Wednesday, October 7, 2009

In Tuscany...

I took this shot in late September - the sun was shining, the sunflowers were in bloom, and Summer stretched into Fall... it could have been Tuscany. But, it was our lovely veggie patch where finally, the sunflowers bloomed among the marigolds...

As our vegetable farming season draws to a close, I reflect back on our little adventures...
- large leaf basil should not be planted too early, and neither should those sunflowers!
- don't bother with corn, just buy them from the roadside stalls; the same can be said for the beans and cucumbers
- the heritage tomatoes definitely need to be staked; radishes are easy to grow but do give them room (being suitable companion plants but we must have missed the part about staking the tomatoes so the radishes planted inbetween can breathe???)
- love them carrots but Oma needs to seed hers early enough so they get big enough for more than a teeny bite;
- lovely and definitely sweet mini pear-shaped yellow tomatoes should likely go into pots; and let's not get carried away with the cherry/grape tomatoes
- Making tomato sauce or bottling tomato pieces is a lot of work - for nice thick sauce, it takes about a bushel to net out about 7-8 bottles, 1L size; of course, don't boil the sauce down too much and you get 1 dozen of runny sauce (good for stewing meat in)
(must confess these jars of tomato sauce came courtesy of Farmer R's tomato fields! For a while it was days of a procession of tomato bushels marching in for processing, eeek! And it takes about 1/2 hour a person to collect 1 bushel)

- the beets did great, would love to have more and of different colors!
- eggplants, celery root, kohlrabi - NOT! I think; the eggplants are still flowering (we got one early white eggplant the whole season) but no fruit; still waiting for celery root to be of an edible size; and the kohlrabi roots keep splitting :(
- the cabbages were a success (2nd harvest should be soon) - verdict still out on the brussel sprouts (which should be ready soon too?)
- the zucchini / squash of the petite-pan type definitely were not "petite" - the white ones (yummy sweet) were like dish (6-8 inch) size, the yellow ones 4+ inches; they took off and took over the beds
(some dried dill, couple of white petite-pans (the smaller ones) and sweet and ornamental peppers)

- the one Tigger Melon that happened was too seedy and very late; difficult to grow
- oh those snap peas were sweet and crunchy - more please!
- peppers - the hot, sweet, and ornamental varieties - didn't think they would take off, but by Sept-end, we were picking them practically every day! Were not that hot, according to P - hey, we didn't plant any jalapenos or scotch bonnets!
(Anyone for "not quite that hot" Pepper sauce?)

- Onion greens - yes, they did fine; can't say much for the fennel (of which we got 2 fennel bulbs only) while its close cousin the dill flourished; which brings us to...
- the salad greens - for a while there early on, it was just spinach and we got a bit worried; then the rest of the greens kept cropping up and we could hardly keep up - it was salad almost every day for about 2 months! The salad days have finished except for Chicory which like cooler weather; and finally -
- ah yes, those potatoes - French Fingerlings - yummy, yummy, but fingerlings? Have you seen the size of some of them? more like French Fistlings! Oh, and digging them out? wait for a couple of days of rain to soften up the soil - a bit mucky but so much easier to harvest them then.
(The fingerling impersonators among the real ones)

It's almost time to clear out the patch - we just have to collect the last few veggies (sprouts, peppers), remove the stakes and tags, and the water barrel - so the land can be plowed over, ready for another growing season.

Until then, we salute what has been a fruitful year in experience and bounty. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The weather has been cooler than normal and lots of rain (can't complain) so the lettuce greens are doing very well, and everything else that likes water :)

The peas are pretty much done, and now it's onto the other veggies...

Yes, the purple haze imperator carrots are almost ready for harvest - these are about 3/4-1 inch diameter and about 6-7 inches long. The majority should be ready in about a week. and they really are purple with orange inside - don't boil them or the purple will just fade.

I think these are grape tomatoes, ripening way earlier than the big heritage.

