Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Pots as Mulch

I like to use pots as mulch for a variety of reasons.  One is that I have limited space with full sun so I need to maximize my use of it.  Another reason is it cuts down on weeding and watering. Also it can make my vegetable patches look prettier as with this pot of Biden in between some carrots.

Here I'm using a coleus plant between cabbages.  As the summer gets hotter, I will move the coleus into a shadier spot and by then the cabbages will be big enough to fill in the space.

I bought a pretty deep red dahlia this spring. I decided to put a pot of cosmos beside it so that no weeds would grow on that side anyway.  The pot will keep the soil on that side from drying out, hopefully, keeping the dahlia happy.

I am experimenting with growing  a lettuce plant in a margarine container.  There are 3 other lettuce plants surrounding it.  When they get big, I will move the container probably to a shadier spot. I am using some slug pellets that use ferric phosphate to protect some of my plants including this lettuce.  I've been using the pellets for a few years now and they work really well.  They are not toxic like the old slug pellets.

Some marigolds nestled in between a few broccoli plants.  Will they deter cabbage moths?  We'll see.

A geranium between beets and broccoli.  It isn't blooming because I pinched off the flowers and buds when I transplanted it so that it could put all its energy into getting established in the pot.  It should be really pretty in a few weeks.

Finally, a small container with a nasturtium plant placed at the base of a cucumber plant.  Every year I struggle with striped cucumber beetles.  Some people think nasturtiums can be repellent to the beetles.  We shall see.  So far I have only seen one beetle , which I dispatched, but it's early in the season.

Thursday, May 5, 2022


 Ordering seeds or plants in the dead of winter is always a bit of a risky business.  Odds are I will order more than I need - well, just because.  This year it is potatoes that I over indulged in.  The above picture features 6 different kinds of potatoes:  Top left - Chieftain, Top middle (2) Bellanita, Top right-Bintje, Bottom left- Dakota Pearl, Bottom middle - German butterball, Bottom right- Anna Rosa.

All these varieties are organic seed potatoes from Eagle Creek Potatoes in Red Deer, Alberta.

Last year, I forgot that you shouldn't plant store bought potatoes because they are treated with chemicals that stop them from sprouting.  I did get some potatoes even at that but not nearly as many as I would have expected. 

I was really pleased to find  somewhere to buy potatoes where you don't have to buy 2 Kg. per variety.  Eagle Creek has great sampler collections of four varieties of four potatoes each (16 total).  I bought two collections.  The German butterball and the Bellanita were in both collections but I still ended up with 6 different kinds of potatoes to plant.  I haven't grown any of these varieties before.  Usually I plant Yukon gold and red-skinned Norland.

I planted some of the potatoes in my usual raised planters but I am also trying some in  extra reusable grocery bags I had hanging around the house.  The bags are a black woven fabric which will breathe.

I am a very slow learner when it comes to vegetable gardening.  I knew that people hilled soil up on their potatoes but I always thought it was just to keep any potatoes near the surface from going green from sunlight.  That is part of it.  But, also, the hilling around the stem triggers the plant to make more roots up the stem in the same way that tomatoes grow roots up their stem.  Since potatoes make their tubers along their roots, the more roots the more potatoes.  

Potatoes need good soil and I have sprinkled some slow release organic fertilizer over the planting area, too. They like to be adequately watered but not soggy.  Full sun is always the best but some shade will still allow for a decent crop.

Watch out for Colorado potato beetles which will quickly strip a plant of all its leaves.  The larva are big fat red yucky things that can be plucked by hand and dropped in a bucket of water.  I've never had potato beetles right on our property so here's hoping they won't arrive this year.

I realized that if I have too many potatoes for us to eat up in the fall, I can always blanche and freeze them. 
Home grown potatoes in February will be lovely.

Happy gardening!

Monday, February 21, 2022

Reblooming Orchid

This is the third rebloom for this orchid in two years.  That's the most success I've ever had with an orchid.  

