gabriola garden

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Tiny Tree has Transplant Shock, Roses, Campanulas Bloom

Between the Delphiniums and the Campanulas, Sara’s garden is ablaze in blue. These usually tall spires of clustered blooms are even taller this year than last. We had to stake some of them with thin bamboo sticks. But the overall effect on the garden is one of magnificence.

Sara is growing different types of Campanulas this season. There’s the Campanula Peachleaf Bellflower, Campanula latifolia, Pritchard’s Variety, and Campanula Chettle Charm Bellflower.

The official Latin name of Peachleaf Bellflower is Campanula persicifolia blue form. It’s light lavender bell-shaped blooms are of the heirloom variety. Although the average height of this plant is listed as two to three feet, ours are more in the four to five foot range.

It likes average to moist soil (I guess it thrived on all the rain we’ve been getting), but it must be well drained. Its spread is 12 to 18 inches. It is one of the most popular of perennials, having graced cottage gardens for hundreds of years.

The Campanula latifolia is more purple than lavender, but it’s also meant to grow up to three feet. Ours is way beyond that height, attesting to the efficacy of our basic ferts, Iguana Juice Grow and Bloom, as well as all the supplements and additives we mix into our nutrient solution.

Plant this perennial in full sun or partial shade, and since it loves to grow near ponds it must like moisture. The English name of this flower is Great Bellflower, “Brantwood.”

The Chettle Charm Bellflower is also a Campanula persificolia variety. It has spikes of bell-shaped flowers, mostly white in color, with violet-blue around the edges. This is a new Peachleaf Bellflower that was recently introduced into North America by a British grower.

Hardy to USDA Zones 2-9. This one is true to its published height, around three feet at present. If Sara removes the faded flower heads at the end of July, she might be able to extend the blooming time of this perennial.

Campanula lactiflora Pritchard’s Variety likes sun or partial shade, but the soil must be well-drained. It needs to be watered well until it’s established and then you can cut back on the watering. It provides an explosion of small, bell-shaped lavender flowers that bloom from early to late summer.

Sara is very proud of her two types of Delphiniums. They’re growing especially tall, as well. The Magic Fountains Delphiniums (Delphinium x cultorum) is supposed to be a dwarf variety, but you could have fooled me. Instead of the two and a half feet mentioned on the label, ours is up to four feet and growing. And the flowers are towering and superb.

The New Millenium Delphinium is supposed to grow tall, from four to six feet, and definitely requires staking. It’s one of Sara’s favorites, since it was selected in New Zealand. On its stately spires grow flowers of deep sapphire to navy blue.

The Woodfield Hybrid Lupine was listed as among the top 10 varieties for 2006. It requires rich soil, slightly on the acidic side. It grows to around three or four feet, and produces distinct spires of multi-hued blooms. This plant already bloomed once this year and is now in its second flowering.

When you use Advanced Nutrients products, your garden outperforms those of your neighbors. We have people constantly asking how we got our blooms so big and how come theirs are so small. “100% organic nutrients,” we reply, “from a company that cares about living plants, by making them the best possible nourishment to guarantee beautiful flowers and large, robust vegetables.”

Advanced Nutrients makes Organic B, which is designed to reduce plant stress. They also make Colossal Bud Blast, a foliar spray that increases the size of your buds and flowers. Grandma Enggy’s Seaweed Extract contains natural hormones that help with food distribution throughout the plant, cell division, and root formation.

Hedgehog’s Roses are producing award-winning blooms, one after another. The Gentle Giant Rose is pink, with yellow highlights. All Ablaze is a deep-red climbing Rose. Cecile Brunner is a delicate, pink-colored Rose, which carries the nickname “The Sweetheart Rose.”
First hybridized in 1881, this Antique Rose will bloom from mid-spring, until frost. Ours took a bit to be established, but given the healthy diet of our nutrient mix, it is perky and we expect many more buds and blooms this year.
It usually stays a compact bush, while the flowers resemble Hybrid Teas in form and are lightly fragrant. Cecile Brunner is a very tolerant Rose. It can grow equally well in poor soil or in partial shade.
This weekend we’ll spray all our Roses once more with Scorpion Juice, in order to maintain the induced systemic resistance that this very effective product imparts to our plants. Whether they’re threatened by fungi, bacteria, or a viral infection, the salicylic acid in Scorpion Juice helps to restore full immunity to our plants, much like a flu shot.
Sara took the kids for a hike last weekend, and they found a tiny spruce growing by the side of the road. Hedgehog was worried that someone would step on it, so they dug it up and bought it home.
They didn’t know that it was a spruce, all they knew that it was an evergreen. When they got home, Sara planted it into a clay pot filled with rich soil. Ironically, the evergreen is suffering from transplant shock and it’s turning yellow.
Hedgehog is worried that it will die So I went to the garden shop and bought some Advanced Nutrients Revive. I’ve used this product before and it truly works miracles. If you have a plant that is stressed out and needs to be rejuvenated, don’t forget to get Revive.
Revive contains Calcium, Magnesium, and Nitrogen, along with Zinc and Iron Chelates. Stress also happens as a result of nutrient deficiency. Sara mentioned that the road where they picked up the sapling was pretty dry and had poor soil.
Evergreens propagate themselves by dropping their cones full of seeds. The seeds have little wings attached to them, so once they fall out of the cone, they can get blown every which way by the wind.

