Friday, March 24, 2017

Allium progress


2016 was a very disappointing year when it came to onions.  The season started off badly and never seemed to get any better.

Firstly, I tried a different approach when I sowed the seed.  Instead of using a plug sheet as in the previous year, I scattered the seeds in large 2"x4" cells.  I was hoping to (1) gain space under the grow lights and (2) minimize drying out of the soil as it was more difficult to tell when the plug sheet needed watering and I would tend to let them dry out too much.

All was well and good...until I had an issue with damping off and lost a good number of seedlings.  Of course, grouping seedlings into one large cell means that the disease easily spread and I likely lost more than I would have had I used a plug sheet.

Conservor shallots in 2016, succumbing to damping off


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Spring is here...hopefully


Yesterday was the first day of spring and it was surprisingly spring-like.  With the roller coaster weather all winter, I was half expecting a blizzard.  For the last couple of days, I've been able to comfortably walk around outside wearing only a fleece jacket.  Now, I'm not crazy enough to put my winter coat and boots away just yet - call me superstitious, but whenever I jump the gun, Mother Nature inevitably shows me who's boss.

Inside the house, however, I'm the boss - within reason, of course :)  As there has been little consistency in our weather, I decided to maintain my seeding schedule as is.  There's always the temptation to move things up a bit when the weather is unseasonably warm, but it's a gamble - sometimes it pays off while other times, it doesn't.  This year I have a lot on my gardening plate (more on that in a future post), so I'm sticking to the original game plan.

The onions, leeks & shallots were seeded back in February and are well on their way.  So far, no issues with damping off like last year.  Now excuse me for a sec while I look for a piece of wood to knock on ;)

Onion, leek and shallot seedlings, well on their way

Friday, March 10, 2017

2016 Year In Review - The Numbers


In my last post, I gave a general overview of the 2016 season.  Now it's time for the nitty gritty - the numbers.  If you're not into the numbers, skip down to the paragraph after the "Pounds" table where I give the low-down on which veg did well and which did poorly.


Grams/Kg


Sunday, March 5, 2017

2016 Year in Review - Feelin' Hot, Hot, Hot


If I were to describe the summer of 2016, one word comes to mind – HOT.  Actually make that two words – VERY HOT.  All...the...time.  Think I'm exaggerating?  This is what a senior climatologist at Environment Canada had to say:  "May, June, July, August and September, five months in a row, it was the warmest such period in Toronto's history, in 78 years of records...we also had 38 days when the temperature reached above 30 degrees, more than the three previous summers all together".  See - I'm being completely objective here :)

So what did the hot weather mean for the vegetable garden?  Well, crops that love heat were in heaven – it was a great pepper year and the number of butternut squash that I harvested from the same number of plants more than doubled from 5 to 12!  Crops that are partial to more moderate temps, however, didn’t do nearly as well – turnips and kohlrabi come to mind.  Even though I harvested a bumper crop, in terms of yield, both of these developed a stronger, less sweet taste than in the previous year.  In other words, we harvested more of them, but they weren't nearly as delectable.  I would have rather had it the other way around.

Hot temperatures resulted in kohlrabi that lacked the mild, sweet taste
they had in 2015 and every bulb was a bit fibrous to boot


Thursday, March 2, 2017

Confusion


Is it spring?  Is it winter?  I’m so confused!  I have a feeling that’s what my poor perennials and trees are saying as well – I can practically see them scratching their heads as they ponder whether it’s time to leaf out or not.

This has been the warmest February that I can remember – one day last week, it was actually shorts weather with temperatures reaching a record breaking high of 16C/61F.  And yesterday - a high of 14C/57F.  Today?  It's -7C/19F with a windchill of -15C/5F.  Crazy.

Of course I, being human and all, enjoy a bout of spring-like weather just as much as anyone else, but this feeling is always tempered by worry.  Top of mind are the fruit trees.  If they come out of dormancy during one of these warm spells, thinking that spring has officially arrived, it may be another fruitless year if all those buds are killed off once winter returns.

My apple trees are in their 3rd year and I was actually hoping to get a few fruits from them this year.  I’ve had to pick off baby apples from the Granny Smith tree for 2 years in a row now – a necessary evil so that the tree spends its limited energy developing a good root system.

Baby Granny Smith apples in 2015


Friday, December 23, 2016

Sad News


I hesitated to write this post now, so close to the holidays.  My blog break will likely extend a bit longer than I originally thought - and the reason for this is that my dad passed away this month.

He was diagnosed with cancer 7 years ago and there have been many ups and downs since then but, overall, he was doing quite well.  However, things got progressively worse in the past year.  He was hospitalized numerous times and each time we thought "this is it".  But then he would improve, and be well enough to go back home.  We knew that, at some point, this would no longer be the case - but this didn't stop us from hoping that he would once again pull through.  You are never truly prepared when the time comes, are you?

My mom is now alone and, as an only child, I will be the one to support her, both emotionally and in the more practical aspects of day to day life, many of which my dad was previously responsible for.  It will be an adjustment for everyone but things will get easier with time, as they always do.

This photo was taken back in the 70's on one of the hundreds of camping trips we went on:

Cape Hatteras, North Carolina

Those are some of my fondest childhood memories.  It was a rare summer weekend when we stayed at home. Photos like this are difficult to look at now...but at some point, I know they will bring more smiles than tears.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Harvest Monday - November 28, 2016


I don't really have anything to report for Harvest Monday this time round, except for a last batch of broccoli.

The picture?  It's at home.  I forgot to upload it to my laptop before I left this morning.  Once I get home, I'll remedy that right here: