Garden Tour 2017

We held a little talk at our work place to explain what it is we do; grow our own food. People were genuinely interested in what and why we were doing this. From that came many requests to visit our yard and see what we do. We decided we might as well sign up for the Summerside and Area Garden Tour for the year and have everyone come on one day when we were clean and ready. So we did.

Here are some pictures. We had a good day, we answered many questions and also learned so much from our guests. So many great hints and tips shared that we are looking into(Lady bugs are already here).

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The yard 2017 summer
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The arches and garlic.
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7 new potato beds this year…not liking the beetles in the front of the yard.
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View from the greenhouse to the garage deck and down the archway.
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The perfect place to sit to view the back yard GH and gardens.
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View from the side deck(BBQ and Smoking kingdom) of the bee garden. It grows yearly.
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Tiffany Rose
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Bees and their garden
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3 rows Raspberry, one Black current and one Rhubarb with a white clover ground over.
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Hella climbing rose, sweetly fragrant.
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Hummingbird feeder on old door

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Don Juan climbing rose

 

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The only annuals I can get to grow.
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The rose arches to the green house.

Giving ourselves the deadline of a showing moved many projects to completion that would have taken us years at a leisurely pace. There are of course new projects that came into being because of the ones we finished and we will work on those as we feel like it. The pressure is off.

Gardening is a way of life, never completed but built upon.

Enjoy growing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Good bugs vs Bad bugs

So,I cannot say enough about the importance of talking with random strangers who love to do what you do. Some of the best advice is hidden in those moments.

We had our garden tour (pics later when we recover) and although our roses are clear of aphids, our potatoes this year are over run with potato beetle.  It seemed as though as soon as it was commented that we didn’t have aphids, they appeared the next day. Do aphids travel with people?

As it happens, a guest at the tour commented that she ordered lady bugs from Costco to combat her “bad bug”problems. I took it in stride, thinking I heard wrong or she said the wrong name of  the garden supplier she bought from. Our thoughts on bulk consumerism are not the kindest and isn’t Costco the place you buy 1000 precooked coconut shrimp in the freezer department and can also pick up a big screen TV, and maybe some nice 20 pack underwear for everyone your love?

I told the hubby anyway and he looked it up on line.  Sure enough, you can buy lady bugs by 1000 per bag, shipped right to you! So we now are in possession of 2000 lady bugs to be released tonight. And I might just not dislike Costco so much, OK I still don’t like the bulk processed food shopping zombies, but on this they get a pass. Kudos on the lady bugs!

They come in a bag with what looks like sprouts for them to feed on and the instructions are to keep them in a refrigerated so they stay dormant. They are to be released in batches over a one week period in the evenings, with leaf/plant coverage to protect them. The will breed and lay eggs that will continue to feed, for 3-4 weeks, on all the eggs and larvae you do not want. They do not eat your plants.

We are very excited to see if this works. We have tried diatomaceous earth with little success for the beetle. It does works great on slugs though.

So here goes the first release. Grow and eat and breed you little beauties.

I can only imagine the for the small cost for 1000 lady bugs they would make a nice back yard addition to anyone with kids. To walk around your back yard for 3-4 weeks and see so many lady bugs around would be thrilling for a little one. That of course is not to mention that every garden(veg or flower) could benefit from a few good bugs.

Go buy yourself some lady bugs! Who knew?

First Photo Shoot

It’s been a week of clean up lists to ensure we had a few well presented areas in our construction site of a back yard, but we did it. Our first photo shoot took place this morning with my sister and her kids(good to try it out on family first). Thank you to Jacinta Bernard Photography for coming out for our first experience as a location.

By the end of it we were all melting in the heat but fun was had by all and ice cream treats.

Here is a look at what we had ready:

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The Greenhouse interior
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The barn space(AKA garage back deck)
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Greenhouse exterior
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Under the Maple(good branch for sitting)
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Open green space
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Rope swing under the Apple tree

Looking forward to seeing some of Jacinta’s finished photos, hopefully on her facebook page in the next few weeks.

My sister brought her new bunny babies and we of course had my favorite chicken girls (and one baby boy we shall call Crock-Pot). My sister lovingly called the shots with her, her daughter and the chickens “The Hen Shot”, we are a funny people.

Seeing the good in everything just takes focus.

Have a good one.

 

For the love of Linden

We visited a historic house, the Yeo House here on PEI. I had the freedom to wander the grounds while W was marrying a young couple in this idyllic setting.