Nutrient deficiency is sometimes called the “yellow plant syndrome.” We pray that with the infusion of the macro and micro nutrients in Revive, Hedgehog’s little spruce tree will come back to being an evergreen.
I looked it up in a book about “Trees,” and I believe it is a Brewer Spruce, which is native to Northern California and Southern Oregon. It is not inconceivable that it has made it this far North, either as a Christmas tree or by way of cones or seeds transported by whatever means.

posted by Tim at 2:58 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Nasturtiums Take Over Hedgehog's Barrel

We grow Tiger Lily and Malva in containers on the back stairs, along with some other flowers and plants. Finally, it’s starting to feel like summer here on Gabriola, so more and more blooms are opening to absorb the life giving light and warmth.

The Sun Flare Rose is continuing to grace us with new blooms, while the Sweet William provides the pinkish purple cluster of blooms that characterize this lovely plant. Our vegetables continue to grow, with a whole row of Sweet Peas making their appearance against the back fence.

The oddest behavior of all our plants seems to have fallen on the prolific Nasturtium. Hedgehog grew quite a few of these annual plants from seed in jiffy pots, and Sara helped her plant them in Hedgehog’s chosen barrel, alongside some store-bought flowers.

Well, the Nasturtium has taken off like gangbusters, not just in the barrel, but a few of them spilled over into our window boxes. Since then, Sara has been told that Nasturtiums actually prefer to grow in poor, but well drained soil.

I also found out that they don’t like to be fertilized. So Sara’s rich, black, humus-like soil, coupled with her frequent applications of Iguana Juice, has spurred this edible plant to multiply like rabbits.

“Did you give it Grow or Bloom?” I asked. “Well, I gave it Iguana Juice Grow for the first application in the barrel and the window boxes, but then I switched to Bloom, since most everything else was already blooming,” was her answer.

Well, obviously the poor plant gobbled up the Nitrogen in Grow and started to grow foliage like crazy. Sara says she has never seen the circular leaves of this plant so big. Unfortunately, all this vegetative growth will be at the expense of flower production.

Hedgehog is not too upset, ever since Sara told her that we can just pick off the leaves at any time and throw them into a salad. In fact, the flowers of this plant are also edible.

Thank goodness they seem to like it, because I chewed a leaf and I’d rather stick to ordinary salad greens. But Nasturtium has ten times the vitamin C content of lettuce, so I might try it once more.

Sara must have had a premonition with regard the dominant behavior of Nasturtiums, since she didn’t plant any in her regular flowerbeds. Some plants just seem to take over wherever they grow. That’s why we grow Malva in pots, since they also behave in a dominant fashion.

“I love Morning Glory,” explained Sara, “but I would never grow it in my garden, since it covers the whole flower bed in the blink of an eye.” As it is, Sara’s flower garden is flourishing as never before, on a steady diet of organic plant food and supplements from Advanced Nutrients.

In addition to our 100% organic basic ferts, we also feed our gardens (both Sara’s flowers and my vegetables) regularly with a nutrient mix, containing Humic and Fulvic Acid—to create and maintain a highly fertile soil—as well as the root colonizers Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice. These provide beneficial bioactive microorganisms to strengthen our root systems and help them absorb food more efficiently.

We also mix in Barricade to allow its potassium silicate molecules to thicken the cell walls of our plants. Thick cell walls repel pathogens and pests, including the sucking mouthparts of spider mites, aphids, and whiteflies.

I spray regularly with Scorpion Juice, since this AN product also wards off pathogen attacks as well as deters insects from sampling our plants. Scorpion Juice imparts induced systemic resistance, which boosts the immune systems of our garden cultivars.

SensiZym and Seaweed Extract are two additional AN products that we use regularly. The latter is like a shot of multi-vitamin as well as of naturally occurring plant hormones that aid in cell division, food absorption, and overall growth.

Organic B is not only a highly effective B-complex vitamin from organic sources, but a veritable soothing agent for our plants whenever they get stressed out. We try to water them regularly, in order to prevent drought stress, but too much rain can also stress out a garden, and we’ve had plenty of precipitation in the past few weeks.

Some advice pertaining to Nasturtiums. Make sure to keep them trimmed back, or else they’ll crowd out the other plants. Soon after I took the above pictures, Sara picked quite a few leaves for a salad, so Hedgehog’s barrel and the window box in question look much better.

Nasturtium flowers are an array of colors—cream, crimson, orange, or yellow—and they are self-seeding. So left to their own devices they will come back the following year, provided they are allowed to go to seed and the winter is not too cold.

They don’t like to be watered too often, one deep-watering every seven to ten days is sufficient. So the copious amounts of rain we’ve been getting, almost on a daily basis, could also account for their prolific vegetative growth.

They’re members of the genus Nasturtium of the Mustard family. In fact the name could refer to one of eighty species of annual or perennial plants in the genera of Tropaeolum, one of three on the family of Tropaeolaceae.

Hedgehog is growing T. majus, one of three very popular varieties of the plant. Native to Central and South America, the Conquistadors brought the species to Europe. Today, it is grown all over the world.

You may grow them either in direct or indirect sunlight, but some varieties prefer partial shade. After doing a bit of research I decided to grow them on the edges of my vegetable garden next year, since they seem to repel some pests that plague cucurbits, such as squash and cucumbers.

Caterpillars don’t like them, so they stay away, and supposedly they attract predatory insects. They ward off aphids and whiteflies, so next year they’ll go next to my tomatoes, but not too close. And if they get out of hand, Hedgehog can have them in a salad. She should be eating more vegetables anyway.

Some people, those who have a lot of time on their hands, will no doubt enjoy making Nasturtium Butter, Nasturtium Mayonnaise, or Nasturtium and Potato Soup. The latter I love, so I might look up an easy recipe and attempt it myself.

posted by Tim at 12:49 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Leaf Miners on Roses, Slugs on the Zucchini

Whenever things get hectic in our household—when Hedgehog is chasing one of the cats and Jim is acting up and Sara is trying to answer the phone, balance our chequebook, and keep the pizza from burning in the oven, all at the same time-I escape by stepping into our garden.

There is great solace to be had communing with nature. Sara’s flower garden is very eclectic, so many different kinds of plants and flowers are growing side by side. Her Delphiniums and Monk’s Hood have shot up like there’s no tomorrow. The Catmint is in flower right now and has overrun the borders of several of her flowerbeds.

Another beautiful flower that’s at the peak of perfection is the Campanula Blue Bells. I seem to remember this plant at the side of country roads in my native Hungary. Its string of lovely blue flowers truly signal the arrival of summer, even though that season hadn’t yet officially arrived on Gabriola.

Sara attributes the thriving of her flowers to our basic fertilizers, Iguana Juice Grow and Bloom. We have switched over to Bloom in Sara’s garden, but are still using grow for my vegetables, which have yet to grow tall and lush like her blooms.

Of course, we realize that the other Advanced Nutrients additives, supplements, and root colonizers we use also contribute to the overall health of our plants.

Organic B. for instance, helps all of our garden to withstand and be able to cope with stress. It’s a natural source Vitamin B product that is easily absorbed by just about any plant, and permeates the plant cells with vitality and vigor.

We discovered two setbacks in this past week. Some of our Roses have been attacked by Leaf Miners. I’ve been lax with my spraying regimen, since my work has been occupying all of my time, so this particular moth has been laying its eggs on our rose leaves.

Once the eggs hatch and larvae emerge, they burrow into the soft tissue of the leaves and leave unsightly, white markings on the leaf’s surface. I’ve been spraying once every three weeks with Scorpion Juice, alternately with a mixture of horticultural oil and baking soda.

I will have to accelerate my spraying schedule to once every two weeks, alternating with the oil. These moths are supposedly repelled by the oil on the leaf’s surface. Luckily, only a small percentage of our rose leaves are involved, so the mere removal of infected leaves goes a long way to solving the problem.

