Showing posts from May, 2017

Permaculture: ABC

Permaculture is an ethically based design methodology. The word permaculture was coined by its co-founders Bill Mollison and David Holmgren. Permaculture is formed from two words permanent and agriculture.
A is for Ant. Ants help to protect the garden from Aphids.
B is for Bee. Both honey bees and bumblebees help the garden to grow. Bees pollinate the plants so the plants will produce fruit and vegetables.
C is for Chickens. Chicken give eggs and help to recycle food and yard waste.
D is for Ducks. Ducks eat slugs and snails that want to eat your vegetables.
E is for Ethics. Permaculture design is based upon an ethical foundation: people Care, Earth Care, Fair Shares.
F is for Food Forest. A food forest is a garden modeled upon a forest.
G is for Gardening, garden, and gardener. Gardeners are growing food, herbs and flowers in the garden.
H is for H├╝gelkultur: H├╝gelkultur is raised garden beds filled with rotten wood and covered with soil and compost. These raised beds require little attentio…

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

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…


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

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

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.


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 …


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