Monday, July 2, 2012

Triumphs and Tragedies

My apologies for not attending to the blog these last few days.  It is a long weekend here in Canada (Happy Canada Day everyone!) and I've been making sure to take in the holiday sights and activities.

We began our weekend sitting on the front porch Friday evening watching yellow birds (american goldfinch) darting in and out of the meadow.  They seemed to keep returning to a particular patch of plants so I took a look at a reference book and realized they were dining on sow thistles.  It's sights like these that make me so happy we decided to stop mowing that back section of the property.  It might look a little messy but there's an array of wildlife enjoying that spot now that wasn't there before.

In addition to enjoying a little downtime at home we also took in some events.  Sunday night we viewed the Canada Day fireworks from the front steps of the lighthouse at Rocky Point.  I couldn't imagine a nicer view.  And the weather has turned a corner, it's really feeling like summer here now so a trip to the beach was in order as well.

It has been a delight this week to venture into the veggie garden.  Every day I have been picking a bowl full of these.


Strawberries are one of my favourite fresh fruits.  Initially I was a little worried that the plants weren't yielding very much and I considered that we should put in a second bed but after a week of collecting large bowls of fruit each day I think we are doing quite well.  We've had fresh strawberries for breakfast and snacks, strawberry tarts and strawberries in our iced tea.  One of these days I would love to learn how to do canning.  Strawberry jam would be first on my list of things to make.

I've been really impressed with how good the veggie patch is working out this year.  We started off with asparagus and followed it closely with rhubarb, then greens - lettuce, spinach and cilantro.  Strawberries and radishes were ready this week and today I saw pea pods starting to show signs of bulking up.  It's been a continuous flow of food and I'm just thrilled.

There is always a tragedy though it seems.  Some things have gone horribly wrong in the veggie patch this year.  It started with seed.  I purchased a number of packets of seed from a company I hadn't used before and I've been horribly disappointed.  I have approximately 6 carrots in my beds right now and I planted an entire packet of seed.  I planted several rows of turnips and again, only a handful of plants came up.  I have peas but only half the amount that I planted.  And pumpkins were a complete no show.  At first I wondered if I had done something wrong.  Had I put the seed somewhere where they got hot?  too cold?  did they get wet?  But I couldn't think of anything that I had done differently than other years.  Then I read this post.  Okay, so it's not just me.  There's actually a problem here.  So I've made a mental note for next year.  I'll go back to buying all my seed at Veseys.  I've been buying from them for a number of years and never had issues with germination like I did this year.

After accepting that my pumpkin seed wasn't any good I actually went to a nursery and purchased some new seed.  I knew it was late getting them going but I thought it was still worth a try.  Into the compost pile they went and voila.



I had a half dozen pumpkin seedlings shoot up and I was on my way.  But oh wait, we had several days of rain earlier in the week.  That should have been a good thing, keeping my seedlings well watered.  Instead it brought out slugs.  I'm still not quite over the carnage.  They ate every single one of my pumpkins.  I was obviously not meant to have pumpkins this year.

Looking across the road from our house is a much larger veggie patch.  This farm field has been growing soybeans the last two years.  This year we saw the tractors out working the soil and wondered what this season would bring.  Good news!  Hills mean potatoes.


There's an unwritten rule on this island, so we've been told, that at the end of potato harvest any tubers left in the ground are fair game.  That means we'll be able to walk across the road and help ourselves to free potatoes for the winter.  Of course, every triumph comes with a tragedy.


There are a lot of diseases that can affect a potato and farmers spray chemicals to prevent them.  Smelly nasty chemicals.  We have to be aware when the tanks come out - closing the house up and bringing the cats indoors.  I know farmers are simply doing their jobs to the best of their ability but I worry, about the air, the ground and the water.  Just what's in those tanks?

22 comments:

  1. What a great post!

    Re the triumphs..you have it in spades...as you describe your eating adventure through spring into summer...just a joy.

    I too have had a lot of seed failure just this past three weeks. I think some seeds really are meant to germinate in weather earlier than we are used to putting them out...climate change!!

    Carrots germinating..a no show twice so far! Maybeeee...the seed..maybe. Just unsure. Will try germinating them inside and if that doesn't work..we know there is a problem with the provider and his storing of seed product.

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    1. Brenda, I know the feeling being unsure about the seed. With the peas I wondered if it was because I put them out too soon but a second planting had the same issues. I didn't want to blame anyone at first but after reading someone else's exact same woes it confirmed what I was thinking.

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  2. I think your triumphs out weigh your tragedies although I can imagine how frustrating it is to know all the seeds you bought from one company were duds. Since you are in the water and air sheds close to those potato fields you have an absolute right to know what's in those tanks. I'm so glad you have American goldfinches!!! They are year round residents in my garden. They also love zinnias, rudbeckia, and coneflowers. They land on the stems and pull the seeds right out. :o)

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    1. Tammy, so glad to hear the finches like coneflowers and rudbeckia as well. I've planted several varieties of both so hopefully the birds will continue to stay in our area.