We use Barricade regularly, but I ran out of it last week, so this week’s nutrient solution does not include this potassium silicate product that makes the cell walls of all of our plants stronger, helping them to repel attacks such as the Leaf Miner infestation.

Another problem occurred in the vegetable patch. Sara purchased some zucchini and cucumber seedlings that didn’t look too healthy. The garden shop was running out and she grabbed what she could. I had my eye on these ever since we planted them.

They never quite perked up, even with the application of Iguana Juice Grow. So I applied Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice to their roots. Still, they looked unhealthy. An application of Scorpion Juice followed, hoping to knock out whatever was ailing these plants.

They are still quire sickly and might have to be removed, in order to keep my other vegetables safe from any contagious diseases.

My vegetable patch started to show signs of slugs chewing on plant leaves. I bought some slug bait and sprinkled it around the plants. It seems to work.

I remembered the yogurt containers with the ragged edges and the egg shells that Sara placed around her Delphiniums and some of her other flowers. Judging from the six-foot plus Delphiniums, those slug preventative methods worked beautifully.

.Some of Sara’s Roses are already blooming. Her Stainless Steel shows a pink streak-edged bud, but once it opens, the flowers are a mixture of white and cream, sort of metallic in color. We’ve had a lot of rain, so some of the buds have brown spots on them, an unavoidable reality when growing Roses in the rainforest.

Her Blue Girl has one very special Rose on it, while Sun Flare has several Yellow Roses, with more buds ready to open. Sun Flare she bought from a garden shop just this year, while the single bloom of Blue Girl was one of the prides of her garden last year, as well.

Other flowers blooming in Sara’s garden at present are Sweet William, Campanula Canterbury Bells, and the perennial Lady’s Mantle Irish Silk (Alchemilla mollis), which grows in either sun or shade.

Its delicate lime green flowers appear in a cluster and add an ethereal touch to the garden, especially when morning dew drops cling to the flowers. It grows better in the shade, but with all the rain we’ve been getting, so far too much sun is absolutely no problem.

In the constantly changing climate of Canada’s West Coast it is hard to keep up with a regular watering regimen for your garden. You get up and see the black rain clouds in the sky, so you figure that watering is not necessary. Then you go out at lunchtime and the hot sun has already dried the soil from last night’s shower.

Sara and I try to follow the rule of watering only in the morning to give our garden a chance to dry out during the day. However, if the noonday sun comes out and dries everything out, we have to water in the afternoon, in order to keep everything from wilting.

It’s hard to follow the advice of the gardening guru on radio, who keeps saying that you should let your soil totally dry out between waterings, and then drench the soil to get the moisture to the roots. It makes beautiful sense, but in practice it doesn’t always work out that way.

Some of the newly planted vegetables look wilted and dried out by the middle of the afternoon and they’re begging me for a drink. I don’t have the heart to deny them the life giving liquid. Especially when the liquid also contains life- sustaining nutrients that feed our plants the finest plant food available.

Made by Advanced Nutrients, naturally.

posted by Tim at 4:51 PM | 0 comments

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bowl of Beauty Peonies Open, Vegetables Start Growing

While Sara’s flower garden is celebrating the arrival of her all-time favourite blooms, those of the Japanese “Bowl of Beauty” Peony (Paeonia lactiflora), I have been labouring in my vegetable garden, bringing in more fertile, organic soil, as well as composted horse manure, and planting seedlings and seeds, alike.

I planted a whole row of Sweet Peas along the fence line, as well as six or seven Tomato plants, five or six Pepper seedlings, and some Cucumber, Broccoli, Garlic, Spinach, several different kinds of Lettuce, Zucchini, and Squash. The Scarlet Runner Bean sprouts along the bamboo structure were planted last week.

This year, I’ve planted Hungarian Sweet Wax Peppers, Hungarian Hot Wax Peppers, Green Bell Peppers, Red Bell Peppers, and Hot Cherry Peppers. For Peppers, as for many other Vegetables, soil preparation is of utmost importance.

Several weeks before planting them, I started working the soil. In addition to bringing in the compost and the manure, I aerated the soil perhaps eight to ten inches down with a four-pronged pitchfork, in order to break up the clods and allow much needed air to penetrate the growing medium. It’s not enough to spread the compost and manure on top, you must work it into your soil.

I mixed up a large tank of nutrient solution in order to pre-fertilize the soil. Consisting of our basic 100% organic basic fert, Iguana Juice Grow, along with some very effective additives, supplements, and root colonizers made by Advanced Nutrients, my nutrients mix is scientifically designed to nourish my vegetables.

