Week 19 Garden Update

It’s May. April was the warmest and driest on record for YYJ (Victoria International Airport.) With the warm spell in April (consecutive days in the mid 20s), I had rushed to activate my watering system. After a couple days of rain and cloud and the forecast for more, I turned my watering off. However, the promise of rain has fallen short and I’ll be turning the watering back on today….Another weird year. And a bit of a concern for the reservoirs. Summer rain or epic drought?

There is a major sense of relief and accomplishment, or at least the sense that accomplishment is close at hand. This week marks the end of a rush to sow, transplant and set-out to keep up with my schedule. All that is left is to direct sow some warm season beans and put a few more things in the ground. Then, other than regular sowing of fast crops for successive plantings, I have little else planned until late summer when fall crops or winter crops are established. Lucky me! Time to relax.

Dressed for rain on a hike. It never rained. But that wouldn’t have stopped the smiles anyways.

Everything I need to put in the ground is in except cucuberits and peppers. The area dedicated to squash this year is a neglected area. We’ve had material like cardboard on top of it to suppress weeds. Soon, we’ll pull that up, hurt our backs removing the weeds and plant all the squash.

Don’t judge me. I promise, it’ll look better.

The peppers, however, may never see the ground. The greatest success I’ve had growing peppers were in 5 gal buckets on a balcony in Vancouver, feeding them fertilizer and watering twice a day. I don’t want to do that here, but I also don’t want to watch my peppers fail to fruit or even grow, as has been the case lately. Right now they are in 1gal pots. I will either grow them up to 5 gal pots and maybe find a space for them mid-summer. Or, I’ll put them in when I don’t feel like watering them anymore.

Among other things: Peppers in 5 gal pots. June 2017. Also, dogs alternating between sun and shade.

On to the beds: But first: Things are growing fast. I took these pictures 5 days before writing this and I can already see the difference…I love this time of year.

One, Two, Three and Four are the perennial beds: Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and a rhubarb/asparagus mix (respectively). All but the rhubarb is flowering…perfect! And despite the asparagus being different ages I decided again not to harvest any. I want the bed thick with them before I start pulling.

Bed 5: Garlic dividing thirds: Red onion, yellow storage onion and a space for carrots. I have yet to grow one. One day there are seedlings, the next they are gone. I have yeast traps for slugs, but I suspect something else is eating them.

Bed 6: Solanacea: Potatoes all around with determinate tomatoes evenly spaced throughout: 4 SanMarzano and 4 Tasti Lee. I had previously put poppy seeds in there. They were slow this year, but I’ll leave them for now. I don’t want them to shade the tomatoes, so they’ll have to go if the tomatoes don’t shoot-up. And speaking-of shooting up….I’m going to try to grow them more like indeterminate varieties. I built the same 8 foot high frame to tie them up. What I’ll probably do is just tie up every branch. I won’t clip any branches, but I’ll just try to train up and off the ground. We’ll see how it goes! (And if my cage collapses).

Bed 7: Spinach and Beet Family: Last years chard is bolting and will be composted soon. The amaranth is small but I expect it to shoot up and provide some shade to keep the bed cool. Hopefully that will allow for a longer season pulling delicious spinach and arugula from here. So far this bed is doing well. The beets look fantastic so far.

Bed 8: Two thirds garlic and a central area for cilantro and celery. So far so good. I have some amaranth in there for colour, but the celery and cilantro is already being harvested.

Bed 9: Garlic divides the bed in thirds. One is overflow for flowers, another has been seeded late with more onions and the last has just been planted with parsnips, but left below the winter fava beans so I can collect seeds for next year (and maybe eat some).

Bed 10: Flowers: Most are doing well. It looks empty because of the large spacing, but all of these are expected to get big…..you’ll see.

L-R: Delphiniums, strawflower, snap dragons and echinacea

Bed 11: Flowers: More of the same.

More, including panicum, gomphrena, and china asters.

