A Review of 2010

22 03 2011

Sadly, not nearly enough picture for this post.  The pictures will come in up and coming posts.

2010 was a building block year.  There will probably be a couple of those.  When it comes to changes in strategies and ideas for 2011, they’ll come in a different post; this is only for 2010.

We had to redo a lot of the grading; along the southside of the house as well as along our shared fence and the corner beside the deck.  The compaction of the dirt being driven over several times made it tough for the grass seeds to take.  The idea was that a mini-swail would run along the south side of the house so that it runs away out of the house, from the back to the front yard over the driveway: Not much evidence yet that that was successful but we’ll watch the meltaway flow this year.

We were hoping that they would be able to remove the stump.  The really leaned into that stump with the bobcat but it was simply too big.  We didn’t get back to dealing with that either.  That’s a 2011 project.

Rain barrels and utilizing rain from them was one of my higher priorities.  Sadly, this led to some drainage issues under the deck in winter 2010 (that the regrading was supposed to aid with).  This will be resolved in 2011 as well.

In early 2010, we were lucky to have the snow melt away and a reasonably early time.  So, after waiting under the snow, as soon as possible I started flipping over the compost pile and generally getting some oxygen in there.  Within about a month and a half, we had a good amount of compost to spread under our small trees and a nice couple inches for the portion of our garden that had plants.  I found that adding, on top of the snow, to the compost with the kitchen castaways was totally fine; and so long as you’re quick and consistent (couple times a week) with the spade and the stirring in the spring, it’s possible to get some PERFECTLY timed compost ready for planting time.

From our friends in Golden BC, we were given 5 beautiful tomato plants to grow.  We were really excited about these plants.

In between these tomato plants, we placed a few 4L plastic milk jugs.  We took a sewing needle and heated it up.  We burned about 6 holes in the milk jug near the bottom (thinking the holes were too small, we added a couple of “nail sized” holes as well).  Then we buried the milk jugs down til the top was about 2″ from the surface.  The idea with these reservoirs is to allow SLOW draining water to be given to your plants.  Heads up: with all the holes I made, the water drained out of the container in about 30 minutes.  I would encourage only 2 or 3 pin sized holes.

Our tomato plants were a sight to beheld.  Once in the ground, the suckers (tiny branches at the junction of the main stem and another branch) were constantly being removed and the fruit came in wonderfully.  In fact, it looked like an intimidating harvest for quite some time.  Almost 5ft high plants that had long since towered over their pathetic cages with fist sized tomatos pulling the branches back to earth.

Then, in late august, the blossom end rot came and decimated the plants lickety split.  It started at one plant and me, being novice and a habitual short cutter, undoubtedly didn’t do enough to get it under control.  With 2 weeks, they were all gone.

I’ve wondered if planting the tomato plants on the spot where the compost pile stood was at all to blame (though I did hear on the radio that Edmonton had a glut of tomato virus problems last season.  What did I learn:  If I plant tomato plants in the ground again, there will be mulch around the plants (I’d encourage other gardeners to do the same).

We were pleasantly surprised to find a couple of squash vines too.  One that appeared to be some kind of courgette (zucchini) and one true squash (difficult to say what type as only one fruit came out; it looked like an acorn squash).  I’ve learned to pick the zucchini’s off the vine sooner to encourage more fruit (and to get better tasting fruit).  We will see if the squash produces something this year instead.  I attempted to dig the squash out and leave the zucchini (I went REALLY deep to try and take it out, but….)

We also picked up 3 perilla plants.  These are from the sesame family and they have VERY very tasty leaves.  They are a food habit we picked up from south Korea.  A piece of fried pork chop wrapped in a perilla leaf is the very start of a unique taste experience. Three plants were given approximately a 1.5ft block to share.  They exploded with spade shaped leaves and my wife and I agreed that two plants would do MORE than enough to feed us for the next seasons.  I picked up seedlings from a Korean grocery store in late May and I would encourage people to grow these as they are relatively easy to grow, productive, look quite nice and provide a very interesting taste from your garden.

Three seed Potatoes were put into the ground in mid/late July.  Potatoes prefer to be planted closer to frost time for sure (May 25ish).  One plant came up and we tried a quasi tire tower around it.  That required more dirt and compost than I had access to by that time of year.  Further potato towers may be filled with a bit of straw added to those two components.  Regardless of that, we managed to get about 6 tubers from that one plant.  They were tasty and considering how late they were planted, I felt good we got anything at all.

Green beans were also planted quite late (late July) but, as with the wonderful bean, plant it any time after frost passes, water it and just waited for bunches of beans.  I’ve read that beans are a good indicator of your soil’s health.  If that’s so, I’m feeling confident with what we’ve got going on.  The beans were mildly prolific and that was mostly due to my lack of staying on top of harvesting (like many veggies, the more you harvest the more fruit will be made).

It was very much a frankenstein slap a dash type garden planting things as they came; this and that hear and there.  IT was not a pretty space but it was relatively productive.

Our apple tree did not have fruit on it the year we moved in (2009) but in 2010, we got around 25 apples.  A portion of those fell to the ground and were not eaten but the majority were consumed.  Heavens above, those were not apples, those were tiny chunks of heaven covered with a predominantly red skin.  I don’t know the breed of tree but I hope to get it established and I would recommend it STRONGLY.  Sadly, I took it upon myself to prune the thing a bit late in the season with very mixed (mostly negative) outcomes.  Pruning has been a challenge for me to learn to shape plants intelligently.  I hope that’s a skill I learn to develop.  The overall shape of the tree leaves something to be desired (3 main stems with equal growth).  But again, I worry about losing too much apple production so I may bring a few picture over to the greenhouse near my place to get some advice.

This stupid cherry type whatever shrub.  What a waste it is.  I’m so ready for it to just get removed.  I was hopeful last year that it would give us something delicious.  Now, not only does it look awkward, the fruit is no good.  Slapped down a very generous pile of compost down around it, but now I just want it gone.  There is nothing to discuss.

The seeding of the lawn had mixed results with bare patches all over the lawn but some places where the seed took like gangbusters. To me, it appeared that where the dirt was pressed down by the bobcat, the soil roots couldn’t penetrate it.    No pictures of that either.

Up next: The Almighty Compost.  Refuse to go on with this blog before my love of the stuff is made clear.






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