Tag Archives: gardening

Too Much Spaghetti Squash and Too Many Eggs

One of the things about having your own garden is that no matter how much you plan your garden, something refuses to grow and something else grows in such abundance you are overrun. This year the low producers were cucumbers. We got enough to eat but not enough to pickle more than a few jars. The plant that went crazy nuts overgrowing and over producing was spaghetti squash. Not only did I get lots myself, a neighbour walked down the street handing out her overabundance to anyone she could find who take a few. She insisted on giving me three more huge ones. I couldn’t say no to such big beautiful spaghetti squash even though I had several more sitting in a cool spot in my basement already.

We do like spaghetti squash. No doubt about it. But I have always thought the only way to eat it was as a poor replacement for pasta. My husband likes it for snacking, heated with butter in the microwave. Even so, there was absolutely no way we could even begin to eat our way through all the bounty. Spaghetti squash is a summer squash meaning it won’t keep through the winter. It was time to get creative.

The other over abundance we were dealing with was eggs. A member of our local Hutterite colony came by selling eggs for $2/dozen. (Eggs are currently running $4-$7/doz in store.) I’m not sure why he had such abundance when only a few weeks ago we were limited in store to one dozen at a time. Nonetheless, he was selling at $2 each. The catch was you had to buy a whole case of either 15 or 30 dozen. Ouch! Well it was just too good a deal to turn down after that shortage, The colonies have been hit hard by COVID-19. Either because it went like though like a wildfire due to their communal lifestyle or because, if they came from a colony that didn’t get infected, they had to deal with stigma from the rest of us. How could I say no to his eggs? So I bought the smaller case of 15. (The picture below is a random one off the internet but it could be him, they look so much alike.)

Now I have an over abundance of eggs and an over abundance of spaghetti squash. Eggs can keep for weeks in the fridge. Even though we are daily egg eaters, 15 dozen was far more than we could go through. I mixed up several batches of a dozen eggs and then poured the lightly beaten mess into ice cube trays and froze them. I then popped them out of the ice cube tray and bagged the cubes. I can use those cubes over the winter in baking and cooking, one cube equaling one egg. That will come in especially handy if there is a second wave and we have a shortage of fresh eggs. If there’s no shortage I won’t have to buy as many.

I was searching the internet for alternative uses for spaghetti squash when I came across a recipe for Baked Eggs and Spaghettis Squash Nests. I mixed it up, replaced rice flour for the wheat flour and it came out beautifully. I read the reviews and some people complained it was soggy. Spaghetti squash have highly variable amounts of water. Early in the afternoon I cooked the two smallest squash in a pot of boiling water, peeled off the skins and cleaned the seeds out. I then let the strands cool in a bowl in the refrigerator. I periodically poured off the water collecting on the bottom before mixing the batter. I also found I had to bake the cups a lot longer than the recipe said because they were too soft. Even so, the final result was heavenly! A crispy golden herbed base and yummy eggs baked to perfection with just a hint of cheese flavour. It was not a meal I want to eat often but it was a pleasant treat and a nice change from our regular meat and potato type meals.

As a bonus, the recipe uses 1 1/2 cup of squash for a half dozen egg cups so we had some leftover squash. We tried that fried up for breakfast the next day. It came out very nicely, sort of cross between zucchini and hash browns. Breakfast fry will be another great use for all that the stringy squash!

Life often gives us over abundance in some places and shortages in others. We can either get creative and deal with stuff in new ways or we can feel sorry for ourselves. I try to always choose to be creative.

Container Garden Experiment – My Results

This cheerful bit of optimistic propaganda compliments of the Chinese Communists is an interesting video about Venezuelans becoming urban gardeners to solve the food crisis they face. When I first heard of this business of encouraging people to grow their own food on their balconies I was horrified. Having been a gardener for many many years I know it is impossible to grow enough food in containers on a balcony to do more than get some fresh treats.

