Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My latest blog post for Proven Winners!

Here is a shot of one of my containers
from last summer - baby cabbage, lobelia
and Pretty Much Picasso Supertunia!
As you can see if you look over on the right hand side of this page, there is a 'badge' for Proven Winners..  If you click on it, you will (hopefully) be directed to my blog posts that I write each month for their website. Here is a link to my latest one, which was just posted!

Do you love petunias as much as I do??

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Adventures in Moncton!

Had a fun trip to the South Eastern Co-op in Moncton this past weekend.. here are a few photos from my book signing!
Me and the dwindling pile of books..

Manager Jason Wells and I as the signing wrapped up!

Me and Kevin Carson, the owner of Audubon Organics in Moncton. Audubon Organics is also a
sponsor for The Weekend Gardener radio show. Thanks for coming out Kevin!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Attack of the Asparagus Beetle!!

I have to admit that I've been lucky up to now.. for years my asparagus has fared pretty well, aside from some occasional slug problems. Yet, when I went to the garden on the weekend to cut a handful of spears, I noticed something was amiss.. A good portion of the spears were damaged and many were covered in small (about 1/2 to 2/3 cm long) beetles with six distinct spots on their back.. it was the dreaded asparagus beetle!! (cue dramatic music) Annoying, but I can't say that I wasn't at least a little bit excited to actually have the opportunity to study their lifecycle up close and personal. (What can I say? I'm warped!)

Today when I went up to check on the beetles, I noticed that there were eggs visible on the stems and spears of some of the asparagus shoots. Tomorrow I will use a gloved hand to wipe the eggs off the stems and I will also handpick the adult beetles, dropping them in a bucket of soapy water, but today was picture day and I grabbed my camera and tried to focus on the tiny eggs and colourful beetles.. I do apologize that my camera focus wasn't co-operating as much as I would have liked. I will try again tomorrow on manual focus to see if I can get some better images.. for now though, I wanted to share these with you..

Dig those groovy little eggs. They're typically deposited in
rows of two to eight.. cool, eh??

This sideshoot was coated in the elongated dark coloured eggs.

Asparagus beetle party!! Isn't three a crowd?? 
Adults on the top right, eggs in the middle and bottom..

More eggs.. 

Gotta end on a happy note.. check out this unexpected
combination in the veggie garden: chives with catmint and
blooming mache (corn salad).. gorgeous, eh??

Sea and Be Scene Profiled Me!

One of our fabulous Maritime websites has just profiled me! Click HERE to check it out. So much fun!!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Oops, I did it again!

Look Ma, I'm on a sign!
Just got back from my talk at Blomidon Nurseries and may have accidentally done it again.. came home with more plants! What can I say, I'm a sucker for a well grown plant! Thought I'd share some of the photos I snapped today before and after my talk.

Tomorrow, I'm off to Moncton to the Southeastern Farmer's Co-op from 11 to 1 pm.. Can't wait!

Love love love sweet potato vine and this one is gorgeous!! 
Another deep hued sweet potato vine. I know that I blog for PW, but that doesn't
change the fact that I love these in my pots!! (I will never endorse something that I don't LOVE)

Flats of Red Russian kale seedlings - a fabulous veggie for a 4 season garden. 

I was ridiculously excited to see Cheddar cauliflower at Blomidon!!! I have never
seen this offered before in transplant form. It produces glowing orange curds that are
delicious and loaded with vitamin C! (I may have bought a few packs.. where to put them?)

Heirloom tomatoes - Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, Green Zebra, etc. 

Was so excited to learn that their asparagus, rhubarb and many of their
berries are LOCALLY GROWN! Hardy hardy hardy..

I resisted, but was very tempted to add these beauties to
my new berry patch.. Kind of regretting not getting
them now.. sigh..

Drifts of purple and white alyssum. A great plant for under tomatoes and edging veggie
beds as they smell great, look pretty and attract beneficial and pollinating buggies.

I really wanted this! Imagine it at the end of a pathway lined in lavender or catmint
or boxwood or... well, you get the idea. What a perfect destination for a pathway.

Fiberglass pumpkins. They look small in the photo, but the big ones
are HUGE (but not too heavy).. they are about 2+feet tall.. I think I need three of them
in various colours and sizes..

Another shot. Loved them so much.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Busy Weekend!

Another busy weekend coming up and I thought I'd post a few of my events.. Hope to see some of you there!

Friday - 10 am to 1 pm - Blomidon Nurseries in Wolfville for an informal garden Q & A, lecture on growing veggie and another Q & A in the veggie section.. I will try not to buy too much!!

