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It’s been a while since my last post so I thought it was high time to provide an update on my garden. 🙂 BTW, I’m in zone 6b, southwest Ontario.

As the weather warmed up, I started planting and moving my seedlings outside. Everything survived except 2 tomato plants, which I replaced with 2 nursery-bought tomato plants. I love looking back to see how much things have grown over the past few months. Super satisfying. So far, we’ve eaten tons of lettuce, green peas, yellow beans, basil, mint, garlic scapes and blueberries. Soon we’ll have tomatoes. I’m in the middle of dehydrating chamomile and mint to make tea – first time so we’ll see how that goes.

Here are some pics in chronological order from mid-May up until to last weekend:

Seedlings – tomatoes, basil and parsley:

I tried something different with the two tomato plants in the front – I planted them in a trench/sideways (back to front in the pic) just to see if they would grow any different from the others (dug a hole, planted straight:

More tomatoes and some carrots

First time growing green peas (patio pride/bush) as well as zucchini:

I bought blueberry bushes from the nursery but was worried about birds. I found this amazing contraption on Amazon – it’s been amazing. I haven’t lost one blueberry to birds yet!

Mint (aka mojitos in training):

First time planting garlic (last October) and the leaves have grown huge so far – these are the scapes that I harvested (and sautéed with pasta and mushrooms) – yummy:

Peas are truly a beautiful plant:

Peas, yellow beans and zucchini up near the fence:

Buttercrunch lettuce and cucumber plant at the top near the fence:

Mint teenagers:

First harvest of lettuce and peas:

Chamomile is flowering!

Everyone looks so happy 🙂

Beans are flowering!

Couldn’t believe my eyes – my very own blueberries 🙂

Mint young adults:

Zucchini flowers!

Tomatoes taking off

Yellow bean harvest with some thai basil

We have zucchini babies 🙂

And cucumber babies:

Chamomile and marigolds (and a garlic photobomber):

This was a few days ago – lots of green tomatoes, should ripen soon 🙂

Thai basil:

Can’t wait for the first taste of home-grown tomatoes 🙂

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Spring has finally arrived (more or less) which means we can start prepping the garden and starting cool-weather crops, and start/continue the indoor seeds and seedlings. In my neck of the woods, the May long weekend is planting weekend. BUT – because mild weather typically starts in April, I can get started on preparing my garden beds and sow some seeds. Exciting!

Ever since I put my garden plan together early in the year, I’ve been closely watching important dates in my calendar.

  • On Feb 10th I started mint seeds indoors
  • On Mar 18th, I started marigolds indoors
  • On March 30th, I transplanted my marigolds and mint into cups
  • On Mar 31st, I started cherry tomato seeds indoors
  • On April 21st, I (with the help of hubby) installed a new raised bed and filled it with triple mix and compost. I also added compost to my other 2 existing beds.
  • On April 22nd I sowed seeds outside for peas, carrots, lettuce (2 types) and lemon balm. I also started seeds for basil and parsley indoors.

The next key dates will be 2 weekends in May once all risk of frost has passed, usually around the May long weekend and the one prior.

That’s when I’ll get everything outside and go buy some blueberry plants for my other new bed this year. I decided to dedicate a whole bed just for blueberries because of the different soil requirements (acidic) and the likelihood of needing to cover them with netting.

Meanwhile, the garlic I planted last fall is looking great!

Progress so far:

Cherry tomato seedlings

Marigold and mint seedlings

Growing…

Growing…  marigolds / mint on the left. Tomatoes (near window) on the right) and basil/parsley on the right / front)

My garlic is doing well (planted last fall). There are also seeds for lemon balm (above the garlic) and carrots (whole 3rd row) in here. Tomatoes will be along the fence. Chamomile will be the bottom/right 4 squares. This was taken 1 week ago:

This was taken today:

This bed already has seeds for lettuce (one variety in the bottom 3 squares on the left, with another column of another variety next to it, then beans (to be planted in May), and seeds for peas. Tomatoes will be along the top row along the fence. I tried lining this box with cardboard this time. For the other two I used weed fabric – just want to see how well the cardboard would work.

