And I also sowed two beds of winter carrots. I still need to tidy up the cold frames and get them enriched for the late season crops, but again, it's on my list!

Lettuces, endive, Swiss chard and more - 1 1/2 weeks old!
One part of the garden that I'm thrilled with is the high bush blueberry patch. The plants are 3 years old now and bearing their first heavy crop of super delicious berries. Last year we harvested about a cup from each bush. Now, they're 4 feet tall and we've gotten 2 cups from each already with many more to come. The staggered ripening process means daily handfuls of the berries and I already have plans to greatly expand that bed next spring.

Next season - no book deadlines (or so I tell myself) as I want to get back to the pleasure of gardening and not 'speedy gardening', where both the crops and the gardener suffer!! :)

I promise to be a better blogger! Thanks for hanging in.. much appreciated!

Five types of kale, 2 quick maturing cabbage and kohlrabi


  1. Hanging in till the toenails fall out!! Juss kiddin!

    You are going to have a wonderful autumn. Hold on to that.

  2. Hi Niki,

    Are you planing for your cold frame now?

    I have some lovely blueberry bushes bearing now too! Do you cover your with netting to keep birds away? Do you recommend ash or any special fertilizer for them? Are you pruning yours or just letting them go wild? So many questions!!!


  3. Don't feel bad! I haven't been able to touch my blog in at least a month and, like you, I planned low-maintenance this year and I'm still falling behind (moving my entire department twice in three weeks with no down time kind of killed my dreams for this year). The weather has been good/bad, huh? Great for the tomatoes, but since I waited until the traditional date, my pole beans were too hot to even germinate! I had to start them indoors and set them out... that's never happened before. And some usual suspects (cabbage moths) have been a minor nuisance this year instead of the usual talk-myself-down-from-torching-the-garden-to-kill-them-all they tend to be, while earwigs and black aphids are strutting around like they own the place. It's been a great year of sacrificing crops like lettuce just so that they can provide shade and water retention for other crops... ah well, you live you learn.

  4. Hi Niki!

    I am new to cool season veggie gardening. Why did you start those seedlings indoors at this time of year? Is it too hot for them or did you not have room?

    Trying to talk my husband into buying a greenhouse! Karen Atkins

  5. Thanks Bren!! And thanks Sarah for understanding my slack blogging! :) My pole beans were going great and they're one of my very favourites.. but the damn deer have ravaged them - daily! Really need to get things a bit better organized, but once I'm done book two (4 weeks!), then time will hopefully be a bit easier to come by.

    Karen - awesome question! I start them indoors now because lettuce and many other cool/cold season veg don't germinate well in the heat of summer. Plus, I don't like to water just-seeded beds constantly so they don't dry out when it's 30 C ! :) It's an easy way to fill in 'holes' in the garden when things are harvested.. just pop in fresh seedlings! Good luck with your greenhouse - I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.. ha ha!

    Hey Edie - Yep, one cold frame is now planted with carrots and I have seedlings just started under my lights to fill up the other cold frames too.. soon, I'll start more crops directly in them - Japanese turnips, beets, more radishes, etc., but it's still a bit early.

    I don't net our blueberry bushes - yet - as the birds have left them alone! I'm so very pleased with them this year.. can't wait to expand next year. I really don't feed them much either. Just a balanced slow release organic food in spring. Done for the year! :)

  6. July 12 seeded broccoli, cauliflower and snow peas under lights inside. Broccoli about three inches but peas are seven inches (I think I will plant these outside tomorrow).
    July 23 seeded carrots, beets and turnip Early Purple (first time for turnip)outside.
    July 29 seeded mizana, pok cho, arugula, green curled kale, red kale, ruby & Emerald Duet lettuce, bloomdale spinach inside. Some are coming up as I write..

    Instead of building a cold frame, can I put glass on top of a raised bed where tomatoes and squash are growing or would that be too late to plant other crops by the time I harvest them.

    This is the first time planning for a fall harvest (all because of your inspiration!!) Am I on the right track? Any other suggestions?

    PS This is the first year growing artichokes. So excited!! Artichokes are 2-3 inches in diameter in my flower barrels on the deck. Wonderful large foliage with the annuals.

  7. Wow! it sounds like you're right on schedule!! And, better organized than me this year! :) You could grow crops under glass on top of a raised bed, but by the time the warm season crops are done in late Sept (depending where you're located), it will be late to sow fresh crops.. But, that is where your lights can come in handy. Grow red salad bowl lettuce, swiss chard, tatsoi, mizuna, endive and such under your lights, harden them off and move the decent sized plants to your 'clever cold frame' once the tomatoes/squash are done. They may not reach the best size by winter, but they will take off in late winter again when the sun extends beyond 10 hours a day.

    Also, congrat's on your artichokes - do you post photos anywhere?? Love them so much..


Please feel free to leave comments. I welcome your tips, questions, thoughts and ideas (and suggestions for new veggies to grow!)