Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My New Garden Blog

It's not that I haven't been blogging, it's just it's all over in the new blog.

So if for some unfortunate reason, you have been directed here by a naughty link, go there, go find out what I've been ranting on about. Go on, you know you're curious.

Right now, I'm evicting plants from the garden. Who will be next? Varigated Dogwood? Wild Choke Cherry? Chinese Lantern (as if I could evict it).

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Big Project

I am writing a sub-blog which will chronicle my gardening transformation as I re-imagine what it is to have an urban veggie patch. This blog will take over Ottawa Hortiphilia for the next year or two:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Back from the wastelands with a project

Yes I'm back and instead of telling you all the far too exciting story of my journey, I have been thinking. About what? What else but gardening. I have a project planned and it is a big one. So big in fact that I am going to start a special 1-2 year long garden blog entirely devoted to it.

All will be revealed once I finally download all those holiday pics so I can have my illustrative device back.

Stay tuned.

(What will this special features blog be called? Why is she tormenting us with yet another blog? What's wrong with this one? Can't she just tell us now instead of making me come back. I'll never remember to check back. Doesn't she know how many blogs I have on my blog roll. Sigh. She could have at least uploaded some plant porn for us...)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Update on spiral garden

I was just on Gardener's Anonymous' Blog and saw the update of her spiral garden which inspired me to update you on my spiral garden. It's exploded into life this year and as of yet has not heard of my plots to rearrange and expand it.

Welcome to the main path:


Street side:


House side:


Sorry, I don't have any pictures of the centre of the spiral but I've changed it around, moving my delphiniums to the front and replacing them with an dark leafed, hardy abelia. Anyhow, it's in for more changing in the coming months and years. The spiral itself is most visible in the spring and fall when most of the herbaceous material has died down. My intention was to have ungulating layers of vegetation so that you play peek-a-boo as you are walking through it until you get to the centre where there is a stone bench for sitting.


Small spiral garden
Scroll down for a spiral rowed veggie patch

Sunday, June 22, 2008

It's been awhile and garlic harvest

While I was gone, several people had kindly volunteered to take care of my garden. Happily for the weeds, one of them was unable to fulfill his obligation. My veggie patch was a verdant field of green crabgrass, lamb's quarters (though I would have liked more of those tasty wild greens), and so on. I weeded until my hands were sore and then I weeded some more. Before I go on the second half of our summer journey, I will mulch heavily!

As we are about to head off again, I harvested the garlic.


This year I tried to plant enough to have extras for replanting in the fall. Tempting as it is to keep the biggest bulbs for eating, I must replant those best ones to help my crop improve year after year. Of course, some of the bulb size variability has to do with luck, like being planted on top of slightly richer earth or with slightly more space, but there was definitely some difference in the variety of garlic. Don't ask me which ones I planted, sometimes I am a bad record keeper but those more successful garlic will be replanted in the fall. Of course, I will also include some of the other varieties in case the weather next year is vastly different and by chance they will be more successful.

I also was surprised to see that I had missed harvesting some garlic last year. Here is what it looks like in its second year. You can see they grew into bunches of 'pearl' garlic without any cloves. I will replant these in the fall too and see what happens.


See you in August!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Broken Tulip

...Spring bulbs, No snow, and making a break for it.

The Broken Tulip

Front Spiral Garden in late April after a couple weeks of unusually warm weather

Many of you garden geeks out there will have read Tulipmania so what I am about to explain is like so 'old news' to you but let me bore you to enlighten others. A long time ago, in the era of Rembrant (1700th century), the artsy and otherwise susceptible communities in Europe were seized with Tulip fever. Bulbs began selling for incredible debt-defying prices. Some of the most prized bulbs sprouted striped flowers. The striping pattern was unpredictable and many, many years later it was discovered that this novel pattern was created by a mosaic virus specifically the Tulip Breaking Virus (TBV - actually according to one source five viruses can cause it).

Species Tulip opened yesterday!

I had filed this, wrongly, under my mind's history files figuring that they only sell clean tulip stock now. I was right that so called 'Rembrandt' tulips on the market nowadays are not affected by the virus(es).

Tulips planted by previous owners many years ago replanted and then covered with gravel which they dutifully grew threw. When I originally dug up this clump of tulips, I swear there were a hundred bulbs in a square foot so who knows how long they had been there. A couple years of replanting the tiny bulbs, they were flowering size, I guess. I think these are the classic red Darwin tulips but I'm not sure.

However, stock still exists of true 'broken tulips'. Old House Gardens Heirloom Flower Bulbs is willing to infest your spring planting design with these ailing beauties. However, they do suggest you plant them away from unbroken tulips and other members of the lily family for obvious reasons. However, maybe you are curious about what would happen if you committed biological warfare on your unsuspecting tulip stock. I'm not suggesting you do... just saying.

