Friday, June 26, 2009

A Hearty Welcome to Summer ...

Summer Solstice Celebration
This transplanted West Indian has adopted a Pacific Northwest way to mark and
acknowledge our planet's bob and weave around the sun. Gives the neighbours something to wake up and talk about, I'm sure. For myself I feel I am giving respect where respect is due. I am acknowledging and syching my psyche with the annual plantetary transitions that impact us earth creatures fundamentally. A basic reality temporarily, lost from view in our urban, technological world.

The Summer Garden is Planted but it still feels like Spring
All the elements are in place to receive the best of summer.
With the hubby's kind help, three more Ikea metal bins have been attached to the outside of the bannister. With this new space available for growing food I now have planted three types of tomatoes - Juliet, Tumbler and Patio, companion planted with basil. A bush cucumber is cascading downwards, encouragingly full of flowers and baby cukes, cohabitating with a melon, either Minnesota Midget or Earligold, I have lost track. In the final bin I did a scattering of toy choy which I have thinned to about twelve plants. I will be enjoying them soon as they are fast growers. The extended cool weather has made it possible to grow a second crop of toy choy in this way.

Compost as Mulch
I have added a layer of three quarter done, home compost as a mulch over all the pots. I have also conscientiously been adding seaweed and fish emulsion to any hand watering. Compost tea drained from the compost bins and another batch made from comfrey have been fortifying the waterings of my backyards plantings.

Salad Ingredients
I purchased a few more clay pots which are placed along the balcony railing secured by a nail through the drainage hole. I will have more room for salad greens now. I am growing a variety of individual lettuces in two pots, which I harvest as "cut and come" again. In the the third container I am growing the lettuces as mesclun to be sheared at intervals. I have reseeded more arugula, my favourite, which is coming along very slowly.

An observation about growing Mesclun this year
I don't know what it is but I have had very poor success with growing mesclun mixes from West Coast Seed this year. I have reseeded my large clay pot, dedicated to meslun, mostly West Coast Market Mix and Provencal Mix about three times and nothing has come up other than a few mustards! I don't know what is going on. Last year mesculun mixes were the centre of my container gardening.

I notice that seedlings were sprouting only close to the wall of the pot so I am covering the pots with plastic wrap so as to retain the moisture incase the problem is that the surface of the medium is drying out as the seeds are at their most vulnerable germination stage.

This is the year for lettuce
I have successfully grown the WCS Super Gourmet Salad lettuce blend, planting more every two weeks. I don't know which of the five different lettuces in the blend are actually growing as it seems to be to be only two green types are growing: one with a straight edge and one with a fluted edge. But they are prolific and vigorous and tender eating. My cool porch has also delayed bolting and bitterness brought on in lettuce with the arrival of warmer weather.

My most recent planting of lettuce has been of warm weather tolerant varieties,
in anticipation of warmer July weather: Buttercrunch described as "not bitter in summer" and Anuenue described as "heat tolerant". We shall see ...

Last winter seems to have dipped low enough to wipe out the population of Rosemary in may coastal gardens. I lost my little potted plant which I have now replaced. Can't do without a Rosemary plant close at hand. I have also acquired Summer Savory, which is another favourite. I love the flavour in cheese and egg dishes. I pulled out the plant at the end of last year, it is an annual, dried it and bottled it up. I am about at the end of my supply of dried herb and look forward to harvesting and drying this year's plant. Dill is another must have ... great with salmon and boiled potatoes and butter. I find it grows so slowly though on my cool balcony, there is never enough when I want to use it.

Once again I have planted a variety of tomatoes in buckets and hung them from the picket fence in my shady back yard. Not the best conditions as tomatoes need lots of sun. The plants are very healthy, growing lots of foliage but not much in the way of fruit so far. I realize that I need to give them a jolt of phosporus so encourage fruit set. I read on the internet that "Urine is the most concentrated source of phosphorus," hmmm!...

Strawberries in Hanging Baskets
I had another go at growing stawberries in hanging baskets. The first fruit, nurtured on cow manure were plump, fragrant and delectable as a strawberry should be. Later berries got smaller and smaller so I will be trying for a second flush with lavish waterings of compost teas.

Coveted Tomatoes
This year I am upping the odds of growing tomatoes by negotiating with my next door neibour to use her driveway while she is away in China for the summer. I have planted large tubs of tomatoes, melons and zinnias to be exact. The driveway is west facing ... long afternoon sunshine! ... combined with a watering of urine .... hummmm .. imagine the possabilities ....

Self watering containers
Also in the back yard I have two large selfwatering containers, one with potatoes which look lusty and vigorous and one of Sugar Ann sugar snap peas which I replanted lavishly, twice, and have rewarded my efforts dismally. I believe I have harvested two peas to date.

The Belles of the Balcony
The spotlight and congratulations go the geraniums, they are pushing out the flower buds at an alarming rate, they are surely exhausting themselves and summer has only just begun!

Ever hopeful, we forge ahead.