Right in My Own Backyard - A Blossoming Extravaganza

I’ve looked over the garden a few times since I shot the video I’ll be attaching to this post, and a lot of flowers have started to come out on quite a few of the plants.  The cucumbers, peas, radish, & broccoli all have flowers now, and I think the green beans in the square foot garden are starting to show signs of flower buds.  I’m seeing the bell peppers are really starting to take shape, and   I’ve counted five cherry tomatoes on the tallest of the 3 plants.    I’m not sure about the other two tomato plants in the garden – The 2nd cherry and the beefsteak – they’re still so small.  I still didn’t get any stakes for the peas, but we removed some of the wire scalloped fencing we were using to keep Kiti away from the new grass seed, so I used that in the pea squares. 

I have to say that I’m really starting to get confused about what the heck I actually planted in some of the sections of the square foot garden.  Initially, I thought I just messed up with the square to the south of the broccoli which should have had peppers in it but looks like it’s another broccoli plant.  Well, now I’m starting to wonder about the radish and turnip squares which look suspiciously similar.  I think I’m going to add more carrots to the mix.  What’s coming up looks nice, but they’re appearing sporadically.  The squares aren’t full.  I’m not sure what’s going on with the spinach either.  Again it’s a matter of confusion on my part.  When I touch the centre though, it looks like it gives off some kind of smoke or powder or something.  And the onions look like they’re disappearing.   I have four squares that I believe need to be replanted, and I’m sure what’s in a couple of those are weeds, but I’m nervous to take them out just in case they actually turn out to be something I planted.  Anyway, I read somewhere that a weed is only a weed if it’s growing somewhere you don’t want it to be.  Well, for now I want them to be there.

There’s a total of 15 yellow bean plants and the green bean patch at the south end now has 9 good sized sprouts, and I think I saw another one starting to poke through.  I’m really quite surprised by that one because I really thought I’d have to start that over again.  Oh, and there’s 5 fennel sprouts too.  The four cantaloupe seeds that had started out nicely looked like they were going to die there for a minute.  I think something got at them, because I was seeing the roots exposed and they looked quite sickly.  I decided to just poke them back down a little deeper, and it looks like they are starting to perk up.  All of the cantaloupe I have going look really well; especially that one I thought wasn’t going anywhere.  It’s quite tall now.  Not anywhere near flowering or anything, but still, a lot better than I had even hoped for.   The herb sections are starting to fill in nicely and I’m sure I’ll soon be able to fluff it out properly. 

I think maybe the tomatoes I have in the buckets are diseased.  Crying  They’ve got really purple looking leaves and some have yellow spots on them.   As far as the bucket herbs go, The dill looks like it’s going to be good and so does the basil.   I really want the basil to do well.  My Mother says it’s working wonders at keeping the flies away from her house.  We’ve got a trash can out back and so do our neighbours to the west and the flies are everywhere.  Nothing spectacular is going on with the spearmint or the tarragon;  I ‘m hoping it’s just because it’s their nature to be slow starters.  

We had planned to have a barbecue and a fire on Saturday, so I thought I’d take some night video of the garden lights, but it rained all day, so we called it off.  Still, like I’ve said before, I’m not gonna complain about the rain.  The less I have to drag that hose out, the better.  Well maybe next weekend.  In the meantime, enjoy the new pics and video.


Right in My Own Backyard - Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers

Well, it ended up coming down pretty good yesterday evening, Umbrella so again, I didn’t have to water the garden.  I really haven’t had to get the hose out too much since I started my garden.  Watering isn’t my favourite part of the gardening process, so you won’t hear me complaining about the rain.

So far the only thing that’s starting to gain fruit are the peppers. ** It looks like I’ll have quite a few peppers this year, as each of the plants has multiple peppers and flowers on them.  I’m really quite happy about the pepper progress.  I was kinda getting worried about them a few days ago because of all the dead leaves around the bottom.  I wonder if my picking them off helped them to start producing.  The one showing the best though is the one that’s in the hanging bucket next to the strawberry plant.  I was surprised by that, as it seemed it was the one that had the least activity as far as anything budding on it went.   I’m not sure if the strawberry flowers are now becoming strawberries or if they’re just dying. 

