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2019 Gardening Season Recap

It’s been a great gardening season. 🙂

We had our backyard landscaping done. We had grass in the back and raised beds against the fence but we decided to remove the grass, move the veggie beds into the middle of the backyard, surround with pea gravel and plant perennials around the perimeter. The landscaping was done in May and I was able to move/plant into my veggie boxes while they finished the perimeter. It worked out quite well!

Here are some pics of how the garden evolved this summer as well as some of the goodies I made. I can’t tell you how nice it is to open a jar of strawberry jam or bite into a crunchy pickle in the middle of January – it brings summer right back to mind. 🙂

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This was when landscaping began in May and the very beginning of prepping the raised beds / supports. I called these my homemade “blair witch” teepees since they looked like the stick figure dolls from the movie LOL – they look bare now but wait until you see them later – they did me proud!

Meanwhile, I had started seeds indoors…

I also got some transplants from the garden centre

Tomatoes, marigolds, lettuce, basil

Tomatoes, marigolds, basil, chives, rosemary, oregano, parsley

San marzano tomatoes, pole beans and bush peas

Things are growing… 🙂

Lettuce bolting in the heat of summer, cherry tomatoes doing well

No sign of the teepees under there now. I called them my bean monster!

I grew herbs in containers to dehydrate for tea (chamomile, mint and lemon balm)

Planted radishes and spinach for a quick fall crop

Some of harvests and goodies:

Tomatoes

Strawberry jam

Salsa:

Bread and butter pickles

Dill pickles

Lavender (I had a helper)

Lettuce (with a helper)

My helper is pooped and loves sleeping on the dehydrator (it gets warm when it’s on)

Cherry jam and pie filling

Dilly beans

The beans came from this monster 🙂

We had a TON of beans…and they kept coming…had to give some away

Went apricot-picking at a farm nearby

Made pesto with the basil harvest (2 helpers this time)

Made blueberry compote

Herb harvest – dried the chives, oregano and rosemary

Prepared the fall containers out front 🙂

Parsley

Radishes

Near the end now-  just some turnips, beets and lettuce left.  And the bed closest to the bottom has the garlic – to be harvested next July. 🙂

Definitely a good garden season! And my freezer is loaded with lots of yummy things to tide us over til it starts all over again next spring. 🙂

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Over the past year, I’ve been putting together a monthly checklist of garden tasks more for my own planning purposes but thought it might be worth sharing. 🙂

As we’re nearing the end of the gardening season (in my zone 6b) and putting things to bed, I’m comforted by the fact that there are still things to plan for (and dream about!) during the winter months.

I’ll likely modify the checklist as time goes on and things change but for now, this has worked well for the things I grow in my garden (mainly veggies and perennials, some annuals). I plant veggies in raised beds using the square foot gardening method and have perennials in my front and back yards, plus some containers for annuals/holiday interest and some herbs) . Enjoy!

January

  • Review gardening journal (to review what worked, what didn’t, etc.)
  • Plan spring garden (layout, what to grow, succession planting, companion planting, etc.)
  • Prepare schedule (indoor sowing, set out dates, direct sowing outdoors)
  • Take stock of supplies and what will need to be purchased/replenished
  • Enjoy preserved food from last year’s harvest

February

  • Order seeds and supplies
  • Prepare indoor greenhouse and clean/prepare containers

March

  • Start seeds indoors for cool-weather crops or those that take more time to germinate/grow (e.g. tomatoes, marigolds, etc.)
  • Prepare garden beds (add compost, remove any debris, etc.)

April

  • Start seeds indoors for warm weather crops or those that take less time to germinate (e.g. parsley, chives, lemon balm, chamomile,
  • Plant cold hardy seeds outside (e.g. peas, lettuce, etc.)
  • Add compost to raised beds (if it wasn’t done in March)
  • Plan / build any supports (stakes, trellises)

May

  • Finish preparing raised beds (if not done yet)
  • Ensure all supplies are on hand / get any last minute items (compost, tools, green garden tape for staking, supports, etc.)
  • Plant seedlings outside
  • Prune perennials
  • Replace any perennials that didn’t survive the winter
  • Fertilize perennials
  • Start watering schedule
  • Update garden journal

June

  • Fertilize veggies, perennials and annuals (according to schedule)
  • Harvest cool weather veggies including lettuce, peas, garlic scapes, etc.
  • Start harvesting herbs and dehydrate for tea (mint, lemon balm, chamomile)
  • Pick up at local farm: strawberries and rhubarb and make strawberry freezer jam and strawberry/rhubarb crisp
  • Start fall transplants if doing so (cabbage, broccoli, kale, etc.)
  • Prune tomato plants (remove suckers)
  • Pinch basil flowers
  • Update garden journal