Since I was building myself a greenhouse I thought it would be fun to try some mixed container gardening. My long term goal was more food from my garden in spring and fall. The plan is to move the containers into the greenhouse. I made five such containers. One I put in a single seed potato and a bunch of onions sets and some dill. One container I filled with a mix of green and yellow beans. One container I planted in snow peas and another regular peas. And in the final container I tried some mixed seeding. It was a row lengthwise of mixed radish and carrot seeds. I then had a row of spinach, lettuce, peas and beet seeds.

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The containers required more watering than my regular garden. They also needed a lot less weeding and fussing. They did produce. The mixed container gave me about a dozen nice radishes first. I have not yet harvested the carrots and beets. There are five lovely looking beets and about a dozen carrots of decent size.

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The same container previously yielded two dinners worth of cooked spinach, lettuce that produced enough for about six big bowls of salad and lots of leaves for sandwiches.

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The peas in the mixed container unfortunately only gave me 10 nice pods. The other full container of peas gave us enough for one dinner but we ended up eating them raw as a snack instead. The snow peas have just begun and, so far, we have enough to add a splash of taste and color to a couple of stir fries.

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The bean container have given us six bowls of beans. They produced very well and though they are nearly at an end. I consider them as worth the trouble.

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The biggest producer was the single seed potato. I also had put in a bunch of dill seed and there dozen onion sets. I pulled the onions to eat as green shallots. The potato plant grew to a huge height, choked out the dill, and then died off. The container was full of medium sized potatoes. For us that is enough potatoes for several dinners.

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The conclusion of my little experiment is the following. Only potatoes and beans produce enough to justify their own container. as a prepper style container, with potatoes being far out in front. The mixed container gives the best over all results with it providing us with a small amount of yummy veggies over a number of weeks. Salads and greens were certainly a welcome addition to our diet.

However it is very clear to me that one simply cannot grow enough produce on your balcony to feed yourself and your family in the summer to last you over winter. Okay, so maybe Venezuela doesn’t have the same harsh winter we do in Manitoba. Even without counting winter, such containers cannot produce enough food. Prepper and everyone else who think you can somehow survive on a garden balcony need to re evaluate this plan. And if I ever do find myself in a position to try to grow food to survive using containers, I’m planting mostly potatoes, maybe some beans and maybe a mixed container or two.

Building a Greenhouse – Part 2

My greenhouse project is coming along. The progress is slow because I will not let myself work on it until I am caught up on my other yard chores. This is a very busy time of year for the garden and lawn. It has been dry so I have had a lot of watering to do. We’ve just had two days of lovely light rain allowing me to devote a good block of time and get two of my three planned shelves in.IMG_1992

What have I accomplished since my first post on this? I have finished all the interior and cross bracing. I have put in strips to attach the polycarbonate waiting in my garage. I have two shelves. One shelf is low and my plan is it will be a place to plant lettuce and radishes at the beginning and end of the season when the sun is very low. The space between the first shelf and second is the height of my tallest tomato plant before they went into the garden this summer. I have as much shelf space there are all the space I had in my little pop up greenhouse. The second shelf is just right for seedlings. I can hang some plants in the middle if I want to. The opposite side will be a kitchen counter height shelf. I am going to use some leftover smooth lumber from my pantry project and this will be my work area. I can use the area under my work bench for taller plants like peppers or beans. Somewhere in there I will put some storage space too.

I have two vents built on and I have special temperature sensitive hinge latch affairs that will open and close with the temperature to provide ventilation and prevent overheating. I intend to add that brown half rain barrel by the garage at the end opposite door to help regulate the temperature inside on cool nights. I think I will be adding some gutters and eaves troughs to catch rain. We shall see. The cost of this greenhouse has crept up to about $1000. I suspect it will be $1200 or so by the time I am finished. That’s still far less than the $4000 for the dream greenhouse and this one is designed exactly how I want it.

Dick is repainting our wooden Adirondack chairs from two years ago. He paints while I work on the greenhouse. Those chairs were getting pretty worn looking. Rather than throw out the little bit of primer he had left, he started priming my greenhouse. If it has all white wood, more light will defuse for the plants. All the wood at ground level is treated but he’s concerned if the greenhouse is high humidity the bare wood might start rotting so a coat of paint will add protection. He’s promised to finish the priming as soon as I get the interior completed. It’s such blessing that he can be painting a mere three months after his stroke.

