Thursday, June 17, 2010


I would like to say that a spoke to both Leif (although I looked his drivers license last night and it's actually Leaf - apologies for the incorrect spelling) and the farmer last night and was able to thank them so much for their rotter-tilling skills and planting the seedlings advice. Although, I get the feeling that they both imagine me to be slightly insane as I was wearing three-inch peep toes and a silk green mini dress as I was telling them about how I brought in 30-40 bags of manure and soil, landscaped the flower part, and planted all my seeds. I even had a very in-depth conversation with the farmer about the fencing and its taughtness - riveting stuff really!! I believe this is a direct quote: "So, its working out for you." Again, my level of enthusiasm is clearly miles and miles above theirs. Leaf I think was so shocked that I was telling everyone that he "Rotter-tiled my garden," that he was unable to speak for the majority of the evening and kept asking me if I was Dutch. Just for the record, no I am not Dutch. Hopefully they will both come by and check out what their contributions and advice have added to my little garden experiment. The pictures of the tire is for Leaf, but I don't think he has the internet, since he doesn't have a phone;) The pictures of the tomatoes are for the farmer, but again I don't think he uses the internet - but really what do I know about their personal internet habits.

Enough with the anecdotes and back to the gardening. Despite that everything was in wonderful condition there was some major weeding to do. The thing about weeding is that it takes forever and it's back breaking work, especially now with everything planted because the weeds are coming in around the veggies. Not only are these weeds numerous, but they are very small, which means hours of bending over and pulling little tiny weeds out with my not so little tiny hands. Nevertheless, the majority of the weeding did get done, but I do have some left to do on the weekend. I have added the pictures from yesterdays entry - Leafs tire of potatoes, the farmers seedlings with stakes, tied with strong and some little cherry tomatoes. It really is an amazing thing to see your garden grow - it sounds like a self-evident truth, but I really can't stress enough the sense of accomplishment and pride I feel when I look outside my window in the morning or let the dog outside with a cup of coffee in my hands. It's all so very green and fresh and lovely - cheesy but true. Now if only I could figure our what exactly was going on with the Swiss Char, carrots and beets. I think that the problem with the beets is that I planted them incorrectly:( I am signing off enjoy the pictures oh and on a quick side note I left Siska outside this morning and she secretly waged a war on the flower garden while I was inside working . . . I was right to be more worried about Siska then the rabbits and squirrels. I am not sure whether you can see her face in the shadows, but she busted down two of my fences and a solar light and was lying IN the flower garden!!! I guess I should just be thankful she left the herbs alone;)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gongshow does Baking

Ok, so while I was in Vancouver planting Mable my friend Lynne a.k.a. the Twisted Chef check out her blog here (I hope this works) offered to water my garden if it was incredibly hot or if it didn't rain, which was awesome!! She did an amazing job as I came back after my 5 day hiatus and the garden was thriving. I have TOMATOES!! Small cherry tomatoes of the honey cherry variety have begun to sprout!! I took a picture, but I have somehow managed to upload them onto my computer, but then not be able to find them to insert them here so I will edit and add tomorrow. As a side note I would like to add that taking pictures of a garden and making it look as fantastic as it does in real life - so don't feel too let down;) In addition, everything is thriving. The tomato seedlings must be happy in their new home as they have thrived and today I had to break out my beloved gardening twine to begin tying some of them to the stakes that I had already inserted!! Also, I believe that you'll be impressed and what the beans have done over the past couple of days and the potatoes in the tires was an amazing idea - thank you rotter tilling Leif, as now my tires of filled with soil mounds that have sprouted beautiful leafy goodness, in other words the tops of potatoes. The beets have also emerged and the carrots - although somewhat less successfully. I really wish that I could get a book "Vegetables in Picture" so that I knew what these different vegetables were, for example carrot top or weed . . . Yup it's really that bad. Anyway, the swiss char is another mystery. I am also happy to report that the peas seemed to have taken a liking to the fencing that I created and therefore, it appears that so far the fencing is taught enough.

Some of the flowers which I had deadheaded, such as the peonies and geraniums and wondered whether I did the deadheading correctly because no new flowers were growing came back with a vengeance - a great relief because the flower garden looks beautiful and I know that deadheading is something that I can do with flair!! In a nut shell Lynne was the best waterer (yes, I am aware that this is not a noun) a girl could ask for!!!

