Archive for the ‘Vegetables’ Category

It’s been a good year for the vegetable garden, which prompted me to try to extend the season a little longer. A second planting of edible pod peas in August has produced a nice crop and there are still a few blossoms on the vines, even though we’ve had many below-freezing nights already.

Pea blossoms



As the night temperatures dropped below freezing, I covered a small raised bed in which a second crop of cilantro and some garlic has been planted. The smaller the plants, the better the flavour it seems with cilantro, so it’s a good candidate for periodic replanting. The colder it gets, the more layers I’ve added so the bed now has two layers of crop cover material and a clear plastic shower curtain on top supported by 3′ high plastic hoops. The air temperature inside varies between -2 C and 8 C and the cilantro and garlic both seem to be fine with this temperature range. The days are short and often overcast, so the rate of growth is not what it is in the summer, but I still have hopes of a little more fresh cilantro this Fall.

Cilantro and Garlic in covered bed

It hasn’t been a good year for the cotton plants, but they are now inside again, and there are some buds and the occasional blossom and boll, but these are much later then they were last year, when blossoms were more numerous and fewer buds were dropped. I’ll try for fewer plants in deeper pots next season to see if that helps. In the meantime, I’ll try to overwinter the strongest plants from this season and see if they eventually produce some fibre.

The dye plants are looking healthy, and I’m tempted to harvest another cutting of Woad before the leaves are covered with snow for the winter.

Woad leaves in November

Madder – first season plant

Weld – first season plants


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First Wax Beans - 2012

First Wax Beans – 2012

This is the first picking of beans for this year. There are now plenty of yellow (wax) and green beans that are almost ready to eat, so it’s time to find some good recipes so we don’t get tired of beans every day…

It’s been very hot and dry until last night when it finally rained and cooled off some. Even though it’s been hot, I think the garden is off to a slower start than last year.

Here are some late-July shots to show how everything looks today:


Tomatoes are forming, but are still green so far:

Green Tomatoes

Green Tomatoes









New leaves on Cotton

The cotton didn’t go outside as early as last year, and hasn’t even formed squares yet. There is some new growth, so I’m still hopeful that some bolls will have time to develop.



Madder – second year










The second year Madder withstood the dry conditions extremely well and is very glossy and prickly.








And the new Black Walnut seedling has been planted at a good distance from the garden. It’s looking very well!

Black Walnut seedling

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The Big Freeze is finally here. The Last Lettuce and even the leeks can’t take any more of this, and must come indoors and take their place on the dinner table.

The timing is good – the first 2012 seed catalog has just arrived so I can spend the next few months reading, making lists, cutting them in half and finally ordering my seeds for the Best Garden Ever.

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I saved the last few fingerling potatoes from last year, as they were really too small to cook.

This spring they sprouted but didn’t look very promising. I took them out to the compost pile but had a last minute twinge of regret about not planting them anyway.

Instead of adding them to the pile, I took a few shovels of compost and planted them in this tiny bed next to the pile.

Once established, they looked so good that I added more compost and the screen to keep it in place. It will be easy to keep topping them up, and they seem to thrive in their little compost patch.


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All the indoor seeds that are going to sprout have sprouted by now (a few really old packets that I tried for fun are clearly not viable), so this is a little record of how they look compared to what’s sprouting in the garden.

The cotton and indigo continue to grow, and the Japanese Indigo has also sprouted. Larger pots will soon be needed, as these will not be going into the ground, and will only be outside in the hottest weather.

The other dye-plants: madder, woad and weld, were all fairly easy to germinate, and are doing well. The exception was Golden Marguerite, which will have to be re-seeded.

Outdoors, the rhubarb is enjoying a growing spurt.

The peas have been planted, but have not yet made an appearance. The mesclun mix has appeared, but is too small to photograph very well.

The flax seed saved from last year should go into the ground soon too.

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A large part of my seed stash originated with my husband’s aunt, Tante Liisa. She was an avid and very successful gardener, and we spent many happy summer vacations with her at her cottage in the country. There she had apple and pear trees, a large vegetable garden and beautiful perennial borders full of huge red poppies, day lilies and peonies.

When she passed away, many of her seeds came to me, and over the years I have planted some and kept others for a rainy day.

Today, I thought I’d have a look and see what could be used this summer, and what might be a little out of date (some of our collective seed packets go back to 1991, and those are just the ones with dates on them).

Each little packet brought back wonderful memories, and I’ll always keep a few as a souvenir.

Some were a little more mysterious – when did she buy the Schwarzwurzeln and did they grow well? There are still some seeds in the packet, and it will be fun to try a few in my garden.

Some of the seeds are identifiable, and some are not, but I look forward to planting, and solving, these little garden mysteries.

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Even though it’s three months before most plants can go outdoors here, I’m planting the really long-season seeds this week: onions and leeks for eventual transplanting to the garden, and indigo and cotton seeds that will be pot-grown.

I was very fortunate to find another source of cotton seeds – CottonSpinning.com. Joan Ruane combines two of my favorite activities, spinning and gardening and offers four varieties of cotton seeds on her site for the home cotton grower. Now I can try pima, uplands, brown and green cotton!

The pots have been prepared, but have not reached the minimum soil temperature for the cotton (60˚F, 15.5˚C) or indigo (75˚F, 24˚C), so they will be warmed on a grow mat before the seeds are added.

The flax seeds saved from last year turned out to be quite viable. Almost all had sprouted in a wet paper towel after four days, and the last few looked like they were planning to sprout, so I will use them for this year’s fibre flax crop instead of ordering new seeds.

Just having an opportunity to play in the dirt raises my spirits when the snow is still deep on the ground.

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