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  3. Glad you got out and enjoyed some of the festivities and to a beach -- you do have the best beached there! :)

    I too want to learn canning. My mom canned and preserved everything. At the time I was a teenager and thought it was soooo boring. What I wouldn't give for that know-how now. I think I will look into finding someone who will teach me. Our house has a cold room in it and I would love to fill the shelves in it... :)

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    1. Me too!! When I was a kid I remember helping with canning fruit but as a teenager my mom didn't can as much and I didn't have the interest. Now I would love to be able to put away some of my produce.

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  4. Happy belated Canada Day, Marguerite, enjoy some strawberries for me!

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    1. Thanks Deborah, I think I'm enjoying strawberries enough for everybody these days.

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  5. We have had the crop-dusters roaring back and forth as they spray whatever on the fields. Glad you bring your cats, at least, away from that. Saw a one-legged robin today, and wonder - is that injury, or damaged by all the agro-chemicals?

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    1. Diana, closing the windows helps and there are certain rules here, no spraying on windy days, they have to spray close to the ground so there's less drifting but even so, that stuff is soaking into the earth and our water table is under there. Seeing farming up close has been a real eye opener for me.

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  6. Your strawberry harvest has me drooling. I only have a few plants and have to share the harvest with a voracious chipmunk, so I am coming to PEI to have strawberries on my cereal. Put the coffee on!

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    1. Come on over Laurrie! I'll give you a bowl full to take home. I never thought I could have too many strawberries but this has been crazy this week. Putting the new 'cage' over the beds definitely helped keep the critters out though.

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  7. You have to worry about eating the poisoned potatoes too!!!

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    1. Hi there! Unfortunately every time we walk into a supermarket we're taking a risk aren't we? There are so many chemicals used on food these days that most of us probably don't think about.

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  8. Your Canada Day weekend sounds perfect. Your strawberries look delicious. My vegetable patch has not done nearly so well. I have a few strawberry plants but they became overshadowed by the tomatoes ( poor planning on my part). I also seem to be have similar problems as you are having with germination. On the up side my herbs are doing well.
    It is scary to see crops being sprayed. We consumers demand perfect looking food and unless that changes, the spraying will sadly continue.

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    1. You're right Jennifer. When I look at all the holes in my lettuce I wonder how they get it so perfect at the grocery store. Spraying I think is the answer.

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  9. Marguerite, Your experience with pumpkins this year reminded me of mine with morning glories. First I planted seed and almost nothing came up. (In my case, I think the problem was the 8" rainstorm we had right after I planted, not the seeds.) Then, I bought some seedlings and set them out by the basement door until I could plant them -- where they got totally devoured by slugs. (I've never had a problem with slugs before this year.)When I went back to the local nursery where I had bought the seedlings to replace them, they were sold out. Oh well, I thought, I just wasn't meant to have morning glories this year. Instead, I planted some moonflower seedlings (same genus, different species); so the morning glory tragedy gives me an opportunity to try a flower I haven't grown before. -Jean

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    1. Good for you not giving in Jean! I ended up planting one more zucchini into my pumpkin spot. I think I might regret that as I have three zucchini plants now and they are all blooming away. Look for a major zucchini harvest in the coming month.

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  10. Marguerite,
    Never had any luck with Halifax seed and just don't even think about buying their seeds. Veseys is great, and the pumpkin seed I planted this year are really doing well, it is called "Magic Lantern". The bean variety is also doing well. My tomatoes from the Heritage harvest seed are also doing fantastic and the Silvery Fir type is really different in it's leaf pattern. Hopefully I don't get the blight this year and can rate all the varieties we have planted.
    Your Strawberries look so tasty. I think the birds may be helping themselves to ours.
    Glad you had a great Canada Day weekend. The weather was just perfect.

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    1. What a shame about Halifax Seed. One of the reasons I bought from them was Veseys didn't have the kind of pumpkin I wanted. I had good germination with Heritage Harvest as well (100% in fact) except for one cherry tomato which was problematic but one packet with issues out of a half dozen wasn't a big deal to me and I still got a few plants to grow. Our strawberry cover has worked wonders, I think the crows would have taken everything otherwise.

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  11. sorry about your seed problems but glad you sorted what it was so know how to avoid it in future,it was you Marguerite that first had me realise when my seeds do not germinate it might not be me, the success I've so joyfully had this year with the yellow rattle seeds I think is completely due to the fact that I did a search and found a different seed nursery to buy them from, I would not have even thought of doing this until I read in one of your posts about quality of seed, thank you,
    glad you had a nice relaxing weekend, I remember being in Victoria on Canada Day and seeing fireworks from the harbour, Frances x

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  12. Love the picture of the strawberries, love them. All those potatoes would be great, though I am with you on not liking the sprays and other chemicals.

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