Welcome to NakedTomatoes

All about tomatoes, heirloom and home grown.
With a bit extra thrown in about Brugs and bread, growing and baking, and other semi-relevant thoughts. And maybe a few recipes.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Winter Gardening...

AKA daydreaming.

If you get the itch to start as soon as the snow hits, then join the club. Nothing makes me miss summer in the yard more than a few inches of snow. It's not even the cold that bothers me, it's the simple fact that I know I will have to wait almost half a year before I can start the silliness all over again. And come September/October, lament all the things I had planned on doing that I didn't, and promising myself that I will, definitely,for sure, absolutely, do it next year (even though I know bloody well I probably won't.)

So I putter with my indoor plants. Maybe I'll plant a few select tomato seeds like last winter, and I'll have the earliest tomatoes ever, like last year with my Galina cross. I read through online cataloges, and make big plans, even though I know I probably won't follow through. Maybe I'll make a small hotbox outdoors sometime in March or April. I'll start swapping seeds with people, and making lists.

Winter sowing is big for some people, but I haven't tried it and don't know if I will.

Right now the big push is to get some Christmas baking done, and get the house in order. I remember reading somewhere a Chinese prediction that the way you spend the New Year's day is how the rest of your year will go. Last year I screwed that up royally, with the messiest house imagineable! And it turned out true!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Frosty is ready...

What? Thinking Frosty the snowman and Santa already? Snow will do that to you.

But I'm talking about Frosty Pink, one of my brugs. Her seed pods are finally ready, and I've harvested at least 50 nice fresh seeds. I've promised some seeds to friends. This year, I also have a noid white with a huge seed pod, and another noid pink with a pod as well. So if anyone is looking to experiment a bit, I am offering for free, packets of 5 brug seeds. The only thing I ask in return, is that you keep me updated on the babies' progress if possible. These are a labour of love, and a love of experimenting. There is absolutely no guarantee on the color these babies will turn out to be, and most likely they will not flower until the third year, which makes them a long term commitment. The noid white babies will probably be white. Frosty Pink is a roll of the dice. I didn't pollinate these myself, so I don't know who is the other parent. Frosty was in the brug bed (how appropriate!) when she got knocked up, so it could be the Candida, the other pink, or even self-pollination (I won't go there!) I'm not sure if Frosty is self pollinating, I'd have to look that up.

So if anyone would like some seeds, either from Frosty or the others, or a mix, they are yours for the asking. I also have cuttings, but would rather not mail them out unless you ask really really nice and pay the postage. Seeds are just so much easier, and I don't mind covering the postage for them. Anyone in Aylmer/Ottawa area is more than welcome to come and pick up a few cuttings.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Garden chores for a rainy day...

This morning was spent finally, finally, organizing my tomato seeds. Peeling the little seeds off of the paper towels wads that I had thrown into an old coffee tin to keep together until said organizing day. I did manage to save quite a few varieties this year, despite the not so great growing season. I never did bag any of the flowers, so chances are some of them may have gotten crossed. I guess I'll find out next year when I grow them out. If I do trade seeds with anyone, or send seeds, I'll be sure to mention that fact, so other growers will know what they are getting.

Seed list 2008

Box Car Willie
Prudens Purple
Purple Cherokee
Kellogs Breakfast
Black Cherry
Silvery Fir Tree
Jaune Flamme
Bloody Butcher
Meg's Orange Cherry (a Galina X, F2)
Japanese Black Trifele
Canabec Rose
Green Zebra
Orange LSL ( a mislabeled or crossed tomato, LongShelfLife it wasn't, but amazingly good)
Vova Yellow
Santalina F2
Black Pear

There are a few that seem to have disappeared into the void somewhere. I don't know what happened to Mortgage Lifter, Eva's Purple Ball (I know I saved seeds from it!), Black From Tula, Black Krim (wait, did I even grow that? or just that I wanted to?) note to self: keep better notes!!! As for Hillbilly, Pineapple, Gold Medal, Carbon, Omar's Lebanese, just don't even go there. I have no idea what happened to them.

I still have many seeds left from all the trades I made this year, and lots of saved seed from last year, and some seeds from the Great Tomato Growers,
wonderful people who started me off on my obsessive heirloom tomato journey. They have an incredible variety of tomato seed, and are very generous. I encourage everyone to check out their blog, and follow the links to their lists of tomatoes.

