Posts Tagged ‘container gardening’

When the plants flowered and started to wilt it was time to harvest.
The no hill method worked well, i didnt need to dig very much and the harvest was about 2 lbs per plant. Not great but not bad either.
Not a massive harvest, but very satisfying all the same. There was no evidence of wire worm damage, as was foretold by a worker at the nursery.
The potatoes are very flavourful, cook quickly and are beautiful to look at – at least, I think so.

There were almost as many nuggets as there were full sized specimens. I found a wonderful recipe for these. Quick, simple and delicious:


Scrub and then fully cook nugget potatoes in salted water. Do not overcook. Plunge in cold water when done to stop cooking. Halve each potato after cooking, not before.

Mix 1/4 cup mayonnaise and 1/4 cup dijon mustard in a bowl large enough to hold the potatoes. Add 3 crushed garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp salt, pepper to taste and whisk it into a creamy sauce. Sprinkle in some fresh thyme or rosemary if you have it.

Add cooled cooked potatoes to bowl, stir gently to coat and then cover and refridgerate until 1 hour before serving. Allow them to warm a bit at room temperature. When your meat comes off the grill to rest, have these ready to go right on!

To finish: Place them on a well sprayed hot grill, and do not turn until they are beginning to char. Turn each piece once only and grill quickly. Remove to a serving platter and watch them disappear.

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After 4 months spent principally at the cottage, we are now back in the city for a bit. This garden was planted quickly during drop-ins to water house plants and collect mail.

I missed out on harvesting the black currents, so hopefully the birds feasted well. Our timing for blueberries is perfect, however.

Oodles of blueberries on our 3 bushes.

Yellow onions, green onions and leeks are doing best. Some beets grew beautifully while others put all their energy into lush greens and have spindly roots.

A cooperative beet
Uncooperative beets with small roots and excessive greens

I have re- planted carrots twice and still only have about 2 dozen growing. So I’m replanting again here at the beginning of August in hopes that I can still get a crop.

Tomatoes – only 2 this year – are doing well. Considering the amount of neglect caused by our quarantining away, and the massive ant problem I had back in the Spring, I am relatively satisfied. I will plant some garlic in September, and next year concentrate more effort into potatoes and onions which we use most often anyway.

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In between bigger projects, we spent half a morning making some fast improvements:

Swapped out last years worn and faded-to-pink flag with a fresh one from the dollar store. $2.50
Set up a new laundry line in a sunnier spot. PVC coated cable, 2 clamps, 1 turnbuckle and some hooks $21.
Installed a magnetic mesh screen on our seldom used “front” door for better air flow.
Installs in minutes and the only tool required is scissors. Great value at $16
These herb (and cucumber) planters looked messy sitting directly on the deck and attracted a lot of debris, woodbugs, etc.
Getting them up on wheeled planter caddies looks neater and the deck stays cleaner. $27 for 3.

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What was under that deck? Lots of ferns, salal and blackberries…and some flat land!

A peek up at the former deck, from cottage level.

Quick, lets plant something!. I had 8 seed potatoes left, so in they went. Since big, bold deer are frequent visitors from the adjoining park, it will be tricky to fend them off.

Looking in the window.

For a start, I’m mulching my plants heavily with seaweed from the nearby beach. When I go for a walk with the dog, I take a 5 gallon pail and selectively fill it, being careful to not take too much from any one area of the beach, as it is an important part of the ecosystem.

A quick rinse and into the garden.

Opinions are split as to whether the seaweed needs rinsing or not. I give it one quick fresh water rinse to take off the surface salt. I have read that deer don’t like to eat seaweed. But I also know they love salt…Stand by for my report in the months ahead.

Rand picked up a faucet splitter that allows us to run a hose up to the new garden area. This will also allow me to keep the composter wetted. Big improvement.

There are 8 potatoes under those piles of seaweed. that mess in the background is the “door to Narnia” before I attacked it.

Behind the new spud patch, there is an area that was a hole in the now-demolished deck. My kids called it the door to Narnia.

And Rand used to sweep leaves into the hole. So now, under a stump, more blackberries and ivy vines, what do I discover but about 12 inches of dark rich compost!. So I spent the whole afternoon with a heavy maddock, chopping out huge roots.

Rand came up and sawed down an acacia (weed) tree that would impact the light. And I hauled a half ton of debris down to the utility trailer for next weeks trip to the Green Waste.

Nasty blackberry roots.
The door to Narnia is ready to plant.

I will keep collecting, rinsing and distributing seaweed, both up top, and as a mulch for the lower garden. Here are some advantages:

Its free, and plentiful

It has dozens of trace minerals and is touted as a perfect, balanced fertilizer.

It rehydrates with each rain fall or watering, and delivers its goodness to the roots by leaching seaweed ‘tea’.

It prevents evaporation of water by shielding the ground surrounding plants.

It is attractive to helpful critters like worms and pillbugs.

But slugs don’t like it because it has sharp edges when it dries, and is a bit salty.

It doesn’t contain seeds or other plant bits that can take hold in your garden. Other mulches can hide surprises like…foxtails!

