Raymond Evison Clematis

Raymond Evison is a English gardener and plant breeder who has worked in developing clematis cultivars for over 50 years. 

When I went to West Coast Gardens looking for a balcony-suitable climber I was directed to the “new” Evison clematis’. Apparently they flower in late spring and then again later in the late summer. Mine has been forming buds for the past few weeks and I’ve been excitedly waiting to see what the flowers will look like. Today I was rewarded.  I chose a pink double flower variety called “Empress”, simply because I thought the picture on its accompanying card was pretty. I’m definitely not disappointed.

This clematis has been joyfully growing on my balcony for about a month, climbing noticeably higher on a daily basis. It seems to love the east-facing space where it gets good strong morning sun and avoids the strongest heat of the day.
In the winter I’m directed to cut the upper 1/3 of the plant and leave it outdoors where (as long as it has moderate wind protection) it will be safe until it begins to grow again the following spring.
Here are some photos I’ve taken over the past week. Enjoy!
   

  

  

  

  

  

  

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Building A Simple Raised Bed Planter :)

Every now and again I get called upon to help build something for a friend. I guess it’s because my girlfriends don’t have all the tools I do, or maybe it’s because I have more experience than most in my social circle.

This week a good friend showed me a picture of a Costco raised bed planter she thought she might buy. For $190 she could buy a set of two plastic snap-together beds that would give her 32 square feet of usable garden space. The 4’x4′ planters didn’t ideally suit her needs, as she didn’t really want to give up that much lawn space.

I convinced her that for 1/3 the cost she could have a lovely cedar planter, made to whatever dimensions she liked.

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I sent her to the lumber depot with a shopping list:
4x 2x6x10′ cedar boards (for sides)
1x 2x6x8′ cedar board (for ends) cut into 4 two foot lengths

I looked through my things and found:
2 1/2″ zinc wood screws
An old stair rail which I cut into six 2x2x11″ pieces

We met at her place and got started. I’ve built a number of these sort of beds, but I have to say that having someone to help is a real treat.

With her holding each 2×2 in place, I screwed two screws into each board, fastening them to the corner post.

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After the first layer was complete, we began the same process with the second level. I like to alternate the overlap of the boards so that the planter looks the same from all angles. It also provides more strength to the joints.

Since this raised bed is ten feet long, we added two more posts halfway along the length to pull the boards together and support them. Easy peasy.

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In a half hour we were done with the project; I doubt she could have put the plastic planters from Costco together any quicker. And the custom built cedar planter looks awesome.

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Installing Drip Irrigation

This raised bed now has a regular supply of water from a nearby rain barrel
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A few years ago my brother bought me a bunch of tubing and connectors to set up a drip irrigation system. The components made it to my garage but I was intimidated by all the little parts and by what appeared to be complicated instructions.
We had a few days of rain this week so I decided that it was time to pull everything out and have a go at designing an irrigation system for my two raised vegetable beds.It turned out I had ample materials for one raised bed, but I needed a few more connectors for the other. I was able to find what I needed at Lee Valley Tools.

I began with 1/2" hose, 1/4" tubing, compression fittings and 1/4" hose connectors
Hoses and connectors
1/4″ connectors: straight, elbow and T
Punching holes
I cut all of the pieces I needed
Then began to connect them all
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Basically I began with a compression connector which connects the male end of my regular hose to the 1/2″ irrigation hose. Then once I determined the length of the 1/2″ hose I needed (just short of 5′) I cut it off and applied another compression connector with an end cap.
I punched 10 holes in the 1/2″ hose at 12″ intervals, 5 on each side. Into those holes I inserted a straight barbed connector attached to a 23 1/2″ piece of 1/4″ drip tubing. A the other end of each of these pieces of drip tubing I used additional connectors and several 11 1/2″ pieces of tubing to make a loop system. 
 
A Y-splitter gives both raised beds access to the rain barrel
Quick connector makes taking the hose off easy
I made my own hooks to secure the tubing
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Shepherd’s hooks were fashioned from clothes hanger wire and used to secure the tubing in place in the soil.
I attached a Y-splitter to my rain barrel so that I could water both beds at the same time. I also added some quick connectors to the hoses so that I could disconnect them when they weren’t in use. Because this is system isn’t connected to a potable water source I didn’t install a backflow preventer. 
 
Because the water pressure is minimal, I didn’t concern myself with a pressure regulator. I would consider at minimum the backflow preventer if I had it attached to my home water supply.
 
The final outcome is a drip irrigation system that uses rain water and gravity

Winning Garden 2012!

The Edmonton Horticultural Society holds an annual contest to determine the city’s finest gardens in twelve different categories. Anyone who has the entry fee can participate, and this year I threw my tilley hat in the ring in the “vegetable garden” category.

To my surprise and delight, I won first place. My Mom’s first response was to ask, “How many entries were there?” So like my Mom.

In any case, here are a few pictures.

Thinking Outside the Box (Store)

Resist the Swan

Is it just me, or has anybody else noticed that every box store in North America has jumped on the gardening goods bandwagon? You can find everything from seeds to manure at the mall these days. Thank goodness for the independent greenhouses and gardening supply companies or we’d all be producing the same petunias in the same swan planter as our neighbors.

I want to share another creative idea I came up with this week: my chimney flue planters. I bought four of these bad-boys for $30 from a guy on kijiji who had recently renovated his home. I thought they’d be ideal planters, so I dug them into my garden and filled them with soil. Voila. What do you think?

Chimney Flue Planters

 

Transplanting Tomato Seedlings

36 carefully transplanted tomatoes

Today was transplant day, which means that I carefully moved 36 tomato seedlings to their new pots. This isn’t difficult, but it is tedious. Also known as pricking out, transplanting is an important step in growing plants from seed.

I started by filling three dozen three inch pots with sterile, slightly moist potting soil. Each pot needed a marker to indicate which tomato it held, so I cut 36 tags from a plastic yogurt tub and labeled each one.

After making a deep hole in the soil of the new pots, I carefully lifted each tomato plant from the bottom using an escargot fork (and you thought you didn’t have any use for an escargot fork?). I only touch the seedlings on their cotyledon leaves, as damage to the stem or first set of leaves can stunt the growth of the plant.

It’s really important to plant the tomato seedlings as deep as possible – this allows them to develop strong roots. I’ll have another chance to transplant them to a larger pot in about 3 weeks, and I’ll plant them even deeper at that time.

Upcycling Pots for Seedlings

Toilet Paper Pots

I’m forever looking for ways to reuse things I have around the house when it comes time to sow my spring seeds. I use anything I can get my hands on from yogurt cups to take-out containers.

This year I decided to try making small paper planters from toilet paper rolls.

Each roll can be cut in half to make two planters – tiny little planters suitable for some of the seedlings I’ll sow last, like lettuce and morning glory.

Fold the tp rolls flat then again so that they become square-ish.  Cut them in half then make a 1cm slice along each fold. Fold these slits as you would to close a box. Flip and fill.