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Showing posts from 2017

Perennial Vegetables

If you are looking to reduce labour and increase your personal food security, take a close look at perennial vegetables.Rhubarb is a well known perennial food source. However, it is far from the only one that will thrive in our environment. Adding one or two of these perennial plants can increase your family’s food security. It is difficult to say what the future weather will be like, so, it is best to be preparade and to embrace diversity in the home garden. The Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) also known as the sunchoke is native to eastern North America. The plant was given the name Jerusalem because it is allegedly connected to the Italian wordgirasola, which means sunflower.   This plant does have attractive yellow flowers. The root is the edible part and the principle reason for adding this plant to the vegetable garden. The tuber of the sunchoke can be used like potatoes. This plant is a prolific breeder so the grower can anticipate a good yield. However, this plants is p…

Sunny Day in The Garden

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A great day between rainfalls to get out into the garden and take some photos. May 27, 2017.





Weather and the Garden

I never actually stop gardening. I do not think about it all the time. When I talk about gardening in this context, I am considering a bigger picture. How will the garden season evolve over the next few years is one question I consider? What will a changing weather system bring to the growing season? What can we grow that will thrive and feed our families? The weather has a direct and often an immediate impact on all living things, including the farm and the home garden. An unanticipated frost or cold snap can kill those tender annual vegetables. A prolonged dry spell may, at first, help plant roots grow as they go deeper and deep to find precious water. However, without irrigation, the crops will wither and die. The last few years have presented the region with some unusual weather. I do not know what is to come but I do believe in being prepared. There are steps we can take to keep our environment viable, even when the local weather presents us with challenges. For example, Synthetic f…

English Cottage Garden

I believe people should do what they can to grow some of their own food. I also believe that a garden without flowers is missing an important element. The English Cottage Garden fits perfectly with both these beliefs. The plant options the gardener can select from are numerous. If the garden was mine there are plant that would have to be included. For me, the ideal cottage garden would include hollyhocks and cosmos. These two add a majestic and ethereal beauty to any garden. There are also bee attractors. The hollyhock takes me back to my boyhood and the cosmos with its feathery foliage speaks of ancient times and a sense of mystery. After our long and sometimes, seemingly endless winters, a bit of early colour is welcome.  Thus, tulips, daffodils and crocuses belong in this garden. Lilies can bring beauty throughout the season due to the wide variety available Lavender, thyme, dill and basil will be there to add fragrance and flavour. Of course, tomatoes, strawberries and beans are all es…

Daffodils

A favourite flower, I really do not have one, my taste in plants covers a very wide range from asters to zinnias but there is one flower that gives me the most pleasure to grow and that is the daffodil. Daffodils are easy to plant as long as you remember pointed side up and plant them deep enough in a spot where they get what they need. They are ideal for a naturalized lawn such as the one we had between the house and the driveway in my parents home.  The daffodils come into bloom with another favourite the tulip right behind them. The daffodil makes a great cut flower and will last for approximately a week, maybe a bit more indoors. While there are many varieties available today, my choice is the traditional yellow; there is something so happy about that yellow that it can brighten even a grey day. However, the daffodils cheerfulness is not why this beauty brings me pleasure to grow; the real reason is that it is my wife’s favourite flower and her birth flower. I grow them for her s…

Greenhouse: Andrina Tomatoes

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This heirloom cherry tomato originated in Russia and is one of the earliest tomatoes there is. The plants are extremely dwarf reaching 6" high and produce good yields of tasty cherry sized fruit. Great for containers! Determinate. (60-65 days from transplant)



Planted today (2017-05-17 in Greenhouse

What to Grow?

Over the years I have designed and grown a wide range of gardens from a one pot with tomatoes and basil on my balcony to a 1 acre commercial operation. One reoccurring question raised through all these various gardens’ projects over a 17 year period is whether to grow flowers or not. I am not talking about edible flowers but flowers that are grown purely for ornamental or ascetic purposes either as cut flowers for the table or bouquets or dried flowers for various craft purposes. To clarify the discussion further, I am not discussing commercial growing of cut flowers or flowers for drying, both of which could be solid business opportunities, but rather flowers grown purely for personal use and ascetic qualities. There are gardeners and then there are gardeners; some will only grow food and scoff at those who grow, for example, gladiolas. Te glad has no edible value but it perhaps one of the most beautiful flowers that I have seen. I have grown glads in containers on my balcony and in…

Preparing Balcony Garden

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This garden is located on the third-floor balcony, only 3 hours of the sun per day and only near the edge.