July

  • Fertilize veggies, perennials and annuals (according to schedule)
  • Watch for pests and deal with them (e.g. Japanese beetles, etc.)
  • Pull up peas and other early spring done crops and add compost to empty spots
  • Direct seed fast growing fall crops (radishes, spinach)
  • Transplant fall brassicas (cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli)broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower
  • Harvest herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, beans
  • Harvest and cure garlic
  • Dry chamomile, mint and lemon balm for tea
  • Pick up pickling cucumbers and make refrigerator pickles
  • Pick at local farms: strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots and make freezer jam and pie filling
  • Reduce tomato watering (create heat stress & encourage ripening) – end of month
  • Update garden journal

August

  • Fertilize veggies, perennials and annuals (according to schedule)
  • Harvest tomatoes, beans, herbs)
  • Harvest lavender – make sachets
  • Buy fall bulbs
  • Seed fall crops (carrots, radishes, turnips, beets, lettuce, kale, chard)
  • Pull up done crops
  • Make and freeze salsa
  • Make pickles, dilly beans
  • Dehydrate herbs for tea
  • Trim marigolds
  • Prune perennials
  • Pick at local farms: peaches – and make freezer jam
  • Update garden journal

September

  • Prune tomatoes (remove/pinch flowers so energy goes to ripening fruit)
  • Prune marigolds
  • Dehydrate herbs for tea
  • Pick at local farm: Apples
  • Make apple crisp, apple & onion chutney, applesauce, apple pie filling
  • Buy garlic bulbs (fall planting)
  • Replace / plant containers for fall
  • Plant new perennials, shrubs, trees
  • Pull up spent summer crops (tomatoes, beans)
  • Harvest radishes, last of the tomatoes
  • Update garden journal

October

  • Harvest fall crops (carrots, beets, turnips, lettuce, spinach)
  • Pull up spent crops
  • Plant garlic
  • Prepare raised beds for winter / add compost
  • Cut back perennials for winter
  • Protect perennials /grasses
  • Fall cleanup
  • Pick apples at local farm
  • Make apple desserts and things to freeze
  • Pick up pine cones and branches for winter decor
  • Cover patio furniture
  • Cover BBQ
  • Plan winter containers
  • Update garden journal

November

  • Prepare winter containers (pull out fall annuals
  • Harvest cabbage, broccoli, etc.
  • Clean garden tools
  • Store hose(s) in garage
  • Update garden journal
  • Enjoy goodies made during the summer (freezer jam, salsa, pickles, pies, etc.)

December

  • Maintain winter containers
  • Hang wreath / greenery
  • Make xmas decor / ornaments
  • Start planning for spring garden!

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I was able to cross off a few more items off of my life list on our recent trip. 🙂

  • Stay in a cabin in the woods
  • Visit Banff, Alberta
  • Visit Jasper, Alberta
  • See Lake Louise in Alberta
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Hike to one of the teahouses in the Rockies

That brings the total to 326 completed of 470.

 

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We left Jasper in the morning and drove down the Icefields Parkway (only stopping at the Columbia Icefield to use the washroom) and arrived at Sunshine Village just outside of Banff. They had just opened for the summer the day before which is why we didn’t visit here when we were in the area earlier in the week. It’s a ski resort in the winter and a hiking area in the summer.

We took the gondola up the first part to Sunshine Village. Gondolas make me nervous and Chris thought it was hilarious. Not funny. 🙂 When I saw the chairlift to get up the next part and saw that we had the option to hike up, we decided to hike. It was very scenic but uphill all the way so a bit strenuous.

We got a kick out of walking from Alberta to BC on the trail up there. 🙂 It was pretty cold – near the freezing mark but so beautiful!

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We ended up taking the chairlift down since we wanted to get down as quickly as possible LOL It was actually less scary than the gondola! The gondola ride was about 8 minutes so we took the time to eat a snack. A couple more minutes were added since it stopped for a bit (don’t look down, don’t look down) but things started moving again and we got down safely. 🙂

We headed over to Canmore for lunch and mini beers at the Grizzly Paw Brewing Company. We ordered lunch with the mini beer seasonal sampler and enjoyed the lemon shandy so much that we bought some more from the retail store before heading to the Calgary airport to return the car and check into our hotel for our last night out west. 🙂

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It rained all day today so we didn’t venture out very far. We headed over to drive by Lake Edith and Lake Annette just outside of Jasper townsite and was glad we did – we saw more elk! 🙂 We also drove by the Jasper Park Lodge to check it out.

