Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Name that Weed!

Here is a post from earlier this spring I never got around to posting until today:

This post title should perhaps more accurately be: Name that Volunteer Plant! Don't be confused by the raspberry and rhubarb behind... (I don't know the answer so can't offer any hints, sorry).

This weed eventually grew small purple flowers but then was pulled before it could go to seed. I never did get a photo of the flowers (to make it more challenging, of course...)

On the Vine

I finally got around to trimming the lower branches of the tomatoes and providing some support, now that they are starting to keel over. I added some grass mulch to help prevent the soil from drying out so rapidly in all this heat we've been having the past month. Also added some pine needle mulch to help lower the pH (diced with old blender to speed absorption). They are looking much happier now.


I also added a small amount of some 18-18-21 (N-P-K) fertilizer since they are now fruiting, some leaves were looking yellowish and the roots were disturbed with the added supports. This is only the second time I added fertilizer this year, I will not likely again. I will try adding compost next time, though it is in short supply with the recent garden expansion this year using most of it up. Hence the tranport of fruit wastes (i.e. banana peels, apple cores) from work to the compost at home, plus hoarding plant wastes from friends yards. But needs another year to decompose.

Bolted!

The spinach has bolted (as of June 27)! Thanks to unusually hot and dry June weather. June is typically rainy and cool in Calgary (last few years at least). I read (after the bolting) that placing mulch on the soil around the spinach can help reduce bolting (keeps soil cooler during hot afternoons). I added some grass clippings to see if this might slow the bolting, though likely too late now to measure the effect.

Some varieties of spinach (such as Tyee) are not supposed to bolt as easily. This Bloomsdale Spinach variety has bolted after about two weeks of harvesting. Good reminder to plant a variety of crops since the weather is unpredictable from year to year! However, we have still harvested a generous quantity to date, including freezing some. We'll see how much more we get.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Solstice

Neighbour's Mountain Ash in bloom. Still some berries left from last year. Birds must be holding out for the strawberries!

Above, L to R: Brussels Sprouts, Spinach, Lovage, Peas (behind). Lovage is now nearly 4 feet tall and is starting to bloom. I'm guessing now is a good time to start harvesting it, but not exactly sure how best to do this i.e. How much to harvest at once? Cut off flowers or let bloom and go to seed? Etc.
Plus the tomatoes (above). Plants where flowers were plucked off before transplanting now starting tomatoes up to about 1 to 2 cm diameter. Other tomatoes up to ~7 cm on plant with previously non-plucked flowers.

Tenergreen Improved Bush Bean planted May 16 on each side of pathway. They look a little yellow, not sure if that's normal? Behind beans: Bloomsdale Spinach planted May 16 and Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard planted May 2.

Summary of approximate germination % with direct seeding in garden:
  • Marigolds 10 - 20% (seed gathered from mom's garden)
  • Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard 90-100%
  • Bloomsdale Spinach 80%
  • Cherry Belle Radish 70%
  • Green Arrow Peas (planted Apr 11) 0%
  • Oregon Sugar Pod II Snow Peas (planted May 3) 70-80%
  • Homesteader/Lincoln Peas (planted May 3) 70-80%
  • Carrots (planted May 2) 10-20% (from free package, didn't expect much)
  • Tendergreen Improved Bush Beans 80%
This summary is not very accurate for small seeds planted densely together (such as spinach, swiss chard, carrots, radishes, etc), in which case the % has more to due with the gaps in rows than actual % seed germination. Just a rough observation for future reference.

Radish & Oregano Harvest

Cherry Belle Radish planted April 11, havesting 3 to 5 per week. Radishes are just starting to show chew marks from creatures below, so it's a good time to get to them first! Radishes are rich in ascorbic acid (Vit. C, antioxidant), folic acid (Vit. B9), and potassium. They are also a good source of vitamin B6, riboflavin (vit. B2), magnesium, copper, and calcium, among other minerals and vitamins. California Poppies behind radishes (in above photo).
Bubbles Brussels Sprouts transplanted May 5 (above). Not sure when or how to havest these. Advice welcome!

Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard (lower left) planted May 2 and Homesteader Peas (upper left) planted May 3. Planted Tendergreen Improved Bush Beans May 28 (upper right, just off photo) where Green Arrow Peas planted April 11 did not come up (planted too early). These beans are just coming up (June 21).

Oregano and radish harvest!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Snow!

East and north winds have brought snow! Low of +1 C last night with frost predicted tonight. Compare with last frost in early May last year (but then again we did get that snowstorm in June that ripped branches off the trees). Will definitely be making good use of the cold frame this year. The cold frame is also good protection from hail, which we've had more than once already this year (too small to do any damage so far). Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard in the bottom of the above photo, tolerates the cold well.

L to R in above photo (along fence): Kale, Brussels Sprouts and Lovage.
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