This cuke (beit alpha burpless) is like 6 inches, gianormous compared to the others (which were about 1 inch in size)... hey, the bees have been busy visiting the yellow flowers!

The corn is flowering...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tom Thumbs

Roiboos will be glad to hear that the Tom Thumbs are growing right next to Elzy's frisse bed!

The rest of the lettuce are coming along nicely - we're now waiting for the next crop of radishes (which should be about another week or so). The beets should be ready to harvest this weekend...

And it's going to rain tonight, tomorrow, and the weekend, yeah!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

fruits of our labour

We have all been enjoying fresh salads made with lettuce from our patch - yummy, yummy... the radishes were excellent - and there's a fresh crop coming along nicely - they were planted among the tomatoes. Of course, the snap peas are sweet, supplemented by batches of peas courtesy of Mr. R. farmer...

Here's the fingerling potatoes in bloom.

Friday, July 3, 2009

wet wet

We are feeling soggy - after all the days of rain this week - and so are the beds - soggy, soggy. Ok, it's great that temperatures are cooler than normal (low 20's vs. mid-high 20's) and that the veggies are benefiting from all the rain/water, but so are the weeds - they are rampant.

Went this morning and weeded for about 1.5 hours - cleared some of the beds and made a slight dent in the weedy growth. The lettuces are just succulent - harvested some red radicchio, endive, chicorria... the spinach are all going to seed - let's hope the new seed bed comes through.

Lots of yummy crunchy radishes - red ones that is; the watermelon ones (white with red flesh) are not ready, nor are the beets.

Tomatoes need to be staked; they are gia-normous. most of the sunflowers have sprouted; and everything else is just growing, growing...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

first harvest

Had watered the beds yesterday evening as temperatures were 30+ last few days - forecasts call for scattered showers today and overnight, and again Sunday, alleluia!

Checked the beds this morning and here's a progress report - Snap peas in flower;

the squash doing well;

so are it's close cousins, the Zuchini;

and cabbages and brussel sprouts are growing leaps and bounds!

At last, success! The sunflowers (2nd sowing) have sprouted...

Oh yes, the Spinach - plucked (couldn't use a knife to slice through as wasn't enough leaves to grab hold of) some of the bigger leaves for a little salad . This is from the seeded bed. Unfortunately the transplanted ones of Elzy's have gone to seed - what to do, what to do... (recommend we scrub and seed new bed).
We should be able to harvest a couple of radish and lettuce beds by the end of this week - thought to let them grow a bit more after the rain today.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


After a couple of nice, hot days, the veggies are doing great! Here's the fingerling potato bed - these plants are about a foot high...

And these radishes are almost ready to harvest - yes, by this weekend - see those red tubers (ok, root balls?) under the leaves?

These are Elzy's transplanted spinach - they are stalky? not like the ones grown from seed...

Yes, these ones which have bigger crinkly leaves which are ready for picking - according to the packages, both are bloomsdale variety? Nah, can't be!

Here is a tomato bed - they are flowering so guess in about a month to 6 weeks there will be some scrumptious heritage varieties to pick!

Friday, June 19, 2009

almost ready to pick?

Hmm.. it's been almost 3 weeks (21 days) since seeding and some of the radishes must be almost ready to harvest?
There are some spinach (not just the transplanted ones) that look like they can be picked in the next couple of days!
Have seeded more spinach and radishes in empty beds as well as radished between some tomato beds - companion plants, eh?
Read an article that said the Iroquois planted corn, then beans and squash all together which worked very well. Unfortunately, the present corn bed is too narrow - next year maybe?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

more seeds

Did a lot of weeding today - about 75% done but it took a while as those weeds were lush and plenty!

Have also seeded new sunflowers into the beds, and made over one for an early sweet yellow corn - so if these turn out yellow with patchy white (due to proximity to the original sowing), it should still taste sweet!

