Thursday, March 29, 2012

Grow light propped on pots for today

My tomatoes are about two to three inches tall. I could see that they were getting to the point that legginess, could be a problem soon. I turned four two gallon pots upside down and propped the grow light on it. It placed the lights about three to four inches above the plants. Tomorrow Allan is going to put 2x4's under the pots just to get the light a wee bit higher. I need a bit of room to spray the seedlings. I am going to pick up a little fan tomorrow to gently blow the seedlings. I've read that you get MUCH stronger plants this way. It makes perfect sense to me. I will take pictures very soon. The greenhouse is glowing right now. It looks wonderful. I'm going to give the plants the light they are craving tonight and put it on a timer tomorrow. I'm going to copy my friend Brenda's setting. On at 8am and off at 10pm. Thanks for all the seedling advice Brenda.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My back yard is transformed. Hedge slashing day.

We have a neighbors cedar hedge and another leylandi cypress hedge from the pits of hell along the back of our yard. The hedges encroached about eight feet or more into our back yard. (Give me back my sun!!!) Which means, to bring it back to the property line, meant taking it back to wood. Instead of letting me get in a tree service, Allan took it upon himself to do it. I can't believe how much work he did. It'll look awful for this year but the greenery will fill in. We've done this before.

My very hard working man. I think this was right before he cut
through the yellow extension cord with my loppers.
Thank goodness for rubber handles.
Today I planted the last Meeker raspberry. It still seemed muddy. Maybe it's just the soil in that garden. I can't believe the size of the worms. In 33 years I've never had big fat worms here. We do now.
Orchid Opening


The Cotoneaster seedling made it!!

What it will look like in a few years.
I planted a few pumpkin seeds. I'm going to direct sow as well. We'll see which works better. From what I've read, they don't transplant well.
The shed is beyond awesome. There are just a few things that need to be moved in there from the greenhouse. When I get the potting bench done, all the little pots can go on the shelf under the bench. Why does that excite me so? Does anyone else get this excited about their garden shed?

Tomatoes and cauliflower are up and shelves in the new shed

I got home from the store and Allan asked, 'can you help me with the new shelving for the shed?' Like I'm going to say no??!! I went to the shed and started taking the few things in there, out. Allan also bought a sheet of linoleum so I can sweep the floor up easier when doing my potting. In the back of the store we use industrial shelving, and that's what Allan got for the shed. We put the linoleum down on the floor, put the shelves together, and stood back. I couldn't stop smiling. Literally. I'm still smiling.
I did a little watering and pruned dead bits off the blueberries. As I was pruning, I was wondering...will we get enough berries to make a batch of jam? I wonder.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Negronne fig is tucked away by the greenhouse

I picked up my Negronne Fig this morning. As usual Bob Duncan gave me lots of information. It is quite a tall plant. He showed me how he likes them to grow. We toured his figs. Always low for easy fruit picking. His trees branch out very low. Mine branches up a few feet off the ground. To force it to branch low he recommends pruning it very short and forcing it to branch. I can then root the top as they root quite easily, using a mix of vermiculite and peat and a plastic bag. I will take pictures on the day I do the harsh pruning.
It says it is eight degrees outside. I suppose technically it is, but yet again, there is arctic cold in the air. It may be eight, but it feels like zero. Due to the arctic freeze, I snugged the fig up beside the greenhouse.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Grow light on the way...fruit trees are is good

My first ever Meyer Lemon
Tomatoes are popping up right and left. I've bit the bullet and have a bid on a grow light on eBay. It has 6 lights and 4' long. It was my sons idea. I was telling him that the light fixture I wanted was 350.00 to have sent over from Vancouver. He said, that's outrageous, try eBay. I looked online to try to find someone local, but gave up. I just can't bear the thought of leggy bedding plants after all the love and TLC that goes into selecting the seeds, buying flats and planting mix, and planting, and waiting, and nurturing. To have to toss them because they just don't thrive? Not an option. So grow light it is. I'll keep you posted. (got the light for $118.00 plus shipping)

The plum. Are they leaves or flowers?

I mixed up a batch of fish fertilizer and fertilized the fruit trees, the growing veg and the rhubarb. 
The rhubarb is looking more robust every day.
It feels quite arctic again. It has been a weird couple of years on Vancouver island. The thermometer will say its ten degrees. Celsius that is. You go outside expecting ten degrees, and I guess technically it is. But with the arctic wind, it feels like zero. Or less. it is SO cold. There, I've done what everyone is doing around here. Complaining about the cold. As I'm a half full kind of girl, I have to add...there was some sunshine today!!

Baby lettuce's bursting forth by the hundreds.

A great lover of humor and whimsy needs a gnome
Orchid buds

A busy day...planting...fertilizing...

Imagine my delight. This morning I went to the greenhouse to set up for planting a few cauliflower seeds in the tray, and I noticed something green. Put my glasses on, and yes, I have several tiny Amish Paste tomato plants. I have never grown vegetables from seed, so they are my first. Brenda mentioned that I need to get a grow light or they will become leggy. I wasn't sure about seeding in a greenhouse, it terms of light requirements, so I'll just bite the bullet and get a light.
I then planted some white onion bulbs in the garlic bed.
Last but not least, I planted ten Jersey Knight Asparagus in the lasagna bed in two rows. Approximately half the bed will be asparagus. So now we hurry up and wait. About three years I hear.

Newly planted rows of asparagus
I took about half a pail of my organic fertilizer and put some around the fruit trees and plants that are actively growing. It takes about a month for it to break down and become food. I think tomorrow I'll give the fruit trees some fish emulsion fertilizer so they will have food immediately.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rainier Cherry branch tiedown...amateur edition

Not too clear...but you get the idea
Our dwarf cherry has a leader branch and three side branches. We pruned the leader back a bit. I recommend that you drive stakes into the ground under the three side branches and attach them by cord and pull them to almost horizontal. You will get more fruit and it will grow less vigorously which is desirable for a dwarf tree.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Seeding bedding plants with a torn Rotator Cuff, out of place shoulder blade and a back rebelling because of it all.

