Tag Archives: cornflower

Edible flower garden

Last season my aunt gave me full run of the flower garden at the front of the house. She had trouble with Scarlet lily beetles in 2014. She really hates bugs so once I told her what the beetles were and what they were attracted to, she wanted the lilies gone. However, she couldn’t bring herself to get rid of them right away. I was still left with plenty of space for my edible flower garden.

All ready for planting!

All ready for planting

I planted sunflower, cornflower, borage, lupine (not edible), and nasturtium seeds, and a lavender plant I bought at Kensington Market. I also remember planting viola but they didn’t take.

Lupine - it didn't survive

Lupine – planted out in late May. 

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This is as big as the lupine got. It didn’t survive.

Although I didn’t have the trailing variety, I thought nasturtiums would look great in the hanging pots (at the front and in the back yard) and in the planter boxes on the railing. Unfortunately the pots at the front were attacked by aphids. The ones at the back were perfectly fine. I purposely used seeds I had harvested from city plants at the front, knowing we wouldn’t be eating from those pots, and saved the organic seeds for the back yard.

Nasturtium from organic seeds

Nasturtium from organic seeds – looks tasty!

Organic nasturtium in full bloom

Organic nasturtium in full bloom

Nasturtium from city harvested seeds

Nasturtium from city harvested seeds. Not bad looking from far away, but on closer inspection…

Aphids running wild!

Aphids running wild!

Overall, I think the flower garden turned out pretty well.

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L to R – lavender, lilies, sunflower, marigold, cornflower, roses; nasturtium in the planter boxes. End of August. Borage had already run its course.

Lavender

Lavender

Pink cornflower

Pink cornflower – I bought a mix and got purple and blue as well

I bought some other flower seeds that I didn’t end up using this year: cosmos, larkspur, and poppies. Hope to plant more varieties next year (and I’m eyeing some more I’d like to purchase – velvet queen and autumn beauty sunflowers, for example) and harvest some as cuttings in addition to using them as companion plants.

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Fall on the horizon

Quickly ran by the garden before meeting up with a friend for dinner at Guu Sakabar. I had about 15 minutes to assess what was happening and  harvest whatever was ready for eating and for storing (ie. seeds).

The zucchini was putting out a few blossoms but not making any fruit. It’s starting to go down to  single digit temperatures overnight so I’d be surprised if any fruit actually produces. I hope more blossoms continue to bloom so I can try making a stuffed zucchini blossom recipe.

Blossoms only : (

The tomato plants continue their natural decline but I’m happy to say that energy is being put into ripening the fruit.

Fruit is still ripening

Parsley and dill are getting stronger. I’m not sure what the oblong-shaped leaf near the parsley and dill is. It doesn’t look like the collards near the back of the photo.

Parsley and dill

This chive flowers were closing up and starting to make seeds.

Chive seeds in the making

I was tempted to pick the buds but decided to leave them. A post on saving garlic chive seeds on the Garden web forum told me that, much like with other seeds, it was best to wait for the  seeds dry on the plant before picking them for storage. I wonder if they taste any good like this?

I’ve noticed for a while that the basil were going to seed and recently discovered that the  seed pods are actually underneath the flowers. I had to turn the plant upside down to find them.

Green seed pods under Dark Opal basil flowers

Basil seeds

I gently picked off the dried flowers and managed to separate some seeds from the pod.

Basil seeds

I’d soon run out of time so I quickly picked a few more dried basil, calendula and cornflower flower heads so I could remove the seeds at home.

Seeds and dried seed pods

Calendula and cornflower

Guu had an interesting atmosphere and the food was delicious. After dinner, we sat on the patio outside  Starbucks. I felt a little chilly in my short sleeved sweater. What was I thinking coming out without a jacket? Fall is just around the corner…

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Adios verano…

On Labour Day, my brother and I headed up to Mel Lastman Square for the Hispanic Fiesta. It was our first time attending the festival. We were going to see Imbayakunas, who are always entertaining (we went to the Beaches Jazz Fest just to see them), but we were delighted to find that the entire show was amazing.  My brother really enjoyed the Mariachi Viva Mexico band, in particular. We had such a good time. It was a great way to end off the summer on a high note. It was quite clear though that summer was over. Somewhere during the performances we realized that it had become pitch black all around us. I looked at my watch, expecting to see that it was at least 10 o’clock, and was surprised to find that it was only 8:30! The days are becoming shorter. Adios verano (bye bye summer).

I’ve been passing by the gardens for short periods of time these days, really to collect seeds. I planted some beets, carrots, kale, spinach and collard greens at the end of August. We’ve had a few downpours so we haven’t had to water as much. I noticed that a week after I planted the beets, they were already starting to come up.

Beet seedlings

This time my brother picked up Early wonder tall tops from Urban Harvest at Dufferin Grove Farmers Market. According to the description, these are the type you’re supposed to buy if you like to eat the greens. I’m really looking forward to trying them. Too bad they take a month and a half to two months to reach maturity. The carrots are coming up too but they take just as long.

I continue to enjoy the chive blossoms and it seems I’m not the only one:

Yellow jacket wasp enjoying the chive flowers

A bee takes his turn

I’m not sure which I enjoy better – the gustatorial delights of the closed blossoms sprinkled on my meals (oh man, so good!) or the visual delight of the flowers in full bloom. I personally don’t think they taste as good when they’re in full bloom. I’m interested in seeing what it will be like to collect the seeds.

