Saturday, August 20, 2011


This is one of my mint patches in the sunshine.  Spearmint.  It's growing in three big tubs near the cherry tree.  One summer a few years ago while I was working away in the garden,  a car suddenly came barrelling down the driveway.  A youngish guy jumped out and ran through the gate.  He was looking for mint.  He was with a group of friends who'd come to the island from Vancouver for a few days of fun and the plan was to have mojitos.  He told me how he was in charge of the ingredients and he felt really bad because he feared all his friends were seriously disappointed with him because he'd forgotten to bring mint from the city.  Well you just can't make a mojito without the mint!!  
He'd been to the Farmer's Market but there was no mint there.  Those days, I didn't sell at the market much but someone there had told him that he could see if I had some mint, so that's how he ended up in the garden.  Luckily, I had lots of mint for him.  Yay!
I'll never forget that frantic little scene and thanks to that guy and his anxious search for mojito mint, I always try to have some spearmint on hand for those summertime vacationers that have forgotten to bring their mint from the city.  And I continue to sell lots in the summer.  If you're on Mayne Island and you need some mint, let me know : )

I also sell little mint transplants in the springtime, for those with home gardens who want to grow their own. 

Pretty bundles of spearmint, it looks lovely in flower bouquets too (or just by itself in a jar on the kitchen counter) and the smell is one of the best!

On market days, the jars of spearmint are there.  4 bundles per jar for display, $2. per bundle.

 One of the little market signs I use to label things.

This year,  I'm drying spearmint and peppermint in the garden kitchen for nice teas in the wintertime.

This is the peppermint patch, growing same as the spearmint, in tubs.  I like using peppermint in flower bouquets so I always let some go to flower.
I've discovered that Richter's Seeds is selling a type of mint plant they're calling "Mojito Mint" .  There's a link on that page to a story about it and some mojito recipes too.  Perhaps I need to grow some next year!....and Chocolate Mint too.....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

potato harvest

I've been growing potatoes in pots for a few years now and I'm still so happy with the results.

I'm almost finished harvesting the first planting and am on to planting another crop for late fall, early winter and Christmas dinner harvests of oh so special and delicious new potatoes.  I can't get over the ease of this method and the incredible blemish free, beautiful young spuds that I can produce this way.  Tip the pot into the wheelbarrow and there they all are!   The soil and plant material goes to new beds I'm creating on the edge of the forest, "lasagna gardening" style.  Or sometimes into my compost pile.

This year, I had so many pots on the go that it got impossible to water them and keep on top of adding potting soil, grass clippings and straw on time as the plants grew.  Disappointing, but it's part of the process of expanding, I suppose.  Now that I'm truly sure of this method and ready to commit, we're putting some irrigation lines together for the 100+ pots that I'll have going next year.  That will help a lot.  Getting the systems in place is so integral to success!

Even with the growing pains,  I had piles of potatoes this summer.

Seiglinde,  Chieftain,  Russian Blue.

All bagged up in their 2 lb. bags, ready to go to the stores.  I sold quite a few at the Farmer's Market too and of course, we didn't forget to eat our share!

Monday, August 8, 2011

good days

It was a good day at the Farmer's Market yesterday.  
I was offering up some sunflower shoots, pea shoots, purple radish shoots, popcorn shoots and nasturtium flowers and leaves.  At my market display, folks can take a bag (or bring their own) and create their own salad mix.
I was also selling cut herbs, garlic and of course, flowers.  The little sweet pea bundles are snapped up within the first few minutes...I'm amazed at how many people love sweet pea flowers!

The corn shoots have been very popular too.  They have a unique flavour.  The juicy white stems taste like raw sweet corn and the top leafy part, like grass, sort of (some people say wheatgrass)....I'm not too crazy about the taste but sort of like it sometimes too.  It seems I can't really decide.  Some folks have also said it reminds them of stevia, maybe because it's so sweet and is a plant....
I first tried corn shoots at a restaurant in Ottawa, quite a few years ago now.   They were on my plate as a garnish and I didn't know what they were.  The flavour was SO familiar but I just couldn't figure it out!  It was winter-time and sweet corn didn't come to mind.  Then I saw them for sale a couple years ago at a farmer's market I was visiting and I just had to try growing them.


