22 05 2017

Sing it out for Victoria!!

What a weekend.  As a shift worker, it has been a rare, rare instance when my three days off happen to correspond with a long weekend.  What bliss!  Family around.  Sleepovers.  Brand new tents set up (and poxed) and slept in and marshmellows on a campfire.  Ahhh.  And a visit to Elk Island National Park in a tolerant but hot heat with many of my fellow citizens; accents and languages from all the corners of the globe.  Awesome!

But living in Edmonton,  May long weekend is frequently associated with gardening.  Now is the time to get you poop in a group and your plants…in…the ground.  Frost free days are almost 100% guaranteed so everything can hit the dirt.

After such a rotten year last year (house fire necessitating our move for the EXACT garden season) our garden needed an infusion of awesome.  And I think it got it.

Flowers transplanted: Dusty Miller, Citronella, Tobacco , Delphinium (divided the beauty and moved half to the front and half 2 ft over), Zinnea, Colleus (had to do this one twice because it was not taking the sun well), Sweet Potato .  Rudbeckia and Phlox seed spread out (T&T Seeds based in Manitoba offers a free seed packet with a certain order amount; the phlox will be red and white coloured apparently).  I don’t think I would have gotten phlox so it’s nice to test ’em.  I also removed about 20 errant tulip bulbs to be relocated to a better spot.

Vegetables seeded or transplanted: Peppers (6), Tomatoes (7 in pots), Cucumbers (5 on a teepee and 5 in pots, Beans (20ft), Potatoes (6), Sunflowers (6 on the north side of the vegetable garden), Squash (1), and Raspberries (10).  These required a 5 ft bed be flipped over and some composted manure was added to where the transplants went in.  I still had some very old Myke’s (a fungus that attaches to roots and encourages plant growth through increased nitrogen absorption (I think).

I will soon start some cabbage in pots as well as some cucumbers in compost pots (yes, pots made of compost).  Cucumbers are very sensitive to root disturbance so it is best to choose a pot that can be planted with the plant.  Cabbages do well as a later season crop so I hope to transplant it in mid to late July and then around frost time they should be good to go…I think.

I set out a new seating area in the front,   It should be nicely shaded and also with a good number of colourful plants and flower once things start to pick up a bit.  We had some extra carpet (from the reno) that I put right on the dirt and then covered it with wood mulch.  I have done this before and it worked really quite well.

All this is set out and looky loo at the weather coming up?  It is PERFECT!  We are about to get DRENCHED and then the weather will be a bit more mild.  PERFECT!  If you have anything to transplant, try to sneak it it before the rain hits.


Garden Infrastructure

11 05 2017

I don’t know if that’s a real word; I just kinda thought it made sense.  There’s a lot of things gardners can do to make things easier for the plants or for the gardener.  I’ll show you the stuff today.


A list of all the things going on here:

  1. Teepee: I have used that garden teepee for peas in the past.  I have always found them to be great ways to grow vertically.  After you plant the cukes into the ground, put the stakes exactly where you want and then run a string along the outside, rising progressively.
  2. Pea fence: The three lengths of rebar are about 1.5ft in the ground and there is a plastic fence running along it.  Hopefully this works better this year.  Pea fences are good to help you keep all your peas where they are easy to see and you probably use about 25% of the garden space than if you were to let ’em spread along the ground.
  3. The “Hoops”.  Essentially, 2ft pieces of rebar are shoved in the ground at an angle (close to a ft deep).  Each pair has a 5ft length of tube slid onto each side.  Overtop of the hoops we’ll be placing that black hunk of “fabric” called “shade cloth”.  It keeps out bugs and deadens the effect of hot summer sun on plants that don’t necessarily like it scorching (think broccoli, cabbage, kale, some lettuce).
  4. The hat.  Not in place yet but the bale and scraps can be seen.  It will be our mulch this year.  Hopefully it’ll help keep weeds and other garbage at bay.
  5. …..

This deserves its own section in my mind: The watering system.

I found the rain barrel soaker hose online.  It promised the ability to water your garden from your rain barrel, with the barrel DIRECTLY on the ground.  Sounds really good to be true.  So, I purchased it to give it a whirl.

