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Posts Tagged ‘garden’

It’s been asked enough that I wanted to share some of the places we have used to buy our plants and garden supplies locally.

These are all places we personally use and I’m sharing my own opinions with no support or endorsements from anyone here.

Colour Paradise. They are our go-to place for most of our annual food seedings. (they also have a beautiful range of flowers, tropical plants and planters) Their prices are great, the plants have always been healthy and they have the best range of choices we’ve found in the region. While we’ve always enjoyed wandering through the greenhouse, it has been amazing this year that they are offering online ordering with curbside pickups. 100% worth the longer drive!

Cozyn’s Garden Gallery Our favorite garden place in Stratford. They cover all the garden needs. Fertilizers, soils, seedlings, tools, trees and shrubs and seeds. My go-to for organic pest control options as well. (I use bt for the roses and we had an iris borer problem a few years ago that was successfully dealt with by nematodes) In addition to all this, they also have a beautiful gallery full of garden decor and gift options. (later in the year, they also have garden themed holiday decor!)

Whiffletree Farm They are specialists in cold hardy fruit trees and shrubs. A whole chunk of our permaculture food garden has come from them. They sell bare root plants, mostly, and all we have bought have been large and vigorous. The selection is really wide and they have options for pretty much any level of grower from starting hobbyist to full on commercial. It’s a bit late in the season for them since we often have to order by February to get all our specific wants, but they are still filling orders and may even still have their end of season clearout sale in June!

Lee Valley Tools We love this place for lots of types of tools and small equipment but it is also great for garden stuff. I can’t even list all the garden supplies we’ve bought over the years but their tomato spirals are something I use every year and still find incredibly useful. They were also where we got the bird-safe netting I’m using to protect the haskap bushes. While we miss wandering the store, the catalogue is almost as much fun!

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It looks like we might actually really be at true spring. The weather has been not only cold but very dry so I’ve decided to go ahead and get my bee “fountain” up and running.bb1

We have a concrete birdbath that I used as a planter for years but it was fussy and I never really had a combo of plants for it that I liked for it. In drought periods it was also one more thing to water. Lots of work but it didn’t even look good! When I heard about bee fountains I decided to try converting it to one since I want to do all I can to support our pollinators.bb3

The main part of the basin was filled with clean sand. A large vintage china platter rests in the centre and is filled with a mix of glass beads and marbles. The glass pieces provide places for bees to rest and get a drink. The parts are all easy to wash and it’s shallow so it’s easy enough to fill when I’ve watering the pots on the old well head. (we are on a well so I don’t have to worry about water treatment chemicals) It’s also shallow enough that it won’t host mosquitoes.

A few of the smaller garden sculptures and some pretty rocks are accumulating around the edges. I’m not sure how much it helps but it’s worth a try and I like the new look.

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In spring here, one of the first things up is a herb garden MVP, lovage. It’s an older, perennial herb that I’ve found many people haven’t heard about. That surprises me a little because it has a number of different uses and is SUPER easy to grow but it seems to have fallen out of common knowledge. It’s so hard to kill that it actually borders on being a weed, but, on the positive side of that issue, isn’t very invasive. (Well, it is invasive, just very, very slowly. My chunk came out of what had been kept from an abandoned garden plot. In 10-15 years, the lovage had become a solid block in about half of it’s 10’x20′ bricked bed. While it will slowly hulk out, it also can be dug out fairly easily, just make sure you get most of the big carrot-like taproots)lovage1

Fully grown it looks like a giant celery. (Flower heads can top out over 7′ !) They are related but lovage is much more pungent. That is it’s most common use for us. We’ll use a few finely chopped leaves to replace celery in soups, stews and other savoury dishes. It can easily be overpowering when fresh so you have to be careful with amounts but it mellows greatly when cooked. It’s so much easier to just clip some from garden than have to keep buying fresh celery for the few stalks we would use.