A squirrel planted this one. I wonder from which neighbour it came? Random yellow and red tulip near the varigated foliage of red robin greigi tulip.

Squirrel planted tulip. I wonder which neighbour it came from. It's sitting besides ome Greigi tulips with their varigated foliage.

Links to more on broken tulips:

Standard but entertaining article about broken tulips
Intereting article about the connection of broken tulips and 'stone fruit trees'
English broken tulips
An article expanding on the history of the borken tulip
There is a lot written on the economics of the tulip crash, here is but one example

Other Signs of Spring

No snow!

Youngest sniffing the Narcissus.

Spring in fast forward - we went from crocus to daffs to tulips in what seemed like time lapse photography after several weeks of unusually warm weather.

Giant Crocus planted with violas.


Grecian wind flowers. I love these little blooms.

Making a break for it:

I'll be signing off for awhile as we are heading on some really long trips. In the meantime, I wet my plants, has offered to come around occasionally and pull a lamb's ear about to set seed from my garden, so please feel free to read her adventures in Ottawa. I'll also have a friend from around the block who wants to play in my veggie patch so perhaps he'll make some updates. We'll see.

See you in August!

One more gratuitous flower shot

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Local Bloggers

It's not just me.

I thought it would be nice to explore a modern buzz word - local - by finding out who else blogs in the Ottawa Valley about gardens. But here's the thing, there used to be more of us! Now all I can find are the following two and I could pick both of them out in a crowd:

I Wet My Plants - you've heard of this intrepid blogger before. I suspect she's deep in spring seed fever like me right now. We met through plantcycle (much mentioned plant exchange site).

Common Ground - a CSA plot blog/adventure. Talk about a small world - Our kids used to play together.

Anyhow, check them out, leave some comments if you like, read a bit about gardening in Ottawa.

Snow 2008 - the remains

So we are getting closer to NS day (no snow day).

Here is what my yard looks like:

View of the veggie garden with receding glacier.

The front spiral garden popping out of the snow.

With so much snow, plants were actually growing under there. Crocus were in full bud, and there was enough insulation to keep this chinese cabbage overwintered:

2nd year chinese cabbage still alive under snow.

Parsley reliably overwinters here and will self-seed if you let it:

Luminescent in the morning sunshine: a crown of parsley

Thriving in the polytunnel thingy is self-seeded corn salad / mache:

Yum! Mache / corn salad

And finally tulips growing through gravel mulch to join the mass of bulbs full of promise if the local rodentia - bunnies and squirrels - don't behead them all.

Tulips will not be deterred by gravel mulch!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Wanna see what I look like?


An unnamed blogger when categorizing blog types talked about how some bloggers are anon when it comes to anything but their garden and that is more or less me but for fun I thought I would send you over to my other blog to see what I did with my hair. Go on, you know you're curious.

And now back to your regular garden updates.

Melting Snow

It's melting slooooooooooowly.

Check it out, near the house where it is warm, I found tulip shoots!!


Friday, March 28, 2008

Pepper Recovery - the overwintering tale

My Fatali and Long Cayenne peppers have been attacked by aphids and I believe spider mites this winter. They have lost a fair number of leaves and all developing buds but then with the longer days, things are improving.


Much to my surprise the long cayenne appears to be bouncing back. I didn't take a picture of it at its worst out of respect for its dignity but suffice it to say that it had lost almost all of its leaves. The only reason I didn't ditch it was because I hesistate to end my experiments prematurely. When it started to re-leaf I thought that the leaves would come in even smaller than the decreased size they were before they all fell off so am pleasantly surprised by their increasing diametre. It even has some flowers on it.

I did repot it once with enriched (compost) soil to see if it was lacking nutrients so maybe that was the solution?

Anyhow, this year it will be planted in the garden as I will be gone for much of the gardening season (cries to herself) and won't be around to baby potted plants.

The Fatali has some leaf buds that haven't opened yet but I have hope. It hasn't lost all of its leaves but it isn't looking its best.


Overwintering and pepper seedlings (really just an excuse to bring you a new gardening blog you might not have come across)

Yes there is still snow

It is melting at a glacially slow pace -snicker, snicker-. However, at the edge of one drift of snow, I noticed some snow-in-summer peeping out and looking possitively perky so perhaps a change is coming to Narnia.

If, however, I see lions prowling the streets then it will confirm my suspicions that all of this has been some sort of nightmare.

On a plus side, my tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, celariac, perennial onions, and leeks are all sprouting, along with some ornamentals:

Red Mammoth Rock Cabbage, Savoy, Celariac, Leeks - 2 kinds, sperling toga bunching onion

Saturday, March 8, 2008

I Wet My Plants - more

Some of you were fascinated by fellow blogger's great blog name but surprised to find little on her site. Well she's updated it with archives:

Check it out again. She's quite the shutterbug and has some interesting posts.

