Posts Tagged ‘sunflowers’

In organic gardening, a trap crop is used to lure pest bugs away from your cash crop, or edible vegetables.  For instance, nasturtiums attract aphids, keeping those aphids from doing damage to beans and spinach.   We use trap crops sometimes, here, but we haven’t had heavy pest loads, and are therefore reluctant to use the space for planted trap crops, when the hedges and fields nearby seen to host sufficient predators to keep our garden pests mostly under control.


However, our garden is in one corner of a farmer’s field.  A conventional farmer, who periodically sprays fertilizer and Roundup and who-knows-what else.   Stuff I am pretty sure I don’t want on my beans and potatoes.  Stuff I don’t want to eat or to feed to Baby M.


So we make space at the edge of the garden for a double row of sunflowers.  Black oil sunflowers, that grow really tall, really fast.  They’re cheap – I bought a five-pound bag of them, labeled as bird seed, and planted them; they grow just fine.  And, should the farmer decide to spray on a day that is not perfectly calm, those cheap sunflowers will ‘trap’ the nasty gunk, and keep my carrots more-or-less organic.   Plus, they attract all sorts of good bugs and birds into my garden, helping keep the pests down.   They add a cheerful, pretty note to the garden, too!




I spent my morning planting sunflowers, in case anyone was wondering!

Read Full Post »

We started planting back before the May Long Weekend (May 23rd), and had started seeds much earlier than that, but our garden did not get off to an auspicious start.  While the May Long boasted gorgeous weather, the following week, and two weeks after, brought killing frosts, and temperatures several degrees below freezing.  Some areas got quite a bit of snow in mid-June, be we had no moisture at all, and only the onion sets and potatoes came up for the longest time.


Then it started to rain.  And rain.  And rain.  We began to wonder if we should build an Ark.  The barn sprang a leak right over the Chicken Mahal, and we could not keep up with emptying the buckets.  It rained some more.  The barn cats would not come out of the barn.  It became a challenge to get to work, as sloughs started filling up and threatening to spill over the roads.  The frogs loved it, at least.


There have been a couple of sunny days, but not enough to actually dry anything out – just enough to encourage the mosquito population to dramatic new highs.  The sunny days have been hot and muggy, punctuated by thunderstorms that roll in and knock the power out for an hour or two, terrify the dogs, and move on after dumping a couple more inches of rain.   I thought Saskatchewan was supposed to be an arid province, but I digress.


Today, after a couple of back-to-back days of sun, we finally got out into the garden to take a look around.  I’m sure it’s been almost two weeks since we were last able to even walk in there.


The potatoes are knee high, and the onions are up and looking great.  There are slightly-crooked rows of beans, beets, carrots, radishes, and turnips, all with their baby leaves pushed up through the dirt.  The peas have several leaves each, though the plants are a little smaller than I somehow think they ought to be.  The squash, melon, pepper, and tomato transplants look unhappy with all the mud, but seem to be hanging in there.  No asparagus, though, not one single plant out of fifty, and one of the rhubarb plants is definitely dead.  The corn is not up yet, and I wonder if the seed has rotted.   Hubby may have to re-plant, and hope we still have enough time for it to set any ears.   The sunflowers are…completely overgrown with thistles, lamb’s quarters, and canola.


In fact, the most impressive growth of anything in the garden at all, is the weeds.   We have a very lush field of them, 85 by 95 feet, plus another 15 or 20 feet around the edges of the garden where our very kind farmer neighbours were especially careful to not spray the garden with Roundup, or whatever herbicide they are using on the canola they have planted all around our acreage.  We’re going to have to take a lawnmower through there, just to find the garden!


Hubby has his work cut out for him, and there’s more rain forecast for tomorrow…

Read Full Post »

After a flying trip down south to plant the dozen new nut trees at the Farm, we came home to a nicely plowed garden bed, and a notice that the rest of the T&T trees are on their way.  This means we have to get our butts in gear on the garden, so that it is done, or mostly done, by the time the next batch of trees arrives.  On the bright side, all, or nearly all, of these trees and shrubs are for the Acreage, so at least we won’t spend another 6 or 7 hours driving  just to get them planted.

This morning, we slept in a bit, but we were still out in the garden by 8:30, measuring things out, planning planting plots, cutting stakes, and staking out paths.   We planted two long (85 – foot) rows of black oil sunflower seeds along the south edge of the plot, as an experiment – if they grow, they will slow the wind a little, and feed the chickens in the fall and winter.  We just used black oil sunflower bird seed that had been kicking around the house, after I read about someone else doing the same thing.

By the time we’d done all that, it was starting to get pretty hot.  We retired to the house for breakfast.  Home-made banana chocolate chip muffins – Hubby’s specialty breakfast, these days.  Then back out to plant 400 onion sets.  We still hope to at least get a start on the peas, potatoes, lettuce, and spinach today, as well as putting in short rows of beans and beets and carrots for early summer eating.  That may be a little optimistic, considering it’s 2:30 and we;’re lazing around on the computers, waiting out the heat.  We’re not out of the woods yet, as far as frost goes, either…traditional planting weekend for tender veggies here is after the May long weekend (Victoria day), which is next weekend.  However, it is certainly hot, and the garden is dry and plowed, and if we lose a 5-foot row of green beans to the frost, so be it.  The garden is 85  (ish) feet by 95 (ish) feet.  We have the room.  We are, however, going to run short on time…

Read Full Post »