Tag Archives: urban garden

Early July Harvest

Lone RaspberryAlong with the bounty of broccoli the first week in July, I also harvested a huge bag of kale (my new favourite stir fry veggie), more snow and regular peas than I could carry in two hands, a single raspberry, and my first ever cabbage.

Confession, the peas didn’t make it out of the garden. The only thing better than fresh raspberries, warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine — is plump, juicy, fresh green peas, warmed by the sun and fresh off the vine. Really, it was just efficiency; the pea pods went straight into the compost bin. Consider it the circle of life — and a very delicious circle at that.

1st CabbageThe cabbage I harvested was a full 6″ in diameter once all the outer, ratty looking leaves were removed. That’s bigger than it sounds! The thing that surprised me is that it’s crisp, juicy and crunchy compared to the ones I buy at the supermarket.

The kale is amazing. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Yum, yum! I still haven’t gotten tired of the sauteed in butter with fresh lemon kind, but quite a few people have mentioned other options, including tossing it in olive oil and baking it in the oven until it’s crisp and crunchy like chips. That sounds interesting, especially if I sprinkle a little seasoning on it. I’ve also heard it’s good in soup and stew, so I’m sure I’ll be checking online for additional recipes, once I’ve tried every possible combination of herbs from the balcony (thyme, sage, lemon basil, regular basil, green onions, chives, oregano, cilantro, and parsley).

What I really love about the kale is that in one day from 4 plants, I harvested what would cost est. $24 at the farmers market. And it just keeps growing!

A Reva Garden Update

Reva's Garden 09JunBack when I started this Bumbling Gardener adventure, one of my early posts inspired another fledgling gardener to start her own garden. And I’m happy to report, she’s come along way, baby!

What was once an uninhabitable empty plot full of small stones — even weeds wouldn’t grow there — has become a thriving garden. In the back there are a couple of kinds of corn, onions, lettuce, and spinach, as well as edemame, celery, broccoli, strawberries and an assortment of herbs.

Reva's Garden 09Jun 2In the front, a multitude of raspberry plants (enough to make the Scientist jealous) are interspersed with beans and peas.

Reva reports that the kids have gotten very engaged in the process, which has been a wonderful and unexpected bonus to the whole adventure.

Frankly, I’m looking forward to a dinner invitation in a few months time…

Garden Update Mid-June

After 10 days away from my garden, I was keen to check in and see how things are coming along.

Garden Update Jun17In a nutshell, stuff is growing! This in itself is a wonderful thing, which I don’t take for granted. I mean, if it were up to my expertise, the seeds I planted would be sunk. Fortunately, they know what to do without much help from me.

The broccoli is growing like crazy without much to show for it. I’m beginning to wonder if I’m supposed to be clipping off the lower leaves to help the plant focus on bearing fruit, so to speak. I’ll have to check into that. In the meantime, after dinner I did discover one floret which will be eaten soon. The book I checked recommended harvesting to encourage more growth, and that’s all the encouragement I need.

A few weeks back I mulched the garden via a couple of found bales of straw. As far as I can tell, the mulch isn’t doing much to keep the weeds out, but I think that may be because it’s not laid out thickly enough. This I can remedy.

<b> Radishes Gone Wild</b>

Radishes Gone Wild

My mutant radishes keep wanting to go to seed. I’ve never seen such huge radish leaves in my life! I’ve chopped off countless seed stalks but they just keep coming. A couple of weeks ago I tested one of the radishes, which was long, thin, white (no hint of red in sight) and very sharp and peppery. Yum! But I’m not sure they are “ripe” since they do not resemble any of the pictures on the packages of 3 kinds of radishes I thought I planted. (Adding to the confusion is that the Scientist, in a fit of spring cleaning, seems to have tossed out my lovely, meticulously, handwritten garden map. Oops!)

The kale is coming along nicely, now I just need to find a recipe and try and figure out how to get the Scientist to try some. He’s not really a veggie kind of guy…unless there is butter or sugar slathered on for disguise. He has, however and thanks to my efforts, discovered that he quite likes asparagus as well as grilled bell peppers of all colours. This is progress!

<b>Happy Snow Peas</b>

Happy Snow Peas

The snow peas are climbing like crazy, and it’s clear I need to get the climber mesh up at the end of plot C before the last ones planted start to topple. The green beans in the far corner, on the other hand, don’t seem to happy. I may need to move them out of that low lying area and into a new spot. Or add some dirt and replant them there?

And finally the bell peppers. Those poor guys have been completely eclipsed by the broccoli and are now completely shaded. When I originally planted, the plan was to keep the smaller stuff in back. Note to self: broccoli grows big, fast. Peppers, not so much.

Soaker Hose Saves Water

The Bumbling Gardener’s garden has recently been outfitted with a sleek set of soaker hoses. As a complement to the rain barrel, which does not provide enough pressure to reach to the end of the soaker hose, we’ll water on a weekly basis and supplement with the rain barrel, on the assumption that we’ll get enough rain during the season to do so.

new-soaker-hose(I now actually hope for the occasional rainy, summer day. This is VERY odd.)

