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Miner's Garden Project

 
pollinator
Posts: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike 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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
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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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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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: 25
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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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Hello Mahlon, welcome, and thank you!

I look forward to learning more about your adventures!
 
Vera Stewart
pollinator
Posts: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike 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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike 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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike 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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike greening the desert
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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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
dog books food preservation bike 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: 366
Location: 7b at 1050 feet, precipitation average 13 inches, irrigated, Okanagan Valley
95
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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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