Our Raspberry crop is $4/pound, and as always, grown without the use of sprays. The berries are larger than normal, and so so flavourful. This is thanks to the long cool spring.
Our Blueberry crop is going to be a bumper one! We are ripening a little slower than usual but we expect easy picking from next week through until August – $3/pound.
Early mornings are the best for picking, bring your buckets, hats and a friend! If you want to call in to see how things are going please call daily between 9 and 5 to our store number: 250-897-3898.
Our own little Lucas with his annual pail of Berries. He lives in Dubai but dreams about his summers on the farm with us.
Gardening Tip of the Month:
Keeping clear records of your garden is an essential tool in the management of healthy and successful gardens. As soon as possible, create a diary of your gardening story. Remember to include the environment around you, when did the first butterfly show up? When did you first see the Trumpeters? When did you last see the Trumpeters? You will see a connection between these events and when your garden starts to require certain things… like weeding, mulching, pruning. An example for me is that when the Ravens start harvesting the wool off our sheep the indication is that we are in for deep cold, and I immediately mulch my tender plants. Lastly, you are communicating with your future self, be kind but thorough with your notes.
Plant Pick of the Month: It’s All About Hydrangeas
Hydrangeas make a great splash in every garden. Ranging in colour from white, pink, blue, green and even red, and heights from two feet to fifteen, their versatility in the garden makes them one of our favourites. Many varieties are now available in both shrub and standardized form and they all make exceptional statement pieces, hedges and cut flowers. For an added bonus their flowers are easy to dry. Simply cut flowers when they are at their best and place in a vase 1/3 full of water. Leave in a darker room until the water has disappeared, do not replenish… in a few days you have dried flowers.
Summer Pansy and Raspberry Salad
1 bunch kale
Fresh basil leaves
Fresh sprigs of thyme
Fresh mint leaves
1/2 small red onion
2-3 Tbsp of sunflower seeds
Edible flowers like pansy or nasturtium and Raspberries for garnish
For the Vinaigrette:
Juice of a large tangerine or other citrus that is available
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
Juice of half a lemon
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
Salt to taste
Wash your kale really well, and then trim the tough stems off. Remove the spines of each leaf, too. Chop or shred the kale and add it to a large wide salad bowl.
Toss the herbs, onions, and seeds in, I like to keep to about a 4 to 1 ratio of greens to herbs. Go heavy on the basil.
Toss the salad with the dressing, and then scatter the flowers on top for garnish.
To make the dressing, put the ingredients in a jar, screw on the cap, and give a good shake. Taste it before using to adjust any of the ingredients.
April Showers certainly have brought May flowers! We have had a long, cool spring which extends flowering time on many species. In this edition we’ll talk to you about hanging baskets, spring tips on how to deal with dandelions and of course share another one of our favourite recipes.
For the May long weekend we hope that you all get to relax in your gardens, put your feet up, and enjoy your families and friends. May long is that magical weekend that typically signals that we are frost free, and you have the all clear to plant your annual crops, seed your veggie gardens, and basically work yourself from dawn till dusk. Like I always say, you can either buy a gym membership, or just get out and garden!
Just don’t forget to stretch first 🙂
It’s full on spring in the Garden Centre, and lots to celebrate in May! Mother’s Day is only a few days away, and a great excuse to spoil those special Mum, Mom, Mother, Madre, Maman in your life. Just remember not to leave it too long, as popular items always go fast; this is our main rose selling week of the year! Other popular items are our beautiful hanging baskets! No, you are not too late to order! We do lots, and lots, and lots of custom baskets, and take orders throughout the year.
Caring for your baskets is essential to performance. Always keep them well watered but also stay vigilant with your fertilizing. Hanging baskets require a weekly fertilizing regimen to stay in top shape, promote exceptional foliage and to keep blooming all season long. Each week alternate between 20-20-20 and 10-40-25 (Super Bloom), to get the most out of your basket. An additional monthly application of liquid seaweed will give you over-the-top quality and longevity of your hanging baskets and summer annuals.