Also watered the lettuces and sprouts but left the tomatoes and potatoes alone as they are doing fine - more flowers on the tomatoes. A few of the hot peppers have flower buds too!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Rain happy

It rained again late yesterday - the veggies are doing great! and the pathways are covered in green (as in weeds) - time to do some trimming...
You gotta love the weather right now - low 20's, rain every 2-3 days...
On another note, here's a little furry friend and siblings! 3 days old...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

it rained

Awesome - for farmers that is - went by the patch this evening and the ground was thoroughly wet - we can expect the sprouts to go through a growth spurt overnight! The watering should hold up until the next forecast rain on saturday...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

at long last!

Yes, here are Purple Haze sprouts - purple imperator carrots - real purple carrots!

And, I believe this is a dwarf sunflower sprout. The giant sunflower beds were "scrubbed" as it has been a month since the seeding - checked this morning and still no seedlings.

Here are pictures of how some of the other veggies are doing... these are squash sprouts;

Cilantro or coriander have finally made their appearance;

The fingerling potatoes are larger;

And the heritage tomatoes are starting to flower!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

unusual weather pattern

That rain barrel in the centre of the patch must be feeling redundant (for now) with all the rain at regular intervals! It's been rain, shine, rain for the past weekend, and temperatures have been below normal, but that is good for the veggies! Oh, and weeds, so we scrubbed the giant sunflower beds yesterday as those sunflower seeds were no show and the weeds had taken over...

However, the veggies that have sprouted continue to inch up in height, yeah! And new seedlings are showing up - lettuces, beets, cucumbers, beans, more peas.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Saturday visit

Okay, so we finally visited the patch. Late afternoon, after shopping at Costco. Admired all the plants growing in their beds. Too bad no sunflower shoots. Probably the seeds got eaten by birds, haahah. Yeah, those birds probably thought, 'Wow, we're being fed sunflower seeds, but there's only a few!'. On the other hand, it's been rather cool, and they may need more heat in order to germinate?

So, very impressed with the rain barrel. That ugly white barrel, hahahaha. It looks like Tony has been refilling it, so Millefiore watered the lettuces. Yep, needed that. The rest of the plants will be okay until tomorrow. We hope it will rain tonight, and then tomorrow, Monday and Tuesday. That will be good! Never thought I'd like to see some rain!

Am looking forward to those lemon cucumbers! Never tried them before so I hope they taste good, Some seeds have sprouted, so it's just being patient. Oh yes, the potatoes are definitely growing now, got leaves and all, so that's good. We'll have nice fingerling potatoes for late summer.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

two hypotheses from Wednesday

No, not as in a classroom, but rather as in did the water container tip over by itself or did it get some help yesterday?

Well, the container is not solidly flat at the bottom and does have wheels, but Mr. Z had also just filled it up completely. On the other hand, why would any one want to water the paths (it missed the beds mostly)? It will be one of those unsolved mysteries...

The real deal rain barrel has been set up in the middle of the patch. We tied it to its heavy metal postings/legs just in case the wind decides to pick up...

Elzy and I planted the rest of the peppers, tomatoes, spinach, frissee lettuce. Even put in some leeks and celeriac. To finish off, the marigolds went in among the beds.

Then we called it a day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

another plan update

With the introduction of more plants, the beds are getting used up! Of course we can always plant over those where the seeds don't germinate -

More what?

I didn't want to be disappointed if the Kohlrabi seeds never sprout, so, yes, I planted a 4-pack of Kohlrabi gourmet red and gourmet white in the bed... Looked like a 'real' Kohlrabi bed now that there are veggies growing in the bed :)

Also added to the hot peppers with some "Hungarian wax" type (huh? so we have to find out, hence they got planted too). And being endlessly curious on how some veggies will grow, planted some brussel sprouts and cabbage next to a snap pea bed (I like brussel sprouts).

Seeded some Red Cored Danvers (you got it - red carrots) next to the purple haze imperators (impressive name) which I hope will show up as the purple haze likely will not germinate!

We'll need to deligently remind ToniB to set up the genuine rain barrel ASAP as drier weather is in the forecast. Let's hope he's there wednesday so Elzy and I can get him to do all the heavy lugging (one can hope).

