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pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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Just wanted to share a photo of my balsam flower, which I think I ordered from Baker Creek seeds. (I don't really remember.)

These fully grown plants are fairly big, about two feet tall and almost the same wide with all the branches. I have about a dozen scattered around, most are this sort of neon pink but one is the more sedate pastel pink that I was expecting. I found that I have to make sure to water them regularly to get them to grow. A few that I planted in sort of a no-watering zone are alive but it's extremely doubtful they'll be flowering before frost, they're still so small. I haven't decided yet if I'll plant them again next year (because aside from needing regular water here, they also started quite slowly for me, they just might not really be appropriate for this area, or perhaps I'm just not an appropriate gardener for them) But I'm glad I tried them - I find the foliage quite attractive. I'm not all that crazy about the flowers, to be honest. Perhaps if I managed to get one of the different colours to come out - besides the two pinks, they can also flower purple, red, and white.
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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There has not been a lot of progress lately in my garden - with one notable exception - with cooler and wetter weather, the scarlet runner beans are at last forming pods - thirty plus at last count. Bees were actively visiting the vines this morning.
I've harvested some sunflower seeds, and watched some redwing black birds harvest some as well. Still have some lettuce left, a few small turnip seedlings have come up, the kale I planted is not doing very well. I tested a risentomate tomato that looked almost ripe, but it wasn't quite, and most remain very green. Surprisingly, a hollyhock plant I transplanted seems to have actually taken to it's new spot - I was rather rough with it and didn't provide a very commodious hole for it's roots in it's new spot, and at first it looked as sick as I expected it would, but now it's putting up new leaves.
Oh, and the chicory that I planted in my bee garden area is really growing well, however, according to my calculations based on the back of the seed envelope, this garden needs to remain frost free until November 20th for the chicory to reach it's official full growth potential/root size. This...seems very unlikely.

Not much to report, just wanted to confirm that the miner's garden project is still here!
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
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So, I went away again for a few days, with the intention of cutting the lawn on return. However, a neighbour decided to be helpful and cut it for me, which 1) was great, because I am really tired of cutting the lawn and 2) not great, since they mowed down some of the sumac and cut the grass much shorter then I would have 3) still not mad at them, because I caught a cold while away and definitely did not want to have to mow the lawn the last few days. Having a fever is so especially annoying, when I have one, I find that EVERYTHING I touch feels like ice. So I would have been going around pushing a vibrating, noisy, block of ice (lawn mower) for a couple of hours, hating the garden. And this neighbour saved me from that, even if they did wipe out the sumac's progress into a little privacy bunch. It'll be back next year, I presume. It'll try again.

The lettuce is done. I had a couple of heads left that were likely edible, but they were not appealing in appearance in the least, so I just pulled them out and threw them on to the lawn as compost. The tomato plants, I don't know what to do with. They still have a lot of green fruit, and a couple that look like they could be ripe in a few days, but I'm mentally preparing for frost any day now - officially it should happen Oct. 1 - 10th, although last year I didn't get a frost until Oct. 23rd. The turnips I planted in hopes of having a just-after frost harvest are only now starting to minimally grow. I suspect I haven't watered them enough.

Forgot to report the results of my squash "harvest" - it was pretty pathetic, with three fruit, one of which I probably wasted through bad cooking practice, although it's possible it was just...wrong. When it was "done" cooking it was still hard and inedible. The other two small squash were fine to eat, but I had less over all weight then last year, which was disappointing considering how many more squash plants I planted in the spring. In contrast the squash plant from the compost pile just over the fence in my neighbours yard (not the lawn mowing neighbourh, another one) is still growing and I now have two squash fruit from his plant on my side of the fence, both of which probably individually outweigh "all" of mine combined.
As soon as I get over this cold, I intend to go and dig pits for growing squash next year. Clearly compost works for them.

Of the kale I planted, I have got one decent sized plant, one small, and one which is still at seedling stage. And these were supposed to be giant kale! Oh well.

The runner beans are choosing the last minute to be productive - I've harvested four or five "side dish" sized portions and am leaving a lot of pods on the vines on the off chance that they'll have time to mature enough to give me viable seeds for next year. I can no longer count how many there are!

The stars of the year were/are the onions. I've been able to share a couple of bunches, they've steadily provided fresh onion, and I've frozen a dozen cups of chopped onion so far, with expectation of getting another three or four cups before they go dormant for the winter.

Oh yes, and I experienced my first earthquake since my last post here - just a mild little one, somewhere between 3.9 and 4.3 magnitude depending on new sources, centered about 5km away. I was delighted to discover that the dogs might actually detect the things beforehand, as there was a canine commotion a few moments before. I was never sure if this was a myth or a fact before.

Western mountain living natural phenomena experience check list:
Coyotes in the hills check
Black widow spiders at the back door check
Landslides in the area check
Wildfire check
Earthquake check

Hmm, wonder what could happen next?

 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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I had an unexpected frost on October 12th.

(I swear the forecast on the weather radio was for well above zero that night, but in the morning everything was covered in frost.) I had covered my beans the night before, but had taken off the covering for the fatal night, since the frost was not predicted. So, I lost the beans without getting any more seeds from them. This leaves me with just one bean/seed for planting next year. Obviously I will have to order more and try again at getting runner beans to prosper here.

I still have turnips theoretically growing, as since the 12th there has been no below freezing weather, but if they're growing, they're growing extremely slowly, and my growing year is essentially over.

I was able to make chicory root drink out of the pound of roots that had grown in my Bumblebee Garden area. Chicory root is traditionally a coffee substitute or additive, but I am not a coffee drinker except under extreme social pressure, as I find it smells disgusting, so I was pleased to find that roasting chicory smells quite nice. The taste is somewhat bitter, but not unpleasant, and without the coffee smell, it's more acceptable to me then coffee would be. So now I have an alternative to tea for my winter sipping pleasure. Also, there is no way that I could get coffee to grow here anyway. I am certainly intending to grow more chicory next year, hopefully I will get it flowering next time, and I might leave some in the ground at the end of next growing season, to see if it will overwinter here or not.

