Category Archives: Urban Gardening

Bugs on Rhubarb

Over the course of the summer I’ve noticed bugs on my rhubarb plant. At least I think they’re bugs. They look a lot like ball bearings, seem to do no damage (at least to the rhubarb leaves, which are poisonous), and typically collect near the base of the leaf where it meets the stalk.

Upon closer inspection they are either ball bearings with tiny legs, or not ball bearings at all.

Do you have any idea what they are?

Change of the Seasons

Before, with teepee

Yesterday was the day.

The surest signal of Fall.

The day the teepee came down.

The last of the beans are long finished but only now after a few days of rain and autumn chill am I resigned to taking down the teepee for the season. The transition to winter gardening has officially begun.

Also in true autumn fashion, after the record size beans harvested this year I saved some seeds for next.

After, without teepee

Ripe Green Tomatoes

I recently enjoyed my first Grubb’s Mystery Green tomato, which remains green with a tinge of yellow near the stalk even when it’s fully ripe. (Pssst. For gardens at risk of theft it’s a handy way to fool passersby into thinking it’s not ready, thereby ensuring you’ll enjoy the food you’ve laboured over.)

I harvested a single red tomato from my other large plant a few weeks back, before I put the plant out of it’s misery, RIP. The red one was about the same size as the tomato below and had a similar texture . While it smelled delicious, the red one’s flavour was quite bland.

This green tomato, on the the other hand, tasted just as amazing as it smelled. I ate it drizzled with truffle infused olive oil, a sprinkle of crumbled feta cheese, and a pinch of fleur de sel (a natural, unprocessed salt).

Verdict in two words: Yum. Yum.

Grubb's Mystery Green tomato

Delicious, Healthy Eating All Summer Long

Not all of my gardening this year has been riddled with blunders and mystery. In fact, I’m rather proud of how much food I’ve cultivated in the garden as a novice gardener.

Below is some of the bountiful harvest I have been enjoying all summer, often in a quick and healthy stirfry.*

Yellow bush beans, green pole beans and snow peas

Tomatoes, green and yellow wax beans and broccoli

Carrots, rhubarb, mint and parsley

A tiny fraction of the beet greens I've harvested this year

Three of my largest heads of garlic, approx. 3" diameter

Carrots still in the ground, yet to be savoured

A full head of broccoli is a beautiful sight to behold

The rhubarb patch after the first harvest -- can you see a difference?!

*Note: All it takes to make a delicious stirfry is a little (or more) organic butter or cold pressed olive oil (both are optimal sources of the good fat you need in your diet), a bit of this and that — whatever you have on hand from the garden. Add a dash of salt and a squeeze of citrus and you have a quick, healthy dinner.

Verdict in two words: Yum. Yum.

Squash at Last!

This spring I planted half a dozen acorn and half a dozen spaghetti squash seedlings that I duly nurtured on my windowsill for a couple of weeks before transplanting them into the garden.

Sadly, only one of the acorn sprouts has embraced it’s job of growing me some squash and has begun taking over the garden.

On the upside, I’m thrilled to report it has at last sprouted some “girl flowers” and been pollinated (I didn’t leave that to chance) resulting in two little squash-in-progress. I feel like an expectant mother.

I suspect the failure of the four other surviving squash is my fault. I left the only two spaghetti squash that weathered the transplant a little to close together for too long. Same with the two acorn squash.

Apparently squash like a little leg room,but I didn’t have the heart to “kill” one of them until too late. By the time I made the untenable choice of which sibling to murder, I fear it was too far along in the season. I now have only runt plants with tiny flowers to show for my pacifist approach.

Let’s just say it’s a very good thing I don’t actually have to rely on my gardening skills to eat, or I’d be very hungry come winter.

Freak Strawberry Sighting: Update

Sprouting Strawberry When I posted the photo and story about the freakish Strange Seeding Strawberry the other day, a lot of people asked what was going on and commented that they’d never seen anything like it. But no one could shed any light on the mystery.

See, typically strawberry seeds need to overwinter (a.k.a. freeze) in order to germinate. Having them germinate on a strawberry that was still attached to the plant seemed more than a little unusual.

Well, I’m all about local so I decided to give our very own Driedeger Farms, a local strawberry farm dating back to the mid-1940’s, a chance to weigh in on the topic.

Rhonda responded to my query asking a few identifying questions that I couldn’t answer about what kind of strawberry it was. “Uhm, a red one” was about as specific as I could be.

In the end Rhonda did her research online and found me an article on how to grow strawberries where the comments below referred to strawberries being planted in soil and sprouting that way. I appreciate that, but it was a bit disconcerting that the strawberry expert relied on, even more so when her parting comment was, “It was definitely interesting to see them in their ‘natural’ state.”

I can cut Rhonda some slack given that strawberries naturally propagate via runners and on a 65 year old farm it’s not likely they’ve needed to rely on seeding in quite some time.

But it still doesn’t explain why a strawberry that has neither been frozen nor planted in soil, sprouted on the vine.

August 2010 Garden Update

It has come to my attention that I haven’t posted a picture of my full garden since July 9th, and it’s not from lack of taking the pictures. While I was excited about the burst of garden glory back then, it pales in comparison of the garden at the height of its glory.

By mid-July the “tee pee” was completely covered in greenery in a combination of peas, snow peas and giant pole beans.

The garden in mid-July 2010

The tee pee is covered in delicious greenery

By early August most of the brightly coloured snapdragons were finished blooming, the rhubarb was in full spread, and the broccoli was well on it’s way to growing a lovely head. The beet greens continued unabated and the carrots were still a bit too small for harvest. In the photo below you can see that the snow peas are on their last legs, turning brown and suffering from a powdery mildew.

Garden greenery on August 11, 2010

By last August, the peas were long gone, the snow peas had died and been removed, and only the pole beans continued to produce a few beans here and there. The broccoli has all been harvested and one row of carrots has been partially harvested which allows more room for the rainbow chard to flourish. The dwarf tomato plant in the foreground is heavily laden with fruit but none has ripened yet. Brussels sprouts are on the rise, and most of the pole beans (behind the chard) have been removed.

Garden August 23, 2010

Garlic-Pepper Bug Spray

When I chat with other gardeners we invariably get to the subject of bugs. When I mention that I spray for aphids and other pests using a garlic spray, they always want to know the recipe.

It’s late in the season to be worrying much about bugs, but I’ve heard several people say things like “aphids got my beans” or “I had a real problem with whiteflies this year” so it’s worth taking note for any winter gardening you may do, as well as prepping for next year — after all, isn’t the whole purpose of autumn to plan for next year’s gardening?

Below is the recipe I got from a gardener I know. Search “garlic pepper spray” online for other variations.

  • 2 hot peppers
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 whole garlic bulb
  • 1 gallon of water

Pulverize peppers, onion and garlic bulb in a blender with a little water. Cover mash with a gallon of water, let stand 24 hours and then strain. Spray directly on plants. Effective against aphids, cabbage maggot, carrot rust fly, leafhoppers, mites, thrips and whitefly.

Related posts:

Slug Patrol 2010
Garlic Rust Fungus