Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vancouver's weather is rarely predictable, but one thing we can count on in this city is beautiful, hot, sunny days in September. The leaves are starting to turn, and our fine city's residents are trying to squeeze as many days at the beach in as possible before we're forced to face month upon month of grey skies and rain.

At first I thought that Autumn would be an odd time of year to start a gardening blog, but then I started thinking about all the amazing things nature offers us in the colder months. Apart from the vegetables that can still be grown in the Fall, this time of year gives us time to bake, can fruits, pickle vegetables, and turn old crops in to garden beds to be unveiled in the Spring.

There are a few pictures above from this past Spring and Summer. After this entry I'll blog only about things as they happen, no matter how tempted I am to write about the brighter seasons.

Bush Beans Gone to Seed

As gardening for me seems to be about trial and error, I figured that it would be good to post up some pictures of my green beans that have hopefully gone to seed. I'm not quite sure of the variety but they are some sort of a bush bean that I seem to think works better with my elevation and soil than I would imagine the climbing varieties would fair.

This years batch was grown from the beans collected from last year after I figured that purple flecks must have meant something. It was at least worth a shot to figure out if they amounted to anything when planted.
Not all seeds popped into the soil sprouted a seedling, (around 15% failed) but all-in-all the relocation from a rocky back plot to my new one cut out of the grass in my front yard, meant a happier patch.

Without a hefty
crop, and the fact that my dad had bought a giant bag of the same veg from the market, my little things mostly amounted to me snacking on them while gardening as opposed to becoming side dishes with dinner. I have to say that it reminds me of that Christmas tree movie from the 90's that is all heartbreaking because all he wants to be is a "proper" Christmas tree with a star on his top and presents underneath.

For the most part my harvest last week appeared to be a bit hasty. I left about 30 beans growing on their little branches but pulled about 16 that once opened I don't think will create much other than a good lesson for next time

When the pod is still mainly green and has a thick wall the beans inside are quite pale, with only a little purple colouration.

At this stage you can see that something is really starting to happen. The pod is dying back, turning yellow and is much thinner than at the earlier stage. The beans certainly look like something is going on inside but they still have a milky pearlised luster to them. I get the feeling that this will can still go towards next years crop but we will just have to wait and see. here is where I think I hit it right. When I picked these they looked like nothing I would want to eat - dryish yellow pods with thin walls that seem to have had all of their goodness leached into the little beans inside. It's fruit are smaller, more densely compacted and dark purple.

For my next steps I'm going to peel back the rest of the green pods I had picked, organize them by colour, and put them in little dishes to dry out for the time being. It would be most adorable to make little paper packets for them which will note their 'classification' for next years planting. Once organized into rows this will help me to better understand what works and what doesn't for the seeding process as well as make cute little presents for friends when it comes to passing on the dark purple ones.


My Garden

, originally uploaded by sarahkit.
For as long as I can remember there would be raspberries on my birthday when we arrived back from camping in the Okanogan. I would climb though the stalks barefoot popping them into my mouth or filling a little bucket with them to share with my family or store away for winter and the desperate need for berry muffins when the weather got miserable outside. Blueberries were picked off the bushes that poked out from the cedar trees, huckleberries from the forest, salmon berries and blackberries brought home from the roadside.

A few years ago I started growing more vegetables in the soils in my yard but without much luck. unsuccessful strips of 'carrot paper' that never sprouted were eventually met with bush green beans that seemed to finally grow all on their own with all but a little help from me. The soil where I had planted them wasn't very good but they still managed to pump out handfuls of juicy plump pods that I happily crunched, and this time shared with my father as we would sit on the couch watching TNG. I ended up leaving a few that seemed to be all too developed and a few weeks later I was sure they were seed so I took them in, excised their innards and dried them for wishful planting in the future.

This year things have started to blossom in a new way for me and my garden. Being granted rights to cut up the lawn, my brother and I put in a little raised bed and tilled the soil for a regular one beside it. I said goodbye to my beautiful tulips and forget-me-nots that would show spring and summers changes in the little terraces to the upper lawn and planted carrots, romaine lettus, broccoli and spinach in their wake. For the green beans that didn't have much of a chance, their seeds were given new life in the new front bed, lined with peas and unsuccessful office-grown green beans that were tall as hell but weren't born to feel the elements so it seems. Cardoons and an artichoke were popped in and soon became the feed for aphids as I learned their work as the cows of the bug world. Butternut squash have taken over my raised bed and there are about 9 little yellow gourds coming into the world at the neck of the vine with yellow blossoms coming down from their hard work. To top it all off a little stack of stolen tires have helped my blue potato grow to be about 5 feet tall.

At work in Environmental Services, the folks who started the TC Bean Growing Competition had some organic potatoes that had gone to eye and I was encouraged to take them home for planting along with two pumpkins grown from seed in little paper water cups. Unfortunately a day or two later my dog had gotten to the potatoes before I had so they were to rejoin the circle of life sooner than I had hoped however one survived. Raiding my neighbours pantry I came up with a few sprouted spuds of different variety and after popping them in pots on the windowsills of my house, along with some healthy looking tomato babies, they were well on their way. Who says you need seed potatoes?!.

In the fun of planting potatoes I came across three well developed carrot stalks in the back where I had once attempted to grow them. After taking their time to germinate at their own pace one has suddenly jumped into a blossom that I expect will bring enough seeds for next years supply. My spuds are doing well in their now heaps of forest soil and the whole thing seems to be in bloom. I had planted hubbard squash seeds at the start of all of this right where the green beans once didn't fair all that well, however this seems to be a good spot for them as little green orbs have taken shape

My only great interventions in the whole affair involved some careful thinning and re-planting of carrots so they could all have the space they needed to grow and some window-sill born lettus, tomatoes, spinach and beans.

After 5 good harvests my raspberries ended their season some time ago with a swam of wasps taking their last tastes of what was left for the birds and I am excited to see my remaining beans go to seed once more in preparation for an even more well thought out little farm next year.