My container garden is doing very well this year. I am imagining having the greenhouse built by the fall and I can move my containers in there to extend the season. We are eating zucchini, radishes and greens now. My cucumbers are blooming and the raspberries are full of bees. I am having so much fun with my little greenhouse project.

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Frost!

When you live up near the 51st parallel as we do, frost in late spring is a constant threat. Here it is May 29 and my tomatoes plants spent the night sitting in their pots because I knew this might happen. Container gardening is much more popular in this region for that reason. Now one might think that our short season means no time for vegetable growing and for some crops that is the case. It is a rare thing to get a full sized watermelon up here. However our days are long enough here that the plants grow at a tremendous rate, My pepper plants are already making peppers and my tomatoes will be transplanted into the garden already blooming. The frost issue is a constant fear though. Last year we had a frost that killed off the tops of my zucchini plants and took several of my tomatoes and cucumbers. This year I have been far more diligent about repotting into larger pots instead of putting things in the garden and keeping things longer in my popup tent greenhouse. Yesterday, after two weeks of lovely frost free summery weather, I moved everything back under cover. I am running out of room and some of the tomatoes plants are getting tall and spindly. We typically get weather that comes in three day rounds. We have a forecast for risk of frost tonight to be followed by hot summer weather in the 30C range (86F) so the plan is tomorrow all the bedding plants get planted. They will love it, growing freely in the garden with heat and sunshine.

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The other awful thing about these late frosts is it makes getting fruit problematic at best. A bad frost on the wrong day means that particular fruit tree will not produce any fruit at all. My husband was very disappointed because last year’s late frost happen just when the apple blossoms were in their full glory and we did not get even one single apple. Every tree in town was similarly affected. The strip along the Railway Ave (so named where there used to be a railway there sixty years ago) there is a strip of apple trees planted which are available to anyone who wants the fruit they produce. My husband took great pleasure in making fresh apple juice from them. Last year there was no apple juice. However the saskatoon bushes were not yet blooming and so they produced abundantly. The previous year the last late frost came later and hit the saskatoon bushes and so we had no saskatoons that year.

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Now that we have stopped our nomadic life and there is no sign we will start it up again, we are looking at our lovely little home for things that will make life easier and better. I have decided to make myself a proper greenhouse. We were going to buy a professional one but the $4000 price tag for the simplest model that can withstand our prairie wind and snow loads ruled that idea out. I have been consulting Pininterest and youtube for ideas and I now have a plan. I think I should be able to make myself a nice greenhouse for under $800. We shall see.

You may recall I was in a state of fearful despair after a bad diagnosis last September. I planted daffodils and crocuses in response. Not one crocus made it but we enjoyed a glorious and lovely brief blast of daffodils that gave us both great joy. Daffodils can take a late unexpected frost and come out unscathed.

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Garden Plants Started for Spring

We are now halfway through our third week of self isolating to keep my at risk husband free of COVID19. We started this when he got out of the hospital after his second stroke March 20. We have been blessed by rapid recovery for him and lovely weather. Today the sky clouded over and the weather people say we are in for three days in intermittent snowfall and freezing rain. Winter doesn’t give up easily at the 51st parallel.

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I have been keeping busy. Gardeners are insane optimists and I have started some bedding plants. The hot and sweet pepper plants are one month old. Tomatoes are two weeks along. I planted green and yellow zucchini today. With luck and some tender loving care, the plants can be put out in the garden around about June when it is safe from frost up here on the 51st parallel. (I hope!) If they can be set out just as they start blooming I should have a good crop.

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I have never had much of a crop of peppers. My neighbour takes a few of my excess plants and she gets fabulous results. She also dumps ash from her wood stove in her garden. Last year she let me take a lot of her ash. Perhaps this year will be better. Also the frost hits just as they begin producing so I am hopeful that by starting them March 1, they will be really big by the time they can go outside.

