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Posts Tagged ‘westcoast garden’

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:

GRILLED MARINATED BABY POTATOES

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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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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I know, I know. It’s not very becoming. But I just have to show you my before and after photos.  We’ve been away for a while (more about that later), and I’ve likely tested the interest of any regular readers with my unapologetic silence – so who is there to offend, really? 

Patience and hard work paid off here. Also, the assistance of followers of this blog and GardenWeb folk  – who continue to make great suggestions to this day. Oh . . . and really good weather may have had a hand. Also, the neighbour who watered while we were away.

So really, it was a group effort. Regardless, it is very gratifying to see what can be achieved in the span of six months.  It is especially appreciated this summer when a successful rental season at Keats View has kept us away from the cottage for six weeks and counting: Having a little bit of dirt to mess around in just steps from my kitchen has prevented me from feeling too unhappy about my exile from the cottage garden.  

Without further ado, here is my backyard in March of 2010:

Just getting started in the backyard: March 2010

And here is how it looks today, as I sit typing out a blog post and sipping a blender drink:

My new happy place: August 2010

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My sister, helping me fight back against over-zealous green thingsFor the first time in my life I have fertile earth to play with. But not as much as I expected. Everything is growing so fast at the cottage, that instead of putting my own stamp on the garden with some of my favourite plants, I am really just thinning and weeding and discovering in the process – ever more plants! Recently, enormous hostas began shooting up everywhere! I am nearly drowning in green things.

 But…my yard at home is a debacle. A desperate lack of topsoil is the first problem. Since our townhome is not an end unit, bringing topsoil in requires much goodwill from the neighbour (which we have) and a lot of energy (which we apparently do not.)

What soil we do have is very acidic -possibly owing to the 200 ft. firs towering all about. What grows well is Oregon grape, ferns, periwinkle, salal, huckleberries – and weeds. 

About 10 years ago – it seems like 2 – we planted three blueberries and some grass and generally tried to impose some order out there. Haven’t done much since though. The blueberries, starved for sunlight, have soldiered on but have never produced more than a handful of berries. The grass is kaput.

But now that I have a real garden, seething with green vitality, fresh motivation has arrived and a cunning plan is dawning.

Step 1: Remove the excess vegetation from my scruffy westcoast backyard. Give the blueberries a second shot at leading a productive life by transplanting them over to the sunny hillside behind our cottage.

Step 2: Bite the bullet (Cottager’s bullet too!) and haul in some topsoil.

Step 3: Try, once again but with feeling, to whip our yard into shape. Draw up a plan that includes a path to the forest trail. Give up on trying to grow sun-loving plants and grass. Split up those ebullant cottage hostas, dig up some of the smaller shade friendly shrubs and transplant iris and other well established plants that have over-reached their potential at the cottage into the least shady areas of my city yard. (That will teach them to be so keen!)

This will allow me to tame the cottage garden – possibly even freeing up some space for a jasmine and a lilac. It will allow me to improve my backyard without a big investment in plants.  It will doubtless please my townhouse neighbours, who have reserved comment – likely with difficulty.

Please don’t imagine this is going to happen quickly. The clearing out and making a plan cannot be rushed.  The topsoil project will have to be pitched to my foreman at just the right time, and probably with top-level incentives. But I’m thinking that this time next year, instead of looking like this….. (Oh the shame!)

 

 

 

 

 It might look more like this…. Yeah, that’s the neighbour’s place…

Yeah... that\'s the neighbours yard

So really, this is a tale of THREE gardens. 

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