Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer Heat

The weather has once again gone from cool to hot. Not just hot but really freaking hot. My hopes for getting radishes were dashed with the heat, and I fear my chances of getting decent kohlrabi as slim as well.

Radishes and all members of the brassica family; such as kohlrabi, cauliflower, and cabbage, are considered cool weather crops. Generally considered great crops for Canada due to the cooler air temperatures and lots of sun.

Unfortunately, over the last few years the summer temperatures have been getting hotter and more humid. The summer thunderstorms that used to keep our water tables full, our gardens watered, and worked to keep the daytime temperatures a little cooler have all but disappeared. Instead we get a few showers, just enough to wet the ground and raise the humidity, early in the day followed by a hot sun that cooks the plants in the ground.

Besides not being enough water to do the plants any good, the excess of humidity in the air encourages blight and mold to set in further damaging the chances of a good harvest. Once blight gets into your garden you are in the deep end. Without a long, hard freeze to kills the disease in the ground, blight will come back year after year to destroy your crops. The only thing you can do then is not plant the affected crop again.

So once again climate change raises its ugly head to make it harder to be self sufficient and to feed ourselves at home. Whether a natural cycle, a man made disaster, or a combination of the two Climate Change is bad for the home gardener and must be making it hard for the farmers to get decent crops. In the end it means food prices are going to go higher and we will be forced to eat more food imported into Canada rather than grown in our own back yards.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Companion Planting

Several years ago I purchased a book called "Carrots Love Tomatoes" that discussed companion planting.  I have been practising companion planting since then and I can honestly say that carrots really do love being planted near tomatoes.With the guide to companion planting ever handy I proceeded to plant my late spring and early summer crops last Sunday.

The one good weekend we got to build the beds was followed by several cool and wet weekends, and week days. You never plant your garden in the rain, especially not a cold rain. So when last Saturday dawned clear and bright I was hopeful of getting into the garden. When the day continued to get warmer I proceeded to the nursery to purchase tomato and herb plants.

Sunday was even more beautiful so we filled the garden beds with 2 parts soil to 1 part compost and black earth mix. Once the soil was mixed as evenly as we could we levelled the soil and planted the tomatoes, 4 plants to each bed. We ended up with 2 Big Beef variety, 2 Early Girl variety, 2 Early Boy variety, and 2 Roma variety. I had hoped that my attempt at growing Roma tomatoes from seed would be more successful, so I was very relieved to find Roma tomato plants at the nursery.

Out came my trusty companion planting guide and my bag of left over seeds from previous years gardens. I knew tomatoes and carrots were a good mix but I didn't want carrots again this year. Luckily I did have some onion seeds and some nasturtium seeds. Unfortunately not enough to plant the two beds. In the end I ended up with a row of onions and chives, a row of nasturtiums, and two rows of carrots.

This is the first time planting onions and chives with tomatoes so it will be interesting to see how well they companion together. It will be nice if the onions discourage bugs, like tomato moths, from laying eggs and eating my tomatoes. I know that is what carrots due, they discourage flying insects from laying eggs on the tomato plants. In turn the tomato leaves discourage carrot flies.

I also planted some kohlrabi and cauliflower plants. The seeds are supposed to be planted early in spring but only if the soil is not to wet. Since we had a wet last few weeks I am hoping the plants will do better, and not rot in the ground like the seeds did. The book said these plants were best planted with onions, so the kohlrabi went in with my shallots and multiplier onions, planted earlier this spring.

The cauliflower went into the bed with a couple of hills of squash, and more onion sets. If all the onions I planted this year come up I will be swimming in onions this fall. Luckily we eat a lot of onions, especially baby onions, in our daily meals. Any that make it to fall will be allowed to dry on the outside and stored for next winters use.