Ann's Ruralish Life > BeanDreams2007 Log

This page is an online timeline of BeanDreams 2007, Ann's gardening plans for & execution of the growing season here in Nova Scotia. To get the latest info, read Ann's blog.

To read the results and lessons learned from last year's (2006) BeanDreams, go here.

My Inspiration

As with last year, my inspiration is my Gidu (Dido) - my grandfather. Awesome gardener - made rich, deep, black soil - the man knew how to compost for sure! Read more about why I find his gardening inspiring on my blog.

The Plan

The latest growing plan is illustrated below, using the precepts of companion planting.

Everything outside of herbs have an under 60 day maturity period, hopefully this will result in a larger crop yield this year!

- 1 patch of chives
- April Cross Daikon Radish - white neck type Japanese Daikon radish
- sage (an herb), awesome with chicken
- Scarlet Supreme Beet - Extra sweet flavor with good interior color and texture.
- Joi Choi - hybrid white stem Bok Choy
- Gold Rush Yellow Wax Bean, untreated
- Spinach, unknown variety
- Peas, unknown variety

In Pots:
Stevia rebaudiana - Natural herb sugar subsitute, considered safe for sugar restricted diets

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20-22 Spent the weekend digging up and moving the garden over a few feet - as you probably know from last year, excessive shade contributed to my poor crop output last year. So, I finished moving much of it, and have finished re-erecting the fence. Now, the full sun is on the garden at least a few hours earlier every day. If we can get the weather to co-operate, we'll be all set! :)
Here's an overview shot showing where the old garden was, compared to where it is now.
And here's a shot of what the new plot looks like - I still have some dirt to move over, and some more digging up to do, but the vast majority of it is complete, and ready for planting. Hooray! AND, I've expanded the size of the plot a little too, so I'll be able to fit more plants in the garden this year.

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5 Finally finished moving the garden over. Took advantage of the last few remaining bug-free days to sow some of the cold-weather crops (the crops that thrive in the cooler weather of spring and early summer) - the daikon radish, the beets, and the bok choi. I also had to rearrange the plan of the garden a bit, to accomodate different light levels required by the different plants. I'm very excited to be embarking on this 2nd season of vegetable gardening, and really hoping for a succesful harvest!

7 Almost missed the first of my hyacinths blooming - oops! They're very lovely, and the smell is gorgeous and perfumey. These guys are the first of the bunch I planted last fall, the rest are still tight little purple pods - a while left to go before they bloom.
8 Yesterday, Dave's mom brought over some extra seeds she had from her man-friend's garden, and so I now have some peas and spinach to fill in the last empty areas of my garden. I planted them this morning, and will update the plan graphic soon. I also dug up and moved the garlic that my parents gave me last winter to plant. They've sprouted up well, so I should end up with about 6 heads of garlic by the end of the summer.

11 My radish came up today! It's the bright green line of little sprouts up the middle (see photo). As you can see, there are weeds sprouting all over the place too, so I had a few days there where I couldn't be sure if the weeds were radishes or not. But now that the radishes are there, it's pretty obvious which ones they are.

Huzzah! I now have things sprouting in my garden earlier than I even planted anything last year - so things are looking good for a productive season! But if the weather should turn out like last summer, it might still go downhill...have to wait and see! :)

13 Mother's Day, spent with Mother Nature. Found out the last frost date was earlier here than I thought, so I went out and planted my super-tall Russian Sunflowers as a windbreak at the back of the garden, and planted my bush beans. That's the last of my vegetables to be sown, now we play the waiting game - keep watering, keep faith, and soon, everything will have sprouted. :D

Bleargh. A little while later, Casey (my dog) knocked over 2 of the 3 flower pots I had planted, and I'm not sure Dave & I were able to get the seeds gathered up - I think the nasturtiums pot will be okay, their seeds were big & easy to see, but the others were very small (poppies and a specialty marigold). So, we might have some flowers growing in the lawn later on. :) Man, I was mad at Casey for a while...

Fortunately, one of Dave's sisters brought his mom some purple johnny-jump-ups (panseys), so I decided to give up on at least one of the pots, and planted them with these panseys instead. Should make a nice display!

16 Most everything has sprouted! Will post pics tomorrow.

17 Here's some pics of the sprouts I noticed yesterday.
Bok Choi!

I noticed the bok choi last week, but was unsure it was a plant or a weed until today, now that the rows are growing up, clearly defined.

And the daikon radish is coming along really nicely since sprouting last week!

Spinach is also up, but I forgot to take a pic of it, I'll post one later on.

We're getting a lot of rain this week, and into next week, and it's unseasonably cold (around 7 - 11 deg. C), but hopefully the rain will help the plants grow, the cold won't hurt, and we'll get into some nice sunny weather soon to really get the show on the road!

24 It has continued to rain, and be very cold for this time of year (still around under 10 deg. C). We had risk of frost for 3 consecutive nights here, even though the last frost was supposed to be around the 6th of May. Between the cold and all the rain, I think the beans I planted have rotted in the soil, I'll have to plant them again. We keep being promised warmer temperatures & sunnier skies "in a few days", but by the time that day comes, the forecast's changed, and it's still cold and damp. Everything that sprouted in the garden hasn't really grown, the cold has stunted its growth (it'll get better once it warms up - but it means that I'm not as far ahead of the game as I would be if the weather cooperated). Hopefully, it won't turn out like last year, with the whole month of June raining. It doesn't usually...but the last few years...

Fingers crossed.

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5 Took some pics of how the garden is unfolding. We had a few days of sun and warmer temperatures (low to mid 20s C) so most of the plants had a chance to unfurl and grow a bit (the peas were most obvious - when it was very cold, they stayed small and tightly wrapped, but once the sun came out, the leaves unfolded, and they doubled in size in a very short time).

Daikon Radish - the first to come up, I hope a lot of good stuff is going on under the ground! (I'm not really used to growing root vegetables - it's hard for me to not see what's going on!) :)

Beets - still very small, they have grown the least of all the plants. They're so delicate still, it's hard for me to get in there to do some weeding...
A potato (foreground) I found growing when I was moving the garden, from years ago when Dave's mom grew potatoes in this patch, somehow survived several winters. I moved it over to it's own spot in the garden, and look at the size of it! It's enormous already! The chives (background) are getting ready to flower.

Sage - planted last year, recovered from the winter quite nicely.

Bok Choi


10 Re-planted the bush beans today - I think the first set rotted in the ground, which is a common problem with beans if they're planted too early in the season - I took a chance that May wouldn't be as rainy as it turned out to be, and lost. Oh well, it was worth a shot - I have lots of extra seeds!

16 Some beans are coming up today - hooray! :)

Aside from a couple of non-consecutive days, it has been cloudy and/or rainy every day in June. While the plants I chose this year enjoy the cooler weather, they do need SOME sun to grow. My radishes are a case in point: it's been a month, so it's the half-way mark for these guys. And this is how big they are - I hope they do a lot more rapid growth in the second half of their growing cycle! The arrows show the actual "radish" part, it's about 2 inches long, but only a few mms wide. I tasted it anyway, and it is a FIERY radish! Very nice! I look forward to the crop, even if it comes in a little bit later than it should (that is why, after all, I'm growing short season crops, so they can have extra time if they need it, before the cold snaps start in late summer).

