My Everchanging Garden

Gardening That Grows With Me

Garden Journal

I’m trying to do better at record-keeping. I’ve tried regular diary journals, garden journals and home-made journals but I’m flighty about bringing a paper journal out into the greenhouse and garden. I do tend to take pictures with my camera so starting in the fall of 2023 I’m going to try and keep a record here from my camera and phone notes. I’ve entered some information from sowing early 2023 from my paper entries as a starting point.

November 14, 2023 - Turned Fall Compost

Turned summer compost and fall leaves collected so far. Compost was heating to 140F by October 30 from all the mulched leaves.

October 7, 2023 - Potato and Squash Harvest

All the rain really helped the potato crop this year. Biggest harvest ever. Drying in the basement before storing on wooden racks.

Potato varieties for 2023 (all from Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes except Russian Blue which were our own)

  • Bellanita
  • Bridget (our favourite)
  • Russet Burbank
  • Ballerina
  • Excellency
  • Russian Blue

Grew only one variety of squash this year – Honeynut from Baker Creek. Very sweet butternut and nice small size, perfect for a single meal for two.

September 18, 2023 - Sowed First Micro Tomatoes

Trying micro tomatoes in the greenhouse this winter. First sowing today, 3 varieties:

  • Venus
  • Yellow Cup
  • Pinocchio Red

Seeds came from Moonglow Gardens in Morinville, Alberta

August 14, 2023 - Onion Harvest and Drying

Onions did very well this year with all the rain and cooler weather. While we’ve been eating onions for a few weeks, this is the final harvest drying in the barn along with the garlic.

May 27, 2023 - Planted Tomatoes on String Trellises

I’ve been staking my tomatoes for several years now but this year I decided to go with a full trellis system. All were planted on May 27. Garlic and onions in the background.

May 9, 2023 - Sowed Cucumber, Zucchini and Squash

It’s still been fairly cold out. Started cucurbits.

  • Marketmore 76 cucumber
  • Honeynut squash (first year trying)
  • Zucchini Black Beauty
  • Squash Early Prolific Straightneck (yellow)

May 4, 2023 - Lettuce and Herbs in Herb Bed

While we’ve been eating lettuce out of the cold frame for a while, this is the first lettuce planting in the herb bed. Also, put in cold-season herbs and chamomile.  For hardy herbs like thyme, sage and oregano I pull and split previous season’s plants to keep the size in check.

April 28, 2023 - Transplanted Cold Crops into the Garden

Cool season crops in – cabbage, onions, swiss chard, lettuce and kale

April 25, 2023 - Greenhouse is at max capacity!

Greenhouse is full, certainly waiting for the weather to warm up.

April 18, 2023 - Started peas in greenhouse

Started a few peas on April 4, poor germination (old seed), so I seeded a few more on April 17.

April 10, 2023 - Pruning Boxwood, Yews, Cypress

Pruned boxwoods, yews, and the false cypress from the 7th to the 10th.

Update: we had a cold snap, and I thought my decision to spring prune the boxwoods would be a disaster. However, while they had a slow start, the boxwoods still looked great once they set new growth for the season, and I did not have to prune again except for a few longer tips.

March 26, 2023 - Plants Indoors Again. Another Cold One.

Brought plants indoors again. We have more severe cold predicted and the heaters in my greenhouse are blowing fuses when the both run for too long on cold nights trying to keep the greenhouse warm enough for warm crops.

March 21, 2023 - 8 Weeks Before First Frost Seeds Sown

Another big sowing week.

  • Ageratum Blue Horizon (Swallowtail) in 6-cell and Aloha Blue (William Dam) in 2 x 6-cells
  • Alyssum Clear Crystal Lavender and Purple (both Swallowtail) and Wonderland Blue (Stokes) 3 x 6-cell each
  • Cosmos Cranberries (William Dam), Versailles Red, Sonata Red, Capriola (all Swallowtail) in 6-cell

March 21, 2023 - Germination Rates Early Sow Annuals

14 – 20 days after sowing,

  • Bacopa 60-70% germinated, seedlings are very tiny
  • Gomphrena 80% germinated, very strong seedlings
  • Heliotrope ended with only 3 seedlings from several seeds in 4 pots
  • Dusty Miller had very low germination. New Look were 1 year old seeds, zero germination. Less than 50% for Silverdust
  • Dichondra very poor germination both varieties
  • Angelonia 40-50% germination
  • Alternanthera – 40% germination
  • Kirigami – very low, ended with only 3 plants
  • Marigold – older seeds did not germinate but second batch did really well
  • Pansies – 90% germination both varieties
  • Salvia – 70-80% germination

I may have kept some of the seed trays too wet which may have impacted germination, especially for surface sown plants.

