Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Garden update - Tomatoes and Tomatillos

 Good morning everyone. I am here to show you the process on my tomatoes and tomatillos As you can see they have grown huge already.  The tomatoes are on the right and the tomatillos on the left.  The tomatoes are bursting out of their tomato cages.  Next year I need to try a Florida weave for my tomatoes as these cages are just too small for indeterminate types and do not work well.  If you look closely you can see a couple of the beefsteak tomatoes started.  The sweet million and midnight snack have a couple of tiny fruit started and some flowers but not much action on that front yet.  

On the right is my tomatillo plants.  These grew quickly as well and have set a bunch of fruit already.  I also learned that they are self sterile and you need to have at least two plants so they can pollinate the flowers.   

I moved two of these plants into containers as well as I quickly noticed that I had planted these way to close together in the actual beds.  There of the 4 of these plants are showing some distress but still setting flowers and fruit.  They have some leaves which are yellowing and curling. I'm not sure what the issue is, it seems to happen most on the upper leaves and the lower leaves seem healthy.  I'm going to fertilize and hope they are ok.

Look at how pretty the flowers are! 

Once the flowers are done they form a lovely husk lantern.  These are very similar to a Chinese lantern flower and are so special looking. Once the husk is formed then the fruit starts its life inside the protective husk.  Apparently they are ready to harvest when they start bursting out of the husk and the husk starts drying.  I can't wait!

Have you grown tomatillos before?  Are you growing anything new this year that you haven't grown before?  Tell me about that in the comments below.

Monday, July 5, 2021

July Garden Update - Peppers A lesson in patience.


I feel like the garden is growing very slowly this year.  The patience required for a garden is hard but I am enjoying the process.  I think part of the reason the peppers are going slowly is because of the cold snap they faced after planting.  In this first picture (left to right) are rows of zinnias that I started from seed and transplanted into the rows that the carrots and parsnip failed seeds were in.  As you can see there are a couple flowers already on these - so pretty.  Next is the bell peppers, California wonder in the front and snack pepper in the back.  I picked up some celosia and other plants at the grocery for 50 cents each - score!  I spread the celosia throughout the veg garden.
Next up are the shishito peppers and Bangkok peppers which have both set flowers (I've stopped picking the flowers off now).  The mad hatter pepper plant (centre back) is the largest currently.  On the left is two ring of fire cayenne peppers and a single jalapeƱo plant (which already has fruit - I missed clipping the flowers off of these early to promote bigger plant growth first).   You can also my hockey player gnome friend hanging out, and some marigolds to deter pests.

Next up are the habaneros (middle of this pic).  As you can see they are very slow to grow.  This is sad as these are my favourite type of pepper.  I'm hopeful they will pick up soon. I have also moved two of the four habanero plants to containers.  They seem to be doing a much better.  On the right of the photo are my super hots.  The front is the ghost pepper and the back is the armageddon.  They are both doing quite well and I can't wait to try the armageddon - they are supposed to be a sweet slow heat like the habanero but much hotter.

Alrighty so thats a wrap up on the process of my peppers.  I'll be posting about my tomatillos and tomatoes soon.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Front flower bed

Last year GMF and I built a wooden flower bed at the front porch. This area is very sandy and dry so the partial raised bed will help retain the soil and water for the plants.  As you can see in the before it was mostly weeds :(.  The hosts was split off the giant plant we have growing in the backyard beside the air conditioner.  It's a little yellow in the pics from last year because of transplant shock and sunburn, but it came back beautifully this year. 

Here is what I planed last year.  The hosts, some day lilies, 2 mandavilla plants (beautiful flowers) and a coronation plant.  The gnomes are some dollar store finds.  Kneesa cat enjoyed the new space.

Here's another pic from later in the year last year.  The mandavilla plants have grown and have lots of flowers.  The carnations are kinda spent.

Ok moving onto this year.  The carnations came back great!  They are a nice mound to white flowers.  The hosts is also doing great - super green and large. I think I will have to split it this fall already to keep it from getting as large as the one in the backyard.  The Lillies are also back.  I added a hanging basket from the grocery store and moved my hibiscus outside again.  I added a pair of Black Eyed Susan vine starters at the back in hopes that it grows up the railing.  The flowers on these vines are a glorious bright orange with a dark centre at first and fade to more of a yellow.  As you can see kneesa is exploring the new spring growth.  

Heres a pic of the hosts in the backyard (and this is still spring so imagine it at full size) I need to move this somewhere else (or many other places).  I have received a water barrel from a neighbour and I want to install it there on a platform. This job will probably happen in the fall. 

I did buy some mandavilla vines again this year but decided to keep them in a planter so I can bring them inside over the winter.  I also like that I can move them around and enjoy the pretty flowers wherever I am working or relaxing.

