The Horrible Garden Season of 2015

How is it possibly the middle of October already? I’m having a hard time expressing my guilt over not updating my blog in quite awhile. The truth is, life got in the way. But I’m here.

This gardening season was pretty much a big fat bust. It started off really strong, but got destroyed somewhere in the middle by the big hail storm. It bounced back a bit, but was pretty disappointing all around.

The community garden took the biggest hit – which is funny since it is almost directly across the street from our garden at home. Our home garden got it pretty bad, but somehow the community garden got it worse. The community garden didn’t really bounce back and I pretty much just abandoned that garden for the season (don’t worry, I eventually cleaned it out like a good gardener).

Pumpkin

My lone alley pumpkin – I’m shocked that I even got this guy! My pumpkins plants took a huge beating from the hail.

Surprisingly my squash and tomato harvest at home was better than anticipated. The squash plants mostly bounced back and then started producing edibles. As for the tomatoes, there were a lot of bruised and un-salvageable fruits (probably about 1/3 of the harvest), but all of the undamaged tomatoes were amazing.

So now the season is basically finished, and I’m left with the task of cleaning up the garden remains and getting ready for the upcoming winter. In all honesty, I’m actually glad that the garden season is finished – I just need to put that difficult season behind me. I’m sad, but I also feel a bit of relief – this time of year is always difficult.

Purple Cauliflower

My cauliflower harvest consisted of just this guy.

In order to try to get myself pumped up for the end of the season, I’ve recently become obsessed with natural yarn and fabric dyeing. So I’ve been scouring my own garden to see what sorts of things I can collect and experiment with. I was able to get a pretty decent harvest of marigolds from the front yard (I’m still waiting for my mordant to arrive, so you’ll need to wait to see the results. I know, I’m impatient too). I also harvested the few rose hips that I had (why is it that when you actually decide to do something with them, the harvest is so weak?) –  I’ll have to forage for some more. And I’ve also got an indigo dyeing kit that I cannot wait to try out. I know there isn’t much time before the snow arrives, so I need to get started on the experiments very soon. In addition to the dyeing experiments, I’ve also been making a mental list of some of the projects I can keep myself busy with this winter (needle felting, maybe learning to crochet, starting a big knitting project, more weaving, some sewing adventures) – and I am getting a little excited about them.

Marigolds

Lots of marigolds waiting to be used as dye!

Finally, my apologies for not updating the blog in awhile – I was doing everything I could to avoid facing the damaged garden, including neglecting my poor (primarily gardening) blog. I’m going to try my hardest to get back on a regular posting schedule – I love writing about gardening, and cooking, and crafting, and whatever else. I will make an effort. Let’s put this season behind us – onwards and upwards!

Strawberries

Yesterday was the first strawberry harvest. I wasn’t planning on harvesting the strawberries yesterday morning until I saw a squirrel reach through the chicken wire fence I put up earlier in the season and help itself to a nice bright red berry. After witnessing that, I went outside with my bowl and picked all of the ripe strawberries (throwing away some half-eaten ones the squirrel had already half-dined on). The good news is that the squirrel hasn’t figured out how to get into the raised bed surrounded by the chicken wire fence, but he has figured out how to reach through and pull off ripe strawberries. I suspect I will have a few more harvests as there was tons of unripe berries.

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I’ve long since lost all of the tags that went along with my strawberry plants, but there is a mixture of everbearing plants that I bought at the greenhouse and alpine varieties that I started from seed – including mignonette and a white alpine variety. My favorite are the alpine varieties because they remind me of the wild strawberries that I used to pick when I was a youngster.

This year is the best strawberry harvest so far as I moved some of the plants around this past spring to give them all more room to grow. I would recommend giving new plants about a foot of space around one another – planting them too closely prevents airflow and creates shade under the berries, so sometimes they can go moldy in those conditions. In past years, I’ve just had enough strawberries to snack on as I putter about in the garden but I filled a small bowl yesterday, which was enough to put on top of gelato for three people. I bought a container of the bourbon vanilla bean gelato from Fiasco Gelato here in Calgary and it was perfect with the fresh strawberries.

I also decided early on in the season, after being frustrated by the price of annual hanging baskets, that I would fill all of my hanging baskets with strawberry plants this year. I am really happy with this spur of the moment decision because I’m going to get a ton of berries from these plants, not to mention that the hanging baskets cost me about $8 each in plants and soil to put together – yay frugality!

Radishes

IMG_3230Small radish harvest July 2, 2014

I planted my radishes a bit later than usual this year, at the beginning of June. They remind me of avocados: “Not ripe, not ripe, not ripe, I’M RIPE EAT ME NOW, too late”. With my radishes, I have to eat them as soon as they are ready, otherwise they are gross and woody.

This year I planted some Renee’s Pink Beauty radishes that I picked up at Hole’s when I was visiting my sister around the May long weekend. I knew that I had some old seed at home but I hadn’t had great luck with it the past couple of years, so it was time to bite the bullet and toss the old stuff. Does anyone else have feelings of guilt when you throw away seeds? I know it is for the best – old seed, although it might germinate with no problems, doesn’t always produce the best plants.

Radishes are extremely easy to grow and the time between planting and harvesting is only around 28 days. I also love to eat the fresh young radishes whole as well as slice them up to add to fresh garden salads.

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Now that the radishes are finished, I’m planning on seeding that area with a lettuce mix. I also plan to sow another crop of radishes later in the season, around the end of August so I can have a little fall harvest.