Thursday, December 10, 2009

$70 per square foot!

Just wanted to point here, a very cool post.

We're not dead. Just been sorely lacking in the posts. We've planted a whole new bed of garlic, about 150 cloves again. We are still eating lots of leeks, carrots and have begun to make a dent in the beets we planted.

Currently the weather is VERY cold. As such we're not able to harvest any leeks or arugala, but they'll come back when it warms up.

Hopefully we'll resume posting regularly!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our well hung carrot

Couldn't resist ...

And the very first apple we've eaten from our garden, a Gravenstein ...

Sunday, August 2, 2009


We have had a technical emergency. About this time last year we purchased a four disk two terabyte network storage device. This machine is an excellent little piece of hardware. We striped the disks to a one terabyte raid 5 volume. Unfortunately, the false sense of security that raid 5 tends to give people bit us in the a$$. One of the drives crashed and on the three disk rebuild something went wrong. As a result all of our computer time has been somewhat devoted to dealing with that.

We have potentially lost every digital image we have taken in our short married life. Including all of those of our garden that we did not post here. Backups? It was raid 5. Yes, I know raid isn't foolproof ... but,but,but. Sigh.

In the future, I will make sure we are appropriately intelligent about backups. Fifteen years of being a computer geek, this is the first time I've had major data loss. It will never happen again.

On this theme ... preparing for the future; we left a few shelling peas on the vine longer than you should would you be planning to eat them. Reason being was to save the seeds for next year. We harvested about five pounds of shelling peas and vacuum packed them for the winter. Here's a picture of some of those peas that escaped the freeze to hopefully sprout next year.

N.B. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tilia for twenty years of service through the manufacture of their first generation of vacuum packers. My parents purchased it when I was very young. I have used it to pack hops and other harvest for the past four years. I've had to maintain it, but after twenty years, it finally blew a seal (or something) deep inside the vacuum pump. Fortunately I had been lusting after one of these. I am perfectly happy to sound like a shill. If you want a home vacuum sealer, don't go to your local department store. This is a real tool, a delight to use. This is a proper tool, not a toy, lightyears ahead of our old Tilia food saver.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada Day

It is a sunny but cool day. Compared to the cold and wet spring/summer of 2008, so far we have been having an excellent year. The garlics, which we usually harvest them around mid-July, seem to be ready. I pulled out five garlics just to have a look and they look great, except that the skin is a bit wet, so I turned the sprinkler of that section off. We may plan to pull them all out this weekend.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Planted more beet seeds

It has been hot and dry for the past few weeks. So we didn't sow anything at all. However, the weather will be changing this week and rain is supposed to stay with us for a few days at least, so I guess it is a good time to sow some seeds.

I soaked the beet seeds for a few hours ahead of time (not sure if that makes any difference). Seeds are down at the end of the left side yard (looking from the house), by the tomato plant at the end of the right side yard and under the apple tree. The seed colour is the same as the soil, so it is really difficult to sow them evenly few inches apart. Time will tell how good the job I did when they start to sprout.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Broad Bean is done. Bye!

We have tried, and we are disappointed.

Today we harvested all the broad beans. There were seven plants in total and altogether we have less than half a bowl of the beans.

I might have planted the seeds to deep to begin with, and that took a long time for them to surface above the soil. However, once they have made their appearance, their growth rate was slow and their size was small. We had allocated quite a large space for them. With that little result, we felt it doesn't worth growing them again.

Did I also mention that it was a pain to take their shell off?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Moving the strawing plants from the patch under the patio staircase to the backyard path is a great success. Not only they don't take up extra growing space, the strawberries lies on the ground cover and it decorates the path. The only minor problem is that every step we take has to be careful or we will step on the little sweet goodies (as a matter of fact, I did already...)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The weather has been rather friendly for veggie growing. We have hot sunny days and then a day of rain in between. Seeds that were sown are all sprouting, including the slow germinating carrots. The friendly weather definitely helps. I also tried to sow the seeds on the day when it was about to rain; and I covered the seeded area with a light floating fabric. The fabric might help with trapping the moisture in the soil.

The leeks have grown taller also. Time to start filling the trench...and you know what, I think I didn't dig the trench deep enough. Another lesson learned.

There are holes on the cherry tomato plants. What causes that?

