Summer Update In The Garden

We had a bit of a cool start here in Alberta – lots of rain, temperatures that did not seem to want to go up. Usually I plant out the beans at the very beginning of May, but this year even that was delayed by a few weeks.

As I write this now, we’re in the middle of an extreme heat warning issued by the weather service, but mercifully, that should only last a few days. Mostly, the weather has been excellent, especially for the tomatoes, and after planting on Victoria Day long weekend, they shot up and I have many plants now already forming very lovely and healthy looking fruit.

Of course with the cool wet spring, that brought weeds. TONS of weeds, so I’ve been battling the chickweed most of the summer thus far, just trying to keep it under control.

Tomato ‘El Nano’ – July 1, 2017

I’ve had some problems with both my ‘Green Limelight’ and ‘Sunset Runner’ beans germinating – not a single plant came up. I suspected squirrels or magpies at the beginning, but after resowing and then protecting, still nothing came up. Sometimes gardening is like that – very rarely does everything work out exactly like you had planned.

The first tomato to start flowering and setting fruit this year was ‘El Nano’, which surprised me quite a bit. I was fully expecting ‘Silvery Fir Tree’ to be the first. This variety did quite well for me on the west coast, so I was a little unsure as to how it would fair in a drier, hotter, and shorter climate. Turns out my worries were for nothing because it’s doing even better than it did for me before.

Slocan Snow Peas, flowering – July 1, 2017

Slocan Snow Peas are doing quite well for me as well, which isn’t so much a surprise because my mom had grown them in the area before and I knew they had done well for her. Within a week they had shot up, started flowering, and now producing delicious, lovely fresh snap peas (which we’ve already been snacking on). I’ll be sending a healthy amount of these seeds to the Seeds of Diversity seed library. They need a rather large helping to help ensure they’re preserved and quantity is made available to more people, and if past years are any indication, I should have a good amount come harvest time to send them.

Slocan Snow Peas, setting fruit – July 7, 2017

The next few weeks should prove to be very active in the garden – the beans are on the verge of flowering & fruiting and more and more tomatoes are setting fruit. This is the best time in the garden – I don’t have to fear the oncoming frost, but harvest is just around the corner. Stay tuned for more updates coming along in the following weeks.

Also stay tuned for the newest seeds for distribution to be released this year. I’m running a bit late – spring and the beginning of summer proved to be quite busy, but they’re coming soon, and it’ll be announced on the mailing list when that list goes live – you can be the first to know by joining using the form to your left.

Mid-Season Update

It’s been a while, but the garden has been growing like mad! After a pretty severe bump early in the spring – everything almost got burned back to the stems because we had no moisture and incredibly high heat for May in my neck of the woods – everything is humming along beautifully now! It was seriously at the point where I wasn’t sure if I would have a garden this year, and while everything is a little late because of said burning, most of the plants have bounced back beautifully. There’s lots to do every week, and as August comes on I’m just hoping for a late frost this year to really give everything time to grow and ripen.

Seriously, I had a dream about it snowing the other night, so this is obviously on my mind!

Without further ado, here’s a few snapshots of the plants this year taken between one and four weeks ago.

State of the Garden – August

It sure feels like autumn’s coming up, and I’ve even spotted some leaves starting to change. I’m not overly thrilled about that, but I am sure thrilled with the tomatoes and how amazingly well they’ve been doing this year. I’ve had the best tomato harvests and plants I’ve ever grown, and the weather has been perfect for them. It’s been a banner year, and I’ll be sad to see it go, but at the same time it makes me really excited for next year.

Yesterday I harvested about 9kg. It’s probably my biggest haul in one day, but as of right now (including yesterday) I’ve harvested 20.65 kg. And that’s not even half of what’s on the vines – I won’t be surprised if I get 100lbs easy.

I’m going to have so many seeds to share this year, I’m ecstatic! I’ve already started the seed saving, which has had to be moved to the garage, because I don’t have enough room in the house for all the cups anymore.

I’ve also been slowly updating the database – mostly with photos right now, but specific growth information is slowly going up as well.