I water it with a quarter cup of room temperature water once a week.  I always use rain water or distilled water - that seems to be really important.  When it starts to make a flower stalk, I give it half-strength regular liquid plant fertilizer about once a month.  It lives on a south facing windowsill but during the winter that doesn't mean it's getting hot sun.  I leave it on the cool windowsill, unless it is very cold at night, as I read that the cooler air triggers the flower stem. If we do get a day with strong sun, I move it away from the window.  In the summer, our south windows actually get quite a bit of shade from trees so the orchid is OK in the south window even then.  If it was more exposed, I would move it to an east window.

I cut the last flowering stalk to the nearest node when it finished blooming as sometimes they will shoot again.  Nothing yet but I'm still hoping as the stem is still green.

I noticed aphids on my celery a few weeks ago so it has been banished to the basement.  I gave it a good rinse with water and haven't seen any more aphids but I'm not taking any chances.  It gets quite a bit of light where it is but it is chilly so not much new growth.  If we get some mild days in March, I'll pop it outside for a few hours in the middle of the day.

One of my seed orders has been delayed as the seed company didn't receive its seeds as early as usual, and they also have lots of orders. No matter.  I'm really glad to hear that many people have taken up gardening during the past two years.


Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Once Upon A Time

 Once upon a time there was a group of unacceptables.  They were called the "fringe".  They were smelly, they swore a lot and they had dirty jobs.  One day they decided they needed a break.  They parked their big rigs and set up. They were loud - VERY LOUD but they had rhythm. Soon they had built a canteen and gave out free hot soup and hamburgers.  They gave out clothes.  They played music and people danced.  Someone hired a bouncy castle for the kids.  They put flags on hockey sticks when they weren't playing pick-up games of ball hockey.  

The acceptables went ballistic.  "HOW DARE THEY!" "THEY ARE TERRIBLE AND SCARY!"

One day, the unacceptables decided to pick up camp.  They drove away, blaring their horns, back to life on the road.  And as they drove down the long, long highways, mile after mile, they had the odd chuckle about the days when they were truly unacceptable.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Bougainvillea, Poinsettia, Celery

 Happy New Year!

After the next few months, I think we will be in a much better place.

The bougainvillea has bloomed almost two months earlier than last year.  I have no idea why but it has been nice to have its pretty pink blooms at the darkest time of the year.

After a regime of 14 hrs of darkness, 10 hours daylight for 8 weeks, the poinsettia did set red bracts. It will be a few weeks yet before the poinsettia flowers (small little yellow flowers)  mature so the red bracts will be around for quite a while.  Next year, I will start the regime earlier, in late September, so that the red bracts will  have more time to grow before Christmas.

I ended up potting up a few celery plants from the garden. It's been enjoyable to have some fresh crunch for my tuna sandwiches and the celery leaves and stalks are a welcome addition to soup.  As they are biennial and will go to seed next June, I will be starting new plants from seed in February.

I have spent some pleasant time scouring seed catalogues and planning next summer's garden.  Hope you have as well.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

First November Snow

Yesterday we had our first real snowfall. We got a couple of inches and the temperature is cold enough that it is staying on the ground.  It feels good to have the snow.  It brightens up the landscape and the  air feels crispy and fresh.  No more damp fall weather.

This is a Christmas card I made for my French friend who lives in Quebec. The fuzzy white circles are a watercolour take on Bokeh.

The sky was a lovely intense blue today.  I guess the cold arctic air is very clean. The sky is not only more blue but somehow it is brighter. Normally at this time of year it wouldn't be so blue.  Less air travel is still having an effect.  I wish the eco people would talk more about trying to cut down on air travel.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

November Plants

It's not easy to find colour at this time of year, but there are some spots of contrast.

I let the broccoli go to flower at the end of the summer because the pale yellow flowers last even after frost.  I can still pick some little bits of broccoli to eat.

The Bishop's Cap has some nice colour.

The Solomon Seal has fallen over but I like the wavy shape to the leaves, almost looks like hair.

The Burning Bush is not vibrant red (not enough sun) but I like the range of hues, almost nicer than a solid bright red.