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.


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!

The Garden January 2015

As you can see there is not too much going on in the garden. Everything is covered in a thick blanket of snow and ice. It’s pretty difficult right now to picture a lush, thriving garden, but I’ve been trying not to dwell on it too much – it can be pretty easy to get depressed this time of year. I’ve been keeping myself busy with ordering new seeds (the first of the new seeds arrived in the mail this week!), taking inventory of my seed collection, and making list and schedules of things I want to grow this year. I think we’re at 24 tomato varieties and 23 pepper varieties (!!!). And even though my garden is still a few months away from thaw, the weather has been unseasonably warm this week so I’m feeling somewhat optimistic!


Have you been doing any garden planning yet?

The Big Seed List 2015

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Words cannot express how excited I get over picking out new seeds. I am also thrilled to be writing about my garden again. I know it is still months away from thawing out, but this is the time of year I can actually imagine it existing again – I haven’t seen anything resembling a garden in my yard since some time in early November. I guess November wasn’t that long ago, but it feels like its been a year, especially when the really cold weather hit.


Before I get too deep into things here, I must say that I do not need any new seeds. I have more seeds in my collection than I could probably ever plant (especially tomatoes), but that isn’t going to stop me from acquiring more. I always plant the tried and true, but I also love to experiment and grow new things – it is just part of what keeps me coming back, even if the experiments fail. I’m sure lots of people can relate to this. And because I need to further justify my purchasing more seeds, I usually end up giving away seeds to friends and family. Still don’t need new seeds, whatever.

I usually casually start the process of selecting seeds for the next growing season at the end of the last gardening season – making notes of things that worked well, seeds that may need to be replenished, or things that I’d love to try. Thankfully I was ahead of the ball last year because I took the initiative to go through my three binders of seeds (yes, three), and toss any seeds that I was never going to plant again or that may not be viable anymore (this means old seed or seed that may not be very old, but that is past its prime – we’ll talk about seed viability on another day). I was hoping that by sorting through my seeds, I would miraculously be left with a reasonable amount of varieties, thereby making it easier for me to select what I would be planting. Hahaha! That didn’t happen. I still have like 30 varieties of tomatoes and no where near the room to grow them. Is that stopping me from buying more tomato seeds? No. I’m a gardener, I want to grow all of the everything.

Anyway, this year was actually pretty easy when it came to selecting which types of vegetables I wanted to grow. I knew that I didn’t want to grow eggplant because I failed hard at it the last four seasons (last year was the biggest success year with one eggplant being about the side of a halloween-sized candy bar – if you can call that success?). I might come back to eggplant another year, but thankfully we have a good local grower so I’ll just continue buying them from someone else and save myself the disappointment. Then there are the brassicas. Kale is in – I always seem to have good success with kale and it is something I can easily grow in the community allotment (no one wants to steal kale and it doesn’t mind being neglected), but anything else in that family is out. It’s not like I can’t grow it – I did have a little bit of success last year with cauliflower. But the caterpillars love to slither their tiny green bodies over the brassicas and munch holes through the leaves. Then lay their disgusting eggs all over it. And then I eat the eggs and caterpillars grow inside of my stomach (maybe). Anyway, no brassicas, besides kale.

Alright, now let’s talk about what I will be growing. The ultimate list will be at the bottom of this post, but I wanted to elaborate on some of the selections so I’ll go in to more detail now.

Tomatoes: My favorite things to grow are tomatoes. Growing them in my climate is a bit of a risk. I usually stick with the smaller varieties of tomatoes because I know I’ll have at least some success with them. The larger varieties are usually out for me, which does make it slightly easier to select varieties for growing (don’t get me wrong, there are like 1 million smaller varieties to choose from, but subtract that from the 2 million larger varieties and it does make a bit of a difference). So first I make cuts from the seeds I already own – if there is a variety that I just didn’t like the taste of last year, it gets thrown in the “NO” pile, same thing if it was just a crappy plant (blight, unhealthy plant, etc). Sorry rejects. Everything else goes in the “MAYBE” pile and then I divide those seeds into categories based on color. If there is only one variety per color category, that tomato gets the privilege of growing in my garden. If there are more than one variety per color category, I must make hard decisions. Do I grow all of those varieties? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I usually have a really hard time with the green tomato varieties because those are my favorite taste-wise, so I more often than not, end up growing all of them. When it comes to selecting new varieties I always select varieties that I have not planted before – this year I am really into dwarf tomatoes (which is good because they are very small plants, hence dwarf variety). I’ve also selected a few varieties that I like the look of (a yellow/blue variety, yes please!). And then I end up cursing myself when it comes time to plant them in the garden because I’ve grown 30 tomato plants and comfortably have room for 20. Off to the garden centre to buy more pots!