Overall, I am slightly more organized this year. And now that winter is coming, I can't wait to start gardening again. Figures.

I have been waiting for a good oportunity to do a final yard cleanup, and to winterize my roses. I have a few bags of hay to pile up around them this year. I want to finish cleaning up the brug bed and dig in a lot of horse manure to overwinter. I need to plant some garlic that I got this fall from my mom, who bought it from Mennonites at a farmer's market. I hope it's not too late, but I have a feeling I may be really behind with that. I've never grown garlic before, but I love to cook with it, and tend to use a lot so I thought it would be worth a try. Any help there would be appreciated!!

One final note, please contact me if you are interested in any seeds. I am always glad to share them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

What's that got to do with tomatoes? Absolutely Nothing!!! (Does anyone else have music running through their minds, when they write certain things done?) Ah, never mind.

Pumpkins are a pretty easy thing to grow. Especially accidental out-of-the-compost pumpkins. They thrive in a rich, moist soil, which the compost pile provides magnificently! No matter how inconvenient a spot that may be to have pumpkins growing, it is ideal! Which leads me to garden amendments, top dressing, and composting.

I've talked about compost and additions to the garden before, but I'll touch on it again, because this year I have a special offer for any one in the Aylmer/Ottawa area. Free horse manure!!! Now if you find this offer exciting, you are either a freak, or a gardener, or both. Welcome to the club! Please send me an email for further directions. This offer is open to anyone, large or small amounts, and did I mention, free??

One reason I've been so MIA around this blog is that my days are filled; with feeding, turning out, occasionally mucking out, and general horsey stuff. Even riding once in a while. And big animals like horses produce a lot of really great potential compost. I have yet to take advantage of this fact, but I'm planning to this weekend. We have a window of opportunity weather-wise, for a really good clean up outside, which should include top dressing and/or digging in amendments into the beds. With manure, you want to make sure you get the oldest, well-rotted stuff possible, fresh is too strong and will burn the roots. If you're digging it into a veggie bed that is empty, overwintering fresher stuff should be okay. The worms and other little buggies will do the job for you. If you are side dressing shrubs, trees or perennials, the older the better the manure.

You can't get much better than horse manure. Horses are fed purely hay and grain (and the occasional bunch of carrots), unlike what is considered 'food' for cows or pigs. And the use of antibiotics and such is purely medicinal, not an every day ocurrance as it is with many other farm animals. To my mind, other than possibly mushroom compost, this makes it the safest, purest, most 'organic' compost available. Now's the perfect time to dig in!!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's been forever....

I haven't been posting much lately, for a variety of reasons. It was a really busy summer, I never did get those blossoms bagged, and it was a terrible season production wise. Literally very few plants produced much of anything. I kind of lost hope there, and lost interest in posting much about the disastrous garden. I still managed to save a lot of seeds from the few that I did get, and I'm hoping next year will be better. I have access to all the horse manure a gardener could dream of and will be digging a lot of it in the beds this fall. Hopefully some good soil ammending will help the plants next summer. A late blight hit them, and pretty much ended the season for me. There was very little that could have been done to save them, with the weather that we had. I know I wasn't alone, looking at other gardens and talking to others, we all had a pretty crappy growing season.
What can you do? Make plans for next year!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Quick July Update

A happy little bee, and one of the reasons why I needed to bag the flowers (and didn't!) As I watched this little bee, he visited more than ten different tomato plants. Cross pollination at work! I keep telling myself there is still time to bag them, but I'm starting to think I am lying to myself!

Peaches n Cream :
variegated brugs tend to grow at a slower rate.
This one has been proving that for the last three years!

Cherokee Purple

Black Plum

Surprise Potato Patch

Frosty Pink:
Won't be much longer!

The garden and the plants are running amock. This would include the weeds, that I really should be out pulling right now, but have been putting off this post for much too long! We have had so much rain in my area for the last four weeks. And enough sun, when it comes out, that it balances out nicely, and everything seems to have double in size in the last week while I was away!
There are many little tomatoes forming on the plants, the brugs are loading up with flower buds, and I've even found a surprise potato patch in the brug bed. I got confirmation from some other gardeners, that potatoes can indeed overwinter in my zone, given the right conditions. So some little taters that were not found last fall have sprouted up into a very healthy vigorous looking potato patch.