We’re not big cocktail drinkers but I’ve heard it can be a useful mixer from friends. (and the hollow stems can become Bloody Mary straws) You can also use the leaves under fish that is being roasted or steamed to infuse the scent. I haven’t done it myself, but this year I’m going to harvest the seeds since they can also be used and they’ll be handy to have over the winter! You can even roast the roots, but again, I haven’t tried it myself.

Overall, it’s something that I recommend adding to any herb bed and a little chunk will grow as big as you let it with no care and in questionable ground. It grows tightly packed enough that you don’t even have to weed it. The biggest drawback (aside from the Triffid tendencies) is the strength of it’s scent. Some people REALLY dislike it and any handling leaves you perfumed!

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Last year, I’d taken the pruned bits from my hardy kiwis and potted them up. All the surviving pots were buried in one of the beds for the winter.

This past week I pulled them out and moved all the living ones to new, single pots. They all had good sized root balls so I’m optimistic about the process. I have 12 plants with 11 being female and one male. That ratio isn’t ideal, but the males seem more fragile.

We took pretty heavy damage on the older ones from bunnies this winter. They had been fine the 2 years before but this winter saw 3 eaten back to smaller than they were when I first planted them. A couple more lost 20% to 40% of their branches. One had the bark cleared off the top of most of it’s base but it seems to doing alright so far. The smaller of my 2 males got the worst, but he’s still alive. I don’t know if was due to how cold this past winter was, but clearly, I’ve got to come up with some form of bunny guard, going forward.

The plan now is to keep the babies in their new pots for at least another year then I’ll look at putting them in the ground. It’s still a bit early for me to take a new round of pruning, so I don’t know what this years crop of newborns will be. At the rate things are going, it’ll be a few more years before I’ll have extras to share.

 

kb1

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raspThe garden keeps developing and it looks like a few of the longer-term investments are starting to pay off in terms of fruit production. One is the thimbleberries. Unlike our everbearing raspberries, they need to fruit on second year canes and it’s taken a few years for them to spread out enough so we are getting more than just a few to taste. The first year canes also seem to be good eating, as far as the bunnies are concerned, and they all got mowed down to under 2′, over the winter. (which was taller than the years previous where they were mostly eaten right down) That doesn’t seem to have stopped them from producing, so the deeper snow is probably why we’re actually getting a crop this year. This was the early morning haul yesterday and I got almost as much in the late afternoon. The berries are much larger, (most are almost the size of a thimble) a bit sweeter but not quite as tasty as the everbearing, but even so it’s really nice to have a decent run a couple of months before the big flood.

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pink roses

IMG_6700Last year we put in a new flower bed at the end of the path. It was filled with an assortment of different roses collected from other spots on the property. One was an old style high-bush one that had come through the east fence and while surviving, wasn’t doing well in the shade of the large conifers. We weren’t sure that it would make it due to the small amount of root that came out with it, but it got through last summer and showed some growth. This year, it started out strong, set a bunch of buds and has been in constant flower for almost a month. It has pretty, full blooms in a pale pink that are also quite strongly scented. (unlike most of our other roses) Considering how well it is doing and the abundance of flowers after only one year, we’re planning on looking for a support structure for it and the white climbing rose next year.

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IMG_6541It has been a glorious few days weather -wise. With it suddenly in the high teens and low twenties, the plants are busting out all over! We are always especially impressed by the haskap bushes. In just a few years they have gone from sad little sticks to substantial shrubs. The varieties for this zone have been hybridized from the Siberian species and it shows. They are incredibly early in setting their flowers. It’s just a bit odd to have a shrub in full flower at the same time as the daffodils! It’s not a bad thing, certainly as far as the bees are concerned. At one point today I could see almost a dozen bumblebees darting about among them. Even if we didn’t want the fruit, I’d almost be tempted to keep them around just because they make the pollinators happy, and happy bees are essential to a fruitful garden. That being said, we’re still excited about the potential fruit haul. It looks like they might be big enough this year to provide for at least a crumble or two! (and I really like how they also fruit early enough that the birds aren’t providing for nestfuls of hungry chicks yet, so we won’t have to work too hard on fending them off)

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