Going for the record accumlulated snowfall EVER

We are close - second place for most snow ever recorded in Ottawa, and here is the mountain of snow to prove it. The porch is about 7-8 feet tall.


Seriously, by MOUNTAIN, I mean scaleable with ropes and spikes and other gear.

Snow in November 2007:


Snow now in March 2008:


I'm screaming of a white Easter

With every snowstorm that I sight.

Will your days be merry and bright.

And may all your Easters -not- be white.


Whole darn family stuck in a snow tunnel.

This is Ottawa Gardener signing out from The -sledding- Hill in Ottawa

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Overwintering Peppers
- a long winter of bugs


This is the first year that I have had to deal with 'bugs' on my overwintered pepper plants and they have taken their toll but none have entirely succumbed yet. I have done the soapy water thing, the crushing insect thing and the hard water spray thing. Now, I mostly just pick off the aphids when I see them, and put a water bowl in the pots to increase the humidity and scare off any spider mites.

My Fatali is doing okay. It has lost a lot of leaves but it is bravely trying to bud up and leaf out again.

My long cayenne is struggling along. It self pruned off its top last year and lost almost all of its leaves this year. Now it is sporting new aphid ridden leaves so we will see. I have noticed that over the years, the leaf size has dropped. Does this mean that it is near the end of its lifecycle?

I h ave only kept two peppers over the winter this year due to a lack of south facing window space but next year I intend on keeping some small fruited sweet peppers indoors as an experiment too. I can just see my husband's face now. I also hope to make sure there are no, absolutely no, aphids on them before I take them indoors!


Want to know more about overwintering peppers - please follow the pepper tag for lots more links and more about my saga.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Seedy Saturday 2008 - a whole family affair

Seedy Saturday 2009

A friend called the morning of Seedy Saturday asking if I wanted to go some place with her and her toddler.

I tell her, "Just about to head off to Seedy Saturday. Good for kids? Oh yeah. Don't mind me while I package my seeds. When are we going? As soon as possible. Okay, maybe I'll see you there. There's seeds. Yup. A trading table, information about organic gardening and related brick a brack, you know, the usual hippy fair. Artisan bread, that sort of thing. No, really there is a room for kids to do crafts, usually with seeds. I think it's supervised. Anyhow, my kids won't mind being stuck- Okay, well, hope to see you there."

True to what I had promised, all that I mentioned above was there. Most importantly were the congregation of small heritage / organic seed traders. This is great if you spend hours pouring over the seed catalogues like I do, dreaming of buying just one of those from them, and two of those from them and... the shipping and handling can add up after awhile.

One of my favourite seed suppliers, and I have many, is The Cottage Gardener. Here I've got her cornered but she is still smiling.

Cottage Gardener

I didn't get a picture of Eternal Seeds this time but boy have they expanded. Good thing too as they were popular enough that you had elbow your way in to have a look at their selection.

I also didn't get a good picture of Yuko's Open Pollinated Seed (I did get an artsy one with a floating lenscaps in front). Her plant and perennial sale is May 12th and 13th this year. Don't miss her warmly written webpage or her speciality 'chicken treat' seed pack.

However, I did snap a great shot of La Vie En Rose's stand.

La Vie en Rose stand

This company is worth a feverish second look - the kind of look that develops on a gardener this time of year from lack of working in the soil - as they had an impressive selection of hardy flowers and iris.

By the way, the kids did have a lot of fun, with seeds:

Kids in 'Kid's corner' playing with seeds and glue

And if you are wondering if all I did was shop, shop, shop, then I'll have you know that I picked up a fair number of trades too. Happily, I bumped into fellow Ottawa Valley blogger 'I Wet My Plants' and discovered that those other packs of Cherokee Trail of Tears pole beans - besides my own - had come from the ones that I had given her the previous year. Which had, for those who are interested, originally come from the seed company the Cottage Gardener.

Now that we come full circle, remember to make a mental mark on your calender for sometime in the dead of winter 2009. If you see a women with outrageously long hair dragging two slightly bored kids and snapping pictures, it might be me. Say hi. Even if it isn't me, she'll likely smile back. It's a friendly event.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

bloomingwriter: Where in the Gardening World are YOU?

bloomingwriter: Where in the Gardening World are YOU?

Ottawa for visitors for Blooming Writer

Blooming Writer proposed a geographical meme for garden bloggers. To read the true spirit of it, please visit.

Written as a bad poem (yes, that's the title)

I am supposed to entice you
With tales in a nice hue
But the snow's left me in a bind
Making me colourblind

Oh yes Ottawa is for growers
Who need a break from flowers
A six month looong break
from the slavery of the rake

However when finally there is a thaw
It is with rapid building awe
That life struggles to grow fast
Before winter's next white blast


The end


On a more serious note, Ottawa is Canada's capital though the merit of that is debated hotly between the larger and more metropolitan cities of Vancouver (west coast), Toronto (centre of the world, I mean Canada) and la belle ville Montreal (french Canada).

