Garden adventures and advice…

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Rat’s Tail Radish

Want to grow a fun, non-stop vegetable? Then plant Rat’s Tail Radish.

Unlike the traditional underground, round, red radish, rat’s tail is an edible pod that sprouts from pale pink flowers that in turn, sprout from long, flowing stems.

A non-stop summer performer, rat’s tails are easy to grow and won’t fade away in the heat like most radishes do. This is certainly not a cool-season radish – they thrive during  warm summer days and prefer full sun. Similar in appearance to a long bean, (and a rat tail!), this edible pod is delicious fresh from the garden, is a great addition to stir-fry’s and is also an easy pickling vegetable.

Butterflies flock to the flowers and continued  pod harvest will also continue to produce new flower growth and in turn, more radishes.

Rat’s tail is an Asian heirloom that was introduced to the U.S. in the 1860s and has been growing ever since. Plant this interesting, easy-care and colourful radish every two weeks over the season for a continued harvest.


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Grow Up! (Veggies, that is)

We’ve been experiencing one of the hottest and driest summers in years. It’s what I call a “good old-fashioned summer”. The way summer is meant to be. And while I’m watering a tad more than I like to, the heat sure is keeping it’s end of the bargain and the veggies are growing better than ever.

One way to make use of small space, or to just provide more room to grow other plants is by “growing up”. I’ve made simple bamboo trellis’ for both cucumbers and squash to help keep the fruit off the ground and save the space for other veggies (like the sweet potatoes, which are growing like crazy!)

These trellis’ are made up of three or four, 6-foot bamboo poles, from the dollar store, wound with a strong string, or light twine. The twine allows for the gentle tendrils of the plants to grab on and reach for the top. I’ve had great success “growing up” both cucumbers and squash.

Or consider creating an A-Frame. This year, it’s doing exactly what I want it to. The squash are all growing up the side of the frame (plastic frame with bird netting), and the sunflowers can be seen over the top of the A-frame and are just about to pop. The tomatoes are growing like weeds at the other end of the bed.

As much as I don’t want this summer to end….I am looking forward to harvest time, it’s going to be the best ever!




Spaghetti Squash starting to grow

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Toad House

Guess they really do work.

This one is up on the deck – it’s the same toad that appears year after year (he’s shown in earlier blogs). This house was out for less than a week and he found his way into it – and seemed to enjoy it seeing as he stayed for quite a while and then made a few return visits.

From what I’ve read, if you build it, they will come – even an upside down flower pot with an opening large enough for the toad to fit through works. Some sites do recommend a second hole in the back of the house – an escape route for them if they are feeling threatened by an outsider. 





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2012 in Review – Welcome 2013 and More Gardening!

Thanks everyone for a fun 2012 – looking forward to more gardening adventures in 2013.

Resolutions for the garden – try something new, grow something from seed, plant a tree, grow a few veggies and share them with friends, and don’t be too hard on yourself if the garden isn’t perfect – you just can’t fight Mother Nature!

Happy New Year!

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,800 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


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Hummingbirds amaze me.

Have you ever seen them dance and play through the light shower that the sprinkler provides? Every time we water, there they are – swiftly spinning and flying through the drops, sparkling in the sunlight and enjoying their quick bath. I guess bird baths are typically too deep for them so perhaps this is how they get around it??

The ruby-throated is what spends the summer in our yard each year, and they have remained close by again this summer. Three or four times a day they make their rounds from plant to plant and stop by the patio table to hover for a second or two, as if saying hello, before they fly off to the next bright flower.

A few interesting ruby-throated facts:

– They beat their wings roughly 55 times per minutes.

– It’s short legs prevent it from walking or hopping (answers the bird bath quandry!). The best they can do is shuffle along a perch. It scratches it’s head and neck by raising a foot up and over its wing.

– They prefer to feed on red or orange flowers. Like many birds, they have good color vision and can see into the ultraviolet spectrum, which we cannot (However, the one that came to visit pictured above seems to be quite happy with large, pink zinnias).

– They also catch insects in midair or pull them out of spider webs.

They’ll soon be heading south, to warmer climates for the winter season, so as the summer blooms begin to fade, remember to keep the hummingbird feeder full to give them plenty of food and energy for the long flight!


The Garden Looks Fabulous (and I have a new friend!)

Wow! I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve been chatting about my garden adventures, but I must say with all the time I’ve been spending out there, it sure looks incredible.

The raised veggie beds are doing great. Usually I’ve got cherry tomatoes and peppers in pots, but decided it was time to try something different. Corn, snap peas, regular peas, pole beans, beets, broccoli, brussels, squash, turnip, zucchini and cucumber. It’s quite exciting watching it change from day to day. And I do hope it all continues – fingers crossed!

And I have a new little friend. This toad has decided to make one particular pot on the deck his home. He spends the day wandering around somewhere – and without fail, he’s back every night, hopping into his pot where he snuggles in for the night. I don’t know that he ever leaves the deck, I assume he does, but it would be interesting to see how he gets back up there.

We discovered this rather large, well…quite fat, colorful toad sitting on the deck one day. Just sitting there, catching flies or whatever toads do during the day and apparently, minding his own business, not expecting anyone other than him, to try to run his life.

We, in our infinite toad wisdom decided he needed to be back down in the garden and moved him there, into a soft, shady spot under the ferns.

An hour later we saw what we thought was the same toad back on the deck. (Huh?) So once again, in our obviously knowledgeable and brilliant toad wisdom (because we somehow believe we are smarter than the average toad) we carried him back downstairs, once again where he could play in the garden he grew in. Happy happy toad.

And I swear, within 10 minutes he was right back up there.

That’s when I realized it was where he wanted to be – now no one is allowed to walk on the deck until I inspect it for toads.

Wonder how I’m going to deal with the skunk that now comes visiting………


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Owl Prowl!

Yesterday I joined the area’s birding club for their annual owl prowl – a trip around the rural roads in search of the owls that frequent the area. Last year’s event was held at night and we were able to hear the call of the screech owl. Unfortunately he never came close enough for pictures, but just hearing the sound up close was amazing.

This year, we were lucky enough to spot a snowy owl, off in the distance. The snowy is a large owl, typically up to 28 inches long, with a 60 inch wingspan. An arctic bird, the snowy owl does move south in the winter, and this winter has been noted as a larger than usual migration year, with thousands of these stunning birds being spotted throughout Southern Canada and the United States. Their diet consists mainly of mice and lemmings – up to 12 mice a day and 1,600 lemmings per year!

This was taken from quite a distance, the binoculars made a difference, but he can be seen in the first picture, sitting on the ground.

We also spotted a couple of hawks, and for a time, were observed by a family of deer.

For an update on the entire event visit:


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Well, our on again, off again winter has finally arrived. We’re expecting a few inches of snow, high winds, and cold! Which it should be in winter – we’re just a tad spoiled here with these above zero (C) temperatures we’ve been receiving.

At least I was able to get outside and get all the branches that fell over the winter picked up – so I’m already ahead on my spring clean up.

There’s been quite a few snowy owl sightings in the area this year, and a fair amount of speculation as to why – many of these Arctic dwellers are  being spotted farther south than they usually are during this time. For those in Southern Ontario – keep an eye out, late in day, and you just might see one of these magnificent birds resting on a fencepost.

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Now It Feels Like Spring!

Well, so much for the snow. It lasted less than a day, and now it feels like spring is on the way. We’re hitting highs of 7C/45F today and will enjoy a day full of sun. (Average high is minus 2C for this time of year).

While it is still too early to get out in the garden and start working, it certainly isn’t too early to start thinking about it.

And with that in mind, I’d like to share two upcoming garden festivals that this area enjoys every year.

The Stratford Garden Festival, March 1-4 has become one of the most popular over the past few years.

And of course, Canada Blooms, March 16-25 in Toronto.

Both shows are full of great speakers, interesting garden designs and of course, garden shopping.

If you’re itching to get out there and start working, planning, changing, moving, etc. etc., but it’s too early in your area, check out your upcoming garden shows – it’s the next best thing!