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.

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.

IMG_3267

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 fromĀ 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!