Also I have completed digging eight squash pits for next year, and filled two with paper product and two with garden waste/kitchen veggie scraps so far. I will continue to alternate paper and kitchen scraps as I fill the remaining four pits over the next few weeks (as material becomes available) and will be able to compare the two squash pit "fillings" for growth promotion next year.

At the moment I have a shortage of mulch, and am awaiting an increase in "yard waste" being put out by the neighbours, so that I can cover up all the veg. beds for the winter.


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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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Only a few Risentomate or Traveller tomatoes came ripe during the season, with about a dozen on my counter in a brown paper bag that might ripen yet, but they were fun to peel apart and tasted fine, even if they do look funny!

The low-watering tomato area had a rough time from wind-blown debris, but did produce a fair number of fruit considering how much less water they got then the rest of the tomatoes. I am not sure how many tomatoes I'll be growing next year, or where, or how, but I'm happy to know that they will grow with less water then I had been giving them previously.
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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Current Inventory of (Partially) Identified Perpetuating Plants in the Miner's Garden (Overwintering)

Cedar
Juniper
Yew
Pine
Evergreen
Sumac
Periwinkle
Snapdragon
Virginia Creeper
Mahonia
Black Currant
Red Currant
Madame Lemoine Lilac
White Clover
Grass
Dandelion
Pineapple Weed
Puffball Mushrooms
Yucca
Mullein
Gloriosa Daisy
Stonecrop
Victoria Rhubarb
Hen and Chicks
Reedgrass
Scouring rush
Speedwell
Strawberry
Nigra Hollyhock
Comfrey
Small hybrid rose
Catmint
Green onion

33 - an increase over this spring of 29% in perennial or self-re-seeding plants. However, I'm still a long way away from doubling the initial starting inventory two years ago! (There were 24 species that I could identify then.) And I'll probably lose some over the winter...ah well. If there wasn't more to do next spring, what would I do?

I don't have much of a plan for next year yet, except that I'll be growing vegetables again, (including another go at squash) hoping for strawberries and rhubarb to make it through to spring and provide a small harvest, and expecting some of the currant bushes to provide some bounty. Also I will be planting more herbs and flowers for the bees.
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
bike books dog food preservation greening the desert
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It is April 1st and the Third Growing Season here for me looms.

I continue to try and plant my garden in vegetables, fruits, flowers (and now grain!) using varieties dating from the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods, common to European settlements, but also using North American plants, and gifted plants. I am cutting water use down from the initial irrigated-grass-lawn water use exuberance existent on arrival, and using minimal industrial inputs. I also hope to double the number of species present in the yard.

This spring is later then last spring. Last spring I had noted in my garden book that there were fruit trees blossoming at this time. There are no blossoms yet this year. It has been rainy, cloudy, cooler then the "average," but today is lovely, so I've swept out the garden shed, done some lawn raking and mulch re-positioning.
I've also planted some seeds inside.
And I'm testing sorrel in a pot under glass outside. (I have no idea if sorrel is tasty to me or not. I've never tried it. But some one managed to sell me a package of sorrel seeds.)
And I've potted some blackberry runners that came under the fence from the neighbors.  I'm thinking I'll use the blackberry aggressiveness to replace the aggressive Virginia creeper on the back of the garden shed, should my runners survive in the pots until I dig out the v.c. Unfortunately these blackberries are very definitely the thorny type, which makes them painful to deal with. Fortunately they are the thorny type, which is likely more period appropriate.

My green onions are thriving once more. The strawberry plants are up. The rhubarb has not come up, which puzzles me. I thought the rhubarb would come out before the strawberries. Perhaps my rhubarb is dead. One of my currant bushes expired over the winter, which doesn't surprise me greatly as it was looking quite poorly in the fall. Two survived, and are starting to leaf out. My lilac bush is also alive and well. I have my fingers crossed that I will get blossoms this spring.

I have scattered Marquis wheat seeds in a small (2 foot by 2 foot) area. Having never grown any wheat before I don't really know what to expect. The package said to sow the wheat as soon as the soil could be worked. Well, I could work the soil, so I sowed it, but...
Marquis wheat was developed in 1904 to grow on the Canadian prairies, where the snow does not melt until early May (in a good year.) So, planting in very early April is probably too soon.  
I am also wondering if I should have walked over the plot after sowing to simulate the weight of a...well, I'm not really sure. A horse-pulled farm implement of some kind? I'm not sure that the wheat seed will have enough soil contact as it is.

This year I expect to be involved in the local community garden, so I'm not sure how much time I will have for expansion of my own personal garden.
However, I have dozens of seed packets to try and plant out, and keep getting more ideas!

Current Inventory of Identified Perpetuating Plants in the Miner's Garden (Successfully Overwintered)

Cedar
Juniper
Yew
Pine
Evergreen (I still don't know for sure what kind of tree this tree is.)
Sumac
Periwinkle (was flowering at this time last year. Has not flowered yet.)
Snapdragon (this acts like a weed around here, so I'm fairly sure I'll have some this year, however, I haven't actually seen any yet this spring)
Virginia Creeper
Mahonia
Currant Bushes
Madame Lemoine Lilac
White Clover
Grass
Dandelion (THESE have started to bloom already)
Pineapple Weed
Puffball Mushrooms
Yucca
Mullein
Gloriosa Daisy
Stonecrop
Victoria Rhubarb ()
Hen and Chicks
Reedgrass
Scouring rush (this has yet to properly recover from a neighbor's "weeding")
Speedwell (maybe alive)
Strawberry
Nigra Hollyhock
Comfrey
Small hybrid rose
Catmint
Green onion
Thorny blackberry

= (if I'm lucky) 33 (I started with 24 three years ago)

Seeds Planted Inside to date:

Daisy seeds - I want to have a larger "daisy field" in the front lawn, so I gathered seeds from the ones I've got last year
Walla Walla onion
Lavender (trying this for what feels like the millioneth time)
Dog Rose (trying to get some to sprout in the fridge, don't have much hope)
Brandywine tomato
Risentraube tomato

also planted a few sprigs of mint from the grocery store. Hope to have a big pot full of mint on the patio this summer.
I'll be able to start some more seedlings in a couple of weeks!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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Yesterday and today we've had hail - not bit and not a lot, although today's came with thunder.
Sandhill cranes are migrating north over head.

