For several weeks this fall I would pause outside my garden and try to visualize how to change it.  A harsh assessment of this past summer’s harvest led to my decision to make some big changes. I was working hard and not seeing results. I was tied to my garden as even a weekend camping trip during hot weather resulted in dead or severely dehydrated veggies no matter how much mulch and shade cloth I used.

A couple of small changes had already been undertaken in late summer. Blueberries, after five years of producing next to nothing, had been moved into large pots.  Rhubard, of which I had only one or two cuttings each of the last two years, likewise were moved into a spot with good shoulder sun but less summer sun. We’ll see how these moves work. But the big picture still loomed in front of me. What to do. Any sort of significant change seemed like it would be a lot of work!

So, I started by making a list:

1) What didn’t grow well in my garden and possibly why.
2) What veggies/fruit were most important to me, how much of each did I want and how many square feet of planting space did that require.
3) What layout would accommodate a fully integrated timed irrigation system with the ability to regulate flow individually to the raised beds.
4) The garden must look good.

I got through 1 and 2 easily enough but the next two items required knowing the shape of the future potager. Still I hesitated making that first move not sure I was up to committing to the task, but one day I walked into the garden with the dolly and started hauling out the stones from the big stone key bed. Then with the wheelbarrow, hauled out the soil to a temporary spot outside the garden. And over the course of a couple of months tackled one bed after another. Now the lower level of the garden is more or less cleared.  But how to rebuild the raised beds is going to be a challenge given how much the tree roots have invaded many of the beds.

Kitchen garden in mid summer

The kitchen garden in late spring a couple of years ago. Lavenders in a bed outside the fence.

kitchen garden devoid of raised beds

Kitchen garden today. So sad to see it all gone. The lavenders will shortly be lifted.

roots in the raised beds

I tried a few years ago to put in a barrier against the roots, but obviously failed.

Reluctantly, I am also removing one side of the garden fencing and will re-fence a slightly smaller space. Tough decision but I need a bit more driveway room. Not for the cars, but for my dog and our agility exercises which usually take place on the driveway. Even though we have almost an acre of property, the land has so many levels with boulders and bedrock protruding everywhere that room to set up agility equipment is at a premium. The garden area is as flat as it gets around my house. I am going to claim some of it.

kappi jumping through tire

We need a place to train.


Catching Up on the Kitchen Garden

December 15th, 2017

First I wondered where summer went. Now I am thinking the same of fall. All those months while in the garden I wrote so many blogs, but they never made it out of my head. So what follows is just a few bits of what I remember .

Serendipitous Landscaping

Earlier in the summer we were expanding our chicken flock and coop area which involved refurbishing and re-positioning a second coop. Not surprisingly, given our rocky property, there was a bit of stone jutting out of the soil right where I wanted the coop placed. “Let’s just move it”, I said. And again, not surprisingly, it turned out to be an iceberg in disguise. After much effort it was raised up and out of the hole we dug around it. Then we had to deal with that ‘now what?’ question. The boulder had bench potential and we thought a bench about ten feet-uphill of course-from where it was, would be just perfect. So, after yet much more effort, it became a bench. It looks great and isn’t so useful as a bench as a place for any items I am too lazy to put away properly.

stone bench & chicken coop

Here’s our refurbished old coop in its new home with the stone bench on the left side.


stone bench set in garden

Actually at just the right height to be quite comfy.

stone steps to metal gate

OK. We didn’t move these boulders into place ourselves, it was thanks to an excavator and skilled operator.


With the over abundance of slabs and boulders on this property we have incorporated stone into much of our landscaping just because we had to do something with it all.  Much stone has been given away too.

stone steps to garden gate

Stone steps to the carport.











stone steps & otto quast lavender

Very rustic stone steps with self-seeding lavender.


Lavenders were beautiful this past summer. The wet spring followed by a hot summer was perfect. Every year I have a new favourite as though I have discovered a lavender I didn’t have before when, really, for some reason, one or two varieties will be exceptional in any given year.


Contrasting varieties of lavenders in bloom

A few varieties of lavenders. Blues contrasting with the pink/white of L angustifolia ‘Coconut Ice’

Another thing I notice is how the same variety can have significant variation in its growth not only from year to year but also from one location to another. Even if planted only 50 feet apart. This is what makes it hard for me to recommend varieties sometimes because lavender that do outstanding on my property will not necessarily perform the same on another property.

I also got around to harvesting some lavender. I dried Folgate, Royal Velvet, Buena Vista and a little bit of Lodden Blue.  These are all L.angustifolias, which is considered the primary culinary variety. So, if you are buying dried lavender to use in tea or to cook with, find out the variety as the taste may be disappointing if you use a non culinary lavender.

culinary lavenders

L angustifolia ‘Folgate’, ‘Royal Velvet’,Buena Vista’ & ‘ Lodden Blue’

End of summer stock taking

This year I was very happy with my plot at the commons: tomatoes were big and plentiful, beans were prolific, garlic was fat and clean and zucchini – well that is not a tough one.  In fact, the common’s plot was gorgeous and I took many pictures and then accidentally deleted them all from my phone.  So, unfortunately, no pictures.

But at home the results were mixed: carrots were great, potatoes decent, cherry tomatoes sweet and abundant but the large tomatoes were small with little fruiting, and the peppers were quite late but decent. Many other veggies struggled, as my garden holds the heat and it was a hot summer. We rely on rainwater collected and stored over the previous winter and, while our supply is finite, I am generous. Still it was not enough, even with heavy mulching. I was disappointed as the last couple of years I have been building up my soil to be more water retentive or so I thought. My winter project is to rethink and, possibly, rebuild my potager.