28 I tried to thin out my radish and beets a little today. I hate doing this, I don't like to kill little seedlings, but you have to thin out the smaller ones to give the bigger plants a chance to thrive, and get really big! I feel better putting the seedlings on the compost pile - at least there, they will continue to contribute to the garden in the future, and didn't die for nothing. :) I transplanted some of them as well, spreading them out farther. As for the bok choy, I didn't have to throw any of them away - I just cleaned them and had some for supper! They taste terrific, so much zestier & spicier than the poor stuff that was shipped long ago from who-knows-where in the grocery store. I've said it before and I'll say it again, NOTHING beats fresh-out-of-the-garden taste! :D

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9 So far, we've only had a couple of really nice whole days in July - there's been a lot of days with both sun & cloud, or just cloud - but that lack of really warm temps and prolonged sun only seems to be affecting my beans and my beets. The bok choi is LOVING the growing conditions, and so are the peas & daikon radish. They're getting huge! My peas are also flowering now, so hopefully little pods will be showing up in a couple of weeks. So, planting the cold weather crops has really paid off this year. I do seem to be having a lot of slugs or bugs eating at the periphery of my garden, though, so I'll have to see what I can do about that (maybe making the dirt margins bigger around the outside of the garden, and digging up the vegetation there, for example).

Garden Overview - a "live action" shot of the diagram above.

Bean - just the one, I have to do another round of planting - not having nearly the luck I had with them last year, this year.
Peas - Doin' fantastic! Starting to be covered in lots of blooms, which means lots of peas!

Bok Choy is kickin' butt and takin' names! A little bit bug-nibbled, but otherwise, growing like gangbusters! So crispy with great flavour!
In fact, it's so far along in some cases, that it's starting to flower! Time to harvest! (I had these for lunch). :)

18 I've been totally preoccupied with genealogy and our newest addition to the family, Peepers, that I wasn't able to get out to the garden for a whole week. But it was a great week of growing for the garden, though!

Yard Strawberries are in full fruit! Mmmm...yummy! So tiny (about the size of a pinky nail) and sweet and delicious!

My first daikon radish crop! A pretty good size, the longest is about 4 1/2 - 5 inches long. Great taste, much like a regular red radish, only of course, they're bigger. Not too hot.

The peas were most suprising - last I saw, there were just a bunch of flowers. But I finally had time to look closely, and wow! The plants were loaded with peas - this is the result of the first harvest, there's lots more to come!

Oops! Apparently while I've been distracted, ALL of my bok choy has been bolting (going to seed) - whoops! So I've been harvesting quickly, discarding the flowers and centres to the compost pile, and having a lot of stir fries. Goes really well with the daikon radish! I'm very glad I got to harvest this before it got too tough and stringy.

So, note to self: pay attention to the type of bok choy you're growing. I was waiting for it to get as big & tall as the stuff in the supermarket, but apparently I'm growing a more dwarf type. And waiting for it all this time to get big only let it go to seed, which is not desirable. It can make the vegetable stringy - I got to mine just in time, but I do recommend harvesting before it reaches the flowering stage. So when they say 2 months maturity on the seed packet, they mean two months to maturity! :)

These little dudes show up from time to time, I wonder what kind of insect they are? They don't bite or anything, they just sit there, and seem to jump.

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2 Did a mini-harvest of the garden today, picking all of the radishes, peas, and thinning the beets.

Me, happily shelling peas, with my Coke Zero.

Not a bad mini-harvest! More beet greens, peas, and daikon radish.

Beets: Greens are growing fine, but the root part is not developing at all (see photo). It could be a mineral deficiency - or it could be as simple as my having them too densely planted; apparently this can cause severe stunting. So, maybe I have to thin them out further - I'll have lots of beet greens, in any case! They're turning out lush and lovely.

Peas: They did quite well, but like last year with the beans, I wish I had more of them to store for the winter. Like the beans last year, the bushes grow so large and full, but (at least for me) they don't produce as much as I would expect (hope) for the size of the plant. Maybe the soil isn't enriched enough, or my expectations are too high - I'm not sure.

Daikon Radish: A great crop! I'm very pleased with how they turned out. What radishes I had left over, that I won't use up in stir fry over the next couple of days, I pickled using a recipe I found online. They'll keep for about a month like that.