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In past years, the tomatoes plants have outgrown the indoor space I had. Much as I want to see green again, I forced myself to wait until March 15 to start the tomatoes plants. I grow four types. I plant bush beefsteak for large yummy tomatoes where a single slice can cover an entire hamburger. In spite of their size they don’t produce much because each plant only makes a few big fruit. I plant a “lemon boy” type that give lovely medium sized yellow fruit that are low acid and sweet. I plant a medium red “Early Girl” which, as the name suggests, gives us fresh tomatoes before any other varieties. Finally, I have a very special favourite which is called “Sun Cherry”. This variety grows to huge size and is absolutely laden all over with small cherry sized tomatoes that are a lovely golden orange. These are great not only to eat like candy, but if you freeze them loose on a cookie sheet and bag the frozen tomatoes loose, they make a wonderful addition to soups, sauces and stews without a need to peel or process. All are heritage type so I keep seeds from one year to the next and I always worry about them taking. I am gratified to see all of them took and I had to do a lot of thinning this year.

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I still have my winter greens garden. We live far from stores and getting and keep a supply of fresh lettuce can be problematic. I started some lettuce from seeds last fall and grew the plants under lights. They have done very well for us giving us lots of fresh lettuce for sandwiches and salads. I can harvest the leaves about every ten days to two weeks or so. Last month I took the bottoms of some commercial green onions and planted them in a pot just see what would happen. To my delight we’ve had fresh onion greens for our salads ever since.

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Beyond that, things have been quiet. We spend our days reading and writing. We lie in bed a lot and read together and enjoy each other’s company. The cat often joins us. Every day we go for one long walk with the dog and stop at the post office to pick up our mail. We follow the news about the epidemic and we wait. The news here in Manitoba gets increasingly bad as cases rise and the “wave” already threatens us even though we are far from the peak of the curve. Today we were told that school is out until further notice. All nonessential businesses are to be closed tomorrow and stay closed for two weeks.

I am safe. My fridge is full of good food. My house is warm. Winter is making a comeback but spring will eventually win the days. My husband is still with me and it looks like he might get to see those crocuses I planted in defiance last fall. We checked to see if any of them were evident on our walk today. Nothing yet. Apparently they knew of the coming snowfall.

End of the Season

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Frost warnings are up tonight and the forecast for a few days from now keeps alternating between snow and rain. It has been a poor year due to the summer drought but a bit of rain and the last season frost holding off longer than usual gave the garden a teeny boost at the end.

In preparation for the possibility of frost, I picked my tomato plants clean of all tomatoes and moved them into the basement to finish ripening. I also pulled up the last of the onions, beets, carrots, and cucumbers. I dug up the potatoes and cleaned off the pepper plants. I cut the last of the herbs. The house is full of the smell of rosemary and thyme coming from the dehydrator.  We are eating sauces and salsa’s from fresh tomatoes. We are still enjoying the sweet pleasure of popping whole cherry tomatoes like candies.

The end of the garden season is always a combined relief and a time for sadness and reflection. The garden is a lot of work and while it is mostly pleasurable work, it is still work. It’s nice to have a break from it. I have made my notes for next spring and I collected and dried seeds for next year. Now is the time to get to those indoor chores that have been neglected. There are still plenty of preparations before the deep cold. After last of the produce was safe from the frost, I finally fixed a light switch that has been broken since July.

Life runs in cycles and seasons. Life is a cycle of blessings.

Thank you, Master of the Universe for allowing me to enjoy another full summer of gardening and the opportunity to enjoy food from my own garden, grown and prepared with my own hands.

My Answer to Uncertainty

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While we are on our doctor trip we paused at a store display of spring bulbs. I asked Hubby Dearest to pick a couple of bags to add to our garden. No surprise he picked daffodils. They are his favourite flower not least because he is a bit colour blind but yellow and orange are among the colours he sees well. They also bring back memories of his youth in Oregon where these daffodils bloom in the wild each spring. On one of our trips we drove slowly north up the coast from California to British Columbia and because of the pace we went at, we had weeks and weeks of enjoying wild daffodils.

His second pick was a bit of surprise. He’s never expressed a liking for crocuses. We did make a special point more than once to go find the wild Manitoba variety, a rare but gorgeous treat and the provincial flower.

“They are first through the snow in spring,” he replied. “I like that.”

