Friday, May 29, 2015

Flowers for pollinators

It was another full day. We were successful in receiving some grant money to put in a pollinator garden. So with some money in my pocket, I went out to buy a bunch of flowering plants!

Back row L to R: Phygelius 'Cape Fuchsia', Phlox subulata, Verbena bonariensis, Monarda "Petite Delight"                     Front row L to R: Allium triquetrum 'Wild garlic', Lavender, Agastache, Shasta Daisy, Comfrey, Sweet Peas 'Painted Ladies'

We interspersed these flowers as much as we could throughout the garden so there would be a continuous trail of flowers along the garden.

The sweet peas we had seeded earlier in the season didn't sprout so we transplanted the seedlings we bought in the same area
Sweet peas are in the back of the bed.

The Agastache (aka giant hyssop, licorice mint or anise mint, depending on the species) was transplanted with the other flowering plants in front of Bed 4. It's a fragrant plant that attracts pollinators.

The Shasta Daisies were transplanted behind our strawberry bed and the Monarda 'Petite Delight' joined its buddy the "Mint leaf bee balm", that we transplanted last week.
Shasta Daisies
Monarda "Petite Delight" with buddy, Monarda Fistulosa "Mint Leaf Beebalm"

The Phygelius and Verbena were transplanted at the south end of our garden in the flowering bed. Phygelius is an evergreen perennial that is a favourite of hummingbirds and bees. Verbena bonariensis is also a perennial and considered to be an important nectar source for butterflies.
Phygelius 'Cape Fuchsia'
Our lil' Verbena plant

The lavender went into the herb bed alongside some garlic chives.

We also did some harvesting today and planted more vegetables...

The Yu choi and Gai lan were going to seed so we decided to harvest it and free up the bed for planting other things.

Harvesting Yu Choi and Gai Lan

Yu choi and gai lan harvest

Remember the 'freak' sleet we had in the first week of May?? Well, this is what happened to our vegetables....
Not so pretty but still edible!
In place of the yu choi, we decided to plant the 3 sisters - Corn, squash and 'orca' beans.

Look at out pretty Orca beans!

The carrots were also poking out from the ground. These were last year's batch so we harvested them to make more room.

Did you know that you can eat carrot tops??

They're a bit on the furry side (* wink) but you don't have to feed your compost with can feed yourself!

You can use them in:
  • soups and stocks
  • stir-frys
  • make a pesto, etc....

One of our volunteers started some roma tomatoes and striped zucchini from home and brought these in today. We transplanted the 2 romas and zucchini in the same bed with a Red-striped Roma and Green Zebra tomatoes.

Here they are in Bed 1, one of our sunnier beds, on the north end of the garden.

At the end of the work day when we were packing, we were already noticing more pollinators and wildlife in our garden! I guess our kale flowers are doing its job! 
Look for it! There is a bee in the middle of this picture.

We have guests sitting on our bee condo! Do you see them?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Our first real harvest! May 3rd

Today was one of those beautiful, sunny Vancouver mornings and a great day to have a work party. Everything was looking good and we had a mid-week watering earlier in the week.

It was trellis-building day! Sybrena salvaged some scrap wood and with the help of some tools and lots of string, we have a working trellis for our peas!

The mesclun and arugula is looking bushy. We harvested some to thin it out and encourage more growth.
The yu choi & gai lan bed looks like it's got more yu choi than gai lan but they're coming along. The fava beans are also doing well and a bit of kale is reappearing. Some are flowering and going to seed. It is their 2nd season.

 We found some radishes poking out of the ground, beckoning to be eaten! Our garlic is finally looking like it's "putting on more weight"!

The spinach we seeded a few weeks ago are sprouting and so are the wild flowers we planted.

The fave beans are starting to lean over so some staking is needed. The broccoli transplants we put in last week are settling in.
We found more volunteer potatoes and transplanted them to the potato bed. Can't wait for these tasty taters!

 Last week, our group attended the VanDusen plant sale and bought some plants - nodding onions (which are native to this region), shallots and mint leaf bee balm (Monarda). Our onion seeds were not germinating (they were more than a year old) so we bought some transplants. 
The nodding onions were transplanted in our herb-blueberry bed.
 The shallots went into Bed 1 with the carrots.
The Monarda was transplanted beside one of the beds to increase our collection of flowering plants for the pollinator garden.

Here's a working copy of our garden bed drawing.

Finally, we harvested some radishes, arugula & mesclun, parsley, lettuce & carrots; trimmed back the sage & mint. Here's a sample of what I brought home!

A lot done!

We had a full crew today and got lots of work done. 

Our cold frame was fixed up finally, after we kept forgetting first to bring the zip ties, and then a staple gun, etc....! Rhys is busy emptying the water barrel to water the dry beds.

One of our volunteers also has a connection with a nearby church that was looking to get rid of some mulch so we were fortunate to score some for our garden. After two trips with the truck, we now have enough to mulch around all our beds and compost bins.


Checking on our growing vegetables: 

   The fava beans have grown a bit, maybe a centimetre or two?

   So have the peas - more have sprouted since last week - as well as the yu choi and gai lan (pardon my finger!)


Marie & Rhys brought the cabbage (Pixie, Golden Acre & Napa) & broccoli plants (Purple Sprouting & Calabrese) that they had started from seed. It's time for them to go into the ground. The Purple Sprouting broccoli technically is for fall planting but since we started the seed already, we're trying it out for this season.
We are transplanting the broccoli in with the strawberries so that they can act as a ground cover. 


The cabbages are being transplanted in the bed with carrots so we can have a tighter planting space (you know, one grows up and the other grows down).

At the end of the workday, we posed for a crew photo. Here's our current team for the year!