My rhubarb has come up, and the rain has revived the scouring rush.

In town, trees are starting to blossom, the forsythia is blooming, daffodils and tulips and hyacinths are out.
I spotted a bumblebee three days ago. I had a few johnny jump ups out and dandelions, but I'm thinking of adding a forsythia bush to the yard. Or maybe I'll just plant daffodils for next year. I want to have something for bumblebees to enjoy all the time they need!

Because it's been raining so much, I had to mow my lawn. The town irrigation system has been filled. We haven't turned our system on yet. We first used it on this date (April 1 last year. But it keeps raining, so why would we start using it now this year? Thinking of irrigation, last year I cut back on watering about 12% in volume compared to the year before. If the spring rain continues, that will certainly help reduce irrigation again this year.

I am experiencing lack of space for my seedlings, and as a result my tomatoes are not doing too well - I don't have a place for them on a windowsill at the moment, they have to sit on a counter about three feet down from the closest window. I did shift some onions outside today, and this helped get some other seedling to light, but I still don't have enough room for everything. I've transferred some of my daisies outside, and I've scattered poppy seed out there too.

It's possible my wheat has sprouted. Or...I have grass growing in that bed now.


Some of the green onion in the yard became part of Easter dinner. The sorrel planted in a pot outside has started to come out. I also have some kale outside, I don't know if it's very happy - for one thing, the sky keeps hailing on top of it, but also it looks like it's been stepped on.

Spent about two hours this morning planting seeds - contributing to the seed space problem!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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The weather has started to warm up. We've had the Canada Goose migration. Balsamroot is flowering on the hillsides.

There are buds forming on my currant bushes, the oregon grape on the fence has started to flower, slowly and there are more bees about.
I've added two Saskatoon bushes to the yard, replacing the currant bush that died overwinter.
Also I've been spending horrendous amounts of time pulling dandelion. I know that dandelions can be good. But there are oodles and oodles in the lawn, and the deal with my partner is that the lawn has to be traditional grass lawn like. (And I can do whatever with the vegtable/herb/flower beds. Which is sneakily expanding.)

I believe the feral cats are stomping and pushing under a lot of the early vegetables I transferred outdoors, however, the neighbourhood seems to be getting together with a feral cat society to try and approach the problem in a coordinated way which will hopefully result in...fewer cats.

For fun, I wandered the neighbourhood a week or so ago and planted sunflower seeds in a bunch of different places, since I have a jar full of seeds from last year. I haven't seen any coming up yet, but it's still early for it. 

I gave up on starting lavender from seed and purchased a plant, which is now installed in the bumblebee garden bed.
I've scattered poppy seed about, and my wheat is growing.  Also I've transplanted some tomatoes outside.

I have "Ice" beans from Seeds of Diversity and am happy to see that some are sprouting. I also received some hollyhock seed, but unfortunately they were attacked by fungus before they could sprout. I feel quite badly about this, so am hoping for a very successful bean harvest so that I can at least pass their seeds on.

An unexpected success, I found that some of the thyme that was left in the garden over the winter is still alive. I didn't expect that! I also have a little bit of self-seeded mustard.
My comfrey plant has looked a bit wilted in the afternoons of the warmer days, and it hasn't been particularly hot yet. However it perks right back up by the next morning, so I expect it will be alright. It seems to be preparing it's flowers for blossom.

I've placed squash seeds in the eight pits I dug last fall - half are filled with waste paper and half with vegetal kitchen waste. I'm curious to find which pit filling results in bigger squash.

Sadly my runner beans continue to struggle. I've only had about 10% germination of the seeds that I've tried to start inside. My plan now is to wait a week or so more until the night temperatures are a little warmer, and then try just planting the seeds outside.

And that's about it. I have more dandelions to pick now. >.<



 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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I just accidentally pulled up the chicory that had overwintered in my bumblebee bed. Ah well. I do have some more seeded in another part of the garden.

After dispairing of ever being able to grow lavender from seed and purchasing the plant in the last posting, I've had two tiny lavender seedlings come up from seed.
So now there are three lavender plants in the bumblebee-focused hugle-y bed. You can see a more detailed update on the progress of the bumblebee section of my garden here in this thread

I have berries forming on both my currants and saskatoon bushes. Weirdly, the oregon grape has yet to flower. Perhaps it has been raining too much?

There has been some relatively minor flooding near the town, just a combination of an elevated snow pack melting and more rain then usual at the same time. I am actually quite impressed that flooding still happens here, as I thought the dams and diversions had everything "under control." We have also had two small-sized hail storms in the last little while, and for the first time ever since I moved to B.C., I actually notice mosquitos in the evenings.

This year I'm trying potatoes for the first time. They seem to be growing fine so far, with nice leaves popping out of the ground, but I'm not sure they'll be too happy with all the stones that are still in the soil despite my removal efforts.

While all the squash seed I planted in pits jumped out of the pits with vigor, now all the seedlings in the "back" row nearest the fence (and the Oregon grape) are suffering. I suspect it's a case of oregon grape competing too much with them. It's not an indication of one pit-fill failing, as I delibertly alternated the paper and organics in both rows.

My tomato seedling which I planted out about two weeks are essentially doing nothing, just sitting there. None of the poppy seeds I scattered around seem to have sprouted. There are poppies in full bloom next door.

My ice beans are growing, as are a few runner beans.