To pay Lynne homage I began spreading the word while I was in Vancouver - business and pleasure, but really quite short on the business side of things. In the process of promoting her to Sarah of Mable the Maple fame I saw a recipie for super moist chocolate peanut buttercream fudge cake - yes, that's right you heard it here first and the pictures looked amazing!!! Sarah has a small sweet tooth and one of the primary purposes for my trip out West was to celebrate with her and I thought that I would make her a cake . . . great idea right?? No, this would be incorrect. I would like as a disclaimer to state that I have never in my life made a cake from scratch - not once. I went out to the store and picked up the missing ingredients and came home to bake Sarah's birthday cake. As a side note we did have an outdoor show to go and see at 5:30 and it was now 2 pm ish. I should have known that when I forgot the baking powder in (did I mention that I was blonde?) that it was going to be an uphill battle. It was supposed to be a triple layer cake, the top layer broke in half because I was too impatient and I didn't let the pans cool enough because taking the cake out - silly me:) Then I was working with two layers, the peanut butter cream for in between the layers worked out amazingly well and it was delicious, so that was a success and then there was the fudge that was to be poured on top. My fudge was way, way off - much too runny is the diagnosis I give it. Needless to say the cake looked a bit sad, I was slightly disappointed because it "Didn't look like the picture," however, Sarah was very happy and we ate the cake with candles and all with smiles on our faces - it tasted pretty darn amazing if I do say so myself. Lynne yet again, I must give you credit where credit is due and I'll leave the baking up to you, but you can water my garden any time;0

West End Patio gardening

I planted a tree in Vancouver, not in the city (I don't want to mislead my readers) and not into the ground, but never the less I transported and then transplanted my very first tree!!! Very exciting times, again I think that my readers (apparently I have three) will remember that I don't really have a life so I get VERY excited about the small things. Sarah and I followed Marki's planting/transplanting tips to the tee so hopefully "Mable" - the name I have given the maple will be happy. When we purchased Mable from the very nice husband and wife about a block away from Sarah's place she was wrapped in canvas and when we got home and took off the canvas it was very clear that Mable had been unloved for an extended period of time. Her roots were very dry, I would perhaps use the word brittle to describe them and the soil surrounding them was sandy in nature. We first put rocks down at the bottom of the large planter to help with drainage and then added some soil. Next we saturated Mable's roots with a couple watering cans full of water. Luckily the soil that we (I mean Sarah because as you can see I am taking the pictures) used to surround the roots and planter was extremely rich and moist so I think that this will help Mable have a long and successful life on the lovely roof top patio. Also, while filling the soil it is important to ensure that there are no air gaps, i.e. that the soil fills all the nooks and crannies around the roots system so that the plant, or in this case tree receives the water that you are pouring on it when water or when it rains. I realize that this isn't really gardening, but I think that it still counts here are some annonymous pictures of Sarah and Mable. Therefore, although I didn't tend to my garden I did get my hands into some dirt while I was away.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Ok now perhaps some of you were wondering why I decided to call the blog "gongshow gardener" well if you where in my yard today watching me put up fencing for the peas you would have understood the purpose of the name immediately. In addition, "gongshow" is actually synonym for beginner - the beauty of a thesaurus. Anyway, back to the fencing, so the farmer (I think you'll remember him as the character that provided me with the seedlings) provided me with plastic fencing for my peas, which was amazing. He also provided me with some instructions: "Make sure it's taught." Taught, as in tight not loose. This at first may seem like a very simple instruction, however, it is not. In preparation to make my fencing taught I purchased some gardening string (yes, it does exist and it's even green!!) and stakes - the stakes have made an appearance before. So I set about unraveling, cutting, and stringing up the malleable, white plastic fencing. Just so we are clear, there is only one of me and I could tell by the look on Siska's face that I looked absolutely ridiculous sitting on my freshly cut clover (yes, I finally mowed and raked the lawn) with the string, fencing and stakes. However, after much jerry-rigging due to my failure to follow the old adage "measure twice and cut once." In hindsight, perhaps not the best idea;) So needless to say after an hour, yes, yes, it took me an hour to put up about a total of 6 feet of fencing (2 sections) I had the fencing up. Now I cross my fingers that the peas, that have started to emerge through the earth from the seeds that I planted in the ground start climbing the fencing. In other words, I hope that I installed the fencing correctly and that it is indeed taught enough. Something tells me that it is most likely not, which would make me depressed . . . just at the thought of having to go through that again.

