The first half of the year has been rough: a change in job role and a shitty time-consuming course left me with barely enough mental capacity to plan my garden. I did start seeds but many died; those that did survive (peppers) look like they’re a few weeks rather than a few months old (I don’t have great lighting).
We had a really long winter that suddenly changed to summer temperatures without much of a spring. This week we’re having a cool snap of spring weather. It’s hard to know what to expect next. Should I plant for spring? Summer?
Thankfully, some perennial and self-seeding annuals have sprung up so my plot doesn’t look as bare as it would have had they not decided to make an appearance. The straw helps too.
I planted the onions and garlic. I was surprised to see the red dandelion and chives. Happy to see the lavender and strawberries surviving and thriving. Calendula is welcome but I don’t need as much as I have.
Unfortunately the ants have returned this year. I’ll have to try more vinegar on their nests. I’m at an organic community garden so I have to be careful with what I use for pest control.
I planted about 3 weeks ago and things aren’t looking too bad at all.
I like the way the onions, chives and strawberries look together. Excited to see alpine strawberries blossoming and some early fruit!
Although due to the scorching temperatures, the chives and dandelion have bolted.
I’m pretty sure I’ve only ever planted garlic chives which have white flowers, so I’m surprised to see these purple flowers, which indicate regular chives.
My lavender grew substantially (quadrupled?!) since I planted it last year. I just love it!
I love how the lavender regenerates around the dead branches
I was kicking myself for not getting an earlier start but seeing how things are progressing with very little effort (at this point) is giving me renewed energy for the season ahead.
Chives blossom about to bloom
Harvested garlic the evening after I harvested most of my onions. Good thing too, it rained the next morning. Stop watering about a week before you harvest to prevent rot (a tough thing to manage when it’s unusually rainy but luckily we were in the midst of a dry spell).
Garlic was one of the first things to show up this spring. Plant the cloves in the fall before the ground freezes and they come up next season.
Garlic – centre, back; volunteer calendula – left
The stalks were so big this year, I was expecting large bulbs. I’ve heard that if you plant bigger cloves, you get bigger bulbs. I always buy organic which I find guarantees larger cloves than the ones from China.
It’s especially exciting when the scapes make an appearance. Harvest them once they start to curl for their garlicky goodness; when they stay on the stalk too long, they get tough and lose their flavour. Harvesting them ensures that the plant’s energy goes into forming the bulb rather than the flower that blooms at the end of the scape.
I love how they look when they start to curl. They add interest to the garden
Scapes are very pungent. You can use them the way you use garlic. Many people make pesto with them. I use them in salads for a nice garlicky bite.
I was surprised that they were ready. I recall harvesting them in August, usually late August. Perhaps the rainy weather helped them mature earlier; no idea.
I’ve read that you can harvest them with the bottom 1/3 to half of the leaves turn brown.
Garlic is another no-stress veggie. Like onions, it’s a natural pest repellent and has very few problems with disease. Definitely worth the effort.
My aunt doesn’t usually listen when I talk companion planting, but apparently she was listening when I quoted Lois Riotte‘s iconic companion planting book of the same name: roses love garlic. It shouldn’t have been such a surprise. Flowers are her thing, while veggies are mine.
On my last visit in June, she excited told me of how she’d planted a cloves of garlic from the grocery store with her roses and then proceeded to show me where she put them:
Garlic in the balcony planter
And the hanging basket! Makes a nice accent.
It’s hard to see here but it’s a tiny sliver of green in the center of the photo, coming up from the soil
The garlic doesn’t seem to be keeping the red lily beetles from devouring the lily leaves to the left, but the flowers in general seem to be doing well.
We’re hoping the giant bush in the center is marigold that I planted from seed.
Incidentally, I knew nothing about the red lily beetle until I started writing this post. The beetle is a beautiful, rich red colour. I’d seen it a few times on the leaves and last weekend when I visited I let one walk across my fingers. I didn’t realize how much damage they do. The organic way of dealing with them seems to be to manually remove, squish and drown or use diatomaceous earth. More on organic control:
Fighting lily leaf beetles organically
City of Calgary Pest Management