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Posts from the ‘Edible Yard’ Category


August 11, 2010

zora naki

the state of the garden

July 9, 2010

zora naki

what do you want first – the good news or the bad news? I’m usually a bad news kind of person – get it out of the way, and then you know you have something good to look forward to.

So here it is.

The garden this year? Not up to snuff. Between the cold wet spring and poor plant selection/soil issues, some of my plants are positively runty. I have a tomato plant that (bless its little heart) is only about 6 inches tall and is still manfully putting out two cherry tomatoes. Five pepper plants (home depot – boo!) are still the same size as when i planted them about three months ago.

Tried some new veggies out this year – the fava beans grew like stink and then got infested with little black bugs, and the cabbages grew big and also got infested (for some reason i keep writing invested) with green worms and greyish crap. My solution is to repeatedly blast them with water, but i’m thinking there’s room for improvement.

My strawberry bed was decimated by the reno – only 5 strawberries have made it to fruition 😦  Also, the plum tree that put out forty-odd plums last year has one single solitary fruit growing. Is it on sabbatical? Am i doing something wrong?

Now for the good news. The potatoes in the front yard are coming along nicely.

the newly planted apple trees are putting out fruit.

bumper crops of raspberries.

Finally, (and unrelated to gardening), we headed off to granville island last saturday to gorge on seafood and admire the houseboats. very chic, no?

stupendous flower baskets.

happy 11th anniversary!

an afternoon at the beach

June 29, 2010

zora naki

with all of the strange (un)summer weather here in vancouver, kits beach was deserted sunday afternoon.

this morning’s harvest: 100 raspberries :0


June 25, 2010

zora naki

the raspberries are coming in! three days of harvest with the help of my small but able assistant (it takes a little prompting to pick just the berry and not the whole branch).

a lovely rose that we were given as a housewarming present – i think the tag says queen elizabeth.
bacopa spilling out of a terracotta pot is always a Good Thing.

we have a grassy knoll

May 30, 2010

zora naki

progress on the front yard garden continues.

we started with two truckloads of topsoil.

after a lot of shoveling, we ended up with a nice flat tabletop.

i started planting things around the edges, but something wasn’t quite right. it was a bit meh. i called around and found a landscape designer who came over for two hours, looked at all the stuff i’d bought on clearance and gave me some advice re: shaping the yard, adding some dimension. i dug some more dirt.

and friday, i hauled a crapload of sod home.

we’re considering sinking a cup or two and using it as a pitch-n-putt.

winnie-the-pooh approved this message.

how many plants does it take to fill a front yard?

April 25, 2010

zora naki

Now that the giant pile of dirt is leveled, I have started to plant. Or at least, obsess about planting. I did have a landscape plan drawn up (hard to believe that was more than two years ago), but now I think that it isn’t what I want.

I want edible landscaping, along with some evergreen permanent plantings to help things along during the winter. I want it to look modern, but not rigid. I like chartreuse and lime green leaves, and red and white flowers and grasses. I also love palm trees and banana plants, but I have given up on them, because they require more babying to get through a winter than i am willing to dole out (I have kids – my TLC is being used up already).

The big question is how many plants and how (where) do you plant them? In straight lines? In groups? In patterns? I have no freaking idea, so I’m buying things and trying to figure it out as I go (lots of polls of passers-by, google searches, landscaping books from the library).

The basic rules:

  • buy multiples (odd numbers are best)
  • buy edibles where possible
  • arrange from lowest to highest
  • plan for the future (allow for growth)
  • buy plants that will survive with minimal care and attention

I hit up a liquidation sale at a grower and made some spur-of-the-moment decisions (60% off was a highly motivating factor, although plants were mostly unlabeled). I also bought some specific things I knew I wanted.

Here’s my plant list (with my guesses at final size in brackets):

5 euonymous – unlabeled but gold and green variegation, shrubby (size? but I’ve seen them grown into hedges)
4 rhododendron -vulcan red (5′ x 5′)
5 azalea -white (unlabeled – guessing 4′ x 4′)
1 magnolia grandiflora (unlabeled, but can grow quite large over time)
1 dwarf braeburn apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height)
1 dwarf jonagold apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height)
1 dwarf spartan apple (on M27 dwarf stock, 6′-8′ adult height) – the three apples can cross-pollinate each other.
8 euphorbia (various types)
12 carex (no idea, but they’re variegated and about 12″ high, i’ve seen them growing in sun and shade around here)
3 skimmia (existing – 4′ x 4′)
3 peony – white
6 choisya – 3 Sundance, 3 standard (can be as big as 8’x8′ but more like 3′ – 5′ height in our climate)
some miscellaneous grasses
a flat of creeping thyme to plant between the front path pavers

Still looking for a bunch of pachysandra to plant by the skimmia on the shady side garden (picture above) and some lavender to plant along the sides of the path.

the garden, she is planted

April 23, 2010

zora naki

Busy busy! I gave myself special dispensation to buy some bedding plants because I feel like I just don’t have TIME to grow things from seed, what with all the weeding and the shoveling and the reclaiming of land from the things that Ran Wild last year. Also, I am into instant gratification (a sad commentary on our times, but I am a product of society, so there you have it).

Dug out the beds, weeded, and topped up with about 4 inches of fresh soil.

I’ve planted 16 tomato plants and 5 peppers. There are raspberries, onions, garlic and potatoes from last year that are coming on strong. Oh, and I did plant SOME seeds (I’m not totally lame) – fava beans, yellow wax beans, purple beans (two varieties), beets (chioggia), carrots (purple haze), peas, and spring onions. Apparently I like colourful vegetables.

