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Happy in the Garden Oct 8 – 14

by | Oct 10, 2018 | Food, GARDENING, Landscaping Tips, THE LATEST | 10 comments

My Beautiful Car

Last week started with a bang…. literally. My beautiful car crashed and is out of commission. But now it is sunny again, we have a rental car in the driveway and no one is injured.  So, I am happy to be back in the October garden cleaning up, harvesting and playing in my greenhouse. What are you doing in your garden this week?

We loved our car but left it behind in a pileup on the Highway Through Hell (#5 in BC). In this photo it has been towed to the car graveyard in Hope.

Cutting Back Pushy Herbs

Bronze fennel is a fantastic pollinator. It it is also a real weed because it reseeds so readily in my garden.

I look at  bronze fennel every day in the summer. It has pretty bronzy foliage and it attracts beneficial bugs with its showy yellow flowers all summer long. I watch the activity from the field and from my chair by the window. Trouble is once the seeds ripen and land in the soil they sprout. All of them. And while one Bronze Fennel is beautiful 15,000 are too many. So I try to keep seeds out of the compost and out of the garden by cutting them back as soon as they are finished blooming. I am a bit late for that this year. The seeds are ripe. But yesterday I cut them back carefully, very carefully, trying not to dislodge too many seeds. And I saved the seeds separately in a paper bag to give away at programs because they are so good in the garden for pollinators. And they taste like licorice!

I cut the plants back to about 15 cm tall because the hollow stems make great homes for beneficial bugs. It does look a bit bare now but I have tried leaving these plants tall in fall and they just snap and break under snow cover so this one is better off cut in fall.

Filling Up My Composters

I now have three speedibins in my garden and this means I have plenty of compost to grow great food.

I  chop up large plants like fennel into bits so they will decompose quicker. If you toss whole cabbage or fennel or massive broccoli stems into your compost it takes years for them to break apart into soil. Ideally I chop things into bits with my machete before I toss them into my Speedibin composter. PS In case you missed the Facebook post earlier this fall, I no longer use compostable bags in my composter. They just break down into ever smaller pieces of plastic and they are no longer suggested for home composting.

Compost is ready faster in a speedibin than in any other system I have used.

I learned a couple of years ago that you no longer have to add compost starter of any kind to your compost bin. Instead, toss in some high quality soil or better yet mix up a cup full of clay soil into a slurry and pour this slurry over your compost once a month. This tip comes from the Steve Solomon book, the Intelligent Gardener.

Harvesting and Curing Squash

I finished picking winter squash yesterday but before I put them into cool storage I make sure they are “cured”. This means warm storage for a couple of weeks to ensure they are completely ripe and the skins are fully brown and hardened before they are put away. If they are not cured they will not last the winter and will quite possibly rot and melt into a puddle of mush. Cured squash usually last for me until June or July of  next year. It is amazing really.

I am curing my squash this week in a sunny south window until they turn evenly brown. Yay! It was a bumper crop so I wrote that in my Three Year Gardener’s Gratitude Journal this morning. Interesting note: I usually get about 6 squash per plant. This year I had three plants with a total of 20 squash. Even more interesting is the ones grown in my hugelkultur system weighed 1468 grams each (over 3 lbs) while the ones grown in the new soil I bought weighed almost half as much at 847 grams each or about 1.5 lbs. Usually newly purchased soil beats all other soil but over time my hugelkultur has proven itself and even though my soil was poor to start, this growing system is amazing.

Butternut Squash need to be cured when picked early in our cool Canadian climate. See how some are still green after harvest? These will rot in storage if they are not cured. Interesting note: the smaller ones are cured right out of the field and are evenly tan.

The Last Grapes Are Picked

I picked the final Red Flame grapes in Qualicum Beach this week and they were beautiful. This  seedless  grape produced a pile of food but some were getting mouldy and old. After sorting them out I sent the “less than perfect” grapes to Arnold, Jeannine’s pink pot-bellied pig and he really enjoyed them. Yum Yum

Arnold enjoys the fruits of my labour… and I love that he does.

Click here to see video Arnold eating my leftover grapes sent over from Jeannine:


Preparing a Talk

One of the non-gardening things I am doing this week is preparing a new talk: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is. There are so many ways to do everything but this time I am reading the  Ted Talks book by Chris Anderson before I start building the talk and this has been super helpful. Okay – maybe I am just procrastinating. If you are thinking of booking me for a talk get on over to my SERVICES PAGE to find out if there is anything I can do for you or your group.

Let Me Know What You Are Doing This Week! (I will answer your notes if you use the comment box below)

PS Do you have questions about Gardening? Join in the conversation on my facebook live event every Monday by clicking right HERE.

 Donna Balzer is the Brand Ambassador for BCGreenhouse Builders and she has two greenhouses in her big backyard.

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  1. Amazing! Thanks for sharing. I just got home from Alberta and it was so beautiful. I love the big blue skies.

  2. Not really. One of my favourite birthday gifts was a cart my husband got from our Hutterite neighbours. It has a mesh base so has good air circulation. I put my squash on that. Easy to wheel into the shop at night and out into the sun during the day.

  3. wow- of course that is a lot of hauling in and out but your choice!

  4. Plus 20 here today

  5. Plus 20 here today.heading back outside for more garden cleanup of all the plants that froze earlier

  6. WELL I wonder if you really have to haul it outside? To cure it simply needs a warm sunny window and indoors is fine. Winter squash is like laundry on the line and I wonder if it will really get hot enough outdoors in Alberta in October? Of course you will be the best judge of that Margo! Good luck and let me know how it goes!

  7. I have never planted butternut but almost every other kind of squash at one time or another. Favourite is Hubbard but they are so big. Tried mini hubbards this year. Also 2nd year for honey bear (one meal size). Another favourite is delicata. All produce abundantly for us.

  8. Squash was all put away early because of cold, rainy weather here in Alberta. Today there is sun and a warm breeze so hauled all my squash (3 doz. plus) onto my rack and back outside. Don’t know if it will help them cure more but can only hope!

  9. Love it! How many plants did you grow Margaret and do you find you get a consistent amount off each plant? I usually get about 6 butternuts per plant.

  10. Yup – I have all my squash lined up on a sofa table that is placed in my south facing family room window. Fall décor and cured squash for winter, all in one go 😉

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