Haskap Berries

Haskap is an amazingly hardy, fast growing, high yielding, great tasting berry that grows great in the Prairies. More »

Evans Cherries

Cherries are just one of the many fruits that you can grow in Alberta. Read on for 17 hardy fruits you can grow on the Prairies. More »

Delicious Raspberries

Raspberries are probably my all-time favorite fruit! But there are many runners-up... More »

Ladybugs

These little fellows are in abundance around here - but they don\'t bother me much. Read on for the REAL pests! More »

Square Foot Gardening

Get growing! Learn how to make your own square foot garden here. More »

 

Greenhouses: More Than Just Functional

Some of the most popular articles that I’ve written on this website have been about my inexpensive greenhouses. From my Giant 24’x48′ A-Frame to my hail-proof PVC hoop-style greenhouse, I’ve explored all kinds of options for how to keep my garden safe from the harsh Alberta climate. And while most of my ideas are functional solutions – I can’t say they are always beautiful solutions. Rough cut lumber covered by a plastic sheet does keep the tomatoes from freezing, but it may not enhance the overall look of your yard. And in many cases, that’s ok. A hoop-frame greenhouse out behind the barn on the farm fits in nicely, but it might look out of place in your beautifully landscaped city yard.

So if you’re looking for a more attractive way to extend your growing season, you may want to consider a Victorian greenhouse. These beautiful glass structures are not only functional, but they also add character to your garden and value to your home. When I was making the landscaping plan for my backyard, this is type of greenhouse that I designed for.

Search through several Grow Lights and other necessities for your greenhouse all at an affordable price!

Ideally, I’d like a fully heated, cedar-frame glass greenhouse – about 12′ x 30′. (My current hoop-frame is 12′ x 20′.) It would be great to start my own annuals out there (instead of in my basement like I currently do). And it would be nice to have my greenhouse as a key feature of my garden, rather than something to be hidden in the back corner.    Of course, I’ve been doing my landscaping in phases, (doing small projects as the budget allows) and so that type of greenhouse is still a few years away – but that’s the goal.

Until then I’ll be happy to keep on growing in my inexpensive hoop-style greenhouse and be just slightly envious of those of you who enjoy your beautiful glass greenhouses.

Are you one of the lucky people to have a Victorian greenhouse? I’d love to see your pictures! Feel free to attach them to your comments below!

 

The Corn Likes the Weather…

I don’t think I have ever experienced a summer in Alberta when, by the 20th of August, we still have not experienced a 30° day. It’s been cool and wet. And frankly, I’m ok with that. 23° is warm enough for me. But I wasn’t sure my garden would agree. I thought for sure with all this cool, wet weather, my plants would stop growing and start rotting. And indeed, when I picked my beans last week, there were lots of pods that were just rotting away on the plant. But in spite of that, I still picked a bumper crop of beans. And my peas have done better this year than they have since I moved here. And the corn! Well, let me just show you the corn…

And it’s only the 20th of August! So needless to say, I’m impressed. And excited. We’re going to be having some major corn roasts this fall!

So what’s been your experience with all this wet, cool weather (if you’re in Alberta)? Has it been a good year?

Community Gardens

As I mentioned in one of my recent posts, I recently returned from vacationing in the Kootenays of BC. And one of the very cool things that I saw was a non-profit community garden. The Lakehead & Beyond Produce Society has got a great little garden and greenhouse that not only provides fresh garden vegetables for their community, but it also generates employment opportunities and improves the overall economic well-being of the area. I think it’s a great idea that would work well in many small communities.

Here’s just a couple pics to give you an idea of what they’ve got going out there.

How does it all work? The basic idea is that individuals or families can ‘subscribe’ to a weekly delivery of fresh garden produce. So every week, you receive a box full of whatever produce is available that week. So early in the season you might get spinach, radishes, chard, rhubarb, and various herbs – then later on onions, tomatoes, peas, beans, corn, carrots – and still later you’d get garlic, beets, cabbage, etc… Kinda cool, huh?

So I was just wondering, is anyone else doing this sort of thing? Or, perhaps you are interested in starting one of these in your community? Drop me a line!

Vacationing in the Kootenays

My wife and I just returned from visiting my parents in the Kootenays of British Columbia. Of course, I kept my camera handy and although these pictures aren’t exactly “Alberta Home Gardening” – I thought I’d share them with you.

One of the things that really struck us was how beautiful their road ditches are! They tell me they are all weeds, but man, oh man – they sure look nice! Take a look for yourself…

Nice weeds, eh? Another little bit of nature was this little green itsy bitsy spider that I found on one of my mom’s peonys. Looks a little ferocious, doesn’t he? I’ve never seen any like this in Alberta – and I’m kinda glad.

The last thing I want to show you I think I’ll save for another post. It’s worthy of a whole separate post. So stay tuned…. Especially you entrepreneurs….

The Deer Strike Again!

