Friday, March 20, 2009

Diary September 2007 - Opa's Garden

This month I’m having my Dad describe his garden and show you some photos. Take it away, Opa!

“Hello! I’m known as Opa to most of my family. I garden in Zone 5A in in Ontario. This is the 7th house we’ve been in.
I have had a front and back garden in each and every one of them. Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve enjoyed digging in the garden, watching how things grow and getting dirt under my fingernails.
I’d like to take you on a little garden tour and tell you about my successes and failures…
For watering purposes I try to use as much rain water as I can. I believe plants prefer it to tap water. It does take me a little longer to do it with watering cans, but if time isn’t a factor it works out great. Around the house I have 5 – 45 gal barrels and one 200 gal container. In one corner of the house there are 2 drums and the container, all hooked up together. For flowers this supply seldom runs dry. Of course for grass I use the sprinkler.

I start most of my annuals from seed. Some I collect, some I purchase. This year I started Zinnias, Daturas, Celosias, Sweet Peas, Dahlias (Figaro and Star Gazer series), Geraniums and tomatoes for myself and my neighbours. I will go into a little more detail about the Geraniums. The seeds I chose were from the William Dam seed catalogue. They were white ones from the Orbit series. I bought 2 packages of seed with 10 seeds in each. As a rule I use “Jiffy 7” peat pellets for germinating all my seeds. On January 23rd I sowed one seed per pellet and in a couple of days, the first signs of growth appeared. Within 5-7 days, I had 19 little geranium plants. On Feb 9th, I replanted them into 4” pots. Then in about 4-5 weeks I pinched the top portion (about 2”) and stuck them into a Vermiculite/Perlite/Potting soil mixture (equal amounts of each.) Once they rooted, I ended up with about 32 geranium plants! I have found the geraniums are kind of slow to get established but the end result has been very good. The flower heads are quite large and tend to grow quite tall.

I had enough white ones for my front and back flower beds. I’ve also had good luck with celosias the past few years. This year I’m going to try collecting the seeds from my own Celosias and Zinnias and see what happens.
As the trees get in my back yard get larger each year, I will have to switch to more shade loving plants.
In the fall of 2005, I was given a small envelope of Golden Clematis Tangutica seeds

Within a month I started about 10 seeds under my grow lights in the basement. Some did not survive, other I gave away, but I planted 3 little plants into my own backyard that spring. One of them really liked its location, I guess, because it’s done extremely well. The other 2 “gave up” and disappeared. The Happy One is over 6’ tall and in mid-August is covered with bright yellow bell-shaped flowers.
I have read this in books and magazine articles and I truly believe it: in one place in your garden, a plant will flourish, but in another it will wither. If you find the right location, you’ve got it made!
In the fall of 2006, I bought a gallon size container of Hydrangea. I planted it where it gets about 4 hours of morning sun and it looks like it just loves it there.
My climbing hydrangea, which I planted 7 years ago on a N-W corner also likes its spot and is doing just fine.
Now a bit about my vegetable garden. For the second year in a row, I have tried what is known as ‘Square Foot Gardening’, based on a book by Mel Bartholomew. You build your garden in a slightly raised bed with a series of 16 one foot squares. Each square can hold a different vegetable, fruit or herb planted in quantities that are practical to use!

By re-planting squares as soon as you harvest, you’ll guarantee a steady crop of vegetables throughout the growing season. Right now I am on my third batch of spinach (Tetragonia New Zealand). I have had very good results with spinach, radishes, different kinds of lettuce, sugar peas and now cucumbers. It’s my first season with cukes. Here’s some advice: use lots of netting because they love to “climb” and watch them closely, because within a matter of days they can change from small to HUGE!

This year I tried to experiment with upside-down planters.

I had cucumbers in one, zucchini in another and cherry tomatoes in a third. Sorry to say, but I have to mark this down as one of my failures: the cukes headed straight to the ground, zucchini started out well but ended up the size of felt markers and the tomatoes? They just didn’t like to be in that position. No more Topsy-Turvy plants for me!”

Thanks for the great Diary, Opa!

No comments: