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pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
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My garden season is more or less over for the year already. A combination of poor weather, poor pollination and ill-health at important gardening times has resulted in, after harvesting potatoes and squash, there being not much left at all to do.

This morning I was able to at last complete catching up on weeding, mulching as much as possible, removing some dead branches from shrubs, tidying the garden shed, etc., and the only things left to harvest are a bit of basil, a secondary planting of lettuce that finally decided to start growing, and possible some runner beans although there continue to be relatively few pods setting. There are a few flowers out in the garden too. One of my neighbours was saying to me the other day that they're not seeing as much pollination this year either so it's not just me. If that's good or bad news, I don't know.

My health has improved and I believe the garden helped. I'm a little disappointed that garden work is coming to an end for the year.

At some point later this fall I might expand the garden area a little more, and once I have room in the yard waste pick up bin I'll need to cut up some of the dead branches and have them carted away, and then I'll be able to get at my composty-soil heap again. (It's currently underneath a dead branches heap.) When I can get to the compost-y heap I might spread some of that soil around the garden to hopefully make the garden soil more fertile for next year.
I might keep some of the dead branches and see if I can figure out how to whittle something.
I'm also hoping to get hold of some cheap local apples and see about putting up some applesauce.

My little freezer is packed full of rhubarb, basil-sorrel pesto, zucchini, and potato soup, and I cut a dahlia flower for the dining table this morning. This gardening season could have been better, but I will still consider it a success, and I expect to have more fun growing next year!



 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
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March 18 - Saw a honey bee getting a drink at the neighbour's bird bath today.

I've started a little bit of poking around in the garden this spring although it is still below freezing at night. I have quite a lot of seed to plant, and did start a seed tray of kale early this week. I'm sort of easing my way towards an hour a day of yard/garden work, as well as doing interior spring cleaning and starting to think about maintenance tasks such as painting the house trim - which I didn't do last year. I am also in the process of editing a novella and that project is taking longer than I expected. (When I first started writing this story I thought I'd be done by about now, but I'm... nowhere near done.)

My hope for this year is to provide updates to this thread at least monthly, but they may be short, along the lines of the update today.

I may add a little more to the last 'row' in my vegetable section, even it up with the rest of the rows, once I get winter debris picked up and whichever seeds need to be started early-ish started.


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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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It's already been three weeks?

I have not accomplished much yard/garden wise. (Although I got my indoor spring cleaning all done - and a new chore list made while going through the house doing that!)

I see that one of my currant bushes is not doing all that well this spring, compared to the other, and I'm probably going to take it out and make myself new space for squash or something else like that instead. I'm not too upset as it turns out that I don't really like currants.

I planted some tomato seed in pots on my patio almost two weeks ago but there are no signs of life from them yet. I will probably try again soon. I've also planted some leek seed, and thrown some poppy seed around. The temperatures have been near freezing at night but warming up to around 20C in the afternoons. Three mornings ago we had a rain/snow shower.

I had forsythia and daffodil blooms in time for Easter. Now it looks like my lilac bush is getting ready to bloom.

And the kale seeds that I planted three weeks ago have been growing, and I've got three clumps of sorrel that are looking almost ready for a little light harvest. Some rhubarb is popping up and I've tried dividing off another plant from one. (Not sure I succeeded, the division is looking a little sorry for itself at the moment.) I've transplanted some hollyhock as we're expecting the neighbour to do some fencing work that would otherwise trample them. I need to prune some of my bushes as the deer were busy over the winter, biting branch ends off.

Just as soon as I get out there and give the place a good rake-and-tidy, everything should look much better! And I'm looking forward to starting some more seeds soon.



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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
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It seems like everything is stalled. I still have no tomatoes coming up, my kale has not grown any taller, there is no more sorrel now then there was two weeks ago, and all the other seeds I planted 7-10 days ago has exhibited no signs of life. I did get the back yard tidied some, and expect to have the front lawn tidied up later today or tomorrow, but nothing is growing. Why are none of my vegetables, or herbs growing??! (With the exception of the rhubarb and strawberry, which are not vegetables. And the lawn grass, which I cut a few days ago. And the dandelions. The dandelions are fine.)

Do I need to be watering everything more? I haven't turned on the irrigation yet. Is it just not warm enough at night for things to really grow yet?

Maybe I just need to be more patient.



 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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I got quite a lot of work done in the garden over the weekend.

I have finally tidied the yards. (Although parts of the lawn could use some mowing again to match the neighbours.) Some tomato seedlings have come up and have now been transplanted into a newly extended garden bed. I have begun building a couple of mounds for squash, although I have yet to start squash seedlings, I've transplanted most of the kale seedlings, and see some beans starting to come up.

I made some sorrel soup for the first time today, to be served in a few hours with supper. Tastes good.