As it is not as large as most cities that are also capitals, it is a bureaucrat town where, unlike in most of Canada, a huge amount of the population is somewhat bilingual. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say, almost all the francophones* are bilingual**, and the anglophones* who speak french like linguistic geniuses compared to much of Canada feel a lot of language guilt***.

There are lots of expensive restaurants and boutiques, as well as a fair number of museums here making it a fairly intersting tourist destination. It also has its share of festivals including Winterlude, the Tulip Festival and Fall Rhapsody (or is that actually Hull's festival... sorry I mean Gatineau****).

It is very sporty place what with all the skating, cross country skiing, cycling and running. There is also a lot of green space to walk your dog or self. However, I am not really the person to ask as I have only lived here for four years, all of that either pregnant or with small children so I don't get out much.

But please, come for a visit. People in Canada are mostly friendly!

* Canadian word for french speakers who are also culturally french. Anglophone means english speaker who is probably of anglo-saxon descent or 'pathetically uniligual' P.S. I am an anglophone. Occasionally the -phone ending is used to refer to other languages such as spanophone but normally those people are stuffed awkwardly in the anglophone box.
** bilingual in Canada often refers to french / english speakers which are the two official languages in Canada.
*** The use of anglophone and francophone of course unfairly lumps all of Canada into two categories, ignoring all the others that speak many, many, many other languages, and could also be referred to as trilingual etc... and speak neither official language, one official language and others or both official languages and others!
****Hull (oo-l) is the original name of the francophone* town across the Ottawa River before it was amalgamated***** with various other nearby communities and called Gatineau (Gat-ee-no)
***** Amalgamated is a term referring to the often ludicrous grouping of towns for money saving political reasons that I don't entirely understand. It is usually protested but those protests are soundly ignored. When travelling to Ottawa by car, you reach the city limits side and look around saying 'hmmm, I didn't realize that the capital of Canada would be so rural'. In other words, you are still in the middle of the country without a smoke stack on the horizon.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Legumes: What's going in my garden.

Peas, beautiful peas - Green Arrow

I love leguminous plants. The climbers take up so little space, and the bush ones are still quite compact compared to other veggies, and they fix their own nitrogen. I know that 'people' suggest innoculating soil with nitrogen fixers when planting to increase yield but I have never needed to do this. Here are the plants that I have grown, and whether or not I plan to grow them again:


Edible Podded: I grow snow peas every year and like them though they are not a major crop in my garden. I have no excuse for this. They are delicious, cold hardy and early, and delicious. This year, I would like to try golden podded snowpeas for nothing more than the novelty.
Status: Golden podded?

Shelling Peas: I try to grow as many of these as possible and never have very many to freeze because the adorable pests, aka my children, get them before I can. I am definitely going to continue to grow as many as possible for the above reasons and also because I love the look guests get when I tell them to try some fresh from the vine. At first, they can be hesitant, especially if we are hosting a party and there are chips on offer. Chips? Peas? And then they try some. Their expression transforms. I must have more, they say with their eyes. We never have enough. I like the bush kinds for kid access but the taller ones are better for us on our small urban veggie plot. A great variety is Tall Telephone.

I don't grow more than two crops a season and my spring crop has always been way better than my fall crop. I think my second crop will for hereonin be grown as Pea Shoots.
Status: Yum. Never enough.

Soup Peas: The only kind I've grown is purple podded capucijner pea and I haven't used them for soup yet as this is the first year that I am growing the seed out. I received mine from a seed trade with Bifucated Carrot. They are beautiful and are storing well. Next year, I plan on growing out half of what I saved so that I'll have enough to eat!
Status: Grow some more!


Runner Beans: I really want to try these. Why? They are darn pretty. They are also called seven year beans because of their alleged perennial nature. Let us just say they are grown as annuals here though some claim you can overwinter the roots.
Status: Yup, for decoration.

Pole Beans: I grow Cherokee Trail of Tears and they are so great that I 'almost' don't grow any other round podded types (you can use them dry or as snap beans, and prolific). Except, I also started to grow some speckled cranberry type that I found at the frust and veg shop. They were fresh locally grown pods that I dried out and planted the six or so beans the following year. Now I have more beans, what will happen? We'll see.