March 20, 2023 - Marigold Germination Update

Two year old seed did not germinate well so I had to buy another package from the grocery store. I ended up with:

Marigold Climax Mixed Colours from Burpee (note these ended up being really tall!)

Also note to self for next year: in hindsight, this was too early for what I needed for the veggie garden and I did not like the Marigolds for pots. So sow later next year and stick to the basic variety for the veggie garden.

March 20, 2023 - Up-potted Salvia Seedlings

Salvia is growing well, after 6 weeks potted up seeds in 6-cells to Bootstrap Farm 32-cell sized pots.  Sirius Blue seems to be stronger from germination through growing.

March 10, 2023 - Annual Salvia After One Month

Annual salvia in 6-cell packs after one month. Very varied sizes.

March 10, 2023 - Pansy Seedlings After 6 Weeks

Pansies doing well after pricking out. Should be able to stay in 2 inch pot until planting into outside pots.

March 7, 2023 - 10 Weeks Before Frost - Sowing day 2

Had to break this weeks seed starts into two days.

Angelonia (Stokes) – Serena Purple, Serena Blue, Serena Rose, 10 pelleted seeds per pack, 6-cell

Bacopa (Swallowtail) – Bluetopia, Pinktopia – 11-12 multi-pelleted seeds per pack, seeded in 6-cell

Dusty Miller (Swallowtail) – New Look and Silverdust – pelleted seed, 100 per pack, 6 cell

Gomphrena (Stokes) – Ping Pong Purple, Ping Pong Lavender, Las Vegas Purple – 25 seeds per pack, 3 x 6 cells each





March 6, 2023 - 10 Weeks Before Frost - Big sowing day

Lots of annuals to start this week. Today I sowed:

Alternanthera (Swallowtail): There were only 11 seeds in the package, so watch when ordering next year. Seeded in 6-cell packs, 1 seed per.

Dichondra (Swallowtail, Silver Falls and Emerald Falls): 10 multi-pelleted seeds per package. Seeded in 2 x 6-cell trays.

Kirigami Ornamental Oregano (Swallowtail) As with all oregano very tiny seeds. Dropped few seeds in each cell 6-cell pack.

Bachelors Button: Classic Artistic Mix Bakers Creek last years seed. Sowed in 6-cell pack.

March 1, 2023 - Sowing Marigold - 11 weeks before first frost

I used Marigold mainly in the vegetable garden. Sowed in 6-cell trays on March 1 this year, 11 weeks before my first frost date.

I sowed 2-year-old McKenzie Queen Sophia seeds as well as Strawberry Blond (Stokes and new for me) to try in pots.

March 1, 2023 - Splitting Salvia Seedlings

Salvia seeds germinated very well, although interestingly the one year old Sirius Blue seed from Bakers Creek germinated better than the new Victoria Blue from Stokes.  I may have pressed the soil a little too hard into the cell packs and it might be worth trying to germinate Salvia in single trays and transplanting small seed starts later.

I split those with 2 seedlings per cell and repotted them into new 6-cell packs.

February 28, 2023 - Pansy Germination Good, Pricking Out

I got 90% germination on pansies, both varieties did well. The small 6-cell pack is staying very wet so maybe try next year sowing in a seeding tray and then pricking out.

Repotted up into 2 inch pots.

February 26, 2023 - Sowed onion seeds

Sowed onion seeds including some 2022 seeds left over.

  • Cabernet (2022 seeds)
  • Talon
  • Calibra
  • Blush
  • Kelsae Sweet
  • Rossa Di Milano
  • Rossa Lunga di Firenze

February 26, 2023 - Started Heliotrope - first time for this annual

Growing Marine Heliotrope (Swallowtail Seeds) for the first time. I love the smell of Heliotrope so wanted to try growing my own.

Sowed 4 Bootstrap Farmer pots (32-cell size) with a few seeds each as I understand germination is hard. Covered VERY lightly just to be able to water and placed on heat mats to germinate.

This is 12 weeks before my last frost date.

