Sunday, July 28, 2019

July Garden Update

Full view of my Denman Island 'garden in the forest'
Yikes!! It's the end of July already!
I've been so busy with the early, warm spring and summer; planting, shading newly emerged winter crops and watering, that I've had little time to sit at the computer these days. I've taken a few weeks off from the salon for my annual summer staycation. Don't get too excited about that, it's 2 weeks I take every summer to 'catch up' on weeding, defrosting freezers, removing thistle seed heads on the property, pruning back Grandma's lilac so clients can get through the gate, cleaning the salon and if I have time ... making some freezer meals and soups for when I'm back at work. And that's the short list!!
Winter carrots and beets under remay
I took some photos in the garden on July 18th and this morning (10 days later) while watering, realized the winter carrots and beets have almost doubled in size, so it's time to get a July update happening! 
Garlic Harvest - 2 varieties July 18th, 2019

I pulled the garlic between rain showers a week earlier than last year. I was worried it would get too wet and a test pull of 2 heads proved there were 5 skin wrappers left, proof it was ready to be pulled and dried. Because the roots were a little more damp that I wanted, I cleaned the heads and removed most of the stalks to hopefully speed drying time. A few years ago I set up some old window screens and a fan system in the garage for drying. It is easy to manage and no threat from the weather.
2019 garlic drying

Most crops for winter harvest on the West Coast need to be in by July 1st. 
I have not grown winter carrots for about 4 years because of the damage from the carrot rust fly. To avoid this pest, the carrot beds need to be covered with remay or an insect mesh until at least October. Remay is great in that it provides extra heat, so the seeds germinate well and grow quickly, but it is a challenge in that it must be elevated by supports to allow the carrot tops room to grow and lifted off the bed to water properly.
Carrot bed #1 covered with remay

I'm so excited for winter carrots that I've put in 2 beds. A small bed first then a second bed including some beets with the Lennox cabbage, a 120 day variety. 

Winter garden bed - carrots, beets (remay) and cabbage       

Carrot bed #1 uncovered for watering

 The beets and carrots will be heavily mulched in the fall and we will use them starting in December and through the winter till March. The Lennox cabbage will be harvested in January. 

I've noticed lower than normal pollination this year. Although I've planted more flowers, including marigolds and nasturtiums between the vegetables, I have been hand pollinating the tomatoes, Mercury cucumbers in the greenhouse and winter squash. 
Sunshine and Butternut winter squash
Next year I will plant more pollinator flowers both in the garden and up near the house and greenhouse.

The second crop of Seascape Strawberries are just starting. A few huge, red berries every few days with stems heavy with fruit to come. The Desert King Fig is almost finished ripening. A crafty squirrel has discovered the figs this year and damaged/eaten quite a few of the fruits. 
Seascape Strawberries and Desert King Fig

For the past 2 years I've been pruning the fig tree into a structure that will produce a high breba crop. Breba is the first crop and this method is best suited to the Desert King that I grow and is in the photo. Because of the heavy pruning each spring, my fig crops have been very small ... and that darn squirrel hasn't helped the harvest this summer! 

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

Photos by Sally Rae 

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Celebrating My Family Roots

All of my followers who have read my food column and/or have a signed copy of my cookbook have read and heard many stories of my family's Market Garden and Greenhouse business, Wallish Greenhouses. My grandparents John and Sally Wallish started out in 1919 and eventually the business moved to Bremner which is now called Sherwood Park, Alberta. 

Jean and Charlie in the wagon, with big brother Robert in 1932
I have many fond memories of growing up a short mile down the road from the 'Greenhouse' business where my Grandma Sally and Uncle Robert lived. By this time the second generation had taken on the business with the three families as partners. I was there almost daily either with my parents or a short bike ride or walk down the road for a visit, 'tea time' or to lend a helping hand. I am the second grandchild and loved being in the fields around our house to help with planting and harvest. It was not unusual for me to pick a head of lettuce or fresh corn cob and eat it right there in the field! When I was too young for the heavier work, I was out there anyways and used to come to the house early to get lunch ready for the family. Through my teen years I took on more jobs; from weeding never ending rows of onions, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower ... to this day I hate weeding, to pruning long quonsets of English cucumbers to 2' off the ground, transplanting bedding plants, mowing lawns, dragging the corn sack while Uncle Robert expertly picked ripe cobs and eventually a weekly Saturday job at the Edmonton City Market. Then there was the onion harvest from the fields at my family's property, loaded onto wagons and moved to the drying room at the Greenhouse. Once dried, the onion necks had to removed by 'wringing' them to create a seal to keep the onion in storage longer. The dried onions were stored and taken to the Market. In this same area of the property there was a root cellar and eventually a large walk in cooler beside the vintage gas pump for the tractors.

My Uncle Robert was the face of Wallish Greenhouses at the Edmonton City Market after my grandma stopped going. My older sister and I remember the old City Market but it wasn't until I was a bit older that I got to go help Uncle Robert every Saturday morning. I loved the Market and Wallish Greenhouses had a permanent stall there for 49 years. Bedding plants in the spring, fresh vegetables, geraniums and 'spikes' through the summer, sacks of dried onions into the winter months. Every Saturday morning my Mom would wake me early (not my style for those who know me!), Uncle Robert would pick me up with the truck loaded and ready for a Market day. I loved the Market, bustling with friends and fellow stall holders, shoppers, aromas of soil, flowers and food, a social atmosphere with talk and laughter.  

My cousins have taken the family business into the third generation and it has changed a lot from what I knew. This year is 100 years since my grandparents started Wallish Greenhouses and I am celebrating my family roots and history. Although with great sadness, two business partners of the second generation are no longer with us. 

Today is a year since my Mom passed away, on the same day as my Dad 18 years before. Uncle Robert is also gone ... may they Rest In Peace. My Uncle Chuck, in semi-retirement has moved to the old Greenhouse property that I knew so well... growing up, it was my second home.

In honor of my family history and those who are no longer with us, I Celebrate My Family Roots.

Until next time... Happy Gardening and Bon Appétit

Photo archive from my Mom