Saturday, September 30, 2006

2006 - Photos part 2

I am finally getting around to indexing all of my photos for the year and putting them into the proper folder. The biggest part is naming all of the photos and then going into GIMP to edit/crop the ones that I really like. I leave the original shots alone so that I have something to go back to if I totally mess up the new image.

The first image is Emily beside the tomato plants holding some of the Roma tomatoes. To give you an idea of scale she stands 130 cm (4 foot 3) in height. She is also holding about 6 tomatoes.

The next shot is me holding some of the tomatoes. The plant is now slowing down in its production. Since August I have been harvesting at a minimum of one dozen tomatoes per day. There are still a large number of green tomatoes that are on the plant (picture 3).

Green Roma tomatoes

Friday, September 29, 2006

2006 - Photos

I have finally gotten around to looking at some of my digital photos and re-editing to fit here. Many of the shots really are not of much interest, I took them to document the garden.

Photo 1 - North WallPhoto 1 (384x480, 186K) is a shot of the north side of the yard. If you go back to my earlier diagram you can see the arrangements of all my pots.

Photo 2 (600 x 480, 246K) is a continuation of the first, but, showing the east side fence. The large mass of green on the right hand side is two tomato plants. The one at the back is the roma tomato. The one in the front is a regular tomato plant.

Photo 3 - Ratibida ColumniferaPhoto 3 (600 x 480, 115K) is a shot of the Yellow Mexican Hat. This was a good as it got all year.

As I get more shots up that look half-decent I will post them so you can see what the plants actually look like along with reading how they actually did here in Ottawa.

I didn't get very fancy for the camera. It is one my wife gave me several years ago and is a 1.3 megapixel Centrios. It is simple and easy to use and almost idiot proof. All of the images are stored on a 'smart media' card and I have a number of these. I have two options for getting the photos onto my computer. I can plug the camera in and Linux will detect the camera and offer to download the images for me. The second one is to take out the card and use my 'smart media' reader (again using Linux) and download the photos. The nice thing is that I don't need Windows to do this and Linux makes it look like another hard drive that I can read from (and write too).

I did a bit of retouching on the photos only in that I resized the pictures to fit on the screen to a maximum size of 640x480. This keeps the image size down as not everyone has high speed internet. FYI, Photo 1 was originally 630K, Photo 2 was 511K and Photo 3 was 473K and all were 1280x1024 in dimension.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

2006 - Year in review

It is almost fall now and the garden is now winding down. The tomatoes are still producing a bumper crop. The Roma is putting out about ten to twenty tomatoes a day. Right now I am tired of them, but, our neighbors are loving it as they get all of the tomatoes that they want. I figure that we will have at least another four to five weeks before a frost so they will have their fill. I will also be making more pasta sauce and freezing that. The Roma tomatoes make a wonderfull pasta sauce.

Here are my observations of the other plants for the year:

The Snapdragons are doing great in the ground. They don't mind poor soil conditions and I have that in the back yard. I planted them where there is crushed brick, stone dust and clay and they are thriving. I will be picking the seeds from them this year and spread them out again next year. Our favourites are the ones where the flowers look like velvet. The others are nice, but, not as dramatic.

The Basil was a major disappointment this year. Almost as soon as I planted it in the large pot it bolted to flower almost immediately. The soil conditions were almost perfect. I made a mix of black earth and peatmoss. It was put down by the door so it got the sun all morning, but, by the afternoon it was shaded. It got watered twice a day and fertilized every second week. I did cut it back almost to the soil and it is now growing back and it is almost 20 cm in height.

The Dahlia's did not like being in small planters curing the hot and dry weather. They did survive the summer, but, didn't flower very much. Now that it is cooler they have started to flower again.

Astoria's definitely do not like being in pots. One pot was in full sun and the other was in partial shade and neither did well this year.

One plant that did well was the winter savoury. This plant thrived in the heat and tolerated drying out. If you cover the pot up during the winter it will even survive the worst weather that Ottawa can have. I used a burlap cloth that is used to protect trees and this allowed this pot (and others) a bit of protection, but, still allowed some air flow.

This is the third season for the Sedum Spectabile and it just gets better each year. At this time it is almost one meter in height and the flowers are starting to turn a wonderful pink. The plant is another variety that does overwinter very well even in Ottawa's climate.

This is the last year for Achilea, Physostegia Virginiana, ratibida Columnifera and 4 O'Clocks in our back yard. I suspect that it was several things that caused the disappointing growth this year. The first is that the soil in the planters is about three years old and they need a richer mix. The other thing is that they may not tolerate being in planters and the last thing is that this summer was long, hot and dry and these plants prefer a more moderate climate.

