2017

This was a challenging year for gardening in BC.

As you probably know, we had a VERY bad fire season in this province in 2017 and so keeping things moist was a challenge, harvesting rainwater was non-existent and just being outside for extended periods was unhealthy due to pervasive smoke. We also had water restrictions, which meant we all had to leave the grass to die a slow, painful death. Watering food is ok though 😉

Somehow, in the midst of it all, farmers grew successfully, and I did alright with some things, and not with others, which seems to always be the case.

I delved further into the world of FLOWERS this year, which obviously spruced things up a bit around here a bit, and I made sure to poke in a bunch of bulbs before the winter set in so Spring 2018 will be even more colourful.

BIGGEST SUCCESS: Tomatoes, they just kept coming, I even sold some to a restaurant when they ran out! They loved the excessive heat, I watered sometimes twice a day, but it was worth it. SO delicious!

TomatoesTeens  TomatoPlantsInPot  tomato basketTomatoesInBowlcherry tomatoes

 

 

NEWEST FAVOURITE FLOWER: The Zinnia, which I picked up at the Armstrong Garden Club meeting and it was the flower that kept on giving all summer long, and so much diversity in shape and colours!

zinniaspinkZinniaOrangeZinniaCUZinniaSunlight

 

Things started out crazy in the Spring with flooding in our valleys, which also had quite an effect on our water bodies, like Kalamalka Lake here, where only non-motorized boats were allowed for a months. As you can see, the main dock was ruined by the high waters, and many private docks were washed away, properties flooded and thousands of sandbags used.

It was actually quite peaceful and lovely on the lake and I am sure I am not the only local resident who secretly or not-so-secretly would love it to stay that way, a perfect place for paddleboarders, swimmers, kayakers and row boaters.

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The wrecked dock at Kal Beach

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Kalamalka Lake at Sunset with Smoke and Sailboat

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Smokey Coldstream Valley

 

I did manage to feed the family with at least some homegrown food, other than tomatoes this year.

Strawberry

Small but tasty strawberries!

Currants

White currant

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My first great Green Pepper

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Bouquet of Kale (I think it’s Portuguese, for sure not dinosaur)

LettuceRainbarrel

Lettuce in planter, dry rainbarrel

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Lettuce art

Jalapeno

Jalapeno, baby!

 

…but a lot didn’t work, too.

There were the aphids, which I attempted to handle by releasing some ladybugs, but they seemed to eat a few and then fly away.

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Infested kale

LadybugsReleased

Not-so-hard worker ladybugs

 

My garlic wasn’t happy where it was planted and I got nothing worth mentioning (sob!)

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Sad garlic

And although this corn was looking good for awhile, it produced nothing edible.

CornPeekThrough

The corn that could have been

Clearly, I have more soil building to do, so I bought a bunch of manure and worked it in, added more homemade compost and gathered a lot of gorgeous leaves in the fall from places and friends around town who don’t spray their trees. I shredded the leaves with my push mower, which is quite a workout!

Then spread the leaves on all the beds to keep the soil protected for the winter.

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Leaf mulch

Look at that grass! Ugh, I may have to rent an aerator and throw some compost, maybe biochar and grass seed down in the Spring.

Aerator

Aerator

I am also trying cover cropping for the first time in one bed. Have been reading a lot about no-till gardening and it makes sense, especially for water retention, which is one of the biggest challenges here.

CoverCrop2

Legume mix cover crop

 

I have noticed a marked increase in the number of critters we have around here, which I am loving. The biodiversity is increasing and we even had frogs this year, much to the delight of my son (and my husband and I, let’s be honest). Many a fly was wrangled from inside the house to feed this little dude, so it was a great lesson and caretaking and studying how many flies a frog eats in a day. This frog ate at least 5-6 a day, and may have eaten more if we’d put more into his temporary terrarium.

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“Jeff” the frog

Here are some more critter pics, all taken within our yard.

If you want to see ALL the creatures I have been able to photograph on this property, go here.

I love lavender!

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Orange-belted bumblebee

Name that beetle?!

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OK, it’s a June bug

Song sparrow

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Sparrow on the feeder

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Junco, but what variety?

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Robin baby lunchtime! (so happy I now have a camera with a good zoom)

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Dear, sweet, lovely, stupid quail.

CatDeer

Not my cat, not my deer, but they both like to hang here by the fence.

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Not very shy, this guy.

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Random giant flying ant.

 

Caution, the following image may frighten you if you don’t like spiders. We have plenty of black widows around here, but they are shy and so we leave them alone and vice-versa. The kids know to tell us when they find one and then stay away. I made it smaller so you don’t get the heebie-jeebies and stop reading my blog. You’re welcome.

BlackWidow

the Dreaded Black Widow

 

This ladybug was going the wrong way. GET BACK TO WORK, YOU HAVE EATING TO DO!

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Moth

Moth trying to blend in.

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Unidentified flying insect (UFI)

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Some bugs are so tiny you almost don’t notice them…

While I was running in an election this Spring (which MAY have had an effect on my garden success) , a friend gave us a Painted Lady butterfly to watch go through metamorphosis. We started with two, but one wasn’t able to fully get out of it’s cocoon, which was hard to watch as it looks all bloody! This was the survivor.

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Painted Lady butterfly

I also decided to put in two more bigger raised beds instead of the U-shaped bed, with more scavenged rock from the area. I felt like this space could be used better, since it’s on the South side of the house and gets FULL sun.

We stained the cedar beds (which I should have built twice as tall) and shifted the growing area to West.

Thinking about how nice a new deck for suntanning where that long dead grass is laying now would be, with maybe some grapevines and trellising. It’s never done, but always fun and a great source as a creative outlet!

from deck orange blossom

Spring in the South Garden

SouthGardenUpdate

Fall in the South Garden

new beds with smokeynew beds almost done new beds

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New raised beds with lots of mulched leaves

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And this is what it looks like asleep.

But who wants to look at snow in a garden blog? No one, so now I will show you my wonderful and expanding world of flowers! I saved the best part for last.

If you want to view all of my flower pics with labels on them, you can go to the flower page here.

BeeBalm unknown sunflowerBee Iris IrisCU Lily Milkweed MilkweedKalLake MintFlower Nasturtium OnionFlower

orange blossom orange blossom CU

cherry blossom cherry blossom 2 BP tulip with sticks IMG_9878Crocus CitronelleFlower Chamomileflower CentaureaCalendulaCarrotFlower

And besides all the plants growing in the garden this year, there were humans here, and we all grew and had moments like this, just simple, relaxing, fun and low-impact.

I believe a hammock is essential in any good permaculture garden. Mine hangs under the cherry tree and when it is in bloom, wow, what a place to watch bees! Free entertainment.

 

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The intrepid gardener wistfully looking back at the year that was,  giving thanks for the bounty and the lessons and ready to plan the plots for this Spring. Thanks for reading and checking our my garden journey.

KeliHammock