Aquilegia formosa

a garden update – sans photos April 18, 2010

Almost a month ago, my 5+ year old cell phone up and died on me. Somehow, I ended up with a fancy new Blackberry. It has a web browser and a camera, as well as tons of other bells and whistles that I cannot figure out how to use. I have been taking pictures of my garden and my seed starting trays on a weekly basis, all intended for posts over here. But I cannot figure out how to upload these pictures properly. I have no idea how to get them from my phone to my computer. I know I can upload them to facebook, and I know I can write wordpress posts on my phone which I can upload, but when I try to add a picture to those posts, they are HUGE!! – way wider than the post itself, filling up the screen. I’ve tried to find help on the internet, but it’s much too technical for me – something about the “device memory” and a memory card… I think I know what the memory card is, my husband got a new Blackberry at the same time I did (that’s the “somehow” reason I mentioned, above) and he put music onto his phone using this tiny memory card somewhere behind the phone battery that slipped into a regular sized memory card… but that means figuring out how to move, or copy all my pictures from the “device memory” to the memory card, and then finding tweezers so I can manipulate that minuscule card, and then finding the regular memory card that the minuscule card fits into… I want instant gratification here, y’all!

So, that’s my dilemma, and here’s my post, sans photos. (I’m Canadian. We learn French here.)

Firstly, I’d like to add a link to the post I wrote last year with pictures of my garden. I’m going to copy a couple of those pictures into this post, and when I finally figure out the crackberry photo thing, I’ll post some pictures from this year.

This is a photo of the main garden, and two of our 4 main beds. At the top of the picture is an area with a path marked out by a few 1″x2″s. This area is now a triangular-shaped bed where we intended to plant potatoes last weekend. My 7 year old’s baseball practice and a couple of papers of mine got in the way of that project. My lovely sister/roommate spent last Sunday tweaking the irrigation system, instead.

Not much has changed, layout-wise. We’ve adjusted the beds a little to make the pathways between them larger (very important to have room to shuffle your feet when weeding or harvesting from a squatting position). Also, the pea netting frame has been moved to the next bed (which isn’t visible in this photo), and the brassicas were planted in last year’s pea bed (this was an early spring photo, so it mostly shows lettuces and spinach in that bed.)

Here you can see the very corner of this year’s pea bed, as well as last year’s tomato bed.

The two new beds we had started building did not progress, so the half-frame for the second one has been removed, and is now back to lawn (well, dirt and seed and some baby grass, but mostly weeds. I don’t mind weeds!)

This year we’re putting squash there, and my sister is building a frame for them from 2″x4″s – there are now 3 screwed onto each end, and she’ll use wire between each end. It may seem quite terrible for a rotation to move from tomatoes to squash (same family, same diseases, the avoidance of which is the point of rotational gardening). However, last year’s tomatoes grew terribly because of the soil we used. This was a brand new bed in this picture, taken in April of 2009. A month before, it was lawn (well, mostly dandelions). We used free compost from the GVRD dump to fill this bed. It’s heavy on the wood chips, and I don’t think it was well-composted enough to have any nitrogen available for the plants. This year we added a tractor scoop of organic veggie mix, so we’re expecting the squash to do just fine 🙂

I intended to have a fall garden last year (I’m kind of hit-and-miss with that), and, because I got married in September (on the cheap – did most of the planning/work ourselves, le sigh), in August I bought brassica starts from my local garden center. Poor things didn’t make it into the ground until the first week of September, and thus did not produce in the fall. However, we’ve had broccoli and Brussels sprouts shoots these last two months, so who an I to complain?!?

So far we’ve transplanted a bunch of overwintering seeds/starts/”volunteers”. I’ve got kale, Swiss chard, spinach and broccoli growing happily. I’ve seeded lettuce and radishes and peas. We’ve started beans and squash and tomatoes inside (as well as my boy’s marigolds 🙂 kids love gardening, too!).

I have pictures of my baby plants, showing their progress. Maybe sometime soon I’ll be able to share those pictures!

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is it spring yet? February 14, 2010

Filed under: Food,Garden — aquilegiaformosa @ 4:24 pm
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We have been having amazingly warm weather, compared to the last 4 years of ice and snow, very uncommon for the Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley. I’ve been seeing cherry blossoms, crocuses and snowdrops blooming. All kinds of bulbs are shooting up green growth, and I’ve seen little red tips on tea roses, as well as a few early blooming rhodos busting out in pink buds.

It’s only February! But I want to get out into my garden, turn the soil, plant some peas. I’ve got white remay cloth, but I suppose I should dry the soil out a bit by covering it with black cloth before I put seeds into the soil.

I’ve been browsing about on Mother Earth News’ website today, and I read this article about growing fresh tomatoes virtually year ’round. I love tomatoes, but in 5 years of gardening on this site, I haven’t produced more than a handful of ripe cherry tomatoes in the actual garden. Mostly I bring the green ones in to ripen in the basement on sheets of newspaper. The article got me excited to get my grow lights and timer set up and to build some kind of high tunnel to fit my current garden beds and tomato cages. Although, with talk of moving sometime this spring/early summer, maybe I should be focusing on potted plants.

 

farmer’s market, fresh greens January 17, 2010

Filed under: Food,Garden,Sustainable — aquilegiaformosa @ 1:30 pm
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I’ve been doing a bit of research on the ol’ ‘net into possible sources of local food. Turns out, this isn’t the best time of year to be diving into this! Of course I already knew this, but I had a bit of hope for something out of season. I’ve discovered a few great links for the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley areas. Firstly, the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets has a page listing winter markets. According to this, I could hit up the Abbotsford market on Jan 30th and the Mission market on Feb 13th.  Abby’s also got a couple of March dates, and both have some April dates. My school is in Abby, not too far away from this market, but it operates on Sunday, so it may not be worth the trip on it’s own. My dad lives in Mission, so that market could be combined with a visit.

My local farmer’s market, in White Rock, has winter market days April 4th and May 2nd, and is open every week from Father’s Day to Thanksgiving. The 2009 vendor list included Maluma Bison, which is listed as selling sausages and smokies. I’m excited to see what’ll be there this year – maybe some good connections to locally raised meat?!

Other markets that are close to my neighbourhood and the places I often find myself driving are: the Langley market, starting July 8th, running Wednesdays from 3 to 7 pm; the Ladner Village market (with over 140 vendors over 3 city blocks, on June 13th & 27th, July 11th & 25th, Aug 8th & 22nd and Sept 8th, might be worth a visit or two just for the sheer density of vendors, and could be combined with a visit to West Coast Seeds), and the Surrey market in Whalley, running  from June to September on Wednesday afternoons starting at 1pm.

Still, not too much happening in January! However, I’ve still a bit of kale and Swiss chard growing in my back garden, and we had a nice helping of kale sauteed with carrots and yellow peppers with dinner on Thursday night. Also, I’ve started sprouting some seeds in my kitchen. I’ve got onion, alfalfa, sunflower and mung, all from Thompson & Morgan seed co., which I bought last spring from a local nursery. I’ve also got some wheat berries I purchased in the bulk section at Choices ( a local yuppie organic grocery chain), probably conventionally farmed and shipped from who knows how far away – I’m going to try sprouting those ones, too. Once I’ve used up that batch, I’ll see if I can find a more local, ethical, sustainable source for my sprouting seed.

And soon, if this post is any indication, I can begin starting spinach seed indoors to cut and to transplant into the garden under row covers at the beginning of March. I’m getting very excited for the growing season ahead!