Friday, June 20, 2008

If it ever stops raining...

I will get out there and bag some of the blossoms, taking some pictures to illustrate what I plan to do. But so far, it has rained every day for the last two weeks or so. The plants are loving it, and are growing at an incredible rate. It is enough to keep things lush and green, without drowning everything. The sun comes out for a couple hours everyday, just to remind us that it's there. Very English weather. Almost all the tomato plants have flower buds if not flowers, so it's looking good in the department.

I have found homes for a few more plants, but still have extras, if anyone is still looking for plants! Brandywines are all gone, but I still have some of the ones I mentioned in a previous post. And a couple of extra Black Cherry or Black Krim, or Carbon, or Palmira's Italian Heirloom. You know you wanna!! Give in to the temptation. You know who you are!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Save a Tomato Plant

Gold Medal:
large to 1 1/2lb, beefsteak tomato,
orangey-yellow, blushing with red,
superb sweet and mild flavor,
very low acid, 80 days

Omar's Lebanese:
Huge, pink beefsteak, up to 3 -4 lbs,
one of the largest tomatoes you can grow,
good disease tolerance, good yeilds,
sweet old tomato flavor,
a rare Lebanese Heirloom, 80 days

Hillbilly (RL and PL - I have both)
aka Flame
Large bi-color beefsteak, yellow/red marbled
1 -2 lbs, large yeilds,
Heirloom believed to be from West Virginia, 85 days

Okay, here's the deal:

I still have tomato plants, nice, fairly large plants, that will produce amazing tomatoes! Most are still in 4 inch pots, some are in larger than 4 inch pots. They are organic, very healthy, and promise to behave in your garden, giving you out of this world tasting tomatoes, and a rainbow of colors, as long as you treat them right! There are about 50 of these, that I cannot pitch. If they must, they will stay in these pots, producing what they will, for the rest of the summer. If you would like to adopt a few plants, with the promise that you will give me an update at the end of the summer, please contact me. The adoption fee will be waived at this point!

I can leave the plants out front for easy pick up, for anyone who wants. I also still have a few Carbon, Brandywine, and others to choose from! Please find it in your heart to give one of these lovely little plants a home!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Time for bagging blossoms

If you plan to save seeds from your OP tomato plants, and want pure seeds with little chance of crosses, it's time to watch your plants carefully. They should be setting flowers or close to it. You want to bag them before they open to prevent any pollinating insects from reaching them. Potato leaf plants are more susceptible to cross pollination than regular leaf plants, but the insects are certainly active in my yard right now. It's open season on all my plants!

The flowers on the Black Pear are already open, so it's too late to bag them. I'll have to catch the next batch of flowers.

These buds are almost ready to be bagged. This year I will try to ensure that everything I save seed from is bagged, so that everything is guaranteed pure - for myself and for trades or give aways.

Full view of one of the raised beds, with the plants in all their glory. I always find it interesting how the rate of growth can vary so much, even between the same variety. I have one Prudens Purple that is more than double the size of another. They all received the same compost and epsom salt in the planting hole, so it's pretty much strictly genetics of those particular plants.

This is the patch of Swiss Chard that provided us with our first salad greens. We also threw in some chives and green onions, and spinach and lettuce from the grid garden.
And yes, those are some poor little orphan tomato plants, who have not made it out of the starter trays. I don't know that they will either. I still have probably over two hundred plants, either in 4inch pots, or in starter cells. I don't have room for many more in the garden, and I don't want to grow more than 20 or so in large gallon pots, so I guess some of these babies are going to be compost soon. It sounds silly, but I hate to do that. It feels criminal to compost these little plants that I've grown from seed.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Galina's Yellow....uhm, not

This is the tomato plant that I have been growing since just before Christmas. It has quite a few clusters of tomatoes, and they are quite tasty, according to my tomato tester. It was supposed to be a Galina's Yellow, but the seeds must have gotten crossed last year. I didn't bag any of the tomato blossoms that I saved seed from for myself, so it's not really surprising that there are a few crosses in my seeds. I'm not sure what this cross could be, but the result is a nice, small orange tomato, that is slightly sweet, juicy, but not too seedy. I've planted seeds from the first tomato, to grow it out again and see what I get. Why not!

