Friday, January 13, 2023

Bringing Kalanchoe into Bloom

 Last spring I took a cutting from a kalanchoe that had bloomed last winter.  I triggered the blooming last year by covering the kalanchoe with a dark plastic bag for 14 hours to simulate short days.  This fall, I left this small plant on the windowsill and closed the window drape at sunset which meant the plant was sandwiched between the window and the drape. This gave it the darkness it needed.  I didn't know if it would mind the chilly temperatures on the windowsill, as it was often below freezing outside at night, but the kalanchoe didn't mind it at all and set buds around the beginning of December.  Kalanchoe grow very slowly so it is only now in full bloom.  The upside of that snail pace growth is that the flowers last for weeks.

I give it a weak solution of fertilizer every month when it's blooming and I keep the soil on the dry side.  It is in a small pot.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Zinnias, Pole Beans

This is the most vibrant zinnia I've ever had.  It is from Baker Creek Heirloom seeds in their Candy Stripe mix.  I wish they sold it as a single colour.  In the mix, most of the flowers are pink and white with just a few orange/yellow and red/white.

The pink/white is also pretty.  Because they are an heirloom variety, there is some variation in flower form with some being not as nice or regular as others.  The plants themselves grow well and mine stayed healthy.
Here is a bumblebee having a snooze on a small zinnia.  It's chilly this morning and what better place to have a sleep.

Zinnias are funny flowers as they have quite a few different forms.  These small orange ones and the red one below have a very prominent centre.  I really like the intense colours of these zinnias.

This peachy zinnia came in the same mix as the ones above.  A much more subtle colour and the centre stays flat and frilly. It's also small - about 2" across.

The purple pole beans are coming along nicely.  Not sure why the daddy-long-legs are interested in them.  I like to grow some kind of pole bean as they produce later in the summer after my bush beans are pretty much finished.  Usually I grow scarlet runner beans but I happened to have some left over purple beans so I went with them this year.  They are climbing up the lilac bush.

It's always rewarding at this time of year to be harvesting vegetables and enjoying the bright flowers.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

4 Hours of Sun - Veggies

 I am so pleased with the results of my 4-hours-of-sun vegetable plantings.  As you can see, I have some lovely big tomatoes, ripe peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, potatoes, purple beans and zucchini.  The location of this patch gets full sun from 10:00am to 2:00pm so it gets strong sun when it gets it.  The shade is from deciduous trees so it is not as deep shade as you would have on the north side of a building or fence,  or even in the shade of cedars or conifers.  The tomatoes are producing less than in a full sun location but the peppers in the shade are producing as well as the ones in full sun.  Both  tomatoes and peppers are taking a bit longer to ripen.  I have tons of zucchini and the potatoes are producing well.  The beans also doing as well as in a sunnier location.

Of course, I could easily grow lettuce, celery, spinach, Swiss chard in the shadier spot.  Next year, I will plant some brassicas there and see how they fare.

Happy gardening.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Creating a Pollinator Garden

 Enjoy this video created by Christine.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Prize-winning Celery

Our local agricultural fair was able to run as normal this year.  Fun to be participating again.  This year, I got a Best of Show in the vegetable class for two of my celery plants. I was surprised as I hadn't really paid much attention to them all summer.

This one is growing in the same bag as the ones that went to the fair so it's similar but it has a stem in the back that got chewed, probably by a slug.

So with celery brought to my attention, I thought I would give my hints for growing celery.  I like to grow celery in a part shade area.  Morning sun with afternoon shade is my favourite location, but any spot with no more than 3 or 4 hours of sun is what I choose.  Celery does not like to bake in the hot summer sun.  It will grow quite nicely in a container or bag or in the ground.  The soil should be nutritious with plenty of compost to give it good texture.  Regular watering is essential, at least every couple of days in the hot days of summer.  It will keep growing if it gets too dry but the stalks will be pithy, not crunchy.  I give it a boost with some high nitrogen fertilizer a couple of times through the season, either slow release or liquid.

Years ago, people would blanche celery by hilling soil up around the stalks to produce a milder tasting plant.  Modern varieties taste just fine without blanching.

