Saturday, August 22, 2009

Potato & Dill Explosion

Came back from vacation after 1.5 weeks to find the Thornton Potatoes had grown nearly 10 times in height since before we left! They were only a few inches high pre-vacation. I dumped some compost on them just before we left since they are heavy feeders plus it rained while we were away. And we had great friends watching over the garden for us. A good combination for lush growth.

A single Fordhook Giant Swiss Chard plant has bolted. Since then, no more have bolted. Not sure if this is normal. The marigolds (yellow, left in above photo) have finally started blooming.

Burgeoning Prairie Pride Tomatoes. They better get ripening quick before Jack Frost comes! Ripening has been slow with the rainy, cloudy weather. While visiting my aunt on vacation, she informed me that Prairie Pride Tomatoes are a "determinate" variety that grow out instead of up. Which explains why the wire cages I bought are not helpful. I've resorted to jute string staple gunned to used survey stakes from work (that would otherwise have been discarded). Determinate means (I think) they mature and die after a certain timespan instead of growing indefinitely until the first frost. However, in our climate this seems not likely to be any different with short growing season. There may be other differences I have yet to learn about.

The dill also grew some 10 times in height since pre-vacation, from several inches to several feet. A few dill plants provide more than we can keep up with. Some went to the freezer since they retain flavour better in the freezer than dried. We started harvesting peas and beans since vacation. By mid-August the pea harvest is more or less complete, and bean harvest carries on. Also on-going harvest of brussells sprouts, kale, swiss chard, chervil, oregano, rhubarb and neighbours raspberries. From most to least, the largest producers so far this year have been:

  1. Swiss Chard
  2. Rhubarb
  3. Kale
  4. Herbs
  5. Beans
  6. Spinach
  7. Peas

The tomatoes will likely catch up soon, likely climbing up to fourth or fifth place. The herbs have been large producers but we never seem to get around to harvesting them. Will have to work on that. Peas produced a lot less than I expected, but at least they are adding nitrogen to the soil. Good for crop rotation.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Native Prairie Plants

Just to change things up a bit, below are photos of some native prairie plants we came across on our recent canoe trip this summer down the South Saskatchewan River. Not sure if all these are pre-European contact, but they've at least been around on the prairies for some time (I'm guessing a few decades at least).

Prairie Coneflower (Ratibida columnifera)

White Evening Primrose (Oenothera nuttallii)

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia polyacantha)
Just finished blooming.

Scarlet Mallow (Malvastrum coccineum)
Blooms are closed.

I'd like to try growing some of these in the yard sometime. If anyone has attempted to grow these, please share about the experience!

FYI, just posted an older post that shows up with June 30 date: