Tag Archives: pollinators

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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Hot and humid

It’s been really humid this summer. I’m noticing that plants such as the borage and tomatoes that were so chipper and upstanding last year are looking limp and sad. It thunderstormed yesterday afternoon, bringing much needed rain. As a fellow gardener said to his friend: “If I don’t water, it won’t rain.” I watered in the morning as well and as I watched the downpour I worried that my plants might have gotten too much water. But I’m looking forward to seeing the results of the rain. You can water as much as you want, but it’s only after the rains that plants really flourish. It must be the nutrients in the rain. I don’t have much nutrient-rich kelp meal left,  so I’ve been saving it for when I plant the fall crops.
While at the garden, I picked the first zucchini of the season.  It was small, about 7 inches long, but firm with very few blemishes. My family enjoyed it raw in a bean salad. Very nice.

First zucchini of the season!

There are a lot of male flowers  on my zucchini plants (the female flowers are at the end of the zucchini). I picked two, one of which was housing about 6 earwigs (I shook the flower and they fell out). I’ve been reading online that you can batter, stuff, and fry them up and that they taste divine. I might just try it or a less labour-intensive baked version.

A male zucchini flower ready for harvest, with some young zucchini in the background

Gardening is definitely giving me an appreciation and  a comfort level around bugs. I used to be really creeped out by earwigs, in particular, when I was younger. I can say this year they don’t bother me so much.

Earwigs hiding in basil leaves

I managed to photograph the very beautiful cucumber beetle exploring a cucumber flower. I’ve had a hard time killing these little buggers, they fly away so quickly. I’ve been a bit obsessed with trying to photograph as well as kill them. I’m  glad none of them have managed to damage my zucchini. I’ve read online that you can plant radishes near cucumbers to repel the beetle so I planted some Hon Vit radish from my Spicy Salad Mix package. You can also lay down onion skins. I don’t know how effective these interventions are so we’ll see what happens. Apparently the Marketmore cucumber I planted are disease resistant. I guess that’s not the same as pest resistant.

Cucumber beetle explores cucumber flower

Incidentally I’ve been wondering when I will start seeing cucumbers. Turns out they can take anywhere from 55 to 70 days, which I had forgotten. This is length of time is disappointing, but reassuring that my lack of fruit at this stage is perfectly normal. I think I planted around the beginning of June so I should see fruit around the beginning of September.

I’ve been quite lax with picking off the suckers of my tomato plants. Some of them have already turned into long branches with flowers so I picked off the ones without flowers. I’ve noticed on one plant that the bottoms leaves are spreading out across the ground.  I remember reading somewhere that you should remove the leaves close to the ground but I can’t remember why. Many of the forums I’ve looked at today say that removing the bottom leaves increases fruit yields, that they should be removed if they are yellow, and that because they are close to the ground they could pick up diseases. The leaves near the ground on my plants are green and show no sign of disease. Some forum posts gave logical arguments against removing leaves, stating that leaves are required for  photosynthesis and that we don’t go around pulling leaves off of other healthy plants so why do it to tomatoes. I think I’ll just watch and see what happens. It does seem like I have less tomatoes than I did last year, but maybe it’s still early.

A sucker

I planted some dill and parsley. I was happy to see that the collard greens I had planted either last week or the week before are starting to come up but upset to see that leafminers have already begun attacking them!

Leafminer damage already!

I had to tie up my borage plant with twine. It was falling onto one of the tomato plants and keeping the parsley that is already growing from getting any sun.  One branch was actually breaking off but I thought if I tied it up it might heal itself. Many of the flowers are not open yet, but the few that are open are being visited frequently by pollinators. Good stuff.

Pollinator at work

I harvested mostly basil today, with some nasturium leaves, borage flowers, a beet, and the zucchini.

Harvest July 15th

A lovely beet

My brother told me the blogger for our community gardens wants to feature our plot in an upcoming blog post. Exciting! We’ll see if it comes to pass. I think what stands out in my plot are the flowers. One might think they are a waste of good growing space (especially my 3 squares of sunflowers), but they are essential for attracting pollinators. And they look so pretty!

Garden July 15th

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