It sounded like a really small project. Get out a couple of Lee Valley deep seed trays, fill with bedding plant mix and fill with pepper and tomato seeds. Then I got out some Marigold Nursery potting soil, coir, fine bark mulch and a shovel of coffee grounds to repot my Cymbidium orchid that I saved when it survived some pretty harsh frost last fall. Anything that tough deserves to live. It had split its plastic pot right down to the drainage holes. I don't have a potting bench so I did everything on the garden in the greenhouse. Even though it hasn't been sealed I moved all the stuff in the way of the seed area to the shed. I plugged in the heating mat for the seed trays. I was meticulous with my seeding. They are my first bedding plants. often do you need to water them? I did not see that very basic info in any of my books. So, then I took my wonderful pitch fork and forked a bag of compost and a bag of manure into the 12x3' raised bed in the greenhouse. Sprinkled Salad Bowl, Buttercrunch and Mâché seed in the bed. I then sprinkled some of the potting soil over it and watered. Then I sprinkled Ecosense slug bait around the bed and bench in the greenhouse and some in the gardens that have been stripped of all vegetation by the slugs. I packed up my toys and started loading garbage and stuff into the house. My coat, seeds, empty bags, etc etc. it suddenly hit me how much my back and arm hurt. Last week I went to my chiropractor who told me I probably have a torn Rotator Cuff and I've jammed my shoulder blade out of position and to the left. This happened when I fell in Hawaii. I have a high pain tolerance so it hasn't bothered me very much. But today...I feel it. So I'm sitting in the ugly chair, watching Y&R and, well, telling you all about it.

*update. It wasn't a torn rotator cuff after all. After months of it getting steadily worse, I booked a massage at the urging of my chiropractor. Thank you to Britta at Phi Massage in Sidney, for fixing it!! Two massages and I'm just about perfect.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My fig is in! Garden centres and slug bait.

The Negronne Fig I ordered is in. I will go in the next couple days and pick it up. Oh joy.
Jess and I went on a garden centre extravaganza today. I found a large terracotta plant dish. It was glazed...presto...birdbath. I have an upturned pot by the greenhouse. It has a depression in the bottom which is full of water. The birds have been using it as a water source and a birdbath all winter. I want to provide them with a larger dish.
Jess has a huge terrace at her new condo. We picked up a bunch of veg and flower seeds for her. I'm going to provide her with tomato plants. She grabbed some netting and plant ties. She's good to go.
I have been looking for Sluggo for a week. I've checked Home Depot, Marigold, Elk Lake, Home Hardware and Capital Iron. I had all but given up. I wrote to the company that makes Sluggo and they told me that I would find it as Scott's Ecosense slug and snail bait or slug b gone. (I don't really want to buy from Scotts, but no one else seems to make this type of bait in Canada. I finally located it at, gulp, Walmart. A double whammy.) It is composed of Iron Phosphate which is supposed to break down in the soil as it is a naturally occurring compound in soil. Thank you Erica of Northwest Edible Life!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The garden shed is up...the garden shed is up!!

What gardener does not want a shed?
I do. Or, I did. My sister has moved into a lovely condo and that left a neat little shed without a home. 'I'll take it...I'll take it!!!!' So now I have a shed. I scoped out the yard and came up with what is truly the worst possible spot for it.
1. There is an old 33 year old willow tree in the corner I wanted it.
2. This willow corner floods in the winter. The water table rises to about five inches above ground.
So yesterday, long suffering husband Allan, took out the tape measure to figure out if it would squeeze along side the huge willow trunk. Barely. Then he hatched a plan to elevate it. Using pier posts, 2x4's and plywood, he raised a platform. Today when I got home..ta da, shed is done. How lucky am I.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Planted the Rainier Cherry and a Rhubarb

I started my day with a Marigold Nursery run. Picked up a load of compost, manure and potting soil. Just happened by the berry section and grabbed a black currant and a rhubarb plant. When I dug the hole for the Strawberry Red Rhubarb, there was no sign of last years plant that I grew from a root. I do believe I am one of very few people that can kill one. 

Allan and I carefully scoped out the location for the Rainier Cherry. It is behind the Shiro plum. It was really cold, but we took our time and planted it very well. Bone meal, manure, compost, staked with rebar, and planted with love.

Oh yes...when I was at Marigold, I found out the fruit trees will be in next weekend. I think I'll put some larger fruit trees in the front yard. I like the idea of the four different varieties on one tree.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Lily of the Valley and Sorbet Peony planted.

Isn't this the most gorgeous peony ever!!! I guess I don't have to say that this is NOT the one I planted today. Soon. The root I planted had five sturdy good looking red shoots, so it will be a good strong plant.
I got a dozen Lily of the Valley pips from Marigold Nursery and planted them in my front garden under the Japanese Maple and Rhododendron. My mother always had them at whatever house we were living in. They were a constant, so I have a real soft spot for them. They don't seem to grow really well on the coast, but I keep trying anyway.
My sister Jess came over for her chive division. She dropped off a nice chunk of garlic chives for me. How fun.
I perused the yard for about a half hour and scouted a location for the Rainier Cherry. I was thinking of putting it in the front yard, but I don't think it would be a good idea to put a lovely dwarf cherry in the front. I'm thinking maybe a semi-dwarf fruit tree. Apple? Nectarine? What do you think? A Semi-dwarf would have a lot more fruit, which could be shared among passers by and still have lots left for us.