I have many things to write to you about – mostly my convocation and Xavier Rudd – but here we are with another garden update.
Josh and I have been digging, digging, digging in the front, and on Canada Day we planted a small and promising tree. Before driving out to the garden centre to get our tree, we made as much room as we could in the car, and concluded that we could get a tree eight feet tall and still be able to close the back of the car and therefore drive safely home. We looked at all the trees and decided that we wanted a Japanese lilac, which will grow to about 15 feet tall and wide, and has lovely white flowers in late spring but which doesn’t set seed, so there’s no concern with it spreading itself around. We planted it in the end of the new bed we’ve been painstakingly digging out (it is so much easier to say “this year we’ll dig out all this turf and then build up the soil to extend the front bed” than to actually do it), and every time I look at it I feel joyful. It’s a very small tree, and will take a long time to grow, but I love it. We staked it to give it support against the wind, and have bee keeping it well watered, and it seems to be feeling healthy and happy.
I’m slowly finishing and filling the rest of the front bed. I’ve added several wheelbarrows full of better soil, and done a great deal of soil loosening and quack grass root removing, and am trying to make the garden inhospitable to ants. Josh’s parents came for a visit this past weekend, and they brought a wealth of plants (irises! day lilies! sweet woodruff! false spirea! so much more!), which in addition to my giant goats beard, peony, scabia, globe thistle, lavender, and spurge makes for a well-stoked garden bed. At the moment it’s looking sparse and freshly planted, but I’m confident it’ll fill itself out. In September there’s a perennial swap in my community, and I’m hoping to get some good plants from there as well.
My veg patch is thriving, and things are going nicely in the raised bed we built, and of course the weeds are loving it too even though I feel like I’m constantly weeding. I’ve got tiny, adorable cucumelons growing, despite my not giving them something proper to climb and them just clambering up the neighbouring tomatilla instead. I’m learning about what each plant needs, and how to better care for all of them, and I’m being rewarded by things like seeing my goji berry bush finally beginning to thrive, or adding things from the garden into our meals. It’s still early in the season for most of the veggies, but we’ve been eating a modest amount of strawberries, radishes, and tomatoes. It’s not all going perfectly however, I’ve pulled up some radishes that were going to seed, only to discover the evidence of cabbage/radish fly larva, and went on to discover that all the root crops in the main veg patch were toast. It was discouraging to pull up plant after plant, but I also know the other plants will be happy to have some extra space. I underestimated how large everything would get when I planted out the babies in the spring. The tomatoes could do with more breathing room (and more support, oops), and the sunflowers are slowly taking over. But now that I’ve pulled the ruined root crops out, there’s more space for everyone else.
The raised bed is pretty crowded, and I’ve found root maggots in there as well. Next year I’m thinking I’ll plant more things like chard and fennel (which are both doing splendidly) and I won’t do as many radishes, turnips, and rutabaga. I have a very tiny squash on one of the plants in there, and while I know that a single squash won’t exactly keep us fed through the winter, I’m very glad to see it there. In the main bed my peas are continuously producing, my pumpkins vines both have small pumpkins growing on them, and I keep finding more and more tomatoes.
I’ve found myself thinking of what I can do next year: what to plant, what to do differently, new things to try, on and on and on. The pumpkins I planted this year keep getting dirty and weighed down, I’ll mulch them nicely next season so they don’t get so splashed with mud. The strawberries are growing well but the berries keep getting icky before I pick them, next year I also need to mulch them with straw before they start to fruit. The tomatoes in the ground are doing much better than the tomatoes in pots, maybe I’ll dedicate a whole corner of the garden or build a new raised bed for them next year, and grow something else in the pots. The hanging baskets are looking so great, even if they’re a bit behind the rest of the garden; next year I’ll make sure to plant them up a bit before the last frost so the seeds germinate sooner. I’ve been looking at grow lights and figuring out my plan for starting things in the spring, I’ve been adding things to the compost and turning it regularly, we’ve built a turf stack and are waiting for it to become loamy and lovely, I’ve bought plants and soil additives that I didn’t know existed until the last couple of years, and my heart is soaring. I have lilies and poppies and delphinium blooming in full force, and it makes me so happy.
The indoor plant collection has also grown, and now includes a fig tree, a banana plant, a small tropical terrarium, a couple different kinds of pilea, and – most exciting of all – two lithops/living stone plants. I hope to coax them both into flowering, so that I can pollinate them and hopefully end up with some seeds. My spider plants are once again sending out as many babies as they can muster, so anytime you want a new plant, just let me know.