Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rhubarb a plenty!

I have two kinds of rhubarb growing, one that has a lot more red and is sweeter than the plain Jane green one with a touch of pink. The red rhubarb has much smaller stalks while the green one has heavy stalks. I use both and both are good tasting, the green one just needs more sugar. When harvesting, remember to pull the stalks from the bottom...never cut the stalks!
Early this Spring I side dressed around the plants with well rotted manure and with all the rain that we've had, I have a crazy rhubarb crop this year! I can smell rhubarb jelly on the stove this weekend! And I'm going to try that bird bath that I provided a link for in an earlier post ... made with a rhubarb leaf. My birds will love that one!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Planting bearded Iris plants

Today, I had to move a bunch of bearded iris plants that were just existing in the area I had planted them. They were next to the house on the South side and they weren't doing was too hot for them. By the time I had dug them up, I had enough to plant 5 new plots. The roots were nice and healthy.
First of all, I dug a shallow trench like hole. Iris plants hate being planted deeply. Then I placed the tubers in the hole loosely, not too close together. I filled in around the roots with moist soil and lightly packed the soil around the roots by hand. I made sure not to put too much soil on top. I'd say about an inch and a half to two inches should cover the roots but no more. Finally, I watered the plants in with about a gallon of water. Once established, Iris plants multiply via the root system as they are a tuber. When they become too crowded, then you can dig them up and either start new plots or share them with your neighbors or family. They flourish just about anywhere as long as they are planted in a shallow trench. They like being mulched. I have another plot on the South side of the house that is growing like gangbusters. You just never know how plants are going to grow in a like area. My recommendation would be not to plant them too close to the house...because of experience with mine. Then again, I may be totally wrong and your plants may grow like mad in a completely different location. That's how gardening goes!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Researching planting a potato barrel

I grow wonderful potatoes in my soil and hill them. I've always been intrigued by the myth that you can grow potatoes in a barrel. I've seen all kinds of advertisements that say if you buy my barrel or planter or potato bag that you'll be able to grow lots of potatoes. So I posted on some gardening sites and asked my question, have you done this successfully? The replies are few and far between. So next I set off and did a search on growing potato barrels, got lots of info...but does it actually work? That is the million dollar question. So tonight I hit youtube. Lots of videos of people trying it in various different ways and only one followup of the harvest. It's actually been kind of a boring evening because there are plenty of long videos that just don't stick to the topic, lots of ahhhhs and ummmmms and not a whole lot of content. I'm still going to try the potato barrel, but I'm going to try it my way and yes, I will follow up with information if it actually worked. One video I watched had the potatoes growing in a box that was three feet high...only one potato....yikes! The potato bags didn't have very many potatoes at harvest either. One fellow, planted his potatoes in his garden and then put a large planter overtop and filled it with soil...his idea makes the most sense to me. He had lots of potatoes! The research continues....

Trimming Raspberries

On the 3rd year after the initial planting of raspberry canes, you'll have to do a clean up and trim the canes that are too old. First of all one has to wait until some of the leaves have come out to distinguish old cane from the new. The above photograph shows that the newer canes have leaves on them. The older canes can be white in color, have no growth or very little growth or have bark coming off of the canes. Those need to be cut off at the base and burned because if they are left in the patch, apparently they are suppose to promote disease. Parts of the canes that have died off due to winter kill will also have to be cut off and disposed of. Burn or send them to the the land fill. Do not put them in your compost bin. Do not use them as mulch. 
The after picture when the dead and damaged canes have been cut away at the base just above the soil. This clean up is done in early Spring when the raspberries are leafing out.

This year, so far, only a quarter of my row has been cleaned up due to the fact that we've had rain for almost two weeks. Too muddy to finish the job, but as soon as it drys up a bit, we'll be back in the patch to finish the trimming of dead wood. Now that the row is established, we will be cleaning up the raspberries on an annual basis. The new plants around the edges of the row that have shot up from the roots, can be dug up and shared with family and friends.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Shopping Trip!

