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 19, 2008

This Lawn is Your Lawn

I'm of the mindset that every household should have a vegetable garden. This is not a new idea as Victory Gardens were encouraged as a way to save energy and keep people fed during World War I and World War II. Twenty million of these gardens existed producing 40% of the vegetable produce consumed nationally in the United States. Planting a vegetable garden was seen as a national duty.

I hope you enjoy the video. As you know this is a Canadian blog so I try to find content of interest to other Canadians. The video focuses on the American White House but the message really can be applied to any country. Our elected officials should be setting an example and practicing what they preach. I urge everyone to write their elected official at all levels of government conveying the idea of encouraging Victory Gardens as a way to help the environment, feed the hungry and encourage people to help themselves. I urge everyone reading this blog to grow fruits and vegetables at some level. If you can, grow more. If you don't have a garden now is the time to start one! Get involved. Start a community garden or a friendship garden. If you have more produce than you or your family can use when preserved for the following year, consider donating it to a food bank or church agency that will see it gets to a family in need. Encourage everyone you know to grow a vegetable garden. Spread the word, sign petitions and write letters but first ensure you are growing a vegetable garden!

Today we have the luxury of huge supermarkets stocked to overflowing with every kind of fruit and vegetable imaginable. However did you the average food travels 1500 miles from farm to table? Revive the Victory Garden and Eat Your View are two organizations that are encouraging households to grow Victory Gardens again as a way to reduce global warming. Planting edible landscaping makes good sense environmentally and economically. When you grow your own you end up with nutritious, fresh vegetables at a fraction of the cost of store bought. With gardening comes preserving either by canning, freezing or drying further reducing your food costs. It's a win win situation.

Did you know that home canning continues to increase fueled by the concerns over rising food prices. While a pressure canner necessary for canning low acid foods (vegetables, meats, etc.) will range in price from about $100 to $500 depending on the brand and size, they will more than pay for themselves within one season. Not only do you save money by preserving your own, you also can take advantage of buying local produce in season and preserving enough to get to the next season. I should mention that my pressure canner is in use year round often two or more times per week. Recipes, methods and pictures can be found on my cooking blog.

I've often mentioned on this blog and elsewhere that even small space gardening can be quite productive. Think outside of the box. Replace the environmentally unfriendly lawn with edible landscaping. Many herbs have beautiful flowers so plant perennial herbs instead of annuals. Those dandelions may be a weed in your lawn but if you don't use herbicides they make tasty salad greens. Use trellises and arbours to grow fruit and vegetables up instead of spreading. A small balcony can be used for container gardening. Small patches of land between sidewalk and house can be planted with vegetables or herbs. Window sills can be used to grow herbs and greens year round. Grow your own sprouts (mustard, bean, alfalfa, etc.) indoors year round. I've even had success growing tomatoes, peppers and potatoes indoors. Be sure to save seeds from your garden to reduce the cost of buying seeds the following year.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged! DG from Food and Garden Dailies tagged me today. Hmm, this is my second tag so hopefully I play the game correctly :)

Here are the rules:

1. Link the person who tagged you.

2. Mention the rules on your blog.

3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.

4. Tag 6 following bloggers by linking them.

5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know that they have been tagged.

DG and I met on a canning group we both belonged to. She continues to stop by my cooking blog and this blog. So first I would like to thank DG for visiting my blogs and second for tagging me. DG's blog is about food and gardening. She does have this thing about the perfect trash can so you will want to stop by and read all about it. Her carrot cake with cream cheese frosting looks devine!

Let's see, 6 unspectacular quirks about me:

1. I detest grass lawns! - Sorry folks but grass is simply evil as used in most applications. It is chemically dependent, high maintenance, water hog and environmentally unfriendly plant thanks to the myth that everyone must have a lucious green carpet aka lawn. There are better, environmentally friendly ground covers that can be used in place of grass. The only thing good I can say about it is in some applications it is a good plant to prevent soil errosion.

2. I'm a die hard nature lover. - I am the type of person who enjoys going to the city for a day or two but would never thrive in a city. I need to be surrounded by nature on a daily basis including all the sights, sounds and smells of nature although I will admit I could do without visits from centipedes. I'm also not too fond of snakes either but they are allowed to stay in my gardens as long as they leave me alone.

3. I'm not a bare foot person. - Honestly I wear socks and/or slippers indoors all the time regardless of the season and I wear shoes outdoors. I even have bed socks! About the only time I go bare foot is on the boat or when walking along the beach.