It is supposed to rain tomorrow. You are supposed to give bulbs a good soaking after planting. The day was lovely, still, warm enough to work in a T shirt. I took great pleasure in planting the bulbs for us both. It was a great stress reliever. Maybe one of us won’t be around in spring to enjoy them but I am assuming we will be. And if one of us isn’t, it will be a nice reminder of the many wonderful things we did get to enjoy together. Everything else is out of our hands and beyond our control so there is no point worrying about it. The Master of the Universe has our back.

Rain, Rain, Sweet Rain – Garden Update

It’s been a very bad summer for gardening. Although we have had a few thunderstorms with down pours we have not had even one of those three day drizzling rains considered normal where we live. I have been watering but as any gardener will tell you, nothing works like rainwater and a heavy down pour of 15mm (6/10s”) in twenty minutes may fill a rain barrel but it won’t properly water anything. We also suffered a late frost in June that wiped out or damaged many of my bedding plants. The consequences for my garden have been profound.

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Misty likes the rain and was playing in it until she spotted me with the camera.

My zucchini were nearly destroyed by the late frost and lack of rain. The result has been hardly any lovely garden zucchinis have come in but only stunted and thick skinned ones. The pepper plants have produced but they are stunted and super hot and have brown spots. Beans, usually I have so many I get sick of them, but this year we only got a few supplements for our dinner vegetables. I didn’t get any to freeze for later in the year. I had two plantings of corn and one has produced only a half dozen scrawny half cobs. I have already given up on the second planting and pulled up the stunted little plants that barely got tall enough to brush my hips as I pass. Some of them even developed corn smut and that was part of why I just gave up. Better to get rid of the diseased plants than hope they might make a cob or two before freeze up. Cucumbers? I had to replant them all after that late frost and so the possibility of pickling cukes was already set back. Add to that how even with daily watering they were often wilting, I have gotten exactly three and only three small jars put by. Potatoes don’t seem as dependent on rain as opposed to watering with well water and they are doing very well and have made nice big potatoes. My carrots and beets are tiny jokes compared to previous years. Tomatoes, my glory of the garden and our favourite thing to eat are down to less than one quarter of what I usually get. I have not done any canning of tomatoes and we are eating them as fast as they ripen.

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This pathetic looking zucchini is among the best I have gotten this year.

One good thing has been our grass has gone brown and dormant and crunches when you walk on it. You don’t need to mow crunchy grass. The native wildflowers, so much better adapted to take prairie drought, have been popping up above the crunchiness and since they aren’t being mowed, we are being treated to bright yellow and deep lavenders and fire engine reds. Our little garden pond has become a sanctuary for the birds and frogs in the area whose usual watering spots have dried up.

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The cat hates the rain. After our drought he is the only one complaining.

I can be philosophical about the poor garden showing for a couple of reasons. When it comes to my homemade pickles, they keep for at least two years and 2018 and 2017 were good years with lots of fine pickles. We have barely finished with 2017 pickles and not started on 2018. We will be fine as long as next summer is a normal one even though I only made three jars of dills. The second reason is that we are not pioneers living miles from any other source of food. I can go to the grocery store and buy the produce my garden failed to produce this year. How awful a garden year like this must have been back in the days when one did not have a grocery store nearby and the means to buy from it. Without that grocery store this would be a hard winter of eating mostly potatoes.

The hardest thing about this drought has been the effect on the trees. My poor poor trees have been yellowing and dropping wilted curled up green leaves and generally looking miserable. Many younger trees have just given up and died. I have been faithfully watering my own trees but trees generally don’t like well water loaded with iron. A little iron is good, too much iron can be worse than none. One little weeping birch on public land was planted a couple of years ago. I happen to love weeping birch and the sapling’s distress was painful to see. It was going yellow and what leaves were still green were curling. I poured many buckets of well water on the poor little thing each day for weeks and the green leaves uncurled and lost their brittleness but the yellowing leaves dropped and fell off anyway. Other trees from that planting just died.

