Monday, March 25, 2013

All of spring's promise...

... and none of summer's reality. It's that crazy wonderful time of year before the snow reveals all that you didn't get done in the fall, before you discovered that you need three times as many carrots and half the pumpkins and before various little tragedies befall your plants.

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Some not quite related pictures to pretty up the post: Pepper babies are up and growing

Ah yes, you may have been in a dream state during the depths of winter while combing through seed catalogues but now it's starting to feel real. The red winged blackbird calls, the maple sap is running and the snow is turning into that slushy, dirty cover called early spring. Soon bulbs and overwintered weeds* will appear in the mud.

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Albino tomatillo seedlings: not long for this world I suspect.

Or maybe you are like me and underneath the excitement is the recollection of last year's problems. Top of the list is Drought 2012 meaning I am keen to hasten the installation of ponds, trenches and other water direction/collection. Second is The Earwig Plague 2012. I hope that the various poultry I purchased last year have cleaned up most of them but just in case I'm going to let them scratch through the mud for a week or so this warm spring before tidying up the paths that the chickens put asunder. There is also the Ecological Chaos of March Summer 2012 when the mercury shot to plus 20 during sugaring. The snow vanished, the sap threatened to go green and the flea beetles emerged early to decimate all the brassicas babies. This was followed by Late Frost 2012 when plums, cherries and friends were wiped clean of fruit over much of the fruit growing regions of Ontario. Apple and pear growers even suffered losses. Heck, this year has the most notable plant death events that I have experienced yet. Much worse than Leek Moth Invasion 2008 or the Cucumber Curse (ongoing).

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Quite obvious IRL, these are my Red Rock Mammoth x San Michel seedlings. On the left are the RRM pod parent seedlings and on the right are the much bigger SM pod parent seedlings. The SM pod seedling show intermediate traits but the RRM show much stronger RRM traits so may not be crossed. Hence the SM babies may be showing hybrid vigour.

Yes, it was a year to remember.

So it is not without some trepidation that I look forward to the growing season. Will the trees on the rocky ledge be alive despite burning up to green crisps in August? Will I be able to eat mustard and kale this year? P.S. I'm building some brassica boxes which are pretty much like you imagine them:  boxes with insect netting to put over flea beetle susceptible plants. Will earwig armies come in the night to eat all the parsnips (etc)? Trapping will commence early this year. I used tuna can traps last year but in order to avoid attracting the darlings (which walk the line between beneficial and pest** by the way), I'll be going with rolled up cardboard.

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Prairie smoke and asters share a tray: natives for infilling the old orchard garden and adding a bit of their natural beauty to the demo gardens.

At the same time, I'm excited to begin a new growing year. I am starting a garden related business (anyone have a drawing program I can borrow for my logo that's better than paint?). My demo gardens are filling in with beautiful, useful plants and I have a huge pile of wood mulch, a hoard of fall leaves, bags of green manure seed and a stack of straw - hurray!

Besides this year is going to be awesome right? I will get soccer ball sized cauliflower, enough tomato sauce to feed the extended family and just enough rain.

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Two varieties of Taraxacum - red leafed and pink flowered - for the dandelion garden and some Mexican Shell flower.

*Ah weeds. Though you could argue that exotic invasives are troublesome enough to spit the curse weed at them, I try to feel wonder for prolific ground covers instead (before smothering, burning, cutting or yanking them out of course. I'm all for good stewardship).

**Pest is unfair too. Sure some bugs annoy me what with their inability to share but mostly I like earwigs. I think the hungry hoards removed every other insect pest from the garden temporarily (the flea beetles preceded them).


In other news, the Edible Ottawa Garden Group's next meeting Gardening small in the Urban Sprawl will be April 10 at 6:30 at the Hazeldean Public Library.

We'll also be holding a pre-meeting meeting at 5:30pm about trying to get the concept of a Seed Library off the ground or any other projects people want to put forward.


Dan Owen said...

Love the photography in this post. I makes me want to get out in the garden, but even down here in SW Missouri, we've been flirting with the freezing mark more often than not. Also, I was surprised that you could grow peppers as far north as you are!!

Templeton said...

Rather than go with a program to design a logo, I would just freehand it on paper, then scan or photograph it, and tidy it up with photoshop or something. Saves lots of time in my experience.

nBoer said...

All that promise of spring!

Just found your Blog and love what you doing and some of the not so usual plants you growing. Envious of your space! Thank you for sharing!

jfk said...

I just found your blog, and isn't funny looking back at the reality of the summer versus our dreams and expectations of having the best crops EVER!!! I'm in Nova Scotia, so I also had the most miserable, wet, cold summer I can recall since we moved here 6 years ago. On the upside, we're still harvesting zucchini (it's covered and it's starting to peter out, but what can I say?) The autumn has been pretty great.

My tomatoes were horrible. Hot peppers (covered) actually ripened on the plant, something I've never experienced before. So, it's all good, yes?