We've been busy like bees growing lots of healthy plant starts for your late Spring garden, from a variety of heirloom and OP seeds. Please email email@example.com
to arrange an order for late May. There are savings for wholesale buyers spending over $100. Free delivery in Cedar Cottage, or in East Van for orders over $50. Quantities are limited!Tomatoes - $3 each
Yellow Wonder Light
Sun Gold - very limited quantity
Purple Calabash - very limited quantity
Tomatillo (recommend two+ for pollination)
Gold NuggetSquash - $3Summer
Black Beauty Zucchini
Ronde De Nice Zucchini - Rare and delicious
Gold Rush Zucchini
Sunburst (Spaceship) Pattypan squashWinter
Rouge Vif D'Etampes (Cinderella pumpkin)
Hubbard BlueGaleux D'Eysines - French heirloom, the best for bakingCucumber - $3
Suyo Long Cucumber (Chinese)Peppers - $3 each
Pimento Sweet Red - small round peppersHerbs - $3 Each
or as indicated
Nepeta (Catmint) - Six Hills Giant
Lemon Balm - small $3 - large $5
Peppermint - small $3 - large $5
Chives - Purple Flowered
Italian Flat Leafed Parsley
Bay Laurel (small) - $5Artichokes - selected for the West Coast garden $5
Tayvor Fruit & Other
Red Everbearing Raspberry - $5
Everbearing Red Strawberries - $5 for 3 plants
Potted Up Garlic bulbils - $1 for 10
Bright Lights Swiss Chard - $2
Lacinato (Dinosaur) Kale - $2
Saffron Crocus - harvest your own saffron in Autumn! - $5Cottage Flowers - $2
Nasturtiums - Red or Salmon coloured
Cerinthe - rare and gorgeous
Russell Lupins (vibrant purple)
Calendula (pot marigolds)
Black Eyed Susans - Rudbeckia
Nigella - Love in a Mist (blue)
Bells of Ireland - rare florist's favourite
colourful sedums for your terrarium
mature shiitakes among grow your own mushroom kits
Yesterday was the annual VanDusen plant sale, the rock star green thumb event of the year. Arriving at the garden, I couldn't find where the sale was located, then started seeing people rushing, some carrying trays, some boxes, and some with full on wagons. They were headed to the sale!
Following the throng, through a gate into the park, were tables upon tables of plants, herbs, trees, climbers, sedums, even carnivorous plants and mushroom growing kits. Overwhelming, and thankfully, I was focused on edibles and knew where to head.
I picked up a shiitake growing kit for $10 from The Mushroom Man
, and had an interesting discussion with the grower. The bag is inoculated with the mushroom spores, and sets up for about six weeks before being sold. The bag is filled with compressed alder sawdust, millet, wheat bran and limestone. I inquired as to whether the bag could be split up to create more mushrooms, and Scott suggested that fresh espresso (still warm even) would be the best growing medium to try this with. The block itself should produce just over a pound of mushrooms. Once it's done, I am going to experiment with breaking up the substrate and putting it in a "sterile" coffee grounds environment. On Scott's website, he sells kits and plugs for a variety of types, so if you have access to some fresh oak or alder logs, you can create your own mushroom forest (check out some cool videos on youtube for more information, this one
has some good details ).
Then I headed over to the herb and vegetable area, which was staffed with very helpful master gardeners. I chose a cardoon, and was advised that because aphids go wild for it, it's a smart idea to plant many trap nasturtiums nearby. Cardoons look like artichokes but with larger silvery foliage. I have read that you can blanch the cardoon's stem as it grows, and that this keeps it tender for cooking. It is supposed to taste like artichoke heart.
There were three types of rhubarb available, and I picked up a Strawberry variety that I haven't seen stocked before, to plant with my Canada Red. It is supposed to have a mild flavour with less tartness and nice pink stalks.
There was a fantastic herb selection, many types of lavender, rosemary, thymes aplenty, and less common herbs like savory and tarragon. I had checked the catalogue and was excited to pick up several Berggarten sage plants, which have beautiful rounded leaves and are great for cooking, but they had none. Does anyone know where I can find this variety in Vancouver BC?