Finally, finally, finally we are having a proper rain. It began with thunderstorms Friday night and it has been raining off and on since then. We’ve had heavy down pours that filled my rain barrels and soaked everything. We are approaching three inches. Today is a long slow drizzle day, the most perfect kind of rain for a garden. The trees are so happy with the rain. They have greened up and lost their drooping look. The grass has lost its crunchiness and we have enough water now that there is even a trickle running in the ditch indicating the soil is becoming saturated at last. Maybe the drought is over. It didn’t end in time for my corn but my trees are safe. I might even get a few more pickles.

Thank you Master of the Universe when you send us rain in the proper amount in the proper season. Thank you for sending enough rain to save the poor trees this August.

 

Gopher Wars – The Solution

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Early Girl

It has been several days since we have seen any fresh northern pocket gopher activity. We tried live trapping. Failed. We tried the other kind of trap. The gophers jammed the device with a perfect sized rock and after we moved the trap to a new location and reset it, they moved the rock to the new location and recycled their tool. I have not seen northern pocket gophers on the list of animals that use tools but it is now clear to me that the list needs revision. Since we undertook our more recent biological warfare attack, I have not found a single fresh mound in the yard. I think we have finally found our solution. I thought I would share it with you since it is easy, cheap, environmentally safe, and apparently highly effective. I’m not sure about using our solution on large commercial scales but it is definitely something the average small gardener can do.

The gopher wars had been on going for weeks and the most recent mounds appeared in our tomatoes plants. In order to understand the ferocity of my husband’s response, you must understand he loves fresh garden tomatoes the way hobbits love mushrooms. Therefore, the threat to his beloved tomato plants required stern, harsh and immediate retaliation.

There were articles on line about using male coyote and fox urine crystals and spreading them around gopher holes. This apparently convinces the gophers that there are foxes or coyotes present and they leave and go elsewhere. If you have ever cleaned a bathroom shared with a man, you understand why they advertise male coyote or fox urine as particularly effective. The male urine crystals were available on Amazon for about $70 with shipping costs. I told my husband about the idea.

“There is no way I am paying $70 for male urine when I am on all these diuretics and producing vast quantities for free!” he emphatically replied.

Shortly thereafter, a jar appeared in the bathroom. He had apparently decided direct application might disturb the neighbours. He then began making trips out to the tomatoes plants with the full jar on a regular basis.

After the first hole got an application the gopher responded by not just plugging the hole, but also filling it with rocks. After the second application the response was to create a new hole and cover the previous hole with a six inch mound. I am guessing it took six inches to cover the smell. After the third application, carefully  poured into each apparent hole and over all mounds, all further gopher activity ceased. (This third application required more than one jar.) It’s been days now and we don’t see a sign of any gophers doing anything anywhere nearby. Hubby dearest applied a few more treatments just to be certain they were gone. He’s now back to flushing. Like most tough problems you need to find the right tool for the job. Apparently I just had to find the right kind of hose.

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So there it is. Male urine doesn’t have to be restricted to coyotes and foxes to drive off northern pocket gophers. Happy gardening.

Another Garden Update June 2018

We are now in the halcyon days of late spring and early summer. It has been halcyon except for that tornado warning we had two weeks ago. (It was radar warned and did not not touch down.) I love to sit on my deck on my old-fashioned wood rocker seat and enjoy myself in my little piece of the Garden of Eden. The sun rose officially at 5:24 this morning but the dawn actually began about 4:00am when the light first begins and the birds start singing. Last night the sun took an hour and half to finally set at 10:53pm. For the hour and a half the sky was in such a glorious display of pinks, and golds on low puffy “drying clouds” after the rainstorms to the south that I couldn’t bring myself to go inside and get a camera to try to capture it. Today I decided to try to capture some of my plants beginning with my “from seed” flower experiment which has paid off handsomely.

My perennial bed continues its lovely display. Daffodils and tulips have long vanished and we are on the tail end of a glorious display of irises with yellow day lilies about to take their place on floral display. last summer I got some variegated ground cover and some ornamental grass and they taken off very nicely in a bare spot. My middle child gave me a red dwarf lily for my birthday two years ago and it is about to gift me again with orange blooms.

