Sunday, July 29, 2007

Even more links on The First Tomato - an ode

How can us gardeners not but give praise to one of the highlights of the growing calender. The great and glorious moment when we realize that no it is not a red candy wrapper that was tossed under the tomato plant (like last time), but a ripe tomato.

The singing of the heart, the opening of the salivary glands, the writing of the blog entry.

Here is a quick review of my hastily collected but still wonderfully fun posts about the First Ripe Tomato:

I love the look of this variety on Dreams and Bones

A beautiful post with a beautiful tomato at My Grandpa's Garden

My Dutch Garden has written about some of the many challenges we tomato growers face but don't worry she still has a handful of tomatoes in her belly!

Garden Desk beats the crowd by picking this beauty on June 15th.

My Roots Run Deep showing that even vegetable wary children cannot resist the temptation!

Short and sweet (oh so sweet) on Fluffius Muppetus

May Dream Gardens gives her first beautiful tomato the royal treatment.

Another early bird with a harvest on July 6th at View from the Mountain

For a tomato of a different colour try Growing Thumbs Gardens who is actually growing tomatoes in this post. ;)

I love the light in the Inadvertant Gardener's photo, very spiritual.

More on tomato gold at Gotta Garden.

An interesting picture. I love the small plastic pig beside the perfect cherry tomato at the reluctant remodeler

Little bit about heirlooms, and a lot of tomato love at Geek Buffet

You Grow Girl harvested July 2nd... did they say Canada Day? Canadians. I'm jealous

The all important question of what to do with the first tomato is discussed by Eat Air - A Vegan Food Log.

I like the picture of this cherry by Richie Design.

More on my harvest schedule on Po Moyemu - In My Opinion.

No photo but I love How Mary's Garden Grows describes the other method of handling the first tomato - eat it immediately.

Down on the Allotment has ripe tomatoes too!

Bifucated Carrot has orange/red tomatoes to eat.

A subdued post on Skippy's Vegetable Garden.

I keep forgetting to add mine.

Do you have a ripe tomato? Share it by dropping me a link. I'm happy to edit (hee hee hee).

Bad Tomato Mommy take II
Green Thumb Sunday

You should always cage your tomatoes properly so that they have good air circulation which lowers the chance of disease, and keeps your fruit off the ground so that no critters take a bite, and frankily caged tomatoes take less space.

If you happen not to get around to doing this until later in the season, you may resort to less elegant solutions...

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... for example, smushing them together in an impromptu fence made of plastic trellis and parts of a plant stand... you might do this... but you shouldn't.

P.S. The tomatoes did recover but next year, I vow not to bother with those puny so called tomato cages. My robust babies need better support.

Want to see more tomato abuse?

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Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Maplelawn Gardens

Maplelawn is a lovely walled cottage garden to visit in Ottawa.

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A sunny border with liatrus, daylily, false sunflower, bellflower 'bluechips', poppy, and more

The colour scheme is exuberant to say the least but never does it jar the eye. The tireless volunteers in this old time garden have ensured a full season of gorgeous bloom.

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Blanket flower

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Veronica (speedwell)

None of the old time favourites are left out.

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Garden phlox

And every knock and cranny is crammed with plants:

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Hens and chicks

If you live in the area and love gardening, check it out!

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Snowball hydrangea hedge

First Tomato of the season...

The harvest crowds to get a closer look at:

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The finger is my youngest. She wants to eat the tomato. I don't blaim her. Amassed harvest includes, eggplant, golden turnip, kholrabi, beans, chocolate and yellow mini pepper (bitten by children).

The first tomato. Unsurprisingly, it was from my monster tomato, seed saved from a volunteer last year.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Garlic Harvest and Types

I am taking in the harvest a tad early because I need to make room for some other plantings. However, the garlic bulbs are still sizeable:

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My eldest and a bunch of garlic.

These are a hardneck variety, perhaps Russian Red as they have red skins inside though I can't be sure. My plant labels disappeared what with the many feet of snow, the great thaw times 2, various critters and helpful children.

I believe I planted Russian Red, Music and um... some other kind?

Whatever they are, they all sent up scapes (those are the flower buds on the garlic, a delicacy in themselves). They are also all deliciously fresh and crisp unlike those dried out, wimpy store brought ones.

All the varities I planted were purchased at the Carp Garlic Festival so have adapted to local growing conditions. It's a great way to get a variety of garlics to try at a reasonable prize if you are in the Ottawa area. Best of all, you can spend all day tasting garlic treats without a thought to your breath. Everyone's wearing the same perfume there.

But I promised you a short tutorial:

Hardneck versus Softneck.

The first difference is obvious, hardnecks, like in the above picture, have a hard stem - don't try and braid this kind of garlic.

But there is more, hardneck tend to flower giving you an extra crop of delicious scapes before the bulbs are ready. They also are the preferred crop for many northern growers and store about 3-6 months.

Softnecks are apparently more adaptive and productive and given the proper conditions will store for up to a year. However, they are more commonly grown in southern climes. That's not to say that they will not grow up north. They will.