Two tomato plants have disappeared from my raised beds. These were not small plants, between 8 - 12 inches high. One was a Rhoades Heirloom, the other was an Abricot. Hmm, I'm not impressed. I suspect rabbits, raccoons, or possibly skunks. Or a naughty squirrel. They actually took the plant right at soil level. It looks like it was just snipped off. The tag is still there, and the root system is there, but there is no sign of the rest of the plant. I don't think it is cutworms, they would not eat the entire plant? I may have to cover them up at night with the plastic sheets again, just to protect the plants, which I hate to have to do at this point, cause I'll have to get up early to remove them so it doesn't get too hot in there in the mornings. But just in case it is cutworms, I'm planting large coffee sticks beside every stem, to thwart them. Cutworms must be able to encircle the entire stem in order to do their damage, so collars are sometimes used, or some other type of barrier, to prevent the damage. Who knows, it very well could be cutworms. The MO is the same.

Monday, June 2, 2008

In the Ground...so far

  1. 6 Zigan
  2. 4 Jaune Flamme
  3. 4 Japanese Black Trifele
  4. 6 Kelloggs' Breakfast
  5. 1 Black Pear
  6. 1 Canabec Rose
  7. 3 Cherokee Purple
  8. 2 Long Shelf Life
  9. 1 Orange Russian
  10. 2 Prudens' Purple
  11. 2 Rhoades
  12. 3 Brandywine (Sudduth's Strain)
  13. 3 Moscovitch
  14. 2 Black Krim
  15. 3 Omar's Lebanese
  16. 3 Gold Medal
  17. 2 Green Zebra
  18. 2 Carbon
  19. 2 Pineapple
  20. 3 Neves Azorean Red
  21. 3 Hillbilly
  22. 3 Bloody Butcher
  23. 3 Mortgage Lifter
  24. 3 Vova Yellow
  25. 2 Opalka
  26. 2 Stupice

Still have quite a few more to plant and a couple extra from a friend to find room for. I think my Brugs are going to be sharing their happy little beds with some extra tomato plants this summer.
And I still have tons of extra plants, if anyone is interested.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Progress Report

Just a quick progress report on what's growing on in my garden.

Black Pear is looking fantastic. She's even got little flower buds on her. I received this plant from a fellow gardener, who obviously has an incredibly green thumb! You can read more about her garden and green thumb here. It wasn't on my list of tomatoes this year, but how can you say no to a nice healthy plant?

My drip water set up. I saved a bunch of these 2 liter milk jugs all winter to use in the garden this summer. During the colder weeks of April and May, they were filled with hot water to regulate the temperatures in my row tunnels at night. They did the trick, and now they are pulling another shift as watering bottles. I poked two holes in the bottom, with a screw, and planted them between the tomatoes, not quite half way. When I want to fertilize or water, I just fill them up, and the water trickles out the holes. Caps are on to keep bugs and dirt out while they're not in use. I timed it, and it takes about 5 minutes for the bottles to empty out. It doesn't look the prettiest, but it should do the job.

Silvery Fir Tree was also a last minute addition this year. I wanted to grow it, did some research and decided against it (finicky, not a great producer, just plain old a real pain in the ass kinda tomato - not what I want), and then I was sent some seeds! Go figure.
Out of twenty or so seeds, two germinated. It was already living up to its reputation! This one is looking pretty good though, so I'll see what happens with it. It has very distinct, lacy foliage, hence the name and the reason I wanted to try it in the first place. My little garden helper also does double duty as the official tomato taste tester, and she can't wait!

We've had a few off of the 'Galina's Yellow' that I have been growing since Christmas, but the plant is definitely not GY. The tomatoes are small, orange tasty little things, and the foliage is not potato leafed, as is GY. The seeds must have gotten crossed, who knows with what, but we like the result! My plants are open-pollinated, so if I do save seeds to trade, to sell plants or to preserve that particular variety, I will bag the blossoms. If it's just for me and my future growing, it's no biggie to have crossed seeds. Whatever it produces will be eaten!

Pictured here are the Santalina's I've mentioned before. The first three are the ones planted with the compost and epsom salts. The last three don't seem to be very happy. I think I'll pull them to make room for something else. You can also see a patch of Swiss Chard in there. No neat, organized rows here!