It looks like I’ll have to replant the green beans.  Ever since planting, I’ve been finding them around the garden and sticking them back in the ground, but I suspect they’ve been stolen again.  The same thing happened last year too, and  I had to redo the whole green bean section a second time.  Maybe I’m not planting them deep enough.    Or maybe I should have stuck the wind chime right in the bean patch.  I didn't find that hanging the pie plates was really all that helpful last year.

Except for one of the cherry varieties, the tomato plants are pretty unremarkable.  I don’t expect much from the one that initially got torn up at planting, but I don’t know what’s wrong with the beefsteak.  Last year too we only got a couple of the beef steaks while the cherry tomatoes, although slow to start, came in like gangbusters once they got going.   And I noticed quite a bit of dead leaves and stems toward the bottom of all the tomato plants.  I don’t know if maybe my soil isn’t really conducive to the beefsteaks.  I had been complaining about how easily it packs up tight, and my Son seems to think it’s because I have too much of a sandy quality to my dirt.  On closer inspection it does look rather sandy.  It dries up in clumps too almost like rocks.  And maybe that’s why everything in my garden seems to take so long to get going.  I did mix in several bags of black earth and a couple of bags of sheep manure at the end of last season to sit over the winter, but maybe that wasn’t enough.  I dont know  It also occurs to me that the leaf colour on a couple of the plants is different than it was last year.  I’m noticing that the two tomato plants in the buckets are quite dark and have an almost purplish look to them.  

As I uploaded the video for this post to Youtube, I saw a fellow gardener's video talking about the top leaves of her cherry tomatoes curling, so I had to go have a closer look at mine too.  I see that one of my cherry tomatoes also has a bit of leaf curl, though not to the extent of garden california’s.  Of course while I was out there, I had to feed my need to “fluff”, and I found that I do indeed have a few more green bean plants coming up; looks like 6 altogether.  I guess reburying the seeds that got scattered around didn’t do them any harm.   I did some light fluffing in the herb sections too and I do believe they are starting to take off nicely.  I had to be really careful though, as the herbs are still so tiny and delicate I didn’t want to disturb them too much.  Oh, and I did notice there are a few sprouts in the fennel patch.  Hopefully, it’s actually fennell.

I’m gonna have to get out there and make a night video.  My Honey won a butterfly solar light at his golf tournament this past Saturday, and I’m telling you, it’s quite the light show out there at night.   Maybe at our next fire I’ll do a quickie.

** The pics show I actually have a couple of cherry tomatoes coming.  

two new cherry tomatoes


Right in My Own Backyard - June is Busting Out All Over

There’s been quite a lot going on in the garden in a short time.  Between my last video that I filmed on June 15 and this latest one I did on June 18, the yellow beans have taken off like crazy.  I couldn’t believe my eyes!  I had nine really good sized plants.  Not too shabby considering only 3 days earlier I only had three or four that weren’t even totally up.   And not only that, I’m beginning to have hope that I will get some cantaloupe this summer after all.  I was going through my usual “fluffing” routine in the square foot garden and thinking about giving up on the cantaloupe when I nearly ripped a seedling out with my weeder.  I have four really good looking cantaloupe seedlings in one of the mounds as well, and the one plant that I thought wasn’t going anywhere looks a bit taller too. 

Only four squares out of sixteen in the square foot garden didn’t take.  I’m going to dig the weeds out of those and replant.  Still, twelve out of sixteen squares isn’t too bad at all in my book, and they all look really healthy.  At the time I planted though, I didn’t know peas were something that needed to be trellised.  I think next year I’ll plant the peas topsy turvy style.  I’ve decided that the tomatoes and cucumbers will all be done that way so as to leave more room in the garden for other things.   I’m wondering if the latest batch of green beans will go anywhere now.  I’ve been seeing my seeds scattered around the garden, so I guess the birds are up to their shenanigans again.