4. I'm actually a very shy, reserved person. - I'm fine around family and close friends but not around strangers or in larger group setting and certainly not in crowds. It takes a long time for me to warm up to people I don't know.

5. I'm a food snob. - I prefer down home cooking using fresh, home canned or home frozen ingredients. I prefer growing as much as possible and look for organic or pesticide free produce when buying. I grow a vegetable/herb garden because I can and because it tastes so much better than you can buy. I can, freeze and dry to preserve the abundance from my garden because I tend to avoid foods laden with extra preservatives, salt and sugar.

6. I stomp cemeteries. - It's true. I head out usually early in the morning to a cemetery of choice looking for ancestors. I carry a PDA with folding keyboard, digital camera, notebook and pencil as well as my lunch. I'll spend a good day documenting and looking for ancestors. My family thinks this is a rather morbid activity but it is a necessary part of genealogy research.

The people I have chosen to tag are:
  1. Maitre author of Magic & Moments At Dragonfly Cottage
  2. Monkey Tale author of Monkey Fables and Tales
  3. Sandy author of Writing in Faith
  4. Debbie author of MamaFlo's Place
  5. eastcoastlife author of eastcoastlife
  6. dawniemom author of My Tasty Space
Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Saturday, August 09, 2008


(Convolvulus arvensis

Bindweed (Convolvulus arvensis) is a member of the morning glory family. It is a very invasive, spreading weed that can be introduced to the garden through soil and roots. Quite frankly I think bindweed is rather pretty with its small trumpet shaped white flowers with faint pink stripes. It covers wires and chain link fencing nicely but it is still considered a weed especially when it gets into the lawn. That brings to a brief commentary on weeds.

Weeds are essentially plants that for whatever reason are not valued. They tend to be very persistent, hardy in most conditions and difficult to control. However what is a weed in some locations is not a weed in others and some weeds like dandelions are cultivated because they are edible. Folks start to panic when they see weeds in their lawns but lets put this in a different perspective. In terms of the environment, lawns are horrible abusers. They are chemically dependent, water hungry stretches of green outdoor carpeting that really should be banned. Maintenance spills tons of CO2 into the air daily. The only good thing that I have to say about grass is in some locations it helps prevent soil erosion but for the most part, grass is bad news for the environment. There are so many other low to no maintenance, low water using ground covers to choose from that grass is simply not needed! In terms of weeds, consider bindweed. It is pretty and it is invasive. It can thrive in just about any soil condition. You don't need to trim it, water it or anything else because it does thrive on neglect. It would make the perfect grass substitute! However, we are so brainwashed into believing we need that patch of green carpet that the environmentally unfriendly green carpet is a must.

Back to bindweed. Bindweed is on the borderline of being virtually impossible to eradicate. A broad leaf herbicide can be somewhat effective but with the Ontario ban that more than likely won't be possible. More effective is manual removal but persistent pulling and digging. Be warned that the roots can extend as deep as 5 - feet. Inserting solid barriers into the ground along fences or gardens can help prevent bindweed from overtaking the lawn from neighbouring property but new shoots will appear where there are roots. So be persistent!

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome

Friday, August 08, 2008


Common Garden Petunia
(Petunia x hybrida

Very few gardeners are unaware of the common garden petunia (petunia x hybrida) with their beautiful showy, cascading trumpet shaped flowers. These plants are members of the family Solanaceae (nightshade plant) that originated in South America and are thought to be a hybridization between P. axillaris and P. integrifolia. There is a wide variety of colours available ranging from white to very deep purple and everything in between. Petunias are grown as annuals but in warmer climates they are biennials. They are a popular plant for hanging baskets and containers. Why?

The reason is quite simple. Petunias are very low maintenance plants that but on a beautiful cascading display of colour from mid-spring to first hard frost. Their only real requirement seems to be regular watering. To keep the plant looking nice, remove spent flowers by simply giving a slight tug. This will leave the seed pod intact so you can harvest the seeds. The seed pod will turn brown and open releasing very small, round, dark brown seeds. Since most petunias are hybrids the seeds may not breed true but you can get some interesting combinations and they are free plants!

Petunias are more than just a pretty flower! They are excellent companion plants for pole beans, bush beans, peas, squashes and potatoes. Pink petunias in particular will repel the Mexican bean beetle, potato bug and squash bug. I've also noticed that rabbits don't seem to bother petunias. Taking advantage of that observation I planted petunias around the entire perimeter of my legume bed and sure enough the rabbits left that bed alone. So be sure to plant pink petunias in and around these crops for a natural pest control.

Happy Gardening!

Garden Gnome