Tag Archives: Garden

Eggplants extrodinaire

eggplant

The eggplants flourished in the greenhouse this year.  We had the pleasure of picking about two dozen of these firm purple gems.  The eggplant is an interesting vegetable to grow as they start as exotic looking purple flowers growing on tropical looking plants.  Then they develop into these extraordinarily beautiful vegetables.  They have such rich purple colour  – something not often seen in nature.  I held this eggplant up for a photograph and the shiny exterior reflected the clouds in the sky.  The true satisfaction of a backyard gardener.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Garden, Joy

The melons are coming…

IMG_8890

There are five melons hanging on the vines in my greenhouse!  In two weeks they went from being walnut size to baseball size.  They all look healthy and strong dangling without any support on the vine.  The melons are coming!

There is actually a sneaky sixth melon on the shelf behind the pots.  It is the largest of them all.  It is growing on a piece of vine that grew out down instead of up.  Six melons are coming!

I am thrilled with the cantaloupes this year.  They are substantial gardening prizes for all my efforts to date.  The golden globes of the greenhouse!

1 Comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Garden, Joy

Melons of the North

cantaloupe picture

Settling in to the greenhouse

Gardening is about challenges.  The elusive cantaloupe melon is one of my annual challenges.  For someone who does not naturally have a green thumb, the ability to grow things in a greenhouse with an irrigation system is my only hope.  Last year I planted some Charantaise melon seeds I had received for Christmas.   These are a small french heirloom melon.  The plant was amazing. It grew so much I felt like it was in a Stephen King novel and the vine was going to take over the greenhouse.  Ever weekend when I came up to the cabin I had to go at the plant with my secateurs to keep it somewhat contained and hopefully focused on fruit development.  I managed to get one small fruit which we ate with sheer delight.

This year, like my eggplants, I started these plants earlier and on a heating mat to try to fool the little seedlings into believing that we were somewhere in the tropics.  The plants were then moved into the greenhouse when the risk of frost had passed.  This year I planted Westcoast seed’s Halona Cantaloupe seeds.  By the time I transplanted them they looked a little gangly and sickly, but in the warmth of the greenhouse they have become lush and full of yellow flowers.

There are two confirmed small melon sightings and many small possible future fuzzy melons so we shall see how the next two months of summer go for these plants.

The secret to growing melons in the north is to grow them in a greenhouse and trick them into thinking that they are living down south.

cantaloupe 2

The Queen of the South

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Garden

Year of the Eggplant

 

DSC_0966

And so it begins…fingers crossed we get eggplants.

Last year was our first year of gardening in our greenhouse.  We focused on tomatoes – and boy did we grow tomato plants!  They were the giants of our greenhouse.  We did however, also experiment with peppers, herbs, cantaloupe and eggplant.  The eggplant last year was an interesting success.  Though they never produced a single eggplant, the small little seedlings we had started on April 6 (Westcoast Seeds: Ping Tung Long)  –  were potted in the Greenhouse on June 3.  They bounced back into huge lush plants.  Purple flowers taunted us – but no eggplant.

last eggplant

End of the Season

This year we have declared the “year of the eggplant.”  With the conservative goal of growing one actual eggplant – we shall see how it goes.  With the experience from last year we made a few changes.  We started the seeds earlier on March 17, on warming pads under a grow light – we also selected an eggplant seed (Westcoast Seeds: Traviata) that is better for a short growing season like Alberta.

grow mat

Eggplants and Cantaloupes on heat pad

Two weeks ago the seedlings were potted in larger pots in the Greenhouse on May 28 and now we wait and see if they can do their magic.

Within a week we saw growth and after two weeks there were clear buds developing.

With the irrigation system providing a twice daily drip, and the miracle grow vegetable fertilizer on the soil, here’s hoping that we have a prosperous year of the eggplant.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Farm, Garden, Joy

The Greenhouse Experiment Report

IMG_5417

Nearing the end of a successful first season

This year we set up a greenhouse at our cabin as we were not having the best luck out in the garden.  It was either too dry or too wet – and our season is short – so we wanted to try the idea of a somewhat controlled atmosphere with some increased warmth.

Except my basil plant which I bought at a local hardware store as a small seedling, everything in the greenhouse was grown from seeds.  I started them back at home in front of a sunny south-facing window.  When it was time to plant them – I planted a lot.  I still had a few extra tomato plants and pepper plants so I popped them into the garden.  I gave them the same luscious compost rich soil but I will admit I didn’t give them much more attention than that.  On weekends I would water them but they were not the benefactors of our irrigation system in the greenhouse.  In essence they became my control subjects.  What is the difference if a plant is grown in the warmth of a greenhouse with a twice daily drip irrigation system?

IMG_1589

The control subject (tomato) in the garden by the porch is relatively healthy and has some tomatoes forming

IMG_2757

Control subjects (peppers) growing above sceptic tank with onions -show minimal signs of growth

In comparison to the control subjects, the plants that were placed in the greenhouse have for the most part flourished.  Some tomato plants are over 8 feet tall and they are heavy with ripening tomatoes.  The pepper plants have all done fairly well with all of the plants generating peppers and more still to come.

IMG_8294 2

In the greenhouse the tomatoes are like a jungle

IMG_7155

The pepper plants are healthy and producing a delicious variety of peppers

IMG_7819

The harvesting begins

Overall the greenhouse experiment has been exceptional and exciting.  A verifiable success.  A controlled environment of good soil, some fertilizer, regular drip irrigation, protection from wind,  and most importantly the lovely warmth (approximately 38c most days).

