Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dear Garden Diary,

my one and only sunflower
and Thunbergia
Lately when I spy on Laura's garden two fences away I am spied on back by dozens of sunflower faces. They're incredible and I'm more than a little garden-jealous. I have one - one sunflower ...I know I planted more seeds than one. That's just the way a garden grows sometimes. 
Laura's flowers have had me thinking..., next year's garden is going to have more spring, late summer & autumn flowers. Considering the seasons of garden we enjoy the garden most - planting season and fresh returns, and later reaping the harvest, the lushness of mature plants and vines gone wild....
I'm not going to spend too much time on mid-summer plants, little reason seeing as we're not here - but plan for when we return. In pots the ivy still looks nice long after annual blooms have faded, and the Coleus container is still brilliant. In the garden I have plans for a big cull; as sad as it makes me, I have to reconcile my desire for every favourite perennial and use the space more wisely. The delphiniums just have to go...somewhere, maybe the west side, maybe into the back lane...but as much as I love them, they are just too big. I had considered moving them to the little micro-climate garden by the back porch, but I have plans for tomatoes there next year - and delphiniums are too prone to mildew to have close to the tomatoes. I have some 'Crazy Daisy' Shasta Daisies also needing a better home - so we'll just have to see where the shuffle takes them. Also moving, (even if just a few inches): the Crimson Knautia, that weird mystery rose from Creekside that never really grew - to make room for the Monarda to shuffle over a bit. Once they're all moved and replanted (which I will do some time in October) I'll add in some spring tulips - a rainbow of colours and kinds dotting the east side perennial bed.

I wish we had more space. Every zucchini and cucumber we have grown (and still are growing) has been put to great use. I've only given a couple away... We've eaten a lot of zucchini (soup, bread, cake, muffins, more soup, grilled, in frittata, tossed with pasta... and you know what, I'm not even tired of it and excited there are some nice ones still coming. The cucumbers are the best I've ever grown - sweet, juicy, huge. I've made more tzatziki than we could consume, and the dogs have had their favourite treat fresh from the garden for months now. Sadly, with frost nearing I'll let them enjoy today's rain, and harvest soon..
Precious Claire waits patiently for a fresh bean treat.

The beans (also loved by the dogs) are so tasty, and have grown into a sturdy wall. Even the Grape Tomato is using the bean wall for support. The other tomatoes have suffered a bit from crowding and smothering by wild zucchini. As unmanageable as they can be, we can't have a garden without cucumbers and zucchini. Next year we're simply not going to plant so many vegetables. I know, I know...I'm the worst for it - working in greenhouses doesn't help. A plant addict to the end, R's not help either. I'm always so convinced I can find the room - and though I still stand by my claim that if we were here for the garden during the major growing period in July & August we would be able to train it to survive the crowd, the fact is we leave ...and a garden doesn't like being left.
It's easy enough to supplement through flexible CSA programs, I have to remember that. Our garden's size is perfect for a seasonal kitchen garden - not great for large guys like Brussels sprouts and potato plants. I could leave them out for more space and not miss them much. More use could be made of containers, sacks, and balconies, but again - unattended pots in a ridiculously hot back yard don't have the best survival rates. I leave spinach to the local farms also..I never have luck with spinach *shrug* 
Our leeks are beautiful, and even though the beets and carrots are few in number they're still pretty. 
Garden Soup
leeks, zucchini, kale, onions & beans from our garden
local carrots & Ontario celery

The Thunbergia has reached the railing of the back balcony, at more than 15 feet it's glorious and so reminiscent of what I've seen decorating Californian freeways. It seems indestructible and I think it scares my family. At ground level it is creeping in every direction, tendrilling up posts and hooks left around the garden, attaching to the nearby pots trellises. I'm not stopping it. I can't imagine not having one of these again next year - just too fun.
The micro-climate garden by the porch has only a few permanent residents: John Davis, some crazy chamomile, garlic chives and whatever thyme & lavender survive (they always get replanted if winter snuffs them out). Snowbirds include herbs rosemary, tarragon, and sage, mint in pots, this year some lemon verbena too. I can see a Thunbergia becoming a regular too.
This year is was home to ten foot tall peas. Next year, I'll plant only two tomatoes in the space - early (...with R's construction skills we're planning a removable greenhouse contraption), and keep the rest of the space for tall autumn cutting flowers. We can add basil between, and with all the other herbs I think that would make the space quite nice this time next year. :)

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