Saturday - 11 am to 1 pm - Southeastern Farmer's Co-op in Moncton, NB. Book signing and garden Q & A

Sunday - The Weekend Gardener radio show from 11 am to 1 pm on News 95.7 FM, News 88.9 FM and News 91.9 FM or live online at

This weekend on the show:

  • Steven Biggs - Author of the brand new book, Grow Figs - Where You Think You Can't
  • Ellen Novack and Dan Cooper - Authors of Gardening From a Hammock. This is a really unique Canadian gardening book!
  • Jean Ann Van Krevelen - Author of Grocery Gardening and social media expert! Jean Ann will join me to talk about how gardeners are connecting and learning on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest 
  • Peter Cantley, Loblaw's garden guru will offer a preview of some of the unique new plants for 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Seedy Observations

I've been waiting for a day like today for over week.. It's time to get more seed in the ground - carrots, swiss chard, beets, lettuce, Asian greens, and so on, but after three hot sunny days in a row during the long weekend (no complaints!!), the soil was a rather dry. Plus, I didn't want to be out watering twice a day, so I've been biding my time and waiting for rain. Yesterday it rained. A lot. Today, it's drizzly, cloudy and perfect for seeding. I just put in rainbow swiss chard, red salad bowl lettuce and three packets of carrots before the sky opened up again and the rain began. Now, I'm a bit drippy, but at least I got a few things planted.

I always find it interesting to open up different packets of seed from different seed companies. Sometimes you end up with way too much, while other times, there is barely enough for a small patch. I end up ordering many of my seed packets in bulk so that I have plenty of greens and roots for our year round harvest. Here are some of my carrot seed packets and being a total nerd, thought I'd count just how many seeds were in each packet. Here is the results:

McKenzie Seed, Creme de Lite F1 - I've grown this before from another company and we really liked the sweet flavour, but there were 27 seeds in this package. 27. That was enough for 2 tiny rows and that's assuming that all the seeds germinate. Carrots are notorious for being pernickety for germination, so I typically count on about 3/4 germinating.. That will leave about 20 carrots for $2.49.

Pumpkin Moon Seeds, Carrots Variety Mix - This is the tiny packet on the left and is from a local company in the Annapolis Valley. According to the label on the back, there are 7 types of carrots in the packet and I counted 109 seeds for $3.00.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Carrot Cosmic Purple - One of the larger heirloom seed companies, Baker Creek has a wide assortment of veggie seeds.. This is a stunning carrot that has a unique sweet-spicy flavour. The packet had 312 seeds and sells for $3.00.

Ok, enough counting! The rain has stopped again and I need to go plant my bok choi. And my beets. And my beet and chard braising mix. And arugula. And...

What are your thoughts on seed packet contents..?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tomorrow on The Weekend Gardener!

The Weekend Gardener - May 20th

Big show tomorrow! Join me from 11 to 1 pm Atlantic (10 to noon EST) on News 95.7 fm, News 91.9 fm and News 88.9 fm - or if you're too far away, just go to 

We're going to talk bugs - slugs, red lily beetles, cabbageworm, potato beetles, butterflies and any other critters you want to discuss - with Ingrid Hoff, expert from magazine! (Plus, we'll give away a 1 year subscription to this awesome magazine!)

Also, Bev McPhail from the HRM gardens will join me for a preview of their upcoming open house and tell us what we can expect to see in the local city gardens.. (hint - more veggies!!)

Marie Iannotti, the author of the great new book, The Beginners Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables will join me to talk veggies!! (love her new book - we'll have one to give away if producer Meghan can pry it from my hands)

Finally, we'll also find out about pallet gardening in the Maritimes with the experts at!

Hope you'll join us too..

After the show, I'll be at Bloom Greenhouse and Garden Centre from 2 to 3:30 pm talking veggies in pots, taking your garden questions and signing copies of The Year Round Vegetable Gardner.. Come say hi!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Post #401! A spring garden tour (not my garden!)

A magnolia in full bloom and rock garden perennials.
I had the amazing privilege of visiting one of the province's loveliest gardens early last evening.. I had a guided tour, but can honestly say that I was so dazzled, many of the exact species have left my brain (perhaps the gardener can help ID some of these plants in the comment section of the blog..?) But, I really wanted to shared these springtime images with you so that you can see what is blooming in my region this time of year. I keep seeing fellow gardeners from warmer areas posting photos of roses, peonies, lilacs and more.. we may not have these plants in bloom quite yet, but I'm in no rush. Especially with gardens like this..

(Also be sure to check the end of this post for some upcoming garden event info!)

Fritillaria (sigh) and white arabis

A bit dark (sorry, used my iPhone!) photo of
hellebore and white arabis. Loved the combo!

An early blooming clematis

Look closely.. see all the marsh marigolds in bloom?! Great idea for
a damp and boggy spot in the garden. Do you also see the homemade wooden
bridge at the centre of the bog..?

A close up on the right side of the bog.. with all those Marsh Marigolds
you can hardly see the water!

Seriously gorgeous.. ferns, marsh marigolds, iris..

Hello! A species of veronica I believe..

The terraced garden in mid-spring..

A dwarf form of Jacob's ladder.. 

Another type of veronica..

