Sunday, May 26, 2019

First Miniature Harvest

I was pretty excited this morning to pick the first small zucchini and Corentine cucumbers!! It's no use leaving these tiny specimens to mature, I would rather let the plant put its energy into growth right now... so tonight I get a delicious miniature salad for dinner!

The nights are still cool, so these 2 beds of delicate plants are covered and tucked in with remay over hoops. In the morning I lift the remay cover around the edges for air circulation, then add an additional shade cloth over top... the delicate, small, pickling cucumber plants were not doing well in the sun. 

First of the Season!  Partenon and Cassia Zucchini,
 Winter Kale, Red Orach, Corentine Cucumbers, Dill Weed
Most of the winter kale has gone to seed but I have one unknown variety that was from a 'Winter Kale Mix' packet of seed that is still tender and sweet. The Red Orach is allowed to volunteer in the garden, so I have it in 3 of the raised beds and have numerous beautiful fuchsia plants to pick from. Even Canadian Living Magazine featured an article May 2016 stating "Orach is the new kale!" It is a distant relative of spinach, simple to grow and a good ornamental plant because of its beautiful color. 

Dinner is served! Salad garnished with crumbled  
goat cheese and toasted pine nuts
On another gardening note... I've had it with fighting my collection of heavy, stiff, kinking, commercial grade, 80' garden hoses. A few days ago I decided to trade up with the new "Flexzilla Swivel-Grip" 100' garden hose through Lee Valley Tools. Flexzilla has been around for a while and when my friend got hers a few years back and suggested I 'drag it around her garden' I was impressed at how lightweight and kink free it was! 

Watch for my reviews of the Flexzilla in a future post... and Denmanites, guaranteed, the commercial grade hoses will be part of my summer Garage Sale! 

Until next time... Happy Gardening and Bon Appétit!

Photo by Sally Rae

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Weird Weather and Early Planting Experiment

Garlic bed May 12th, 2019
Today is an overcast, rainy day... never thought I would be happy about that around here! However, it has given me time to finally get some indoor work done including a much delayed Blog Post!!

Our weird weather continues... it was a shock to start watering the garlic and strawberries in March! Once fertilized with blood meal and watered, the garlic shot up and is looking great! It has been very sunny, hot and dry, so the straw mulch will remain until a few weeks before harvest.
Broccoli w. copper blocker, mulch & shade
The brassica starts were planted out on April 29, 2019... they could have been put out the week before when the weather was a bit cooler. Each plant was amended with steer manure, my fertilizer mix and lime. Once planted, all brassicas were surrounded to the stem with wood shavings to prevent root maggots, I have had success with a ring of copper blocker around each transplant to keep slugs away, the straw mulch retains moisture and cools the soil for new small plants.
Elevated remay, open sides for shade
With the hot, sunny weather, I used hoops to elevate remay to shade the cabbage and broccoli plants but still provide ventilation. 

Brassicas, shaded from afternoon sun
Remay will create warmth which is not needed for brassicas at this time, it is used to shade from the afternoon sun until the plants have a more sturdy root system. Black plastic mesh trays, burlap or cardboard can also be used for shade, see examples in Early Summer in the Garden from June 2016 and Let Planting Begin from May 2015.

Plastic cloche over April squash transplants
Last year I did an early planting experiment with one winter and one summer squash plant. It was successful, I was eating fresh zucchini when most were getting their plants in the garden... so I did a repeat this year with all my squash plants, summer and winter varieties! 
On April 29th I put in 4 hills of Sunshine Winter Squash, 2 hills of Butternut Squash, 2 hills of Partenon Zucchini and 2 hills of Cassia Zucchini, all started from William Dam Seeds.
Triple layer of protection for squash

The squash hills were prepared with steer manure and my fertilizer mix. Fresh straw was used to mulch close around the plants and the complete bed. A plastic cloche with vent in the top was placed over each hill of plants then straw piled up the sides for more insulation, see above. The third layer of protection for the cooler April nights was a complete cover of remay for warmth, with only a little airspace left on the sides. Over 2 weeks later everything is still alive and looking healthy. I had removed the plastic cloche from all squash plants and just had the straw pushed up higher around the plants and remay to cover the bed. With recent cooler nights and rain, the squash now have their cloche and remay tucked in tight again for warmth.

Wishing for warmer weather so the pickling cucumbers can go outside soon! They are getting too big for the sunroom! 

Until next time... Happy Gardening and Bon Appétit!

Photos and gardening by Sally Rae