I start my celery from seed in February.  It germinates very easily and grows happily even with the weak winter sun.  I give it a feed of liquid fertilizer when it is about 3" tall.  By the time I put the plants outside in May, they are about 5" tall.  I usually plant 6 plants so that I have enough to pick from when the plants are still young.  By the end of the summer, I have more celery than I need but I  use it up in celery soup or freeze some to use throughout the winter.

I have sometimes overwintered a plant or two by potting them up and putting them in a bright window.  It doesn't grow much but it keeps the plant fresh while I gradually use it up.

If you want to collect your own seeds, overwinter a plant and the next summer it will flower and set seed. One plant will give you way more seed than you need.

I hope you will try to grow some celery next year.  It is easy to grow and fresh celery is much tastier than tired celery that's been languishing in your fridge.


Thursday, July 21, 2022

Living Trellis, Luna Moth, Sprouting Strawberry

I planted some Jackmanii clematis at the base of a lilac bush and this summer it is happily clambering up the lilac.  I also planted some purple pole beans to climb up the lilac.  They won't be blooming for a few weeks yet but will also provide a little colour in an otherwise green area.

I was so happy to see another Luna moth.  I think this is 4 years in a row now.  This one is a male as it has rather short feathery antenna.  Such a beautiful moth - about 3 -4 " across.

This strawberry sprouted! I'd never seen that happen before but the internet has lots of pictures of sprouted strawberries.  What surprised me the most is that the berry was not over ripe or damp.  You can plant the little plantlets if you have the patience to wait until they grow into a full size plant.

Getting lots of produce from the vegetable garden: lettuce, cucumbers, beans, zucchini, broccoli, celery, potatoes, green peppers, Swiss chard, cabbage, carrots and beets.  Very pleased with my experiment of planting in an area with only 4 hours of midday sun.  Lots of tomatoes are setting fruit, although the plants are getting pretty tall, as well as sweet peppers and zucchini.  I likely won't get nearly as many tomatoes as I would in a sunnier location but I am short on sunny spots so this is very encouraging, and I will still get plenty of tomatoes.  I planted several potato plants in the same area so I will see how that works.

Happy gardening.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

June Transition Plants

I only got three pansy plants to germinate this spring but this one is so pretty it makes up for the small selection.  The subtle pink on the top petals and the buttery yellow contrasting with the bright purple is just perfect.

A few potatoes are blooming.  I think this is Bellanita.  Often my potato plants don't bloom although they always make potatoes.  Somewhere I read to cut off the flowers to encourage the plant to put all its energy into the tubers.  That makes sense but the flowers are so pretty, I'm going to leave them for a while.

I have really cut back on buying annuals in May so June tends to be a very green month in the garden.  I planted some new ornamental onions to try to bridge the gap between the spring and summer perennials.  This little blue drumstick onion is quite small - not much more than an inch across, but it is a real blue which is unusual in most plants.  The flower sits on top of a long, wiry stem.  I hope it will naturalize as a big clump of them would be great.  

This magenta onion - atropurpureum- blooms just ahead of the blue onion with overlap as the flowers last a couple of weeks.  Both these onions bloom about 3 weeks after the Purple Sensation onions.  I have heavy soil and the onions seem to do very well in it.  They do best in a full sun location but some of my purple sensation ones are in shade and still bloom.  Not fussy.

The mock orange is blooming well this year.  I'm not crazy about the fragrance but I do like the look of the flowers and they flower in June - bonus.  The only thing I do to it is give it a prune after flowering.  Like lilacs, they should be pruned as soon as possible after blooming as they bloom on the previous year's wood.
The fleece flower.  The bigger it gets, and every year it gets bigger, the more I like it's frothy white flowers. Excellent for pollinators.  It is a big plant - about 5' tall but it only gradually expands with more stems at the base. The flowers last for about a month.  I don't do anything to it.  No fertilizer, no pruning. The stems fall over after a frost and I just leave them on the ground.

Happy gardening.  Take time to smell the roses, or whatever else you have.