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Garden, Joy

Sweet little berries

IMG_5200

Purple fingers!

This year we have a healthy harvest of Saskatoon berries.  We have spent a few hours each of the past weekends gently shaking loose the ripe berries into metal bowls.  The berries are so plump and juicy.  We have a few bushes by our vegetable garden but there are also little secret hidden bushes down in the woods by the pond.

We have been giving away the berries to friends who are ambitious and want to make fresh pies and other baked goods.  We tucked away a big bag in the freezer for future muffins and waffles.  A sweet little burst of fresh berry flavour brings simple recipes to life.

IMG_5885 copy

A perfect moment

The best gift of berries that I gave – was to a wonderful friend who not only helped me pick the berries but she sorted and cleaned them – and then best yet she turned them into a delicious Saskatoon crumble that I ate for breakfast (with a fresh coffee and the paper!) Oh yes.  Sweet little berries.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Garden, Joy

The Golden Era of Hay

IMG_5046

Golden hour in the hayfield

The golden hour just before the sun sets is a magical time in the country.  The sky to the east is a subdued version of the sunset to the west.  The light is a warm glow.  When the hay is growing the sun catches the tips of the hay, and if there is a slight breeze to cause them to sway like waves – it is a sight to see.  I also save a little piece of my heart for round hay bales.  I love how they sit out in the fields silently waiting to be collected and taken to feed livestock.  There is also something almost architectural about hay bales.  I don’t really want to know exactly how they are made as I prefer to just see them as little mysterious hay rolls.  During the golden hour they are organic monuments to farming in the golden age.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Joy

Promises to Keep

IMG_4966

Beauty fills the moment

Some times after a week of trying to fit too much into every minute of every day – I am out in the country and a moment will just make me pause.  The beauty in the moment forces me to take it in.  Pause. Focus. Breathe. Exhale.  repeat.

I captured this moment by the back gate.  It was one of those stunning Alberta skies filled with the colours of Easter eggs. The moon was unexpected, bright and lit up the darkening clouds.  I was smitten by the deep rich green tones of the grass.  My eyes were drawn to the rhythmic lines of the brown fence.  As I stood and took this photo I promised myself to remember to grab these moments.  Pause. Breathe. “Keep your promises,” I whispered to myself.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Joy

A Month in the Greenhouse

IMG_5123

Everyone continues to grow

The plants have all been in the greenhouse for one month now.  Many seeds were started three months ago and it is hard to believe how far these plants have come in that period of time.  Most of the tomato plants have been moved down to the floor now to give them room to grow up toward the top of the greenhouse.  I have pruned the plants to keep them focused on growing the main stem.  Most have the telltale yellow flowers and a few have small tomatoes starting.

IMG_2105

Might have peppers, eggplants and melons after all

My plants that were all so small I wasn’t sure they would make it have started to show real progress.  For the first time I think it is possible that I might actually harvest some peppers, melons and eggplants.  All were so small that they would have been dwarfed by large pots so I chose to grow them in the smaller peat pots.  It is exciting now to see the melons reaching up the twine and starting to form yellow flowers.

The real early producers have been my cucumber plants.  Outside of the greenhouse these failed in my garden the past two years of attempts so this is particularly exciting for me.  In the greenhouse these plants are easily reaching up the twine to start to grow along the wires.

IMG_7697

Socrates cucumbers are the early stars of the greenhouse

My little cucumbers are developing and will soon find themselves on my plate! One month in the greenhouse and I am still excited with our success.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Garden

Jute String Theory

IMG_4841

The String Experiment

After adding yet another five tomato plants to the greenhouse – we moved them around and reset up the irrigation system to handle the additional plants.  The indeterminate tomatoes in large pots were moved to the ground so they have the most space to grow vertically.  Vertical is the theme of the greenhouse.  After watching a number of YouTube videos of other greenhouse enthusiasts I decided to give the string theory a try.  We placed three wires across the greenhouse.  Two along the sides and one in the centre.  Then for all the plants that need support and will grow up a string (cucumbers, melons, and tomatoes) we attached jute strings that either connect with the wires or wrap directly above on the rafters.

 

The cucumbers seem quite happy to have the support of the string and the space to stretch out.  The melons aren’t all large enough to even reach the string but in time hopefully they too will grasp the jute and head upward.

IMG_8257

Happy Yellow Flowers

The tomatoes will apparently need coaxing to use the string.  I almost feel like I can watch the tomatoes grow in the greenhouse.  They have been very happy with the heat and the drip irrigation system.  The top of the soil looks dry but the water has been flowing out the bottom of the pots when watered.  The plants all look so healthy and happy so I am presuming that the roots are having to find the water deep in the pots which is making them that much healthier.  They seem to all be standing a little bit taller with the string supports.

Happy healthy plants make for a happy healthy gardener.  Another little experiment I am trying is to place milk jugs full of water in the greenhouse on the north side.  The theory is that they heat up during the day and release that heat at night which will help keep the ambient temperature a bit warmer on our cool Alberta evenings.  Though I read that I should paint them black – I went with motivational statements instead which make me happy regardless of whether or not they are doing their job.

IMG_5763

Gardening is a series of learning moments.  This jute string theory is yet another opportunity for me to grow.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabin, Farm, Garden, Joy