I am enjoying my potted sorrel and miner's lettuce. And of course I have more green onion then I can use, some of it has flowered and is being visited by (I think) honey bees. A couple of red clover plants popped up and flowered briefly. Ants seem to really like the miner's lettuce, it looks like it's about to flower, and they're swarming the flower buds.

I still have some lettuce to plant, and need to find room for the few more runner and ice beans I want to plant.

I'm expecting my hollyhocks to start blooming some time soon. Perhaps after a few more days with sunshine and heat.
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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The sumac I've let grow on the town property next to my yard is in blossom, I can hear the bees buzzing around it from five feet away.

It's still cooler and there has been more rain this spring then the previous two years. As an example of what has regularly been happening, today it was forecast to reach 30Celcius. It is 2 PM and only 23C and cloudy. I would call this weather continuing to be unusually cold and rainy, but I'm not sure it is. I've read from a couple of local opinionators in the yokel papers that at worst crops should be a week or two behind, and some people say that THIS is normal, it was the last few years that were weird. What do I know? I'm still new here.

About a week ago, there were some wind gusts, and the wind blew my miner's lettuce right out of it's pot! So I ate it all.

One or two delectable saskatoon berries are coming ripe each morning on my two tiny saskatoon bushes. I find it really important to eat any ripe currants from the currant bushes BEFORE eating the sweet sweet saskatoons. I get a dozen or so currants a day right now. There seem to be many more currants this year then last year, which is excellent. I do believe I should prune some branches out of the middle of the currants bushes in the fall or early next spring, as it looks a bit crowded in there.

With all the rain, the grass is doing wonderfully, and I am mowing once every ten days or so, which is...annoying...but the "good" news is that I don't have to pull dandelions for hours at a time anymore as they've all been eradicated. (for now.)

I do not understand what is happening to my tomato plants. They are simply not growing. They are alive. Some are only about four inches tall, after being out in the garden for more then a month! Other non-growing plants = melons and sunflowers. Are these plants really so reliant on heat and sun? Or have I done something terrible to them?

My greens have been doing well, and the potatoes look fine, some of them have started to prepare for flowering. I've added a few pak choy seeds into the mix. (extremely unlikely to have been a staple in local gardens in 1890, but at this point, with lots of 'holes' where giant tomatoes and melons should be, I'm whatevering on the historical aspects of this year's annuals.)

I'm down to six squash plants in the experimental pits. One is doing noticeable better then all the others right now, it was planted in one of the pits filled with kitchen vegetable waste. 

I tried to grow poppies this spring. I planted 100 seeds, easily. I'm looking at three or four plants that are ages away from flowering, while poppies all over town are in their second week of flower.
Finally managed to get to the local museum at a time they were open (they have strange hours.) Asked about what they thought I should be growing to imitate early settlement in the area - the nice but not very helpful guy came up with "beef." Unfortunately, I don't think my neighbours would appreciate a steer on the front lawn. 

The archives building might prove more informative. They have even shorter and less convenient opening hours then the museum, of course.

Some further Successes to report now :

A few beautiful hollyhock flowers have blossomed, it shouldn't be too long before the daisies start flowering, and a little vertical garden in front of the patio is doing well so far. I cleared a little foot wide strip in front of the patio and hung some twine and hope to have runner beans and nasturtium growing upwards - a few of the beans (the runner beans that germinated are now growing nicely) are already making their way up towards the patio roof. I also have lots of basil, some calendula and some mignonette  growing in that little strip. If When the weather warms up, I hope that this will provide nice shade and scent for anyone who might want to spend time reading or writing or just kicking back at the patio table.
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 276
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
42
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Wildfire season has arrived in B.C., fortunately so far the Okanagan has been spared, although this afternoon saw a lot of smoke blowing in from a 2000+ hectare fire out of control the next valley over. Apparently the smoke has been so bad around that fire, that they are not even sure how big it really is.
So I've reviewed my evacuation plan. I don't expect to need it, I know I haven't lived in wildfire country very long, but I'm pretty sure the same hillsides don't burn twice within three years. Still, it's nice to know I have a plan.

My wheat is starting to ripen! It continues to amuse me to have wheat growing in my backyard vegetable garden. Some of it has fallen over, because it's planted too close together.
I plant everything too close together.
I don't have enough room!

I panicked about my potatoes as I recently read something that made me think I should be hilling them up even when I don't see any tubers coming up out of the ground. I don't see any tubers, so I haven't been hilling them up. I pulled two plants up today to see if they were creating anything potato like even though I am possibly abusing them, and they are. Two plants gave me two servings of baby potato. I've never grown potatoes before, so even if I am still doing it wrong, and even if I got way too few potatoes for two plants, it was neat to actually harvest my own potatoes. Pulling a few plants right up was likely advantageous to the other plants, as they are planted too close together.

I've also been thinning/harvesting lots of lettuce. I think it's pretty normal to have lettuce too close together.

I made a pesto with a whole bunch of basil from the garden last week. I'm still not using it fast enough, and some is flowering. But the bees like it that way.

My scarlet runner beans are blossoming, but just like last year, the blossoms are just falling off and there are no pods forming afterwards.

My squash pit experiment is really starting to show it's advantages now. I have one large plant that was the first to sprout, it was planted in a pit filled with kitchen  scraps. Last year, with no pits, I had three squash fruits. In total. On this one plant now, there are five fruits forming. The other plants I have in other pits are also starting to form fruits.

My tomatoes and melons are still very sad. One plant is starting to flower, at least. The pak choy is growing.

My daisies are flowering wonderfully. 

I have eaten all the currants and saskatoon berries.

Discovered some beets in my bumblebee garden area. I do not remember when I put them there. Probably when I planted random seeds from the discount rack at a dollar store. Also there is sage coming up in that area, I hope it proved to be perennial!

Ah, I think I'll hurry up and post this as the lights just flickered. It's been quite hot/smokey so theres a lot of demand on the electric grid with fans and a/cs going. Don't want to lose this post if I lose power! 

