What!!! you say, haven't you been gardening? What's wrong with you?
Well, this year in the garden, has been the year of the rabbit ... specifically, the rabbit we haven't been able to catch.
Go figure, fenced off yard, 2 Shiba Inus patrolling the perimeter most of the day, and yet ... RABBIT BEAN CARNAGE!!!! At least the green and yellow snap bean varieties. They've even been nibbling the pole beans down to little nubbins as soon as they get a couple of sets of leaves on them.
So, I have been tucking in bean seeds all over the place over the past few weeks, hoping that if they're planted in enough places, the rabbits will leave some alone. So far, these Blue Lake pole beans in pots are the only ones to have really thrived, BUT, they are only just starting to flower.
Finally, there is something really satisfying about having jars of dried beans at the ready for the dead of winter!
Oats and beans and barley grow,
Do you or I or anyone know,
How oats and beans and barley grow?
Well these ones grew without pesticides! The oats and barley have grown great guns, but I have had an ongoing war with the rabbit this year, trying to grow beans! Apparently it is smart enough to know that the dogs are inside at night, AND that Kimiko and Eric can't get beyond the fence! Nonetheless, I did get a small harvest of snap beans, to complete the trio for this pic for y'all. Happily, the dried bean varieties seem to be a little more rabbit-proof.
We've had a heat wave here in southwestern BC for the last couple of weeks, and some of the cooler climate crops like lettuce and chard are decidedly unhappy about the state of things,but all of the warm weather crops like the squash and cucumbers are just loving it!
A little while back, I made 3 self-watering containers and filled them all with squash and cucumbers (and one melon!). I am loving these containers! They may not be the most chic looking on the block, but they are highly functional. The raised containers mean the squash roots get nice and warm during the day, and the fact that there is about 8 gallons of water in the bottom means they only need to be filled about once a week. During this heat wave, the plants are needing more water, but even so, a filling every 3 days seems to do the trick!
These are the plants in the containers 2 weeks ago...
I'm really liking the way these turned out, and think I'm going to have to make more of these for next year in the patio! they require little maintenance, a bit of organic fertilizer watered onto them about once a week, and some mulch on top of the soil to keep the moisture in. Couldn't be easier!
Before we left, the weather had cooled down somewhat, so the hot loving crops hadn't really taken off yet. While we were gone, however, things heated up considerably and when we came back, the greenhouse looked like a jungle!
The other thing I have been anxiously a waiting is the first ripe tomato. I signed on to a challenge by food writer Michael Ruhlman to create a BLT from scratch, and have the bacon cured, the lettuce ready in the garden, and am just waiting for the first tomato to ripen before I make the bread and mayo!! I have several heirloom varieties of tomato planted, and so far, its a race between the Japanese Black Trifele, and the Green Zebra.
One of the methods I use to improve the soil here, non-chemically, is to dig in, and topdress with SeaSoil. This stuff is amazing! Highly composted fish and forest fines, that you can add directly to the soil without fear of burning. It has no discernable smell ... to the human nose. Eric, however, can definitely smell something, and knows right away when a fresh dressing of SeaSoil has been put down.
Here is the sad result! This bed had beans and radishes well underway, and two squash plants that had been transplanted and dressed with SeaSoil. Within 1 hour, he had hopped right in and had a merry time digging around. Notice hes looking slightly guild-ridden!
If you are familiar, these are a heritage variety that around the turn of the century, used to arrive in New York, Chicago and Boston, with great fanfare. They were noted as being extremely delicious, and people shelled out princely sums for a mere slice! The area they grew in in Montreal has since been developed, and the seed was thought to be lost until recently.
Now we here on the West Coast do not have weather that is normally considered conducive to melons. We get cool breezes off the water, that dip our nighttime temperatures a little too low for supreme melon happiness. Nonetheless, I was smitten, I was going to grow the Montreal Market melon!
Despite a rocky start to the season, I ended up with 3 starts, one of which I put in the greenhouse, one in one of the self-watering containers I made. I gave away the last one to a
Quick video update on how the barley and oats are doing...and picking a small head of broccoli for dinner while I'm out there! Don't mind the odd hole in the broccoli leaves. I've been a bit lax about picking off the cabbage moth caterpillars in the last week!
Well, weather being what is has this year (first too cold and wet, then too hot!), seems to have really confused some of the veg, BUT the peas have just had an explosive growth spurt, and the Russian Sugar have surpassed everything, I tucked in plants all over the garden, and to be honest, had forgotten some of them until they started flowering!
You can see the comparison here, on the backside of the greenhouse -- Russian Sugar on the right, and regular snow peas on the left. Planted at the same time, in the same soil mix, approx the same maturation dates, yet I have been harvesting from the Russian Sugar for about a week now, with lots still to come.
...Self-watering containers to the rescue!
these instructions). I had a couple of these bins in the crawl space, and got a couple more on sale at our local home store. The plans I used take 2 bins for each container, one of which is cut off short to create a separation between the water on the bottom, and the roots of the plant (held a little bit above the level of the water for aeration). The black tube is the filler, and with this size container, they only need to be filled about once per week. They get nice and warm in the sun, which the squash, melons and cucumbers will love. The other step I haven't done yet is to put some mulch down on the top to prevent water evaporating. These would also be great for growing on a patio or balcony. They do get heavy though, so make sure you decide where you want them before you fill with soil and water!
These bins are UV treated, so should last a few years provided they come in during the winter. The pipe I used is ABS tubing like you use in your home plumbing (Don't use PVC as it leaches nasty stuff into the water).
Even the leftover bin tops will go to good use. With the inner portion of the lid cut out, and filled with greenhouse plastic, they will make great mobile cold-frames I can put on smaller portions of the garden when it starts to get chilly.
... oh, and the other benefit? pill bugs can't climb that high!
Here's the after: