A day in the life

ON THE GARDEN PATH by Carolyn Herriot

Ever wondered what it’s like to have a garden overflowing with fruits and vegetables at this time of year? I’ll share a day at The 

Garden Path with you so you can get an idea.

Today, I finished preserving the cherry harvest, which was very prolific this year. We have two cherry trees: a Morella sour cherry and a Stella sweet cherry; the amazing part is that we actually got to harvest most of the fruit before the birds. Apparently, this crop provided enough for all of us.

cherriesWhat does one do with eight boxes of sweet cherries and11 pounds of sour cherries? I decided on bottling the sweet cherries in a light honey syrup (1:4 honey/water) and pitted the remainder to dry in the dehydrator. Mashed sour cherries are being turned into a cherry liqueur and we have frozen tubs of cherry pie filling and cherry preserves for rice puddings and oatmeal. This gives you something to look forward to in winter.

Now, I am pulling up the garlic so I invited friends to make garlic braids. We tucked lavender, rosemary and bay sprigs into the braids, which make a wonderful gift. Some of the bulbs were smaller than usual, perhaps due to the deep freeze this past winter. Next time, I’d also remove the hay mulch at the beginning of June, as I encountered some mouldy bulbs not being able to dry out after this long, cool spring.

After a shaky start, the prolonged heat in June helped the garden catch up. Right now, I am tying tomatoes onto their stakes and removing the suckers. Cucumber plants, in five-gallon pots and in the garden, are covered with bright-yellow flowers, which means lots of crunchy cukes this year for pickling too. I can tell it’s a good seed year; the peppers are pushing out lots of fruit and there are large seed heads on rows of bolting lettuces.

Bags of seeds are drying in the greenhouse: forget-me-nots, sweet cicely, aquilegia, chives, salad burnet, rhubarb, Brussels sprouts and Good King Henry spinach. And as their seeds start to mature, I’m keeping an eye on the fava beans, snap peas, arugula, chicory, spinach, parcel, celeriac, watercress and dianthus.

Yesterday, I collected seaweed off the incoming tide after a windy night, so today I mulched the tomato and squash plants with it. Seaweed adds micronutrients, which improve the flavour and health of the fruit. All fruiting and flowering plants appreciate a feed of seaweed at this time of year; use liquid seaweed (available from garden centres) if you cannot get fresh.

Compost tea is bubbling in a 45-gallon barrel – a swath of comfrey got fished out onto the compost pile, which was a nose-holding experience after four days. I dumped a bucket of fresh seaweed in to make a super duper brew. To help them get established, I’ve been feeding buckets of compost tea to plum, pear, apple and nectarine trees that were planted in spring.

Flats of winter veggies are growing behind the house where it’s cooler. These were seeded in mid-June and will be ready to transplant by the end of August. The secret to success is keeping seedlings off the ground away from earwigs, slugs and sow bugs that eat them. The cabbage white butterfly lays eggs on the underside of brassica leaves; you’ll know if green larvae eat the leaves ragged. One squish with the fingers or a spray with Safer’s soap will do them in.

There’s never a dull moment. I am off to pick basil for pesto and tomatoes for a salad; another delicious chin-dripping experience is coming up.

Rooting berries

Choose 4-6” tip cuttings that are not snappy (wood too mature) and not too flexible (wood too green), but somewhere in-between, about a skinny pencil in thickness. Using a chopstick, insert deep into propagation mix. Keep in a cool place in indirect light until new growth appears. When rooted, pot into a growing medium. Protect for winter. Plant out the following fall.

Propagation mix

Mix coarse, washed sand ($2 a bucket from a gravel mart) 50:50 with a lightweight seeding mix containing perlite. Moisten.

Carolyn Herriot is author of A Year on the Garden Path: A 52-Week Organic Gardening Guide. She grows Seeds of Victoria at the Garden Path Centre where she teaches The Zero Mile Diet – Twelve Steps to Sustainable Homegrown Food Production and Growing an Edible Plant Business.www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

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