Monday, May 18, 2009

more seeds

It was a sunny hot Sunday yesterday. (max. 23C) We took our chili plants and seedling trays out for sun bathing. Today, it was a 360 degree change (max 16C)...cloudy in the morning and then followed by rain. The radio said this Victoria Day weekend will be the perfect time to do gardening due to the predicted change of weather. They are right. I planted the seeds in the morning, and let the nature takes care of the rest.

Today I've sown the following seeds:
carrots (by the shelling pea)
beets (by the shelling pea, 2008 seeds)
radishes (all over, 2008 seeds, the round type)
salad mix (by the end of the shelling peas, by the edge of the cherry tomato plant)

Also, the leeks seedlings were also down in the field (by the shelling pea/carrot seeds).

We pulled out a number of leeks (planted last year) and made leek and potato soup. There are still leeks remaining. We have been keeping a close watch on their growing as they seem to grow in height only instead of width (the white part). The flower stalk is coming out from the leek one after another. I guess it is time to finish them. In case you wonder, no, they don't taste old. They are still very fragrant and delicious.

Update of the previous sowing: the carrot seeds from the first round of sowing have sprouted, so as the Gai lan. The radishes are still not ready yet. Though the salad seeds have sprouted, they seem to stop growing. I'm glad that we still have constant supply of green salad from the kale that we planted last year(?), red lettuce and arugula. The kale flower is delicious.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

apple tree

This is the second year of our apple tree. Beautiful flowers blossomed and now followed by apples...we hope! At least, this is what we saw today:

Is it exciting? Under the apple tree, we've sown/planted some low height crops such as radishes, lettuces (only about 4 inches tall) and beets (a late harvest crop).

Saturday, May 16, 2009

pea and leek: new method

As a new veggie grower, we learn something new every year and we always try to do things a bit different the next year hoping to see some improvements. So this year, we've tried a new pea trellis. I brought a net from the nursery and mounted it on the wooden frame. It looks pretty good, though I believe that the trellis is not tall enough for the pea to climb. Oh well, next year project...

For the leeks, I've tried the trench method. It is a method that I learned while looking for information about vegetable farming on the Internet. Over the course of the growing season, the trench is gradually filled in with soil. The goal is to encourage the grow of the white part of the leek. (the tall green plants are garlics)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Last year garlic

I can't remember what happened to the garlic during our first year of growing, however, I do remember the second year. We had a bountiful harvest. After giving some away, there were still plenty left and we weren't able to finish them before they turned bad. So around spring time I guess, quite a number of garlic bulbs had turned into dark brown colour. For some reasons, they didn't sprout, but the clove had become so hard and dry that it was quite impossible to cut. They ended up in the compost. ;(

Last year was our third year of garlic growing. As of now, they are still in good shape. The picture shows the remaining garlic that we harvested last year. Aren't they still pretty looking? And tasty also. So what had we done differently last year? Well, I guess we cured them in the open air under the patio longer than last year. That's it! We'll do it again this year!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

hanging tomato plant

Yes, finally we're giving it a try. The roma (Bush) is going up. We always want to try the hanging style, but we prefer growing things in the ground. However, the backyard is getting pretty crowded this year, with the garlic occupies quite a bit and the leftover leeks from last year also. There is not much space left on the patio either. Naturally, we've moved into the sky...

I've also started some seedlings and put the seedling trays in the cold frame on the patio: cucumber, gai lan and wild arugula.

Today's temperature: high 16C, low 5.8C

Monday, May 4, 2009


This week is supposed to be rainy and cloudy with chances of sun...sounds like a perfect timing for seed sowing:

Beets (seeds from last year):Early wonder tall top
Snow pea (Mr. Big from last year):
Veg Gin (Gai Lan): I didn't know that West Coast seeds carries this one. So I'm giving it a try!
Carrots: Bolero and Flyaway
Wild Arugula
Radishes: French Breakfast
Mesclun Blend (from last year)

We also got some tomato plants from Mark's mom.
She got the seeds from her UK's trip and started the seeds in her greenhouse. I've planted three of the six (cherry, blood, apero).
The rest are stayed in the coldframe on the patio for now.

The carrot seeds that were sown last month were sprouted for quite a while. Unfortunately, they didn't last long. As I was trying to see how the progress was, I couldn't find any of them at all. Guess they became the meal of the unwelcome insects. So frustrated. We'll have to set up something when the new sown seeds start to sprout.