Here's some more pics of my mini-harvest:

Honestly, does this cat EVER relax? It's just peas, dude! Poor Peepers. :)

Peas in a pod

Not a bad little crop! 'Course, I'd always like more!

Some of my radish have gone to seed, too (see the white flowers?). I'll let a few of them go, to get pollinated by the bees, and save the seeds.

Daikon radish grow weird looking, sometimes...

Now there's a beaut! Perfect size and shape, just under 1" wide, and about 5 1/2" long.

13 So, aside from all the wonderful stir fries I've enjoyed, starring my garden bok choi, sugar snap peas (in the pod) and daikon radish, I was also able to enjoy some of the later-season crops my garden had to offer. On the left, there's a wonderful borscht (get my family's recipe here). I was suprised to discover, however, that the beets were a bit bitter. After looking around online, I found this fantastic article from back in the 1980s that gives lots of great info on beets - as a result, I think that the reason my beets are stunted and a little bitter is a boron deficiency. I'll have to fix it, as suggested in the article, and hopefully that'll make things right. If you have any questions regarding beet growing, that article is an amazing resource!

To the right in the photo, is one of our favorite suppers - Shake'n'Bake Italian flavour, french fries, and Swiss Chalet Dip-in Sauce (from a store-bought package). And tonight, featuring peas from the garden! I let the sugar snap peas mature on the vine until the peas were large, and shelled them. Boiled simply, with a little margarine, they were delicious!

I've ripped up most of my bok choi and radish now, leaving some to produce seeds for next year. I may reseed some more bok choi, it'll have just enough time to mature before frost. Hard to believe that it's time to start thinking about frost dates already, the summer went by so very fast.

I look forward to seeing how my beets do, once the soil's been amended. Stay tuned!

18 Pulled out the pea plants today, they were pretty much finished growing. They had a lttle bit of new growth on the tips of the plant, but the main body of it was spent, and starting to get mouldy and a little rotten.

My one bean plant has yielded it's harvest - turned out really well, even if there was only one bush! They tasted great - fresh and crisp.

I've taken two sets of cuttings from my sage plants (planted last year) - I've been air drying the leaves between paper towels indoors. When they're fully dried, I'll store the leaves whole in an empty spice jar. Then when I need them for cooking, I'll crush them, and the wonderful scent and oils will be released. Yum! I LOVE sage on chicken, pork and in stuffing/dressing.

I hope to give the beets a try in the next couple of days - fingers crossed that they'll be sweeter than before. :)

28 Best. Borscht. Ever.

Wow. I harvested some of my beets (yay!), and here's the best part: the borax I added to the soil DID THE TRICK!! The beets were no longer bitter. And, they're getting bigger, too! (only about an inch wide, but way better than they were) :) So, a double-whammy of positive results from the borax. I guess I did have an imbalance. (If I was sure I'd have a garden next year (we might be moving), I'd get a soil testing kit to help fine-tune my soil more). I'm so very glad I found that awesome article all about beets! If you need to know ANYTHING about growing beets, be sure to read this article.

And, since beets are the heart and soul of borscht, good beets mean good borscht! I must have put in just the right amount of vinegar to my simmering beef as well, because it turned out extremely tender and yet there was no trace of vinegar taste to it.

It was so tasty! So earthy and comforting. Well, it should be earthy-tasting, all of the main ingredients (save the beef) are root vegetables. :)

Of course, if you wish to make my family's recipe for borscht, I have it listed here. It's great in the spring, but it's equally great in the fall. :)

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September 22 So, although we had the worst summer for weather that I can remember, the garden did really well! (We had no two days in a row of sun until the last two weeks of August, but we did have a cloudy and humid heat wave in July). All the crops seemed to enjoy the long cool weather stretch at the beginning, and it didn't hurt that I planted early (but not TOO early, see beans for example).