This one will have tomatoes along the back row and basil (genovese and thai) and parsley in the front.

Beds are ready for more planting in May. 🙂 The new bed will go the right of the one against the fence at the top of the photo.

I’m considering putting down cardboard/mulch between the beds and in the far corner to get rid of the grass and avoid complicated mowing.

So excited to be spending time out in the garden! 🙂

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It’s been cold and snowy in my neck of the woods lately. BUT – since it’s time to plan for my spring/summer garden, I’ve been having fun buying seeds and planning out what I’ll be growing and where, focusing on when the temps will be warm again. It’ll come quickly and I want to be prepared. 🙂

Without further ado, below is my square foot garden plan layout for this year – click on it to make it larger.

I will still do my usual plantings (albeit different kinds) of cherry tomatoes, basil, parsley, lettuce, beans and carrots. Oh, and french marigolds to repel the bugs. I’ll be trying some new crops this year: cucumbers, zucchini, garlic (already planted this past fall), snap peas and blueberries. Plus, to assist with my life list item to make my own tea, I’ll be planting chamomile, lemon balm and mint (the mint in its own pot because it can be invasive). I’ll be getting a dehydrator to help with that task as well.

I did all my research and bought all the seeds this morning. I’ll be picking up blueberry plants closer to planting time and I think I’ll plant a couple of other types of basil in 2 of the squares for variety. The purple basils have caught my eye – imagine what a pesto made with purple basil would look like – stunning!

My plan is to cover the entire blueberry 4×4 bed with netting to protect them from the birds. For the basil, I’ll keep some for pesto and dry the rest for cooking. Same for the parsley – I’ll use some fresh and dry the rest. I’ll dry the chamomile, lemon balm and some of the mint to make tea (my favorite tea has all of those elements in it :)). Plus, gotta save some mint for the mojitos.

I love growing my own food and walking out into the yard to pick ingredients for meals – nothing tastes better than tomatoes warmed by the sun or a fresh picked carrot – it’s incredible how different (and better!) things taste compared to the store. I also enjoy babysitting my plants and keeping an eye out for them, trimming here, watering there, picking off pests (Japanese beetles, I’m looking at you). It’s incredibly relaxing, fulfilling and the bigger jobs provide a good workout too. Weeds are few with the square foot garden method because the “good” plants take up all the space and don’t leave any room for the weeds. It’s fabulous.

Here is my list of seeds so far:

  • Red small tomato: Stupice (stoo-pee-chay)
  • Red cherry tomato: Matt’s Wild Red Cherry
  • Yellow cherry tomato: Lemon Drop
  • Yellow cherry tomato: Champagne (Loved these last year – so much sweet flavor in such a tiny package – they’re like a half inch in diameter)
  • Black cherry tomato: Black Cherry
  • Basil: Genovese  (gold standard in basil – amazing for pesto)
  • Basil: TBD – One of the purple varieties
  • Cucumbers: Muncher
  • Zucchini: Green Zucchini
  • Garlic: Red Russian
  • Beans: Yellow Golden Wax (Bush)
  • Peas: Patio Pride
  • Carrots: Nantes
  • Lettuce: Red Salad Bowl
  • Lettuce: Buttercrunch
  • Chamomile: Bodegold
  • Marigolds: French
  • Mint:: Menthol
  • Lemon Balm

 

I am doing my happy dance!!! 🙂

2016 Garden flashback:

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Holy moly – I haven’t posted in months!!! So sorry. 🙂

What started out pretty slow in the garden due to all that rain we got this summer turned out pretty good nonetheless and we’re now having trouble keeping up with the tomatoes! Here are some pics I took between April and August showing how things went as well as some of the harvests along the way.

I started my seeds back in March/April. for the first time, I staggered them based on each plant’s growth rate compared to the local frost date, etc. Honestly, I can’t really tell if that made much of a difference…

I also direct-seeded some cool-weather tolerant ones (lettuce, radishes, onion sets).

