Bonus Berries

The surprise (and delight!) of my summer has been provided by a plant I didn't know I had.  When I moved into my house in January, the garden was a mystery.  Discovering perennials and shrubs as they emerged from winter's sleep was a horticultural treasure hunt!  So, when this cluster of hollow woody canes popped up beside the fence, I trimmed them and shaped them as I would any other plant.  Imagine my surprise when hundreds of berries began to form in June!  It took a while, but they've ripened into the most delicious blackberries I've ever had.  Bonus!

My Sisters (A Bit Corny)

High as an elephant's eye?
This season marked the first time I've ever tried growing corn.  With a wet, cool and muddy spring, I chose to hold off on planting until well into June, so I wasn't sure how successful I'd be. That said, like most of my gardening endeavours, for me it's more the experience of trying than the success of the harvest that matters most. With that in mind, my husband and I dug a 10' x 10' bed and plunked seeds into the soil.

More turf bites the dust - this yard's for growin!

Within two weeks of planting, corn was looking like corn. Sweet!
 Reading about how other people grow things inspires and empowers me.  This past winter and spring, I was really interested in learning more about companion planting, and I came across many mentions of the 'Three Sisters', a method of growing long used by the native Americans.  Corn, squash and beans grow symbiotically together, so that's what I decided to do. I interplanted corn with my 'Costata Romanesco' zucchini and golden hubbard squash, the theory being that the rough, spiky stems and leaves of the squash plants deter hungry critters like raccoons and squirrels from climbing or knocking over the corn stalks.
My 'Three Sisters' garden begins to take shape in July, as viewed from the deck.
Zucchini growing happily in the shade of the corn.
In the next phase of planting, pole beans are sown amid the corn.  Beans fix nitrogen from the air into the soil, supplying the hungry, rapidly-growing corn with nutrition.  In exchange, the corn provides structure for the beans to climb upon.  It's a pretty good arrangement!

The ornamental qualities of the corn at all stages of growth was a pleasant surprise. She's a looker!
 So, the big question... did it work?  Well, yes and no.  Nothing is perfect, as I'm always reminded by my garden.  The zucchini produced beautifully throughout late July, but then suffered in the heat and humidity, afflicted with terrible powdery mildew and all but halting flowering and fruiting.  The corn is still growing, and has in fact produced cobs.  
The first cobs of corn begin to form in late July - success?
 Success! (I think.) I'm unsure of when to pick them, as they're quite small, and I'm not confident they'll fully ripen.  The beans were planted very late, but are climbing happily and beginning to form flowers.  I think I'll get some before summers' end, which is approaching much more quickly than I'd prefer!  Overall, I'm proud of my Three Sisters experiment, and I'm looking forward to modifying and repeating the process next season.  Homegrown corn may not be in my kitchen as of yet this summer, but thankfully, there's plenty of local gold to enjoy, courtesy of Ontario farmers much more talented than I!

Welcome Back, Tomatoes!

The first ripe tomato of my season!

They're finally back!  The very first ripe tomatoes of the season appeared in the gardens last night, opening the door to months of juicy, seedy, delicious goodness.  

A big, beautiful 'Black Krim' deepens in colour on the vine.

Oh how I missed you, my dearest Black Krim... never leave me again!

Of course they will leave, as all seasonal foods must.  So it's up to us to enjoy every little bite, and every slurp, and every beautifully glowing orb on the vine.  We shall can! And we shall freeze! And we shall celebrate!  Which reminds me... 

Tree & Twig Tomato Tour 2010. Wowsa!

Linda of Tree & Twig has announced the date for her annual Tomato Bash at the farm! I had such an amazing time last year, and if you missed it, I know that you regretted not coming when you saw the pictures. Don't make the same mistake this year - come on out to Tree & Twig on September 4th!  If you're in my neck of the woods, you're welcome to ride with me.

Until then, I'll be wrist-deep in tomato glory...  Yippee! 

A 'San Marzano' - won't be long now!
'Black Plum' ready for eating. It was so sweet!