I also grew for the first time last year some flat podded beans 'Hunter' which are good in the young stage, and are also great at the lima bean (green mature stage) as well.
Status: Growing cranberry? beans, cherokee trail of tears and Hunter flat podded beans

Bush Beans: These are fine and I've grown them. Actually I grew two types and saved the seeds only to get them to cross so I had some mixed seed for a couple of years before I started growing pole beans and stopped growing these. It was fun to see the varitations on purple and green pods that I got from the mixing. By the way, I've heard that beans don't mix that easily. Go figure.
Status: Don't grow anymore

Soy Beans

I grow a variety given to my husband who had come back from a protest against the terminator gene. It was a soy bean grown on a family farm for generations in Canada. I don't know the family name or I'd give it that name as a variety. I don't use the soy beans but only grow out my small patch year after year in solidarity.
Status: Yes


On a whim, I grew out some Bulk Barn ones and they did wonderfully well. However, when it came time to process them, I realized I needed to know how to tresh them because it would take an unreasonably long time to open all those little pods. When I know how to do that and have a little more space, I'll grow them again.
Status: Not right now


Impulse buy. I got some brown 'Winnifred's Garbanzo' chickpeas and will try them this year. Where I'm going to put them, I don't know. That's what February is for... planning the garden layout. I've been fascinated by more obscure chickpea varities ever since I've read Breed Your Vegetable Varities (yes, I know, I mention this book a lot - it's fantastic for garden geeks).
Status: I'll find a place for them somewhere.


I'm not growing:

Lima Beans - marginal season here and well I don't really like them
Peanuts (short season) - Valencia can grow here but I haven't yet tried
Fava Beans - I can't get Hannibal Lector out of my head though they sure look pretty.
Yard Long Beans - I'm not growing them though I am intrigued - the real string beans
Winged Beans - This delicious sounding plant is not well suited to Ottawa.
Asparagus Peas - They sound pretty but I'd bet they'd just go from flower to tough in my dry soil.
Hyacinth Bean - Not going to grow well here? (see comments)
Tepary Bean - I thought these american dessert plants wouldn't grow here but apparently, Prairie Seeds grows them?
Tuberous Legumes - I guess some are grown for their tubers, such as Jicama.
Siberian Pea Shrub - some fear that this will become invasive out of its native habitat but it produces a bland lentil like seed.


And even more leguminous vegetables
Variation in seed colour in golden podded pea - seed saving
Prairie Seeds - interesting selection for northern climes

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Purple cabbage and bolting lettuce (random picture).*

Okay, I luv ya garden bloggers, really. I love the mega popular blogs with their 54 comments which are a blog post in themselves. I love the obscure subject garden blogs with their on-point discussion and well researched posts (not to say that the former can't be the latter too). I love the meandering blogs which dabble in a little knitting and stray to posts about dogs romping in the snow. I love you all from the funny to the serious, to the constantly updated to the infrequently written BUT

I can't read them all!

There are just so many that I think I am developing blog-blindness. I try to scale down my reading so that it is manageable but I just have to leave an encouraging comment on that neglected blog with no comments that has fantastically written posts. I have to read the latest on Empress of Dirt and her 'Snow Punnies.' I am deadly curious how much gardening Heavy Petal is going to get up to with the baby on the way - I hope lots -, or what Bifucated Carrot is going to uncover on his wonderfully political organic gardening seed saving blog. But there is more, what will Crafty Gardener create, what story will Kate Smudges in Earth, Paint and Life tell us and what will A Study in Contrast find in her garden?

Oh and, of course, there is Blooming Writer who is in the process of writing something, something about blooms? A book perhaps? What will it be about? I'll have to read and wait. And... and will My Grandpa's Garden's jellybeans sprout? Will Northern Exposure ever have snowdrops ;-)? Seeded has discovered winter sowing, will it work out? How can The Gardeners Anonymous blog make me jealous with her glorious garden today? Is Growing Thumbs really growing thumbs? How deep exactly do My Roots Run Deep go? Will May Dreams Garden find her microclimate crocus soon? Will Root Cause make me want to grow another obscure veggie?

There are more and if I didn't mention you, shame on me but please forgive me. It's the blog blindness setting in again.


*Why did you stick a picture of lettuce and cabbage in this post that clearly has nothing to do with lettuce and cabbage? What if I was really interested in interplanting late season brassicas with fast maturing lettuce and wanted some information about it? Or what if I wanted to know what varities (mammoth red rock, four seasons lettuce, I think) you were growing that had such wonderful colours? Hey, did you ever think of that you trickster blogger? What were you trying to do, get me to come to your blog because of the picture?

Yes. Some searchable places (Blotanical), use pictures in their summaries and well, sometimes you are scanning really fast and ... Thanks for visiting?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dreaming of the Garden

Memories of sunny time.

So I woke up wondering if I had really gone to the nursery and bought all those seeds and then I realized that it was just a really vivid gardening dream. I have been reading incessantly about gardening again which surprises me as in October I had 'gardener's exhaustion' and was almost looking forward to the long white winter rest. Not so anymore, it pains me to see all these posts about snowdrops. Here are merely a few that I have stumbled across:

The Green Fingered Photographer
Heavy Petal

Perhaps I should start a meme cataloguing when we all get our first snowdrops (if we even get them). Then we could map us out: BC (Heavy Petal) - Jan... and so on. In Ottawa, I think it's sometime close to April...