Transplanted the tomato and parsley seedlings in May.

Tried growing carrots for the first time (amazing!!). Tomatoes, lettuce, radishes, onions and carrots doing well. Also plant marigolds (corners near the fence) to keep the bugs away.

First radish harvest! 🙂

Had to replace one of my parsleys with a transplant from the store (mine didn’t make it).

Bought basil transplants as well – they do better than when I try to grow them from seed for some reason. Tomatoes and marigolds doing OK. Stuck a pepper seedling in there too (middle) but nothing came of it this year – just a plant, no flowers, no peppers.

Mini harvest to add to salad – radishes, lettuce, basil and parsley.

Planted beans in 2 batches, one seeded in May and one to replace the radish planting when harvested. Tomatoes took forever to ripen – possibly due to all the rain. It seemed like everything was a month behind.

Basil, parsley and cherry tomatoes all doing well.

First harvest of carrots and green beans. I’ll be growing carrots going forward for sure – they were delicious. And green beans are so easy – love them.

Early August – I pulled up all the basil to make pesto and to make room for the fall crop plantings. 🙂

One tub for the fridge and 7 mini containers for the freezer. Love having fresh basil year round. I tried various combinations this time: pine nuts, walnuts, basil, parsley in various ratios. I blanch it first (stays greener that way), then prepare it in batches in the food processor, add it to the container then pour olive oil on top to cover.

We can’t keep up with the tomatoes. They seemed to all start ripening at once! The only ones not yet ripe are the Thai Pink Egg cherry tomatoes but there are lots of very pale yellow (almost ivory) tomatoes on the vine – can’t wait to try them once they turn pink. This is from the second batch of green beans.

And more! Loving the tomato salads we’ve been having. 🙂

Meanwhile, I’ve planted seeds for fall crops: turnips, beets, carrots, spinach – all are sprouting nicely. Once the rest of my crops are done, I’ll plant radishes, kale and chard seeds. Can’t wait!!

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Early in the year, I start planning my garden and make preparations for planting season. I can’t wait to get outside. The plan this spring was to start some seeds indoors and sow the rest directly outside. In past years, I just waited to transplant everything outside until risk of frost had passed for my area (SW Ontario) but this time I did a bit more research, planned out a chart for each item and followed that instead. I was able to sow seeds as early as April for the cold-hardy ones (radishes, spinach, lettuce, carrots). We’ll see how things go!

This is what I’ll be growing this year:

  • 6 types of cherry tomatoes
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Onions
  • Spinach
  • 2 types of leaf lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Radishes
  • Beans (will direct sow as I harvest the radishes)
  • Marigolds (pest control)

This is my chart:

Local Frost Date (“FD”): May 1-10, 2017

Plant Sow date Growth Safe set out date Planting date Notes
 Lettuce Apr 15 Once ground is workable Apr 15 Direct Apr 9
 Onion sets Apr 22-29 2-3 wks before FD Apr 22-29 Direct Apr 22
 Radish Apr 15-22 3-4 wks before FD Apr 15-22 Direct Apr 14
 Tomato Mar 25-Apr 8 6-8 wks 1 week after FD May 13 Trans. May 13
 Basil Apr 8-22 5-7 wks 2 weeks after FD May 20 Trans. May 20
 Parsley Feb 18-Mar 4 8-10 wks 2 weeks before FD Apr 29 Trans. May 13
 Carrots Apr 8-22 3-5 weeks before FD Apr 8-22 Direct Apr 9
 Spinach Apr 8 5 weeks before FD Apr 8 Direct Apr 9

As of a week ago, everything is now outside in my 2 square foot garden beds (4×4, 2×8). The radishes, onions and lettuce are coming along nicely. I can see the tips of the carrots and spinach. I transplanted the tomatoes and parsley and they’re recovering a bit from transplant shock but they’re resilient buggers – they should bounce back. I bought basil from the garden centre (my seeds from last year didn’t take) – and I planted those on Saturday.