Getting Balcony Ready

Good day, well tomorrow will be the first mild and sunny day in awhile so I will be getting the balcony planters ready. The upper balcony is my ornamental garden,. this year morning glories and nasturtiums will be the stars.

Bees

I was leaving Sobeys the other day when a reader stopped me and asked if I would write a column about bees. I encourage my readers to make suggestions about the column so here it is, bees and what we can do to keep them buzzing. Honey bees provide us with much more than honey.  The honey bee is a major pollinator of many of our food crops, almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupes, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon and many other crops all rely on honey bees. When the honey bee is threatened, our food supply is threatened and we are also threatened. Fortunately, there are actions we can take to reduce the threat. One is to include in your home gardens plants that will attract and support the honey bee. The second is to provide an environment for other bees so that our gardens do not rely solely on the honey bee.  The bumble bee and the blue orchard mason bee, among others, also provide pollination services. They do not produce honey. The honey bee came to …

Annuals

An annual plant is a plant that usually germinates, flowers and dies in one year.  Some love annuals because they make excellent cut flowers; some because annuals are easy to grow; some love them for their brilliant colours while others just love to create a new garden every spring.  The reasons do not matter as they are all sound; if you love to garden and enjoy bright vivid colours then annuals will satisfy your needs. I am very fond of annuals and cannot imagine a garden that does not have a few.  They enlarge the palette but perhaps, more importantly, they enable me to make simple but noticeable changes to my garden and perhaps even better, they give me a reason to get out in the garden.
You can add annuals to your garden, throughout the growing season.
Annuals bloom continuously and produce prolific amounts of seed and this requires the production of many flowers; all making a win-win situation for any gardener.

May 1, 2017

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Why Study Permaculture Part One

Permaculture is a holistic, nature-inspired design methodology that can be used grow food, build businesses and create communities. There are a number of reasons why a permaculture course is valuable. Permaculture design can assist you to reduce your ecological footprint while saving you money, time and energy. This illustrates a permaculture concept- taking one action and accomplishing three or more tasks. If you are interested in learning more about permaculture, I recommend that you begin with an introductory course. This allows you to find out if you are intrigued enough to develop you knowledge and skills further or if you just want to take what you know and apply it your yoru daily life and work. Unless you want to become a teacher or permaculture design consultant, the intro course is all you need. However, if you seek more and want to consult and or teach then further work and learning is required. If you have your own land and want to grow all or much of your own food, the i…

Lawns

Large or small we do love our lawns. We value them so highly we curse the so-called weeds without realizing they are doing us a service. But, I will talk about this service in another column. Our passion, perhaps for some an obsession, with our lawns, dates back to a time when not using space to grow food was a sign of wealth. People still devote hours and dollars to maintain a lawn that may look good but requires constant attention and far too many people rely on toxic chemicals to keep the green, green. Lawns are important. They provide a place for BBQs, family gatherings, a playground for the children and space for pets to roam. Lawns are needed but not in all cases and perhaps, in some, they could be smaller. Considering how people use lawns, picture children and the family dog rolling on the lush, green grass, why would anyone want to spray any toxic chemicals simply to control weeds. There are healthier ways. The first step in going chemical free is to determine what uses the back-ya…

Bee City Campbellton

Bees are pollinators, not the only ones, but the honey bee is most likely the best known. Bumble bees also help the plants they visit grow. You can see both honey and bumble bees going about their business in any thriving garden.

The City of Campbellton has recently undertaken a major step in recognizing the value of the bee and the services they provide us.
City Council has passed a resolution that names Campbellton a Bee City. By becoming a Bee City, we have agreed to join with other communities across Canada, to protect, promote and celebrate pollinators. The Galerie Restigouche Gallery is coordinating the Bee City efforts through this Facebook page.

Harvesting & Eating Dandelions

Here in Northen New Brunswick, a cold wind blows. Snow lies deep upon the garden but Spring is coming, yes it is. With the arrival of Spring comes dandelions, one of the first sources of nectar for bees and other pollinators. so do not fear dandelions but embrace them. Here is how.

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Do You Grow Heritage Tomatoes?

