The Great Planting Extravaganza 2015

I’ve been spending the last week or so mostly doing heavy lifting work around the garden. Not the stuff that gets me very excited about gardening. It was my own fault – totally self-inflicted. I was the one who foolishly decided to grow a million seedlings this winter, and I was the one who realized I was going to need a lot more pots if I wanted to keep all of those seedlings. So I bought a whole new collection of pots for my deck, and a whole lot of soil to fill those pots up.

Garden

Excuse the horrible photo – I took it through the screen window. Things are still pretty tame but in about a month this garden will be exploding!

Once all of those pots were moved around and filled, I could begin the fun part of gardening: planting all those seedlings! I must admit that I was feeling a lot of anxiety. First of all, I wasn’t sure if I had enough room, even after buying all those new pots. Second, a lot of the seedlings were getting too big for their small containers and needed to be planted in the ground right away.

Seedlings

I usually plant basil in with my tomato pots. Tomato + basil = true love. I’ve also been making a habit of planting tumbler tomatoes in with determinates in the larger pots – it’s a good way to maximize space in a small garden.

The first order of business was the tomatoes. Out of all the plants I grow, the tomatoes are probably the most important to me. Next was planting all of the peppers in the greenhouse. Then my corn got planted in the big galvanized steel livestock trough (I think the corn will like it in there, it gets nice and toasty!). Luckily after planting all of these, I still had quite a few empty pots.

Squash Seedlings

The next thing to plant will be all of these squash plants in the above photo. There are about 20 seedlings here (pumpkins, summer squash, winter squash, cucumbers, a watermelon) which will be planted in various pots and raised beds. Last night my husband and I sat out on the deck cutting up chicken wire and fashioning them in to some not-so-pretty-but-hopefully-functional squirrel-proof cages. The last thing I want is for the pesky little squirrels to murder my baby squash plants. After I finish planting them in their cages, I’ll need to figure out some sort of trellis for the pumpkins to climb in my back alley raised bed.

I also still have a few trays of marigolds and zinnias to plant around the garden, but I’m less worried about those as they are still fairly small-ish. I’m positive I’ll have everything planted this week. And I have my fingers crossed that I have enough empty pots for all of those squash seedlings.

And once everything is planted I’ll get to some much needed weeding, as well as setting up some of the soaker hoses to make watering a little easier. I’m really excited to be finished the planting – it will be nice to sit back and enjoy things a bit.

Garden Life Lately

This time of year is always the busiest for me in the garden. And all of the busyness seems to hit at once. I spend the winter sitting around crafting and sewing and watching copious amounts of Netflix, doing a bit of garden planning, spending lots of time in the kitchen, and then BAM! EVERYTHING NEEDS TO BE DONE IN THE GARDEN NOW! Luckily winter ended a bit early this year and I got a wee jump start on the season, but still, I probably didn’t do as much as I should have, and now the weather is nice and I have a million plants to lug in and out of the house while they harden off, a hundred million pots to clean and fill with dirt, and so many seeds to plant. I’m not complaining – I actually love it. But it is somewhat stressful. Throw in to the mix that I am trying to open up a new Etsy shop, as well as maintain my current one, blog, go to my day job, and do the hundred other things I’ve committed myself to, and yeah, things are a bit crazy.

But things are happening! And that is exciting. In the last week I have visited a few garden centres, bought a few plants (mostly herbs and annual flowers), bought a metric tonne of new pots, bought two metric tonnes of garden soil and manure, ordered a new bistro set for my patio, and planted a few handfuls of seeds. There is really a lot to be done.

Garden Containers

I wish I could say this is all of the pots, but it isn’t. And it is also a mess, but gardens aren’t always pretty and are hard work, and I am not one to mask this with only beautiful photos – hence the abandoned gloves, random succulent tray (it’s going to go on my new bistro set!), trash bin, and mountain of soil bags in the back.

Luckily, since I gained a couple of weeks of spring garden season this year, I don’t feel like I’m being rushed. I’ve been spending a couple of hours every afternoon after work in the garden, moving things around and mostly figuring out how I want the garden to look this year. I’ve planted a few garden centre purchases, but most are still living in the greenhouse for a few more days until most of the danger of frost has passed. After all, our official average last day of frost is supposed to be May 23rd, but I usually wait until about a week after that to plant my delicates. It only takes one time of hauling giant pots of snow covered tomatoes in to your kitchen in June to err on the side of caution when it comes to precious plants and average frost dates. Am I being dramatic? Maybe.