I got the plants that I picked up from Canadian Tire a few days ago in.  I just stuck the pineapple sage beside one of the tomato plants, and the chrysanthemum down by the fennel.  I decided to dig up a couple of the cucumber plants and put them into a bucket, and I put my common sage plant on top of those.  I’m hoping that by moving out two of the cucumbers, it’ll leave more space for the others to spread out.  Oh and I noticed this afternoon that my strawberry flower looks like it’s turning into a little strawberry!   

I got a tip that adding peat moss around my plants can be a “real life saver” for my plants, so I hope I can pick some up.  I also found out why the ground packs in so tightly and clumps up so easily; apparently it’s too sandy and not truly soil.  I don’t know what I can do about that.  I added black earth at the end of last season, but maybe it wasn’t enough.  I don’t know.  Anyway, for now things look pretty good, and I’ll see what I can do to make it better next  year.


Right in My Own Backyard - Buds & Flowers

Evidence of a Break in
Evidence of a break in
I was out in the garden for several hours a couple of days ago (Tuesday June 15) I had only planned to go out and do a little weeding, but it turned into what seemed like an all day thing.  Naturally, the weeding turned into a fluff fest, - Some of you will remember I’m obsessed with fluffing the dirt up even where I don’t even have plants yet I dont know -  and that turned into, “Oh, I’ll just lay out a few of these bricks,”  which of course led to planting.  Before I knew it, I was totally engrossed.   And even though by the time all was said and done I was feeling like I had been run over and then backed over by an 18 wheeler, I had the nerve to go and help my Daughter plant her garden!  Am I a sucker for punishment or what?  Oh and get this:  I was mortified when I had seen the dirt in the tomato and pepper plants I had given her looked like they hadn’t seen water since the days of Methuselah, and yet, one of the pepper plants had a little pepper on it!  If I had known that was going to happen, I would have kept that one for myself and given her another one.  She decided to take out her Rhubarb plant completely, of which I took quite a few of the stalks.  She has this plant that I’m sure is a potato plant, although I could be mistaken.  But the purple and yellow flowers and the little berries look just like what grew on my blue potatoes last year.  Anyway, I’ve got some updated pics of her garden too.  And, I’ll be making a Rhubarb cake – have you ever heard the like? – and  sharing the recipe later on.  Also, it turns out I was right about birds being the garden thieves.  I went out for a quick peek  on Saturday, and I caught one red handed (or is taloned?) flying off with a leaf.

Last Original Cantaloupe Plant
Last of the original cantaloupe plants
Most of what I’ve planted seems to look pretty good.  I have seen some flowers and buds popping up on the peppers, tomatoes and strawberries, and I got some herb seeds into my topsy turvy plants.  I did some pinching off on the tomatoes; not that there was much to pinch off given the size of the plants.  I learned about pinching off from this guy right here. Not everything in the square foot garden turned out, but I think it’s not doing too shabby.  I did notice though that the square that I marked as peppers on the chart has a plant in it that looks remarkably like the broccoli plant that’s sitting next to it.  So, it looks like I screwed it up somehow.  Maybe I should rename this blog "A Gardening Comedy”.  I notice that the carrot squares seem to really be slow growing, but I’m happy that at least they are growing.  I had tried carrots in my very first garden about a hundred years ago, and I was never able to have any success with them.  I tried a few times with seed and seed tape, but . . . nothing.  The cantaloupe is still “iffy”  I planted new seeds in the square foot section and in two of the cantaloupe mounds.  So far one mound is actually sprouting.  The one plant I had left  after the stealing episode still looks pretty much the same.  I’m not going to touch it though.

I have finished with my layout, or so I tell myself, and I only have a few empty spots to fill.  I think the south west corner will be beets.  and maybe some more broccoli.   And just to clear something up.  When I said that I had planted a half a row of yellow beans, I realized that people might think I meant just that; a half a row of beans.  Actually, I had created a section that ran from east to west which I referred to as a “row” and then I planted about 4 or 5 horizontal  (north / south) rows of yellow beans which took up about half of that section.  I’m updating the chart, so you’ll see what I mean. 