On a positive note, my hubby found a whole bunch of garden pics that I hadn't uploaded. Even 'he' - who cringes when people bring up the subject of plants in my company - said "Isn't it amazing how colourful it is?" Here are a couple to remind me that the world can be more than Black, White and Brown.

Veggie Garden in full glory


Newly installed garden with a Yellow Rose


Mums in Fall




Helenium in the spiral garden


Basil Seed Bracts


Gifted Dahlia (plantcycle)


Bellflower - you've seen it before but I wanted to end on a cool note...


Isn't colour wonderful?

So if you read this send me your snowdrop pics, I'll make a file (sigh). I'm sure to be interested until the end of bulb season.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Greens - what to plant & what not to plant...


Gorgeous collards, two varities though I am not sure which is which.

... that is the question on this series of posts. See:



What a HUGE vegetable subject this is. Human Beings seem to be willing to sink their teeth into a whole botanical ecosystem of greenery. I will try and do my best to catalogue all I know about what grows in the north (here), what I am growing next year, and what I have resigned not to grow again. I am not including those that are only grown as 'herbs.' That is the subject of another post.

Perennial Greens:

French Sorrel - This year, I've decided to go for it after hearing all these tales of delicious lemony sorrel soup in spring. It will also tolerate some shade. YES (I will grow it)

Bloody Dock (red veined sorrel)- This sounds a bit tough for me but hey what do I know, I've never grown it. It appears in The Urban Farmer's garden of delights. MAYBE?

Lovage (borderline 'green', more of a herb) - I have grown this plant for several years and find its semi-shrub habit and deep green, cut leaves quite attractive. I also love the flavour in soups and stews. Some people eat this celery relative raw but I find the taste a bit too strong. Interestingly, it smells almost like chicken stock. Another plant that doesn't mind a bit of shade. YES

Chicory - The chicories (unlike endives) are perennial and I have lots of anecdotal evidence of friends and relatives (often italian) who grow it year upon year. I am still waiting for signs of life in those that I've been growing in my spaceship - recent pic here. I'll keep you posted. YES

Rocket / arugula - Apparently, perennial, but I'm not sure how hardy it is. YES

Salad Burnet - Ordered the seed for this from Salt Spring Seeds. I'll let you know. YES

Stingy Nettles - I don't grow these myself, nor have any volunteered for me, nor have I ever eaten stiny nettles but I hear good things!

Good King Henry - My seed arrived. It is a spinach relative, whose shoots are eaten in early spring. It is sometimes referred to as poor man's asparagus. Most of the time, people say it tastes great, but Carol Deppe in 'Breed your own vegetables' says her plant tastes awful. She suggests that there might be a lot of variation in this uncommon vegetable and that you should try more than one seed source before giving up on plants like this. YES

Asparagus - Actually a young shoot but I'm including it (even though I do intend on doing an 'all stems' post) I don't grow it because I don't have a convinient spot to grow enough for our family's needs. Apparently, someone has planted it nearby in Ottawa. Must go a-foraging.

SeaKale - Another plant mostly eaten for its spring shoots, I've gotten mixed messages on whether or not this is hardy in Ottawa, but I'm going to try it anyhow. An old time Ottawa Garden writer grows it so I figure, it's possible. YES

Chickweed - Well, it might taste good I suppose but it's on my 'haven't tried it yet' list. I am friendly to this week so I guess I grow it so ... YES

Scorzonera - I'm awaiting the seeds. This is something without a seed source (that I could find) in Canada but with some impressive mentions by the authors of 'Perennial Vegetables,' and 'Breed your own Vegetables Varities.' Though it is commonly thought of as a root crop, I guess the leaves in the spring taste almost like lettuce, and it's perennial (though once again, I've read very conflicting information on how hardy it is). Hope it works for me! YES

Grape Leaves - I love seasoned rice stuffed grape leaves! YES

Fiddle Head Ferns - Another delicacy that no one has cooked for me (including myself). If you have a shady spot, this plant is a great idea.

Mint - Is this a green, a herb, a tea plant, desert? I don't braise it, but I certainly use it in salads including cous cous.



Good old purslane, the wild variety, ready for harvest, with some green orach leaves (large) in the background, also coriander, chokecherry, 'black lace' elderberry in the picture.

