Journaling our progress throughout the year is going to help us determine the best times to plant and when we can expect to harvest. We decided to start being strict about how we analyze our yard this year…and of course this year would be an odd-ball year. We had a long winter, and spring seems to be taking her sweet time in unpacking her bags. We get nice little visits of sun and mild temperatures, but then we anger her somehow and she leaves us with cold, rainy, stormy conditions.
This is wreaking havoc in our area. Temperatures are hitting anywhere between 3 degrees celsius and 28 degrees celsius. Between the storms battering our area, and the warm days melting the snowpacks there has been a great deal of flooding all around our area. There are numerous states of emergency and so many people displaced with bated breath that their houses and properties will be ok once this stormy season has ended. Overall people are safe, however there have been a few casualties and our hearts go out to those families, friends and communities.
Last weekend my sister, mom and me, headed out to check out a few nurseries and pickup plants and flowers for our yards. We started with the local universities Horticulture department plant sale. Always great plants, great prices and a wonderful group of volunteers who work tirelessly to beautify our gardens. As usual there was quite the line when we arrived, and it was a lot of jostling, bumping and apologetic smiles. Worth it though for the variety and unique plants that can be picked up. My personal favourite is a decorative plant called the “Setcreasea Varietga” or the “Variegated Purple Heart”. It is a purple leafed plant with small delicate pastel purple flowers that bloom. The flowers eventually become jelly like, which the birds seem to like. I found this unique plant at the Horticulture sale a few years ago and have bought one every year since as I have been un-successful in keeping it alive throughout our winter. When visiting Mexico 2 year ago, I realized why. It is used as a ground cover and edging throughout Mexico and thrives in that hot dry climate. Our summers certainly are desert-like, but our winters are far to cold, even if I bring it in-doors.
From there we decided to take a scenic drive to our next destination, a town about an hour away. Where we live the river is coming up, but the flooding is not as apparent for us as our river is still well within it’s banks and not predicted to flood here in town. However, go 10 minutes outside of town in almost any direction and the small streams that feed into our river are well past their banks and are wreaking the destruction that is calling for states of emergency for many communities. We were able to see many of the areas affected by our stormy weather and quick run-off. It really puts into perspective the battle that is being waged by so many. A sobering moment for us on our weekend drive. In fact, later in the evening, one of the roads we had traveled ended up being washed out, cutting off the community from one direction.
At our next stop, we all managed to pickup all the plants we could need or want at some amazing prices. The staff were wonderful and so amazingly helpful. As we browsed, another storm was quickly building with dark, rain filled clouds. What was supposed to be a sunny day with a few clouds, was quickly becoming a stormy day with a brief sunny break.
We headed off to our next stop, also a nursery, but not for anymore plants. This stop also boasted some delicious fare, with their pies being very well known and talked about. Well, it didn’t disappoint. We all tucked in to a sandwich filled with delicious vegetables sandwiched between home-made herb bread. For dessert we had a fresh-from-the-oven cinnamon bun and a large slice of blackberry-cherry pie. MMMMMM mmmmmmm MMMM. Now I am really looking forward to all the fruit we will hopefully be getting this year! As we left, we all bought a pie to bring home.
Once back in town the weather was stormy but not yet raining, so I took advantage of the lull and planted all the herbs I had purchased. For now, they are all going in pots as we don’t have the back terraces done yet. Next year, they are going into the ground and hopefully will seed and come back each year! In the pots I planted kale, dill, basil, Italian oregano, Greek oregano, thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary and sage.
The strawberry tower got new ever-bearing plants as the ones from last year didn’t make it through our winter. This winter we will cover the plants to help protect them while their roots get a good hold. They are fantastic plants, and after only 5 days of being in the towers, have started producing fruit.
Our June-bearing strawberries have rooted beautifully and are spreading like weeds…which is a good thing! The stairs that we will be building will create a natural barrier to the one side. We anticipate having to keep a close eye on them and make sure they don’t over-take their area…which is quite large already. I’m quite happy to have to re-home some of the new shoots to other areas of the yard or with friends and family.
I also picked up a thorn-free blackberry bush…although I will believe the “thorn-free” part once it grows larger. We created a beautiful little bed around the cherry tree and added the blackberry bush in. These will both block off our compost pile. For now, I added the fencing that we used to keep Ellie off the plants in the ground last year, but we will build a better fence eventually. Now we just need to go for another drive to one of our rock piles and get some rocks to cover the landscaping fabric to complete the look. It will be quite a nice little bed in the corner.
K insisted on planting all the flowers so I left those for him. He filled our barrels with the colourful varieties that I bought and even had enough left over to add a splash of colour to the bottom area of the yard. It will be nice once the barrels fill in and look to be over-flowing with the multi-coloured flowers.
I may have over-done my purchasing, considering we will be doing a major build on one half of the yard this year. We seem to have run out of space for our sweet peppers, eggplant and zucchini. We will find happy homes soon for those last few plants.
Our peas are really coming along. The cucumbers are finally poking through and a few of the other veggies are starting to pop. A few carrots, beets and turnips are braving the weather and have started reaching for the sky.
Next step is to pull all the weeds from the left half of the yard so that we can cut in our terraced levels, wheelbarrow path and stairs. We decided to give ourselves a little help and bought some weed diggers…not actually sure on the technical name. They are great little tools. Push the tongs into the ground around the weed (like using a shovel), twist and lift up. Weed and root pulled out! Some of the roots look like fully grown, large carrots and they slide right out using this beautiful tool. AND, we don’t have to break our backs bending over on the slope, while heaving at these gargantuan beasts. Wish we had thought of it sooner!
I’ll send out another update next week!