My rhubarb division seems to have worked and I now have three "grown up" rhubarbs and one tiny-but-growing rhubarb plant. All three of the mature rhubarbs are flowering at the moment.

Tasks I still need to get to - I need to clear out the irrigation valves and access points before the irrigation system can be turned on. We have been placed on drought level one restrictions already (irrigation permitted every other day only.) At the moment I'm watering by hand but the front lawn especially is going into dormancy for lack of water and this does not fit with the neighbourhood and should be corrected soon, before I get complaints.

I'm planning on getting two new rose bushes for the 'ends' of my garden beds, to replace the ones that have been ravaged by deer.

I'm running out of prepared 'space' to plant more of my seeds but I do want to get the two or three or four squash or pumpkin mounds heaped up and planted. I need to put up a structure for morning glory to climb around the patio. I'm planning on trying morning glories by the patio in a slightly different location compared to last year in hopes of actual flowers.

I have been seeing a hummingbird and think its looking for the runner beans that have been planted both around my patio and on the garden shed in the past, as it has flown to both these (currently plant and flower free) spaces before zooming off to parts unknown.
I have planted runner beans by the garden shed. I might plant some by the patio too, especially as hummingbird is looking for them, but I've also planted hollyhocks by the patio and don't have as much room for vines at the patio this year.

I could start zinnias for transplanting into the bumblebee bed later on, and perhaps find a few more pots for herbs or other flowers on the patio.

I see just one poppy starting to grow, despite all my poppy seed scattering earlier.

I could probably harvest some of my rhubarb.

I will probably not get a lot done over the next week or so but at least I've got most of the brute-force work done for the year and everything should be easier from now on.

PS.- No, I've just remembered, I have to rip up lots of runners from the sumac patch. I thought they were fine to leave, but as they threatened to do last year, this year they're really starting to get aggressive and are approaching my veg. beds.

Last year's ditching on one 'end' of the original sumac patch does seem to have worked as they haven't spread further in that direction, but the direction they're spreading now is, sadly, the 'long' side of the patch and will require a lot more mini-ditching, after I pull up what has already spread.




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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
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I've planted all my currently prepared space  - and have many seeds left over. Including the pumpkin/squash seeds I really want to plant - I want to create some mounds for them (experimenting to see if that works out better than the pits I've had previously) - but just haven't gotten up the gumption to haul around soil and get that finished yet.

Starting to see some runner beans coming up along with white beans, I've transplanted kale into beds, sown chive seeds in a new onion space, think I might have corn starting to come up (it looks a lot like grass, which seems right at this stage)

Still haven't had the irrigation turned on, although we've put out a "where are you?" call to our irrigation-turner-on-er guy now. My town is still in "stage one" water restrictions at the moment - which means we're only meant to water every other day. If you've got any excess rain, feel free to send some of it our way. We've bought a new sprinkler in the mean time, until we can get the irrigation dudes.

The local quail population has been enjoying dust baths in my garden beds.

I have harvested/processed the sorrel and rhubarb for the year, and one of my saskatoon bushes has berries that are already starting to ripen. My first batch of tomato seedlings seem to have expired, but I have a couple of small tomato seedlings coming up again in pots.
I discovered another baby rhubarb, hiding by the shed.

Still need to set up a trellis for morning glories.

My roses are starting to bloom. Went looking for rose bushes to buy to replace the ones I lost to deer and discovered that rose bushes are quite expensive - the ones I have/had grew from planting mini-Valentine's-day gift roses, they weren't 'meant' for planting outside and so, it seems, they were about a third of the normal price! I am holding off on buying new roses for now - perhaps I'll find some on sale later on in the season. (The Valentine's roses are no longer available.)

I've done a bit of hacking back of the sumac, need to do more.

And now for some photos!
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Posts: 26
Location: Vernon, BC, Canada
purity foraging ungarbage
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Hi Vera, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading through these posts and your journey! We are in Vernon, BC and are just starting some small projects. This thread is really inspiring and encouraging! Thank you!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
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Hello Mahlon, welcome, and thank you!

I look forward to learning more about your adventures!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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I need to weed out a lot of grass from one bed and finish pulling up some sumac, also sorting out what were going to be heaps of soil for pumpkin.

Got the irrigation started, at last.

However, I do have a few corn plants coming up, a few saskatoon berries are ripe each morning, the currants are almost ripe, some pumpkin has sprouted, even if it's not on the heaps, and I've finally managed to get some tomato seedlings to grow - after piling stones around each of them to discourage the quail from interfering.

Curiously no onions have come up yet and I still still need to set up a trellis and plant morning glories.

Found a potted yellow rose at the grocery store for $6 - it is currently decorating the dining room table, but when it stops blooming it will be planted out.