Cold Hardy

Mache / Corn Salad / Lamb's Lettuce - This is definitely cold hardy, it's still sloooooooowly growing in my spaceship, and it has reseeded nicely for me. So nice, I didn't have to thin it or anything. YES

Claytonia - My first crop failed so I'll have to order more seeds and try again. YES

Giant Red Mustard (motherearthnews) - I am excited about trying this piquant braising green, especially now that I know it reseeds. YES

Arugula / Rocket (motherearthnews) - The native is perennial so is of more interest to me and I hear it also reseeds. YES

Parsley - I include this as a green because I use it so heavily in sauces and pesto that it is nearly a vegetable. It reseeds prolifically for me every year. It is extremely cold hardy in a coldframe as well. YES

Warm Season

Amaranth - Related to the common garden pest pigweed has some lovely vegetable relatives including a tri-varigated variety. It can also be grown for its nutritious seeds. I have grown the weed before. It definitely reseeds so I have no cause to doubt the cultivated variety won't reseed as well. The problem would be with the varities crossing (if you didn't want that). I know that the ornamental reseeds as well. I'm growing a grain variety this year though some of those vegetable ones look lovely.

Orach - A reseeder related to spinach that doesn't mind warm weather but is sometimes described as a cool season crop. I grew lime green, green and red orach last year. This year, I plan on trying just the red and purple varities. It is quite ornamental in seed. YES

Beetberry - I have yet to have this seed work for me but there is always next year. Another relative of spinach which produces bland red berries as well. YES

Wild purslane - Well this certainly reseeds. Pull out the baby plants and pop them into your salad. They are full of essential fatty acids. Grow again? Um, I have no choice. YES

Magenta Spreen lamb's quarters - A relative of lamb's quarters. Oh yes, reseeds too. It has a pretty pink blush to the giant leaves. Grow again? I have enough regular lamb's quarters around that I don't need to grow this too.


Cold Hardy

Various lettuce, weeds (oops), radish flowers, and some onions for good measure.

Herb Stella / Minutina / Buckshorn Plantain - This was quite a tasty herb even when it was a bit aged. I will try it again next year. YES

Lettuce - I don't have great luck with the heading varities and this year I am only going to grow loose leaf types but next year, I'll try the headers again. Often it will reseed in my garden though I've not tried to baby these seedlings in the coldframe to see if they come back. My favourite loose leaf types are the ubiquitous 'salad bowl,' and 'oak leaf'. At any rate, worth growing for the seed because they are inbreeders, which means that they (most of the time) come true from seed, even when starting with a small population (small amount of plants) in close proximity to other varities. YES

Spinach - I am growing so many relatives of spinach that I'm not entirely sure why I'm gorwing htis but I love spinach and it is wonderful to see a field of it where I will grow warm season crops in the near future. YES

Endive - The annual version of Chicory. Yup, I'll try it again, mabye this year I'll get a crop. YES

Kale (see brassicas, coming soon to this blog) - I love love love Kale. My favourite variety is Semi Dwarf Westlandse. It seems hardier than the famous Red Russian that is still alive, but unhappy in my spaceship. YES

Chard - I am amazed at the variety of temps this will grow at. Again, it was flavourable in the height of summer and in the depths of winter inside the spaceship. I am going to try a slightly different variety called Bietina. YES

Beet Tops (also included in the roots section) - I grow this incidentally as thinnings of my beets. YES

Turnip Greens (also included in the roots section) - These too are used as thinnings. YES

Cress - I think I'll try Land Cress (or have I already?) this year. YES

Oriental Greens - tatsoi, bok choy (these are brassicas as well) - I love the variety of wonderful flavours of these brassica greens and will definitely grow these again. I'll try a mix of these one year and give you my results. YES

Chrysanthanum / shungiku - intriguing but never tried them. They sure do look pretty in flower!

Chevril - I like this herb but it goes to seed too quickly for me.


Warm Season

Cultivated Purslane ('golden', 'tall') - I'm a bit scared of this given my friend the wild purslane but I am willing to give it a try as I hear it has superior flavour and browth habit. YES

Mizuna - Cold and warm hardy in my experience. YES

New Zealand Spinach - Never tried it what with the amaranth and the orach and the chard, I have no need.

Malabar Spinach - never tried it.

Curly Mallow (reseeder?) - My curiousity is piked. I wonder how regular mallow tastes.

Collards - I'll address these again in Brassicas but they are highly productive, extremely tolerant of a wide range of temperatures and delicious. I recommend that other people grow them but I am giving them a miss this year because they are huge plants and I already have a lot of greens. YES

Basil - Yup, this one too. Like Parsley. I even use this in sandwiches. Yum. YES


But there is more, oh so much more. This subject never ends. I've not mentioned some mexican greens such as Huauzontle and Epazote, stems such as Alexanders and Celery, Flowers such as Calendula and Daylily, other wild foods such as dandelion. We could go on, and please do. I always love to learn about something new!


Read a whole lot more about greens!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Garden Blogging and Photos

I've noticed that certain blog categories have more gorgeous photographs than others and garden bloggers really love their photos if they can take them. The sumptuous pictures of flowers and veggies, I think speak to the love of the sensual that many gardeners share - the sight, sound, smell, taste and touch of living world. My photos are mediocre compared to some of the art pieces I've encountered. Baby sprouts are as carefully lit as newborns, first blooms are bridal beautiful, and harvests are bright and proud. They are big in detail and intimate even at a distance.