A quick search of the Internet turned up numerous sites that explain how to use a soaker hose, most making it much more complicated that it needs to be, with timers and pressure gauges, etc. In a nutshell:

  • Wrap the hoses around your garden
  • Feel free to cover them with dirt or mulch
  • They have about a 12″ – 18″ reach
  • Soak less frequently for longer so the water goes deep and so do the plant roots

My favourite thing is, you save about 70% of the water you’d use if you watered with a sprinkler and none of it evaporates into the air. I thought the claims were a bit far-fetched, but site after site says the same thing — and what do I know, anyway?

A few notes…

The first hose I bought promptly cracked at the nozzle end, but it came with a 4 year guarantee and the store happily exchanged it.

When I first laid out the hose it was pretty stiff and unwieldy, so I held it in place with lengths of trimmed tree branches from the compost pile, sunk into the soil. Now that it’s had water run through it a few times, it’s fully pliable and I’ve been able to remove the sticks and reposition as necessary for optimal coverage.

Radishes Gone Wild

One of the very first things to sprout in the new garden, despite — or maybe because of — my planting them in mid-April, were the radishes.

radishes-gone-wildWhen I arrived at the garden in the middle of last week I discovered that the radishes were not only growing like crazy, they were getting ready to seed. I quickly trimmed off all of the large stalks to ensure that doesn’t happen. I’ve never seen radish greens get so large. Is this normal?

It seems like if they were getting ready to seed, they’d be ready to eat, but the radishes are still white, even though the package shows then red when ripe. Hmmm. This calls for a taste test…

I pulled one of the larger, white radishes and took a bite. Wow, that thing has zip! I didn’t think it was going to be a horseradish, people! I think I’ll wait a few weeks to see if they get red. Either way, they’ll make a nice shredded addition to salads and/or my next stir fry.

Growing Food 101: Weeds and Water

This week’s Growing Food 101 workshop is “Weeds + The Art of Hoeing” and “Working with Water”.

Taking place this Saturday, June 13 at Terra Nova Rural Park (2631 Westminster Hwy, Richmond), the session, offered by Richmond Poverty Response Committee, is taught by professional gardeners and includes both classroom and hands-on time. Beginners and intermediate gardeners alike will take away new skills.

Bursaries are available for low-income families. Contact Arzeema Hamir at foodsecurity@richmondprc.org for more information or to apply.

Ready to sign up? Choose your sessions and mail the registration and information page with a cheque to Richmond Food Bank (100-5800 Cedarbridge Way, Richmond).

Are you planning to attend? Let us know how it goes — leave a comment…

State of the Garden Address

the-garden-09may03In the ongoing adventures of the Bumbling Gardener, I’ve been planting a bit here and there each week. First it was the early nursery transplants — so far only one loss, a golden bell pepper plant. The other one is absolutely thriving.

Then it was seeding into the ground with a couple of different kinds of radishes, some beets, spinach, two types of lettuce, a couple of carrots, parsnips, herbs, etc. Oh, and some yellow and green onions.

happy-golden-pepperThen came the ill-fated squash episode. (A moment of silence please.)

When I didn’t have much success with seeding the inoculated beans and peas (they rotted in their peat pucks), I tried seeding some non-inoculated ones. The beans weren’t so keen to play, but the peas were pretty happy to sprout for me. Some of those worked, fewer yet survived my care and a couple are now transplanted into the garden. I’m hoping it’s warm enough that there won’t be a repeat of the last seedling transplant debacle.

transplanted-peasI did see a squash sprouting in the garden all on it’s own, the other day. I guess there were two seeds in one of the peat pucks. The first one died of frostbite and the second one is now checking things out. Maybe it’s an acclimatization thing. I’m sending it many happy, growing thoughts.

After many weeks of putting things in the ground, we now have a variety of green bits poking out of the ground. It’s very exciting! Thank heavens for the name sticks and my hand drawn map of the garden, or I’d have no clue what I was seeing.

Seedlings Take the Next Step

Seedlings in mini potsStep I of the Seedling Saga is complete and Step II is underway — the little blighters (hmmm, maybe that’s not a good thing to say of seedlings) have moved on to bigger and better accommodations in mini plant pots of their own.

They started in peat pucks and those that have showed some sign of living up to their potential have graduated to small, individual pots. That’s Step II.

Near the beginning of my experiment, I was gifted with a huge, dusty, abandoned apple box FULL of mini starter pots when The Scientist spotted and salvaged them, thinking I might have a use for them. How serendipitous! They sure came in handy when it was time for my seedlings to move out of community housing.

I haven’t used nearly a fraction of them, so I’ve passed a few on to a fellow urban gardener-in-the-making.

So far I’ve learned this about seedlings:

  1. Some seeds will sprout, some will not. Ours is not to know the reasons why.
  2. Some sprouts will thrive in their new individual lodgings, some need more time in the mini greenhouse with their friends, in order to thrive.
  3. No matter how sturdy those zucchini sprouts look, one clumsy, misplaced movement and they’ll snap.
  4. Zucchini are impressive sprouters, acorn squash not as much, spaghetti squash wholly unimpressed with the housing and not cooperating.
  5. Ignore the “rules” to clip the weaker of the sprouts and keep only one per peat puck — who’s to say in the early days if you clipped the right one. Keep them all until they are sturdy enough to trade up.