I complained enough about the weather. I put off planning. I thought I had time. Then somewhere along the way, planting season crept up on me. I don’t think I’ve been as ill-prepared as I was this year.
Milo relaxing in front of my uncle’s greenhouse, home to his lettuces, peppers, and eggplants.
We planted on Victoria Day. It’s a good thing too. Although last frost was expected to be May 9th, making Mother’s Day weekend OK to plant, we were hit with sub-zero temperatures. My cousin bought her mom two big, beautiful ferns that were severely damaged when they left them out overnight. What a pity.
I scrambled to put together a gardening plan for the entire back yard, not just the space I’d asked for. I wasn’t being greedy. I used square foot gardening technique and companion planting sensibilities in order to maximize our space and our yields. I took into consideration some of the stuff I knew my uncle would want to plant, like tomatoes, squash and zucchini, and asked if anything needed to be added. I was being thoughtful and organized. My uncle wasn’t worried. He said we’d figure it out when I got there. In the end, he had his own plan.
My uncle’s chives, okra and thyme.
My uncle is much like me. He likes to do things his way. He left me the space I’d asked for, as promised, but proceeded to plant the remaining space in a haphazard manner. At least he was smart enough to plant early Monday morning when it was cool and not in the dead heat of midday like I did. I had to rejig my plan that morning. I could have waited to plant in the evening when it was cooler, but I was stubborn. My cousin, who was helping me, was extra irritable as I tried to explain plant spacing and companion planting. She was baking in her black sweats. She finally convinced me to come inside for a snack. While she took a nap, I went back out and finished in the early afternoon hoping I would at least end up with a nice tan.
From back, left to right: Sugar snap peas along the back, cornflower far left, butternut squash far right; herbs far left (parsley, dill, cilantro), zucchini, and onions
From the back, left to right: pepper, eggplant, sunflower, cucumber; calendula, beets, carrots, collards
A few things of note this year:
1. Soil conditions – the soil is not as rich as my community plot. It’s quite dry and rocky but not clay or cement-like. We used compost that my uncle said he got for free from the city (no comment) and composted cow manure. I added a healthy dose of kelp meal to all the transplants and to the soil around the heavy feeders (squashes).
2. Security – I’m really looking forward to not having any of my harvest stolen. Sweet.
3. I live out of town – this is going to be a challenge. It’s already been over a week since I planted and I haven’t been back. Luckily it’s been quite wet lately.
4. New plants – I went a little crazy at Urban Harvest this year. I bought $46 worth of plants and kelp meal, a cost I wasn’t expecting since I had saved so many seeds last year. New this year:
- butternut squash seeds
- Chinese five colour hot peppers – My sister picked these.
- long purple eggplant seeds
- alpine strawberry
- sugar snap pea seeds – another of my sister’s picks.
5. Old plants from seed – Nasturtium, that is. Last year I bought it as a plant. This year, I’m trying the seeds I saved. We’ll see how that goes.
Nasturtium seeds I harvested last fall. Let’s hope they grow!
I bought another alpine strawberry plant today. Planning to go by after work on Friday to plant it and see what’s happening. I know I definitely have to do some sucker removal with the tomato plants. With all the rains I’ve been imagining that the zucchini seeds washed out of their little hill. I know it’s possible because that’s what happened when I first watered after planting them. The recent single digit temperatures has made me concerned about the eggplants because I read online that they really really like the hot weather and don’t tolerate cold very well.
From back, left to right: Borage (planted), crazy sage plant (so much growth!), garlic I planted last fall and neglected (it’s doing pretty well), and one lonely alpine strawberry (not for long!)
My cousin found me some pots that I can use for my fairy gardens (I’m surprised she remembered). Gotta get on that soon.
What herbs should I put in here?
We had the neighbours over and did fireworks on Sunday night. My cousin was disappointed that the firecrackers she’d had for over a year weren’t as spectacular as she had expected. We had a good laugh though and enjoyed other neighbours’ fireworks in the distant. This is what’s left of the bucket my uncle used to light the fireworks.
Can you believe the damage?