Chive blossoms, almost all in full bloom

Last weekend I managed to collect some nasturtium seeds:

Some nasturtium seeds can be found on the plants but you have to look carefully

I haven’t been successful in finding nice looking seeds under the plant itself. The green ones I found on the plant. I wasn’t sure about the viability of the white, wrinkled looking ones (or if they were even seeds at all) so I squished one between my fingers and it disintegrated with some pressure. I left the rest. They really didn’t look like the ones in nasturtium video I found on YouTube.The green ones are drying well at home.

Are the white ones seeds? I have no idea

The cornflower seeds are really easy to identify and to harvest. I’ve just been running my thumb inside the dry seed head and the seeds just pop out.

The seeds are really easy to identify – they have fringes at the end

Seeds separated from the chaff

I was doing this in the garden until I found I was losing a lot of them so now I’ve been taking the flower heads and separating the seeds at home. I’ve become more than a little obsessed with the cornflower seeds in particular.

Last week I spent some time searching the ground around the calendula flowers for seeds. I found some this way last month. I inspected the flowers and realized that some of them were pretty dry and I could recognize the seeds!

Calendula seeds

Another view

I was too impatient to take the dried flowers home and hang them upside down in a paper bag so I picked off the seeds and took them home in a baggie to fully dry before I store them.

Bag ’em and head for home!

The end of summer is not such a bad thing after all!

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Time of the season…

This is the time of the season where I start to neglect the garden. Truth be told, that time of the season probably started a few weeks ago. Thankfully my brother has energy  to be watering on a regular basis (although lately he hasn’t needed to) and tying up strong but stray tomato branches. Knowing I would be away for the weekend and realizing I`d been away too long, I stopped by Thursday evening after work.

Sad looking tomato plants

Ugh, the tomatoes were such a sorry sight. A limp, unruly, discoloured, and unsightly mess.

In her most recent post on pruning tomatoes, Gayla Trail gives a rundown of when and why she prunes. Although she says she only prunes indeterminate or vining tomatoes, there are some very practical tips for now and for next year. For example, removing the flowers that aren’t going to produce fruit before the fall frost comes along so that the plant puts more energy into ripening full grown fruit. At the beginning of the season, she prunes the branches closest to the ground to establish a mainstem and also under-plants with companion plants and edible flowers. A great use of space and lots of visual appeal.

On a positive note, the flowers are finally starting to look really good.

Bright yellow-orange calendula

Blue cornflower (in need of deadheading), with nasturtium flowers

Dill seeds are finally dry. Packaged them this week.

Dill seeds ready for packaging

Can’t wait ’til next year!

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Tough love, part 2

Last night I’d been reading that some of the brown spots on the tomato leaves may be early signs blight. So this morning I sprayed the leaves  as well as those of the zucchini with some diluted milk and poured the rest into the soil. I read about this idea in the book You grow girl by Gayla Trail (it’s also on her website of the same name). Milk is apparently a potent antifungal. Who knew?

Milk, does a plant good too!

In one of her posts, Gayla uses spoiled milk but says in response to her post on the subject that regular milk can be used as well. My family drink a lot of milk (I only really crave it when I have cookies) so it rarely goes bad. I also went a bit crazy with removing suckers, accidentally removing some that had flowers on them. Flowers that would have become tomatoes. My brother was not impressed.

Continuing with tough love, as planned, I removed the nine calendula flowers crowding the zucchini. The space was a housing tons of earwigs and a cucumber beetle! I’m so glad I removed them  if only to find this out. Earwigs are helpful in the garden, getting rid of debris, but they can also attack your plants.  And the cucumber beetle will harm your curcurbits (ie. gourds such as squash and cucumbers).

No longer a hiding place for earwigs and cucumber beetles

I was so happy to see them scatter when I pulled out the calendula. I not only improved the circulation around the zucchini, but I also took away a pest hiding place. Yes! Hopefully the zucchini will recover and start to make fruit.

Now to find a home for 9 Calendula flowers

We easily removed the giant sunflower from the front of the plot and I planted 4 of the calendula in its place, 2 where the carrots were planted next to the sunflower, and 3 next to the cornflowers, which are finally starting to bloom. I was going with the idea of 4 plants per square (it seemed like logical spacing). This plant is very delicate! Several leaves broke off as I planted them, making a hollow crunching sound like snapping off a piece of celery.

Calendula take stage left, former space of sunflower and carrots

Red and yellow nasturtiums, blue cornflowers, and once they bloom, orangey-yellow calendula

Saw this cool bug that looked like a leaf. I did a Google search for “insect that looks like a leaf” and came up with a katydid. I wonder if that’s what this is:

Can you see the leaf-mimicking insect?

Harvested mostly carrots today and a few more zucchini blossoms. The carrots were pretty good and I had the blossoms on my pita pizza. They had disintegrated when I washed them with my harvest from yesterday. I have tons to basil and I’m not sure what to do with it. I’m not a fan of pesto. I might just them to my green smoothie.

Beautiful carrots

This cucumber did not need my help. It scaled the nearby sunflower to become the tallest plant in the plot. Good job and great companion planting advice (see July 5th visit)! I’ve seen at least 3 baby cucumbers on my 4 plants. It doesn’t sound like much, but to see any is fabulous. Things are looking up!

This cucumber is now the tallest plant in the plot!

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