Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How my garden is growing!!!

Protecting your produce using barriers

This past week, I discovered a rodent had dug up a few of the leeks despite the fact that we had surrounded each of the beds with 1 foot high  of deer fencing stapled to the boxes.  After a second visit, I simply ran a 5 foot deer fence all the way around the garden.  This flexible plastic fence still allows me to pull it down to pick the veggies.  It is hard to see it since it appears to be almost invisible.  I have tied green ribbons on the top along each side of the fencing to let critters know that there is a barrier.

The raspberry canes are just off the front porch and protected with 'cages'... one is a willow basket and the other is a chicken wire.  Animals such as squirrels and chipmunks are abundant in our neighborhood and can be quite damaging to any plant it sets its scope on.  

The walkway is truly lovely and is a welcoming entrance to our home.  It was a great choice as it reflects all of the colours in our brick.  The flowers are beginning to grow nicely along the curves including the Rhubarb located just as the path begins to curve.

Here is a Hibiscus which I overwinter in the house.  It is now full of blooms and is a lovely focal point on our porch.

Garden Bed
The front garden is filling up fast with many perrenials and annuals for continuing blooms.  The columbine blooms have been clipped before producing seeds in order to keep the plant producing more flowers throughout the summer.  The dwarf lilac has finished its blooms and I have snipped those off to encourage growth for next year's blooms.  It sits near the corner of the step and has enough space to grow to its maximum height of 6 feet and 6 feet in diameter.  Always take into consideration what the full growth of a perrenial will be so you don't plant it too close to other plants.  Fertilize with a good perrenial slow-release formula in the early spring and mid summer for maximum growth.

Throughout the garden and around the back garden, I have flower pots filled with geraniums and a myriad of other all-season bloomers.  Geraniums are a happy flower who like to have their spent blooms removed.  Simply remove them at the point on the stalk that they grow from.  support the stalk while removing the spent bloom by pulling it away gently. 

Since our winter was incredibly harsh this year, I had to do some radical pruning of the decorative bushes in the front and rear of the house.  

The Vibunum bush (snowball) was once again infested with the Virbunum beetle.  This small beetle will lay its eggs after boring a hole into the wood of the tree and then fill it with excrement.  The beetle larvae will hatch and the voracious worms eat the leaves of the virbunum creating a lacy look that can involve a few branches in the first year or the whole bush within a few years.  Looking for circular 'scabs' on the woody parts of the tree in the early spring and 'bent' end branches are signs of an infestation.  It is far easier to prune and discard these branches and stalks before the tree leafs than it is to wait and try to deal with them as they eat away at the plant.  Some of the trunks were sizeable 3 or more inches in diameter.  These need to be removed a few inches above the base of the tree.  I noticed that the entire length of the old wood had been bored into.  The bush had to be radically cut and all but a few branches on the tree have remained.  No worries though, this bush will come back stronger over the next two years and produce large white balls.

The Weigela bushes suffered through the cold extended winter and the bush in the front garden bed only had a few viable branches left.  I kept these in order to allow it to bloom but then removed all the other woody branches just above where new shoots were forming.  These bushes should be trimmed yearly to remove branches at the base that are larger than 1-1.5" wide.  This allows the bush to renew itself and grow stronger each year.  Remove all dead branches and make sure you allow for the center of the bush to be open enough to allow air movement.  A good fertilizer and fresh soil around the tree will encourage healthier roots and more blooms in the fall.  Our Weigela bushes bloom twice per season and the hummingbirds love visiting them.

The Forsynthia tree was looking far too leggy after improper pruning over the past years.  This is an easy remedy - remove all trunks over 1.5" wide to just a few inches above grade.  A radical pruning, which is what we did this year means that all trunks are cut to a few inches above ground and all new shoots are left to grow.  This beauty will flower in the spring and this time it will resemble a bush and not a leggy tree.

The Lilac tree in the back garden is spectacular but the blooms are 8 feet.  this bush can be trimmed down to a height where blooms can be encouraged to grow all around the bush.  Trimming this one needs careful consideration as this bush will set flowers in the growing season for next year.  All flowering bushes should be trimmed after they flower.  I take off all the old flower heads and remove the branches to the joint at which new branches will form.

Pruning is a necessity to encourage new growth and to get rid of old growth.

Gardens throughout the property often incorporate lots of colour and textures...and the occassional decoration in pots and in amongst the flowering beds. at the back and side of the house.  Having all this colour through the growing season is soul inspiring.

Our lovely Peonies bloom in June above the geranium perennial,  as does the Tiger Lily and the dwarf lilac.  So much colour to welcome in the summer months this week.

The front beds as well as one in the back showcase a few squash and melon plants... what survived multiple attacks by squirrels and chipmunks!!!  Only one watermelon plant survived the onslaught of a naughty chipmunk that easily made its way through the square fencing in our original garden.  Now with the Vibunum bush cut right back, the sun is able to shine into this small patch to provide the necessities for the squash, sunflowers, chive and lettuce that a few of which have sprouted from last year's seeds, including tomato plants.  I removed most of the small tomato plants which will not produce in the short growing season.

Urban Garden Pics

Lots of Kale and beets surrounded by lovely blooming marigolds.

Tomato plants are filling in so fast and look at all the blooms!!!!

The lettuce patch with spinach, Swiss Chard and lettuce

Making Tea
Last night I sat on my porch reading emails and enjoying a steeped cup of tea using the camomile blooms and Lemon Balm.  They are both growing so well.  I just picked the Lemon Balm leaves (planted in the squash bed as a companion plant) and ripped them up and then added the flowers.  I purchased a lovely ceramic tea mug with a large open screen perfect for steeping tea.... It was a lovely way to end a hot and muggy day in the garden.  Remember to use your herbs by making teas or adding to your salads.

I love to juice fresh Swiss Chard and Kale.  There is nothing better than the sound of fresh picked greens and I have to say, the greens in the garden are not bitter at all.  The grocery store purchases pale in comparison with the beautiful green and the crisp texture of a plant picked in its prime.  I juice together the following in the morning.  This is my breakfast....

Swiss Chard - 8 big leaves (pick the outer leaves of the plant - these are bigger and older and allows the plant to produce more.
Kale - snap off a handful of Kale - again, choose the outer leaves of the plant.  You can continue to pick these throughout the growing season
Apple - any apple will do.... Sparta apples have a nice scent and add a flowery taste to the mix.
Carrots - two of these add just the right sweetness (can't wait for my crop to be ready)
Beet - when available.  Currently I am eating the beets that I am thinning out of the garden and using the leaves in the juice.
lemon - just a little lemon goes a long way and keeps this mix at a healthy ph level
ginger root - I keep the ginger root in the freezer and then rasp a small amount into my juice.
Barley greens - just in case I didn't get enough greens (smirk), I will mix in 3 tablespoons of greens.  

This is a healthy way to cleanse your body every day.... detoxify and feed each cell with proper nutrition.

That's it for this week..... see you next week with more recipes and pics of how our garden grows in the Urban city.  We will also talk about composting and tips to keep the fruit flies away.  We will also look at planting for the birds - feed them without buying expensive feeders and bags of food - Finches, Cardinals and Hummingbirds are just a few that visit our garden.  Also look at flowers that attract butterflies and bees!!!

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