Here's an update at the end of June.  As you can see the black eyed Susan vine is growing up as planned and I can't wait for it to really start to cover the railing.  The hanging baskets are doing beautifully adding so much colour. I usually have hibiscus flowers by now but I had something eating the buds. I have picked and disposed of all the buds and hope I've got the all the culprits.  The plant itself is looking very healthy.  I've also added some zinnia and calendula seedlings.

Next update: July 1st.  The Black Eyed Susan's are progressing nicely still. The hanging basket is still doing ok.  The petunias are starting to dwindle but the supercells are very prolific.  And I really like the lantana flowers.  They produce multiple tiny little flowers in an umbrella shaped clump.  And I've got some beautiful yellow day Lillies. You can also see the mini gnomes are beginning to get lost in the zinnia's which are growing faster than the calendulas.  

Here's a close up of the lantana.

The squirrels have also gifted me some plants.  These are peanut plants.  They are nestled in my hibiscus pot and the pots around my property.  Silly squirrels.

What should I do with these peanut plants? Have you grown peanuts before? Let me know in the comments below.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

I'm Back! 2021 Garden Planting

 I can't believe I haven't written a garden blog post since 2014!  Having a full garden has been difficult living between 2 provinces but this year I got one in and I'm so glad.  I really find gardening relaxing and it gives me a purpose each morning which is great to get me up and going.  I've even become a morning person, which I never thought would happen. While working I would wake up early to do a garden walk and water then do a quick workout before I would start work (teaching remotely from home helped as I didn't have any commute time - though I missed my morning bike rides). 

To start I had to weed the garden - I have a very bad bindweed problem.  Here is the before, it still had old growth from the previous years garden as well (this was a partial late planted garden that I didn't get much harvest from - I vowed to do better this year).

So I weeded with my hula hoe and just pulling by hand, then I topped off with fresh garden soil.  I wish I had dug out the raised beds and put landscaping fabric below the soil but I only put it on top.  Then I went shopping for some seedlings and go planting! I also had the window frame box that was filled with weeds but I could not move that on my own, so it had to wait till I had some help.

So, let's get to what I have growing!!! As always I focused on tomatoes and peppers. The peppers flow from sweet to extreme heat -fun! The no heat varieties are mini sweet, and California wonder bell peppers.  Then I'm trying shishito peppers - I'd never heard of these but after buying the plants I saw them everywhere this spring.  Apparently they are a fad right now for appetizers in chic restaurants.  Then I'm also trying mad hatter peppers this year they are supposed to be a fun shape and not really any heat.  The Bangkok peppers are a typical Thai pepper that will have fruit that grow vertically up on the plant.  Ring of fire peppers will be my cayenne variety for the year and are supposed to be hotter than most cayennes. Then my favourite peppers - habaneros! These ones where just labelled as habanero so I don't know what variety they are unfortunately.  I planted four in a row but moved 2 to containers shortly after to give more space.  Then I've got two superhots - ghost peppers and armageddon.  Im hoping to make hot sauce and marinade for some jerky with these.  The armageddon is supposed to be a slow sweet heat and the ghost is more of a instant dry heat.  For the tomatoes I planted two snacking varieties - midnight snack (which is an indigo cherry tomato - which means the fruit starts green then turns to almost black then to red) and sweet million (a prolific fruiting cherry tomato).  I also added a beefsteak tomato after this picture was taken.

After the plants went in and before I got mulch on we had a late frost which stunted some of the plants a bit and then some extreme sun which heated the landscaping fabric and dried out the soil quickly but the plants did rebound ok.

For mulch I asked a colleague whose family farms for a bail of straw.  A single bail of straw holds A LOT of straw! Kneesacat was very curious about the bail and decided it was a good spot for a nap.

And here's the garden all mulched up.  This is three weeks after planting and you can see the tomatoes are growing but the peppers haven't really started yet.  The old growth mulch on the right is covering a couple rows of carrots and parsnip seeds from the squirrels.  Sadly I don't think it worked as I didn't have any come up :(.  Im not sure I could successfully get a root crop though with the bindweed, so maybe I will try some seeds in containers for fall instead.

 I also planted some lettuce seeds and some herbs in these containers.

So that's my garden planted. Im so happy to have so much planted so early this year and excited to see how it progresses.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Springs finally here!

Ok so I know I've been absent from the blog world for a while but this winter would just never end! 
This week it is finally feeling like spring here in London Ontario. So I got out in the backyard this weekend. 1st on the to do list was weeding and prepping the raised beds. Weeding wasn't that though but I can tell I'm gonna have to stay on top of it more this year. The older the raised beds are the more likely things are growing there that shouldn't (Arg sometimes my body feels like that too). I found this clump of roots that I'm not sure what they belong too (any ideas?)
Gmf suggested leeks but I don't think they were in the right spot for that. 

I also added some rock dust, fertilizer and blood meal to the garden to help replenish the nutrients all the veg ate last summer and keep the animals out. 

