Our gardens in many lights

samedi 16 janvier 2016

Successes and failures 2015, part 2

Cet article en français.
White-flowered viola ready to harvest for both the flowers and the heart-shaped leaves. They make wonderful salads. I also have yellow-flowered and mauve-flowered plants. They easily re-seed by themselves so I always have a lot on hand. On this picture , we can see a baby plants at the base of the mother plant (in the bottom-left corner). In the back, a crawling stonecrop (sedum)  makes a nice green carpet.

Louise :
Linden flowers with their long bracts (the yellow
wings that are attached to the flower stalks).
Normally, I do my harvest in the surrounding
neighborhood, close to my house. But we have
seven adult trees on our new property,
so this year 2015, the harvest was done there. 
2015 saw good and bad, pretty much like its climate: Spring arrived later than usual and was followed by a cold summer; but rain has been adequate and there's been enough sun ! 
This year's successes and failures are partly due to a very big event in our lives: We bought land between Sherbrooke and Drummondville. I haven't talked about it yet (not enough time or pictures) but the short story is that on this new land, everything either needs to be heavily rennovated or built from scratch. We don't live there: we have tenants and during the summer of 2014 - amongst other projects - I built a giant garden there that was doubled this past spring of 2015. This massive project took so much of my time, I neglected the garden back home. But take heart, we will speak of this adventure soon!

The failures at home :
In the foreground, one of my 6 sweet berry honeysuckle (lonicera caerulea), bearing branches that have a reddish tinge at the start of the season. The tiny cream, triangle-shaped flowers should have made good berries.
Back home, my 10 tomato plants have given me a meager dozen of fruits, only 4 plants of beans have actually sprouted, I only harvested a handful of  ripe groundcherries and the peppers and eggplants have given me zero fruit. Furthermore, having little time to spare on my berry spring harvest (strawberries, sweet berries and black currants), I barely even noticed if they adequately set fruit!

'Red Robin' cherry-tomatoes, growing indoors
under artificial light in the middale of winter.
 At the end of spring, I also interrupted my indoors garden since it was time to change the soil medium anyway. Thus, my cherry-tomato plants 'Red Robin', that were giving me fruits since 2011, seemed exhausted,  and at that point, gave me little fruits and mostly made new leaves to replace the ones that kept dessicating at an alarming rate. 

I brought those old plants outside, thinking I would compost them later on. Surprisingly, they came back with vigour in the middle of summer, something like a last spurge, even thought they barely had 5 hours of sunshine per day ! This was their last saving grace, since I didn't bring them back inside at the end of summer. I knew that in fall, I would have a busy workload - too busy to start back the indoor garden. It was a wise decision overall, but I still miss the fresh tomatoes in the middle of January ! 

The half-successes at home :
Croustillants morceaux de rhubarbe,
prêts pour la cuisson.

  The juneberry that's stationned at the front of my house gave me a modest amount of fruits, but the bush is still young and it did give me double of what I harvested the previous year. However, the one at the back of the yard is having trouble and produced very little (and the fruits it gave weren't in good shape).  My blueberries gave me 3 lbs (1,5 kg) of fruits. It's good, by I usually get double that amount! Maybe they took a year off. The rhubarb did fantastic, as usual, but I want to split my plants so I only did a spring harvest, and skipped the late-summer one, to keep them strong. This decision prevented my from harvesting enough to make my usual reserve of frozen rhubarb juice that I use to replace lemon juice in recipes.

The real successes at home:
My wood garlics are now well established and they even grew a little (I have four clumps). The bulb of these plants is edible and it produces long, bluish leaves that are also edible. This is what I harvest since harvesting the bulb would kill the plant. I use the leaves sparingly everywhere. Not too much because the plants take a long time to grow.

Third week of July.
From the top and clockwise,

'Crimson Passion' cherries,
juneberries, 2 four-seasons strawberries,

 gooseberries, blueberries. 
One cherry-tomato in the center.

The gooseberries produced a generous amount, like most of my edible perennials (daylily leaves, hosta leaves, violas, mint, lovage and horseradish).

The black raspberries (in the picture above, with fruits in my hand) have made so much fruits, we harvested 10 pounds (almost 5 kg) of them! That's without calculating what we ate on the spot - at least two pounds more! We had so much we gave some to family members.
The plants are located on a part of the yard that we leave almost wild, it also overlaps a bit on the neighbour's property, a store that doesn't use this piece of abandonned -to-nature land.

Our wild cherry tree, a chokecherry (Prunus Virginiana),  produced about 15 kilos, but I only harvest about 5 (about 10 pounds) in the middle of August. The rest was out of my reach and so there was enough to also feed the birds of the neighbourhood. Most of that harvest ended up either as jam, syrup or coulis. We also eat these fruits fresh, even thought we ended up with puckered mouths, but a good helping of happiness - call it a childhood memory reprise. The three pictures below show both the complicated harvest and the prize !


I do have two dwarf cherries called 'Crimson Passion', bought in 2012.

One of them was transplanted in 2013, thus stalling its growth. It gave us fruits for the first time this year (three berries in all). The other produced for the second year and gave about 60 big, round and juicy fruits that we ate fresh, till the last. They are delicious and sugary, for cherries that can grow here, althought they are a bit tart. At my home, they produce in July. The plants have been categorized as a zone 4 and you have to place them in full sun and with a protection against the cold winds of winter. They can grow up to 2 to 3 meters high and wide (6 to 11 feet), which makes them good candidate for urban gardens. They can be trimmed to keep them in shape. Mine, pictured left, hasn't been trimmed yet and still retains a good shape.

Picture left : mini bok-choi ready                        Picture right : sweet potato slip 
 to eat.                                                                   (Ipomoea Batatas), just before planting.


As for the annuals, I only planted 2 cucumber plants and together they gave me about 20 delicious fruits. I harvested a tremedous amount of roquette, lettuce and... sweet potatoes! Seven pounds of them! 
Even thought the summer was colder than usual (which may explain some of the fruits and vegetables failures, as welle as those that prefer warm temperature like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.) and even if I couldn't give all the time the garden would have required to really thrive, I'm still very proud of what it brought to heart and table. What makes me sing is that regardless of the failures, there was always something to eat. The wide variety of fruits and vegetables I cultivate in my yard contributes to my happiness as a gardener like nothing else!

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