Squash, zucchini, and swiss chard (bright lights, natch). Still have some white cauliflower plants waiting to be tucked in somewhere. Still looking for purple cauliflower (graffiti) to add to the crop. Debating broccoli.

And the herb garden is zooming along. The perennial crop is going gangbusters: fennel, chives (regular and garlic), oregano (regular and greek), thyme (regular and lemon), sage, parsley, lemon balm, chamomile (roman and german), and the mints (peppermint, spearmint, orange mint).

I’ve added two small rosemary bushes to replace what died a few years back, and also potted a wee bay leaf tree in the terracotta pot you can see tucked in there. My nemesis – basil – is destined for some pots – maybe I can baby it to fruition this year with some vigilant gardening. This will be my new superhero name: The Vigilant Gardener. And I will wear green and carry a trowel and slay weeds and slugs with a single deadly blast from my unblinking eyeballs of organic wrath, powered solely by spring fever.

i grew apples

September 14, 2009

zora naki

i grew apples

i’m pretty excited about the first apple harvest (of my whole entire life) – i picked three today off of my espalier apple – a braeburn, a golden delicious and a red delicious. two of them were consumed on the spot, hence the lonely apple in the photo above.

also – peppers!

i grew apples (and peppers too)

much better than last year’s failed crop. of course, without anything in the photo to give them scale, the pictures are deceiving – these are decidedly smaller than what you would get at the store. there were a few spiders lurking in the crevices. but i grew everything without sprays or chemicals or anything other than the fresh compost added to the soil back in the spring. i think the raised beds are helping with the pest containment. or maybe it’s the vigorous undergrowth of clover and dandelions around the plants…

relocating from our house to a rental during the reno saga has been seriously detrimental to my urban homesteading efforts. the freezer is unplugged, the canning jars are packed away in storage, and the garden went without water during one of the hotter summers I’ve experienced out here. in our absence, the blackberry canes invaded. it’s a jungle back there. the cauliflower and broccoli heads came in small and very quickly (overnight it seemed) and had already gone to seed by the time i fought my way to the backyard garden (past the old furnace, around the tarp covering the tool cabinet, through the knee-high dandelions).  the strawberries performed admirably in the early summer but have taken a real beating from the work done – stucco raining down, roofing tile dropped, building paper left in a pile in the middle of the bed (obviously these people are NOT gardeners).

i still can’t seem to keep a male kiwi vine alive. i may need to relocate them – i now have two suspicious deaths on my hands. my thumbs are turning black. i planted potatoes in random patches around the beds and now (of course) with the plants done, i have no idea where most of them are.

don’t mind me. i’m just moping. i’ve been thinking about the amount of garden work in the back yard that i need to do to catch up for next year – ACCKK!

being even partially self-sufficient is so MUCH WORK.

i love being out in my garden and puttering – a little bit here and there. but apparently, for me at least, proximity is key. i don’t know how all of those allotment gardeners do it.

anyhoo, enough of the pity party. i think i’m feeling discouraged because the reno is being held up (again) – we’re on hold for another few days before they can finish papering the building, so we can stucco/insulate/drywall. the gutter/flashing guy made a brief appearance and hasn’t been seen since. i can’t find a window sill that i like. the budget is having issues. everything is great, but i want it to be DONE.

front yard gardens

September 5, 2009

zora naki

we were on our way to the PNE yesterday afternoon and I ended up taking more pictures of the front yard gardens that we passed than i did of the kids on rides. Some gorgeous, mouth-watering displays of gardening ingenuity, in all its forms. First up, a lovely Craftsman with a picket fence. From the street, it looks pretty.

front yard gardens

When you peer over the fence (as i am wont to do), you spy a functional and attractive garden.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

so pretty. in the same neighbourhood, squash and melon vines sprawl vigorously.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

some are combined with raised beds holding other veggies.

front yard gardenfront yard garden

the scariest version was an entirely enclosed chain link cage.

front yard garden

ugly as heck, but effective – check out the crop (i’m guessing bitter melon, but i don’t really know)

front yard garden

when we finally made it to the fair, i did manage to get a shot of the smallest kid on a ride.
front yard garden

the rest was just a blur of lines and rides and animals and junk food galore. i really wanted to eat a deep-fried mars bar (just to say that i had) but we didn’t get to it this time around. maybe next year…

the middle part is boring

July 28, 2009

zora naki

once the big stuff is done (demo! framing! roof!), the middle stuff is B-O-R-(yawn)  let’s talk about my garden for a minute. it’s parched. scorching weather/no rain/water shut-off. and yet…

july plumscherry tomatoesjuly blackberries

how sweet is that? i’m going back this morning to battle the thorns for more blackberries.

house stuff on the inside: the plumbing rough-in has passed inspection and the heating and wiring are underway. sprinkler guy starts next week. i’m still working through the lighting plan in my head. i would suggest not paying an architect to draft one, since it turned out to be mostly useless. so many switches!

ergo sun tunnel

the sun tunnel has made it down to the basement. laundry chute (made from heating ducts) is in place.

house stuff on the outside: the city tree-trimming crew happened by yesterday and hacked the beautiful maple into a shadow of its former self. argh! ‘imagine that you went to a hairdresser with long hair and asked for an inch off the bottom – and then came out with a crewcut. horrible.

a massive trench was dug and then filled in to connect our sump pit to the city’s new water/sewer connection. front and side yards totally trashed – rocks and clay abound.

windows have all been reframed and bad wood replaced with good.

yawn. i’m putting myself to sleep. next post: shopping!

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