My experience with my own garden is that the hardnecks are much more productive and healthier looking in whereas the softnecks were smaller and more prone to yellowed leaves. However, I have not tried a huge sampling of different varities yet!


More about different types of garlics
Garlic growing link, lists varities
How to braid garlic
Garlic SHOW braid - crazy fun

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Eggplant with Nose

Okay, those hybridizers have just gone too far!

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This is today's harvest of an asian type long eggplant (can't find the seed packet... grr). Anyhow, its a prolific thing. This was going to be the last year I grew eggplants but now I consider it the first successful of many, or so I hope.

I thank clear plastic mulch to warm the beds along with the variety that I picked because from my reseach it seems that long and smaller fruited eggplants are more adapted to cooler, shorter seasons than the bigger italian ones. However, I did this research in the depths of winter and will have to recreate it for you on another post. If anyone knows HARD FACTS about this or something that contradicts this, let me know.

Anyhow, today's harvest gave me pause. The little guy above not only had a nose but a perfectly parted hairdo. (I admit that I added the Mr. Potato Head eyes).

Sunday, July 15, 2007

GTS - forgot to add

This is A-D week on Green Thumb Sunday for me.

Kids in the Garden on Green Thumb Sunday

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Kids raiding the current bush

"Let's go for a car ride kids."

"Where? To the park?" Says my three year old.

"No to the nursery."

"Park, park," shouts my 18 month old.

"Nursery? Boooooring," says my three year old.

"Park, park."

"No park, nursery."

"Park, park."

"More plants?????!!!!!" Whines my three year old. "You have looooooooooooooooots of plants."

"I'll buy you guys a treat."

"Yeah! Treat."

"Treat, treat," shouts my 18 month old.

So my kids don't love weeding. And they don't enjoy slowly touring the long tables of plants at the nursery. But they do love the garden in their own way. They hide under the bushes, and crawl through the tall grasses. They wind their way along the spiral path at the front and stop for snacks from the 'berry places.' My oldest knows a little latin and they both like watching as the baby plants grow and bloom, the rain pours down and the wind blows their hair.

They do help a bit by digging holes, overplanting seeds, and adding their own eccentric touches:

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Glow in the dark garden dino.

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Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Reheading cabbage and short season sweet potato update

It's that time of year where I spend all my time gardening, and less time looking up gardening questions unless, of course, there is some problem...

So far, so good.

We have pests: cabbage moth, cucumber beetle, colarado potato beeltle (which only seems to be interested in my physalias - the primary reason I grow the invasive darlings). We have see-saw weather, but so far my veggie crises are minimal.

Re-heading cabbage

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Same savoy as in the above link.

Can you see them? Darling little heads growing at the leaf axils as promised! They should make nice tender additions to a soup, a stirfry, my sandwich...

Sweet Potato Mulch

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Short season sweeet potatoes starting to vine.

I keep hearing about how these things live by the same 'take-over-the-world-or-at-least-the-garden' moto as pumpkins so I am glad to see they are starting to live up to the promise.

Tender Fruit

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Long, oriental type eggplant.

Thanks to clear plastic mulch, this is the first year that I have had such an impressive crop of sweet peppers and eggplants. Okay, perhaps I should be more clear. I have grown eggplants for three years in a row. The previous two years I have gotten less than 4 egg-fruits. Really, I hesitate to call them eggplant fruit at all as they were pathetic examples. I do not blaim the plants themselves but their growing conditions.

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Mini-bells, italian frying and some other kind of pepper. They got knocked over as seedlings. It'll be a nearly blind taste test.

Thanks to Ken Allan's amazing book on growing short season sweet potatoes in the north called Sweet Potatoes in the Home Garden, I now have a new way to 'extend my climate zone.' Plastic mulch increases soil temperature which many plants, such as the aforementioned, appreciate.

Ken, you are one of my gardening idols.

Surprising Combinations in the Perennial Garden

My front spiral perennial bed hides, and sometimes highlights, more than one edible or useful plant. As I was walking around with my gardener's frown, - you know the kind that quickly turns to delight when you see 'that plant' finally in flower - I noticed some unintented but quite pleasing combinations.

The complementary ruffle of varigated 'Citronella' Geranium and annual 'Torch' Blanket Flower:

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The contrasting colours of Delphinium 'Butterfly Blue' with edible Nasturtium 'Peach Melba':

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The dark mystery resonating between the deep purple Clematis and the black seeds of anise tasting sugar substitute Sweet Cicely:

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And finally, the feeling of a meadow created by wild fleabane (weed), flowering with yellow columbine and the tea substitute Monarda:

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Sometimes your best effort is the accidental one.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Bloggers for Positive Global Change

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Thanks to Fluffius Muppetus for nominating me as a 'bloggers for positive global change.' This is a meme to help raise awareness about blogging for a purpose, to attain a more sustainable world.

Below are my nominees.

Root Cause - a joint effort which includes Patrick from Bifucated Carrot, my absolute favourite political gardening blog. However, I just know that he's probably been tagged for this any number of times already so I'm going to tag one of his other works.

Heavy Petal - as you would expect, this blogger doesn't just love gardens, but she loves to participate in what I call 'garden action' including guerrilla gardening.