An update from the potato front: the black fabric got pushed up by the strong potatoe plants. They do grow fast! Time to unveil the patch. The plants are beautiful. Meanwhile, some smaller potatoe plants are growing quietly in the potato bin. The potatoes must be self-seedlings themselves. I can't wait to see how many potatoes we get this year.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Planting potatoes

Mark got some potatoe seedlings from his mom. Since we are growing the garlic in the backyard this year, we decided to use the front patch as potato field. The patch has been in resting mode since the garlic harvest last year. After we planted the potatoes, we covered the patch with the black fabric again to avoid cats' visit.

Last week, we dug through our potato bin. This is all that we've found. I think Mark dug a few up at a time with his dinner throughout the year, so we never know how many potaotes there were in the bin. I do have a feeling that the yield isn't that impressive. Good experiment though.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Snow in March

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As I look outside, I see snow covers everywhere and everything. It is still snowing.

We had a warm and sunny morning yesterday. However, the temperature started to drop in the afternoon. My neighbour said it felt like it is going to snow. He was right. It started at about 5.40pm and we were getting big snow flakes of about 3-5cm. After about half an hour, the snow stopped and the sun came out.

When we woke up this morning, it was snowing.

How will it affect the garlic? We'll see.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

new crop

Today we planted broad bean seeds. We sowed some in the fall, they sprouted, but were killed by the harsh weather. I planted the seeds with the seam side up, hopefully that is where it starts.

On the garlic front, I took the fabric cover away on Feb 14. The picture here is taken today. We decided to grow the garlic in the backyard instead of the front this year. We haven't decided what we're going to grow in the front yet. Our front yard is frequent by people and their pets, so choosing what to grow over there is going to be difficult.

The mache are tiny little greens but they are strong enough
to put up with the tough winter without cover. I harvested some today for our salad.

Today's dinner (all produces are from our backyard):
roasted beets and parsnips
stir-fried carrots and frozen green peas
leek with homemade chicken stock
green salad

Mark is going to have sausage too. Ok, this is not homegrown, but locally made from a Italian grocery store. We also brought Parmigiano-Reggiano from this store and we're going to shave some on the green salad.

Backyard archaeologist

Today we decided to dig out some parsnips for weekday use. I know, it is better to pull them out right before cooking time. However, by the time we get back home during the week, it is already dark and we are tired, and we're not really in the mood to struggle in the backyard pulling out those goodies.

We put down the parsnip seeds around late spring/early summer last year. Yes, they survived the snow storm and new leaves started to come out again. (other veggies weren't that fortunate) When I removed the top soil, the huge crown was revealed, and it is such a beauty! I knew right away that it is going to be a struggle to take it out. In order not to break the root during the process, I carefully loosened and removed the soil bit by bit, twisted the parsnip a little, got rid of a little bit of soil, and repeated the process again and again, very very carefully.

As it turned out, the parsnip is 16" inches long and 4 1/2 in diameter. It is in fantastic shape! We also took out the two that were just adjacent to it. Oh yes, three huge yummy goodies! There are still two in the ground. We've left them in peace for now.

The chili seedlings have been sitting by the kitchen window for about a month now. The growth rate has slowed down dramatically after they sprouted. We have noticed aphids on them. What a drag! Since they are too fragile to be sprayed with stuff (like soapy water), we simply use our fingers to remove them. Of course, they come back; and we keep removing them.

This picture was taken on Feb 14. As of now, they look more or less the same, except that there are these unwelocming inhabitants.

Sunday, January 11, 2009


The red chilies were brought from a grocery store a couple months ago. We take out one or two of them from the fridge for cooking whenever the dish asks for it. Since they remain fresh looking in the fridge, we decided to start some seedlings with the seeds from these chilies. Yes, we should have saved the seeds from our own grown chilies.

We put the plate on top of the fridge. Keep our fingers crossed.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

White Garden...continues

It is funny to read the last entry that I posted. I was just complaining about the warm December and then within half a month after the last post, the entire lower mainland was covered with snow. Big snow storm. We left the house for less than three days during x'mas and there were like more than 3 feet of snow on the ground.

We had a little break over the new year. We dug and pulled some carrots out from the snow and they look brilliant and the flavour was fantastic! The tarragon didn't make it but the thyme is still thriving. However, on the 3rd day of 2009, it snowed again. I was hoping to take some pictures but the snow never stopped.

It will be interesting to find out what survives when the snow/ice melts.

This pic was taken on Dec 22, 08. Then we got big snow storm on the 24th and 26th.