Monday, 23 April 2012

a chilly day

Well, I turned the soil in the vegetable garden.  I added compost, then one week later, lime.  I turned the soil again.  I took its temperature.  I then made a decision and sowed the spinach, radish, and mesculan seeds.  Then I transplanted three summer squash seedlings that were ready to go in the ground.  All looked good until the weather turned.

In spite of  the books and tips and growing guides, nothing surpasses experience.  I did not fail to remember that this could happen...I just want to see how early is early! This is my second season with vegetable-growing so, in the spirit of gaining experience first-hand, I am embracing this opportunity to learn. 

I have been covering the rows of seedlings with clear, heavy-duty plastic. I am doing this because although spinach and radishes can (according to the growing guides) be sown "early spring or as soon as ground can be worked" I thought I should take this precaution.   Even though night temperatures have been a brutal (compared to two weeks ago) 3-5 degrees celsius, they are thriving!  The zucchini plants are holding their own ( have even blossomed), spending nights covered with inverted styrofoam planters.  The weather will continue to be cold for the next week, at least.  I am skeptical anything will survive but, at the same time, optimistic.  Optimistic because in the flower beds all manner of growth ( perennials and weeds) is occurring despite the cold. 

Needless to say, the indoor-started tomato plants (now 8-10 inches tall) and the peppers (with flower buds forming) will be staying indoors until all chance of frost is over.  This could be 2-3 weeks away so, lessoned learned, experience noted:  next year I will decide if I want to deal with row covers and the anxiety of watching indoor seedlings flourish too early for planting out or patiently find something else to do until the nurseries (and certainly they have experience!) put the plants out for sale.

Thing is, there are two ways to grow a vegetable garden:  seeds and seedlings.  Both methods have guidelines to follow.  Picking up seedlings from a nursery and putting them into the ground at the recommended time is easier, for sure, but I like the challenges of starting from seed.  This provides a more complete experience and control over what I am growing vis-a-vis quality of seed.  I only want to use non-genetically-modified, organic, heritage, etc.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

good news...bad news!

the good news:  certified organic Summer Squash seeds, planted five days ago, have sprouted!
the bad news:  certified organic Summer Squash seeds, planted five days ago, have sprouted!

Well, seems I have set myself up for my first challenge of the season.  Today's date, March 13, may be a little too early for this plant.  By my reckoning, we have an early spring announced (3 weeks early!), so usual planting out after last frost may be as soon as May 1 this year.  Maybe I will have to use some protection when I plant these zucchini seedlings into the ground.  Like I say:  my first challenge.

Geraniums seeds and something new for the garden, Anagallis (Gentian Blue), have also sprouted under my indoor lights.

Started also five days ago:  Italian, beefsteak and Moneymaker tomatoes, Phlox, pepper (Socrates), compact Redskin peppers, and Sweet Pepper mix.

It looks as if I may be working the veggie garden soil as soon as a week from now, the thaw is so early.  I will be adding sheep manure compost to the soil when I turn it over. Last year I thought the veggies could have done better with food but did not feed as the soil was all new (medium grade gardening soil), trucked in just that season. 

Recently visited the Dominican Republic.  Really needed to hear birdsong and see some greenery...winter is a little long here in Ile Perrot!  Was rewarded with that much and more.  Here are some photos of orchid-draped walls and some new plantings put out in what looks like rocky, dusty dirt but, without chemical fertilizers, grow anyway ... imagine that!  Also, I wandered across a small, thriving, family nursery.  Instead of plastic pots, they use plastic bags.  Language constraints would not allow me to ask these intrepid gardeners any questions, so I accepted some freshly-pressed pineapple juice and simply nodded and pointed appreciatively.  But, oh my, I certainly had questions!

Well, I am off to purchase a pair of rubber boots but not gloves.  Don't want to get my feet wet but cannot wait to feel the warm, wet soil on my hands!

Friday, 17 February 2012

spring is just around the corner

Well, truly exciting:  I saw today for the first time this year, a ROBIN!  Either we will truly be having an early spring, or the little guy has made a mistake!  So I checked the web site for first sightings, robins and, sure enough there have been other sightings in and around Montreal during the past week.  As I said, very exciting!

Saturday, 11 February 2012

oooh, oooh! look at what arrived in the mail!

Well, they are here!  Seeds for spring planting have arrived.  So full of promise, I can't stand it!

This year, my garden friend and I have decided to start the entire vegetable garden by seed only.  A challenge, perhaps, but then so were the inferior starter plants of last year. 

As mentioned earlier, there will be some changes.  The zucchini and cucumbers will be relegated to a cucumber frame located on the outside of the garden rectangle, the plant roots only on the garden side, the actual plants not.  Also, this year, we are looking forward to planting a giant half-barrel with some everbearing strawberries.

Most of these seeds will go directly into the ground, requiring vigilant watering and protection, but should prove worth the extra attention.  Also, we have tried to go organic-seed only and heritage, too.  Here in southern Quebec the growing season may seem short to some, longer to others, but always intense with rapid growth and challenging weather.  Can't wait!


Tuesday, 31 January 2012

deep winter blues

Well, here we are in deep winter ... no blues, really, except the beautiful color of blue that we enjoy reflected in the snow.  Of course, I am anxious to start growing something.  I have ordered the seeds for the veggie garden I share with my neighbour.  I will only be starting a few geraniums this year, and not much else, flower-wise, as the gardens are pretty full.  I have only to wait for spring thaw to see what is available for division.  This is a photo of what I am talking about, here in Quebec we enjoy the beauty around us all four seasons!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

oops, more photos

fruit in the fall

These are called Ground Cherries.  Not a new fruit, but one that is making a comeback here in Quebec.  A sprawling, low- growing plant it is actually fine in the garden between rows.  There is room for other plants to grow between the branches and, as it matures late summer, early fall it may end up being the last-man-standing other than, say, carrots and other root veggies.  It is now mid-November and I still enjoy eating several a day from a bowl on the kitchen counter.  This fruit very nicely falls to the ground, hence the name, when it is ripe.  This allows for a very simple harvest plan: lift the branches gently, brush aside any fallen leaves that by now are in the garden, gather the loonie-sized pods.  This fruit will keep for weeks in a bowl and makes a great, sweet snack.