Not so Yucca

  The yucca plant is another garden staple in the lower mainland of BC. I doesn’t require a lot of attention and can withstand both heat and drought. In White Rock they show up on boulevards, in flower beds and parking lots. In early spring they send up flower stalks which bloom in June with lovely white blossoms.

   
 

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Time, Thyme and more Time

   

As a newcomer to the lower mainland (and new to BC for that matter) I’m a rookie when it comes to growing things in zone 8. I’ve nurtured plants in zone 3 for forty-plus years but I’ve never lived anywhere but the Canadian prairies*.

It’s a whole different ballgame, so to speak. Plants thrive here in the warmth and humidity. They get several more months to grow and produce, whether flowers, seeds, herbs or fruit. 

On the prairies timing is everything; you have to have your seeds in the dirt and under artificial light in March or you won’t have seedlings ready to plant out in May. If you transplant too early you can loose your tomatoes to frost, if you wait too long you may lose them in the fall before they’re at full production. It’s a risky business and every gardener has lost the gamble at one time or another.

Here in White Rock things are more flexible. The season is twice as long and that allows for some leeway in choosing what to plant and when safely expose it to the elements. Instead of choosing only seeds with a short “days to maturity” time, I can choose virtually any seeds. ANY SEEDS. 

It’s no wonder the local farms are already selling freshly harvested carrots, tomatoes and baby potatoes at the market. The variety of local produce already available is staggering: strawberries, raspberries, greens, peppers, garlic, basil to name a few. 

Even my own peppers and tomato plants are flowering on my balcony, something I’d be waiting another month or two to experience back in Edmonton. It’s a whole new adventure, and I think I’m going to be able to adjust just fine. <grin>

  
*Ok, I did live for four years in southwestern Ontario in my early twenties, but I’ve tried to wash those memories from my brain.

The Roses of White Rock

So…I’ve not posted anything for a long time and it’s time to fess up. I’m not in Edmonton anymore, I’ve moved to White Rock, BC. 

It’s been a busy spring for gardeninggrrl, having sold my house packed up and moved all over the past three months. I stayed in four different homes while waiting to take occupancy of my condo on the west coast. I’m finally (more or less) settled and ready to post to the blog again. My apologies for the absence.

Now that I’m in zone 8 my posts will undoubtedly take a different course. I’ve never lived anywhere but zone 2/3 so this is an entirely new experience for me. 

I thought I’d start by sharing photos of some of the lovely roses I’ve seen while walking the streets of White Rock. Because roses grow much more readily here than they do on the prairies there are many more varieties on display. I don’t know much about roses, having only been exposed to the most hardy of specimens (thinking of John Cabot or the Morden series for example).

So for my first post of 2015, my first post from BC, here are some photos I took this morning.

   
                     

Fall Clean-up: Mulch and Protect

Fall is arguably Edmonton’s most beautiful season. No mosquitoes, lovely warm afternoons and calm evenings with spectacular sunsets. The foliage changes to shades of red, yellow and orange, and the air is crisp and fresh.

It’s also the time of year when we have to put down our spades and pick up our rakes, cleaning up the garden beds and protecting them for the upcoming cold winter months.

It can get as cold as -40C in Edmonton during the most frigid nights of winter, so having a good protective mulch over the hibernating plants is a must.

I take a simple approach, first slaying the perennial foliage with my clippers, then pulling all the annuals that won’t survive the winter. Once I’ve done that, I collect the leaves and mess on the lawn and run it down with a mower. I’ll do the same with the leaves from my trees as soon as they’ve come down, and sometimes I’ll borrow from neighbors if I feel I need even more browns.

The resulting mulch is returned to the garden to cover the plants with a 10-12″ airy quilt which will provide that extra layer of warmth they’ll need to get through the coming months.

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Perfect Roma Tomatoes. Every Time.

I have to give a shout out to T&T Seeds of Winnipeg for their amazing Roma tomato called Momma Mia. It’s been a staple in my garden for years, producing beautiful paste tomatoes that I love to make into sauce for those bland winter months. The quantity of fruit can’t be beaten, and I’ve never had any issues with the health and virility of the plants. Highly recommended.

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A Simple Way to Harvest and Preserve Garlic

I like to make my life easier, so I’m always looking for the simplest ways to preserve and consume my garden produce.

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Today I dug up half of my garlic. Garlic is ready when the bottom four leaves of the stalk have turned brown. For Zone 3, this is usually mid to late August.

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After separating the cloves I carefully washed and patted them dry with a towel.

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I then tossed the cloves into my tiny food processor and added enough vegetable oil to cover them.

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I used the pulse button to control the chopping until I had the consistency I wanted, just slightly larger than a mince.

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I put the resulting mixture in a jar, topped it up with a bit more veggie oil and that’s it. The mixture lasts for several weeks in the fridge and after I’ve used up all the garlic I have fabulous oil to use as well.

Note: Storing garlic in oil at room temperature can result in proliferation of botulism, and botulism poisoning is a potentially fatal condition. Always store the oil at less than 3 degrees C and use it only if cooking thoroughly.