And finally, my grid garden, which used to be the sandbox, aka the neighborhood cat litter box. We dug out most of the sand, and emptied one of the small square raised beds into it. It now contains three squares of carrots, three squares of lettuce, green onions, bok choy, spinach, snow peas, snap peas, basil, parsley and a bunch of strawberry plants. It is surrounded by delicious red raspberry plants that wandered over from my neighbors and I welcomed happily into my yard. He has since dug all his up, and seeded his yard with grass.

In the front bed, my baby Brugs, grown from seed, now two and half years old. They should flower this year. V.Peach X Frosty Pink, so there might be something there, or they could be all white. I'm going to plant some other annuals in there to keep them company. Maybe just throw in some marigold and cosmos seeds. And I need to get some more mulch.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Getting them in the Ground

Step by Step Transplanting

Select your spot and dig a large hole.

Add a few trowels of compost, from your composter or purchased compost. You can buy all kinds at the nurseries and garden centers, from shrimp to cow to sheep, even leaf mold compost. I don't have any particular favorite from the purchase list, whatever is cheaper is usually my motto. My own kitchen compost is free! And probably much higher in nutrients because it is pure compost. I'm always amazed by how much kitchen waste we generate and how fast it turns into useable garden material. Just imagine if we threw it out in the garbage instead!

I also added some epsom salts to the compost. Then mix it up with a bit of the existing soil.

Place the tomato plant in the middle of the hole, and gently tease out the roots a bit, to encourage them to spread out.

Bury the root ball with the soil, and gently but firmly pat the soil down. Try to make a slight bowl effect with the soil around the plant, to help the water saturate the root system when you water. Once you've got them all in, water generously. Try not to hit the plants or leaves if using a watering can or hose. The best way to water is with a drip hose, which will give a steady supply of water, without any splash back on the tomatoes. Many diseases particular to tomatoes are soil borne, so you can avoid or at least minimize them with good watering techniques.

Once you are done, stand back and admire all your hard work.

The end result: planted tomatoes!

I tend to plant closer than it is recommended. (It's recommended to plant them at least two feet apart.) I can prune later if needed, but I have so many varieties that I want to try, that I cram them in. Production may be slightly more limited, but if you do plant closer, just remember that they will be competing with each other for water and nutrients, so it's up to you to provide it. Air circulation is also important for disease prevention, so pruning helps if they start getting too close.

Just one of the happy fat worms that I found while digging:

A few final notes for transplanting your tomatoes:

  • Blood meal or bone meal are also excellent additions to the planting holes. Some people recommend adding wood ash - if you have it- but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Theory being that as the trees clean the air and the roots take up water and nutrients from the soil, they consume a lot of toxic chemicals, which build up in the trees as they grow. When you burn wood, the chemicals are still there, and will be even more concentrated in the ashes that are left. If you use it, the tomato plants will then take up the chemicals. I've never seen a study done that proves or disproves this theory, but I figure on the off chance that I shouldn't. Wood ash is still fine for ornamental beds, so I use it there. You can decide for yourself.
  • Mulch is an excellent idea! There are many commercial mulches available, and some that you probably have laying around the yard, that you didn't realize you could use. Got leaves? If you have a shredding lawnmower, a big pile of leaves can be turned into fabulous mulch. And the bonus is that you are feeding your soil at the same time. They will eventually break down, and become part of the soil, thanks to worms and time. Pine needles also make a great mulch. The myth that they are too acidic is just that. A myth. Hay or straw can also make a great mulch. If you know a farmer, or live close to an agricultural area, you could easily purchase a few bales. Just be sure to ask what type of hay or straw it is. You don't want one that is full of seeds, that will sprout and become next year's weeding nightmare. Mulch serves a variety of purposes. It helps keep moisture in the soil. It helps regulate the soil temperature, warming when it's cool, and cooling when it's hot. It will eventually break down, thereby adding valuable nutrients to the soil. It helps to prevent splash back when watering, protecting plants from some diseases. It helps prevent weeds (thereby lowering your workload in the garden!!)
  • When you water, water deeply and less frequently. Rule of thumb is two inches a week. There are little water gages that you can purchase, that measure the amount of rain we get, or you can make your own very easily. If you mulch, the rain should provide enough water that you won't have to supplement except in the hottest, driest weeks of summer. Drip watering is the best method whenever possible. You should water the transplants immediately though, just to help them get established. After the first week or so, they should be on their own. Deep, less frequent watering will encourage the roots to grow deep to search for moisture, which will make for a strong root system.
  • Tranplanting is best done on rainy, cloudy days! It's easier on the plants, who won't have to cope with the heat and moisture loss while they are recovering from transplant shock!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Time to Plant...Maybe

First, let me say that I realize my posts have gone off track a bit. Spiders and ladybugs may be helpful and even interesting companions in the garden, but what do they have to do with tomatoes? So on to planting.