What a great year, I’m over the moon.

This year I got two sports that don’t show the characteristics of what they’re supposed to be:
30-kimsport-smKimberley Sport – small rugose leaf (rather than potato), grows only about 1ft so it’s a dwarf. Determinate. Shiny skin with lobed fruit, no characteristics of either Tiny Tim or Siberian (Kimberley’s parent plants).

19-marysaustrian-smMary’s Austrian Sport – large 5ft indeterminate plant, produces grape shaped pink jewel toned fruit. Nice flavour, nothing like the roma-type this is supposed to be. I contacted the seed seller who received the seeds from the family, and she’s never grown a tomato like it (so it’s not cross contamination), and she confirmed it was nothing like what Mary’s Austrian is. So this one is officially a natural cross that I’ll be regrowing and stabilizing because it’s wonderful.

I’ve also got some freak tomatoes this year, which is always fun:

The first photo is Tomato ‘Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi’ with a hole that’s grown into it (doughnut tomato!), the second is some dirty ‘Stupice’ (because I’m immature and it made me giggle).

And here’s some more tomato eye candy for you, these varieties (and many others) will all be offered in varying quantities.

Top L-R: ‘Fargo Yellow Pear’, ‘Kootenai’, ‘Chocolate Stripes’, ‘Perestroika’
Bottom L-R: ‘Purple Prince’, ‘Green Zebra’, ‘Tangerine’

State of the Garden – July

I’m not going to lie, when I moved here I was absolutely petrified about how my garden would turn out. The past few years here in Edmonton, I’ve heard, have not proven to be good for tomatoes, and with my 40-or-so varieties that needed growing out for the seed bank this year, I really needed a banner year.

So far, my fears have proven completely unfounded, and even my husband, whose interest in my garden only extends to “what can I eat?”, has noticed how amazingly the plants are doing.

Sure, the season started a bit late this year, but the hard work I put into transforming that 300 sq ft patch of sod, has proven to really pay back in what is going to be an amazing harvest.

With sunny, high-twenties days, and then some rainfall at night, has proven to be a boon for the tomato gardens, and they’ve just been going crazy.

The clay/sand soil I was so upset with initially (on the coast it’s a curse), has proven to be a gift here in the very dry prairies, retaining moisture well without proving to get too heavy. Which the tomatoes are loving.

If crazy hail storms can stay away, and we don’t get an early frost, this is really going to be an amazing year. I think the harvests are going to be better than I ever had on the west coast, even accounting for the difference in season lengths.

All the tomatoes now have blossoms bagged, and many are setting fruit. I’m really excited for the amount of varieties I’ll be able to offer this year through the bank.

For now, here’s a few photos from the gardens.

Row 1 (L-R): Zapotec Pink Pleated, Stupice, Sibirskiy Velikan Rozovyi
Row 2 (L-R): Ireland Creek Annie, Tomato Jungle, Fargo Yellow Pear

Seed Saving Workshop Announced!

I’m pleased to say that I’ll be hosting a beginner level seed saving workshop, hosted by the Richfield community garden in Edmonton, Ab! There’ll be lots of information and hand outs provided to those who come, and lots of questions answered. I’ll be going over the most common (and maybe a few uncommon) edible plants to save seeds from, along with demonstrations.

The topics will include:

  • Specifics of saving seeds for different edible plants
  • The difference between heirloom, open pollinated, and hybrid plants
  • Modes of pollination, and how it affects your seed saving
  • How to store your seeds for the short term and long term
  • …plus any questions people may have!

Location: Richfield Community Garden (pipeline right-of-way at 86 St & 36A Ave)*
Cost: $5 requested donation, 100% of proceeds going to the Richfield Community Garden
Date: July 27th, 2-3pm.
*In the case of inclimate weather, the workshop will be located indoors at 19 Keegano NW, the Keegano Housing Co-Op community hall.

Please RSVP to k (at) populuxe (dot) ca if you wish to attend

Hope to see you there!

Thanks to Sustainable Food Edmonton and the Richfield Community Garden for support.