Harvest begins!

Ahhhhhh……a moment to sit at my computer!!! Who knew I would miss this? I have to be honest and say that when I started out on the process of writing about gardening, I envisioned all kinds of time to sit…..but, as we all know, life happens. Big time.

So lets talk about summer in Alberta. This year we are lucky: the snow ended in April and by May we had beautifully warm days! June is always temperamental, with warm/cold/rain/cold/warm….and then finally it stays warm. July hits…school is out, family travels, kids arrive for a few days to enjoy the outdoors….and the heat comes…..along with some thunderstorms. And now I am facing August….the last month without frost! Yikes…..September is beautiful here, though, leaves begin to change, and warm days with the ‘smell’ of harvest. I love it! What I don’t love is the impending snow, which can start in October, and we are indoors, planning for next May!!!! That is our summer/fall/spring…..and I love winter, but it truly puts a damper on gardening.

Life: what doesn’t happen when you aren’t looking???? This year has been a tough IMG_3351one. We have lost one brother (in law for me) and now are in the final days of another brother, this one is mine. Neither live close, therefor we travel. My heart is a little heavy. We have just returned from a farewell visit, barring a rather large miracle, which I am open to….today my garden is my therapy.

I harvested some of the herbs prior to our leaving so they are nice and dry…..and now I need to cut more that are ready. The growth is amazing!!!! I have now cut IMG_3304the lemon balm (ready again), oregano, mint, spearmint, lavender (just starting) and will head out to the thyme. I am lucky with the oregano, thyme and lavender. They overwinter beautifully, without additional cover (snow is ample) and year after year we enjoy fresh and dried herbs. The mint also overwinters, but we have having a chat about behavior. It seems to be a tad rebellious this year, wanting to overtake the kids play area, the iris, the day lily…..and I am trying to teach discipline. You can only imagine how well that is going! Sheesh!!! but, I drink a lot of mint tea, so chop chop chop! And a wee bit of digging to try and keep the bugger in check!!!

IMG_3305I purchased a drying rack from Lee Valley. It is actually quite amazing! I have attached it to a main cross beam in my dropped ceiling (these are secured to the floor joists and solid) downstairs, and it is super light weight and airy. Last year, I used newspaper and old towels under a bed……this is so much nicer. And relatively inexpensive! It would not work good for heavier produce, but for herbs, wonderful.

And, as we had just returned home, I spent the day pruning wild tomatoes (no photo, sorry, but now they are good), digging up some potatoes so I could walk past the foliage, and harvesting cucs, zucchini, beans (just starting) peas, and berries!!! We had an awesome meal last evening!

I also had to prune out a lot of broken branches, and flower stalks. Whilst away on family matters, a storm settled into Central Alberta, with hail the size of golf balls and larger! We, thankfully, were on the tail end of that and only got a small amount of the hail. Our neighboring town was a white ground, with broken windows, damaged houses and cars and a mess. I am grateful to have little damage. I did need to do some deadheading on the delphiniums anyway, so now it is done!!

But, I must run…..there are other chores (and they are not really chores to me) that need my attention. Until next time, happy gardening. IMG_3331

Cooking is funner in summer…..

If you are vegan, I apologize for the photo…..I am not, obviously but am aware that many gardeners grow great produce and eat no meat. I love to BBQ, so I manage to consume LOTS of grilled veggies, and also  a portion of meat based protein.

Yesterday was a great harvest day: broccoli, cauliflower, yellow

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zucchini, onions, celery, chard, roesmary, thyme, basil…..these are definitely  days I love….one foil packet filled with veggies, a little canola oil, salt and pepper, and veggies are ready!

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Add to that 2 butterflied  pork loin chops, stuffed with rosemary, thyme, basil, oregsn, onion salt and pepper……my evening meal is complete!

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Delicious!!!! Now I can go and do more in the garden!!

A little heat

While I am reading about rain all over the place, on various blogs from various gardeners, I cannot say we are experiencing the same. We are, at this moment, having a bit of a heat wave! Expected in July, it is still merciless to be out and about in. I have successfully emptied the rain barrels, but I do expect to get enough of a thunderstorm, in the next day or two, to replenish them! I have resorted to watering a bit with the hose from the tap, not something I like to do, but we have had less than enough rain this year, so I will do what is needed. We are enjoying produce everyday, with new surprises showing up!! I am waiting for the potatoes to get just a wee bit bigger, but, I tell you, the first feed…..yum!

Happy, tall delphiniums
Happy, tall delphiniums

The heat is nice, though. Besides an excuse for a nice cold afternoon bevvy, it also has given some serious growth to my delphiniums. Even though these dark blue are ‘Pacific Giant’, I am still amazed at the height of them. It’s hard to capture that on a photo, but I tried to include the arbor to display the height. They are now 7 to 8 feet tall…..Hubby suggested I stand beside them, and show my full 5 feet of height….I declined!!

I get to enjoy the light blue ones each day I am in my office, as I strategically planted them to be seen at window height. Our home is on a hill, with a ‘walk-out’ basement, so the floor on the lower level is at ground height for IMG_3295the back garden. Thus, my 2 office windows face the main part of the yard, and I enjoy from both inside and out. As a garden designer, I always suggest planting away from the house, as well as beside, and to stand at the windows you look to the outside from to locate a good planting site. House side plantings are great for curb appeal but I want ‘Molly’ appeal, so I plant with me in mind! What do I want to see? Flowers! Gardens! Veggies…..you get the picture.

I have some amazing pink and purple delphiniums, but they are a bit slower to bloom, so will post their pics on another day!!!

IMG_3291I also have to show off this little ‘pot lily’. This year, I decided to order a collection of pot lilies for my containers, rather than just purchasing annuals. I order or exchange lilies regularly, as they are one of my favs. 2 are now open, and one I gave to my daughter. It is a pink, and lovely. I will pop these guys into the ground to overwinter, and then re-pot next spring. I am not chancing leaving the bulbs in pots. While they may survive, why risk it? The soil temperature in this part of the country dips to a cool -7 to -10 C, which is cold, but the soil in pots or above ground level will dip with the air temperature, as it is ‘exposed’ to the -20 to -35 C air that surrounds a little pot!! Rule of them; when in doubt about the hardiness of a perennial (for your zone) in a pot, drop it into the ground! Even if the whole pot goes into a hole in the ground, it will be much safer from harsh winter elements. And, no, not all cold is the same…..

Until next time…..happy gardening! Remember to stop and smell the flowers! IMG_3297

Busy but good…..

It’s summer…..and busy. We have ourselves committed to finishing a landscape project for a freind, who works along side of us….thus far we’ve built raised beds, removed sod and added in-ground  beds, removed a brick patio, added rock features, and, tomorrow, we are laying new sod!!!! I still have to install brick mow strips  around the new beds. And Hubby is building stairs to the back alley ( that is 3 feet up a retaining wall), and…..well, we’re almost done!

My friend is a senior, and you would never know it! I love her energy  and enthusiasm. She keeps us all going, let me tell you, in a good way.

Did I mention that this is all volunteer? And that I also work???? Oh, and that we really, really enjoy this!

But, we are definitely  busy!!!! Still, we are also happy, and enjoying our own garden, and outdoor spaces…..

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