Dandelions are an important source of pollen for our bee friends. If you drive past our farm we have left as many as possible as our eighteen hives require a lot of flowers to stay content. If you decide to remove Dandelions from your gardens and lawns aim to do so without herbicides. Herbicides are not only linked to the collapse of bee colonies but are not permitted for use in many areas of the Comox Valley. Instead of chemicals, use a little ol’ fashioned elbow grease. May is ideal for digging out the tap root, removing the entire plant in-tact. If you simply pull off the top, the tap root will remain and re-grow. Dandelions close up at night so weeding in the evening or early in the morning is more productive as you won’t be spreading seeds.
Use up the last of your frozen BLUEBERRIES ! A new crop is on its way 🙂
For the Compote:
2 cups frozen blueberries
1/4 cup white sugar or honey
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
For the Cream:
8oz cream cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/4 cup icing sugar
Put the blueberries, sugar and water in the pan. Heat gently until the berries begin to release their juices then turn the heat up slightly. Cook until the berries have popped and you have a lovely deep purple compote then continue to simmer until the compote turns syrupy, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and leave to cool.
In a large bowl, using an electric whisk, beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together until smooth and lump free. In another bowl whisk the double cream and caster sugar until it just stands in soft peaks. Add the cream to the cream cheese and, using a metal spoon, fold the two together. Drizzle ⅓ of the cooled compote over the cream mixture then fold the mixture over just twice taking care not to overmix.
Yes friends, it has been a while! What a great winter we had here in the Comox Valley, at least compared to the winter before. Our plants suffered very little damage, and our weeds all thrived so make sure to get on that weeding task as soon as possible.
Garden Centre News
Our container from Bali arrived late March. Filled with all sorts of new garden pieces we work hard to keep our business unique and independent. As most of you know we travel to Bali our selves and work with a Balinese company that connects us to all of our suppliers. They probably have guessed that our agenda at this point is to ensure that the craftspeople in Bali are provided with safe and clean work conditions, that women are treated equally and that there are no children or adolescents working on our products. Everything that we import is hand made and increasingly we are able to bring in items that are mostly of recycled product. Not quite fair trade but much better than the options that we have been given within our local supply chain.
Our annual ‘Ugly Plant’ sale starts up this week and will last until we are cleaned out. Ugly plants to us are items that are pruned weird, need more root space, have decided not to bloom…you get the idea. Feedback every year is that our ugly plants turn into beauties in gardens so well worth the 50% off regular pricing! This year we are including some metal and chipped pieces of art work that need to move into gardens as well. Note that there are many beauties in the sale so come early to avoid disappointment.
Plant pick of the Month:
This year April is Magnolia. The Magnolia family comes in a rainbow of white, pink, yellow, purple, and our recent additions of red to black. The deciduous Magnolias are all getting ready to perform hard for us this month and are a welcome addition to the Forsythias and Camelias in a garden. Magnolias with the names Betty, Alex, Susan are all little beauties that don’t take up much space.
Notes for cultivation is to keep them out of a South facing location as a warm January day can create a freezing opportunity for the sensitive buds. Lastly, avoid planting Magnolias (or any flowering tree for that matter) during its flowering phase. If you plant it you are asking it to work on rooting, this will confuse a flowering tree, and they can sometimes be set back considerably enough to die.
Rhododendrons. Rhodos come in many sizes, colours and tolerances. Criticized for their shorter bloom cycle, Rhodos are a great addition of evergreen architecture to a balanced all season garden. With good planning, you could have Rhodos bloom ten months of the year but the challenge is finding the right varieties. Within the Horticulture industry it is my observation that we do a terrible job of labeling Rhodos. The tags are often incorrect and the colours easily washed out or completely different from the true flower colour. For this reason my big tip of the month is to buy Rhodos for 1. Their leaf quality and or 2. Only in bloom. This might mean popping in and checking on colours over a series of visits. Make sure that you are getting that right fuchsia or orange or lemon colour that you love.
Our u-pick rhubarb is only week’s away! Call for availability. $3/LB
Our team of horticulturalists are here working every day 9 – 5.
We look forward to seeing you!