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We ended up doing some souvenir shopping in Jasper, strolled around town, picked up some more sticky cinnamon buns at the bakery and took it easy today.

Shortest blog post ever. 🙂

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We headed out to Maligne Canyon to beat the rain which was supposed to start mid-morning. We arrived at 7:30am, 2nd car in the parking lot.

Our plan was to hike to bridges 1 through 4, then drive to bridges 5 and 6 on the way back. We saw bridge 2, 3 and 4, then visited the first bridge last (which has the best views in my opinion and glad we saved it for last). It was really cool to see how the water eroded the rock/mountain to create the canyon.

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On the way to the canyon we saw a couple of deer on the side of the road, just prancing along. 🙂

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On the road between the Canyon and Medecine Lake, we saw another black bear ambling along, cool as can be while a caravan of cars stopped on the opposite side of the road watching him go.

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We stopped at the Medecine Lake lookout to read the history of the lake and got a surprise visit. Luckily Chris saw it and we got back in our car before he got close.

This is the lookout. Over the corner of the top right of the last sign, you can see what surprised us:

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Zoomed in, he’s hidden by the tree in the centre of this pic:

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He had the same stunned reaction upon seeing us as we did seeing him!

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Onward! Our next stop was at Maligne Lake. The rain hadn’t started yet but it was overcast. We walked around the lakeshore, up to the chalet and took a short trail that led to the trailhead but after seeing all the bears, and having no bear spray, we decided not to risk it. Instead, we visited the waffle hut for a cappuccino and the best waffle I’ve ever had! It had cinnamon, whipped cream and blueberry compote. Delicious. On our way back to the car, we noticed that the tour buses had arrived and it started to rain.

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We drove back to Jasper, skipped bridges 5 and 6 for the Canyon, stopped at the Bear Paw’s bakery for goodies then back to our cottage to relax and take a nap while it rained. It cleared up at dinner time so we took a stroll around the property to admire the lake, then hopped in the car and drove further down the road to Pyramid Lake and Pyramid Island which is reached by a footbridge. It’s a 20 minute walk around the island. They have a little wedding area if anyone wanted to book the island for an event – thought that was cute.

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We left our cozy cabin in Lake Louise and headed north up the Icefields Parkway towards our next base – Jasper. We stopped at several places along the way; what could be done in 2-3 hours takes much longer just because of all the amazing sights you can stop at and explore.

Bow Lake – Quick stop off the parkway

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Peyto Lake and Bow Summit – short 10-15 minute walk to the main viewing platform from the parking lot but if you walk up the trail there’s an amazing vantage point that provides spectacular views of the valley and lake below. We were alone up there! and yes, the lake really is that color. Beautiful.

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Mistaya Canyon – short 10-15 minute trek downhill to a small canyon. The trek back up was a bit tiring but well worth it.

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N. Saskatchewan River at Howse Pass – picnic area off the parkway and one of the best surprises on the drive up. There are signs explaining how the pass and river were traveled back in the day and it’s a really beautiful view.  We stopped here for lunch and found a picnic table overlooking the river below.

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Columbia Icefield / Athabasca Glacier – some might call this the main event along the parkway. It has all the bells and whistles including a restaurant, cafe, outdoor terrace, huge washrooms, a ticket booth for all kinds of tours, you name it. It also has an amazing view of the glacier and surrounding mountains. We grabbed a coffee and sat outside enjoying the view. If you zoom in and look at the bottom of the “toe” of the glacier, those little specks are people. This thing is big, folks.

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Sunwapta Falls – short stop off the parkway to see the waterfalls

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Quick pics of the nice view from the road – everywhere you look, it’s gorgeous.

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The N. Saskatchewan River – quick stop off the parkway

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Athabasca Falls – Lots to see here and lots of little areas to explore.

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We saw our first black bear on the side of the road coming into Jasper and I was really excited. We stayed in the car but took some pics (I have a good zoom on my camera – we did NOT get that close):

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We arrived in Jasper at around 3:30pm and did our groceries before heading to our cottage for the rest of our stay, at Patricia Lake Bungalows. I can’t believe I didn’t take any pics!  It was super cute, had everything we needed and was about a 5-6 minute drive from Jasper townsite along a winding road where we saw some elk on our first drive in.

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