Most exciting were the edible trees and shrubs. Although I was tempted by the white currants, and honeyberry plants (you need two different varieties that flower simultaneously for pollination), it was the culinary oddities that had me interested. The Yuzu trees had already sold out, but I selected a Bearss lime. This is a Persian lime, and we are most used to seeing the bright green Mexican limes in the grocery store. The Bearss or Tahiti lime fruit will ripen to yellow. You can use them green if you wish, but let them achieve yellow and you will have the famed "bartender's lime". My citrus plants live inside in winter through early spring on a sunny windowsill, and are moved outside for the summer sunshine.
There were also Kaffir limes, curry leaf plants, Szechuan pepper plants, Russian pomegranates, grafted avocados, PawPaw fruit trees, and kiwi vines. The citrus were all grafted onto dwarf Flying Dragon rootstock, which will enable earlier fruiting. I took the grower's card, as he advised he could mail me a Yuzu, more details here
about Tropic to Tropic Plants in Delta.
Lastly, VanDusen is holding a bonsai exhibit and sale on May 25 and 26 from 10 to 430, which should be interesting to check out.
three varieties of rhubarb, salad greens, lavender
a chartreuse lady slipper orchid at the exotics table
From Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz (1885)
I bought a Golden Hops Vine from Figaro's Garden today. Figaro's is a charming little gem of a garden store on Victoria, full of edibles, seeds (they carry the full West Coast Seeds catalogue) and a nice outdoor area with flowers, shrubs and fruit trees.
The common name hops
originates from the Anglo-saxon hoppan
meaning "to climb", and in the heat of summer, this vine can put on six inches of growth in a day. The fruit, which look like small leafy pinecones, are famous for their use in beer as an antibacterial preservative and for their astringent flavour. Very hoppy beers seem to be a trend right now, but did you know that in Henry VIII's time it was illegal to add hops to your brew? These days, most brewers add hops in pelleted form.
Other uses for this plant: "Dream pillows" can be made from the dried hops, which are said to encourage happy sleep. In springtime, the vine puts out new shoots that if you squint look a little like asparagus spears. These can be harvested and eaten, as the ancient Romans did. Fabric can be made after soaking the plant to break down the fibers. The leaves and flowers produce a natural brown dye. Sprigs of the fruit have become popular in wedding bouquets and floral arrangements.
The vine should be planted in full sun, as shade will cause it to lose it's vibrant golden colour. In autumn, prune back as desired, either thinning select canes or cutting back completely. Save those canes, they're great for holiday wreath making.
Does anyone know the origin of this old rhyme about vines? The lines refer to the first three years a vine is in the ground:first they sleepnext they creepthen they leap
the golden hops waiting to be planted
spanish bluebells and dame's rocket in a verlys artichoke vase
Did you know bluebells have a wonderful scent? Like a wilder, softer lilac. To harvest the stems, pull upward gently and they break off cleanly at the soil level.
We have them coming up everywhere, so I harvested some along with some white Dame's Rocket. This is now all over the garden, but was originally from a West Coast Seeds butterfly seed blend, and is prone to spreading. Taking some for flower arrangements help keeps it in check. The Dame's Rocket has a nice honeyed scent.
happy ferns and moss in a north facing spot
Ah, the sunny morning has turned into a classic grey Vancouver rainstorm today. Inspired by some of the terrariums I've seen recently, sans cloche, here is a small cost effective project to bring some green inside.
There are several clumps of small ferns growing along side our house. Take a peek next to your home, garage, or other shady sheltered spot. Carefully lift a few ferns, keeping as much of their delicate root structure in place as possible.
Choose a decorative planter to fill. As these will be kept indoors, I chose pots that do not have drainage holes, in the hopes that with the moss and regular watering they will stay happily damp. Fill the planter 90% full of soil before adding the plants, then sprinkle a bit more compost over top of their roots. Be very gentle as you arrange the ferns, as their stems can be fragile and break easily.
I have some moss growing near the ferns outside, so took a little to top the soil, packing it gently around the crowns to help retain moisture. Alternatively, you could top the planting with small pebbles or purchase the moss from a garden centre.
Try to leave some moss and ferns in place after your harvest so that they can re-populate the area!