Bok Choi - Bok Choi was really well suited to the climate in Nova Scotia.
  • Only plant as much as you need. I planted two rows, densely, which was WAY too much for me to eat. I should have done a small planting but reseeded every 2 weeks or so, that way I would have a small crop ready to eat regularly, instead of a whole bunch ready all at once.
  • They aren't freezable, due to their high water content.
  • They are a little difficult to clean - the grooves in the leaves tend to get soil stuck in them, so you really need to clean the leaves under the tap affixed with a shower type head.
  • Slugs absolutely adored them, so monitor the situation closely. You may need to break out the pop-can-and-beer traps, or Diatomaceous Earth.

Daikon Radish - The daikon radish also enjoyed our cooler temps in spring and early summer.
  • They had the occasional tunnel hole in them, so some sort of pest enjoyed them, but generally speaking, they were ignored by bugs and pests.
  • I tried pickling them, but they turned out rather badly - I'd definitely need to do more research on preserving them to find a successful recipe.

Beets - After a bit of difficulty, turned out pretty well.
  • Planted too densely (I'm seeing a pattern here). I ended up with many greens, but not many beet roots. This was a result of the dense planting and the boron problem below.
  • Had a boron deficiency (and possibly other undetected deficiencies) causing stunted growth and a bitter taste - the problem was easily fixed by adding a touch of Borax to the soil, but it did underline the necessity for a proper soil testing kit (see below).

Sugar Snap Peas - Delicious, and sweet! They did perfectly.
  • I would only plant more - I planted about 8 plants, but I think I would need 20 - 25 plants in order to have enough to enjoy and freeze for later. As it was, I got a few meals out of it (and spent a LOT of time just munching them raw in the garden) - but not nearly enough to freeze.

Beans - A few difficulties this year.
  • I planted the beans in mid May, but unfortunately, if the ground is too wet at planting, they'll rot in the ground before sprouting. Mid May is too early in eastern Nova Scotia (especially when we had an unprecedented rainy spell just after planting). But mid June is too late - by then, the pests (mainly slugs) were well established and ate up all the baby plants.
  • I only had one surviving plant this year. It did well, and produced a meal's worth of beans. Ergo, as with last year, I need more than one plant if I wish to freeze some for winter.

Of course, and this applies to all the veggies I grew, the flavour was so different from the stuff you buy in the grocery store (so much brighter, the flavour danced in your mouth!) . It travelled a total of a few feet, and it was only a couple of hours from reaping to cooking - not the typical trip for most grocery store vegetables. :) And no pesticides - I knew everything that went into them. Definitely well worth the efforts of growing them!

The Stevia got knocked over by a raccoon during it's germination phase, and probably ended up in a raccoon's belly. I moved the pot inside the garden, but it was too late.

I had one small grouping of the marigolds I planted bloom, despite the huge ant population underneath the soil there.

The sunflowers are just coming into their own now, the birds should have plenty to feast on during the winter.

Additional Notes for Next Year:
  • I've made a much bigger compost pile this year for use next year - I'm hopeful that I'll have lots more organic matter to add to the soil next year - I still think I don't have enough, as the garden soil is virtually dusty by the end of the season.
  • If I want to be serious about organic gardening, I need to get a soil testing kit to get a good look at what I can't see - the nutrient/mineral levels in the soil - a much better way to find out you've got a boron deficiency than having to wait until harvest and taste-testing the produce. :)
  • Especially considering the weather, I am really glad I didn't grow tomatoes this year. My mother's plants were really stunted this year, and it just was such a pain last year to go out and cover them every time it got cold (a problem I'm sure they didn't have up north in the Valley, but down here on the Eastern Shore...).
  • I would definitely everything I planted this year again in future. The short season crops did really well with our poor weather!
  • I have to get on top of slug problems as they're starting - I let it go a bit too long before I did anything about them, and they were well entrenched by then.

So, that's it for BeanDreams 2007. Although I didn't follow all of my ideas through from last year, I did accomplish several goals, and had a more varied and robust garden this year!

See you next year (maybe! We might be moving to a place with no garden!)

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