Friday, August 23, 2013

Straw Bale Gardening

This article was in the Truro Daily News. It talks about straw bale gardening, and how to do it. I used this method years ago when i gardened in Chester Basin, among a wealth of granite boulders. Read on!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Friday, August 31, 2012


What an interesting veggie growing year.  Rain and cold followed by hot and dry!  Hot peppers are ripening like mad.  Deer carpet bombed the blue lake pole beans.  They have recovered and are starting to produce.  I'm trying spaghetti squash for the first time.  Red carrots have been a hit with everyone.  Deer also got redbor kale, it is regrown and kale chips are on the menu for the weekend.

Monday, March 19, 2012


Ah... Spring. I’m sitting here on my doorstep, coffee cup in hand, gazing at a beautiful bunch of crocus. There are seven fully open brilliant yellow blooms. What is it about yellow flowers in the spring? By August I am sick of the colour yellow, but in the Spring yellow makes me happy. I also see a cluster of Snowdrops. I keep forgetting I have them but as the snow melts, much to my surprise, there they are hiding under the leaves and litter of winter. Spring will be here tomorrow and I just may do a little "dance of joy" around my garden, but in the dark so the neighbors don’t see me.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


We had a very successful Seedy Saturday here in Fredericton yesterday. Lots of seeds... I'm going to try several peonies from seed, a collection of alpines for hypertufa planters and heritage tomatoes and radish. I also got some seeds for tall Jack in the pulpit. I'll be starting to seed plants tomorrow. I have series of fluorescent lights on chains that I can raise and lower and a heat cable in sand growing table.

It must be spring!

Birds are nest building! I just came home from a weekend in Kentville, and the temperatures for next week are forecast to be between 14 and 20 all week!  It's too early!
My mother has a grand group of spring witch hazels in bloom, the snowdrops are out and the crocus are ready to pop. I can say the same for my garden in Truro. My Arnold's Promise hazel has been just glorious for a month now - if you don't own one of these, you really should. Warning - deer love them.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Winter that Wasn't

I panicked and took my potted shrubs and plants that usually live in the yard and put them into cold storage. I mean -20 one day and +10 the next? It was just asking a bit much for them to put up with that again and again.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where did summer go?

What happened? School starts next week and my garden's a mess... not that those two things are related! There have been quite a few garden highlights after all this time (as I'd hope!), but the one I want to tell you about is 'how I brought my pond back to life'. I have a small pond in the garden - about 2mX4m and 70 cm deep. It ticked along beautifully as a still pond for a dozen years. Then about three years ago, it 'winterkilled'. When everything thawed in the spring, the fish were dead and the pond had developed an otherworldly purple coating on all of the submerged plants. It stunk. I drained it, cleaned it, and put the best of the oxygenators back and tried again. Next year - same thing. I have to admit I was flummoxed. I made a point not to add fish, and I netted out the worst of the mess and just left it. Needless to say, things were no better this spring, but since inactivity didn't seem to be making it worse, I left it and began to contemplate taking it out. After a month away from home this summer (that made two months away all told), I was in the garden and noticed GOLDFISH in the pond. My first thought was 'where did you come from?", quickly followed by the realization that I couldn't leave them to stew in water like that. I had been toying with the idea of an aquascape system, but really didn't feel like I could afford $1500 + on a pond cure. I decided to create my own filter/circulation system. The basic ingredients - a black plastic storage crate, furnace filter material, hen grit, a submersible sump pump that moves 1350 gallons an hour, and the short black hose that is used to connect your washing machine. I skimmed the leaf debris out of the pond while running the garden hose into one end to give the fish some breathable water while this went on. The pump went into the crate and a 'box' of filter material was fashioned around it. Hen grit was used to fill the space between the pump and the filter box. Larger gravel was used to fill in the rest of the crate and support the filter 'box' in the center. The black hose was attached to the pump, and the whole thing was lowered into the pond. (thank you Heather!). I hooked the end of the hose over a log, and plugged in the pump - voila - a lovely strong jet of water gushing over the log and into the pond. After three days there was a noticeable improvement. Two weeks later, I can now see the bottom of the pond, the purple slime has disappeared and the stink is gone. I think the fish are much happier. All this for the cost of the HST on the Aquascape system. I'm feeling pretty good!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring at Last!