Tips for indoor ferns:
-don't let the plant dry out completely - ferns love humidity and moisture (making them a great choice for the bathroom)
-they do need some light - a north facing window or area of dappled light will be fine
-compost for a potting soil is an excellent choice - the plants will love how rich and moisture retentive it is
this fern will live happily in the bathroom
Spanish bluebells like to naturalize
Texas Flame parrot tulip belongs in a Vermeer - worth the wait
The first flowers have truly arrived - tulips, bluebells, violas, and apple blossoms. After last night's rain storm, plants have perked up and are covered in fine dew drops. Hopefully the wind and rain take a break so the bees can do their work on the fruit flowers. The pretty pink buds of the orange pippin and gravenstein apples are ready to bloom.
Orange Pippin apple - purchased three years ago at Van Dusen plant sale - will we finally get fruit this season?
week old toms, green zebra in foreground
Tomato seeds were planted last thursday. We're growing ten varieties of heirloom open-pollinated deliciousness this year. For little fruit: sun gold, sweety cherry, cheesmanii and gold nugget. For stripes, my favourites, the green zebra and black krim. We're also doing yellow wonder light, early girl, purple calabash, and tomatillos (like with blueberries, plant at least two of these together for pollination). Plus one set of mystery volunteer seedlings that I've decided to let grow on to see which kind they are! My money is on cheesmanii, as they set so many pounds of tiny pear shaped fruit last year it was difficult to keep up.
The first of the official 2013 seedlings have emerged five days after planting. Bottom heat has helped speed along this process.
Last year, the best tomato sauce was made from that prolific yellow-orange wild cheesmanii and the leftover yellow fruits (YWL, gold nugget), producing a sweet-tart gold reduction. That and imagining the fresh tomato salads of July and August are already making my mouth water!
a little kitchen cheer - the coasters are antique english candy dishes
herb cuttings of sage, mint, lavender, rosemary and lemon balm
The seedlings have already taken over the "grow op" area. This year we're growing three varieties of artichokes to trial for our wet PNW weather: Green Globe, Tavor, and Imperial Star are all potted up with two sets of leaves and more coming along fast. Cheery violas are almost ready to set outside in a covered area to make room for new recruits. For peppers, we've got pimento, a mild red pepper perfect for stuffing, pepperoncini (or Tuscan pepper), and jalapeno. Of the herbs, English thyme and summer savoury are leading the pack.
It's now time to start the fennels, bronze and Florence, calendula, and nasturtiums indoors, and seed radishes and carrots directly into the soil. Four types of shelling peas have been soaked and sown: returning winners Mr. Big and Green Arrow, and two new to our garden, Lincoln Homesteader and tiny Paladio. All four were soaked overnight, then mixed with innoculant and planted under individual tuteurs.
Sweet peas are coming up. We have over 10 varieties this year, including the seed mix for sale here
. A new type to us is a bright yellow and chartreuse variety that is hard to come by, and a mix of ultra brights striated in contrasting tones of almost neon fuschia.
In the greenhouse, the white currant has been hand pollinated and is already setting tiny fruit. The Meyer Lemon has produced two long awaited lemons, and is now putting on some serious new growth. The lemon flowers arrive in late winter, fill the place with perfume, and then it can take almost a year for the fruit to mature. Well worth the wait! Outside, the raspberry canes are about to burst forth with new leaves. We're currently on the hunt for some golden raspberry plants - a delicacy that is challenging to find in the supermarket and expensive to boot. Apples are putting out buds, and even the figs are waking up from dormancy.
A new project this year will be a cutting border of mixed sunflowers, delphiniums, cosmos, and nasturtiums. More to come on this soon.
basil seedlings - once they have three sets of leaves, the pinchings are taken for the pasta bowl - and new sideshoots grow in
first shoots of the 2013 garlic
Update: SOLD OUT! Look for more garlic to come available in October.
Can you believe it? I grew too much garlic for our household and friends this year! So, I am selling our super delicious organically grown garlic. This is the famous East Van Garlic blend of hardneck reds (Red Russian, Korean Purple) described in the Seed
section. Bulbs are creamy white flecked with purple. Cloves peel easily, and when crushed with the flat of your chef's knife, the yellow flesh pulverizes beautifully and has a great aroma.
If you currently buy bulk garlic from the grocery store, you will not believe it's the same vegetable. Available now, three bulbs for $10, contact us
to arrange for local delivery.