Behind where I feel I "should be" with the garden, but that's okay, I'm having fun with it anyway.
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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Today I finally put up the anti-bird strike dots which I received in the early spring and had sitting on my desk for months. Took about two hours to cover one big window, but I was getting better at it and accelerating towards the end.

I also finally put up a trellis for the morning glories that I hope will sprout and grow and flower. Lots of heat coming next week. Still need to work on my soil piling and pull up sumac.

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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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As some one who grew up on the Canadian prairie, I'm used to the idea of cold trying to kill you.
Heat trying to kill you is a bit of an unusual-ality to me though.

It's quite hot here and the weather is not expected to break for several more days. I'm spending most of my time in my basement. It will be a miracle if we don't have wildfires before the end of the week.

I'm going to be quite busy over the next month a) trying to stay cool and away from probable fire smoke b) trying to finish up a writing project as well as c) starting up social life a bit again as covid restrictions are eased.
This is relevant to this post because I may not provide updates on the garden for the next several weeks.

However, I wanted to share a glorious garden gift - my poppy plant is loving this weather and has given me multiple blooms!
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
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This has been an interesting month.

Due to an... unexpected and less than positive interaction... with someone else's pet, I spent a week this month on antibiotics and with some lingering pain/tiredness in my wounded dominant hand. (I'm basically healed up again now, and am eating lots of yogurt and drinking kefir and kombucha in hopes of regaining friendly gut bacteria.)
I essentially couldn't do any garden work (or much writing work) for about ten days, which means that I will be busy in August trying to complete the writing project I wanted to make much progress on this July.

Unless I decide to travel away to escape the wildfire smoke. We have two wildfires at my 'end' of the valley at the moment, including one which I can watch from my back yard, as it continues to spread across the valley's eastern mountainsides. Fortunately it seems unlikely that we will be placed on evacuation alert or order, at least not due to this fire - of course fire season is only about half-way over.

The smoke was really bad this morning.

Despite the smoke, I've been able to catch up on all the garden tasks which fell aside while I was convalescing, and I may even be able to make progress on the spring garden to-do list of tasks which has been taunting me in August.

We have just been placed under "Stage Three" drought restrictions, which means that the town is asking town people to only mechanically water once a week, while still permitting hand watering of "small gardens and vegetation."

The grass is definitely on the crispy side.
I've been seeing birds (and deer) walking around with their mouths open, doing their equivalent of panting, I suppose. It's rather distressing to see. (I've been putting out a bowl of water for insects and small birds.)

Successes this month despite the turmoil -

-I've got more kale than I know what to do with, so I'm not all that upset to have discovered this morning a deer came through and took a big bite out of some of my plants.
-I've been sharing green beans with my dog (she loves pulling them off the bushes herself.)
-The anti-bird strike dots seem to work. We haven't had one bird smack into the window on which they are installed since installation
-I've got corn cobs on my corn! I have no idea if they've been successfully pollinated, I guess I will just wait and see. The cobs formed so low down on the stalks, I was very surprised, I thought they grew higher up on the plant!
-After much struggle earlier in the season, I now have several tomato plants growing happily and they have started to form fruit
-It seems some of my saskatoon bushes are putting up sproutlet/baby bushes, which is 100% fine with me
-This year's morning glories are starting to zoom up their trellis
- My squash is growing, too, and the rhubarb and sorrel are hanging on better than I feared they might
- the formerly potted rose seems to like being in the garden
- Got a deal on portulaca
- Some basil is growing in with my corn! I forgot I put some basil seeds in there.

Not Terribly Successful Things this Month -

-While I finally finished moving around heaps of earth and planted some squash into a mound, that experiment hasn't really worked out. It's clear from the placement of the resultant plants the seeds were washed partially down the mound, and despite the mound getting as much hand-watering as the (same) squash planted in a flat garden bed, the mound squash look far more heat-and-drought distressed. I haven't given up on the mound squash entirely yet, however, as they did get planted later then the flat squash. They still have time to take off if they want.
-My black currant bush really didn't like the very high temperatures early this month, and about half of it died. I've removed all the dead branches and what remains seems to be doing okay now.
-My hollyhocks also didn't appreciate the heat and lack of water and had a very stunted flowering period
-While my hand wasn't really working, the long streak of "no food waste" I had established was broken and I'm having to start again on that. Ideally, I would have several already-cooked meals in the freezer in case I can't cook but everything else is normal again, and I might do something like that soon - well, maybe in the fall when daytime temperatures are cooler and cooking is more fun.
-I still don't have onions, and I still don't know why. I've reseeded them twice now.

In August I hope to remain caught up on daily garden tasks, and make some progress on those items from my spring list. This will be far from my garden's most productive year, but under all the circumstances, I am okay with what I am getting and I am grateful for the opportunity to continue gardening.


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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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Harvested my corn this morning.