The sweet peppers were nice and had a vigorous growth. The one thing I did learn is not to plant them too near the tomatoes. The tomatoes over-grew the pot where the peppers were in and affected the crop. The peppers were about the size of a fist and were very sweet and tender. This is a crop that I intend to plant again next year.

Beans are a very hardy plant, but, even they were stressed by the summer heat and lack of rain. I suspect that they would perform much better if they were not in a pot. We plant these as our youngest likes beans and it is a excellent way to introduce children to gardening as this is an easy plant to get to grow.

The onions and carrots are a very hardy plants and they seem to thrive in planters. Again, this is a great plant for children to start with as they are easy to plant and care for. Every Sunday our youngest would go out to the back yard and pick several for our Sunday dinner.

Geraniums are almost idiot proof. They thrived throughout the year and had continual blooms. The only thing we had to do was remove the dead blooms and fertilize every two weeks. The heat didn't affect the plant in any way that we could observe. These plants will keep on flowering until a hard frost.

Salvia is most definitely a plant that does not tolerate being in planters, especially in full sun. Even watered three times a day they would show signs of stress. The colour was nice and I suspect that if planted in a regular garden with partial shade it would be a very spectacular addition to any garden.

The double petunias are just as hardy as the geraniums. The other nice feature is that they tend to spread out a bit. We planted them in round pots and they flowed over the sides and the colour combination of red brick, green foliage and their colours were a restfull combination on our eyes.

We are now in the process of cleaning up the garden and preparing it for the winter. Like I mentioned earlier on I will be using a burlap cloth to cover up the planters. I move all of the planters I want to survive to along the east fence and then cover the tops with empty planters. Planters that don't have any plants I keep the earth in and place in front of the planters at the back. I cover the whole thing with burlap and then place a few planters on each corner to anchor the cloth. During the winter I make sure that the whole thing is covered with about one meter of snow to protect everything from the coldest part of Ottawa's winter. During the spring I then dig out the plants and let nature takes its course.

I have a number of photos that I will need to resize and then post in a later blog so you can see how the garden actually looked like.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

2006 - Garden Layout

The 2006 planting year is now almost over now that it is in September. We should still get about two more months in our yard before there is a killer frost. I have started cleaning out some of the planters that I won't be keeping next year and a few of the annuals.

The garden layout is on the right hand side. Pots 8, 9, 10 and 11B were cut out and will be replanted next year with something new. They were much less than spectacular and didn't do well in the pots this year. Pots 21 and 23 were annuals and I removed them. Pot 14 was never planted as the space was needed for the tomatoes. More on the contents of these pots will be written up along with our observations on how they did and their proper names (when known).

This year I will try to remember to convert all measurements into metric. For those of you who are not familiar 2.54 cm = 1 inch.

Plantings by pot:

Pot 1 and 3 - Not really pots. We planted snapdragons on the ground around the north, east and south side ground. The soil itself is a mix of broken brick, crushed limestone and clay.

Pot 2 - Rosemary and Lemon basil. 61cm round pot.

Pot 4 & 18 - Dahlia. 15cm x 50cm planter.

Pot 5 - Astoria. 30cm round pot.

Pot 6 - Winter Savory. 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 7 - Sedum Spectabile. 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 8 - Achilea (Summer Pastels). 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 9 - Physostegia Virginiana (Rosecrown). 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 10 - Ratibida Columnifera (Yellow Mexican Hat). 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 11 - Four O'Clocks. 23cm round pot.

Pot 11B - Helenium (Rotgold). 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 12 - Red, Green, and Yellow sweet peppers. 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 13 - Roma Tomatoes. 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 14 - empty. 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 15 - Carrots. 15cm x 50cm planter.

Pot 16 - Yellow beans. 15cm x 50cm planter.

Pot 17 - Green Onions. 15cm x 50cm planter.

Pot 19 - Carrots. 15cm x 50cm planter. Planted in late August.

Pot 20, 22, 24 & 25 - Geraniums (Rocky mountain Red, White and coral). 15cm x 50cm planters.

Pot 21 & 23 - Salvia (Victoria Blue). 15cm x 50cm planters.

Pot 26 - Tomatoe. 61cm x 61cm planter.

Pot 27 - Astoria. 30cm round.

Pot 28 & 29 - Double Petunias. 39cm rounder planters.