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