In a side note, in addition to mowing and raking the clover, I did manage to get the third tire I needed for the third potato mound. This means that prior to my departure on a business trip bright and early tomorrow morning the garden is ready for my five day absence. The only thing is that I have yet to find anyone to water my garden. I did make the offer to my neighbour that I would pay his daughter 20 dollars to do it while I was gone (she did tell me how beautiful she thought my garden was) but he looked and me and said that he would do it. I guess my first inclination was correct, 9 years old is too young to be paid to water your neighbours garden. So, tonight I will ask him to water twice a day for me while I am away - hopefully he will and my garden will survive my absence. It is supposed to rain while I am gone . . . fingers crossed.

In preparation for my trip I did much weeding and I also noticed that I few more things are breaking through the ground. I now have peas, beans (which you know about), some swiss char some carrots, and perhaps the part of the beet that is above ground. To be perfectly honest I am slightly unsure because I have never grown any of these veggies before I really don't know what they look like - only where I planted them, thanks to Marki's signage tip!!

One last note prior to signing off is that I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the left side of my herb garden. It looked quite flat, not dying but literally flat. As the picture illustrates I found out who the culprit was, not the rabbits, not the squirrels, but my lovely Siska . . . so comfortable in the soft, cushiony feeling the herbs provide.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Vegatables Part 2

So I have been a bit lazy the past couple of days, but there has been a lot of rain so I have some updating to do . . . still have a lot to do this week in the garden and leaving on Thursday morning for BC so tomorrow and Wednesday will be busy, busy, busy!!! Oh yes, just wanted to say that I do have a job because I am sure that anybody who is reading this doesn't think that I do, but I do - just wanted to set that straight.

Originally I had planned to follow my friend Kamar's advice and allow the back planting bed to remain wild in order to show everyone what the rest of the garden "would have looked like" if I hadn't done anything. In fact I really thought that this was rather ingenious and I was going to add some sunflower seeds to make it a bit prettier, but then something monumental happened that really turned the gongshow into high gear. A farmer friend of mine lets call him "The farmer," because that is what I call him although he does have a name gave me a lot of seedlings. Now seedlings are an amazing thing because it looks like stuff is already growing as soon as you plant it - fantastic!! You have already succeeded just by planting. So the farmer gave me 4 different kinds of tomatoes (two cherry, two regular and one of those regular is an heirloom variety), leeks, cauliflower, two kinds of peppers (one hot and one not) and potatoes so I had to use them and clear out the back bed. MAJOR endeavor!!! This required me buying anther 10 bags of manure and soil, de-weeding the entire back bed and transplanting 4 plants that were uncovered among the weeds and then the heavy watering of the back bed to prepare for planting - this is Marki lesson numero uno!!! And then finally the planting.

So, I went out and bought the bags, de-weeded and transplanted. I have never really transplanted plants before and they were quite large so I was really worried that they would die, but it seems that 2 weeks on that they are doing well in their new homes. So after the above was done and the fresh soil and manure was mixed in I turned the sprinkler on the bed and went to the gym. I left the water on the bed for about two hours or so to make sure that the soil was really moist because as I have mentioned the soil in the garden was originally like sand so it really needed a lot of watering. Around 4:30 pm my Mum came over and talked me through a planting strategy, i.e. rows - vertical versus horizontal. Once again she provided me with some sage advice - you want to make sure that you can access the veggies without trampling them - ingenious!!!!!!!!!!! So I planted and followed the planting directions with respect to spacing that the farmer provided me. Another great thing about seedlings is that you can see them really well when you are planting them so you can tell if you are spacing them in the proper manner. Just for those who are interested tomatoes need to be just over a forearms length apart and leeks a pinky finger apart and just as a side note leeks really suck to plant because you need to separate each little blade and plant individually, soooooooooooooooo frustrating:)

Alright, so that is how the back garden bed was created and that also puts an end to the back blogging and the physical hard labour. Marki sent me some pics of the herb garden that she took , which is just beautiful and also the flower garden that I have included here because they are so great - thanks Marki!!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Beans, Beans, Beans

I am very excited to report that if all the other seeds fail, which is entirely likely that I have succeeded in planting and growing beans!!! Ukrainian beans to be exact - I can't remember how many I planted - again because I have no idea what I am doing, but I now have 3 bean heads sprouting through the earth. I truly felt like doing the dance of joy this morning when I saw what had happened overnight with a little rain. Literally last night it was mud with signs and this morning it was beans:) Minor success.