Until next time.


 
Vera Stewart
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Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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It's hot. I'm tired.

I brought in my wheat a few days ago. I harvested with scissors. I may or may not have hummed the chorus of "Bringing in the Sheaves" while doing so.

I really don't have very much wheat, I just put the little bundle together in a vase, and when I get tired of starting at it on my dinning table I'll take the kernals and store them perhaps to plant again next year. I tested a few seeds to see if the wheat was ready for harvest, and I guessed that since I could get some seeds to sprout, it must have been ready. Too late to put it back on the stems now anyway.
Growing wheat is fun. I recommend it!

I"ve planted a second lot of lettuce and pak choy seeds, and also some kale. I've tried to grow kale before, and haven't had any luck, but this time might work. You never know.

At last I have some tomatoes starting to fruit! The melons are not meloning yet, but they have expanded their vines significantly in the past two weeks.

I have powdery mildew spreading on my squash, which was probably inevitable, since I have overhead irrigation.

The runner beans have started to form pods, and the ice beans are proving prolific. I harvested a few ice beans tonight for supper, but I have to save most of them for seed.

There really isn't much else to report, most things are growing, I have bumblebees and the occassional hummingbird visiting the bean flowers, there was a wasp nest in the garden shed I had to knock down, and the solitary bee nest that I put up last year has started to fill up with...well, it looks like grass mush, the little bees seem enthusiastic about shoving it around in the holes. There was also a jumping spider paying very close attention to this nest operation a few days ago, and I think it did get one bee while it worked. C'est la vie. Or...not...as the case may be.


 
Vera Stewart
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Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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Photos of Ice Beans:

SAM_7936.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_7936.JPG]
Beans and Potatoes
SAM_7941.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_7941.JPG]
Beans and size 8 woman's sandal
SAM_7943.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_7943.JPG]
Picked beans
SAM_7944.JPG
[Thumbnail for SAM_7944.JPG]
Bean beans
 
Vera Stewart
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Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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Last evening it dawned on me that a plant flowering by my patio is oregano. It's quite pretty.

The fire I reported on two weeks ago is no longer a problem. Now the problem is the 9000+ acre Diamond Creek fire burning in rugged terrain in Washington, 14km or so south of the border. (It's slowly working it's way north, but there is a big mountain that still has snow on it in the way.) It is sending us a lot of smoke, and there really isn't any way that the fire fighters can tackle it, as there are very few roads in, and while they do have aircraft, there aren't many human dwellings in the area and no real incentive (aside from stopping the forest from burning and the smoke from blanketing the land.) Word is they're essentially waiting for rain to put it out. Check out the current air quality reading for British Columbia - http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/epd/bcairquality/readings/aqhi-table.xml
Some places it's okay, in some cities, the air pollution is literally off the charts. The south okanagan at the moment is considered to have a "5" or "moderate" air quality problem.

It's not just the Diamond Creek fire, of course, there are also large fires in other parts of the province. The Diamond Creek fire is believed to have been human caused, which is pretty annoying.

I've been cleaning up the dead twigs and needles etc., from under the cedar and juniper in the front yard, what with all this fire smoke and general sense that the entire province might dissapear in a puff of smoke. (http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/area-of-b-c-burned-by-wildfires-at-a-56-year-high-1.4226227)


I'm making comfrey tea for the first time. I'll be able to use it in about ten days. I hope to use part of it as a foliar spray to combat the mildew squash problem I have, which is I think starting to affect the actual fruit now. I had two smaller fruit shrivel up and die off. There are some really large squash on the vines as well, and I'm wondering if I should just start harvesting them even though they're not ready for winter storage, because I'd really be dissapointed if I went out one morning to discover they'd shrivelled up too. But I don't need any squash for eating right now! I'm eating my potatoes and beans.

There is one petit gris de rennes melon growing in my melon patch so far. I saw a lot of bee activity on the melon blossoms a day or two ago so I'm hoping there will be an explosion of melons forming in the next few days. I also have anise hyssop blooming in my bumblebee garden, and saw three bumblebees fighting for space on the few blooms.


 
Vera Stewart
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Hurray for clear skies!

Well, almost nearly clear skies. It's still a tiny bit hazy.

I have completed harvest on my "ice" bush beans - mostly I'm saving seed, although I did get a few handfuls of green beans off of the eight or so plants as well.

The mildew on the squash plants seems to have slowed down - I have been using comfrey tea both as fertigation and as foliar spray on the squash. The really bad news on the mildew is that I fear it's spread to the first melon patch - where I now have five little melons growing. It's the overhead irrigation, I know it is, but I can't stop it. (Housemates are quite stubborn on some questions.)

I'm trying to look for space in the yard where the irrigation doesn't go for planting mildew-susceptible things next year, but I'm not having much luck. There is one patch that doesn't get any irrigation, but it's rather small and quite shady. Still, I managed to get some tomatoes to grow a bit there last year. Maybe I could get one or two squash or melon plants in there. ( I really don't think there would be room for Zucca gourds - which are huge "melons" that were grown in the Okanagan sixty+ years ago as a commercial crop. Those gourds weighted 100lbs each. Some of my squash this year weigh 7 lbs. each.)

Had my first couple cherry tomatoes this week. Giant yellow tomatoes are just starting to change colour. The tomatoes are definitely not doing as well this year as last. My neighbour hasn't been having much luck with their tomatoes this year either.

I've eaten about three-quarters of the potatoes I've been harvesting for the past month. They don't like being stored in the kitchen much. When I pull them up, they have to be used in a few days or they start to get soft. The skins are quite thin. They're really easy to peel.

Saw some Canada geese flying south this morning.

 





 
Vera Stewart
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I went away for about a week, and when I came back, summer was over. This morning it's nine degrees Celcius.

This is disappointing.

But it happens every year!

And there is no more forest fire smoke.