In the meantime, I was waiting for the right opportunity to get a nice gigantic rain tank (I prefer to call it); |Something about 1000 liters.  I found a very reasonably priced one online.  The unit itself was brand new (seal on the output still in tact).

After several sketches and plans to make a layout for the hose that would fit the garden, I lost them and, on game day (today), I just put it together to make it fit.  I thought 100 feet would be easily enough but I see now that is not really the case.  The loops are a bit wider than I would have liked.


But, so it is.  It is together now and I’ve turned it on.  It was a special moment for me cause I’d been thinking (and HOPING) this set up would work.  I find watering the garden task I never really am set to stay on top of.  I thought a system would help me immensely.  And so when I turned it on and the water starting coming out at a good clip, I was very happy indeed.  I was imaging never fretting about water again.   I noted the time so I could get a sense of the flow rate, and I went inside to lunch up the little guy.

I came out two hours later.  The markings on the rain barrel seem to indicate I’ve only put out just over a 100 gallons.  But more important, the fantastic pace I originally saw coming out of it, was all for nought.  It had slowed down to a TINY trickle and the damp path snaking under the hose itself had not gotten very much wider than what you see in the picture.  Water pressure coming out of the barrel seems consistent.  So, it just may be too low to be very effectual.

With that said, if it just drops out 250 gallons over the course of the day, well, that’s about 2 rain barrels and that is a very decent garden soaking I suppose.

So all things considered, I’m a bit on the fence.

What kinds of interesting things have you used for garden infrastructure?  Old cars?  Refridgerators?  Tubs?  Watering cans?



Bonus: Watch the consumer made video advertising the product with the barrels at ground level.  The company is Mr. Drip.  I really want to point out how the man is clearly walking down a VERY significant slope to get to his garden from his rain barrels (you can see the slope away from the building in the video).

in the video).

Early planting results. And “no till” introduction

7 05 2017

I planted spinach and peas 29 days ago.  They took 23 days before many of them sprouted.  I like planting things early: REALLY pushing it, in an effort to get things earlier.  It feels good to take a risk, and knowing you still have a good half dozen seeds and numerous tomato seedlings in greenhouses, is a comfort.

The spinach plot is about 2ft x 4ft.  They all look about this size:20170507_203615

I really didn’t think any peas were going to make it.  I was quite skeptical but then, I saw a few pop up.  And then, in no time…..20170507_203752

It’s about 8 ft long, and yes, that is re-bar in the ground.  Last year’s bamboo poles were bent all the way to the ground they were so heavy laden.  I thought re-bar would at least give the trellis a fighting chance.  I also used “inoculant” on my pea seeds.  Inoculant is a little package of powder that you can buy that you coat pea or bean seeds with.  It’s basically, “a bunch of bacteria” (how scientific do you want me to be?) in the powder.  When the root grows, those bacteria live on the roots and help deal with nitrogen better and they grow AND yield like crazy.  I will assume this year’s will go as good as last year’s and say, get that inoculant; compared to some other seasons, I bet I got 2x production.

I tried onion seeds again this year but it seems AGAIN, I’m at a loss.  About 60% of the seedlings are keeled over and really don’t look so good.  I am going to have to wait a couple weeks to see what ends up happening.

I also threw two tomato plants in the ground.  Let’s see if they survive; One ain’t looking too grand, other seems just fine.  These ones are “Better Boy” (typical tomato type) but I have roma and a tumbler (for a bunch of pots).  This is FAR earlier than I’ve ever done it before ….20170507_203631


I tried something different this year.  I tried no til gardening.  I didn’t break up my soil bed at the end of the season.  I had a tendency before to flip all the dirt over.  Turns out (I hear) that actually brings old seeds to the surface again.  I assumed it was keeping the soil “light and fluffy”.  But I think I may be kidding myself a bit; It’s pretty solid.

What I DID do is put a mulch of about 3″ leaves and then 2″ compost in the fall.  I have a feeling that is going to lead to some really good weed inhibiting.  And then to get the plants in, dig as small a hole as is necessary!  When I made the mistake of using the big shovel for a potato hill, the strata was thick and certainly showed the weeds will be, at least slow to come.  Only a few grass blades in the whole bed.  Pretty rad.