BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

'Chesnok Krasnaya' Garlic, November 2006

Winter has hit both gardens quite hard. The day after I took the above picture of the newly sprouted garlic up at the SFU plot, Vancouver got hit by a snow storm that dropped between 30-50 cm of snow on us. We'll see how the parsnips, kale, cabbage, chard, carrots and collards do with the snow cover. We know the garlic loves it, as long as it doesn't get too cold for too long. And like all good gardeners, we've already started planning next years garden! Some new things we're going to experiment with: eggplant and squash.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

'Fordhook Giant' Swiss Chard, September 2006

This year we're prepared for the Fall... well, better than last year anyways. Sometimes I wish I could be gardening full-time! At the campus plot, our kale are full size for the winter months. We'll be able to harvest them throughout the winter since we chose to plant the frost hardy Winterbor variety. Same goes with our 6 or so parsnips. I'm amazed as to how easy they were to grow! The biggest problem was germination; they took more than a month before we could tell anything was happening, and even then I think we lost 3/4 of those planted. Our garlic are still under ground, and our onions seem to have stopped growing. However, I think they're in the perfect position to take advantage of the Spring warmth, when it comes... gardening sure does teach you how to balance your present with your future, no doubt.

The graphic above is of our chard at our home garden. The chard, collards and cabbage are doing great. Our cabbage is heading, and we should be able to harvest in November (I don't think this variety does well in the frost). And our cloche lettuce is going crazy! The bit of heat at the end of summer has really boosted the size of the lettuce; we should be eating salads until the New Year, easily. Oh, and I planted a few rows of Fall radishes, for kicks, and they seem to be bulbing.

I'm in the midst of writing my thesis proposal. I'll post it up once I'm done (if you're interested). I have to do a presentation within this semester, and then I'm free to go complete all the tasks I'm setting myself right now. Exciting and foreboding all at the same time!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Unknown variety of Garbonzo Bean, August 2006

The summer gardens this year have turned out much better than last... no small part to the fact that we had to do minimal prep work this time, and we had a planting schedule setup in advance. The picture above is of our lone garbanzo bean (chick pea) plant. Emillie went out and picked up some organic chick peas, planted a few short rows, and voila! We'll use these chick peas next year for a bigger crop. The lentils sprouted much more vigorously, but I think they needed an earlier planting to be successful. As for the winter crop, I just put in 33 garlic cloves (a mix of Georgian Fire hardneck, Baba Franchuk hardneck, Russian hardneck, and Russian softneck), and have already sprouted a few rows of onions and kale.

Our tomatoes at the home garden worked out wonderfully. We've also been planting some greens for the winter season (the bonus of living in the lower mainland).

Campus life has become busier with the start of the fall term. My ongoing PhD work, coupled with the current student society debacle (some info at the first three articles of last weeks Peak) has made for a very busy start of semester. Hopefully things will cool down in time to enjoy the Vancouver Film Festival starting in a couple of weeks.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Our gardens are coming along great this year. The winter planning has paid off, and the main mistakes we're making now are in the planning stage (ie. my kale doesn't have anyplace to be planted until the beets are harvested, and the harvest time overlaps the ideal planting schedule). Since our space is at a premium in the city, we try to wring every inch of soil.

Our campus plots took a hit during our 5 weeks away. All the beets and beans on the shady plot were eaten while sprouting. We've since replanted them (as soon as we got back, on June 20th), and they've come up with vigor. We've harvested our garlic; they turned out excellently, and they're bigger than the bulbs we see in the local organic stores. The onions we transplanted are bulbing as well; we hope to harvest them in a few weeks.

As for the sunny plot, the cucumbers did not enjoy the rainy weather of May at all. Only 1 plant survived the damp weather. I've replanted another 4 cucumber mounds, and they're just starting to grow out. The beets and beans have turned out well though, and we'll be taking beets home in the next week or so. Amazingly, the lentils that we planted took root! We bought the lentils from the bulk bins of the local organic store, and just threw them into the ground. We also have another single bush that we 'think' is the result of seeding garbanzo beans. We planted 2 rows, but the one bush is all that resulted.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Back from the East now, and re-orienting to normal, non-cycle-tour life. The trip was a blast, and I'm glad we had such great weather for it (it didn't rain until the last day of cycling!).