Bed 12: Grasses: Most of this is a winter wheat which is doing very poorly…mostly due to dogs grazing in it. The last third is Yellow corn. Kindney beans will be planted amongst the corn. Bamboo is across it since the dogs were trampling the corn to eat the wheat.

Bed 13: Grasses: Birds, and a lack of rain from the Fir overhead have restricted this bed. Corn (a mix of Jewel and Rainbow) is in one third. Black beans will be planted amongst the corn. The rest is barley, and (maybe) rye, and oats. We will abandon the grains and be putting flowers in here soon.

Bed 14: Brassica and Flax. The flax was mostly eaten by birds, but the seeds that survived are coming up now. I was supposed to successively seed flax in here, so it’ll just be the one crop unless we can find more seeds. The brassicas were a mix. So there is kale, broccoli, cauliflower and a few others in there. They seem to be good. There is sweet alyssum and bolting red cabbage to attract beneficial insects.

Bed 15: Mustards: Lots of bolting, but they were overwintered in the cold frame. “Kate’s Mustard” was eaten as seeds, so I never saw what it was. I planted more in trays and I’ll transplant them soon to see what that is like. Otherwise there is a mustard mix (and arugula and kale) in that place. The other side is also a mustard mix and in the middle is simple yellow mustard. The mustard family is great for greens. There is a huge variety of flavours. So mostly this is for salads, but I’ll collect all the seeds and either make mustard again or keep them whole for other recipes.

Bed 16: Solanacea: Two rows of potatoes line the south side. Then a few tomatillos and indeterminate tomatoes: 3 each of Sunchocola, Yellow Cab, Indigo Rose, and Sweet Million. I feel if there is one thing that makes you feel you are benefiting from fresh backyard produce, it is cherry tomatoes! That and carrots…which I haven’t had success with…ever.

Bed 17: Lettuces: After a rough start (something was eating them), more recent transplants seem perfect. I have head lettuces and “cut and come again” type. I’ve actually run out of room with more seedlings to plant. I’ll probably make rows within rows so if the older ones bolt, maybe the younger ones will continue. There is also the trellises to support peas (sweet peas and a shelling pea). Also there are sunflowers. I grow these on the south side so they will shade the lettuces when it gets hot and attract beneficial insects.

Bed 18: Brassicas: Cabbages, broccoli and brussels make up the dominant thirds. Kale and sunflowers are used to divide the groups. These are planted too close together, so I will either pull some, or see how they do. This bed was compact clay. Before planting I tilled heavily and added some peat based compost. Since this picture, I also top dressed with natural compost from the yard. They have really started to grow this year. When I grew brassicas in the peat based compost they were enormous and highly productive. Since then they’ve been in natural clay soil and done poorly. I hope the amendments will suffice and get these up to par.

Bed 19: Legumes: The trellises divide the bed in thirds. Each has a climber on it. From East to West (Left to right) they are Sweetpeas; Endo Snap pea; Harry Burton Shelling Pea and Endo snap pea again. The two outer third sections are planted with chick peas and the middle is still empty, to take in black beans. A left over leek and some garlic have remained.

Bed 20: Grasses: A quarter is winter wheat..suffering the same as the previously mentioned wheat. And a larger section is dedicated to a mix of corns (all my corn are flour corn). I will interplant the corn with black beans and some pole beans.

On the pest-front, not much is new. Aphids come and go and thanks to my aphid-predator attracting, I don’t suspect we’ll have any issues. Caterpillars are out but there isn’t much damage. My beer yeast traps have slain thousands of slugs and other bugs. And I did find these two critters eating my kale.

I may do another update in a couple weeks time, but they will become fewer and farther between. But, I find it important to record tasks and how certain plants have faired, so I keep this blog as a garden journal. I enjoy looking back to see how things have grown….including the kids!

Until next time!

See how far we’ve come this year: Week 11

Click here to learn about some aphid solutions for your garden.

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