I grow them in trays in a dark cupboard on an earthen floor in the cob garden kitchen to give them that nice yellow corny colour and to make them nice and tender too.  

 I cover the grow tray with another tray just to make sure it's very dark and when the shoots are ready, they're pushing the cover tray up off the grow tray.

These days, I'm planting the trays with many more seeds than this one and learn!

Friday afternoons and evenings are for filling up the garage fridge with bags and bins of shoots and microgreens for Saturday Farmer's Market sales.  By the end of the night, it's all packed full.  It has been fun selling at the market more often this year.  I really enjoy meeting all the folks who buy the things I grow.  I'm thrilled and  a wee bit amazed at how popular and successful these lovely greens have become.  Producing them keeps me hopping.  Thanks to everyone for all the encouraging interest, feedback and support.  It's good fuel to help keep me going!

Here a happy customer is filling her bag with some purple radish of my favourites!  They have a radishy flavour, mildly spicy.  These days, I've noticed that growing them in the summer heat seems to make them zingyer!

I grow these in trays too.  And many more of them per sowing than the corn shoots...they've become a staple salad ingredient for quite a few of my customers and for me too.

All in a row on the greenhouse shelves with the peas and suns.

Pretty little leaves.  There are always some green ones in with the purples.

One of my all time favourite lunch time salads:  pea shoots, sunflower shoots and purple daikon radish shoots....with a light honey mustard dressing...oh so delicious!  And apparently the radish shoots are very good for us too.  I've read that the purple colour comes from an anthocyanin that's also in blueberries and black currants and is what makes them so full of antioxidants and so good for us.
These little plant gems are also fabulous stuffed in a sandwich or decorating a bowl of soup, sprinkled on top.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The zinnias are finally blooming and I can't wait to get to make more arrangements like this one.  Zinnias are one of my favourite garden flowers and I just love using them for bouquets and floral decor. They come in a huge range of colours and they last forever too!

I've been looking at some of the photos that I've taken over the last couple months since I've been away from the blog and some are of the same spot in the garden...some from 2 months ago and some I took this week.  I don't remember doing this before...a kind of time lapse photography.  It's amazing how  much things grow and change in the garden over 2 months in the summer.
Above is a zinnia bed today and below is the same bed around the time I was last here at the blog.  Wow, what a big difference!

It was such a cold and grey spring and the heat loving little zinnia plants really had a hard time with that. They sure look tiny here and the blooms are quite late in my garden this year.  O well, maybe I'll get a longer zinnia season next year!

Some of the transplants in May, waiting to be planted.

This is a Benary's Giant Zinnia "Carmine Rose".  One of my favourites these days.

And many of these are "Salmon Rose", (another favourite of mine these days) mixed with golden hops vine, green amaranth and blue salvia.

I'm back!

It has been almost 2 months since I've posted anything here!  A zillion things on my mind, so much to do and it's just so difficult to organize my thoughts to write a blog post.

Here's what the little circle bed above looked like around the time I last posted here.  Tiny little sweet pea plants, little red cabbage transplants and some little marigold plants.  The purple sweet alyssums were just seeds on the soil.  Amazing how things grow!

I really love these circle gardens.  Every year I have fun planting a few of them.  It's so nice when they mature into something that looks pretty much as I'd imagined when I first put in those sad little plants!  I think they'd be beautiful in a city front yard food garden.  

Cabbages are so beautiful at this stage of growth.  Who needs flowers?!  I've been lucky this year...not many of those nasty little white butterflies that lay their eggs on cabbages and other brassicas.  The little green worms can completely ruin a beautiful plant like this.  Maybe those pretty little yellow marigolds that are growing between the cabbages are helping.  They're said to deter the cabbage butterfly so looks like they could be working!

 The sweet peas smell divine, especially when the sun shines on them.

Last Saturday morning, while I was loading up the truck with everything I needed to take to the Farmer's Market, I stopped to take this photo of a few little handfuls of sweetpeas I was taking to sell (it was their perfume that made me do it!)  I hope to take some more little bundles this weekend too.  $2.50 for a bunch that will fill a room with one of the best sweet garden scents ever!