I was speaking to a stranger in the park yesterday, ok, that sounds bad not a stranger and not just any park I was at the dog park talking about my garden because I don't really have a life and this stranger seemed concerned that the squirrels were going to eat my garden. Firstly, I hate squirrels, I am not sure whether anyone reading this has lived in Toronto but Queen's Park has rabid squirrels and one once attacked my sister, so suffice it to say that I am not a fan, and secondly how am I supposed to fight off squirrels or even rabbits?? Really at this point I am relying upon Siska (my dog) until I meet another stranger who offers me some friendly advice.

Yippee for beans!!!

Speaking of my sister she was kind enough to drop off another set of table and folding chairs this morning for the backyard. Picture included - the lovely table and chair set with umbrella is a donation from my neighbours. I baked them brownies to say thank-you, unfortunately I don't think that they were sweet enough. Although, their daughter did tell me that she liked my garden a lot . . . Can I get her to water my garden for me while I am out of town on business?? She might be a bit young at 9 to handle the responsibility. Sorry, I digress. So the newly added table and chair set means I now have three separate seating areas in my backyard, which is either amazing if I have three groups of friends over who don't like each other, or a large group of people for whom I need many chairs, or it's not so amazing because my backyard looks a little over-crowded. I am thinking that perhaps I should fold the folding ones away for when a large group of people come over.

I think that is it for current garden news. I would like to apologize for some poor syntax and word usage in my first entries - working on self editing. Also the to do list after completing the back blogging includes: one more tire for third potato mound, more soil for potato mounds in general, complete signage for veggies, put up fencing for peas to grow up and mow lawn, which also means rake - blech. Ok, so I guess it is a lot of work, but I love the benefits.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Now the Veggies

I would first like to mention that there a few things that I forgot to mention in the first two posts - since I am back blogging (is that a term??) I may occasionally forget to mention a few things. For example that when I purchased my flag stones I had to go back two more times in order to get the correct number of stones for the garden - this was caused by my lack of a real plan. This happened often. My Mum once again ever insightful, suggested that I never get more than I can do in one days work because that way I will not feel overwhelmed and I don't have to worry about plants dying or supplies lying around for an extended period of time not being used. The problem with this for me is that as I really have no idea what I am doing I have no idea how much I need. I mean I am an educated individual who can guesstimate or estimate, but without a reference point it becomes a bit more difficult. There have been days where I have traveled to and from Rona or my local Home Hardware two or three times in order to be able to complete that days task. Secondly and lastly - mulch is amazing!! It makes everything look so beautiful!!!

So, back to the gardening. Marki and I awoke Wednesday morning to even more humidity and so we tried to do as much prep as possible earlier in the day - this meant hoeing the area of the garden where I was going to plant my vegetables seeds and adding the requisite amount of soil and manure and then mixing it all together and then watering the soil as it was D-R-Y like the Gobi. That afternoon we a bit of an impromtu picnic in the yard thanks to my friend Claudia who came over with lunch - amazing!! I really appreciated having Marki around to help me because she clearly had more experience than my none and I would have loved to keep her around longer, but unfortunately her visit came to an end and she went back to her fiance in Montreal and I was left with the task of planting the seeds, which sounds simple enough, but there are a lot of specific directions that need following.

My friend Charlotte was nice enough to provide me with some of her vegetable seeds, which was incredible so I had a wide variety of seeds to plant, stakes to put into the ground to make what was planted where - thankfully Marki was able to point out the requirement of labels to me prior to her departure otherwise I would have spent forever trying to figure out what was planted where. Charlotte's seeds also come with detailed planting instructions, for example "Sun lover, plant after last frost a forearms length apart in rows one foot apart." These directions were invaluable, but also slightly stressful because if I plant them incorrectly will they still grow? That is the thing with seeds once they are in the ground you just have to wait and water. It looks like a bunch of mud with signs sticking out of it. Fingers crossed