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The most magnificent smell was wafting in the July air, sweet and gentle. As it turned out it was from two tremendously large Linden trees in the front and side yards of the house. Under one tree were rope swings and benches to leisurely rest and breathe deeply, soothing away any possible troubles or thoughts of the world at large, so I did just that. I was in love.

It was this: Linden flowers

Tilia_maximowicziana_1.jpgFrom this new found love affair with the Linden we called up our local nursery, John’s Greenhouses  and inquired if they had any. There were three available so in to town we went to pick up our new additions, one Glenleven Linden and 2 American Linden.

One for the back yard and two for the front…more holes to dig but they are worth it. Apparently bees love the blossoms and the honey made from them is considered some of the best in the world. How can you say no to that?

We are led by our senses, not necessarily our sense.

 

Who eats what?

Who gets to eat what is a constant struggle . We want to eat the strawberries but so does something else, or many something elses. We are not certain what, so we started the battle blind.

Last year we managed to steal 6 cups of berries from the 125 strawberry plants we planted. The rest were eaten off by the unknown gardening wildlife. So this year we invested in simple row cover fabric to protect, or so we thought, our food for ourselves. It is either the crows or the chipmunks but they are tearing through the cover and proudly showing their conquest by leaving half eaten evidence to taunt us. I tie up the holes as I find them but they do more damage every day. I no longer understand how a strawberry grower ends up with any return on the investment.

I caved and went to a u-pick to ensure our berry needs were met for the year and may have to concede defeat to the unknown challenger(s). A three year learning curve is the limit of my patience apparently. Oh well, we like raspberries and blueberries too. Maybe the strawberries become the sacrifice crop so we can have other things. I am sure the animals can’t possibly eat everything we grow, right?

So far we have been able to keep our chicken, honey, herbs, rhubarb, spinach and radish(nothing would eat radish, not even us…).

Enjoying what we have and  letting the rest go.

 

 

Sweet Potato Slips

Well the growing has begun with the longest pre-garden specimens in the winter windows already. Last year we ordered sweet potato slips and what we got in the mail was less than ideal and less than half lived. Some were down right crispy from the get go. From that sad start there were no potatoes larger than my finger produced. This left us no seed and not even one meal. On the plus side we did learn one way not to grow sweet potatoes.

This year we are endeavoring to grow our own slips. Seems pretty easy, just slow.

We are attempting two ways; one is sections of sweet potato planted in loose soil and kept damp (doing just OK) and the second is half potatoes suspended in water (doing great).

So far we appear to have a dozen slips to potentially transplant in the garden. This will give us a chance at a meal or two and cleaner seed for next year as these were just grocery store purchases we are experimenting with. They will be placed in a raised bed of new soil and compost for the best chance at success, or another lesson. A covering of black plastic will be in order to encourage the soil to reach a nice 18-20 degrees. As even with the promise of an early spring (minus the temporary St. Patrick’s Day snow storm that is passing through, as ritual would have it) a head start will help them out.

The patience gardening has taught us is quite extensive as we are already planning for our 2017 garden while at the same moment starting seeds for the 2016 garden. The complete faith and calm this provides is priceless. Everything you do takes time, there is no instant gratification regardless of the hype that says there is.

Enjoy the process, it is your life. There might even be a sweet potato or two in it if you are lucky.

Seed testing

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It’s seed testing time. We have a seed exchange to attend at the end of February and we wanted to know our seed was good. The test is three of our saved seeds in each pod. If they sprout, we are good to go. If they don’t then we also know we need to buy or exchange to get some.

It is the time of year when we ache for outdoor green but will suffice with tiny indoor growth. The sprout in back is the ginger root success from last year, I left it in a basket on a shelf, meaning to cook with it but forgot about it(the rest is in the freezer). It started to sprout so deserved some soil for its efforts. The African violets, Peace Lily and a very special Tea Rose also got new soil and larger pots. A day with our hands in dirt, even if we had to buy it, is a good day.

There are many flowers(Marigold, Sunflower,Poppy,Bride & Groom, Hollyhock,Mums…) plus Parsley, Summer Savory, Jalapeno and Lemon Basil and a few more little bits to try in spring that we did not add to the sprout test as they are for our ground only this year. When we have an abundance we will share them, next year.

The winter sun, comfort cooking, dessert baking and the promise of spring keep our days full; testing our patience and ability to dream. It’s coming in 41 Days : 6 Hours : 17 Minutes : 49 Seconds left until start of it.(time: 23:22 EST) and counting.