Monday, June 1, 2009

updated bed layouts

Here we go again - revisions to the beds on what veggies are where :)

cooler weather

It's been cooler than normal for this time of the year - at wet, although with it being so windy at the patch the beds were dried out overnight. Did some more weeding this morning - needed to test out a swoe - it worked beautifully; I just pushed the blade into the soil and "swept" forward and back (push/pull) and cut the weeds off at the base. Quite effortless - especially if the soil is loose.

Oh yes, the mystery seedling yesterday is spinach.

The radish have started to come up...

Here's a tiny cucumber spout -

And bean plants.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What's that?

After more rain (lovely thunderstorm late evening yesterday...) those pesky weeds have cropped up again! OK, someone somewhere must love them, but -

More veggies have made their appearance finally! Spring onions,

and this one (see picture) which is a little quiz for rest of you to answer - so what is it?

And here's a fingerling potato leaf bud, up close (in macro).

Saturday, May 30, 2009

a rain barrel

Yes, the real thing (not to slight Oma's container that was pressed into service) - picked one up dirt cheap from the city works centre - had to queue for about an hour since all the early birds (folks) didn't want to miss out on one. Mind you, show up 1.5 hours later and you didn't have to wait...

dropped it off at the patch (ok, in the chicrabbit pen for security, as rain barrels do cost a lot) this afternoon. Will finish assembly tomorrow or monday - no rush since it will likely rain again tuesday :)

Whacked all the weeds I could find in the beds so that will be good for next few days. Noticed some of the fingerling potato shoots have leaf buds! wowee! The cornlings are very noticeable as they are in 2 very visible rows; and more beans and snap peas sprang up. Don't think anything else has surfaced yet.

Also placed more tags (especially for the lettuce as there are so many kinds). Will need to get more tags made.

It started to rain again while PC, ToniB and I were discussing location of the rain barrel - PC was very helpful and instructed ToniB on where to place it as well as height of the "base" - they took off to the patch in the rain so PC could show ToniB what needed to be done while I sat in the car - and it really started to pour. One can hope ToniB will also fill the barrel up? First I have to finish assembly of it - as in tighten the spigot assembly (otherwise it may leak) and tighten down the screws on the lid - yep, first thing tomorrow, before ToniB gets going.

Friday, May 29, 2009

After days of rain...

The ground is soggy - my boots were thickly caked with mud - one of the joys of farming! Lots of green shoots in the beds, especially the unplanted beds (yep, weeds). The tomatoes are doing well even the leggy ones (Rooibos has company as Mr. M farmer's are in similar condition).

Being a bit impatient for the lettuce to come up (the seeded ones), decided to plant some [gasp] commercially grown ones. Red lettuce, endive, red romaine... oh, and some more peppers - long cuban reds, hot bananas, sweet ones. Even got a 4-pack of white eggplant :)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

After the rain...

Lots of little green shoots coming up after wednesday's all day rain (on and off) - some are likely the veggies, mixed in among the weeds! There'll be lots of weeding to do when the rain stops.
Here's a look at the yard long beans sprouting.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's a weed - no, it's...

Watered the patch this morning (emptied the water container and wired it to the fence as it was so so windy...) and did some weeding - took a closer look and realized that they were not all weeds pushing through the soil! There was the corn (among the chopped weeds)...

and the sweet peas!

Hip hip hurrah! with the coming rain for wed and thurs, the rest of the seeds should really sprout! Of course, the transplanted spinach and tomatoes (most) are doing really well; the peppers and lettuce are so-so as with the potatoes...

Monday, May 25, 2009

New water cooler

Oma's second container made it to the middle of the patch yesterday - the transplants must have sighed in relief! They received their water rations again. Wednesday (when it calls for rain) is a long way away...

More weeds got chopped up this morning but there's a nice crop of clover starting up. Let's make sure they are before we start pulling them up - could be veggie seedlings instead!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Another update on patch plan

To reiterate, the best laid plans of mice and ... More modifications to the plan.