As I suspected there seems to have been a pollination problem, but this is the first time I've ever tried growing corn, I didn't plant very much at all, and I'm happy that I got a few half-filled cobs. I tasted one kernel and it was delicious, I'm looking forward to eating all my corn for supper tonight.
And I hope I'll be able to plant more next year.

There's smoke building up again today after a few days of quite clear skies, which is a bit disappointing. However, the local fires continue to move away from town, which is good.

I'm waiting on my tomatoes to ripen, and continue to enjoy a steady harvest of beans every other day. The drought continues and so the watering continues, and I've done a bit of semi-voluntary condensing of the flower areas to save water (letting some flowers die off.) I've also removed a couple of squash vines that had yet to start fruiting.
I've planted onion seeds for the third time this year. Maybe these ones will come up??!

While I've been pulling up some flowers, I've enjoyed watching this zinnia burst into colour - I always find it interesting that the same plant can have different coloured - and shaped - flowers.




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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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Deer ate my squash. All of my squash.

And most of my amaranth and kale.

I still have tomatoes, I've started to harvest a few as they ripen, and I have a few remnants of beans and kale, but that's it.
Most of my vegetables have either died of thirst or been eaten by deer.

This has not been a wildly successful gardening year!

There is still lots of time to enjoy the remaining flowers and I hope that I will see some morning glories blooming before the season is over.

But I need to do more to drought-proof my garden.

I don't think there is a way to keep deer out of it, not a way that is compatible with my budget and in-town location, anyway. And they usually don't devastate everything when they come through - I think this year they are hungry and eating things they normally wouldn't. I've never had them eat squash before.
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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This is likely the last post on my garden for the season.

There are still items on my to-do list from the spring. Rather a lot of items.
However, I have almost finished my writing project. That has really been the major 'accomplishment' of this year, for me. It's been a learning experience, although the final result is maybe not as impressive as I once dreamed it would be. It's (almost - I'm on final edits) done, and that's the most important thing.

Garden things I learned this year:

I can grow corn
Deer eat squash
I definitely should not rely on irrigation being available/my first consideration when planting should be "will this thing grow if it's dry?"
I need to plant morning glories earlier - mine still haven't flowered although neighbour's have
Smaller tomatoes are better for my situation because the big tomatoes seem to split no matter what I do
Carrots will grow here - I had three that grew. Yes, a grand total of three! But they were very good
Sumac is definitely invasive

More general things I (re)learned this year:

I'm still not very good at gardening. I enjoy it most of the time, but it really hasn't given me very good return-on-effort this year (admittedly efforts were somewhat disrupted)
I am, I think, however, above average at food management, (compared to ye average person, not ye average person on permies) and perhaps I should place more of my efforts on processing/preserving food from the store/ from local farmers when it is abundant/relatively cheap - perhaps doing something to share my basic knowledge/experience in that area with others
I am making a conscious effort to expand my experience in this area, purchasing one or two "discount/about to 'expire'" items from the grocery store each week for the past month or so, and really trying to bear down on preventing food waste in my kitchen. I have a lot of things still to learn and try - for ex., after decades of believing that when you prepare mushrooms, you throw away the stems, because that's what I remembered my mom doing, I have for the first time started to collect the stems for later use - apparently you can, indeed, use the stems of button and crimini mushrooms (which are the mushrooms that I usually get from the store.)
I realize that millions of people already knew this, but I didn't and I don't think I'm alone in not knowing it - I'm considering how I might try to reach out to others with perhaps even less knowledge of how to enjoy the full use of produce and meats (eek, I know next to nothing about cooking the odder bits of meat!)

The obvious way for me would be to write about it - so I'm keeping the idea of some kind of food-waste-prevention-journey column in a local paper or a blog (or both) bubbling away at the back of my brain. Perhaps something will come of it and perhaps not.

I conclude this post with a photo of some of my harvested tomato - I still have plenty of green tomatoes out in the yard. Happy Autumn to all of you!
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Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 436
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
132
dog books food preservation cooking greening the desert
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Hello again!

