gabriola garden

Friday, September 28, 2007

Where have all the Orcas gone? Garden winding down.

Haven’t had time to blog in the last little while, since the September rush has taken hold of my family. Jim is in school this year, so there was the whole hullabaloo connected with buying a new wardrobe, a new knapsack, a lunch container, and a water bottle for him.

In fact, we bought water bottles for the entire family. I told Sara that I was sick and tired of buying bottled water and having the empty plastic bottles to deal with afterwards.

Then this past week the family went on our annual Whale Watch to Telegraph Cove. We were especially concerned this year, because there was the incident of a barge capsizing in the area where the whales hang out. A whole bunch of diesel oil spilled into the ocean and no one knows what the repercussions are for the whales.

Sure enough, we didn’t see any Orcas this year (as opposed to up to 40 of them in previous years). We did see a Humpback Whale with its calf, and the calf breached a couple of times, so Hedgehog was able to get a few good shots with her digital camera. We also saw a whole bunch of Dolphins and Porpoises, though, as well as a Bald Eagle.

The garden is winding down, with a number of bushes turning fall colors. Sara’s roses are blooming in a last hurrah effort, and the vegetables have either already been harvested or are almost ready to be picked.

We managed to grow a few huge Zucchinis and Hedgehog--true to tradition--came back from the local fair with a first place ribbon in the Zucchni Races! Jim was too busy popping balloons on the midway to bother about entering the race.

We’ve stopped fertilizing for the last few weeks, giving the garden nothing but pure water. Since we’re using Iguana Juice Grow and Bloom, which is a 100% organic fish-based fertilizer, we’re not using Final Phase to flush our vegetables, but we could if we wanted to.

Many of our friends that we’ve told about Advanced Nutrients go on the company’s website and report back that most of their products are classified as “hydroponic plant food.” We’re eager to inform them that most AN products are equally effective when used in soil.

AN might have to change their product descriptions and labels if they want to appeal to more soil gardeners, such as ourselves. Sara and I can testify that they make by far the best plant nutrients available anywhere, and it would be a shame if some soil gardeners were to miss out on account of incomplete information on the product labels.

I won’t blog regularly for the next few weeks, since we’re caught up in the fall energy surge. This time of year our chores seem to have multiplied exponentially and the sudden drop in temperatures has caused more than our share of sore throats and coughs.

Hedgehog has developed a sudden interest in Martial Arts and Jim is hoping to join the school's Soccer team, so Sara will be driving them around to extra-curricular activities and I have a backlog of free-lance work to complete.

See you in a few weeks!

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posted by Tim at 8:09 AM | 0 comments

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Gigantic Beans, Ripening Tomatoes, Surging Squash

Jim started school on Tuesday, and Hedgehog slept in, since she’s being home schooled. Sara and the kids returned Sunday from their few days in Vancouver, filled with gifts, stories, and lots and lots of pictures.

Sara thanked me for looking after her garden, but Hedgehog was mad because one of her giant Sunflowers has drooped its head and started turning yellow. “You didn’t water it properly,” she aimed her accusation at me.

“No, dear daughter, I did give it adequate water. It’s just that the Sunflower is past its prime and ready for its seeds to be harvested.” So I took her out to the flowerbed and cut the huge head off the plant with shears. “There, now we can munch on sunflower seeds,” said I.

That pacified the situation, and I could turn my attention to my vegetable garden, which contains Kale, Zucchini (one giant one ready for the zucchini races at the local fair), Squash, Pumpkin, Sweet and Hot Hungarian Peppers, and Beefsteak Tomatoes, most of which are still green but they’re growing big!

I didn’t mention the Lettuce, even though we’ve been harvesting it regularly. Sara loves Cheese and Lettuce sandwiches, while I cooked a fine meal last night consisting of New Potatoes, Sorrel, and the two kind of beans we’re growing on our Bean House—Scarlet Runners, and Pole Beans.

Some of the Scarlet Runners have grown so huge from regular feedings of Iguana Juice Bloom and the Advanced Nutrients Plus Program, that I had to take a picture before I cut them into the stir-fry type dish.

I used a little canola oil to slicken the pan, then chopped some home grown Garlic and a medium sized Onion. After the Onion started to brown I added the Beans. I seasoned with salt, black pepper, ginger powder, and Hungarian Paprika. Last of all I added the finely chopped Sorrel.

I panicked, since just when the Beans looked ready to eat, bright green and still crunchy, I tasted the dish and found it a bit harsh and sour from the Sorrel. I reached for the sour cream to make a mollifying sauce, but it had gone off in the fridge and I had to make do with some milk instead.

The meal was fine, the Family loved it, except Sara thought I had put in a touch too much black pepper. I told her the story of the captive Hungarians during the Turkish occupation, who were ordered to cook a lamb stew by their Turkish captors.

They cooked the stew for three hours over an open fire, adding a lot of chopped vegetables and plenty of hot Hungarian peppers. When it came for the Turks to taste the dish, they found it too hot and spit it out in disgust. The prisoners were left with a meal fit for a king!

To soothe her burning mouth, Sara went out and communed with her flowers. She spends an awful lot of time in her garden, not necessarily digging, or watering, or pruning anymore, nor is she carting manure as she did in the Spring.

This is the time of year to enjoy the garden, to take out a chair on a sunny afternoon and sit in the shade, watching the bumblebees and the butterflies and the blooms swaying in the breeze. Ah, the end of summer!

In addition to her fragrant, multi-colored Phlox, Sara is out there enjoying the purple Cosmos flowers with their yellow centres, the Blue Lobelia, the “Pink Bouquet” Obedient Plant, the perfume scented Beebalm, the “Ruby Star” Echinacea Coneflower, the purple Marshall’s Delight, which attracts lots of butterflies, and the “Double Decker” Purple Cone Flower, which stands out among the green foliage.

Other plants growing in my vegetable garden are Broccoli Waltham 29, which is a late blooming variety suitable for Canadian growing, that takes 65 days from transplanting to maturity. Also Wild Mesclun Salad Mix and Spicy Green Salad Mix, which are mostly Mustard Greens.

I’ve planted Celery and Radishes, and our second planting of Snow Peas is coming up. These benefit greatly from our nutrient mix, which includes in addition to the two types of Iguana Juice, Humic Acid and Fulvic Acid—great ingredients if you want to recreate the rich, black, fertile soil of yesteryear that grew food for our ancestors.

The three root colonizers are a great help, supplying the underground parts of our plants with beneficial fungi, bacteria, and microbes. These not only fight off the harmful microorganisms that are their counterparts, but the Harzianum in Piranha impart an induced systemic resistance against parasites of any kind.

I spray regularly with Scorpion Juice, which coincidentally also imparts induced systemic resistance. Basically, the immune systems of the plants are triggered, become stronger, and are able to fight off pathogens and pests like never before.

I wonder if Sara is aware of the underground drama that is taking place right under her nose as she is lost in reverie, thinking about the beauty of her flowers and inhaling their lovely scent.

posted by Tim at 5:34 AM | 1 comments