Today I have a slight fever. I'm sure I picked up a virus while on vacation. I slept in this morning, and am going back to bed after I post this post.

Yesterday I started to pull up some spent flowers and lay down mulch for the winter. I'm covering the beds this year with a plastic mesh over top the mulch to deter the feral cats from digging and pooping. When I tried pine cones, the cats played with them, threw them around, and then did their business anyway.
So far, they have enjoyed laying on top of the mesh, but haven't moved it off. I think they're attracted to the fresh fluffy mulch rather then the plastic. They've also knocked over one of my skinnier sunflowers to use it as a toy. The local rumor mill says that the cat removal people have been contacted and something will happen soon. (I've only been hearing this all summer. I did try to contact one organization myself, and they told me they didn't have the resources to handle half-wild cats.)

Still growing in the garden (besides a few still blooming daisies and roses)

Lettuce
Tomatoes - (I've had a number of cherry tomatoes, and will be growing them again. The large tomato i planted this year is delicious, but is certainly not prolific, I'll try something else next year.) Many of the tomatoes on my vines are still small and green, I don't know if they'll have time to ripen outside, or if I'll be ripening a bunch on the kitchen counter soon.
Melons - I harvested one melon, and another is almost ready. There are four or five more fruit that are still quite small.
Green onion - I'm pulling these up and hope to have the onion patch cleared this fall, as I'm relocating/starting a new one next spring
Runner beans - I'm getting a lot more beans this year then last. I planted a lot more, too.
Squash - I still have two extremely mildewed squash plants growing.

I gave away a bunch of squash this year, which was neat. I'm recording the weights of each squash as I harvest and will have a report on the results of my pit experiment soon. It's been a success.

I have one potato plant still in the garden.







 
Vera Stewart
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Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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(Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend brought snow on the highest peak visible from my part of the valley for the first time this fall - perfect timing!

Results from my squash pit experiment -
I dug eight squash pits and filled them up over last winter/this spring - half with paper trash and half with vegetable scraps/grass clipping/leaves etc. Pits 1,3,6 and 8 were the paper pits, and pits 2,4,5 and 7 were the organic waste pits. They all received the same watering over the summer. Unfortunately, two of the paper pit squashes (pits 1 and 3) were accidentally destroyed when a well-meaning but not too careful person mowed over the squash seedlings.  All pits were planted with spaghetti squash seeds saved from the previous year, and were thinned to one plant each.

(My weight measurements are clearly rounded, but they are equally rounded)

Harvest weights

Pit 1 = 0 lb
  Pit 2 = 6lb/2 squash = 3lb/squash average
Pit 3 = 0lb
   Pit 4 = 7.5 lbs/3 squash = 2.5lb/squash
   Pit 5 = 7 lbs/3lbs = 2.33lb/squash
Pit 6 = 10lbs/3squash = 3.33lb/squash
   Pit 7 - 19.5 lbs/ 4 squash = 4.87lb/squash (included one mini monster)
Pit 8 = 12 lbs/5 squash = 2.4lb/squash

Organic waste pits totals = 40lbs/12squash = 3.33lb/squash
Paper waste pits totals = 22lbs/8 squash = 2.75lbs/squash

Harvest totals from two previous years, squash planted in regular garden beds = first year = 14.5lb/5 squash = 2.9lb/squash    2nd year 6.25/3squash = 2.08lb/squash = 20.75lb/8 squash = 2.6lbs/squash over two years.

Conclusions - it's a bit unfair to judge the paper waste pits on the basis of only two pits. Even if i do, they are marginally better then "regular" planting. The organic waste pits seem greatly superior to both from this data, increasing production weight by more then 20 percent. (My math sense can fail, so if this seems incorrect to you, it probably is.) But obviously, the organic pits were making bigger fruit, and the paper pits were making more smaller fruit.

If I were interested in more spaghetti squash next year, I would run this experiment a second time, to give the paper pits a better chance. However, I'm a bit tired of these squash, and because of the mildew problems I've been having, I'm considering switching to summer squash or cucumbers in the place of winter squash next year.

This growing year is done. We've had frost a few times, and while there are still some runner beans and one "Matt's wild cherry" tomato plant alive out there, along with a sunflower and a tiny number of lettuce, there is very little more to do before the winter comes. I will mulch as much as possible, drag the beans down off their trellis, and start planning for next year.

Year-end inventory of perennial plants in yards: (24 identified on possession of yard)

Your average north american yard grass
Cedars
A vine growing on some of the cedars
Pine
Yew
Juniper
An evergreen tree
Dandelions
Scouring Rushes
Yucca
Virginia creeper (much less now then when I started three summers ago)
Periwinkle
Sumac
moss
another kind of moss
What I call puffball mushrooms
Mullein
White Clover
Oregon Grape
Black Currant
Hen and Chicks
Madame Lemoine Lilac
Green Onion
Johnny Jump Up
Stonecrop
Snapdragon (I lost most of these this fall to kittens, but I hope some seeds are in the soil)
Red currant
Saskatoon/Serviceberry
Hybrid Roses (I think one or two should make it through the winter, but they're not looking to great at the moment, all dried up for some reason. I water them!)
Orange Hawkweed (this is an invasive that if the town noticed would be a required removal. I only have a little bit.)
Pineapple weed
Gloriosa daisy
Victoria rhubarb (this did not do well this year, so I transplanted them to a hopefully better spot, and hopefully, they will survive the winter there)
Strawberry (I'm down to one plant)
Speedwell
Comfrey
Nigra Hollyhock
Catmint

= 38 (please point it out to me if I've counted something twice!) = 58%+ increase of species since starting project

I also have some herbs that I'm hopeful will overwinter, such as sage and thyme.

Sadly, the water bill has rocketed upwards this summer after some success in cutting back last year. The person responsible for everything that is still lawn refuses to not water the lawn. So the goal of cutting back on water use essentially went out the window. Yes, this makes me somewhat angry, but I also know the ultimate solution is to keep expanding the space occupied by non-grass species. I have a tentative plan to start planting herb/flowers in the front yard next spring.