OK.. .So it's supposed to snow tonight - it can't last.
Every morning Rudy (angelic border collie) and I stroll the garden, depositing bird seed on tree stumps scattered through the garden. It gives me time to take in all of the changes that are going on as my garden comes awake. My Arnold's Promise hazel has been in flower for 6 solid weeks, and still going strong. The thrill of those little petal filaments unfurling with snow all around was so welcome! The garden is blue with Chionodoxa and Scilla siberica, the snowdrops in the woodland are finishing their third week of flowering. My white flowered daphne had a dozen open flowers this morning, and the fragrance was just heaven. The pulmonaria is blooming its heart out. There are all kinds of crocus, and the corydalis foliage is rapidly covering the floor of the woodland. My little tree frog is chirping away at night. It's no time to leave home, really.. but I'm off to the UK to teach next week. My heart falls when I think of all the things I'm going to miss! Mark has promised to send pictures every few days. At least there's someone at home to appreciate it! Tomorrow morning I'll take photos and post them on the What's in Bloom page - that way I can keep looking at it over the next few weeks!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Don't forget the beauty of the winter garden

Most of us wait in anticipation for the the awakening of the spring garden, but there is much to enjoy in the garden now. Shapes and forms within the garden take on a new beauty with a blanket of snow. Seed heads and blowing grasses stand out against the freshness of the snow and the vivid blue skies. I love the shape and colors of the garden pots, benches and any other feature that braves the elements waiting for warmer breezes again. There is a peace and restfullness in the garden as well. I don't have to worry about what needs to be done next.

So, take a walk in the garden or sit in a sheltered spot and just breathe and rest, for all the activity of gardening will soon be upon us again.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Winter's half over!

Well, we've made it this far! I was really grateful for a blanket of snow when the temperatures dipped so low last week. I hope the plants came through it with few fatalities. It was so cold that my border collie, Rudy, didn't want to walk on pavement. We set out for our morning stroll, and he kept hopping along on three legs, taking turns resting one hind foot, then the other. I cut the walk short and spent some time in the garden with him instead.

The catalogues and garden magazine subscription renewals are arriving daily. I'm not sure about renewing my magazines - how many times do I need to read about basic garden tasks and the author's favorite plants? Maybe I'm just in a winter funk. The catalogues are much more exciting - and my garden is FULL. Well, we live to dream. Right now I'm dreaming of a studio in the garden at my parent's house in Kentville. Do you have garden dreams for 2011? Let us know what they are by clicking the comments button and telling us about it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It's a New Year!

After a monsoonal autumn, the saturated soil has finally started to freeze. I'm bracing myself for lots of dead plants in spring - nothing kills plants like frozen wet soil. I was eyeing the discarded Christmas trees as I walked the dog... to drag them home and cover the garden, or not? So far I haven't done it.
After taking a thoroughly enjoyable pottery class this fall (my creative self was crying to get out), I've decided to spend a day a week with my hands in clay. Happily you don't have to be good at it to have a lot of fun! I guess that's a lot like gardening. Unlike gardening, you can sit down while you do it!!
A few seed catalogues have arrived. I get the 'fever' even though there isn't anywhere to put new plants. I suspect there will be come May! I'm conflicted as to whether that will be awfully exciting, or just awful!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Drought stress

A LOT of trees are turning colour and it's only the third week of August - YIKES! It has been hotter and drier than I can remember for a long, long time. I went away for the last two and a half weeks, and was afraid to look and see how my pots had fared while I was gone. I watered them and placed them in the woodland garden before I left. YAY! Only one casualty... I can live with that. Any other tips for managing plants in dry times?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

After growing onions from seed with perfect success for many years, suddenly this year this critter has arrived (see attached image). I first noticed some leaves looked like the slug scrapings... splotches of green missing. I opened a few leaves, finding critter poop and eventually in one plant this fellow... A few of the plants have gone quite brown, though most are ok or just splotchy. The only thing close to this I could find was "onion maggot," but this visitor didn't really look like the portraits I found of onion maggot online. And I do hope not as I believe that affects keepability of the onion, So... fingers crossed... does anyone know what this creature is? What is the prognosis for the crop and how do I avoid his visit next year?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I'd like to compare notes as to what the deer are eating or not eating in your garden - I don't think there's really much truth in the 'deer resistant' label with few exceptions. I think deer just have personal preferences.
My deer are restricted to the front garden, where they are really enjoying lily buds and the tops off my Phlox paniculata. They seem to leave everything else - Baptisia, rose campion, astilbe, roses, day lilies, lavendar, ornamental grasses, echinacea.


I got lost in the garden this morning after walking the dog - 'garden time' strikes again. I'm sure I was there 5 minutes, but I managed to miss a doctor's appointment an hour and a half later! Bad weeds for me right now include plantain, chickweed, pearly everlasting and sow thistle. I also constantly pull out self seeded roses (mostly multifloras), hollyhock, rose campion, and weigela. It's time to pull out my annual poppy,and just leave a few for seed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Atlantic Master Gardeners Garden Blog

Welcome!! We are using this space to answer your garden questions, and also to share our Garden Picture of the Week. I hope you find it useful. There's a lot of expertise out there, so feel free to take advantage of it! Post your picture of the week - gardens are at a different stage everywhere in the region!