I had decided that I would finish planting in the raised beds yesterday, but life got in the way. Now I really wish I had, because today is a miserable day for it, cold and rainy, and no one likes to garden or be planted in this kind of weather. But if I want to follow the moon phases (kind of an experiment this year) I have to get them in today - Full Moon tonight, or wait until after June 3rd, which is the next New Moon. What to do...?! Both, of course!

The flats that have been living in the row tunnels will have to be moved to a green house shelf to make room for the plantees, and that way I will still have plenty of back ups in case they aren't happy being planted out in the raised beds just yet. I'll keep the row tunnel covers on for wet, cold days like this morning, and remove the plastic when it gets too warm, which is what I've been doing for the flats anyway. Hopefully it will warm up a bit today, and the rain will ease off.

I am growing some Santalina's as an experiment this summer. They are a small cherry tomato from the supermarket, that taste pretty good, so I decided to grow them out just for kicks. They have been planted for a couple weeks now. I've made them my test bunnies for different planting methods and fertilizers as well. The first three were planted with a handful of epsom salt and a trowel full of my kitchen compost in the planting hole. The next three got nothing, poor things. One of them even had the stem snapped but not completely broken - thanks to an eager helper.

So far the difference is absolutely amazing. The first three are a good size, and much larger than the last three, as well as much greener and healthier looking. The last three look okay, but very purple. The color could be a result of a magnesium deficiency in my soil, or in the plants' inability to access the nutrients. The second is usually a result of colder temperatures, which has not really been the case here, so I have a feeling it's the magnesium. I'll give one of the last ones a good soaking with the Muskie fertilizer, and another a Miracle Grow feeding. (I try to grow organic as much as possible, especially for food plants, but I have Miracle Grow on hand which I use mostly for houseplants and the Brugs.) The broken one will get an epsom salt feed. I'm not sure if epsom salts could be considered organic? I am sure the compost made a difference as well. It's interesting to see the differences.

I'll grow some other extras in containers and try all kinds of different things. I'll pick one variety that I have, so that the comparison is between the same type of tomato plant. If you want to try Epsom salts (Magnesium sulfate) as a liquid feed, the ratio is about 1 tbsp of salt to 3 liters of water. I've also heard it is extremely good for pepper plants. Worth a shot anyways. I've never had good luck with peppers, so I'll be trying it on them this year.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Plant Sale

Quick note on the Wychwood neighborhood garage sale. I'm in, selling tomatoes, hostas, other plants, and stuff I can drag out, like gardening mags and books. May 17, Saturday. Hope to see some people there.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

BOO!!! Creature Break

I've never been an arachnophobe, which is probably a good thing, considering how much time I spend outdoors. And I'm sure it's partly due to the fact that we don't have dangerous spiders in my part of the country. I bet if I lived in the land of Black Widows and Tarantulas, I'd be singing a different tune.

I've always found Wolf Spiders to be such fascinating little creatures, along with their namesake. We have a half wolf/half Malamute in the neighborhood, a gorgeous canine creature from up North (I mean the real North, the land of the 24 hour sun, and permafrost), whom I've been dying to photograph, but never have my camera when I'm out walking my dog and meet up. And my dog doesn't particularly like the wolf, so taking pictures would be difficult while trying to hold a growly Shepherd/Collie. But I'm hopeful.

But back to my spider. I love the expression on the camy face that they present to the world. Doesn't this little guy look like so ferocious? What a tuff guy! Dontcha just wanna hug 'im?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Big Daddy and I Hope She's Hungry

These are two year old 'Big Daddy' hostas, grown from seed. Kinda cool, eh? I'm amazed that they survived winter in the tray, but then again, I'm always amazed by just how incredibly tough hostas are. You could run them over with a tank and they would be fine.