Peppers: If you’ve been reading the blog since last growing season, you’ll know that I only really got into growing hot peppers about a year ago. I’d grown them a little before that, but my season is short and cold, so they are not exactly an ideal candidate for me. But last year was the first full growing season with my greenhouse, so my ability to successfully grow peppers increased significantly. Choosing pepper varieties was actually a lot easier than the tomatoes. I knew which ones I wanted to grow from the seed I already had and I had a better idea of what I was looking for in a hot pepper (I like the milder hot peppers and my husband like the really, really hot ones). I knew that I wanted a few sweet pepper varieties as well, so that was fairly simple. I also knew that I wanted to grow every type of habanero pepper I could get my hands on. I think growing hot peppers is my new thing.

Squash: This was sort of easy, sort of hard. Easy because I was and wasn’t restricted with space. I knew I wanted to grow a few of the larger vine pumpkins in my alley in the raised compost bed (formerly Sod Mountain) – space isn’t really a concern here, it is out of the way and not technically in my yard (the parking space and compost bins are on our property, but are not actually in the fenced in portion of our yard). It is risky growing things in this area because of pests of the animal and human variety, but I have been growing raspberries in the alley for several years and I haven’t gotten any horrible diseases yet, so whatever. The main thing will be actually remembering to water the plants back there (out of sight, out of mind?). When it comes to actual yard space, maybe I don’t have the most room for squash, so I try to select my varieties based on size. I have quite a few compact bush-type squash, so that works well for my raised beds or larger pots. I do grow a few of the larger varieties vertically so that also helps with the space issue. I have plans to build some raised beds in the front yard for growing vegetables, which will expand my options for growing space, but I don’t have an actual timeline on that project so for now I’m just planning for the space I have. The point is, I am going to start quite a few squash plants in the house and I may or may not have space for them.

Flowers: For a few years I actually believed that planting flowers was a waste of perfecting good vegetable growing space. Oh how wrong I was. Planting flowers that will attract beneficial insects is probably just as important as planting vegetables to ensure a thriving and healthy garden. And it is so easy. I’ve gotten in to the habit the last few years of sticking random marigolds in to my raised beds, but last year I did the same with zinnias (which are now my favorite). I don’t have a ton of flowers on my wishlist, but the few that I do have are ones that will provide a bit of extra color throughout the growing season, as well as attract the little bees and butterflies that I love seeing in my garden.

And lastly, I always try to plant something completely new-to-me each year, so this year I’ve chosen cow peas, fava beans, orach, mexican sour gherkins, sorrel, and shisho.

The Big Seed List 2015:

Blue Gold Berries (indeterminate)
Purple Bumble Bee (indeterminate)
Sunrise Bumble Bee (indeterminate)
Blue Beauty (indeterminate)
Golden Bison (determinate)
Andrina (dwarf)
Hahms Gelbe (dwarf)
Ditmarsher (determinate – hanging basket variety)
Lime Green Salad (dwarf)
Koralik (determinate)
Pearly Pink Orange (dwarf, hanging basket variety)
Yellow Pygmy (dwarf)

Lemon Drop
Chocolate Habanero
Italian Pepperoncini
Purple Jalapeno
Pimiento De Padron
Trinidad Scorpion

Mini Chocolate Bell
Mini Yellow Bell
Tequilla Sunrise
Oda Pepper

Crookneck Early GoldenĀ  (summer)
Marina Di Chioggia Pumpkin (winter)
Jarrahdale Pumpkin (winter)
Thai Kang Kob Pumpkin (winter)
White Acorn Squash (winter)
Zucchini-Lungo Bianco Squash (summer)
Patisson Panache Blanc Et Vert Scallop Squash (summer)
Patisson Strie Melange Squash (summer)
Lemon Squash (summer)

Scarlet Kale
Meraviglia Di Venezia Bean
Alaska Garden Pea
Blauwschokkers Pea
Holstein cowpea
Lady cowpea
Extra Precoce A Grano Violetto Fava Bean
Mexican Sour Gherkin Cucumber
Dragon’s Egg Cucumber
Bloody Dock Red Sorrel

Queen Lime Red Zinnia
Royal Purple Zinnia
Morning Dew Pansy (edible)
Mary Helen Marigold

Okay now to go burn my seed catalogs before I start to add things on to my seed order.

Seed sources: Tatiana’s Tomatobase (Canada), Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds (USA), Heritage Harvest Seed (Canada), West Coast Seeds (Canada)