My favorite thing about Spring is shopping for new plants at various green houses! This is a trip we made about ten days ago. Most of these are replacements for plants and trees that never made it over the winter. We raced to transplant all of these plants before the rain. I find it lessens transplant shock. All of these plants were watered well and mulched after planting. Now we wait to see if they take. Of course I've  been to the green house twice more since this picture was taken. More perennials and more trees and more bedding plants were bought and now sitting on my deck waiting for the rain to stop and for the soil to dry up a bit before planting them in their new homes.  Waiting a bit later also gives some of my slower perennials time to come up and grow to show that they're still alive. Depending on where the plants are situated on what side of the house determines how quickly they come up. Of course the plants on the South side of the house are already up and running...but not all of them just yet. I still have a Buttermilk Daisy who has not made an appearance yet and I'm hoping I did not lose it. Because we live in the country, we have a corner of the house where it's really difficult to save many of the bushes and hardy trees that we've planted there as the wind whips around that corner on a regular basis. Sometimes it just takes time to find the right plant and surprisingly, they do not always grow best according to labelled directions. Often,  I feel like a plant scientist with amazing discoveries! I just don't have any papers to prove it! :-P

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Pretty yet functional veggie garden

Putting out bedding plants this early in the season, I always have to place recycled gallon containers that have the bottom cut out of them. These are containers from the green house that once had a perennial or a tree in it that I've already transplanted else where. Once I've finished using these, they stack nicely for storage over the winter. I also use the two gallon containers and cut off the bottom too. I leave these around tomatoes and celery until fall. I water these two particular plants a full gallon full every 4-5 days when it's really hot. Cabbages and other veggies, the cans are removed as they do not need them once the plants have hardened off.  This year, I am trying planting marigolds to see if their smell will deter those little black canola beetles that love my cruciferous plants. If nothing else, they will look pretty.

I always plant flowers in my veggie garden. These two clumps of tulips are right beside my strawberries. I so enjoy beautiful flowers. Growing up, we planted only veggies because we had to haul the water to the farm and it was too much work to haul water for pretty flowers. But now, I have large tanks to catch rainwater and I can spare a bit of water for my pretties.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Boxes for raised gardens are made!

The boxes are 4 feet by 8 feet and made out of 2 by 10s (Spruce or Fir). They are screwed together with a 2 by 2 block in each corner for reinforcement. Because these raised beds are for vegetables, the wood used is not treated. The bottoms of each box are covered with non metal screening (we used nylon) so that it does not rust.
The screening is tacked in place with a heavy duty stapler.
My finished boxes in the garden, waiting to be filled with soil, manure and wood shavings. The soil was raked underneath to provide a nice smooth surface. Enough room was left between the boxes so that we can pass our rototiller around to control weeds. I can't wait to get started.

Many websites use newspaper at the bottom of the boxes to prevent weeds from coming through. If these were for flowers, that's exactly what I would have done, but these are for growing food and I researched the components of the ink and I prefer to take the safe route.

I have my garden completely planted already, some of my bedding plants are already out. Growing food in raised beds is an experiment for me. If this goes as well as I've read, there will be a whole lot more raised beds next year! But just in case, I planted the other part of my garden the old fashioned way....

Friday, May 18, 2012

Racing the Rain!

The last two evenings I've been out in the garden with my husband planting trees and more trees. We had to replace some Scotch Pines and bought some Blue Spruce at a really good deal at a garden center. So those have been planted. We had rose bushes to replace and I bought a second hydrangea for the South side of the house. My first one, was an experiment. It has survived three winters and every Spring it looks deader than a doornail and grows! They're suppose to be very difficult to grow in our area because they are not suppose to be that winter hardy. I love that hydrangeas flower most of the summer! So, I now planted plant number two! I also bought a second climbing rose. The first one, is a beautiful yellow and starts from the bottom every Spring. It only grows to about 2.5 feet high and does not climb but is beautiful in it's own right. The new one is a deep pink and I'm crossing my fingers that it grows! Of course all the roses I buy are winter hardy. At the last place we lived, my grandmother had beautiful yellow fragrant roses. We attempted to move them but not one of them survived, so disappointing! At the place before that, I had a variety of yellow roses that grew over six feet tall and that one too was too large to move with me and I haven't been able to find that particular plant ever again. I keep looking though for a fragrant yellow rose. It wasn't even a fancy rose, just one of those boxed roses that you get for a few dollars. Not all beautiful plants are expensive. I can still smell the scent in my brain of my grandmother's roses, it's funny how the brain remembers. It saddens me to have not been able to save any. 

