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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

Late June gardening

I'm here to declare that my strawberries have made me sad this year. Last year I had huge berries in abundance. I do not know if it stayed too cold for too long, or if there wasn't enough rain in the late spring, or if the bindweed has simply won. (What do you do with an infestation of bindweed short of nuclear annihilation? )

I have picked some berries, but they are small and don't even have that delicious aroma of ripe berries when I have a bowl of them in the kitchen. They are quite seedy, which may seem a strange thing to say since all strawberries are quite seedy, but they are more seedy than normal. And so it makes me sad because I was looking forward to many bags of frozen berries as well as replenishing my jam supplies. I did make one batch of jam, but I like to do two or three. Maybe by the weekend?


I have referred to my increasingly shrinking vegetable garden and here it is in all its glory. Three quarters of my garden is strawberries and a big ol' rhubarb which you can see in the corner, gone to seed but still producing. I guess I should say strawberries and weeds, with a couple of paths thrown in.

This year my husband made four protection "cages" for my seedlings. He used fencing boards and chicken wire. They are heavy enough to stay in place, but light enough to be easily lifted and moved. I've lost so many young plants and seedlings to rabbits, birds, and other critters, so I asked him to create something like this. He's so talented that he whipped these up in no time. In the foreground you can see tomato plants with tomato cages in place. The blue strips are plastic bag that I cut into strips to flap around in the breeze with the hopes of deterring birds. I've had birds come along and snip young tomato plants right off. These are surviving nicely.

Underneath my protection frames I have: beets, two kinds of lettuce, green beans, peas, onions, peppers and basil. The peppers and basil are too tall to fit under the frames, so I put rocks under the edges to raise the frame up. I also have cucumbers, zuchinni, and potatoes. The potatoes are just starting to come through the soil.


Here is a closer look at one of the frames. They are as long as the length of a fence board. They are as wide as a fence board cut in half. They could probably be a little longer, but that would have made them harder to build quickly and cheaply. Yes, I am still using white plastic spoons as row labels, written on with sharpie marker. The protection frames are definitely doing their job. The beans growing under it are healthy and getting bigger. The beans that are not covered by the frame are chewed and half the size.

My vegetable garden is not very big anymore, but I try to cram a lot into a little space. And I plant throughout the season. I can't wait for the "firsts" - first lettuce in a salad, first ripe cherry tomato, first beans eaten right in the garden.

We are in for a few scorcher days in Ontario. I honestly don't mind and we don't even have air conditioning. Our old house stays quite cool, on the first floor. The upstairs bedrooms do get warm, but every room has ceiling fans and we have a small window air conditioner in our bedroom. I'll keep the garden watered and watch things grow!

31 comments:

  1. First...I'm only desperate for A/C when I sleep so I totally get your window unit and fan in the bedroom. Our house is also old and we have hot water, base board heat, so central a/c was not even a thought. We suffer. :(

    I like what your husband has done for your veggies. I was a keen veggie garden person years ago until I no longer had the time shuffling between two homes. I really do think raised beds are the best, and the screens your hubby made are genius. Critters are hard. I do think if you have some sort of chicken wire around the beds you might not get the bunnies...they don't want to bother trying. Nor squirrels (in my case). Also---you are so smart to plant close together for space, it crowds out weeds.

    Thanks so much for your visits. I love how 'down to earth' you are!

    Jane

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  2. I like your raised beds - they really do keep some pests at bay and they look neat and tidy. Here we are in the middle of a huge heat wave and watering is a real chore.

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  3. Thanks, Weaver and Blondie. I think I may have not communicated well, however. The beds aren't raised. It's still my ground level vegetable garden, but the wooden / chicken wire things are just to lay on top of the ground to give seedlings a chance to get big enough to possibly survive a bunny attack. I'll be picking them up and shifting them around throughout the growing season.

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  4. I agree with you, nothing nicer than picking your own veggies, although I only grow tomato plants. The work was too much with other veggies that only the wild life got to enjoy. I have all my tomato plants in barrels throughout the garden. Your husband made a brilliant fix for your seedlings. ... Mary-Lou =^..^=

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    1. I think if I only grew one thing it would be tomatoes!

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  5. I am so fortunate to have a vegetable oriented market near me. I have not shopped in a big box store for three years. But I remember the old days of working a garden. The operative word is "old", and that's me. Old.

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    1. Yup, "old", who's churning out reams of tea towels on a daily basis, who raised her granddaughters, who defies her doctors...

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  6. I miss a vegetable garden so much, but I haven't had the heart to take it back up since I left the house of my dreams. I will, one day. For now I do farmers market as a measly replacement.

