Monday, December 13, 2010

A Winter Stroll

Although the temperatures are currently way above freezing, the cold and snow in November wreaked havoc with some plants, such as this previously thriving Brussels sprout plant in a boulevard garden.
However, right across the street, a nearby fence must have provided a different micro-climate. These Brussels sprouts did not freeze, and of course the hardy garlic is thriving.
This is the new front-yard garden, seen in my blog of May 22, 2010. It must be broccoli in the background. The pathways are obscured by leaves. Leaves may look messy, but they are an excellent ground cover during our soggy winter months.
This high raised bed with herbs on the boulevard isn't as striking as it was in the blog of September 23, 2010, but items can still be harvested.

It may be hard to see the leafless blueberry bush in this boulevard garden. It is mulched with cedar needles. Note the healthy parsley plant nearby.

I am featuring only one photo of kale, but it is in about everyone's garden. A couple of the kale plants seeded themselves outside the confines of this mixed veggie/ornamental front yard garden with a curved border along the sidewalk.

Now over to the garden of a retired librarian couple in my neighborhood. (For more on this garden see blog of October 6, 2009.) I don't usually take photos in back yard gardens, but they invited me to see this stunning January King cabbage that survived the cold in great style, unlike their more typical cabbages that turned to mush.

Going to their front yard garden, I found "Freckles" lettuce, trimmed asparagus stems, and leeks (note the pea plants used as ground cover behind the leeks).

Eating from a winter garden is definitely more thrilling than seeing photos of winter gardens. To avoid boring you further, I'm going to sign off until 2011, with this photo of a neighbour's new use for wire tomato cages:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Winter in November

I'd been intending to do a blog on winter gardens, but I expected a greener more alive scene. La Niña struck the west coast with an early snow cover for Vancouver. The tomatillo plant in my boulevard garden was just beginning to drop ripe fruit, and now this...

The zucchini still had 1-inch zucchinis; it's now over for them. The kale will probably be OK despite temperatures not going above freezing for days.

The parsley is nowhere to be seen, so it's good to have the little marker for it!

The weather is a bit backward; as you can see, the snow came before the leaves fell.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blenheim Street Garden

When you see the two planter boxes of corn bordering the front sidewalk to a house, you know something more is going on in the front yard. I seem to remember seeing these boxes (only one of which is pictured here) on display at the "Backyard Bounty Market" (see my blog of October 2) held in September as part of the Dunbar Harvest Festival, but the corn plants were greener and more attractive then.

The front yard garden is not easily seen from the sidewalk, so my apologies for the inadequate photo. However, the garden is still thriving in late October; there is a keen gardener here.

At least some of the raised beds appear to built from recycled wood, especially the one in the left corner, perhaps from a drawer or a shelf unit? This is certainly fine to do (I've done it myself), and since we gardeners often change our minds about the design of our gardens, it is practical since little cost is involved. In order to be extra safe growing food, things to avoid are lead paints/varnishes, particle board, laminated wood from Ikea cast-offs, "treated" lumber, creosote finishes, maybe more. Our throw-away culture results in many items discarded in the lanes, and all the demolitions produce even more potential finds. We see this too often in our Dunbar neighbourhood:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Raised Beds on Corner Lot

As a rule of thumb, if you see a picket fence, look for a veggie garden. The house is on a corner, so this veggie garden may not qualify as a "front" yard garden, but the raised beds are right out there for everyone walking on the sidewalk along the avenue to see. The first two photos are from October 2009; the third one from October 2010. To do justice to this garden, I would prefer to have photos from the height of the growing season, but even at this marginal time of year, you can see the variety of things that are being successfully grown in the two raised beds on the south side of this house and the change from one year to the next. What are those strings for?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Bear's Front-Yard Edible Garden

This black bear's front yard edible garden is Thornton Creek, near Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The creek is near a fish hatchery. He is a lucky bear!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Twin Raised Beds

Two neighbours on West 16th Avenue coordinated their efforts in constructing identical raised beds in their front yards, but what they are growing differs. One has constructed a trellis for runner beans and there are leeks or onions, perhaps more.

The other has kale, tomatoes, chard, beans, and perhaps a blueberry bush.

These are the first raised beds that I've seen made from 4x4's. For those of you who are builders, here is a detail of the corner. These sturdy beds should last a long time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Avoiding Tomato Blight

In these photos, it is September 19, and the days are damp and rainy, but these gardeners are prepared. The tomatoes (and one bean plant) in their front yard are covered in plastic and the gardeners are ready to roll down the plastic with the next shower. Blight be gone...

Going around to the lane, I saw pole beans growing on the lane side of their back fence and much of their back garden wrapped in plastic, almost a shrink-wrapped garden!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Backyard Bounty Market

Very little prevents me from shopping at the UBC Farm Market on Saturday mornings, but instead on Saturday, September 25, I took part in a local market in the vacant lot at the corner of Dunbar Street and 18th Avenue. This first-ever event in our neighbourhood featured vegetables and fruits grown in the Dunbar area and was sponsored by the Dunbar Village Harvest Festival. The proceeds of several hundred dollars will go to flood relief in Pakistan.

Volunteers getting set up:

Grown at a volunteer's home behind St. George's Senior School (two kinds of apples, oregano, potatoes, and sorrel):

More produce:

The sprouting broccoli seedlings blur with the strong winds on that sunny day.
These heritage Wolf River apples were grown at a Dunbar resident's second home on Salt Spring Island.

Dunbar Transition (part of the Village Vancouver Transition Initiative) had tables with books, non-disposable lunch pails, and a sign-up sheet for email.

And chickens of course!
Are we ready for the 10-block diet yet?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Raised Herb Garden on the Boulevard

A big thank you to Buddy and his owner (SG) who walks him for spotting this lovely raised bed in a block right off Dunbar Street and pointing it out to me. The front yard is shady, but this raised bed on the boulevard is very sunny and quite productive. The height is about 16 inches, so it is easy to maintain.

I love how the thyme hangs over the south edge, and I couldn't resist taking a photo of the flowering rosemary. And for the herbally challenged, here alongside basil is a tangle of rosemary, lavender, and tarragon:

For those who want the details, here is what I saw growing: leeks, Swiss chard, sunflowers, lavender, basil, fennel, dill, a strawberry, bay laurel, tarragon, and several varieties each of sage, rosemary, and thyme. If this isn't remarkable enough for such a small plot, there may have been more earlier in the season, plus I may have missed something! Think about how good the food must be at that house, with all these fresh herbs available, most of which are perennials.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mushrooms in the Front Yard

When it rains and rains and rains, can a good thing come of it? Today I saw some fun results of this dreadful fall weather--mushrooms abound in our front yard--I counted 10 different kinds (although I could be mistaken because as the mushrooms mature, they change character). Here they are:

A postscript for those who want to know more: The last (10th) mushroom pictured is an Amanita muscaria, my favorite for its striking beauty and one which I'll be looking for daily in the next while. The 9th one is prolific in our front yard; I don't know how many there were or what they are called, so if you know, please comment. The 8th one is a sort of puff ball, and they are fairly common in our yard as well. The other mushrooms are much smaller, some quite small. Years ago we had boletus edulis, introduced to me by a knowledgeable woman from Eastern European who was searching for them under the birch trees of our street. We ate some ourselves! I have not seen them on my property for many years and probably will not because the birch tree in front of our yard was removed in 2007, which is where they like to live. I did see a large specimen in the next block last week. Perhaps some of the 10 types pictured could be safely eaten, but the last one is a poison. Mushrooms are most prolific in gardens of benign neglect, i.e., where no lime or fertilizer has been added and vegetation has been left to decompose.