OttawaPlantCycle - a new blog featuring the tireless efforts of one woman to recycle plants and all things garden related. She also does this on a much grander scale with all manner of things.

Seeded - the quote alone on the top left deserves a mention. '... in the seed lies the life and the future' Veggie gardener extreme.

Veggie Gardening Tips and Ideas - Always full of information on organic vegetable gardening.

Green Thumb Sunday Madness

Alright, I give up. I had no idea there was so many fantastic and frequently updated gardening blogs out there! I want to read all the green thumb sunday posts but it aint't going to happen especially if I want to try and keep up with any number of other garden blogger collections.

So for now on, you are all on a schedule. A-D the first week, E-H the second, and so on. I hope I can manage to comment on you all!

Signed, sleepy in Ottawa.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Edible Perennial in the bed.

My perennial garden in the front is undergoing an overhaul. (Yes, I know I just put it in last year but I am a gardener right and gardeners are infamous for reorganizing, aren't they?).

One of my decisions is to keep the front more of a perennial, self seeding garden, as opposed to the potager it is now. In other words, to have fewer annual vegetables. That doesn't mean it won't have veggies. Oh no. It will just have more biennual or perennial vegetables. I have salsify growing, which will have a lovely purple flower in its second year, and will be replanting parnip roots for their dramatic flower. I will also be transferring my 'radicchio' chicory with its arresting blue flower to the front.

These will join all sorts of nibble plants such as:

Seen grown here with overwintered hot peppers, nasturtiums, sage and thyme.

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Also showing moonbeam coreopsis, a cultivar of a NA wildflower, gypsophilia repens - great for dry areas, basil, and lobelia.

Jeruselum artichokes, horseradish, rhubarb, daylilies and egpytian onions in my 'wild side bed'

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The giant plant is Jeruselum Artichoke.

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I adore the dramatic leaves of horseradish. Here seen with tansy that somehow snuck in.

Aples, plums, red current, gooseberry and rugosa rose as part of the foundation planting:

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Seen her with native ninebark, hosta, iris and peony. Oh and a kid, nicknamed worse than the birds. This is where she was headed in the above picture.

I will, however, miss the strange looks of people passing by the cabbage planted with the lavender.

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Cabbage temporarily planted where there are some so far well behaved raspberry vines...

I should probably include an

Optimistic Gardener Warning

I am planting the salsify beside a false sunflower. And the parsnip as a background plant. The chicory will probably grow in front of the parsnip, with the cosmos. As chicory is my favourite flower, I was happy to discover that radicchio has a flower nearly identical to the wild type, except the buds have a pleasing jewel tone before opening.

Photo updates next year.


A wild food site. How to identify and prepare chicory

Salsify flower - aren't they pretty!

Remembering winter
Green Thumb Sunday

A little reminder of how joyous this time of year is:

Vegetable Garden July 7th

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Vegetable Garden February 7th

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Happy HAPPY Gardening to all.

Join Green Thumb Sunday

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Brassicas and bonus crops

Second Chance Cabbage

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Savoy Cabbage harvested

Where once there was a delicious young savoy head, now there is nothing but an empty middle. But don't worry, the cabbage plant has not given up yet. It may yet produce a second crop of smaller, more bite sized heads. Here's how. Cut the cabbage head off the leafy base. This next step is optional but some suggest then making a cross in the stem bit that's left. I discovered that this really does work accidentally one year when I was lazy about removing the old cabbages... Apparently, the cabbages will form loose mini-heads between the leaf axils.

This works best with shorter season cabbage, by the way, though mine were long season cabbage which sprouted in the 'spaceship' greenhouse.

Bountiful Broccoli

Broccoli is also well known for its ability to re-bud. Some broccoli varieties are called sprouting and form an initial head of varying size which when harvested is followed by a succession of smaller heads. However, most regular broccoli will also do this. If you want a steady crop of mini-broccolis forming at the leaf axils, then look for this quality when buying seed.

Tasty Kholrabi heads and tails

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Half-grown kholrabi

When harvesting my kholrabi, I asked myself, can I eat the leaves? Maybe I was hungry, maybe I just hate wasting something edible. Anyhow, the answer is 'yes'. I cook them rather like collards. In fact this goes for all the members of the vegetable brassica family that I have looked up so far. Apparently the younger leaves are less tough and sweeter. Frost will also improve their flavour. So after you yank the plant, why not cook yourself up a plate of greens?


Belated Happy Canada Day on OH

Red and white in the garden.

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German Chamomile (tea chamomile) with a backdrop of Japanese bloodgrass and dark red dianthus

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Mini-rose, unknown variety (dumpster rescue), with pale stone mulch.

That's all folks

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Community Garden, plant recyling, no money (but lots of work) required!

Let me tell you about my friend Val.

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She is the owner of plantcycle Ottawa - a place to adopt, talk, and give away plants or anything else garden related.

She is also on the board for the New Orleans Community Garden.

Now, she has a blog that features her tireless rehoming of plants - Ottawaplantcycle.blogspot

I know few other people so interested in making sure that our fat society wastes a little bit less.

This post is a thank you to a great gal!