Thanks garden bloggers!

Urban Farming - cold style (part I)

Okay, nearly everytime I look up 'urban farm' I am brought to lovely sites of west coast gardens where they dance happily in the eternal greenery of spring time. That's not to say there aren't brave urban farmers in more northern, central locations such as initiatives like foodshare in Toronto but they seem to be fewer and farther between.

Overwintered Fatali hot pepper (was in my window sill) with a Caribbean habanero.

Perhaps it is just natural that the embarrasing riches of urban edibles occured first and most frequently to those who lived in such lush climes. Or maybe it is the history of 'free spirits' that roam the coastal paradise. Whatever it is, I say let us in 'parka* land' not be outdone!
*A parka is a very well insulated coat used to prevent you from freezing your bums off - literally.

Large coldframe / polytunnel type thing.

We too can BAN THE LAWN.

Now I know this sounds like one of those things that is easy to dream about but more difficult to do. Not that it is hard, really it's quite easy. I can provide anyone who needs it with detailed instructions... but it is difficult to overcome the barriers of normalicy to allow yourself to start killing off the bowling field of green.

Overlit picture (sorry) of cosmos growing around a very productive though young Montreal Plum in the front yard mini-orchard.

I too have my limitations. Let me call them Neighbours, Family, and Time and Enjoyment.

Lavender hedge with a cabbage patch just behind it in what will be a raspberry patch. I got lots of puzzled looks about the cabbage, even some compliments such as 'What is that purple plant - some sort of floweirng kale?'

Neighbours: "What will they think?"

If you landscape your frontyard mini orchard or decorative veggie garden nicely and keep it weeded, they will be curious, maybe even impressed. If you give a huge grinny smile everytime they pass by, and start handing out tomatoes, they may start to think you're kooky but grow darn tasty produce. If you keep it up for years, skipping merrily down the street with armfuls of excess green beans and mint flowers, they might get thinking that they too could do something of the sort.

Centre of my mini-orchard spiral garden in the front. As the semi-dwarf /dwarf trees grow, perennials will be thinned, changed or given away.

If you garden in your backyard then it's your little secret isn't it? Unless of course, you're inclined to do the aforementioned skipping.

Rugosa rose produces lots of edible rosehips with diablo ninebark, a cultivar of a native.

Family: "Where will the kids play?"

Sigh. This is my life - balancing the supposed needs for my children to dash around on a green surface, my husband's need for something restful and decorative and my need to overthrow the lawn. If you have a big enough yard, this should not be a problem. Give them half and keep half for growing veggies. And remember, gardens are great places to play.

Not my garden but a heritage cottage garden nearby. That's my little seedling though.

If you have a very small garden, then you might need to get more persuasive. I suggest you start small, really small and quietly expand year upon year as you re-cut the edges of your garden bed. -hee hee hee- (Note to husband: No, this is a suggestion for other people. I never, ever do such a thing. Really.)

Chufa grass which produces edible tubers, backed with beebalm and lemon balm, flanked with germon chamomile (the last three make great teas), and on the other side by my husbands garden with some ornamentals. P.S I'm not convinced by this pink / red combo - plants shall be moved.

As for time, I understand not wanting to take on too much and that gas powered lawnmower or landscaping company makes short work of a large space. However, a well mulched garden can be less work than you think. Start with a garden patch filled with perennial edibles and herbs and see how you like it. You may find that pulling the occasionally weed out of your decorative rock garden filled with sense sensational herbs far more satisfying than running the lawnmower.

I love the fact that the garlic is bigger than my toddler!

Time and Enjoyment: "But I like flowers!"

So do I which is why I suggest that you allot a percentage of your yard to the decorative. There are lots of flowers that can attract pollinators, give a habitat to local wildlife, and ward off or trap pests, which also are great to look at. The more visible your garden, and the more you are worried about Neighbours, the higher your percentage can be. Make sure you choice decoratives adapted to your region and microclimates. If you plan on mostly relying on rainfall to irrigate your garden and you don't get a lot of it, then use drought resistant plants. Native plants often fit the bill but if you want to maintain planting spaces for your edibles, be sure to choice plants that won't take over your garden!

Rhubarb planted with columbine, lupin, horseradish, violets (edible flowers), daylily, garlic in the front this year, and there is a row of Jeruselum Artichokes hiding just nearby.

Also, many useful tea and medicinal plants are darn pretty to look at. Think 'cottage garden'.


Part II - Perennial vegetables and season extension for the north - coming soon.

Backyard vegetable garden, with a young blueberry patch just beyond it.


Sharing backyards in urban Vancouver
Wading Pool Gardens - for those without a dirt space.