My heritage tomato seed collection is growing if you will pardon the unintended pun. I am still deciding which tomatoes I will plant this year but between buying new varieties and saving seeds from past years,  I have a good basic heritage tomato seed collection.

What heritage tomatoes are you growing?

Cucumbers

My seeds are arriving, not that I actually need seeds but there is something comforting about having my own seed library.

Next week my column will talk about one of my favourite summer vegetables, the cucumber. I am trying a new variety this season and will keep you posted with photos as to how it works out.

Galerie Restigouche Gallery: Heritage Garden Project.

The Heritage Garden Project created by the Galerie Restigouche Gallery is based on information gather from information generously provided by the Kings Landing Historical Settlement. 
A second source was the book, written by Wesley Greene, “Vegetable Gardening, The Colonial Williamsburg Way.” The seeds used in the Heritage garden are based upon the information Kings Landing provided.  The garden will grow onions, peas, beans, squash.\ and a few other varieties.

We plan to save seeds from the garden and replant them each Spring 2018. In this way, we will develop plants that are accustomed to the region. In time, we may be able to make some of these seeds available to local gardeners.  Herbs and plants that were used for medicinal purposes will play a vital part in creating this living testimony that is the Heritage Garden. 
The Heritage Garden project will create a legacy through its documentation using both digital video and still photography. The videos and photos will be posted on the F…

Vegetables in Containers

You can grow your favourite vegetables in containers as all vegetables will do well in a container provided that container is big enough for the vegetable. For example, if you try to grow even cherry tomatoes in a three inch diameter terra cot pot you are going to be disappointed; however, if you use a three gallon container or any container that is at least 24 inches across and 18 inches deep you will be able to enjoy tomatoes fresh from your own garden. Add some basil which grows very well with tomatoes and you are all set. You can grow cucumbers, green peppers and zucchini in the same size (24x18) containers. For both zucchini and cucumbers, you may want to add a trellis to the container to keep the plant growing upright. For soil, I recommend that you purchase an organic potting soil, one that is designed fro growing vegetables, from you local plant nursery. If you are new to container gardening, it is worth the time to have a chat with the nursery manger and let her or him know what …

Saved Bean Seeds

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These are just a few of the seeds I saved from last year's gardens.




Gardening: Raised Beds

So you do not want to kneel down or bend over to garden, well you do not have to, simply raise the garden up, and reduce the effort required to do your gardening chores. There are many ways to raise the garden up, you can put down some straw bales and plant right into them. You can put containers on a table or other platform; if you use a bench that a chair can slide under you can sit down and garden. You can build your own raised bed garden using wood, bricks, concrete blocks, rubber tires, or compost and earth piled up above the ground. The approach you take is up to you and your needs, the time and resources you have available. In a hurry, buy some organic soil, cut a slit into the bag and plant right into this, if you want it higher, put it on a table or bench. If you choose to build a raised bed from wood for example, or buy a kit, the most workable size for the bed is four feet across, this way you can reach anywhere in the bed without stepping into it and compacting the soil b…

You Grow Girl

Hey, guys, don't let the title turn you away from a great gardening book, You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail is an excellent source for the beginning to the well-established gardener. It is also a great source for the garden do-it-yourselfer with projects and simple to follow directions.
My copy was a gift from a group who attended a composting workshop I gave. The book is well-read and much appreciated.much appreciated.


Garden Walkways

When designing a walkway for a garden keep it simple. Use straight lines and employ shrubs and garden art to indicate the walkway’s flow. Changing the surface texture can also help provide directional clues.
If there are any inclines or declines along the path, then install hand rails about one meter or three feet before they begin.
When laying out the garden beds use low borders and keep the width of the bed to no more than one meter or three feet. This makes it easy for the gardener to reach the centre of the garden bed from either side.
If the gardener has limited vision, colour can help to distinguish between plants and garden areas. Bright flowers could be used to separate different types of vegetables thereby providing information for the gardener to use in knowing what vegetables were in what section of the garden bed.
Bright colours also come into play when it comes to garden tools. Tools with brightly coloured handles can help the gardener to select the proper tool for the task a…

Plants For Bees

Succession planting involves selecting plants that will bloom throughout the gardening season.
To bring the bees in in the spring plant crocus, hyacinth, borage, and calendula.  To keep the bees happy through the summer, add bee balm, cosmos, coneflower, snapdragons foxglove, and hostas. Asters and sunflowers keep the bees feeding when fall arrives.