I was back at Canadian Tire yesterday.  I picked up a couple of chrysanthemums.  I got this idea from a raid commercial.  Apparently, chrysanthemums are good at killing bugs.  I also got myself a couple of sage plants; one common sage and one pineapple sage. I had never heard of a pineapple sage before, but boy does it ever smell nice.   They still want 3.99$ for a small strawberry plant though, and they’re really starting to look tatty now.  Square Foot Garden Gal got a sweet deal at 1.49$ from her local Canadian Tire.  I thought they were all supposed to do the same thing.  I dont know

Right, so here’s the updated chart,

the video

and the latest photo album.  Enjoy.


Right in My Own Backyard - Yellow Beans Added

We had quite a bit of rain over the weekend.   Most of the day Saturday and all day Sunday.  I’m not complaining though; not in the least.  The way I see it I don’t really care much for watering the garden, so I really appreciate God picking up the slack for me.  We had a break Saturday starting in the afternoon.  I decided to have an impromptu gardening session that evening, and I started a new row of planting.  I put in about a half a row of yellow beans – yuck! Sick  Those are for my Honey not me -  and when they start to sprout, I’ll plant the other half.   I added a few new cantaloupe seeds in the cantaloupe mounds and in one of the cantaloupe squares.  I also started a new row of bricks, but I ran out, so back to Mum’s to get more.  That might not be for a few days though, because tonight I’ve got a Toastmasters meeting and tomorrow I’ve got an extraction.  Nailbiting

I decided to empty the strawberry bag, as 2 of the plants died.  I put the remaining plant into a bucket and hung it on a free standing plant hanger along with a pepper plant.  So far, what I have in the buckets look like they’re doing alright.  I haven’t seen any spectacular growth or anything, but they’re not dying either.   I read on Square Foot Garden Gal’s blog that she was able to snag some strawberry plants at Canadian Tire for 1.49$ each! At wits end I paid nearly 4$ each for mine (At Canadian Tire)  Anyway, I’m going back to see if maybe they’re trying to clear them out for less.

hand weeder
My new handy dandy weeder
I got myself a new weeder today.  A lot of the maple seeds from the tree next door have taken root, and I didn’t have anything small enough to get into the square foot patch, so I got this neat little tool at Walmart for less than 3$.  It works great, and it’s the cutest little thing; it reminds me of a fish fork or something.  Even the little cultivator I bought last year was too big; everything in the square foot section is so close together that I couldn’t manoeuvre it around the plants.   And for the first time since planting, I was able to fluff up the dirt in some of the squares.  I don’t know what it is, but I have this obsession with keeping the dirt all light and fluffy.  I couldn’t find     exactly the same thing at the Walmart's online garden centre, but they have a pretty nice 3 tool set iconthat has something in it that’s very similar to the one I got, and I think they’ll ship it free to your local Walmart if they don’t already have it.  If you need to get around really tight spots around your plants, it’s just the thing to have.  Of course, if I had started with Mel’s mix, I wouldn’t have weeds in the first place.  Oh well.

Oh and I got a nice wire basket that I’ll be keeping my herbs in.  Walmart had it for 6.95$.  That’s the best price I’ve seen so far.  They’re 12.95 at Marlin’s Orchard and a whopping 17.95$ at Canadian Tire.  It’ll be nice to be able to bring the herbs in at the end of the season this year.  Last year I had them in the long planter boxes and since we don’t have much room in the house, I had to toss them.  We actually burned them in the fire pit.  It did make the  air smell nice though.

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Right in My Own Backyard - Someone’s Been Eating My Porridge

I've added more bricks to the design and put a few more plants in.  I don't know what's getting in there, but right from the off, something has been enjoying the fruits of my labour even before there’s any fruit!  One tomato and one cucumber top were first to go.  Now I’m noticing the cantaloupe leaves are quietly disappearing.  I suspect it’s birds.  Whatever it is seems to really go for the cantaloupe though.  It seems I'm missing a new leaf every time I go out there.  I have no problem with wildlife welfare, but for crying out lout, at least give me a chance to get something going here.

Over the last few days,  I was out there a couple of times making changes, and I made a video each time.  I was planning to post after each one, but I think I'll just do the one post and include both videos. 

