Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Floating Row Cover Arrived

Canada Post delivered my floating row cover this morning, rather quickly too. I placed the order Friday night and it arrived Tueday morning, it traveled 1,800km(1,118miles). Although I have never used floating row cover it is suppose to be a great product. It can be used to fend off insects, keep the heat off crops as well as extend your growing season by retaining heat and protecting from frost. I purchased this product from Veseys which is a garden supply company from Prince Edward Island, Canada. It was the most reasonable and one of the few places I could even find this stuff.

I first saw the use of this product on Tiny Farm Blog which is a CSA farm located north of Toronto, Ontario. They offer a very informative and interesting blog to follow. I copied the image below from their page and it shows that the eggplants bit the bust from not being covered, well the neighbouring peppers are growing fine due to the floating row cover.

Friday, July 25, 2008

First Potato Harvest w/ a few nature shots

I was flipping through a magazine and read about a recipe for new potatoes cooked on the grill. It looked really good so I thought I am going to investigate weather I have any potatoes under the massive potato plants. I crouched down and started digging with my hands, low and behold I found some. I then fired up the new grill and proceed to the kitchen to get these puppies going.

The recipe was for Parmesan New Potatoes and called for tin foil, olive oil, seasoning, new potatoes and parmesan cheese. I started by making a tin foil pouch, then add a few table spoons of olive oil and proceed with the new potatoes, halved/quartered if needed. Once this is done season with what ever you prefer and place them on the grill with an opening left in the foil pouch for the stem to escape. When you have about 10 minutes of grilling time left added the parm to the potatoes leaving just enough time for the cheese to melt and just start to get a little brown and crusty. They tasted great, are easy to make and defiantly worth sneaking a few potatoes from the garden.

Asides from harvesting the first few potatoes, I have also been busy with fall crops. I have started broccoli transplants for the third time, I really don't want to get into it but lets just say it was a combination of mother nature and my laziness. This time they are growing to grow and I have also mail ordered row cover to keep the cabbage butterflies off them once they are in the ground. I also direct seeded turnips yesterday and sprayed the cabbage butterfly larvae that are on my brussel sprouts. Aren't bugs fun?

I have also been out with the camera again so here are a few more shots I have taken:

A Native Bee pollinating one of the cucumber flowers

I saw this huge wasp on the Veronicastrum out front of the house. My first instinked was the run into the house. I then found the courage to venture outside on the porch, 1 foot from the door and take this picture with a zoom lens. I'm so brave! The picture is a little diseving because this wasp is over 3" long with has a body thickness of 1/2".

Updated: I have done a little research and found out that this wasp is most likely a Sphex pennsylvanicus- Great Black Wasp. It even has a mean name.

This is a Cedar Waxwing that I got a shot of in a Mulberry Tree. It was on the bike trail about 5 blocks from our home.

This is a Fledgling Robin that was eating some berries. This birds was in the treed lot behind our yard.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Out with the flowers, In with the vegetable harvest

First off the weather has been crazy hot last week, like 40c (104f) with the humidex factored in and the weekend was stormy and overcast. Normally the storms pull out the heat but it seemed to just make the humidity worse which hovered around 100%. The plants seem to really prefer the weather but it makes me want to stay in the a/c. I did manage to get some picking done though and was rather happy that it is finally getting to the point where I can harvest a variety of things at once.

All the carrots have been pulled, they seemed to be getting thicker rather then longer so I figured I better get them out before they turn woody. Some kind of bore got to about 10 of the carrots so they ended up in the compost, I guess everyone has to eat right?

I also picked a few beets that had grown to a good size. They seem to be all at different growth stages so this is good because I can pick them as needed without having them get to large.

The celery has also grown large enough to start harvesting. I pulled one up, removed the pot I placed over the bottom of the plant to blanch it and it worked great. The celery is almost white, I have yet to taste it but I am betting it is not bitter at all because of the blanching.

The cucumbers are starting to produce a lot of blooms which is rather exciting because I am a cucumber fend.

This photo shows the bumper crop of mild banana peppers that are starting to get almost large enough to eat. I hope they taste good because I am going to have alot of them. The rest of the peppers, chocolate & red are flowering but no peppers yet.