I checked the weather reports and a lot of rain is on it's way, so I transplanted all my cabbage family plants (broccoli, late cabbage and purple cabbage), my peppers and celery. I had started some of these already in the house but for various reasons did not grow well...thank goodness for garden centres! They always smile when I leave because I always buy a ton! I still have a lot of plants in my window ready to go out but I could only plant so many last night. Thank goodness our eldest son came out to help and we got a lot more done because he came out! 

After this rain, the rhubarb is going to be soooo juicy and yummy! I feel a pie and cake will be on our table this weekend! Mmmmmm can taste it already!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Winter burn

This year my cedars suffered a major case of winter burn. Our winter was particularly mild and we were so thankful that we did not have the vicious winter from the previous year. BUT this year my plants paid for the nicer weather. Last year, only one tree had winter burn...this year, almost all of them least my cedars did. The combo of freezing air and soil temperatures along with a hot sun spelled doom and gloom for my cedars. Apparently, on cold sunny days, the needles warm up in the sun and become active. They lose the moisture they have to a process called transpiration. During summer time, the roots would kick in and replenish this lost moisture, but during the winter the roots are frozen and dormant and unable to replenish this precious moisture. The needles and fine cedar branches dry out and turn brown. The sun then goes down and the water inside the now active needles freezes causing cellular damage. As I've researched, apparently, the plants on the South side are more susceptible.  But my cedars on the North side of the house were just as badly damaged. I'm just going to chalk it up to the weird winter. Even though the brown needles and tender branches will not recover, I'm going to wait until early Summer to see if the buds on the branch survived. This is where the new growth will appear. 
This particular cedar sustained severe damage last year, there was hardly any green to it at all last summer. But it recovered and is a beautiful green this year. It grows on the south side of my house. Go figure...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Gardening in full swing

I'm trying something new with my garden. I decided I was going to do square foot gardening. So this row of onions is a foot wide.  There are actually 4 rows in this foot wide row. Egg shells have been spread out and the onions planted in the prepared bed. Then they were covered with about 1.5 inches of soil.The egg shells discourage the wire worms and provide  calcium for the onions. We continued to seed the peas, beans, squash, corn and beets. But then the wind picked up and we could not seed the small seeded veggies because the seed would just have blown away. Hopefully the wind will go down later this evening and I'll be able to seed the small seeded veggies. My Prizehead leaf lettuce and German giant radishes are both up and the Everlasting  spinach is starting to make an appearance. The potatoes are now just starting to show through the's time, they've been seeded for three weeks already!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Tulips bloomed for Mother's Day!

Guess what I woke up to this morning? My tulips blooms just for me for Mother's Day. They are planted in bunches right beside my strawberries so I can enjoy them right here from my computer!

Beautiful Mother's Day

The weather is t-shirt weather today and so we've been outside gardening. We'd already tilled the garden twice and did it one more time today as the weeds were thick like a carpet. So tonight and tomorrow, I'll be seeding garden. Usually up here, it's done during the May long weekend...but I checked the long range weather forecast and they're not announcing frost, so I'm going to take a chance. I won't be putting out bedding plants just as yet but by the time the beans, corn and other frost sensitive plants come up, I should be safe. I had a few Manitoba Maples in the middle of the garden so we pulled them out and will transplant them tonight where we've lost some of our Spruce trees when we were flooded a couple of years ago. I took my Dusin Mizer out for a test run and it works really well. The ticks are crazy this year, you cannot go outside without picking one up on your clothing. So I went out with my new machine and spread some diatamaceous earth on the grass between the house and the garden. Next the dogs were giving a treatment with the same stuff, as it's safe for humans and that should slow down the ticks taking up residence on the dogs. It just feels so good to be outside in the sun! All my herbs were seeded in pots this morning into organic soil that I bought by the bag at the hardware store. Last year, when the herbs were ready to harvest, the dreaded canola bugs moved in over night and cleaned them off just like that. I'm hoping that in pots, I may be able to protect them by covering the herbs with a very tight knit netting so I can actually harvest them. Taking a break for a bit and then I'm heading back out to the garden when it cools off in a bit. Have a great Mother's Day!
 Herb pots all seeded and watered.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The finches have arrived!