Using the very handy Nutrient Calculator on the Advanced Nutrients website, I mix the correct quantities of the ingredients into my 50-Liter irrigation tank. Since the growth cycles of most vegetables exceed the reach of this very helpful tool, I have to do some math in order to stretch the daily nutrient requirements to fit the average length of time that vegetables take to grow from seedling to harvest.

Hungarian Peppers take about 70 days, while Beefsteak Tomatoes take about 80. The Nutrient Calculator only goes up to 15 days for vegetative and 15 days for flowering, a total of 30 days. So I look at the figures and the PPM-EC numbers for the 15 week cycle and see what amounts I’m supposed to mix in during week 15.

For instance, during week 1 I mix 52.5 mL of Iguana Juice Grow into my 50 Liter mixing tank, which gradually increases to 77.6 mL during week 15. The total amount of my basic fert that I’m feeding my plants during the first 15 weeks of vegging will be 1009.4 mL. The EC of the suspended solids in the solution is EC 0.7 during week 1 (490 PPM), while during week 15 it goes up to EC 1.0 (700 PPM).

Using that gradual increase as my model, I figured out the percentages to go from day 15 of vegetative growth to day 30. By day 30 I’m up to 1000 PPM or 1.4 EC. Then I switch over to Iguana Juice Bloom and a moderate feeding regimen for the bloom cycle of my vegetables. Of course, I’m keeping an open mind and if most vegetables start flowering earlier than 30 days, I make the switch to Bloom that much quicker.

Not all the ingredients are increased as much during the longer cycle. My root colonizers, Piranha, Tarantula, and Voodoo Juice have to be administered only during weeks 1 and 2 and then during week 13 (4.5 grams each of the first two, and 67.5 mL of the Voodoo Juice). By extension, I will mix in these amounts again during weeks 19 and 20, then once more during week 28 of vegging.

During the first 15 weeks I will feed my vegetables 726.5 mL’s of Grandma Enggy’s Humic Acid and her Fulvic Acid, so by week 30 I will have mixed in in excess of 1500 mL of these two extremely effective additives that help turn my soil into the most fertile, organic, rich, black humus-like grow medium our grandmothers grew their vegetables in.

Also, by week 30 the amount of SensiZym that I will have mixed into my nutrient solution, will be over 700 milliliters. SensiZym contains over 80 bioactive enzymes that help keep the root zones of my vegetables free of plant debris, and help my root hairs absorb nutrients more easily.

So I fertilized my vegetable garden even before planting my seedlings, in order to create a welcoming environment for them. Peppers grow best in a warm soil, so wait until all danger of frost has passed (on Gabriola that means the end of May, beginning of June). I plant in rows, so I place my vegetables around a foot apart, with the rows being slightly wider to allow foot passage.

I dug transplant holes for all my peppers and moved the seedlings very carefully from the box, leaving as much soil as possible around the roots. The holes should be three to four inches deep. I took extra care with the protruding root hairs, since they are a vital part of the nutritional needs of the plants.

Once the plants were carefully placed in the hole, I packed some soil loosely around the plant, leaving the circle around the stem slightly depressed in order to hold water. I poured a copious amount of my nutrient solution around each pepper plant and offered a little prayer for a bountiful harvest.

I actually waited for a cloudy day to do my transplanting. This is a little trick I learned from a seasoned gardener. It keeps your seedling from wilting in the sun. I must be careful not to allow my vegetables to wilt, since they lose vigor and become susceptible to diseases and pests.

In order to inoculate them against many insects and pathogens, I mix 10 mL of Scorpion Juice into each Liter of water in a 10-Liter can, separate from my nutrient solution. I pour this mixture around my vegetables once every three weeks. I also use Scorpion Juice periodically as a foliar spray, but usually when the plants get slightly older. When being used as a spray, Scorpion Juice should be mixed at a ratio of 5 mL per Liter.

Barricade is another Advanced Nutrients product that is helpful in making my vegetables immune to diseases and pests. This potassium silicate product fortifies the cell walls of our plants and makes them impenetrable to many microorganisms as well as the mouthparts of sap sucking insects. Given this resistance, the parasites tend to go elsewhere.

Sara’s flower garden is luscious and thriving and soon my vegetable garden will catch up and be the pride of the neighborhood.

posted by Tim at 9:37 PM | 0 comments