Got out into the garden for the first time this season this past week, and I am starting to rake up winter debris. Because of the high likelihood of fire in the area, I'm concentrating first on removing easy fire hazards this spring. Today was very windy and I reluctantly raked up a lot of the mulch that I've accumulated over the past years. It is mostly evergreen needles and dead leaves and bark, and I've felt a bit queasy about having it in the garden over the past few years, because it's so obviously potential kindling when it's dry. I am also somewhat allergic to some of the components, and have had reoccurring problems with insects and "pests" living in it. (Including snails) Today I decided that I'd better remove the natural mulch, even though I still think it's a 100% viable thing to do in other parts of the world.
I guess I won't have mulch at all this year. I know that will make the garden soil even drier, but, well, I guess I'll just see how things evolve. I can always add mulch back into the garden if it seems like a good thing to do again.
I have, once again, probably over-ordered in the seeds department, and in what is becoming something of an unfortunate tradition, feel like I'm behind on garden prep and seed starting again this year. I haven't started any seeds yet.
When I look out at my yard in the spring time on a day like today, when only a few things are growing and much of the yard is still winter-blasted "wasteland"  I find it easy to be discouraged, and easy to feel as though I haven't accomplished much at all over the past seven years here. Especially when I compare my yard to others in the neighbourhood, with their neat lines of flowering bulbs and green grass. I tell myself they're only accomplishing this by using vast amounts of water and chemicals, but...
I look at my bushes starting to bud and at my green rhubarb starting to grow and the sorrel starting to come up again and all I can think of is how much work there is to do. I want to get red rhubarb, I'm going to "have to" make sorrel soup at some point (which only I will eat) or should I get rid of both the rhubarb and the sorrel all together because we still have frozen rhubarb from last year in the freezer so clearly it's not something we eat a lot of and I have to deal with the sumac again and if food prices are going to keep going up what is the best thing for me to try to grow or should I just give up on trying to grow anything and use that time for something else?
And I feel tired and uncertain and a little bit depressed.

On the other hand - it was fun to be out doors in the wind today, doing something that felt maybe a bit useful in some way. And I know that I will feel a lot better about the whole garden thing in a month or six weeks when everything is hopefully coming up nice and green and bees and birds are visiting.

I still have lots of plans.

I just have to get myself to do the work now.  






 
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I get discouraged at certain times throughout the year too...

This spring has been pretty encouraging for me though. It seems like some of my garden choices were alright after all! I have to enjoy the plants now, because by June they will be as tall as me and regrow to that height every other day... Different climate, different problems.

My favorite permaculture principle is observation. I like to watch and see what happens... then fiddle a bit and see what happens... and so on.

As for sorrel, I really enjoyed a sorrel cream sauce over sauteed salmon. I can't imagine it in a soup... but if sour is your thing, then maybe.

Good luck and enjoy the living things!
 
Vera Stewart
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I should probably try a sorrel cream sauce! Thanks for the suggestion and for stopping by on this thread!
 
Vera Stewart
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Hello! Just came in from an invigorating uprooting and chopping session with the sumac patch - I made good progress there, I feel, with the minor mistake of cutting an irrigation line only slowing me down a little. Fortunately it hasn't been turned on yet so no major water-flow emergency. Unfortunately I managed to cut it right beside the driveway while trying to leverage a root up, and it might be that it'll just be better to not use that line anymore rather than have to dig up driveway to fix it. I'm not 100% sure what nozzles are on that line at the moment, but I don't think they cover anything particularly important, just shrubs and grass. (And the shrubs don't get much from it and the grass should be replaced anyway.)

We have an evergreen tree that is still looking very dry and possibly dead, even though we've been getting spring rains, so that unfortunately might have to be removed at some point this year. Definitely wouldn't want it falling over. Or catching on fire and then falling over.
We've been having cooler temps than average over the past few weeks, which is alright by me, as I still haven't started any of my seeds. I am hoping to scatter some soon in one of the areas I was working on clearing a bit today.

Before playing with the sumac patch I was removing some oregon grape from the fence line - I don't plan on taking it all out, just as I don't plan on removing all the sumac, but I would like to reduce it's footprint as it's rather invasive and scratchy when come upon unawares. It's gotten into my saskatoon bushes a bit and makes it a bit painful to harvest the berries. I would like to put some anise hyssop in the space between the saskatoons and the fence instead - I don't know how well it'll compete with oregon grape, but it should be an improvement on the patchy grass-and-grape we get there now. I still have to remove some more of the vine but I got distracted.

In the next week or so I would also like to extend my "bumblebee bed" along the property line near the sumac, after I dig a "sumac stop here!" ditch - the previous ditch along one side of the sumac patch is still holding, all the roots I encountered today were coming from the side that hasn't been ditched yet.

I've purchased a soaker hose to use in the vegetable garden this year, once I get that started, and my project after the ditching and after planting the hyssop will be to dig a new potato bed for this year as my seed potatoes are more than ready to go in the ground.

It was a good day to be working on digging things up as it rained pretty steadily yesterday and the ground was nice and soft and still damp so it wasn't particularly dusty.

This little guy was hanging out on some of the Oregon Grape.  
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Vera Stewart
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It's continued rainy and cool. (No photos this time as it's raining too hard!)

The grass and rogue lawn plants are looking quite green and happy, I hope they enjoy themselves now.