Like peat moss, it aerates the soil. Unlike manure, it doesnt need to decompose before using. Pile it on, 4-6 inches deep. Or more. This stuff is gold.

The only question is, will the deer scarf it up as quickly as I can lay it down?

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All that cooking wasn’t quite enough to purge me of all my mental clutter and exhaustion. So when I got to the cottage that recent early morning and Cottager needed a nap on the couch to recover from a late night and an early morning, I grabbed all my sharpest and most dangerous tools and went out to deal with Laurel.

This single shrub has monopolized the sun, harboured invaders like English Ivy and Morning Glory and crowded the paths from day one.  My initial timid trims gave way to repeated efforts to keep the top shoots under control, but on this particular day, it was like I was seeing it for the first time.  I knew I couldn’t kill it if I tried, so why not  give the girl a serious haircut?  Luckily, I remembered to take out my phone and take a few pictures before I started…

From one side . . .


. . . and from the other side.

And here is how it looked a few hours later after I had unloaded all of my urban frustrations, anger and guilt:
 (yes, there was a stump in there!)

From one side . . .


. . . and from the other side.

And here is what I removed from this shrub, including the forementioned parasites and an enormous salal growing out of the stump:

What Cottager had to haul away when he got up from his nap.

Now, what to do about the stump? It is fairly degraded, and Cottager is of the opinion that we could tear it out easily. I, on the other hand, like the idea of chopping enough of a hole in its soft gooey center to hide a nice pot with some trailing flowers in the spring.  O!  and some small white lights for the laurel branches, I think.

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You may recall I dreamed of an espaliered Italian plum, but I was thwarted.  Having obtained a giant pot – courtesy of Cottager’s thoughtfulness – and a sufficiency of dirt and a day in which the rain promised to stop long enough to plant a tree, I went to the nursery to discover that they had no Italian plums. No espaliered trees whatsoever, in fact.

The arborist there told me that Italian plums don’t lend themselves to espaliering because they are ‘aggressive’ which I took to mean they grow big, fast, rather than that they are likely to attack.  What I wanted, she said, was a dwarf tree – of which they conveniently also had none.

And then she suggested the columnar Sentinel apple, which grows to a maximum of about 10 feet and which they did have available, in both golden and red varieties. 

When I learned that this apple wouldn’t spread its stubby little branches more than a foot or two in any direction, the need to have a two dimensional tree vanished like warm strudel. I didn’t fritter away another moment wondering if this apple tree idea was just pie-in-the-sky.  For $25 and a saucy smile, a Golden Sentinel was soon riding shotgun . . . er, be-cider me, in the Honda. 

I honestly had never heard of this apple variety, which bears a Golden Delicious-like fruit, plus all the accompanying foliage, close to the trunk instead of on branches.  That the tree is tall, lanky and essentially shapeless really adds to its beauty. If you are truly my friend, you will agree with this statement. Just nod.

So here is a picture of what my Golden girl – christened Gwyneth – will come to look like in time:


And here is what she looks like now, in her new home:

Gwyneth the Golden Sentinel apple twig (and companion blue lobelia)

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My pal AJ came over for a visit on Friday evening and we had a fun 24 hours.

On Saturday morning we tackled a strawberry planter that Little Urchin recently found amongst the treasures put out for Spring Clean-Up garbage collection in our neighbourhood.

Tidy potting

Tidy potting

One lip had been broken off and threatened to disgorge dirt everywhere – probably why it had been tossed out. We patched it with a bit of landscape fabric with tape to hold it in place until the dirt fill could take over the job. Then we turned that part towards the fence. Radically, we decided on trailing annuals rather than strawberries. We were a bit short of plants, but I have my eye on some trailing snapdragons to complete the job. 

While we were at it, we prepared planters for sweet peas and a cherry tomato. We also planted some Money Plant seeds AJ bought at a local plant sale for 25 cents. Lunaria annua are usually grown for their translucent ‘silver dollar’ like seed pods as a dried flower.  They bloom with lightly scented purple or white flowers which slowly transform into seed pods. It is also known as “Honesty”, Satin Flower and Moon Wort.

Old vinyl shower curtains are wonderful for projects like this. The one seen preserving our potting soil and keeping the deck clean in this photo is the same one my kids recently used to drag branches and other debris down from our back yard.

They are also a really superior painting tarp, since they lie tight to the wall, don’t tear easily or get squirreled up when you walk across them.




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The first weekend market was held in Gibsons Landing over the Victoria Day weekend, and I scored a hat trick when I found some great plants, supported a worthy cause and made a new friend.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

When I posted photos of the mirrored planter given to me by a neighbour, my cousins in Buitenpost, Friesland (Netherlands) pointed out that succulents or cacti would be my best bet for a smallish container likely to see water only every second week or so. 

So that is how I met Bente. She was selling plants at the weekend market to raise money for the Gibsons Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre. Many of her wares come from donations. I bought two sedum, one escheveria and one hens and chicks for my mirrored planter, then invited Bente to pop by the cottage one day to help me identify some of my overgrown perennials and to take a selection of them for her next sale. 

Now the succulents can’t live in this planter forever, so I just left them in their containers with some beach stones and drift wood tucked around them. For this summer, they look quite sweet. 

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