I keep a gardening journal to record when I do everything and track progress of how the seeds/plants are doing. It helps to look back on past season to see what worked / what didn’t. Last year, I had tomatoes, basil and parsley in one bed and the herbs were HUGE. I’d never seen basil bushes before but there they were in my backyard! I made pesto in September and it lasted us through the winter – I have 2 little containers left in the freezer. 🙂

So excited that garden season has officially begun!!!

 

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2016 Garden Update

Last year was my first attempt at square foot gardening. I had grown tomatoes and herbs in containers before, successfully,but wanted to try my hand at something new with a larger footprint. SFG was right up my alley, and it worked out well. So well that I wanted to increase my garden this year.

I started planning in January and February, making plans for my garden (Excel is awesome), researching companion planting, reading everything I could about what grew successfully in my neck of the woods. Ordered my seeds. Got my jiffy pods organized and sowed the seeds in March to start them early indoors. For the others that grew very quickly, my plan was to direct sow into my garden in May.

Pods and my Excel Garden plan plus my jiffy pod plan to keep track of what I put where:

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My list of seeds included: three kinds of cherry tomatoes (2 plants each), green peppers, Swiss chard, beets, leaf lettuce, onion sets (red, yellow,white), bush beans, basil, thyme, lavender, parsley, acorn squash, golden zucchini and marigolds to keep the bugs away. Here is the progress, each set of pics about a week apart:

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Mid-April:

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Late April:

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Early May:

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Some of my starter seeds did better than others and come May, it was time to transplant them outside. I used Triple Mix for the soil with a few bags of compost (mix of sheep and cow), plus I added plant food.

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Two of my tomato plants didn’t make it. After suffering from a bit of transplant shock and recovering nicely (I had to tie 2 of them to stakes to keep them as they were falling over), the other four are doing awesome, I bought another two at the nursery. One pepper survived, and I replaced another one. The parsley and marigolds did good but I needed more so I bought some extras. The basil and thyme didn’t make it – bought seedlings of Genovese and lemon basil at the nursery. They are thriving. I also bought two strawberry plants to have a first go at fruit. The lavender sprouted but never grew past a wisp of a stem so I bought two perennial lavender plants at the nursery.

I showed the beans, lettuce, onions, Swiss chard, beets and squashes directly in the ground and they are all doing great thankfully. So far we’ve been able to harvest the basil, parsley, onions and lettuce. Lots of little green tomatoes, small peppers and green strawberries. The beans are flowering. Life in the garden seems to be a happy one. 🙂

As I pick the onions, I’m planting more so I’ll keep a steady supply over the summer and fall.

Late May:

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June 17:

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This is one of the lavender plants (small one in front of pic) planted next to our hydrangeas. Smells so good when you brush the leaves. 🙂

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Just a few days ago (sorry about the sun glare):

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I’m happy with how things are progressing. 🙂

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I’ve decided to give square foot gardening a try this year. I have my raised bed frame and garden plan – a 4′ x 4′ grid with 16 squares. I started some seeds indoors a couple of weeks ago and am convinced I have magic beans…

I picked up a mini greenhouse for $30 at Lowes to store my seedlings indoors in a warm spot (my office) which will also work well when I harden them off later this spring out on the deck.

I decided to start some from seed and buy the rest as plants from the nursery. The seeds I started include basil, beets, green beans, spinach and marigolds. The plants I’ll be buying include cherry tomato, regular tomato, peppers and onion sets.

I started my seeds in early March which may be a bit early for the beans. This is them a week later. The beans sprouted really quickly. I’m a bit worried that they’ll grow too quickly before my outdoor garden is ready but I figure worst case scenario, I’ll transplant as needed in to bigger containers and I can always plan new seeds directly into the soil. I’ll play it by ear but they should be fine.

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Below is the mini greenhouse and the potting soil I’m using:

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And I transplanted some of the beans (top) and the beets (bottom):

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These were taken today. I transplanted more of the beans and thinned out some of the beets.

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Beets:

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These were the first beans transplanted. Magic beans. 🙂

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Stay tuned for progress!

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