Butterflies magnolia - MUST HAVE!
Look at the centre of the bloom.. amazing!

Another image of Butterflies magnolia.. the blooms look like wax..

Was so dazzled, I forgot the name already.. (help!?) It's already been
blooming for three weeks with no sign of slowing down!

Two Upcoming Garden Events (you won't want to miss!):

May 19 - Garden Fair in Chester Basin, Nova Scotia from 9am-noon.  Plants, products, services and “free stuff”.  Aenon Baptist Church parking lot, across from Post Office in Chester Basin.  Contact Myra (902) 273-2000

June 02 - Basin Gardeners Association Plant Sale at Louisiana Pacific Union Hall, East Chester. 9am-noon. 

May 24th - Lunenburg and Area Garden Club Plant Sale. 3 Green Street, Lunenburg from 8 am to noon. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Growing Figs in the North - A Guest Post by Steven Biggs

Don't you love the cover of Steven's book??

I'm thrilled to introduce this guest post by Steven Biggs, a Canadian garden writer and speaker who co-authored the best-selling No-Guff Vegetable Gardening and has just released his brand spanking new book, Grow Figs: Where You Think You Can't. It's good. Really good. And if you have any interest at all in these incredible fruits, this is a book you will want to have. Steven is a self described 'Fig Pig' and I first met him (in person) last summer at the Garden Writers annual convention in Indianapolis. Before that, he'd been a guest on my radio show talking with his co-author Donna Balzer about No-Guff Vegetable Gardening and just a few months ago, we met up again at Canada Blooms where dozens of Canadian Garden Writers took part in a fun and informative lunch. 

Garden friends, may I have the pleasure of introducing you to Steven Biggs:

It’s May and my fig trees here in Toronto, here in a fig-unfriendly garden zone, are leafing out. More importantly, the first crop of figs—the “breba” crop—is underway and should be ready in July. Yum, I can’t wait! (The second crop—the “main” crop—ripens in September and October.)
If you live somewhere where figs don’t survive the winter— in a fig-unfriendly garden zone—you might already have seen neighbours growing figs. If not, have no doubt: You can grow figs in coldish climates. It takes a bit of effort to protect them from extreme cold…but not much.
DID YOU KNOW that a fig tree overwintering indoors needs no more care than a potted houseplant? Actually, it needs less, because the fig goes dormant in the winter.
Figs WANT to go dormant. They drop their leaves after the first frost. That means we can keep them over the winter even if we don’t have a bright, hot greenhouse. While they’re dormant, they don’t need light or much heat. Contrast this to lemon trees, which demand a sunny window or a greenhouse in cold climates!
In fig-unfriendly zones you can often overwinter fig plants outdoors too. Over the winter, the ground remains warmer than air, which is why the technique works. The most well-known method of keeping a fig tree outdoors over the winter is burying it, and you’ll find more information about that approach on my website,

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Bloomin' Veggie Garden

I really love this time of the year. Every day brings new things to plant.. yesterday, I had a few hours to toil in the garden and managed to dig under a deep layer of aged manure (oxen poop this year!) and plant 15 assorted tomatoes (just the tip of the iceberg!), 4 more ten-foot long rows of peas (super sugar snap), about a dozen types of lettuce, banana potatoes, celery, onions and more.

And, as I worked, I was serenaded by the lovely buzzing of the bees and pollinating insects who were going crazy in the leftover clumps of kale/mizuna/mustards/tatsoi/mache from last winter that I allowed to flower.  The main reason that I leave these plants in the garden when they are past their eating prime is so that they early bees and other pollinators have something to sustain them if no other sources of pollen are available. I didn't get a chance to take any photos yesterday, so I just wandered up to the garden now (deadlines be damned!) to take a few photos (with my iPhone, hence the occasionally blurry image). Aren't these gorgeous?? Plus, they make nice cut flowers on the windowsill..

A 5 foot by 4 foot clump of mizuna and mustard in full bloom!

Look close.. do you see the hardworking little guy mid-photo?

Another pollinator on the top right hand side..

Red Russian kale in full bloom. Love the purple stems, green leaves and bright yellow flowers.

Red Russian kale - the immature buds are eaten like broccoli. Yum!

Here's a photo of one of the immature buds. Enjoy raw or steam/stir-fry as you would broccoli.

Mache is also in bloom. I will let a few plants go to seed and sprinkle them everywhere for a bumper crop of mache next fall/winter.

Redbor kale.. sorry for the blurry buds, I tried to get a clear shot! Gorgeous colour.. spinach in behind.

On a completely unrelated note, Alice at Ouest-Ville Perennials gave me this handy Dartmouth-made tote
a few weeks ago when I went down to West Pubnico and  lectured on year round veggie gardening. Locally made and
incredibly handy (we really gave it quite the workout the past few days). I have to say that I'm very impressed!  Here's a link if you're interested - Veggie Harvester Bag