3 tomato plants hanging upsidedown in a bucket
3 tomato plants
Now, I've realized something very important about myself through this whole gardening thing:  I'm not a good planner.  Crying  At the beginning of this project, I drew out a chart with every intention of planning the whole thing out before so much as even one seed or one plant got put in the ground.  I just sat there stumped in front of the paper.  Have you ever heard Fred Flintstone say, "Details, details.  Don't bother me with details."?  Well that's me.  I'm more the, "let's put this here and see if I like it" kind of person;  plan as I go.  Then, whatever I decide I'm happy with at the site will go on the chart.  I finally got some plants into my "topsy turvy" buckets.  None of my seeds grew, so I put store bought tomato and pepper plants in them.  It wasn't as easy as it looked, but I suppose for my first time, it's not too shabby. 

The garden layout as it stands now.  Bear in mind that this is only rough and in no way to scale.

Garden Layout May 31 2010

P.S. As of 17h30 today, the last leaf was eaten off my stand alone cantaloupe plant.  All that’s left is the stem.  I’m not touching it though, just in case it still grows.


Right in My Own Backyard - Rhubarb Crumble

My first backyard recipe actually comes from my neighbours’  back yard.   They’re not fans of rhubarb, so they just throw it away.  I had offered to take it because my Mum makes strawberry, rhubarb pies (not my favourite).  It turned out Mum didn’t have any strawberries, and not wanting to waste the rhubarb I had to figure out something to do with it.  Considering I’m not a fan of rhubarb either, I found this to be absolutely delicious.  If you like apple crumble or Dutch apple pie, you’ll probably go for this.

What you need:

1l / 4 C. Rhubarb 250ml / 1 C. (heaping) Granulated Sugar
45ml / 3 T. Butter 60ml / 4 T. Flour

Crumb Topping

250ml / 1 C. Flour 250ml / 1 C. Oatmeal
250ml / 1 C. Brown Sugar 250ml / 1/2 C. butter

What you do:
Oven 190º C / 375º F

1.) Cut rhubarb into small pieces, and in a mixing bowl mix together with sugar, flour and butter using a spatula or wooden spoon  the ingredients and set aside
2.) In a separate mixing bowl use a pastry blender to mix the flour, brown sugar and oatmeal.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and again with the pastry blender, mix it into the oatmeal mix.  Once you get it going you can continue to blend the butter into the mixture with your hands until you have a large crumbly mixture in the bowl.  Don’t over blend, as you are not looking to create a dough.

3.) Put the sauce mixture into a greased (I used butter) rectangular baking dish, cover with the crumb topping and bake for 35 mins.  Longer if you want to brown it more.

  • Make sure you don't get a fine overly quick cooking oatmeal; you want a good sized flake for texture.
  • For gift giving, I used **pyrex dishes that come with their own lids.  It makes a better presentation than just scooping out a serving into a container.  This way I can bake and give in the same dish.
  • If you're like me and don't like to get muck under your nails, latex or vinyl examination gloves work a treat.

I got my pyrex dishes at my local Walmart, but you can get them online too.  Note also that the rectangular dishes shown in my photos are the smaller 3 and 6 cup ones not the 9 x 12 oblong, however, pyrex does make the longer ones with lids too.

This is just like my set but I have red lids

**The two rectangular dishes in the set pictured above are exactly what I used to make the rhubarb recipe.  They are labeled as storage and are not officially marked as bake ware, but according to pyrexware.com, they are "pre heated oven safe" , and on the dishes they are marked that they can't go under the broiler.  Of course the plastic lids can't go in the oven.  I personally don't put the lids in the microwave either because I have found from experience that they go all out of shape from doing that.

I have to admit I started baking with them before I even researched this info, because to me the name Pyrex means it can go in the oven. But I had heard of a few people saying that they had pyrex explode in the oven, so I thought I'd better get more information.  I personally have never had an issue with pyrex exploding or anything like that, but  I do remember when I was about 8 or 9 my grandmother had a pyrex measuring cup explode after she poured boiling water into it, I was always taught that mixing extreme temperatures can cause it to explode, and that you should always put your pyrex in a cold oven if you take it from the fridge or freezer.

Naturally, if you are uncomfortable with these, pyrex does have a line specifically marked as bake ware.

Pyrex also has more information about this and how to use pyrex safely on their website.

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