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Posts Tagged ‘organic’

This past weekend, we’ve been hit by a freakish, (is anything this year not extraordinary?) cold snap. The polar vortex has swung south so a deep freeze is giving us lows I’ve never seen in May while we’ve been here.asparagus1

I’m still holding out hope for some of the fruit trees and my haskap bushes to pull through, but there are some things that I knew would not be able to withstand that level of freeze.

The biggest was the asparagus. While it’s been a bit slow, (lack of rain has helped keep it down as well as the milder bouts of cold) we were getting tips coming up. Thing is, asparagus is a total frost diva. More will come up later, but anything that is above the ground will be killed if it freezes. I think part of the issue is how juicy the spears are. At any rate, once we had confirmation that frost was coming in, I just took everything. At least it was tasty!

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A few years ago, after chatting about food gardening with some visitors, I was kindly gifted with another perennial food plant. It was a good chunk of Egyptian or walking onions.

I had never run across them but they are a perennial onion and, while a bit strange looking, they have lots of uses.

wo3

There is a main bulb that very much looks like a shallot and grows in a cluster. Allium standard, hollow, leaves grow out of the bulbs and then, later in the season, harder stem-like ones grow and they develop little bulb clusters on their ends. These get bigger and eventually pull the stems over until they reach the ground. They then root and form new bulb clusters, hence the “walking”.

wo1

So far, they are great. Hardy and extremely low maintenance to grow, they need almost no care. The regular leaves work just like green onions but can be continuously harvested. (and I love that they are completely organic, at least here) I have yet to do more than try a single main bulb because I really want to get a large patch established before cutting into my capital, so to speak. The taste was great on the one I tried and the little tip bulbs also have a nice onion flavour. They also root easily and make it super easy to share plants since simply handing over some gives a fast and clean transplant-ready starter.

Overall, a big winner and easily near the top of easy-to-grow food garden options!

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In 2012, I planted a bunch of small, very sad haskap plants. More were added in 2015 to make a fairly large patch along our driveway. They had gone into terrible soil that really wasn’t improved at all and while they grew, it was slowly. In the years since, we’ve had a small amount of fruit come in but I’ve felt that a chunk of their value was that they are very early in flowering and provide an important food source for the emerging bumblebee queens on our property. The bumblebees aren’t doing well generally so I’m glad to have anything that helps keep the ones we have happy and fed.bb2

In 2018, we got a couple of yards of good manure compost and used it to fertilize a bunch of our flower and fruit beds. The haskap were among them for the first time. (yes, I know I should have done it before then) It made a huge difference and many of them put on close to a foot of growth that year! The flowers set on the second year wood so the combination of a good dose of fertilizer and a spectacular 2018 weather season meant that 2019 had the best flower and fruit set on them we had ever seen.

The fruit are very early, often starting to turn colour in early June. In the years before, we had been picking them shortly after they changed colour and we had found them too tart for much fresh eating, but quite decent in baking. We had also noticed a geometric increase in the number of cedar waxwings that would show up to eat them. Scouts would show up and then larger and larger flocks would arrive and clean us out.cw1

Over the winter of 2018, I had found out that we’d been picking too early, and the berries really need to hang on the bushes for around 2 weeks after changing colour to really ripen! With such a heavy fruit set, and knowing how the birds will strip the bushes, I decided to try netting them for the first time. We had a couple of bird-safe ones and I covered the section of older plants, since they had the bulk of the berries. It worked really well and I was able to let the berries get bigger and more tasty than we had ever managed before. I could uncover each bush I wanted to pick and then leave the rest protected until I had time to harvest. We got around 16-20 pounds and several disgruntled cedar waxwing scouts who were clearly unimpressed with being denied our berry crop!

cw3

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