The gardens are looking great, even though we had a few large plantings the weekend before we left. 5 weeks is definitely a long time to let weeds grow, but I'd estimate at 1/2 of our seeds making it. At home, Emillie's parents gave us a hand out (thank you!) and did enough weeding to allow our lettuce, carrots, tomatoes (which look great!) and peas to survive. At campus, I had no such help; on the sunny plot, amazingly enough, the beets and beans made it out relatively unscathed. Some of our organic lentils (care of some of the local grocer's) even came up! On the shady plot however, nothing made it. However, the garlic and the onions look very strong, and I've re-planted the green beans and beets in hopes of getting a partial harvest. I'll post some pics later.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Well, we're leaving tomorrow for a few weeks. We're cycling from Budapest to Istanbul; check out our blog Our gardens are now in the hands of the weather gods! And a few very nice people who promised to water them every so often. It'll be interesting to see what they look like when we get back!


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

We got a new plot up at campus! A sunny one! We're stoked, cause now we can plant MORE. We actually purchased some parsnip and kale seeds this spring, but it was looking that we wouldn't have anyplace to plant them.

Our home garden is starting to look nice, now that we have transplanted out our cauliflower and our first two tomato plants. The tomatoes have gone under our new cloche, which hopefully will last a few years. Our garlics are looking strong, and our radishes are starting to come up. We've also started some more tomatoes and peppers indoors, and plan to start some planting up at SFU later this week.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A bit more than a month, and we'll be off to East Europe for another cycle trip! This one is a tad bit shorter than the last (about 1 month), but we'll make the most of it. Check out our status at our cycle touring site.

As for our gardens, the late winter has shifted the growing pattern around here a bit, mainly in our outdoor plantings. Luckily, we decided to keep our early plantings this year down to radishes. Our few test plants from last fall of collard and chard seem to like the weather though. We planted them too late last year for proper growth, but the collards have done decent despite it (2 of the plants make a nice early spring side dish for us).

In the last month, we've managed to put together an organic fertilizer. It's made up of

  1. 20 kg of alfalfa seed meal from Gaia Green (from Grand Forks)

  2. 1.5 kg of lime

  3. 2 kg of organic bone meal

This is very close to the recipe given in the book Growing Vegatables West of the Cascades by Steve Solomon. This is our current ace reference book for growing in Vancouver. He covers, in his experience, the best practices of growing in our region, which spans from lower Oregon to the North Shore of Vancouver. It's a special region because of our amount of rain (which leaches everything BUT potassium from our soil). Our other ace resource is the information from Mary Ballon at West Coast Seeds. The gang there only sell seeds for plants that they have tried successfully to grow in our climate conditions, with details of planting schedules and best practices.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Spring is on hold for now. Our sunny weather turned cooooold, in terms of Vancouver weather. And now it's back to the rain. But at least it was sunny enough to convince us to get organized. We've got the materials to make a cloche (a low to the ground plastic greenhouse) for our tomatoes and other sensitive transplants. The only thing we need now is the high-nutrient topsoil for side-dressing. We've started our early tomatoes and onions indoors already. We found this amazing tomato that is supposed to bear fruit in June! We're giving is a try, as well as trying to make some sweet Walla Walla onions. We're told the trick for the sweet onions is that they have to be an early harvest. The late summer/early fall harvest is meant for storage, and is usually much more stringent.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I can feel spring coming in my bones! Vancouver has had a nice string of 20-some-odd days straight rain. But the rain hasn't been that heavy, and it's warmed things up a bit. Today in both gardens, we took a look and found our garlic is sprouting! Our first garlic... I'm all misty eyed. I think that this blog will probably turn into a synopsis of how our garden is doing in the coming months... we've got big plans!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Looks like we'll be updating the cycle touring page very soon... I've been accepted to present my latest paper at a conference in Istanbul (June 11-15), so Emillie and I will be taking the preceeding month off to travel around East Europe! We're very excited. We can't stop planning!

The new term is just about to begin, and I plan to take 1 course at UBC (almost certainly). Other than that, it's right into thesis work... including tonnes of reading. But I feel positive, and things are slowly lining up in my head.

Finally, our garden this year will look much better than last. We've already laid out our plans for the next 8 months, trying to maximize the output and length of our harvest. This will prove how well we can interpret the suggestions of the various gardening books we've been reading! If they work, we'll post the names and references.