This yard is producing!

Late July, I’ve slowed down, and I love it. Time to enjoy what has been done and what is being produced. I’m training tomatoes daily, watering profusely, pulling weeds and eating produce directly from the soil. Let me show you what I have on the go:

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At the back, tall amaranth is just about to flower. Behind them are Russian Sunflowers. I’m not sure why they are smaller to the right, but it is likely soil related. The kidney beans in front of the sunflowers on the right have discolouration and seem to struggle towards the right. However, the yield on the kidney beans looks extraordinary. Below the sunflowers are black beans, they are probably in the wrong place – maybe needing more sun. I planted the odd chickpea below the amaranth, we’ll see how that goes.

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In front is my cabbage bed. Thanks to the dogs eating the cabbage I just have some kale and brussels left. The marigolds are to add to the bug population (both good and bad) and there are small cabbages planted amongst them that will hopefully be big by the fall. (There are a couple Kohlrabi in there as well)

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Here is my blueberry garden in the front with nasturtiums – you might call it a nasturtium garden with blueberries, but you would be wrong. I am not willing to accept that I may need to cut the nasturtiums out to help the blueberries….but we’re heading that way. Also in this garden is the beautiful opium poppy….I mean bread poppy.

Behind you will notice two more beds. Barely visible are the three fruit trees. I quickly put a border around them just to establish a walking path, but I will work on those another year. In the meantime, there is buckwheat in the nearest and nasturtiums in the far one; both just recently planted. I may do winter grains in both and later decide what to do with it next year.

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In the first bed I have my attempt at the “Three sisters garden.” If you have been following you will remember that I was concerned both about the soil quality and the order I planted this garden. The corn should have had a large head start, but instead it was planted with the bean and the squash were purchased in 4″ pots. The result is struggling corn, scarlet runners with no where to go and squash in poor soil – not my best effort.

Behind is a lush mixture of tomatillo (one plant takes up most of the left side), tomatoes, egg plant, cucumber, chard (along the front) and a few mustards over on the left side. This box is largely compost and the plants love it. I’m getting some tomatoes, but each of the 10 or more plants is a different variety, so I sould get some at different times for months to come. I did have peppers – two bell, a jalapeno and a hot chili, but they were dwarfed by the other plants so I dug them out and moved them up near the house to enjoy the light and heat. My pictures include tags of encarsia formosa from Applied Bio-Nomics. The tags each have 100 little black eggs of the wasp (encarsia) that parasitizes whitefly. Tomatillo, egg plant, tomatos and others are all in the nightshade family and often suffer in the summer from whitefly. My tags are overkill, as whitefly outdoors is not often a problem here, and 4 encarsia for every 10 square feet, every week is all you really need. IMG_9537

My beautiful chard – delicious!

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Right in the foreground of this picture is the flower garden – meant to attract beneficial insects. Despite being poorly seeded by the clumbsy hands of a 2 year-old, it seems to be pretty happy – and tall.

In the middle is a garden designated for the onion family and parsley family. So on the left there are leeks, then red onions, a few garlic, some seeded onions, all inter-planted with carrots and cilantro. In the middle I have a bunch of weeds…no joke. I put parsnip seeds there, and when these weeds popped up I assumed they were pasnips. I let them grow and still have, but had to pull one and discovered it was shallow-rooted. I’m leaving them there until I decide what else to do…quite the bummer – I like parsnips. On the right is some basils and parsleys.

At the back there are radishes on the left, then carrots, then a few Kohlrabi. The tall stuff in the middle is mustard that is flowering…I should have thinned them as they are pale and bolted. Other gardens have some mustard, months older, dark green and just about to flower. To the right of the mustard are beets. They aren’t too happy – maybe it’s the heat. And when I water them there are hundreds of (I think) leaf-hoppers that take off. Hopefully they do better as the summer goes on.

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Finally, at the back left is buckwheat. It’s beautiful! In the middle is a wire mesh with some baby peas starting to come up. And on the right I’m seeing if I get amaranth again, planting months later.

The foreground has carrots and then radishes (visible) on the left. There are carrots and lettuces throughout the middle, whereever the dogs didn’t step. It would all have looked like ther far right, which is the lettuces-untrampled. Pretty bummed about the dog-damage. But I can put lettuces in again as weather cools-off.

In case I havn’t mentioned before, I got most of my seeds from saltspring island seeds – it’s open-pollinated (non GMO), and grown in the same climate, so I know it’s safe for my family and my garden. Trusting your seeds is the best way to start.

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So, that’s the update, mid-summer. There are a couple more fruit trees I’m trying to keep alive, and some sweet corn planted along the fence. That corn has flowered and some ears are forming. Won’t be long before we’re grilling cobbs (my wife’s favourite.)

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Harvests have been fun: Lots of picking blueberries with Abby, and pulling up the odd carrot. She discovered she doesn’t like radishes (to be expected)… or dirt. The other day I offered a dirty radish, she said: “I don’t like dirt, yesterday I ate dirt because my bike went fast down the hill.” I broke into tears laughing, when she went over the handlebars the day before (in a gentle way) she did come up with a mouthfull of dirt and of course, I said “you ate dirt!”

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I picked parsley, chives, mint and some tomatoes and made a tabouleh. I regularly have salads of Kale, amarath leaves, mustard greens and the odd lettuce, with radish and herbs. Summer has been good thus far. If I can get my olives producing and figure out why my new lemon is dieing ( and then get lemons from it) things like the tabouleh will literally be entirely from my garden.

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The lemon is dieing. The oregano is happy. I’m puzzled on this one. The only thing I can think of is sun-burn. Too much sun too quickly for the Meyer.

I’ve harvested several large heads of cabbage. Three made these 4 jars of sauerkraut…which I have to admit has gone bad. Not sure why. Liquid level was high, but when I put them in the fridge – sealed – the liquid level dropped and they have likely been compromised. I better do more research on that one.

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Here I have a few cabbages left. They are just forming their tight heads now, and as long as the dogs don’t find them I should get a cole-slaw and a second chance at sauerkraut. The corn behind is the sweet corn. The pic doesn’t do justice as the row stretches a long way and they are taller and darker green on the other side.

Well, I hope you enjoyed the update. I go on vacation next week and need to train some people on how to water my garden – I should really get on some irrigation. Right now, it takes about 45 minutes everyday to keep the fruits and veggies happy.

Here is the twilight of the post. Our patio, home to the sickly lemon, but happy Olives, rosemarys, lavendars and a few of the hundreds of lizards there were before my dog Thor discovered he could eat them. – should he eat them? I’m not too sure.

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