Neighbours talking over the garden gate has long been a tradition. They share gardening tips, complain about the weather and pests yet are ever eager to discuss their gardens. That is what I had in mind when creating this blog. So stop by my garden gate to find out the latest happenings in my garden.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome
"All my life through, the new sights of Nature made me rejoice like a child." ~ Madame Marie Curie"

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Amaryllis belladonna

Shortly after moving in here we noticed a strange looking lily. There were no leaves at all! The flower itself was a pretty pale pink so we just left them to see what would happen. One day our neighbour remarked that my "naked ladies" were looking nice pointing at the strange lily. So I did a web search to find out more about this lily.

Amaryllis belladonna

I thought my neighbour was joking about the name of this plant. The blooms were so pretty yet there were no leaves. I thought that was very odd. However, he wasn't joking about the common name for this plant. The scientific name for the Naked Lady or Belladonna Lily is Amaryllis belladonna. Of interest Amaryllis is a monotypic genus containing only the species Belladonna Lily (source: Wikipedia, Naked Lady is a bulbous plant but is not a true lily despite the common names. I've heard them referred to as Jump-up Lilies and Magic Lilies. They like full sun but mine are in partial sun and do fine. They reach a height of two to three feet.

The Naked Lady has one of the most interesting growth cycles! The bulb produces bold, strap-like deep green leaves in the fall after blooming. The leaves die back by late spring and the bulb is then dormant until about mid-August in our Zone 6A. Suddenly almost overnight the stem will appear. The trumpet shaped, fragrant pale pink flowers are on a single stem with no leaves hence one of their common names. They will continue blooming through much of September.

It is a good idea to mark the location of Naked Ladies as there is no indication of them after the leaves have died down. The first indication is when the naked stem appears. The bulb does not like to be disturbed. Originally we had two clumbs of Naked Ladies growing under the Rose of Sharon. I carefully dug one clump to plant in another location. It took two years before the bulb in the new location bloomed. The picture is of the transplanted clump. It's a good thing I did move them though as our over zellous lawn care service has played havoc with the clump in the original location. One stalk remains so I put a small barrier around it to protect it from the weed wacker. I plan to mark the location then transplant the bulb in the spring to a better location. The Rose of Sharon have filled in so the lily is in shade most of the time.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome

Sunday, August 20, 2006

A Close Call - Wake-up Reminder

I'm in the garden a lot as well as spending a great deal of time in the water during the summer months. I'm very, very careful so was surprised to have any problems. Almost two weeks ago, I had a suspicious mole removed and biopsied. Being terrified of needles this was no easy task! My dermatologist hoped for the results by the Friday as he was away on holidays the following week. No such luck and I knew we were leaving on the weekend for a short holiday. That week was so long! Finally they called on my cell to let me know everything was ok but any future moles like that had to come off as well. I was so relieved that at least this one was ok!

So here is the wake-up reminder. As gardeners we are in the sun a lot so we need to protect ourselves. Here are some of the things I do:
1) use high spf sunblock each and every day; make sure it is not expired
2) reapply as needed after sweating, swimming or 2 hrs outdoors
3) use protective clothing
4) always, always wear a broad rimmed hat to protect your face and neck
5) stay out of the heat of the day sun
6) protect your eyes with UV rated sunglasses
7) keep yourself well hydrated

Friday, August 11, 2006

Pole Beans

Pole beans are one of my favourite, easy to grow vegetables. Despite a few problems this year the pole beans are producing nicely. They refuse to use only their eight foot trellises prefering instead to reach further into the sky where they dance in the breeze. I'm growing two varieties this year: Kentucky Wonder and Romano.

Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans

When using the square foot gardening method, any vegetable that vines is a real plus. They can be grown on trellises, staked up or even grown on fences to save valuable space. This is one reason pole beans are ideal in small space gardening. My all round favourite pole bean is Kentucky Wonder.

Kentucky Wonder is a reliable producer. They take 65 to 70 days to reach maturity. I am growning both green and yellow but the yellow just isn't doing as well as the green. The green vines have taken over the trellis with their vigorous growth. The problems with Japanese beetles and bean beetles seem to have subsided substantially. This photo is about a week old. The beans have now covered to the tops of the wood hiding the poles almost entirely. I do need that ladder to pick the beans!

Kentucky Wonder Pods

Kentucky Wonder pods have a wonderful flavour. Each pod is eight to nine inches long with a rich green colour and nicely shaped. I'm picking a quart or more daily while they are still tender. If last year is any indication of yield, I canned thirty-two pints of beans as well as froze ten quarts aside of what we ate fresh. I also froze a few pints in boilable pouches, already seasoned ready to use. We enjoy these beans freshly steamed, canned, frozen or as dilly beans. They are an excellent bean in soups or stews.

Romano Pole Beans

Romano is a new variety I'm growing this year. It is a gourmet bean with a distinctive flavour. The pods are wide, flat and six to eight inches long. Their shape makes the pods ideal for slicing. They are an excellent freezer variety. While the vines are nice and healthy exceeding over eight feet the bean yield has been less than the Kentucky Wonders. Like their counterpart, the Romano vines are now almost entirely covering the trellis quickly filled in where the sugar snap peas were.

Beside the Romano pole beans is one of three volunteer sunflowers courtesy of the birds. One was in front of the beans and has already been harvested. There is a smaller sunflower not noticeable in the picture as it is only about a foot tall and in full bloom. Volunteers are always a fun find so I like to leave them when possible.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


My garden brings me incredible peace and joy despite some of the downsides. One of my favourite things to do is sit in the garden at the crack of dawn just as our little corner of the world is awakening.