Ladybugs are always a welcome site in my yard. Especially as they feast on the aphids that
live on my brugs. I debated washing the brugs down for about the tenth time, until I saw three of these pretty little things, and a few rows of eggs on the underside of the leaves. Let the eggs hatch, and the babies do their thing. What's a few more weeks of aphids to the brugs? The ladybugs are happy, and they've obviously been passing the word around as to the whereabouts of the great spring feast.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The New Brug Bed and Tulips

I spent a lot of time over the weekend digging out the old shrubs that were growing against the fence here, in the backyard. Still two to go, which I will tackle tomorrow or Thursday. These monsters are really hard to dig out, with quite a large taproot structure. I can't remember what they are, but they were pretty ugly, so no loss. You can see my 'Red Jade' crabapple in the front, almost ready to bloom. It is one of my favorite little shrubs, and it is the first tree I ever grafted, back in college. I moved it with me when we moved from Ottawa seven years ago.

All the pine needles make a wonderful mulch over the top of my very sandy soil. It should be a perfect spot for my brugs, nice and sunny, good drainage, and should be very easy to dig them up come fall.

I love these ruffled tulips. I didn't know what I was getting when I planted them, but they turned out really nice. And what can I say, they were free!

I'm not as far along with my planting as I'd like to be at this point. I planted peas a while ago, and then somehow got stuck. I planted a few tomatoes in the ground, and lugged all the brugs outside to water them really well, fertilize them, and hose off some of the aphids. Trying to give them a boost so they would get growing. They are out permanently now, unless we get a severe frost warning. Otherwise, I just haven't been motivated to get planting, despite the weather. Part of it, I think, is there is just so much to do. All the beds are already getting overrun with weeds, I have tons of little maples and oaks and pines to dig and pot up, that I had promised to friends, hostas to divide, an Iris bed to dig up and relocate, a potting bench to build, and two new raised beds to build. The list goes on. Never mind that the indoor chores are pilling up as I procrastinate outdoors. And it doesn't help that I've come down with a pretty bad cold.

Once I get going again, I will have more to write about. But I think I may take a few more days off, just taking it easy, to get better, and hopefully I'll start feeling a bit more motivated. Get done the things it occurs to me to do, and let slide the things I don't want to do. Just for a day or two.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The View...under construction

There used to be a deck here, that was slowly rotting away, partly due to our weather, and partly due to the incompetence of the builders. We are thinking of putting a few tons (probably more) of pea stone down, and adding some flagstone or some molded concrete slabs on top, but settled in, to make a pathway and a seating area. It's our summertime project, that has been two years in the works. Nothing new at our house. Things go slowly.

The outdoor look of my mini low tunnel greenhouse. The tulips in fronts are all courtesy of the Tulip festival people and a friendly neighbor up the street who shared her score with me. They dig them out every year, and give them away in Ottawa, after the Tulip festival is over. These are the gift from Holland that Ottawa gets every year, as a thank you for things Canada did during the war. Free if you know where to go (and I'm not telling!)

The view from inside

PS. If you ask nicely, I'll tell you where to go to get those Holland Tulips. Just know that you have to give them a couple years to build up the reserves to flower again. They dislike being treated as annuals.

Friday, April 25, 2008

What to Plant....Now

This beautiful April weather has got my garden begging to be planted. It's early, it's still too early, I tell it, but it just doesn't want to listen. You've built the greenhouses, I can withstand some cold, even a little snow if it comes to that, my garden says. I'll keep the tomatoes warm enough. Trust me.

Famous last words.

Okay. Peas. You can plant peas now, they are the traditional first crop to go into the garden. They are tough and hardy. Even if it snows.

Although I haven't tried it yet, broccoli, beets, chard, lettuce, carrots, potatoes and spinach are also supposed to be good candidates to go into the ground now. And I will be planting some this weekend just to test it out, so if it works or not, I'll post results later on. And these will be in my smallest square raised bed, which has been planted with some peas already and they seem to be doing well. I may cover it if we get frost warnings, but it will be left open to the elements in all other cases. Every thing except the potatoes will be from seeds. The potatoes are supermarket potatoes that have sprouted in their forgotten corner of my cupboard. I figured why not? Did the same thing last year, and got some nice little baby taters.

