Our gardens in many lights

lundi 15 décembre 2014

Successes and Failures 2014, Part 1

 Cet article en français.

The garden lost in that September fog.

Similar article of last year:

I started writing this article at the beginning of October. Early for it, isn't it? But the weather's been telling me this year's gardening season would end sooner than usual, whichever way I'd try to postpone it. Speaking of which, I was lucky enough, with my closed-in garden, with its 8 feet wood fence, because the hard frost that hit most of Quebec province in mid-September didn't make a dent in my garden. I didn't even have time to cover anything; I learned of it at 9PM - way too late in the evening to take any measure. I didn't even loose my basil! But I know a lot of other gardens didn't fare as well. Sad.
The big tomatoes are the cultivar
"Cosmonaute Volkov", the smaller
ones are "Mini Roma" and my usual,
"White Currant". The two firsts
won't come back in my garden; they
don't produce much and often have
bruised or mischappen fruits. Volkov
at least is delicious. Mini Roma is quite
forgettable, unfortunately.

And I think that's the first reason for one of my failures (otherwise, the season was superb) : the tomatoes. Even if the frost didn't kill my tomato plants , since mid-August, nights have been very cold, too cold actually for the good maturing of tomatoes. Sources say you need a nightly temperature of above 10 degrees Celsius for tomatoes to mature (some even state it's closer to 12 degrees). 

Small harvest of mint, "Sunshine" squash (yep, only one) and limes.
 Strangely, my mint didn't fare well either; the leaves got attacked by the fungus Puccinia Menthae, that causes mint rust. One explanation might be that the cherry tree above the mint as grown and is making more and more shadow, preventing a good evaporation of rain water. In a humid environment like that, the fungus spreads. It's unfortunate that harvest hasn't been good since mint is pretty much my base for herbal tea throughout the winter.

I was afraid I wouldn't have a good bean harvest either. I planted a new potato variety - I planted them right in front of my bean teepee. These potatoes were planted in May and became so big that by June - the time where I plant my beans - these beans where never able to pierce the dense vegetation the potatoes produced.
I harvested a couple of dried-on-the-plant beans every day, from July throughout October. Here are "Scarlet Runner Bean" (black and purple) and "Jacob's Cattle" (white and pink). The one missing was "Painted Lady", lost in the potatoes' shadow.

But beans have been a success nonetheless since I planted them here and there in my garden, and not only on the bean teepee in the back of the potato patch. Moreover, this season's cool air pushed them to dry out in bigger quantities than my average harvest, years where cold come down fast, preventing the beans to dry up ont the plant, and I can only harvest fresh beans that I have to freeze. So, luckily this year, I'll have more dried beans versus fresh beans - a ratio that's usually reversed.
Here's half of the potato harvest. Last year, I "forgot" some Norland potatoes in the ground, so these made plants too. That gave me two types of potatoes this year. Norland are the red ones with white flesh while the Golden Rush are yellow with yellow flesh. We used them majorly in soups and potato salads.

Usual strawberries in the bowl, 
Alpine variety on the rock.
Fruits did very well, even thought my peach tree only produced 3 peaches (I need to give it fertilizer, the soil just isn't rich enough for a good fruition, observation validated by 2 years of nothing). It's still worth mentionning that peach trees, like some of the old apple varieties, produce a good harvest only every two years, or more in the case of peach trees.
However, the succession of berries worked well starting with strawberries, followed by juneberries and ending with raspberries (peaches usually come around the same time as raspberries or a bit earlier). "Ending" is actually an overstatement since the raspberries produce until the frosts (not in amazing quantities, but a couple here and there) and one variety of strawberries bears fruits up into autumn. I have two types of strawberries: my usual, which produces a good 3 weeks of spring harvest, and the Alpine variety, that makes less fruits but produce them in spring and Autumn, when the temperatures drop again, around the mid-September.
Gold raspberries and alpine strawberries together in September.
(Two tiny, edible borage flowers are posing as decoration.)
 I didn't bother planting groundcherries this year, but cucumbers and finally - Finally! - I was successful with them! They gave me so much fruits that I even managed to make a jar of pickles! I did everything to ensure success. I planted them South (with a dash of shade however), directly in a bag of sheep manure. That bag was great to keep enough water and warmth for the plants. I placed stalks with twine for the plants to crawl up. It's a wonderful victory with these, my first since 6 years on and off of trial.
One plump cuke, bruised by the colds of September rounds up a small harvest of tomatoes and alpine strawberries.

New surprises:
Surprises are becoming rare (I've worked this piece of garden for 6 years, now) but there are a couple of things worth mentionning.

First with the tiny creatures - insects, molluscs, etc. - who were very visible, two in particular. The bumblebees (first picture, with a wasp) and snails.
This picture shows the differences between bumblebees and wasps very well.
Hidden in the heart of a dwarf hosta, this snail is far from being a singular occurence in the garden. Take note, though, it looks big but it's in a variety of dwarf hosta called "Mouse Ear".

Many varieties of daylillies have flowered without precedence this year, some because they were planted two years ago and having taken the last year to establish themselves properly, can now flower with abandon; one variety I repositionned and finally, another one just decided to give its 110% !
Giving its 110%, here's a variety I don't have the name of anymore, from a specialty nursery that doesn't exist anymore... I nicknamed it "The Bridesmaid".
The red daylilies in the back bloom well every year. As for the two varieties at the front, of cream complexion, they have been planted two years ago. They bloomed very well this year, and will surely expand in the years to come.

Finally, I nicknamed this one "The Garden's Angel" or "The Empress", it also comes from that closed nursery.
Here's her story: 
Once upon a time, there was a daylily of wondrous beauty. Dashes of peach and sunshine, sprinkles of pink colored her satiny petals, giving her allures of a garden angel. The owner of this unfortunate one took the sad decision of placing it between two thujas. Even thought the daylily was in full sunshine, the conifers grew and grew and suffocated the poor flower. The first year, she made 3 flowers. The second, only one. The following, none. The Garden Angel had disappeared, leaving only a tuft of scrawny leaves in its place.

And so, last year, the gardener finally noticed the slow agony of the beautiful daylily. Luckily, she found a new, special spot just for the flower. In little less than a heartbeat and 3 shovelings, the daylily was in that perfect place again! And this year, in celebration, the Garden Angel came back in full force, strutting her beautiful flowers once again! 
The End

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