Things on the gardening, landscaping and building front have slowed down as seems to be usual for August. The garden is rolling and full, and continuing to produce delicious vegetables that we have been enjoying in so many new recipes. It is currently still too hot to do any landscaping, but this week is finally showing promise of some cooler temperatures that will let us get going on the 4 rock walls that we have to build. Likewise, now that the temperatures are getting more reasonable, I am eager to get back into the shop to start creating new cutting boards and start learning the new lathe that my uncle so kindly gave to me. So where does that leave us? Just enjoying ourselves. And a large part of that is enjoying the beauty of everything in our yard in full bloom….when it isn’t smokey from all the fires.
Let’s start with a tour of the front yard. The grass is not much to look at since we have been losing the battle of the heat and how it fries our grass, so ignore that part. Also, ignore the sepia tone of the photos, that is not a filter, it is the smoke from all the fires that surround our city. But the flowers are beautiful, and I love how they are overflowing the boxes. This is also the best that some of our vines have ever done. You can’t see it, but the two that don’t have the vines, actually do, they just have re-started themselves. They were absolutely burned during the heat dome at the beginning of July and we thought we had lost them, but then we started to see new sprouts coming up from the soil. We were so excited. We look forward to one day having thick, bushy vines covering the trellis. If we can get them to winter well, then I think our vines will start to get to that size and thickness that we are hoping for. Our plan is to leave the petunias in all winter to insulate the roots of the vines. We will see how it goes.
Moving to the back yard, we will start with the pots. Our herb pots and plants around the hot tub are bursting, and overflowing their containers. Ellie was super excited that I was taking photos, and had to be in at least a few, so you have to get the gist of it around the adorable dog face. I am so happy with our herbs this year and am looking forward to drying some of them out in the fall for use over the winter.
Our garden planters in front of our cedars are also looking fantastic. I truly think that August is one of the best months for our flower pots. The flowers are filled out, full of blooms and thriving. By mid-September they start thinning out a bit and look a little less full. For now, both us and the plethora of wolf spiders, are enjoying the flowers at their best. Our canna lilies are a little shorter than the type we had last year, but we love the variety of yellow and red that we have this year. We will go with lots of variety in the petunias again next year as well. It is nice looking at a rainbow. The cedars took a beating in the heat wave and show the burn on one side, while the other is nice and green. That gives us hope that they will be ok and are not dead like they look on the one side.
Onto the vegetable garden, our tomatoes are out of control. Literally. I think Kurt has somewhat given up on trying to control them. He plans to do a little more pruning to make sure all the green tomatoes we have continue to ripen, but it won’t be as much as he has been doing so far. The plants are extremely happy in their new spot. I may have to build bigger tomato towers as a few of our tomato plants are about 12′ tall. They are more like vines really. They reach the 6′ height and then have started to climb along the top of the towers. Also, they are so big and heavy, that they are bending the towers backwards. Luckily the wall is there to stop it from tipping over completely. I may have to re-build using 10′ boards, so that I can bury them 2′ into the ground to hold them strong. I would also put them closer to the garden wall for some extra support. I have been processing tomatoes by drying them and putting them in oil for some delicious winter pastas; canning them; freezing them; making salsa; and adding them to lunches and dinners as I can. Yum!
The part of our garden that I think I am most proud of is our peppers. For years I have had thin skinned, small, sad little sweet peppers that are really only good for adding to sauces. Not really great for eating on their own. This year, I have big, beautiful, thick fleshed peppers. They have so much amazing flavour, and I have even had a few turn red. Usually they are so sad that they never get the chance to become red peppers. So happy to have figured out the right spot and timing for them. Our banana peppers are almost out of control with more peppers than plant. Also extremely tasty. Our cayenne is amazing and finally a hot enough pepper that Kurt finds them hot. Cayenne will now be a staple pepper in our garden going forward. And the anaheim pepper plant is pumping them out as well. Finally!
The corn this year did great. The stalks are now changing all sorts of colours, which is adding a unique beauty to the garden. We enjoyed the peaches and cream corn, but will try a different type next summer to see how it compares. We got a good harvest for the two of us, but would like to see if we can find a corn that produces a few more cobs per plant. The sunflowers next to them have also done amazing and are at least 12′ tall, if not more. We are looking forward to drying the heads for some delicious sunflower seeds.
Our butternut squash grew well and flowered a lot, but unfortunately only produced male plants on all 3 plants. Apparently this could be due to the heat wave. We will try again next year and loved how it grew through the corn. Perhaps I will do some watermelon in there next year as well.
The cabbage got taken out and has been processed, so that part of the garden is empty for now. We will have to do a good weeding of the area before winter. Our plan had been to add an autumn harvest into some areas of the garden, but unfortunately never found the time to make it happen.
I finished taking out the onions and braiding them to be hung for fall use. I know they won’t last until the winter because we will have eaten them all before then. But definitely enough for the fall. We may move the onions to a larger area and do more variety next year.
Our cucumbers are doing fantastic. For the first time they have climbed the ladder that I build for them, and actually covered the whole thing! It looks beautiful and is fun picking cucumbers that are hanging. There seems to be much less blemishes on the outer skin due to this. Though we do get the odd one that grows into the mesh and ends up being a mess to take off. Still worth it.
The celery and zucchini under the cucumbers have been very happy. The celery is still producing, though we need to regularly check for wolf spiders as they seem to have made a bit of a home in the stalks. The zucchini is pretty much done for the summer, with mildew coating most of the leaves. it is however, still producing flowers so we will see. I am ok, if I don’t get anymore as I already have 12 loaves of zucchini bread, 6 jars of zucchini relish and later this week will be making a large batch of zucchini relish (I will share the recipe once I have tested it).
The carrots and beets are happy. I am happy to not have as many carrots as we had last year. This was a good amount, as we still have quite a few as we get into the fall. I may have to add more beets next year as we are dwindling on how many we have to last us the fall. Plus, next year I will need to pickle more of them, as I am going to have just enough for this year. The golden beets are my new favourite, but next year I would like a variety of beets. Why not make it a rainbow on the plate.
Our strawberries did relatively well considering they had a bunch of new plants in the tower, and they were smoked and heated. They definitely had some periods where production of berries was stunted, but overall, we have had a good year with them. Next spring we will hopefully have a new permanent home for them as the tower that they currently live in, really shouldn’t have made it through this year.
All in all, our garden in the new walls has been amazing. Better than we could have asked in the first year, and only going to get better each year. By the end of fall, we will have 3 more large wall beds on the other side of the yard that will be ready for some spring plants, almost doubling our growing space again. It gets a bit more shade, so we will be selective of what we plant over there to ensure that the plants will be successful. But first, the hard work this fall in building those walls. I told Kurt they had to be done this year because I don’t want to build anymore rock walls after this year. Stackstone walls, sure, but no more wire and cuts and scars and rocks and back-breaking work. It is worth all of it, but I’m ready for the chill and enjoy part of this dream.