I have one spot that is a mix of gravel and sand and each year native annuals come up. I never know what I am going to get. Every year I have blue bells. This year there are several others. I have no idea what they are but I am hopeful they will have pretty blooms for me. I collect the seeds from local native plants and sprinkle them about. We have one one strip of tall grass we let go wild. The dandelion seeds feed flocks of yellow American goldfinches and this year our efforts to naturalize are beginning to pay off. In addition to the lady slippers (which chose not to bloom this year) we now have a lovely tall marsh grass that is found all over the ditches and wet areas. It grows taller than a man and is spectacular by fall. I tried hard to get a small plant called pineapple weed growing a bare spot near our septic tank. You find it around here growing in ugly bare spots that support nothing else. This year it has finally appeared by the septic tank and I am delighted.

The zucchinis are already producing more than we can eat. In addition to frozen zucchinni lasagna I have been unloading some with the neighbours. I have one cucumber almost ready to eat and more to come. In another week or I can start pickling baby dills. My tomatoes have green tomatoes on them but we are months yet from red ones to eat. It’s hard to wait. Nothing tastes like a tomato fresh off the fine.

The vegetable garden from seed is doing very well. I noticed the ground does well under potatoes so this year I planted potatoes all around the outer boundary of the seed garden. They are growing well. We really enjoyed the corn we got last year but it wasn’t enough so I planted double this year, Every time I look it has grown in our long summer days. Beans, carrots, peas lettuce, dill from seed, and kale also seem to be doing well. Soon we can have fresh salads.

My herb garden continues to delight. I have garlic, oregano, lemon balm, dill started indoors, and I put the peppers in that garden as well this year. I have had to harvest the oregano and its sun drying on the lid of the septic tank as I write.

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In the fruit department it looks like we will have lots of raspberries this year. it’s hard to believe my little single cane is now a full sized raspberry patch. It’s nice to share the bounty with the bumblebees. I have counted as many as forty fat bumblebees in the raspberries at one time. Last summer I planted four apricot trees of a variety that is supposedly cold tolerant to our vicious winters. Three of the four did not take and T&T seeds, my favourite seed supply company, cheerfully refunded my money. I ordered two more and both are budding green this year. I have strawberries almost ready to eat. Last year the strawberries were stunted and funny looking and the birds got most of them. This year I fertilized and watered heavily and the berries look normal and hopefully will be delicious. My Saskatoon bushes are growing my leaps and bounds and have already doubled their size but no fruit yet. My apple tree with the good apples has done very well this year. Last year we got nothing due to a late snow and heavy frost just as the blossoms started. This year we got lucky. We can look forward to a nice crop of apples for juice and pies in August. 

I am leaving the rhubarb alone this year, except for fertilizing and weeding around it. I want it to grow bigger. Same with the asparagus which started as just a single stalk three years ago and is now a big bush about to bloom for the first time. We have a long drainage ditch beside the seed garden with a steep slope that is wet after every rainfall. The should be a good place for fallen seed to take root and grow. 

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Asparagus fern

Two ornamental trees that are not native to our area have fared differently. The variegated dogwoods are dead or dying. They have  been doing that since we moved in. I am torn between trying to rescue the ones that have some life left, letting them die, or mercifully ending it by digging them up. On the other hand a small tree that blooms each year but seems to do little else was heavily infested with aphids and always on the verge of dying. Each year I worked fighting the aphids, spraying, cutting off infected leaves and poisoning the ants that tend the aphids. This year I see no signs of aphids and the tree has rather abruptly nearly doubled in size and is actually looking quite spectacular which I never thought it would. So I am leaning toward trying to save the poor dogwoods.

 

And of course there’s my husband’s pond, his addition to our life. He has a passion for diatoms and we grow a lot of them. I joke with the neighbours about he grows green slime on purpose.

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I am a very lucky person to be able to live in such a wonderful spot of God’s earth. I am richly and truly blessed. I do think the Garden of Eden was modelled on Manitoba in summer. That helps to make up for the way Dante’s ninth circle of hell, the frozen wasteland, visits this province each winter. Our seasons are a lesson in how we must seize the moment while the weather is good and enjoy nature’s bounty while we can because winter is always coming.

“The world is so full of a number of things, I ’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.”

Robert Louis Stevenson