This post is dedicated to my reflections, thoughts, successes and failures from another summer in the Simple Green garden. This year, I share with you our blockbuster growth with Kelp fertilizer as our go-to liquid plant supplement, the importance of planting for native pollinators, and your favourite recipes from the garden this year!
Has it already been another year? It sounds so cliche to say it, but yes, the time seems to slip away these days. Nevertheless, here we are in mid Autumn and I find myself finally able to rest some after what has been a very busy (and good) growing season.
Of course, the work isn't over yet; we have plenty of little seedlings happily thriving in their Autumn bed. And my break hasn't fully begun yet either...there's clean up and composting to be looked after before winter arrives. It’s hard work, but it’s good work!
So without further adieu, I’ll share with you what we learned this year and recap this year’s most popular recipes from The Simple Green garden! Grab a cup of tea, relax, and enjoy reading all about my experiences and lessons from 2018 xo
Kelp Extract (Liquid Seaweed) Fertilizer
With organic gardening, there is always something new to learn, and this year was no exception. As luck would have it, Steve and I discovered a new way to help our plants grow flourish. And, a generous feeding liquid kelp extract every few weeks was the trick. I tell you, the growth response was staggering and impressive!
Rarely do we use liquid fertilizers in our garden; we choose to focus on supplementing and feeding our beds with fresh organic compost each year and the occasional topping with micronized rock dust. However, we were keen on trying to revive a suffering Plum tree and were willing to give Kelp extract a try after hearing such good things about it.
For those of you who may not be familiar with Kelp, it's a large algae seaweed that grows as "forests" underneath shallow ocean waters. Kelp is a food source for many ocean mammals and invertebrates and has been used extensively throughout history in indigenous cultures on the West coast.
Bottom line, Kelp fertilizer (liquid kelp) is so good for your garden- it contains almost all trace elements and minerals needed for healthy plant growth in a bioavailable form. It's like wholefood nutrition for your plants. Most importantly, it is entirely organic and sustainable, but be sure to source it from a reputable and/or local company that is dedicated to ethical harvesting.
So, having heard that Kelp is fantastic for berries and other fruit bearing plants/shrubs, we decided to try it around the garden this year. Much to our happiness, our plum tree took a turn for the better, and we also saw an exponential growth in the number and size of our strawberries this year.
The legends around kelp extract are indeed true! I am now a huge fan of the stuff and it’s become our go-to liquid fertilizer!
Caring for Pollinators
While this year was one of big strawberries, it was more importantly, the year of celebrating pollinators and helping them flourish. Steve and I found a native bee house and placed it next to the tool shed amidst the wild flowers. It turned into quite the 'hive' of activity in a few short months with many different species of native female pollinators (mason bees, in particular) looking to lay their eggs for next year.
I can't stress enough the importance of helping our pollinators; their numbers are declining at an alarming rate which has been linked to modern agricultural practices. Encouraging pollinator populations is relatively easy and a major “feel good” endeavour. Plus, your garden benefits as well!
So how can you help? Planting wild flowers and allowing native flowers (clover, for example) to grow in your lawn. Try to avoid mono-culture (growing only one crop in large numbers), and avoid chemical pesticides as much as possible, if not completely. Supporting your local and organic growers checks so many of the above boxes... is a great place to start. I am in the process of putting together a post sharing ways to help pollinators at home, so stay tuned for that...it's an issue that affects all of us and is of utmost importance. I hope you agree.
Successes & Failures
As in previous years, this season was fraught with failures along with many successes. Two of our heirloom tomato vines had succumb to fusarian wilt and early blight, much to our disappointment. Heirloom tomatoes are less hybridized and, as a result, are more prone to disease. But, with proper care and management, they can thrive and produce the most juicy and tasteful tomatoes you have ever had (guaranteed). On the topic of tomatoes, I am working on a post related solely to growing a caring for them...it’s been almost a year in the making. And, of course, there will be lots more delicious tomato recipes next year.
So, disappointments aside, there were many successes this year. Of course, the abundance of berry crop was staggering (thanks to kelp), and we managed to successfully root and transplant a Turkish fig tree cutting. I can't wait for next spring to plant our baby tree in the front yard and harvest one of my favourite fruits ever in the coming years.
So, that’s the year in a nutshell!
And while gardening can be quite the laborious process, it is without a doubt where my soul lives and breathes. My ultimate goal with the Garden Journal series is to help inspire you to start a garden, however small, and experience the joy and everyday magic that they bring into our lives. Even if it’s a container garden on your apartment patio, it counts and is important, not only to you, but to our ecosystem and, moreover, honoring our relationship with nature. Plus, you can make some pretty stellar recipes using your own homegrown ingredients...how awesome is that, right?
Before I go, I’ll leave you with my usual list of planting’s (below) and a recap of this year’s most popular recipes from my garden (as picked by you). Here they are, in no particular order: Quick Pickled French Breakfast Radish, Heirloom Panzanella, and my Rhubarb Cinnamon Oat crumble. You'll love them!
Thank you so much for being a part of this journey with me; hopefully you’ll be inspired to garden a little more! And don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions...I love to help where I can.
The non-exhaustive 2018 growing list for your perusal:
Spring & Summer Plantings:
Scarlet Nantes Carrots (an annual favourite)
Vates Blue Scots Curled Kale
Fordhook Giant Chard
French Breakfast Radish
Heirloom Tomatoes (Vintage Wine, Yellow Brandywine, Jubilees, Mortgage Lifters, bloody butchers)
French Fingerling potatoes
Chioggia, Winter Keeper, and Touchstone Gold Beetroot
Lincoln Homesteader Peas
Scarlet Emperor Runner Beans
Colorado Red & Victorian Rhubarb
Herbs: Marjoram, Chives, Garden Sage, Rosemary, Italian Oregano, English Thyme, Italian & Curly leaf Parsley, lemon balm, Provence lavender
Berries: Blackberry, Strawberry, summer fruiting Raspberry, Duke Blueberries, Cherries (Bing, Regina, Sweetheart), Italian Plum
Flowers: Dahlia varieties, Calendula, Hollyhock, nasturtiums, chamomile, Camellia Japonica, Peony, Mardi Gras Rose, Lilac, Lily of the Valley, Casa Blanca Lilly, hydrangea, climbing Jasmine
Red Russian Harneck Garlic
Music Organic Hardenck Garlic