The spinach that was left to over winter is doing ok but there's not much of it. (Maybe enough to add to a tiny salad). 
Should have got a better close up of that. I can also see the garlics popping up. I hope they work but I am afraid I might have white rot in my soil (my garlic didn't work last year, and I discovered a clove with a bit of fuzzies on it). Argh. 
I also think I have some bunching onions poppin through that I didn't expect:  
Should I split these up?  I don't have a lot of experience in these areas so any suggestions would be great. 

Today I rushed home from work and went right outside (it was a whopping 10 degrees. Whohoo!). I planted all the cold weather hearty things I could find. 
Kohl rabi
More spinach
Cherry bell radishes
Sparkler white tip radish
Crimson giant radish
Candy cane beets
Detroit red beets
Buttercrunch lettuce
Early curled Simpson lettuce
Grand Rapids lettuce
Mesclun mix
Purple haze carrot
Tender sweet long hybrid carrot
And turnips. 

Can't wait to have my first harvest. 
I'm trying three different kinds of radish in hopes to find a more milder version for snacking. 

Thanks for reading. 

And here's a picture of my snow graveyard of a backyard. Rain deer must be hybernating for the summer. Better get them into the cooler basement soon. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goals for 2014

I do not call these new years resolutions, because that terms just seems jinxed.  These are goals for myself that I hope to accomplish this year.  Last year GMF and I said no fast food burger joints in 2013 and I only cheated once on halloween (I was dressed up like the Hamburglar, I needed to eat a McDonald's burger).

This year I am challenging myself with a couple more goals and I'm hoping that by documenting them on the internet for all to see it will give me more motivation to succeed.  Most of these goals are to work towards a healthier lifestyle.  When I'm home in the summer I do really well because I have my garden but I need to focus on the rest of the year.

First taking an idea from Modern Family:  Jay set a goal of using his elliptical machine for a distance that equated to reaching the Canada boarder by the next Christmas. I am setting a goal of biking a distance which is equivalent to going around lake ontario from my house and back.  This is a distance of 1128 km.  I wish to reach this goal by the end of 2014.  Biking to work is 4.5 km's so if I do this more often this should be an accomplishable goal.  

Second is limiting my pop intake to 2 a month.  I have always drank way too much pop and in the past I have tried giving it up during the week with some success.  I'm hoping this will lead to healthier beverage choices (drink more water!).

Third: bring more lunches to work.  I am often sneaking out to Tim Hortons and grabbing a bagel for lunch or something.  I need to be more organized with my meal planning so that I always have something that I can bring for lunches. 

Fourth: set a realistic cleaning schedule and stick with it.  I have never been able to keep a clean room let alone a clean house.  In 2014 I would love to improve on this.  I think the key here is to be realistic, I'm not going to become Ms. Holly Homemaker just stop being Ms. Molly Messmaker.

Fifth: stay in touch more with family and friends.  You see I hate talking on the phone (I actually get kinda anxious about it - don't ask why I have no idea, it just feels so awkward). I need to make a better effort to Skype with my parents, brothers, nieces and nephews.  The kids grow up so fast, and I don't get to see them in person as much as I would like.  I will Skype with both my brothers and their family at least once a month and my parents once a week.  And call my grandmother at least once a month.

So those are my goals for 2014.  What are your goals? Let me know in the comments or post a link to your New Years post.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Homemade Christmas Presents

This year I wanted to share some homemade gifts with people for christmas.  I think homemade gifts are so much more personal.  I also love edible gifts, because lets face it most of us have enough things and many gifts sit in a closet somewhere never to be worn or used.  

The idea came from the plethora of hot peppers I grew this year.  I planted so many hot peppers knowing I wanted to make hot sauce, but I didn't realize just how much hot sauce I'd be able to make with that many peppers.  After making the first batch and seeing how far a handful of peppers went I knew I would have more than I could ever need.  So I decided that I would give nice hot sauce bottles away for presents.  This hot sauce is a sweet habenero hot sauce.  It's not too spicy so its great for coating chicken strips or wings in (yum!).  I also dried many of the cayenne peppers and made my own chill powder and crushed chili flakes.  The crushed chili flakes are in the jar near my finger in the picture (doh!) inside the jar is also a tiny ziplock with the chili powder.  I have been using the chili powder like crazy, adding extra heat to almost everything I make; pasta, chili, chicken, soup, etc.

GMF and I also started brewing our own beer in 2013 so we wanted to share this others.  In the gift package was one of each of our batches - A cream ale (our first beer, and my go to), a raspberry wheat, a apricot wheat, and an extra special bitter (ESB).  I created labels for the beers with just my printer and some avery labels (won't hold up to a cooler full of ice, but does the trick in a pinch).  I also covered the 6 pack box in decoupaged craft paper and a printed label.  I've named our brewery compass Brewing company for now but we are still looking for a permanent name.  What do you think of compass Brewing co?  

Did you give away any homemade gifts this season?  I'd love to hear about them, tell me about them in the comments or write a link to your blog.

I hope everyone is having a great holiday with their family and friends.