Thanks for following me again this season, and I hope to be back with further garden drivel next spring!
 
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Vera, this is a wonderful thread.  I've just now read the whole thing from start to finish...it's very inspiring
 
Vera Stewart
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Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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Welcome back garden!

It might be a little cooler and wetter then it's "supposed to be" this spring - there are roads being flooded out by mountain streams outside of town - and the feral cats that I was happy to see trapped last fall might be back and using my garden as their toilet again (but most of the current cats are fixed now so... that's good.)  And the deer may have been more active then years previous over the winter, eating roses and biting the tops off of my baby saskatoon bushes, but it is SPRING! And it is still, after a couple of years living here, amazing that I can start eating greens out of the garden in April (instead of May or June as at my previous location.)

I had some sorrel a few days ago. I would have had some sooner if it weren't for the aforementioned deer.

Also already growing in pots on my patio - two different kinds of lettuce, and some all heal is starting to sprout. I have a vague plan to create a herb circle somewhere this spring, but I'm not sure of where I'll put it, nor what I should put in it. I have a weird impulse to plant it as a "fever garden" with all sorts of herbs that have been used at one time to treat (ineffectively or not) for fever... this would, for instance, include poppies, if I can get them to grow this year. (I feel perfectly fine.) Suggestions?

Earlier this week as peeling back my somewhat ineffective cat barrier netting and twigs off of the vegetable beds to prepare them for planting, I discovered that I had inadvertently left quite a few chicory plants behind last winter, and they had started to grow up again. I didn't use a lot of chicory this winter, I grew it last year to use primarily as a drink and then I didn't drink much of it. (Although the year before I drank all of the ground chicory root  that I harvested.) So I've uprooted the chicory that was growing this spring, although I do feel a bit silly pulling up plants that were clearly happy to carry on by themselves. They're just in an awkward place. I really have not developed a good plan for perennial edibles in the vegetable garden area. I also have mustard seedlings coming up in my "soil dump" area.

I've planted a couple of cucumber plants out already! I know it is almost certainly too cold for them to grow outdoors yet, but they haven't died yet either.

I have wheat coming up again. Last year I planted and grew some marquis wheat for fun, this year I'm growing about five feet square of red fife. I believe Red Fife is a winter wheat, which means that  I should have planted it last fall to overwinter in the ground, but I didn't - I planted it March 13th. I also planted some kale on the same day, which has not emerged. Was it too early? I thought kale was hardy? This is the second time kale has disappointed me. Or I have dissapointed kale.

What else?

I picked up "Purple Mountain" spinach at a seedy Saturday, and that seems to be growing okay. I've been dividing up a comfrey and hoping to get a dozen or so growing from my first comfreyclump - it's two years old now. It has some pretty impressive woody roots. Threw some sunflower seeds into the bumbleebee bed where that original comfrey resides. I'm using two year old sunflowers, so I'm not sure they'll grow. If not, I plan to grow runner beans in that bed instead. If the sunflowers do come up, maybe I'll grow the runner beans there as well. I think I saw a bumblebee bomb by me two days ago out in the yard, but I'm not certain.

Because of the cats leaving their doings in the garden, I'm queasy about planting anything that grows underground until there are fewer of them (or until I can devise a cheap barrier system that actually works.) This means no potatoes this year, even though I would certainly like to grow potatoes again, and I want to try sweet potatoes too. And carrots. And parsnips. Darn cats.

However, this season I believe I will focus more on perennial flowers and herbs. (I want to establish more of a flower/herb garden in the front of the house - everything I've done so far has been at the back, and people who know I like to garden are starting to wonder why the front of the house is just lawn and trees. Because I haven't got around to it yet, that's why!) Perhaps the fever garden can go in the front. I would like to start in the front with a long strip of anise hyssop and bachelor's buttons across the front of the house. I have a lot of seeds saved from last year. But this plan requires digging up a long strip of sod all the long length of the house!) Are some of you wincing at the thought of digging? Sorry about that. Yes, I could smother the grass under cardboard. Would my housemate agree to the sight of cardboard in front of the house for a month or two? No.

I do plan to grow more greens and tomatoes and some summer squash in the back as well - I would like to have enough cucumbers to pickle my own supply of pickles - I eat a lot of pickles. I have dill to plant towards that cause as well.

Start of Garden Season inventory of perennial plants in yards: (24 identified on possession of yard - 38 at end of last year)

Your average north american yard grass
Cedars
A vine growing on some of the cedars
Pine
Yew
Juniper
An evergreen tree
Dandelions
Scouring Rushes
Yucca
Virginia creeper (much less now then when I started three summers ago)
Periwinkle
Sumac
moss
another kind of moss
What I call puffball mushrooms
Mullein
White Clover
Oregon Grape
Black Currant
Hen and Chicks
Madame Lemoine Lilac
Green Onion
Johnny Jump Up
Stonecrop
Snapdragon (I lost most of these this fall to kittens, but I hope some seeds are in the soil)
Red currant
Saskatoon/Serviceberry
Hybrid Roses (Still alive this spring but deer took big chunks out of them)
Orange Hawkweed (this is an invasive that if the town noticed would be a required removal. I only have a little bit.)
Pineapple weed
Gloriosa daisy
Victoria rhubarb (Yay! Two survived transplanting)
Strawberry (I'm down to one plant) - But it survived the winter!
Speedwell
Comfrey
Nigra Hollyhock
Catmint
Some tulips that no one admits they planted but are in the yard some how...
Lavender (the big tall "original" kind)
Lavender (a small but perfectly mound shaped copyrighted kind)
Sage that overwintered? (I'm 95% sure it's sage.)
Rose campion

=  41

If anyone would like some "ice" bean seeds - see photos earlier in this thread - just let me know and I can mail you some. I don't know that they're really anything special, but the name intrigued people at the seed swap. My guess is they are better known by another varietal name, which I don't know.