    Enjoy!

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    1. Farmers markets are great - let them do the work for you!

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  7. Jen, so sorry about the disappointing strawberry crop for you. I'd love to someday have a nice produce garden, but with my right knee and hubby's lack of gardening interest, alas, it's not in the cards.

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    1. Gardening is murder on the knees, and on the back.

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  8. An excellent vege protection system! I've been battling the birds and chipmunks for my limited strawberry harvest. A couple of years ago I decided to put bird netting over the bed to protect them, but it was pure hell trying to pick them. We're heading toward some hot weather this weekend, too. I manage to keep the house fairly cool, as I don't have any A/C. A judicious use of fans helps.

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    1. I've seen tree netting at the Amish farm down the road (they have a large vegetable stand). Fans are great - I actually prefer a fan to air conditioning.

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  9. I so need those plant protectors. My beets, chard and carrots are Gone. We have three wee well fed bunnies romping around the yard. hey don't seem to care for potatoes, onions, squash or tomatoes.
    Not looking forward to this extreme heat. My late MIL used to tell me we were "too Irish" for this nonsense. My FIL was in diplomatic service. They were once posted to the middle east and Irish MIL had to come home, she couldn't take the heat.....and she was born in India!

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    1. I see your three wee well fed bunnies and raise you four black squirrels.
      How interesting that your Irish mother-in-law was born in India!

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  10. The screens are a good idea. Some critter (deer? bunnies? birds) devastated Rick's garden this year -- that's a really good idea and I'm going to share this with him. We have a bunch of wood (I think still) that we bought for a failed project at the lake that he might be able to use...

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    1. My big request was that they not be too heavy and cumbersome, so I could easily move them around.

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  11. If I wanted a backyard veggie garden I would need chest high raised beds to thwart the rabbits and netting to stave off the birds and bugs....

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    1. I'm just hoping that once they reach a certain size, I can remove the cages and they'll be o.k. We'll see.

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  12. We tried strawberries but the rabbits and woodchucks won out. Ugh.

    We're about to get some really hot days too - I've got fans on the horses, one for the chickens too - and we have AC and a paddle fan to help sleep at night. You're tougher than I! I need the air.

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    1. When I had chickens I remember being concerned about them during a heat wave. I actually rigged up a "screen door" in their big door so I could leave it open at night and give them a bit of a cross breeze when they came in to roost.

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  13. Aren't those cages wonderful? Oh...you're not the only one...out of 12 strawberry roots I planted in May? 2 plants are JUST starting to leaf. I hope I have some strawberries by SEPTEMBER already! Get yee some old tires woman! ;) Seriously though, those tires are wonderful! They may not look too nice to the "Joneses" but my potatoes are just bursting through. I have a friend who grows strawberries in tires too and she gets an amazing crop each year.

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    1. I'm at the end of a dead end "street", so I'm not particularly concerned about what the neighbours think. I've seen your tires. Not a bad idea!

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  14. My daughter gave me a hanging strawberry plant for Mother’s Day!
    I love watching the flowers appear, and the berries have been delish!
    Not enough to make jam...but fun!
    I also have planted up 3 of the runners, and they are doing great.
    We will be at the cottage from tomorrow on...probably head home if it is too hot....very difficult to sleep down there when it is humid. The bedrooms are upstairs, and depending on the wind, we could melt! Hahaha,
    Have a great weekend...
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  15. I have tomatoes and cukes planted in plastic tubs. I live in the woods and most of my yard is shaded. I love where I am, but I miss having a large garden
    the Ol'Buzzard

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  16. Our strawberries are just starting to take off. We've moved them three times in four years trying to find the best spot. Maybe, finally, we have found it. Love your plastic spoon idea for markers. We've used old window blinds in the past but I'll bet the spoons stay in the ground better.

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  17. I planted 2 tomato plants this year in the only tiny little strip of garden that gets any sun. They're doing quite well and actually have some blooms on them. I went berry picking yesterday and the picking wasn't all that great. I got enough for jam and to freeze but they weren't the best berries I've ever had. Maybe it was the crappy spring.

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  18. Can your husband make something to deter the deer from my garden?

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  19. That is a great idea your husband did, I hope it works out for you. We have a terrible time here too keeping squirrels and all away from our garden. I haven't put too much into it as it has been very dry and humid, hard to get things to grow well. Hope you have a great weekend!

    Blessings,
    Jill

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  20. I'm so sad for you! I gave up a veggie garden awhile ago. I hope next year is better!

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