I've also been busy transplanting some of the tomato seedlings from the cell packs to 4inch pots. It always surprises me how much longer it takes than I think it will. Might have something to do with the fact that I take my own sweet time doing the transplanting, mainly cause it is something I enjoy doing. Doesn't feel like work when you like it. Still have plenty of flats to go, and lots of sunny days coming down the road.

I want to thank another Aylmerite for identifying my 'toe-biter' aka big ugly bug. Scroll down to April 11 to see the description. This is also a pretty cool site for all bug id's.

Apparently he lost his way from down by the river, and somehow found himself in my yard. Hope he made it home safely after his photo shoot.

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Russians Are Coming....The Russians Are Coming

It is a very cute old movie from the 1960's that probably stirred some of my interest in all things Russian, and has little to do with any of the big Russian thinkers or writers that I admired in my younger days. But now my interest extends to Russian tomatoes. I was given a few different varieties by various people, and one that I am particularly amazed by is 'Siberian'. This little plant was seeded at the same time as the others shown in the picture, but it is only about 2 inches high. Leafed out much nicer than it's companions and stocky as all get out. Communism may not have panned out, but they sure were onto something with their tomatoes!! I'm also pretty impressed with 'Moscow Suburb' (on the left of the above picture) and 'Moscovitch'. They're looking good!

Who the hell is this guy???? He tried a triple flip, double quad landing on my bloody head tonight. Needless to say, I did a double flip when he landed, cause the damn thing was huge! Three inches long at least. Scared the crap out of me, while I was innocently sitting outside, enjoying the evening, and my Carl Hiaasen novel.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Greenhouse tunnels

This is what I did over the weekend. It didn't take long to build, and they are pretty sturdy. I think they will withstand any heavy rains and winds, but it'll be a test this spring I guess. I used scrap wood I had kicking around to frame it, so it didn't cost much. The plastic was $30 at a local renovation/construction supplier for 10 ft by 100 ft, and I still have more than half the roll left.

I checked the temperature inside today, and it was over 50C. It's around 22C outside, so that's pretty hot. I opened up the plastic to cool it down a bit, as I don't want to cook the poor worms in there. The soil is not as hot, but still plenty warm. I'll check the overnight inside temperature tonight, and if it stays warm enough, I'll plant some tomatoes tomorrow.
Yay!!! And it's only mid-April!!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Garden Treasures

The snow is almost completely gone, and the weather has been incredible. It wasn't just warm today, working outside, it was hot. I was digging through the raised beds, pulling out some of the dead plants from last year, and shoveling some of the kitchen scraps off of the bed and into the compost bin. I tend to use one bed to dump kitchen scraps in the winter, as it is easier to access than the compost bin when we have a lot of snow. While I was shoveling, I realized I was actually wiping sweat of my forehead. It was hot in the sun.

I found the biggest, juiciest worm in the bed. Even my daughter thought it was pretty cool. It's a very good sign to see big happy worms. It means your soil is pretty healthy, and lots of worms = lots of worm castings = lots of plant food.

The crocus are up and blooming their heads off. The tulips are growing, and I can see the buds on the apple trees swelling. The seedlings have been going outside everyday, and I've left them out over night tonight. I've been leaving a few test subjects out over night in the greenhouse shelves for the last week, and even when the temperature dipped to -5C, they came through just fine. As long as the weather stays nice, which it is supposed to, then I will be able to start planting as soon as I get my tunnels built. Some cold weather tolerant plants can even go in sooner, such as peas, which my kids helped me plant today. These were actually sprouts I was trying to grow in the kitchen for eating, but they just didn't seem to want to grow very much so rather than compost them, it was a fun half hour planting peas with the girls.

Monday, April 14, 2008

In the Great Outdoors

My outdoor greenhouse shelves. Today was a beautiful balmy sunshiny +8 C outside. Inside these greenhouse shelf unit, the temperature was over +25 C.

The seedlings are happy to get out, and they are protected from too much direct sun by the cover on the greenhouse shelves. Weather is supposed to be nice for this week, so they will be going outside everyday. I am hoping to get one of the raised beds finished and covered with the plastic, including the 'hotpots' (what I'm calling my water jugs), which will hopefully regulate the temperatures at night. I might try some planting this weekend, I have enough seedlings that I can sacrifice them if it doesn't work out.