 
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You can replant the chicory somewhere that you will be happy with it.  After some animal dug mine up I had it in several location.

I read yesterday that raw chicory is a prebiotic, it can also be used in baking since it binds ingredients together.  The article also suggested adding it when fermenting vegetables.

I really enjoy keeping up with your gardening projects.
 
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I'm glad you're back Vera :)

It's your thread that convinced me to start my own and to become part of this community.
 
Vera Stewart
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Francis Mallet wrote:
It's your thread that convinced me to start my own and to become part of this community.



I'm honoured that I was somehow able to inspire you to start your project thread and join in at permies! Thank-you.
 
Vera Stewart
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Now I have returned to the routine of mowing the lawn, and have started up the irrigation system for the summer.

I have lettuce up, and at a stage where I can start harvesting a little, but the basil seed I planted at the same time has made no move. One of my cucumber plants is still alive. The currants and saskatoons have finished blooming, the oregon grape is in bloom, and the lilacs in other people's backyards are blooming. Mine is not. Someday my lilac will bloom. Right? Right??

There are a couple of sunflowers popping up at the edges of the yard where I threw seeds. The wheat is looking good. I believe some anise hyssop planted in the bumblebee area is starting to sprout, and it's possible that some dill is coming up (in a different area.) I've planted what few tomato seedlings I had outside. I didn't do much seed starting this year, and I don't think I'll do any next year. Only about half of the tray I filled up with seeds actually grew any sprouts. I think it's just too dark in my house in the spring, and I'm not willing to invest in grow lights. I don't think it's necessary anyway, not with the long grow season here.

I have a couple of woad seedlings planted out in a pot now, I also have two milk cartons that should be growing squash seedlings, but so far are not. I'll plant some summer squash direct into the veg bed if those milk cartons don't burst forth with life soon.

Some of the comfrey I transplanted has started to grow, and some of it has died (back?) The forsythia bush seems to have survived it's transplanting nicely, and I look forward to having early blooms there next spring.

Today I started to set up the trellises for runner beans. I haven't done any planting space expansion since my last post, but I'm still thinking about the "fever garden." I purchased a couple of strawberry plants to replace ones lost last year, they seem happy so far. It's starting to get warm with 25C today, and the same expected tomorrow, although tomorrow we're also expecting more rain and possibly a thunderstorm.

We probably didn't need to start up the irrigation system quite yet!






 
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Great thread, Vera!
 
Vera Stewart
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Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
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As is true of many other places, June is cool and rainy here compared to general expectations.
I have been quite busy with other tasks/hobbies and am not spending as much time as I would like in the garden. I also strained my back about ten days ago and while it's improving, it hurts to kneel, bend and so forth to work in the garden at the moment. The hot water bottle is one of man's greatest inventions.
I have one squash plant still alive, and one cucumber plant, which a neighbor gave me to replace the seedlings I lost somewhere along the way this past month. It looks like I'll only have a few tomatoes this year, and all my lettuce is just...gone. I had a couple of poppies grow and bloom at the side of the house (but not where I really wanted them,) they were very tiny. Is it because I didn't water them? I thought poppies liked dry conditions? At least I got a few more then last year.
Before the rain in the past week or two, we had our first forest fire of the season locally when a test burn got away from the forestry people. Embarrassing. (It was successfully put out tout suite.)

Here is what is working for me this year
- the currant bushes are loaded so heavily with berries that the branches are bending earthward
- the saskatoons (serviceberry) are still small bushes and not producing very many berries, but there are more berries this year then last, and they are still delicious.
- the bush beans are growing well
- the runner beans are growing really well so far, and it looks like I'll have at least 22 plants this year, which should mean I will get to play at amateur geneticist and only save seed from the best 20! I am excited!
- I've finally got some basil to sprout, after buying some new seed from a dollar store. Hurray dollar store!
- in late May, before the cool spell, I spotted a hummingbird at the flowers in my "bumblebee" bed. The bumblebee bed. Not just for bumblebees!
- my incorrectly-timed red fife wheat is starting to form grain/seed
- When it blossoms, I will have a lot of anise hyssop flowers.
- I have lavender flowers. This year, I will not have to "borrow" lavender cuttings from community plantings!
-I ate one strawberry. There are other strawberry fruits on the plants, but they are not ready for eating. Also one strawberry plant has sent out runners. Which I think is good, if my hope is to have more strawberry plants in the future, but I guess it's bad for getting more strawberries to eat now.
- I have dill. Now all I need is for that cucumber plant to make lots of cucumbers, and we will have pickles.
- I have enough comfrey plants growing happily now that I've potted a couple to take to a friend in a little while (after they've got over their transplant shock and look more lively.)
- It looks like some of the chicory I left over from last winter will flower. I've never knowingly seen chicory flowers, so I'm curious to see them in person with the knowledge of what they actually are now. I'll have to pull them up after they flower for a few days though, as the second-year chicory is growing under my bean trellisis. I have "new" chicory in another part of the garden, so there won't be a shortage of that stuff. I will probably have some chicory here until the end of time now.
-Sort of like the mustard, which has made another return appearance in the corners and nooks of the yard.
- I have discovered that I enjoy eating orach, and that it grows well in my garden. A lot better then lettuce this year!

I'm going to stubbornly try and get some lettuce to grow again, threw some more lettuce seed around yesterday.

Now for some pictures!



garden.JPG
[Thumbnail for garden.JPG]
second year chicory getting ready to flower under bean trellis
sorrelgoingtoseed.JPG
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what sorrel looks like when it flowers
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pretty green red fife wheat
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I forget to mention the rhubarb. One has decided to do this.
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And will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! (98 and 3/4 % guaranteed) - Seuss. tiny ad:
Binge on 17 Seasons of Permaculture Design Monkeys!
http://permaculture-design-course.com
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