So about all of these new pots. I realized a few weeks ago, when I decided late one sleepless night to take an inventory of all of my seedlings, that I was going to need to come up with somewhere new to put all of these seedlings. I already had lots of pots and always use all of them, but I would say that I probably doubled what I normally plant, kind of willy nilly, without a plan, so I needed to come up with a plan other than “oh I’ll just find places for them somewhere”. There were no more places. I don’t have any more room for raised beds in my back yard, so that was pretty much out of the question. So that left either giving away a bunch of seedlings, which I really didn’t want to do, or buying some new containers. I obviously went with the latter solution. And then spent a small fortune. At least a lot of the containers were on clearance, but still, when you’re buying as many as I did at once, it adds up fast. At least problem solved. Hopefully – we’ll see once I start actually planting things.

IMG_4656

At the back of my garden I have a few wooden boxes living under my wild rose bush that I’ve seeded with lettuce (pardon the photo taken at a crappy time of day).

So I guess that’s my life in the garden lately. I’m going to continue moving containers around, filling them with dirt, prepping my raised beds for planting, planning the community garden plot (more on that in a later post), setting up my patio area when the new furniture arrives, and getting the greenhouse ready for planting. And of course, continuing to lug one million seedlings in and out of the house every day for another week or so.

Princess Kay Plum Tree

I have to leave you with at least one pretty close up! These are the blossoms on my plum tree right now.

Tell me all about your garden in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’re up to, what you’re growing, if you’ve planted anything yet… really, anything! Happy gardening!

May 2015 Garden Update

Let’s ignore the fact that it has snowed twice in the last week in my garden (I guess it is still May and I’m in Calgary) and check out what has been going on in the garden lately.

Lots of adorable things are showing their faces this week (hence all the close up photos!). There are the pink muscari, a few tulips (I do not remember ever planting bright orange tulips, so where did they come from?! Maybe it was gnomes?), and the big beautiful bleeding heart (I’d love to take credit for this thing but it was one of the very few plants that came with the house. I’ll take credit anyway and show it off in the below photo).

Bleeding Heart

One of my sour cherry trees is also in bloom (photo below), as well as my double flowering plum shrub (which unfortunately does not produce fruit). And I can see my Princess Kay plum tree is about ready to burst with flowers.

Sour Cherry Blossoms

Also I seem to have a mystery tree. I originally thought it was a lilac but it is not. I don’t know how I could have a tree growing in my small yard and not know it exists. It was either the gnomes sneaking in and planting things at night, or it came from a sucker from my neighbor’s yard, or it has been there the whole time and I’ve been chopping it down with the perennials each year, except last year when I noticed it was actually a tree and stopped hacking at it. The reason I thought it was a lilac was because it really did look like it had lilac leaves when they were small. But now it has flowered (the first time) and I’m 99% sure it is not a lilac. It has these beautiful fragrant white blooms which are identical to a tree my neighbor has growing in her yard. My hops like to grow over the fence and up her tree in the summer time, and I’ve apologized for it and asked if she would like me to cut out the hops, but she always says no and refers to this tree as a cherry. I knew it wasn’t really a cherry tree, so I did a bit of reading and I think the tree growing in my yard is a Schubert Chokecherry (sort of a cherry, I guess?). Very lovely, but they do get a bit large (like not really large, but not small either), and are infamous for having lots and lots of suckers. Anyway, long story, but I’m still trying to decided whether it is going to stay or not. I hate to be a tree murderer, but I don’t really want it. I kind of wish it were a lilac because I could easily manage its size. What would you do?

Strawberries & Garlic

I just moved all of these strawberries to this bed, closest to the patio, so I can snack on them easily. Garlic is growing below the strawberry bed.

But one unexpected, and good, surprise was the spinach. Apparently (and I don’t remember this), my past self knew that my future self would be really excited about discovering forgotten spinach growing in the garden. Presumably, my past self planted this last fall. I should be eating this spinach in a couple of weeks.

Aside from all the pretty things and surprises, I’ve been doing a bit of work outside as well. I just planted some radish, arugula and more spinach seeds, and my peas will be going in later in the week. I’m also starting to do a lot of serious planning for the rest of the garden, specifically all of the seedlings I currently have growing in my dining room that will need to be moved outside soon. And I might be feeling a little anxious about it, but hopefully I’ll have a plan set in stone by the end of the weekend (my current plan is “stick them anywhere I can”, but maybe that isn’t the most solid plan). Spring is the most exciting, but the most stressful for gardeners. Well, at least for me anyway. Someone remind me next year, in about March, to chill out on starting so many darn seeds. Megan, you do not need 38 tomatoes, 30 peppers, and 20 squash plants for two people.

