Monday, April 28, 2008

Leek Finale

Last summer, we planted some leek seedlings under several Sungold (a type of cherry tomato plant that grows 7-12 feet high). I thought that the plant will be tall enough to not shade the leeks. But I was wrong. The leek seedlings never really took off. So we left them there in the yard over the winter, the spring, and now we need to harvest them to make room for spring/summer planting.

Leeks are wonderful winter crops. We have been pulling a couple leeks out throughout this spring and made delicious leek risotto. But now, it's time to pull them all out (yummy potato and leek soup).

Other notes:
transplanted red onion seedlings yesterday
start beet seeds (Early Wonder Tall Top) indoor (first time)

Our Tower-O-Potatoes

A friend of mine related to me a few years ago a story of a university friend of his. They were grad students at the time, living off tiny stipends, so saving money any way possible was beneficial. So, he grew potatoes in tires. What he did though, was take one seed potato, plant in the ring of a tire and let it grow. When the green broke the surface by a few inches, he added another tire, and barely covered the green with more soil. At the end of the year he was five tires deep and a serious amount of potatoes richer.

So, I did some reading, and this idea wasn't unique to him. It is in fact nothing more than an extreme version of the practice of hilling up potatoes to increase your yield. It seems that all you have to do, is wrap some dirt around a potato plant and it will send off shoots to grow more tubers.

In the same way that economy motivated the friend of my friend, economy forces us to make do with what we have. We have very little space. But we also have big appetites, so, we need to maximize our potato growing capability. This year, we're growing them in a expandable bin. In the pictures you can see two rows of the bin. four feet by two and half feet. Whenever I need to, I build a new ring. I've decided to leave a small gap between the rings for cooling. Supposedly if the soil gets too hot then the potatoes may rot.

I'm not actually sure this is cheaper than buying a couple ten pound bags of russets, but it is probably cheaper than the same amount of the fingerlings we're growing. Besides, these will be better.

The pictures are before and after adding more soil. And, the prone trellis is for cat deterrent. It didn't work though. We have a section of cheap one foot wire fencing that fits perfectly though, and that is keeping the cats out of it.

Monday, April 21, 2008


It is labelled as "Corn salad" on the seed package, but it is better known as "mache", a delicious salad green. Seeds like cool soil to sprout, so I sowed some today in the salad coldframe.

The weather dropped to zero over the past weekend, we had snow/wet snow, a record on April 19 since 1987. The radishes we sowed last week held up the cold weather and have sprouted (3 of them).

Just measured...garlics are a feet tall now.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

more sowing

Today, we sowed a few more things:

See pic for the plan:
  • Parsnips--Gladiator
  • Carrots: Prodigy on the west side and Bolero on the east
  • Radishes--French Breakfast OP
  • Chinese snow peas: along the edge on the west side
  • and more shelling peas (along the edge)
update: some of the parsnips, snow peas and shelling peas have started sprouting after 2 weeks. That's very encouraging considering the fact that we had cold temp (under 3C at night)

Saturday, April 12, 2008


Finally, we have a sunny day! Got to plant some veggies. We've put snow peas on the east yard and shelling pea on the west. Mark's mom gave us the Chinese snow peas (coated in pink) last year. Hopefully the seeds are still good. We brought two varieties of shelling peas from West Coast Seeds:

Oregon Trail: mature in 60 days (we'll see!)
Paladio: short plant, long pods, usually in doubles (120 days)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Espalier Apple Tree

Crappy Tire was selling loose root Espalier Apple trees with 6 varieties for only $29.95. And it even has Gravenstein my favourite. Quelle deal. Perhaps they're not so crappy after all. So, we bought one and put it smack dab in the middle of our strawberry patch.

It's not a good picture, sorry. There's no good way to take a picture and see all of it really well. Unfortunately, the trellis I made isn't quite wide enough for the bottom branches, so I might have to fix that later.

The sad part is, no apples this year. It will be hard to trim off the blossoms in favour of root growth.

Selecting Hop Shoots

When you're growing hops for beer production you want to trim off most of the shoots to select the strongest. It lets the rhizome concentrate on sending those ones up. That won't prevent it from trying to grow others, you'll have to keep trimming new shoots until July, but the first trimming of the year is always the most dramatic.

Here's the before and after picture. I think they indicate that I need to divide my rhizome in the fall. Every few years you should dig down and trim out a portion of your rhizome. That's essentially how they are propagated for sale. Perhaps I will get the motivation to do this come October.