Recipe of the Month
2 large stalks rhubarb, sliced 1/2″ thick (about 2 cups)
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
8 Tablespoons frozen unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup cup granulated sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
Heat oven to 400°F and move rack to lower middle position. Toss sliced rhubarb with 1 Tablespoon of sugar. Spread evenly over a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool. (Keep oven on to cook the scones)
Grate the frozen butter using the large holes of a box grater. Transfer butter to a plate and place in the freezer to keep cold.
Whisk together all purpose flour, whole wheat flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl.
Whisk together yogurt, egg and vanilla in a medium bowl.
Stir grated butter into flour mixture until well incorporated. Stir in the yogurt mixture with a spoon or spatula. When most of the flour has been incorporated, transfer to a clean countertop and gently knead until no floury bits are left. Form into a 6x4″ rectangle and place in the freezer on a plate for 10 minutes, until slightly chilled.
Place the dough on a lightly floured countertop, and lightly dust the top with flour. Roll into a 12″ square. Spread the roasted rhubarb and white chocolate evenly over the dough. Using a dough scraper to help remove the dough from the counter, roll the dough into a log (as if you were making cinnamon buns). Press the log into a 4x12″ rectangle and cut into 8 triangles (cut in half, then cut each half in half to form squares, then cut each square in half on the diagonal to form triangles).
Place the triangles on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper, and sprinkle lightly with sugar (use about 1 teaspoon total). Bake for 15-17 minutes, until golden brown on top.
Recipe and image sourced from omesticdreamboat.com
West Coast snowstorms can be devastating to our precious shrubs and trees. It is recommended to shake or brush your plants off as gently as possible during every snow event until your trees and shrubs are established. Established is when plants are more capable of coping with the weight of snow and ice – when their branches are tougher and less brittle/bendy.
Personally, my garden is nine years old and I still brush my Japanese Maple collection during every snow event. A gentle swish with a nylon broom is all that it takes to secure my beauties and I might do this two to three times a day if required.
What else can you do other than shovel and sweep?
Birds: the birds need fresh water. Our resident Towhee was trying to chip away at the dog bowl this morning and I realized how tough this winter must be. Our garden is designed to feed the birds during the winter but fresh, daily water is a must going forward.
Seed Catalogues: need a break from your Netflix binge? Order your seed catalogues and start planning on some veggies and herbs. West Coast Seeds is a favourite BC company, and William Dam Seeds from Ontario have an excellent organic selection. Both have user-friendly websites as well.
When are we opening? We are here if you need anything, but the doors will be open by the first week of March, unless it snows.
This is the coldest, wettest spring that any of us youngsters can remember. After slopping through mud for the last month and a half, things might be looking up. At least the Magnolias have started to flower, showing us that it is time to get on with things.
Garden Tip for Wet April
Veggie gardening will be very delayed this season. If you have planted your early crops you might consider reseeding as there is a good chance that your seeds will have rotted after the first sowing.
Sow again soon as the weather will be warmer and germination will be quicker. It is also a good time to do some lawn fixing, including reseeding and fertilizing.
Events and Sales in the Garden Centre
We receive 5 – 8 trucks a week during this part of the season and deliveries will remain at a steady pace until the end of May. We have some beautiful new varieties of Rhododendron, Bare Root Fruit Trees and Roses.
Basket Making is in full swing, still lots of time to get your custom bookings in and remember that we do give you a discount if you bring in your hanging basket containers – they must be emptied of soil and plants please.
50% off Ugly Plant Sale.
Yes, it is delayed this year. The sale starts April 15th and lasts until the supply is gone. We select about $1000 worth of inventory every year that isn’t perfect, but it is healthy. We sell it at 50% off regular pricing – no warranty, exchanges or returns…because it is a good deal.
We are so proud to announce that our Emily and Maddie have both completed Level Two of the Hortiultural Technician Red Seal – both with exemplary grades. Come on in and congratulate them – and then ask a really technical horticultural question.
So in summary, it is time to garden, time to be grateful that our rivers, wells and aquifers are all recharging at a steady rate.