Morning Sky

This morning's sky did not disappoint. I watched as it turned into streaks of pinky red tinged with orange. The huge fireball slowly peaked over the horizon turning the sky into more shades of pink, red and orange mingled with bright blue. The old saying "Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning" is one that is heeded when you live on the water. We will have rain in some form before nightfall! I mused that day inside preserving would be welcomed as is the cooler weather. I'm in the mood to play with the canner. Instead of rushing inside, I sat and pondered while the pinky clouds gave way to whispy white clouds bordered by even whispier rippled, barely there clouds. What a gorgeous, beautiful display Mother Nature is capable of!

The morning has past with still blue skies. With the lower temperatures it is a perfect canning day! Possible storm clouds have just within the last hour appeared on the western horizon. I did my normal clean pick of the garden that included more cucumbers, tomatoes, beans and zucchini along with some basil, sage, thyme and bee balm. Cherry tomato puree is drying in the oven so the house smells nice. I have to pick up some corn today to continue with my corn freezing from yesterday. I don't grow corn but am seriously considering it next year as the only cultivar we can find here is of the peaches & cream variety. I'd really love some yellow Libbey corn! It is perfect freezing corn.

Straight Cucumbers

The Straight Eight cucumbers are now producing nicely. True to their name, they are a straight, nice shaped cucumber. In general the cucumber vines have not done well this year. Many area farmers were hit hard with a blight that has made its way into home gardens. My plants are showing some signs of stress but are still producing so I'm elated every time I find a nice sized cucumber. I planted pickling cucumbers as well, just enough for a batch of freezer pickles and maybe some dills. They didn't agree with this plan so if I'm lucky I will have enough for freezer pickles only.

I also picked two Ancho and one Hungarian Wax peppers. The Ancho are the only peppers that are doing well right now. Perhaps the cooler weather will help.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bean Beetle & Squash Borer

We have a couple of new garden tennants. They have been living rent free while they damage the premises. They have been evicted but not before their mug shots were taken! It took a good chunk of my time this morning but it had to be done.

Squash Borer & Damage

My zucchini plants are in two raised beds. The first in bed #7 has four plants while the other in bed #5 has one. The zucchini in bed #5 have not caught up to the others but is still producing. Those in bed #7 are producing three to four zucchini daily.

Four out of five of my zucchini plants have been attacked by squash borer. The zucchini plants themselves show very little signs of damage as far as leaves or fruit production. I removed this squash borer by slicing the stem with a sharp knife then flicked out the borer. On at least one plant, I found more than one borer. As far as I know, I think I got them all. Once the borers were removed, I covered the damaged area and slit with fresh moist soil to prevent damage from other insects. Any affected leaves and there were few, were removed to ensure there were no borers hiding inside. Each bed then received a healthy dose of epsom salt. I'll wait to fertilize for a few days to be sure all borers were removed.

Squash Borer

Isn't he just a sweetie? The squash borer is really a nuisance! This is the second year I've dealt with them. Digging borers out of the stems is really not a fun way to spend your time. If caught in time, the plant can be saved and it will continue to produce. I'm confident I caught the infestation in time although this guy did enough damage in bed #5 that the plant may not produce as well.

Bean Beetle

As per my previous entry, it has been the year of the beetle and I'm learning a lot about them. The bean beetle differs from lady beetles and Mexican bean beetle in that it has six spots along with two strips at the outer edges of its wings. It is about 4 mm long, close to the same size as the Mexican bean beetle but orangy red instead of tannish yellow. This is a destructive beetle that likes to feed on bean leaves. We live in an agricultural area so these types of insects find their way into the home garden. As always, my standard treatment is manual removal, identification as to friend or foe, then appropriate measures. Once this little guy was identified, he had his mug shot then went to beetle heaven.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Tomatoes & Zucchini Oh My!

Despite well above average temperatures, stiffling humidity and torrential downpours, my garden beds are thriving. They almost seem to be enjoying the weather and are blessing me daily with a full produce basket or more.


I have thirty-two tomato plants outside with more in the greenhouse. The grape cluster and tiny tim tomatoes have been producing for awhile. It has been with great anticipation and patience that we have awaited the first ripe tomato for BLTs. When it's this hot cooking is really the last thing to think about so BLTs make a nice summer meal. We enjoyed our first BLTs Sunday night. The two ultra sweets were mouth watering!

Between Sunday and Monday's pickings I had almost a full basket of tomatoes. The cherry tomatoes are tiny tims and grape cluster. Towards the lower left corner almost hidden by the cherry tomatoes are three better boy tomatoes. The middle three tomatoes are ultra sweets. The lone red tomato at the top is the first of the beefsteaks from the plant that had BER. The rest of the tomatoes are lemon boys. My heinz and beefmasters are still green but it won't be long now.

This morning, I picked a nice sized beefsteak along with five ultra sweets and two lemon boys as well as about a quart of cherry tomatoes, green beans and a larger than I prefer zucchini. So the kitchen is overflowing with produce. I think I have enough lemon boys to make Savoury Yellow Tomato Spread so will likely work on that either today or in the morning. This is a nice dipping sauce for chicken fingers or spreading over barbequed fish.


Zucchini really gets a bad rap sometimes. It is such a versatile vegetable that every gardener should grow it. You can use it in quick breads, in deserts, in meatloaf, and as a vegetable. It doesn't get much better than that! I'm getting three to four nice sized zucchini daily. Yesterday, I froze chunks and shredded zucchini. I also had enough green and yellow beans to can four jars. The pole beans are just starting so they will be coming in fast shortly. An entry detailing both will be on my cooking blog later today.

Happy Gardening

Garden Gnome