Tuesday, December 8, 2015

What was I thinking?

Our first seed order came in today.  It included a packet of 1000 Candy Onion seeds.  What was I thinking?  We seed 12 packs of onions per flat, with 60 seeds per pack--that's 720 seeds per flat--so 1000 seeds is only 1 flat and 4paks.  We sell a lot of onions.  So I had to scramble to add another 5000 seeds to another company's seed order, since it would cost $8.50 to ship the 5000 seeds.

Seeds are so expensive but we need healthy seeds to grow good plants.

While on the topic of onions, these are the varieties of onions and onion-related plants we grow:
Candy Onions:  These are day neutral onions, large and sweet and store fairly well (ours keep well into March).
Walla Walla Onions:  These are also large, sweet, and we find we have to use these first--keep OK till end of Dec.
 Ailsa Craig, Sister strain to Kelsay Sweet Giant,  can become giant onions under ideal growing conditions, adequate moisture and a long enough season.  Our growing season is not long enough for giant ones, but they become a good size, and are sweet enough to eat large slices raw.  We find that these keep marginally longer than Walla Walla.
 Red Onions  For me these are the best keepers, usually right till green onions are available from next year's crop.
 White Sweet Spanish onions:  Large and sweet, they are the second-longest keepers, well into spring.  These are an open-pollinated heritage variety.
 Leeks:  We love leek and potato soup, aka "Cock-a-leekie Soup" when made with chicken broth and meat.  Ours don't get as fat as store bought ones due to short season, but worth growing.
Onions need fertile soil, and a steady supply of moisture,since they have shallow root systems.  They do not like any competition from weeds at all.  My onion beds are the first to be weeded, and are rigorously maintained even when other plants get neglected.

I spoke about another onion family member, garlic, in the previous post.

I plant all my onions from young plants started from seed in the greenhouse, but one can also grow them from sets--small onion bulbs grown the year before, and properly cured.  The ideal size of sets is 1/2-3/4" in diameter.  Smaller ones won't make large onions and larger ones may go to seed very quickly.
The bulbs of onions should not be covered with soil.  But leeks can be planted deeper to blanch the lower part of the stalk.

For my own garden I am trying Borlotti Beans.  They have interesting pods and if dried have nice white and red speckled bean seeds.
And just for fun, we are planting Canary Bird Vines.  This vining plant is related to nasturtiums, but can easily grow to 7' tall on a trellis.


Friday, November 6, 2015

What's Happening in the North?

I finished all the outdoor work that I had set as my goal:  The garden is all cleaned, rototilled, and I planted a wee patch of 40 garlic cloves--my first try at growing garlic.  See the black arrow in the photo--that's my 4' square garlic patch.

 I have read too much unnerving information about garlic imported from China, which is commonly sold in grocery stores, so I went to the local Garlic Festival to buy seed garlic from the best garlic growers in the area.  I bought lovely purple-skinned garlic heads, then planted the biggest cloves.

I am told garlic is best planted in fall (like tulip bulbs), covering with straw insulates the ground, so roots can form before the garlic freezes.  Early in spring I will have to remove the straw cover so the ground can warm up.

We had our first snowfall a few days ago.

So even if I hadn't finished what I wanted to do, the snow would have declared an end to the outside work.

Have also been busy with greenhouse orders.  All the pre-started plants had to be ordered early, so those orders were done before the end of October.  The big seed order is in, and two smaller ones, Stokes and T&T will be ordered as soon as the new catalogues arrive.

Since I am making the garden smaller next year, I have to plan how to include some of everything we enjoy.  I can't reduce the 5 long rows of onions, or the 4 long rows of different types of potatoes.  Not likely to reduce the 26 tomato plants that I usually grow, nor the 2 doz slicing cucumber plants.

I hope our berry patch produces well next year.  We have about 40 Haskap bushes, 16 saskatoon bushes, 30' of purple raspberries, 30' of black raspberries, 70' of red raspberries, lots of gooseberries (green and red), currants (red, white, black), josta-berries (cross between black currant and gooseberry) and 5 goji berries.  I managed to get them all cleaned and a lot of them mulched with chopped leaves to a deep depth, which should keep down weed germination next year.  Our 9 cherry bushes have also been cleaned and mulched with wood chips.

And I hate watering the plants that I am keeping over for stock plants in the basement windows, and checking them for bugs.

Mosquito Plants

In reply to a reader who was wanting to know what a mosquito plant is.  Here is the Wikipedia link.