February 17, 2023 - Transplanted Rooted Rosemary Cuttings

Last January I took some cuttings from the rosemary plant growing in my cold frame and tried rooting them in water. All did well although it took a long time. I potted up the resulting rooted plants today. This is a much quicker way to get rosemary than starting from seed.

February 14, 2023 - Tapped Maple Trees for 2023

Warm out so tapped our maple trees early this year. We’ll see if the weather holds and whether the sap will run this early. This year we tapped the red maple in the back bush, the columnar red maple in the woodland garden and our Norway maple.  Our sugar maple is still too small for tapping.

February 13, 2023 - Transplanted first lettuce into cold frame

Transplanted lettuce starts into the cold frame, 13 weeks before our last frost date. The soil was soft and warm so could try pushing even earlier next year.

February 8, 2023 - Annual Salvia - Trying for the first time

Last year I bought an annual salvia in a pot late fall and it was a stunner. I did some research and think it was similar to Victoria Blue so I decided to try growing my own annual salvia this year.

I tried three varieties – all surfaced sowed, and placed on a heat mat with a humidity dome, 14 weeks before my expected last frost date

  • Victoria Blue (Stokes) – about 25 seeds per pack, sowed 4 x 6-cell packs, 1 seed per
  • White Evolution (Stokes) – sowed 1 x 6-cell pack, 2 seeds each
  • Sirius Blue (Bakers Creek) – this was one year old seed that I bought but did not grow last year – 2 x 6-cell packs, 2 seeds each

February 3, 2023 - Greenhouse in Extreme Cold Temp Results

We’ve had extreme cold again since January 30. Both heaters are above the tables, no fan. I set heaters to 20C, and the results the last few days were as follows:

Jan 30: -9C low outside, greenhouse held to 10C, no fan

Feb 2: -11C low outside, greenhouse low 7C

Feb 3: high -14C, low -23C overnight, greenhouse coldest spot was only 2.3C, so just above freezing.

February 3, 2023 - Coldest Night Yet?

The low was -23C according to the weather network. The greenhouse did manage to stay above freezing but the lowest recorded temp was 2.3C, not warm enough for most of the plants and a little too close to freezing for comfort.

January 27, 2023 - Cold Coming! Extreme Lows Hit Ontario

I brought all the plants from the greenhouse into the house as a precaution. An upcoming extreme cold warning is predicted for next week with lows to reach below -20 Celcius. I’m not confident the greenhouse can keep up.

January 23, 2023 - Lettuce starts for early cold frame

Started lettuce, 1 6-cell pack, to be transplanted into the cold frame in February. This is 16 weeks before our last frost date and the earliest I’ve ever started lettuce for transplanting.

January 23, 2023 - Seeded Pansies - First sowing of 2023

Sowed pansies in the greenhouse for the 2023 season. I am trying a second variety this year. Trumpets Mix produces very large showing pansies but I don’t order much from Bakers Creek anymore so I want to test another source. This was 16 weeks before my expected last frost date and the first sowing for 2023.

I tried two varieties this year – one from last year and a new variety to compare.

  • Pansy Trumpets Mix from Baker Creek (sowed in 2022 with good results)
  • Show Swiss Giant from McKenzie Seeds (picked up at big box store)

Sowed 72-cell tray of Trumpets Mix, and 32-cell Bootstrap Farmer tray of Swiss Giant. 2-3 seeds per cell. Covered both lightly and placed on a heat mat as the greenhouse is still running a bit cold this time of year.

January 15, 2023 - Greenhouse Heater Update

Turned greenhouse heaters down a bit. Breakers stayed on, but the temperature in the greenhouse fell to 4.7C.

January 14, 2023 - Greenhouse Heaters Failed Extreme Cold

I brought all greenhouse plants indoors last night as we have another extreme cold warning ahead, and electric heaters are not keeping up.
Heaters FAILED at 2am – breakers blew – greenhouse temps fell to -6.1C (outdoors was -17C per my sensors)

January 7, 2023 - Limbed up More Blue Spruce

Limbed-up blue spruce on the northeast side of the house. The tree was dead around the bottom as Miss Kim lilacs were growing into it. Consider taking out these lilacs as they are growing too large in size for the space.

January 2, 2023 - Pruned Hedge Maple Aggressively

Pruned large branches from inside and at the bottom of the hedge maple to downsize as much as possible. I’ll need to have it professionally trimmed eventually as the inside top centre is lower than the outside branches which are curving up.