Volunteer Pansies
Lots of these volunteer pansies have popped up in my shade garden this year and I’m happy to just let them be.

Anyway, I’m really excited for the long weekend coming up – I’m taking an extra day off of work to dedicate to gardening (fingers crossed that the weather will cooperate!), so hopefully sometime next week I’ll be able to tell you that I solved all of my dilemmas and now I can sit back, relax, and watch the jungle grow.

What I’m Growing: Prairie Crocus

Spring seems to really have arrived this week – things are greening up nicely and the trees are getting their baby leaves. And one of my favorite early perennials, the prairie crocus, has made an appearance! The prairie crocus has many names: pasque flower, prairie anemone, prairie smoke, wind flower, and I’m sure I’ve missed others. It is always the second flower to appear in my garden (the small crocuses I included in a post a couple of weeks ago are always the first). I made it a point to plant my prairie crocuses in my front yard, close to the public sidewalk so that I would see them every time I came home, and also so that passerbys could enjoy a bit of early spring color.

Prairie Crocus Pasque Flower

Prairie crocuses are actually a native plant in my area because I live in (you guess it), the prairies. But they are also native to the rest of Alberta, including the woodland areas, mostly in sandy soil (I grew up in the woodlands, near the Sandhills, so these flowers have always been familiar to me).

It seems silly that this plant would be called a crocus because it actually isn’t in the crocus family at all. It is an anemone. Of course, this won’t stop me from calling it a prairie crocus. But it does make you wonder how it got the name – I read that settlers referred to it as a crocus as it reminded them of the early crocuses back in Europe.

Apparently the plant is also quite poisonous if consumed, although I have read that parts of it were once used to make concoctions that would remedy muscle pains. In addition to this, parts of the plant (I’m unsure which parts) were also used to stop nosebleeds and draw out infection in cuts and boils.

I think my favorite thing about the prairie crocus is that it is a cute little plant with ferny leaves and flowers covered in these tiny silver hairs. The leaves don’t show much of their faces until the flowers are spent, but the flowers turn into starburst-like seedheads, which I really love. The plant itself is a stumpy guy and stays fairly compact – mine haven’t spread at all and don’t get much taller than 6-8 inches. Although, I have noticed a few new plants popping up at work in the garden, presumably from seed that was blown by the wind, but those beds are barely mulched, so I can see how they would spread in that situation.

These plants are also very drought tolerant, making them perfect for sunny, hot beds. The photo above is from my garden, but the photo below is from the dry bed at work where these flowers have spread quite a bit. I couldn’t help snap a photo of them early one morning this week.

Prairie Crocus Pasque Flower

I purchased my plants from a local garden centre, but I’ve read that they are easy to start from seed. Don’t take these plants from the wild though as they will not grow back – but feel free to take some seed if you do see those in the wild.

Seeing these flowers appear has made me so excited for the rest of my perennials to start blooming – next will be the double flowering plum and my tulips. Unfortunately I heard a rumor that it is supposed to snow some time over this weekend but I’m hoping that is a lie. Regardless, I am planning on throwing in my lettuce, spinach, radish and pea seeds. Sometimes you just need to ignore the snow and do what you’re gonna do.

Early Spring in Alberta

Unfortunately I’ve come down with a spring cold, so while I’d prefer to be outside cleaning up my beds, planting my spinach and radishes, or just enjoying the lovely weather, I’ve been stuck inside feeling terrible and living in front of the television (it doesn’t sound that terrible, but trust me, it got old after the first day). Anyway, before this curse arrived, I was able to get outside and snap a few photos of things growing in the garden last week.

Crocus

The first flowers to bloom in my garden are always these tiny crocuses. I remind myself every year to plant more in the fall but I always seem to forget when the time comes. I think once the remaining grass in our front yard is removed, I’ll make sure to plant a ton of different crocuses along the front of the beds.

Wild Rose

My prickly rose (also known as the Alberta Wild Rose) is the first of my roses to get leaves (I left the berries on for the birds but it seems they didn’t want them). I wrote about this rose in one of my very first blog posts last year here. I can’t wait until the intoxicating smell of the flowers arrives again!

Tulips & Alliums

This isn’t the prettiest sight from my front yard, but the tulips and alliums are coming up through last year’s corpses that I still need to clean up. The tulips will be blooming in a couple of short weeks.

Rhubarb

The rhubarb is going to be way bigger than last year, I can already tell. 

I wish I had more energy for a longer post, but I am going to attempt to nurse this cold in hopes that it will go away.

Is anything coming up in your garden?