Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A Rainy Day Garden Tour…

The rain began yesterday - on and off all day, but enough to finally saturate the soil. It has been so dry! This past week, I've had to break out the hose to water the new successive crops and fall/winter veggies  that I'm trying to establish. Therefore the rain was welcome.

Today, there is only a light drizzle, but it's enough and the veggies seem to have grown overnight. A few photos from my morning harvesting..

So many nasturtiums! They're hard to capture on camera as
the colours are just so electric!

Spicy Globe Basil - I've got it growing in a pot on the deck and
every time I walk by, I have to ruffle the aromatic foliage.

The daylilies are reaching their peak and the
large blooms look especially beautiful with
rain droplets.

More nasturtiums - This one is Cherries Jubilee from Renees
Garden. Such a vibrant pink!

The hyssop has formed a large clump at the end of a garden
bed. The bees just love it!

A pale nasturtium called Buttercream.

These were toppled a few weeks ago in the
Tropical Storm, but the plants have rebounded!

Extra propping after that storm. Note the space under the
A-frame trellis is planted with Ruby Gem lettuce. They
love the summer shade.

Lemon cukes are coming!!

And the mouse melons.. picked and ate the first one today.
Oh yeah! They are a wonderful combo of cucumber
and melon flavour with a hint of lime. 

Baby mouse melons with their blooms still attached.

The pole beans have now begun cropping.

Tomatoes and Lolla Rossa lettuce.

Flowers for the good bugs!

My first Boothy's Blonde cucumbers!

Mousemelon vs Boothy's Blonde cucumber.

Summer squash bloom - 10 inches across!

My Mascotte bush beans are beginning to flower. This
2014 All America Selections winner has compact
growth with the beans held above the foliage for easy

Teddy Bear sunflowers.. the doubled flowers aren't great
for the bees, but they look so pretty I just can't resist growing
this dwarf variety.

A final thought - my high bush blueberries are now 4 years old
and are just laden with berries! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The sun is out and so are the bees!

After four days of rain, drizzle and clouds (much needed, not complaining!), the sun has now come out.. and along with the sun, the bees have returned. The garden is literally buzzing - loudly! What a welcome sound and sight..

Just a reminder how important it is to include bee and pollinator friendly plants in your garden..

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Edible inspiration at the Phipps Conservatory!

I was lucky enough to visit the Phipps Conservatory & Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh last week for a book event.. A heartfelt thank you to the many enthusiastic gardeners who came out to talk food gardening and share the day with me!

I had several opportunities during my visit to wander through the various 19 indoor and outdoor gardens that make up the Phipps Conservatory and snap many (many!) photos. Now that I've finally unpacked and have uploaded my photos, I thought it time for a long overdue blog post on some of the sights of this Pittsburgh treasure.

I arrived on Wednesday afternoon for a quick tour after the gardens had closed for the day. Gabe Tilove, the adult education co-ordinator and my host, guided me through a sampling of the glass houses and gardens. It was a gorgeous summer day with plenty of sunshine and countless bees buzzing from flower to flower.

I then returned early the next morning when the light was soft to snap more photos of the indoor and outdoor spaces as well as the amazing kitchen garden, planted and maintained by Mike, a passionate and knowledgeable gardener. I took photos in most of the 19 gardens and will share more in the coming days but for now, here is a sampling of the wonder of the edible garden.

A corner of the kitchen garden at the Phipps Conservatory.

The cucumber obelisks in the kitchen garden. The
sky blue of the structures melded so well with
the bright orange and yellow nasturtiums
and marigolds. 

More of the funky obelisks, but these ones
are covered with rampant pole beans.

Well hello Swiss Chard! Mike used this
ornamental edible in many spots to add welcome
colour to the garden.

Early morning sun lights up the chard and beets. 

Such an inspiring garden, but most importantly, it is
achievable for the home gardener. Simple, but
attractive wooden raised beds and structures for
growing a wide variety of food plants.

A tomato trellis made from bamboo and mesh.
A closer look at the tomato trellis. 
They also practice succession planting in the kitchen

Sweet alyssum was tucked throughout the garden to
entice pollinators and beneficial insects.

Edible landscaping! Kale and cabbage
was used to edge pathways. 

Another tomato trellis.

I was lucky to wander the garden on Thursday morning
 with Phillip, a botanist at Penn State. He
has an observant eye and noticed the
lacewing larvae (AKA aphid lions) trolling
for aphids on the milkweed. So cool!

Whimsical art and practical structures
meet in the kitchen garden at
More Swiss chard - I LOVE this cheerful variety with
bright gold stems. 

Large scale production beds were tucked in the back corner
 of the kitchen garden.
The building where we had the book event - seriously beautiful!
The front gardens in the early morning light were spectacular
and filled with birds and bees. 

This bench was also placed in the front
garden and surrounded a fountain. The
perfect spot for a morning coffee. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer in my Garden

Can you believe it? Summer has finally arrived! Wahoo! Now that winter and spring are behind us, the harvest season has really picked up and I'm anticipating bushels of beans, tubs of tomatoes and crates of cucumbers.. zoodles of zucchini?? Ok, sorry, that might have been one too many.

It's now evening and the sun is falling towards the horizon. I was just putting around the veggie patch, adding pinches of lettuce seed wherever I spied empty space and I was struck by the beauty of the Red Russian kale that is now in full flower.

Not only are the leaves edible, but so are the flower buds and bright yellow blossoms. If you look closely, you'll see the stems are purple and contrast so nicely against the flowers. Even the seed pods are dusky purple! As well, the plants are rather prolific and although we've been munching on the flower buds and tossing the little blooms in salads, there always seems to be many MANY more flowers - which the bees and beneficial insects appreciate. This morning when I was watering my new seed beds, there were hundreds of bees buzzing around the early summer flowers and bolted veggies - kale, mizuna, pak choi, mustard, catmint, sage, chamomile, chives and more. Heavenly!

Anyway, the light was nice, so I snapped a few photos.. Enjoy!

Every leaf axil produces more flower buds -
yummy! Just like a peppery broccoli.

Here is a maturing seed pod. Once these pods are dried and
the seeds are rattling around inside, I thresh them and
gather ziploc baggies full of the seed. 
Mizuna in bloom.. 

Well hello Indigo Rose tomato.. it's a grafted tomato - my
first grafted tomato ever! These fruits are already 1 1/2 inches across.

Chives anyone?? Please! 

Striking in the evening light. 

A little lettuce.. I've got a 5 by 8 foot bed planted in
salad stripes - 'Peppermint' Swiss chard, 'Ruby Red' lettuce
and this lovely green heirloom lettuce. Photos will
follow soon of the bed..