I've finished the "Stop the Sumac!" ditch and removed a lot of Oregon Grape. I still have a new bed to dig, but I've started planting in the already-existent beds, getting the potatoes in, although they had already grown some quite long sprouts - I'm hoping they have enough energy left to take root. I've also planted a bit of corn and amaranth, as well as some runner beans and morning glories for the flowers. Starting early with the morning glories this year!
And I've scattered some poppy seed about as well, although I also have more. Can't seem to find the anise-hyssop seed I thought I had saved myself, but I'm sure I'll find something else to put in near the fence line.
The irrigation system is completely stuffed up at the moment, we have the cut line repaired but now half the "zones" are malfunctioning. The suspicion is that mud got in when the line was broken and now we have to try and figure out how to get it out of there.  I'm sure we will, it's just that it's a bit uncomfortable to work on right now with the cool and rain, and since it's cool and rainy, there's no particular need for it at the moment anyway.

What else. Ah yes, earlier, I had to clean the garden shed after some mice partied down in there over the winter. Lesson learned - store grass seed in some sort of container, don't just leave it in the plastic bag it comes in.

(I actually don't remember buying grass seed and leaving it in the shed last fall, but someone definitely did!)
 
Vera Stewart
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Still getting (relatively) lots of rain.

I've finished planting in all the already-existing veggie beds, although I haven't yet done the bed extension I want to this year. I feel like I either get that done this coming weekend or I don't bother for this year, so fingers crossed I get the energy and time to do it really soon. I figure I'll need about six hours of solid work to get it done, as I'm hoping to dig out, fill in with bits of wood and organics, put the soil back on top and plant it.

Most of the potatoes seem to be growing, and some corn has come up, along with a few morning glories, runner beans and bush beans. Also amaranth is starting to come up. I planted tomato seeds but see no evidence that they've taken, so I might plant some more tomato seeds this weekend, because I really like homegrown tomatoes and I don't want to be without them this year.

I'd also like to plant up some big pots that I usually have on my back patio, only this summer I want them to be in the front of the house, because I have no flowers or plants (besides grass and trees and weeds) at the front. I'm going to plant them with daisies and zinnias and maybe something edible but I'm not sure what. They will probably get a bit neglected up there in front by themselves, so I can't put anything too demanding in there.

My very messy bit of "lawn" which I've been working to clear of oregon grape and sumac still has sumac and oregon grape, but I'm pleased that the saskatoon bushes look to be doing okay and onion that I planted in there last year has really done well. I've also got some comfrey in the mix there, some of which I had to cut back this week as it was shading one of the saskatoons rather heavily!

I sadly realized the other day that none of my strawberry plants seem to have survived the winter, but they really were never much in terms of producing fruit anyway. I am watching the saskatoon berries start to ripen with much anticipation!

I think a few days of seasonal warmth and sun will really set things to growing, as soon as we get that sunlight.

Rain with possible thunderstorms predicted for the next few days. You know, I think I'll go and plant that second batch of tomato seeds right now before the rain starts again.
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quail hiding in sumac bush
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garden in may 2022
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Would nasturtiums work in your pots out front? They take some abuse, but I've eaten the leaves, and the seed-pods.
 
Vera Stewart
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Oh, that's a good idea! I have some nasturtium seeds already!
 
Vera Stewart
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It's raining again today. Yesterday I was able to mow the lawn a bit, but half of it is still two-weeks-long because I couldn't get to it all and now it's raining again. On one hand it's nice to see all the green, on the other hand, I can no longer see if there's anything hiding where I'm walking, which is not so great given I spotted a rattlesnake on the road right outside my house last year.

Last week we had a couple of "proper summery" days with sweaty heat in the afternoon and sunshine. I know this will return. I hope it will return soon, I am getting tired of being tempted to turn on the furnace in the house even though it is now mid June. My currant and saskatoons are I think wanting to ripen, they're trying to turn colour, but it's not quite warm enough for them to really dooo it. I did get a couple of nearly-ripe currants off the bush the other day.

I did not dig a new bed. I have planted up pots to sit out in the front of the house, including some nasturium seed, which has started to sprout - as long as I remember to water the pots - they're underneath a house overhang - I hope that in a few weeks time they'll be full of green and starting to think about flowering.
Some of my lavender is in full bloom, comfrey is flowering, and the tickseed plant started to flower during those few summery days. The roses are blooming as well.

My potatoes are looking good and some of my beans are coming along. The tomatoes are still reluctant, and I did plant a few more, and the squash plants appear to be a bit stalled. I had a little bit of lettuce growing until my dog pulled it up.

Despite all the rain the evergreen tree I'm worried about is still all dried up and dead looking. I'm pretty sure it's dead, by this point.

