Tag Archives: gardening

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….

A Texas-Style Hoop Frame PVC Pipe GreenHouse

It’s almost Spring! Yes, there may be a foot of snow on the ground still. Yes, it may still be -10ºC. Yes, the ground may still be frozen solid. But Spring is on the way. Well, it may be a little while yet – at least, here in Alberta. But down in Texas Spring is just around the corner.

In fact, Big Jim just sent me a few pictures of the hoop-style greenhouse that He just built. Since many of you may be thinking about building your own greenhouse this spring, I thought I’d share Big Jim’s pictures and tell you about some of the modifications he made to my Inexpensive Hoop-Frame PVC Pipe Greenhouse. So first the pictures…

The first thing you might notice is that Big Jim has added some braces to his end walls. This is a great idea, since the ends tend to be pulled in by the weight of snow in the winter.

He also added some height to his walls. He’s a tall guy, so he’s used PVC pipes that were 22′ long instead of just 20′. Because of the extra length, He also used 1″ pipe instead of 1/2″ pipe to give it some more strength. Another change He made was to use electrical conduit clamps to attach the pipes to the base, as opposed to the strapping.

So this is what it looks like all said and done. He plans to grow tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, some flowers and hanging basket plants, and he even wants to try some hydroponics. Perhaps I’ll get a few more pics down the road and give you an update to how things are growing.

Anyway, hopefully that’ll inspire you  in your own greenhouse building endeavors. I think I may even integrate a few of his changes in my own greenhouse. But all in good time – I think I’ll let the ground thaw first.

Transplanting Tomatoes

Today was the day to transplant my tomato seedlings, and I think I may have done it a little differently than you might expect. Or perhaps you’ve done it this way all your life and I’m just catching on to it now. Either way, here’s what I did.

Now if you’re wondering when to transplant, my seedlings are now four weeks old and stand about about four inches tall. Ideally, I think you’d want to give them another week or so, and do the big move when they’re about five inches tall. But, I was in a hurry and was itching to get things moving.

Tomato & Watermelon Seedlings ready to transplant

First of all, I gave my tomato seedlings one more watering before I transplanted them. Not only does that make it easier on the plant, but it also makes it easier to get out of the container. Then I took my three inch pot (that I was transplanting into) and put just a small layer of dirt in the bottom. So far, not so unusual.

Here’s what you might not normally do. I took my tomato plant and laid it down sideways in the container (as much as I could in that small space). Then I buried as much of it as I could, leaving just the top leaves showing.

My transplanted tomato

Now, why on earth would I do that? Well you see, when you bury a tomato stem, it will send out roots. These extra roots will make the plant stronger and healthier. To further improve your tomato’s root systems, do this again when you plant him in the ground. Just dig a little trench, lay the plant down in the trench, bury it and keep the top sticking out of the ground.

Don’t believe me? Try it yourself!

Garden Plan & Seeds for 2008

With spring not all that far away, folks are browsing the seed catalogs and are starting to put together their seed orders for this spring. And of course, once compiled, these lists make their way onto the internet for our viewing pleasure. So where’s my list?

Well, instead of a plain ol’ list, I thought I’d show you the full meal deal. You see, I have tendency to be way too organized and since I’m quite adapt with a computer, I just so happen to have a full color diagram of everything I plan to plant and where I’m going to plant it. Care to take a gander? Then here goes…

Oh, by the way, click the image to download a full size .pdf file to study at your leisure.

A-Frame Greenhouse Plan

A-Frame Greenhouse Plan 2008 (pdf)The main crops in here are tomatoes, watermelons, and cucumbers, but you’ll also a variety of other things as well. Something new for my greenhouse this year is pumpkins. I’m going to try to grow a giant pumpkin or two inside my greenhouse. I’m also going to try raspberries in my greenhouse to see if I can extend their season. The blank plot in the upper left corner is where I’m going to plan a mini-replica of my main outdoor garden just to compare how the plants grow differently in the greenhouse.

Just a note about the “Phil’s Strawberries”: Those are a type of strawberry that I’m getting from my brother Phil who is a u-pick fruit grower. I’m not sure exactly what type they are.

Tips for Vegetable Crop Rotation

The ground is frozen and there is a layer of snow covering your garden plot. There’s simple not much to do outside in the way of gardening. However, this is a great time to start planning your garden for next year. I always like to sketch out what I want to plant and where I want to plant it. This is for two reasons.

  1. So I know what seeds to order (ordering by mid Feb. gets me a 10% discount).
  2. So I can properly rotate my vegetable crops.

Many gardeners practice crop rotation – and for good reasons.

  • There is decreased insect and disease problems.
  • It prevents soil from losing much needed nutrients.

There are different patterns or cycles you can follow – but here’s the cycle I follow.

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:

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.

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.

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?