Categories
Seed & Plant Reviews

Sweet Bell Peppers

My Early Prolific, Fat & Sassy, and Bushing Beauty Sweet Bell PeppersBefore two years ago, I had no idea that you could grow peppers in Alberta. I figured they were exclusively a Mexican food or something grown down in Chile. But, lo and behold, Alberta actually grows acres and acres of the things! Who knew? So last spring I tried to grow some seedlings I bought at the grocery store. They were somewhat successful, yielding a handful of hot, skinny yellow peppers.

If the hot peppers grew ok, could the large sweet bell peppers grow here as well? Why not give it a try. So this spring I decided to try my hand at growing some sweet bell peppers from seed.

The three varieties that I decided to try were the Early Prolific, Fat ‘N’ Sassy, and Blushing Beauty. And I must say, I was pleasantly surprised at how well they grew.

Categories
Hints, Tips, and How Tos

How To Grow Amazing Scab-Free Potatoes

For my family, and I imagine many other North Americans, potatoes are the most common food eaten in our home. Whether it’s mashed, baked or boiled, or made into french fries, hashbrowns or chips, we eat potatoes almost daily. It’s no wonder that nearly every vegetable garden has at least a few hills of those wonderful, all-purpose tubers. My complaint comes when you dig up your spuds in the fall, and they’re covered in ugly, brown scabs.

In 2006 I grew the scabbiest potatoes I had ever seen. They were covered with about a 1/4 inch of scab from top to bottom. I couldn’t even use a regular peeler to peel them – I had to cut the skin off with a knife. They were terrible. The inside still tasted fine, but who wants to deal with 1/4 inch of scab?

So that winter I searched the internet and asked the advice of more experienced gardeners – namely my parents – and got some really easy to follow suggestions. Then, following that advice in 2007, I grew the biggest, scab-free potatoes I had ever grown. Want to know how I did it? Here’s what you need to do:

Categories
Seed & Plant Reviews

How Do Your Carrots Grow?

Over the past two years I’ve grown six different varieties of carrots. I’ve grown purple carrots, giant carrots, miniature carrots, and even some “normal” carrots. So I thought I’d write a quick review the different varieties that I’ve grown and maybe you’ll want to try one or two in your garden next summer. So let’s jump right into it.

Categories
Compost, Mulch, Etc

How To Make A Garden From Scratch The Easy Way

Making a new garden plot is no easy task – no matter how you do it. But I may just have found the easiest and least work-intensive method of turning that patch of lawn into a beautiful garden plot.

In my early attempts to make new garden plots from scratch, I tried a variety of methods. I tried digging out the sod and then hauling in six inches of topsoil to replace it. Of course, that is a whole lot of work if done by hand, and renting machinery can be quite expensive. Then there’s the problem of what to do with the sods, and where to find quality topsoil.

Another method I’ve tried is to spray the grass with chemical, killing the grass, and then tilling the sod. But that means dealing with chemicals and finding a heavy duty rototiller which wouldn’t be cheap. Then once all that is done, you still have to go through an clear off all the bits and pieces of sod in order to have a workable garden.

So finally, I believe I have found a way to create a new garden space without machinery, without chemicals, and without any digging or tilling. Are you ready for this?

Categories
Compost, Mulch, Etc

How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back

What are the three things that consume most of your time and effort in gardening? It’s weeding, watering, and working the soil, isn’t it? How many hours do you spend just doing those three things? You hardly have time to enjoy your garden! But what if you could have a beautiful, lush garden – full of fragrant flowers and delicious fruits and vegetables – without all that work? Sounds way to good to be true, doesn’t it? That’s certainly what I thought… until today.

Today I read Ruth Stout’s book, “How to Have a Green Thumb Without an Aching Back”. Although it was written in 1955 by a lady born in 1884, it was full of practical gardening advice that is going to change the way I do gardening.

Categories
Haskap

Introduction to Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

If you’ve never seen haskap before, this whole article is going to seem very strange to you. So before I go and tell you what haskap is, let me show you what haskap looks like.