I decided last week to make a "mossarium" in an old jar. It was fun to look at what I have in my yard in a slightly different way while creating the mini-habitat - finding a use for the pebbles, going into the relatively undisturbed and leaf-littered area under the sumacs for the soil, and discovering that there are at least three different kinds of moss in my yard - although I think one of the ones I used is actually a liverwort. There's some kind of small-fruiting mushroom I was unaware of before appearing in my yard, as well, although I didn't disturb it for the mossarium. I found that the next day, while out for a walk around the neighbourhood, I was spending more time than I usually do staring at the ground and studying other moss and low ground cover plants and wondering if I could use them in a future moss/terrarium. I've been wanting to put together a small terranium for years and I'm happy that I finally got around to it. I found a youtube vidoe about making a terrarium for free that encouraged me to go ahead and do it. I am expecting this first attempt to fail, but hopefully it will fail in an interesting way.  This morning when I opened it up and peered in I caught sight of a creepy crawly of some kind, confirming I succeeded in getting animal life inside the jar as well!
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Vera Stewart
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The berries are, I think, done for the year. They were not very productive this year at all, and I think it was because it was so rainy, my theory is that the pollinators didn't get a good chance to do their job.

I'm very happy with my decision to purchase a couple of soaker hoses, and put them in my vegetable patch. Although it's only been necessary to water a few times so far this year, when I have watered it's been really nice to be able to just turn the hose on and walk away, instead of having to stand there and act like an irrigation pivot. There are still plenty parts of the garden that I haven't covered by soaker hose, so I still will have the pleasure of standing out in the garden watering for a period of time, without the boredom of being out there doing that for a long time.
I do wonder how long the soaker hose will last before it decays in the sun - when we get sun - but that's something I will only find out with time!

While picking the last of the few berries a few days ago, I was suddenly first hand witness to a robin duel.

While the berries haven't liked the weather, the hollyhocks have really enjoyed it, doing so much better this year, it's amazing.

My tomato plants are starting to look like they might make it, I've got a few wee carrots coming up, the corn and squash are starting to grow with more vigour and in general the garden is picking up - which is good news because it's got a long way to go!
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vegetable patch growing garden zone 7b usa
 
Vera Stewart
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I went away for two and a half weeks, and during that time the weather changed considerably and it became hot and dry. My neighbours helped out a bit with watering while I was away but when I returned I discovered that not-too-surprisingly, I had lost a number of plants. Also there was a fair amount of weeding to be done, which I have now done.
A good news story from this time away is that most of the potato plants, while drying up and dying off perhaps earlier than they would have done if I'd been here to water them still produced a considerable number of potatoes.
The tomato plants are growing, as is basil, amaranth, nasturtiums, the beans... and the squash plants that I rather scattered about the place are doing okay too - about half of them are growing with some vigour and I was delighted to discover that one plant which I'd hoped would start crawling up the side of the shed has done just that all by itself.
However, none of the squash has fruited yet and I seem to be getting all male flowers on the vines again.
We have drought-time watering restrictions in place now, which is okay with me as I'm going to be able to use my new soaker hose three days a week now that I've set it up again and overhead irrigation (mostly for the lawn) twice a week. That should be more than enough!
Yesterday I made a big potato salad with garden potatoes and beans to share with the helpful neighbours.



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potato early august harvest
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early august vegetable beds garden
 
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Thanks for sharing you garden adventures Vera - it's amazing to see how much the garden has changed with your hard work.
It's a challenge when you go away during a dry spell. I wondered whether an Olla pot might be of use (see claypot experiment thread) but it seems these need topping up fairly frequently unless they're rather large!
 
Vera Stewart
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I tried a few home made ollas quite awhile ago - they sort of worked, but not enough for me to buy or make more. I'm pleased with how well the soaker hose I bought this season has been working so far while I'm home- but the hose spigot has to be turned off when we go away to please the house insurance people. Given the way things are configured around the house I think I just have to live with the fact that if I go away during the summer the garden will get dry, and continue to look for plants that do okay with less water.
 
Jay Angler
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Vera Stewart wrote: but the hose spigot has to be turned off when we go away to please the house insurance people.

Do you have friends that could water for you? What if you got a water tank or a pair of IBC's that you could fill with water before you left, then turn off the spigot, and have your friends run a hose off the tanks? You'd need to raise the tanks up on something to get a little water pressure, but if you happen to plan a trip and a heat dome shows up, at least you wouldn't loose everything?

and said:

Given the way things are configured around the house I think I just have to live with the fact that if I go away during the summer the garden will get dry, and continue to look for plants that do okay with less water.

This is a good plan! However, I've also been improving my soil with a modified hugel sort of system and I've found even things like tomatoes go much longer between waterings than they did before. I don't till deeply, but will loosen with a garden fork by just rocking it slightly if things seem compacted. I may surface hoe if I'm trying to decrease the weed load by getting surface seeds to germinate. Also the compost I add has been made with some homemade biochar in it, which has a reputation for holding water. This has also helped to improve the water-holding capacity of the soil further.

Luckily we're on a well, so I believe we can shut off the water to the house, but still have it available direct from the well-shed for watering some critical plants. This insurance rule was an issue when friends were on the mainland for medical management of her daughter and I needed to go in and water her house plants.  They ended up leaving me jugs of water in the sink.
 