Spring has sprung for us when our finch pair arrives. They have been coming to our back deck for two years now and we always have a bird feeder ready for them! When we sit outside, we can hear all of the birds living in my neighbor's yard as he has well established trees. Our scotch pines are now around ten feet tall and every year we get more and more birds. If you provide the habitat, the birds come to nest and raise their families in your yard. The more birds you have living in your yard, the less bugs you have. Not all bugs are annoying, mostly it's the mosquitos and horseflies that we'd like for the birds to eat. Of course we always have more bugs than we know what to do with. Welcome my beautiful little finches!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Perennials coming through the mulch!

These perennials were planted two years ago in front of our house and mulched. The center plant is a bleeding heart, on the right is a perennial poppy (can't remember what color it is but I believe it's red) and on the left is a lily that is coming up. I originally bought them at a garden center when they were halfway through the season and the sale was pretty good. You can start perennials from seed but it is hard to do so. I prefer to buy smaller plants and let them get larger...I seem to lose less than if I'd planted the larger plants. Transplant shock seems to not affect the small plants as much as the larger ones. Every year, I am drawn back to the garden centers to see if they have new varieties that I want to add to my collection. The goal is to have a beautiful front yard filled with flowering perennials that don't have much space in between them once the plants become established and much larger. Our local garden center is visited quite frequently by me.

Monday, May 7, 2012

There's always one in the bunch....

Every year I have one fruit tree that decides to bloom before all the others. This year, it's one of my pear trees.
This one is my plum tree, it's being careful not to bloom too early.
This is one of my apple trees. It blooms in bunches but the buds have been this way for almost two weeks and the leaves have decided not to come out either. It's been a very cool spring and the fruit trees are just hanging on and not blooming, waiting for warmer weather. Unlike pine trees that wait for a rain to bud out, fruit trees wait for warm weather. Frozen blossoms mean no fruit, so most of my fruit trees are very smart...all except my pear tree. One of my favorite things to photograph are fruit tree blossoms. I sure hope we don't get any more frost!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Potting Prairie Lilies

Even though I'd placed my packages of bulbs in a cool garage where they would not freeze, I could see mold on my bulbs. So I filled a pot that had held a fruit tree from the nursery last year, with potting soil. These prairie lilies will be transplanted later so I curled the roots around each bulb and planted them close together in the pot. It was still dipping down to below freezing at night so I brought my pots indoors overnight. In the past, I have lost bulbs, tubers and roots to mold, so I did not want to take any chances to lose the new bulbs I had picked up for this year's perennial garden. I covered the bulbs with about an inch of soil and watered them well. Whenever I purchase trees or plants or perennials from the green house, I always save the pots. The pots are either used to replant herbs or flowers to sit on the deck or the bottoms are cut off and they are used to protect new seedlings out in the garden.  This particular bag of bulbs came packed in wood shavings, they were put into the compost heap to rot and cook to create beautiful rich compost.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Gathering Water

We take water conservation at our house pretty serious. This is a 1200 gallon water tank that can easily fill up from our eaves trough from the roof of our house in one rain storm. We also have two rain barrels in front of our house and my mom gave me another 250 gallon tank because she sold her house and is moving. Between mulch and our rainwater, it doesn't cost a whole lot to water the garden. If it happens that we run out, then we haul water from the river to water the trees. On the prairies, water is sometimes hard to come by. When we get the drying winds, it doesn't take long for the soil to dry up. So taking measures to stop evaporation just makes sense. Unfortunately, I've read on the internet, that there are areas that people are forbidden to save water from their roofs during a rain. It kind of leaves you scratching your head....