Haskap Berries (aka Honeyberries)

What is Haskap?

Haskap is an amazingly hardy, fast growing, high yielding, great tasting berry bush that is relatively new to North America. It is an edible honeysuckle that originates from Siberia and can be found in Russia, China, and Japan. It goes by the name ‘Honeyberries’, ‘Blue Honeysuckle’, and ‘Haskap’. Recently, it has been developed at the University of Saskatchewan by Dr. Bob Bors for commercial production.

What makes Haskap so remarkable?

Haskap has several features that make it stand out from among all other fruits.

#1. Hardiness

Coming from Siberia, it is extremely hardy. It can withstand winter temperatures of -47° Celsius. Not only that, but its open flowers can endure -7° Celsius. They are the earliest to fruit in the season, usually in mid to late June – even earlier than strawberries.

#2. Early & High Yield

One of the greatest thing about Haskap is that it doesn’t take seven years to start producing. My seedlings were planted in the spring of 2006 and I ate my first fruit in June 2007. In the studies at the University of Saskatchewan, they were yielding 1 kg (2.2 lbs.) per plant in their 3rd year and 4 kg per plant in their 6th year. The picture below is a three-year old plant in the test patch at the University of Saskatchewan.

Haskap Bush

#3. Unique Flavor

Haskap is unlike any other fruit you’ve tried. Some have compared it’s taste to blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, rhubarb, saskatoons, and black current. The flavor seems to vary with varieties. They are most often compared with blueberries, but without the seeds. The seeds are similar to that of kiwis, so you don’t even notice them. As for it’s uses, basically anything you would do with blueberries, you could also do with haskap – eat them fresh, in baking, as jams & jellies, frozen, or whatever else you may think of.

You can learn more about Haskap by visiting these sites:

Or you can buy Haskap plants from DNA Gardens in Elnora, Alberta.

Edited: June 1, 2008

Read more in my post Haskap Blossoms In May or Early Haskap Berries.

Categories
Seed & Plant Reviews

Fort Laramie Strawberries Reviewed

Fort Laramie StrawberriesThis spring I expanded my strawberry patch. In the past all I had grown was the popular June-bearing Kent strawberry, but this year I wanted to try something different. I ordered my strawberry plants from T & T Seeds (which I highly recommend) and received three varieties of strawberries – Kent, Ogallala, and Fort Laramie. Since I had only planted them this spring, I didn’t expect much in the way of produce until next year. But the Fort Laramie surprised me.

Categories
Compost, Mulch, Etc

Composting Made Easy… Or Something Like That

CompostWho knew that throwing all your dead plants, moldy vegetables, and manure from your pet pig in a big pile to let them rot, and then growing your own food in that stuff would be a great idea? Go figure, eh? But that pile of mushy tomatoes and wilty carrots is one of the best things you can do for your garden. Full of the very things your plants need to thrive, compost is a gardener’s black gold.That’s why I decided I needed a compost pile. After all, I had the space, I had the ingredients, and I had the motive – why not make my own compost? After all, how hard could it be?

Categories
General

What’s the Deal with this Blog?

Dave holding a Russet & a Viking potatoI grew up on a farm in central Alberta and naturally, we had a large garden in order to feed all of us (Mom, Dad, and the four boys). That means every year we helped Mom & Dad plant, weed, and harvest the garden. But it’s a world of difference between helping your folks pull some weeds and going out and making a beautiful yard of your own. Now that I’m grown and have a family and yard of my own, I’m discovering all the things I didn’t learn. That’s where this blog comes in.

I wanted to make this blog a site full of great hints, tips, and how-tos that will help you in your own quest for a beautiful space. I’ve experimented with greenhouses, mulching, square-foot gardening, landscaping, unique and exotic vegetables, all varieties of fruit, raised beds, hydroponics, and a whole lot of other stuff. This blog will be my journal of my experiments and hopefully there will be some useful information that you can use in your own garden.

So in a nutshell, that’s the deal with this blog. The question now is… Where do I start?