Vera Stewart
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We're picking up a small water barrel next week. The neighbours have great intentions, but they are not too mobile and I don't like asking them to do very much.

I am hoping to work more on improving the health of the soil - and have definitely noticed that the one bed for which I did the most work in preparation does best under stress! I just need to find the energy to put more work into the other spaces.
 
Vera Stewart
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Quick little update for today - yesterday we had the dead evergreen from our front yard removed, which means that the next big project is considering how and what to replace it with. Water lines and property lines complicate where we can plant something as big as a tree.

I'd like a fruit tree, or maybe a nut tree, but I don't want to cause problems with it - I think a nut tree of some kind would be better (less of a future problem with fruit falling on the neighbours lawn and rotting) but I'm not actually sure that people can plant nut trees around here! I definitely need to research this more.

Picked up and installed two rain barrels over the last week, now we just need some rain to fill them up. I like the idea of filling them up from the hose before going away in the future, in case a neighbour or two can use them to water.

I pulled up one of my rhubarb plants, although I still have one big one left. I did this because we don't eat much rhubarb and it was taking up a lot of space - of course, I harvested all of it's stems before yanking it out. I also cleaned up a lot of weeds and some small branches from the area by the shed which I've been using as a bit of a dump site. I kept many of the bigger branches as I hope to use them in preparing future garden beds... but I've been keeping them for years now! Some day, some day.

I was excited to see a few fruits start to form on my squash, but now they've withered. The squash still has time (?)

The tomatoes haven't done much fruiting either.

Harvested/thinned some basil and carrots, they were good.
And this morning the potted zinnias-and-nasturtiums in the front of the house were attracting both bees and a hummingbird!
 
Jay Angler
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Vera Stewart wrote:

I was excited to see a few fruits start to form on my squash, but now they've withered.

Did you see any pollinators when they were blooming? Consider pollinating the next few female flowers yourself to be sure, as that's been the issue with mine in the past. I was going to pollinate my volunteer squash the other day, but when I looked, two bees were playing in one of the male flowers so I risked trusting them to get the job done, and both the two fruits that were in bloom that day, are looking good. (Now if I could just figure out what they are??? They are looking a bit like a summer squash, but not a zucchini. At first I thought from the leaf, they'd be a melon, but alas, the fruit is more a longer, narrower shape with a bulge at the stem end.)
 
Vera Stewart
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Nothing much happening in the garden. I've harvested a few more carrots, and about half my basil. I miss having zinnias in my backyard this year, I'll have to try harder to get some in next year.

My tomatoes are slower than molasses in January, but they're still growing.

Havent made any decision about a new tree. Haven't dug any new beds for next year yet. I am getting some morning glories blossoming around the back patio, which is nice.

The biggest news is that I finally have three squash fruits growing! Unfortunately both plants are also developing fuzzy fungi leaves - I had hoped that the plant crawling up the shed would be less susceptible, and it does have less, but it still has some. I was also hoping that watering with a soaker hose instead of overhead would help, but now I've lost a hose connection piece in the grass and I still haven't found it. Why did they make it light grey-coloured?? I know it must be around, and I'm determined to find it, but until then I've been watering overhead again.

My new rain barrels are still empty - no rain!



 
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Vera Stewart wrote:The biggest news is that I finally have three squash fruits growing! Unfortunately both plants are also developing fuzzy fungi leaves - I had hoped that the plant crawling up the shed would be less susceptible, and it does have less, but it still has some.

I've heard that if you mist the leaves with milk, it's supposed to stop the fungus, but I've never tried it. It could be an old wives tale, but it might work also.
 
Vera Stewart
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Still haven't done much in my garden since the last update, although I did pull up the corn. The corn was barely pollinated and the cobs were very small. I ended up putting them all in the greens bin. I don't have any explanation other than their critical time really must have been when I was away and the garden wasn't getting much water.

I planted the row where they were with poppy seed and also a few tulip bulbs for the spring. I hope that'll come up all right.

The squashes are still growing - I have three green ones now, and there are two that look like they might be yellow on a different vine - I planted three varieties in the spring and I'm not sure which I'm getting, maybe the yellow ones are pie pumpkins and the green ones are hubbards that came from grocery seeds - it seems like none of the fancy galeux d' Eysines survived.

We finally got rain, and it almost filled our new rain barrels.

I'm quite happy with the carrots this year, they seem to be enjoying being planted with tomato and basil. The tomatoes are still less happy. I've got just one that is starting to ripen, the others are all green green green, and some of them have been eaten by bugs, although the damage has so far been rather minimal compared to past years.
I'm worried that with the rain they're starting to get now the tomatoes will start to split out of their skins before they ripen.

We should have about a month left before the first frosts.
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I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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