Most of the beds got tagged this morning - here's what the patch looked like - an experimental agri station (got to avoid that "p-l-o-t" word...we've all been very good in avoidance).

Ran out of tags for the lettuces and some other ones - guess we can recall the factory worker of 1 to make some more as we do have surplus wire hangers.

Seeded some more lettuce, radish and beets, and more celeriac -realized we have a humongous bed - have left about half of that for Elzy's celeriac starts...

The plan will need to be updated again.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Oh no, a leak!

Elzy was right! The water container has a slow leak - yesterday when she pointed it out we said "nah", it was likely condensation...

They discovered the leak on a water barrel run this afternoon, so she and Mr. Z ended up giving the plants a good dousing (oh, and the seed beds too) as there was no point trucking (oops, it is a van - vanning) a less than empty barrel home... The leaky bucket (aka container) is toast as a water receptacle - it's going back back to garbage duty while Elzy calls up the back up - Oma's other container.

Not just any potatoes

This morning the "French Fingerling" potato chips (they were sectioned off into single-eye bits 2 days ago and left to dry out a bit) went into the patch. We planted them all (about 70 bits) into a full size bed that didn't get used for the tomatoes. And that finished off the water in the container...(used a wire hanger to secure it to the nearby fence so it wouldn't go barreling across the fields when the wind gets up).

The temperature was cool this morning, and overcast - perfect planting weather. The tomatoes and peppers weathered the heat of yesterday very well. Even the frissee lettuce and spinach have developed more leaves.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

water brigade to the rescue

For the second day in a row, temperatures reached 28+ C - the top soil was parched with fissures opening up in the patch. Dry, dry. The transplanted veggies were in pretty good shape but we watered them all this evening to keep them going! The water container is almost empty - this calls for another barrel run (how about another few days of rain...).

Elzy observed the tomatoes seemed taller...

Tomorrow should be cooler - around 17C; the fingerling potatoes will go in bright and early.

More tomatoes

Well, only 2 more tomato plants, and 5 more hot peppers were planted this morning. The soil was still wet around the plants that were watered last night as of 7:30 this morning. No droopy heads like Mr. R farmer's roma tomatoe-lings..

The basil and Tom Thumb lettuce beds were seeded as well this morning.

We also tagged the beds that have green (not counting weeds) - no, not the seed beds (what if the seeds don't sprout? how embarrassing!) - will wait until we actually get green shoots before tagging.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Brilliant! (to Mr. Z's credit)

It was so hot today the heat (28+ Celcius) created cracks in the patch's pathways... the frissee lettuce looked like they were going the way of dehydrated salads - we had used up one of those large water jugs (the type at the water cooler stands you know) when we planted the tomatoes and peppers this afternoon and we were faced with a constant parade of those water jugs to the patch, plus perhaps raiding some one's water cooler stands - now that would not be good for office morale!

Mr. Z came up with the idea of letting gravity do the work - so this evening the water brigade came to the rescue of the transplants at the patch. Mr. Z ran a hose from a loaded 200+ litres water barrel (which sat strapped upright at the back of the van) down to a redundant plastic garbage container (courtesy of Oma - Elzy wanted to wash it out but was vetoed) set up in the patch (good thing the patch is lower than the driveway) and lo and behold, gravity caused the water to flow from barrel to container.

It took about 40 minutes to almost fill that up; in the meantime, the water crew went to work watering the plants. Then Mr. Z drained the barrel dry by watering directly from the hose.

We have made sure Oma can rest content her labours have not gone to waste. By this time (nightfall), the mosquitoes were having a feast (our legs & arms).

But, we do have enough water in the container for next few days... next time the water brigade comes out, it will be way earlier to deprive those pesky "zanzare" of their feast.

pictures of transplants

Here's those leggy tomatoes in the foreground, and the "normal" height ones behind them.

The hot peppers that were transplanted today - a little leggy but not overly...