The zuchinni is also producing many blooms but all 15 or so are male with no female flowers in sight, not sure if this is normal.

I will end with a couple photos of the waterfall we visited over the weekend. It is called Grindstone Cascade and is located in Waterdown, ON on Mill St. South. It is a very nice spot and was enjoyable even after factoring in the heat, humidity and I wore sandals on a rocky/clay trail at times on a 20 degree angle. Boy I'm whinny today! Anyhow, I was experimenting with the shutter in hopes of getting the moving water to appear as it is moving in the photo. It worked pretty well with some of the photo's but it was hard not to over expose and end up with a very washed out image.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

In reading SFG in Nashville I found out that it is Garden Bloggers Bloom Day which was started by May Dreams Gardens. I thought, I have lots of plants that are in flower so why not jump on the wagon and join in. Now brace yourself because there are alot of photo's, enough to cramp my hand for shrinking the images, darn laptop mouse thing.


The Window Box

Clematis, although not a flower but a seed pod. I think it is just as attractive.


Shasta Daisy



Lemon tree under planted with geraniums with the urns in the background. A lemon tree in a pot that says lemon, who would have thunk it?


Sea Holly with lady's Mantel in the background

Liatris, just starting to bloom




Gooseneck Loosestrife



Dwarf Bougainvillea

Monday, July 14, 2008

Lots of garden drudgery today

Today was a wonderful summer day, just warm enough, hardly any clouds and a nice breeze. I took advantage of this good weather to do garden chores like trimming the monster hedge, cutting the lawn on the diagonal (yes I am nuts) and clean out the shred that has gotten to the point that you could not even enter anymore. I also picked up a new grill last weekend that has a rotisserie so I made rotisserie chicken today, mm rotisserie chicken.

Not alot to update in the vegetable garden, it is just growing. I am going to harvest the remaining peas tonight and compost the plants.

The cucumbers and what I hope is zucchini are getting male flowers so I think female flower/veg will follow suit.

I have been watching the tomatoes daily, patiently waiting to harvest them. Next year I am defiantly going to start the tomatoes earlier so when it is time to plant them out they already have flowers forming, possible using a cold frame to get them out even sooner.

I have composted the broccoli plants making sure to smash up the thick stems so they readily break down.

I have also attached some more insect photos, the first being a Monarch Butterfly taken on the bike trail near our home and the last being a pair of Cabbage Butterfly that are make more caterpillars to eat my brassica's.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pea harvest

I picked a third of the peas yesterday and they tasted great. I have never liked peas mainly because I have only eaten frozen ones that always seem to have a grey taste. Fresh from the garden they are sweet and have a bite almost like al dente pasta.

I just boiled them for a couple minutes, drained and then added butter, salt & pepper to the pot. Then served with lemon, thyme chicken from the grill. It was very tasty and healthy. There is about two more pickings left on the plants and then I am going to replace them with turnip that will be ready to harvest in the fall/early winter.

I also have another insect shot from the yard, this time it is an orange spider. It seems to be the time to find orange insects around my house, what are the odds of that? It is making a web between the front porch post and the window box on the railing.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Romaine harvest with critters

With my romaine grown from transplants in the compost because of poor quality I am on to eating the romaine that was direct sown. It is doing great but I think we need to get eating, with the heat starting to really roll in on a regular bases I think it may not hold up much longer.

I harvested a large head yesterday for dinner and noticed that romaine is a good candidate for insects homes. The head had at least 12 ear wigs taking residence and I am glade I noticed before bringing them into the house. I de-steamed the leaves, shook all the little buggers off, then took it in the house and gave it a really good wash and spin dry. A salad spinner certainly comes in handy in a home garden because veggies from the garden are defiantly not as clean as from the grocery store. Although I would take bugs and dirt over pesticides any day!

I have also capture more shots of wild life in my yard. The first being an Orange Crane Fly that was resting on one of the pole bean leaves. These look like monster mosquitoes but to the best of my knowledge have no relation. The last two are of a Black Capped Chickadee that has been checking out a couple bird houses in the backyard perennial garden. These are rather interesting birds to watch and will readily eat right out of your hand although I have yet to try this, I really don't have the patients.