May Long Weekend – a few shady characters

Hosta. Wild ginger.

Edited May 28th: I feel obliged to say that I realized I made a mistake. This is not wild ginger. I think it’s Canada violet? Hmmm.

Happy May Long Weekend, YEG!

Ahhh, May Long. When we celebrate Queen Victoria by filling our shovels with dirt.

I had a great weekend. Garden all planted and ready to go just like mine? LOL. Me neither. Let’s call it “succession planting,” shall we? That makes it sound like we planned it that way.

I did make it to the Muttart plant sale on Saturday and the Old Strathcona Farmers’ Market one yesterday. I walked to both, which really limits what you can carry back (which is probably for the best). Also it turns out the Muttart Conservatory is really far from my house. Learning! And growing! We got there at 4:30 and all that was left was bedding annuals and enormous tomatoes. I got a couple annuals and a dill plant, since the dill seed I planted was old and shows no sign of emerging.


That’s right, I know how to use the panorama feature on my phone. NBD.

I was going to do some cleanup and stuff for you, Internet, or at least put away the blue curtain that is drying on the deck; but then I remembered that no one is reading this blog because they’re thinking that I’m some kind of photogenic-garden-haver. ALTHOUGH. One way I’ve evolved this year is that I got one of those garden organizer thingies that goes on a 5-gallon bucket (this one) and I am (a) carrying it around to where I’m working in the garden at that moment and (b) putting it away when I am done. So hopefully no more abandoned tools all over the garden. I’m trying to be better, Internet. My husband and I have watched a LOT of Mike Holmes over the years (he is our surrogate dad, which makes us adopted siblings I guess? whatevs) and sometimes our extreme Holmes knowledge really forces us to admit that our own ways of doing things are half-assed and bad. So I’m just trying to be more Holmesian in my approach. And you know that guy brings the right tools in the first place, stays organized, and then puts his stuff away after, like a grown-up.


The view inside my mini greenhouse (visible in the picture above). The plant in the big pot (visible on the left)  is a sucker from my Juliet cherry that I potted up for a friend who is setting up her garden this year. I AM EXCITED TO BE GARDENING VICARIOUSLY THROUGH OTHERS.

I was going to write a post about potting up suckers but, to tell truth, I don’t really know how to do it. Here’s how I did it: dug around it. Hacked it out of the ground. Planted it in a pot. Prayed to the fruit-gods. It seemed to work.


Not the greatest photo, but here’s the obligatory bee picture.

My yard contains two cherry trees, a crabapple and the ornamental double-flowering plum. My neighbours have two apple trees. Both the smell and the buzzing of bees are palpable when I step outside the back door. Also, I put cinnamon all over the raised beds to try to deter the ants. It’s heaven.


I’ve queued up a few more pictures to be posted over the next few days. I hope you are as garden-drunk, tired, dirty and content as I am at this moment.

State of the Union – May 18, 2015

I think I take a version of this photo at the end of every May long weekend. It’s like a benchmark, a way of seeing how this spring is proceeding (prospringing) compared to other years. It’s still chilly, but I did get lots planted today, and I also did some therapeutic deck-sitting.

Bonus picture: My dog, Emma, has spent pretty much the whole weekend trying to get into the neighbours’ yard. We were joking that she just wants to be part of their family so badly. But, honestly, it kind of hurts my feelings. Here’s a picture of her watching their gate while they ate a wholesome family breakfast in their yard:

IMG_1132“I don’t know what it is about them. They just seem like such nice people.”

Whatever, Emma. WHATEVER.

Planting Tomatoes – May Long weekend, 2015

I have finally decreed it Warm Enough To Plant Tomatoes. (Although, just having typed that, I checked the weather and there’s a frost advisory again tonight. After covering my plants for the last two nights, I’m feeling a bit skeptical, and therefore risk-takey; but then, the one night I don’t cover them will be the night we DO get frost… So. We’ll see what happens. STAY TUNED!)

Anyway, here’s what goes into the tomato hole along with the (somewhat ugh-looking from too much time under fluorescent lights) tomato seedling:


In the bottom of each hole, I put some organic fertilizer (a pretty balanced one, that comes from fish emulsion, fun and gross!), some blood meal (which provides extra nitrogen) and some worm compost. Then in goes the tomato, deeper than it was in its pot:


Tomatoes have little hairs along their stems, and if you plant them deep, those little hairs will grow into roots. Some people also recommend planting tomatoes sort of diagonally, so they’re at an angle in the hole. The part above the ground will straighten up toward the sun, but this creates a longer, stronger root system underground. I did not do this, because I forgot.

I don’t have any, but other things that are good to put in tomato planting holes are eggshells (dried and crunched up, for the calcium); an aspirin, ground up (the salicylic acid is good for the plants and helps prevent blight, supposedly); and a dead fish, although the article I read suggesting this may have just been trolling me. If I were to try to substitute items I DO have around the house, I would be putting in an Aleve and some canned crab, which probably wouldn’t help, so I’ll stick with the items above.

Then I put these little red collars on them:


This makes them look pretty, and gives the ants something to climb on. (Actually, this is again maybe superstition, but red mulches and collars are supposed to be good for tomatoes. I bet if you mulched the tomatoes with whole cooked lobsters, that would satisfy two of the superstitions addressed here! Plus, all your neighbours would know how fancy you are!)

This tomato is a variety called 42 Days, which is supposed to be ready to eat in — you guessed it – 42 days*. I ordered the seed from Heritage Harvest Seed. I’ll check in on June 29th and evaluate whether it’s living up to its name. (Although, now that I say that, I don’t know if it’s supposed to be 42 days from the initial sowing – probably. It couldn’t be 42 days from transplant, since the tomato scientists have no way of knowing at what point it will be transplanted. But I will still give it 6 weeks, because: why not?)

*Also, conveniently, if you ask the question of life, the universe and everything, and that question is “how long will it take for these tomatoes to be ready” the answer can be 42. As you can tell, I had a lot of good reasons for buying these tomato seeds.

Don’t forget the lobster mulch!

“May Long”

In Edmonton, the May long weekend (sometimes affectionately called “May long”) is the traditional time for putting in the garden. Our last frost date is usually listed as mid-May, and many people recommend waiting until 2 weeks later to plant out, so usually this works out. This year, the May long weekend is early (ie., now) and it apparently got down to zero last night, so I covered my plants. Today was sunny but still VERY chilly, but I was still out there getting dirt under my fingernails – and on my way home from a plant sale, I crossed paths with an older lady with one of those wheelie carts, also full of plants. But she was coming the other direction. I wanted to stop and ask her about her plant sale. (How good was it? WHAT DID THEY HAVE THERE? Also, SHOULD I GET ONE OF THOSE WHEELIE CARTS? HOW MANY POTS CAN FIT IN THERE?)

Also, yesterday I took my dog for a walk after throwing on a sweatshirt over my pyjamas. That’s how you know it’s a long weekend. I thought about changing, but then I would have just had to change right back. Inefficient.

Also, apparently in America there is a holiday called “Memorial Day” that may or may not be at the same time. All I can say to you, America, is: try naming the holiday Monday in May (the unofficial kickoff of the summer drinking season, patio beers, and camping as well as gardening) after a notoriously uptight queen. It’s fun, it helps to really rehabilitate her image, and people can garden.

Anyway, if you’re out in the garden on the May long weekend, know that you are part of a sacred fraternity (or whatever a gender-neutral word for that is) of people with dirty hands, weird tans from whatever shirts they’re wearing, and wheelie carts full of plants.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to stay up irresponsibly late looking at the internet, because tomorrow is STILL THE WEEKEND.