It looks like this will be another saskatoon-less summer. Things were growing so well… Lots of sun, lots of rain – no hail, no untimely frosts… And then, it happened. The deer strike again!

This little fellow decided that, after chewing on a few peas, that he would try saskatoons. And wouldn’t you know it – he liked them! By the time I interrupted his meal, he had already trimmed down the majority of my saskatoon plants. So I guess there’ll be no saskatoons for me this year. But what else can you expect when you live in central alberta? Besides, I can always head over to my brother’s upick saskatoon farm – the Saskaberry Ranch.

Kiwis, Grapes, Blackberries, and More!

In my last post, I took a photo stroll around the yard. But at that time (May 20th), there were quite a few plants that still hadn’t grown enough to have much to show. But now after a long spring, I can show you all the other odd and unusual plants that have finally made an appearance.

But first, an update on my plums! Here is one of about half a dozen Pembina Plums.

Nice, huh? Am I ever excited for these guys! But back to the update… First of all, this is one of my grapes. Its a Marechael Foch Grape – my other one is a Valient. Both are doing nicely so far!

Then, there is my Issai Kiwi – I have two of them as well. I’ve tried growing them twice before. The first time a heavy frost just after planting took them out. The second time was an accidental death that I’d rather not get into!

I also have two Blackberry Vines in the works. This one was just planted this spring – so we’ll have to wait to see how they do over the winter.

I’ve also dug up some Black Raspberry plants from the farm and brought them to our new place. They will be planted along the fence, once the fence gets built! But for now they live in pots.

My cucumbers are doing nice. Just ate the first cucumber of the season yesterday.

And my tomates are happily growing in the greenhouse.

And that’s about it for now. Perhaps next time I’ll update you on whether or not my pole beans have overtaken the corn in which they have been planted! Until then…

Here’s What’s Growing By the May Long-Weekend

It was way back in in the June of 2008, that I took a Photo Stroll Around the Yard. That’s some time ago, so I figured it was about time to do it again. Of course, now I have a whole new yard to stroll around in! Anyway, here’s some of the things I found growing around the yard…

First of all, my tulips are just starting to open up.

And my raspberries are just starting to show signs of life.

My watermelon is looking just fine. (I haven’t had success with watermelons for about 4 years, so I’m hoping this year will be the one!)

My Borealis Haskap seedlings are doing well. I just got them planted last week.

And I always love seeing the white blossoms cover branches of my plum trees!

And my hostas are just starting to unfurl…

It’s amazing to me how soft the needle/leaves of the larch trees are.

And of course, I wandered over to my neighbors yard and had to take a few pictures there too! They’ve got all kinds of little violas popping up everywhere.

This was one of my favorites so far this spring – sandcherry blossoms in my neighbors yard  just about to open!

And finally, bleeding hearts, also growing at my neighbors. (Mine just got planted last week – so they’re a little behind.)

And that’s what things look like around here. Next time around I’ll have to show you my tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, kiwis, and grapes!

Square Foot Garden Planting Plans

Recently, I’ve had a few requests about exactly what to plant in these square foot gardens that I’ve written about. Can you plant potatoes? How about carrots & peas? Or even tomatoes? Well, yes, yes, and yes. But…

In order to grow certain fruits and veggies in your square foot garden, you might have to plan ahead. For example, if you want to plant carrots, you need to make your containers a little bit deeper – maybe 8 to 12 inches deep. For vines like cucumbers and tomatoes, you’ll need some kind of support system like a trellis or stakes so that they can grow UP not OUT. Then there are other things that you CAN grow in SFGs, but they really work better in a traditional garden plot. Things like peas or potatoes take up a lot of space, and are best planted in long rows (peas) or large blocks (potatoes).

So with those thoughts in mind as you get ready to plant your SFGs this spring, here is my square foot garden planting plan from a couple of years ago – just to give you some ideas!

What will you be planting this year?

A Few More Haskap/Honeyberry Pictures

This morning I made an unexpected discovery. While checking my an email address that I haven’t used for months, I found that my brother-in-law had emailed me some photos that he had taken last June of the haskap/honeyberry plants  I had planted at his farm about five years ago. The photos were taken last year, so these plants are four years old. Have a look…

 

Do you have any pictures of haskap/honeyberries? Post them in your comments below!

Beans & Sunflowers

If you remember way back in the early part of this summer, I told you about interplanting my bean with my corn. Well, it was a terrible year for corn, so I’ve really got nothing exciting to tell you about that. However, what I didn’t mention before was that I also interplanted some scarlet runner beans with my sunflowers. And while neither grew to their full potential due to the poor growing season, I really enjoyed the way they looked together.

(Psssst. Don’t mind my weeds! Also, click these pictures for a clearer picture.)

I had to add some support for the bean vines, since the sunflowers fell way short of the size they should have grown to. Next year I plan to try this again – and perhaps even add some of these beans to my grapevine trellis by the garage.