108. Little Bitta Fall Goin’ On


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94. Drought and Deer Resistant Plants

“We’re dyin’ here,” cry my plants. For 4 months, in this rainforest we live in, we have not had rain, and our regional district has decreed that, at level 4 (severe drought), we cannot use any district potable water outside for any reason. It’s been only 2 weeks, but it’s been enough to kill off several annuals, vegetables, and shrubs, and I’m worried about some of the big trees that we have spent a small fortune for.And, we are asked to conserve water inside, too. Bathe or shower less frequently, only flush the toilet after several “deposits”, and do less laundry. If we insist on keeping any plants alive, we must scoop up the used water from the bath and sinks, then schlep it outside to water our trees, shrubs and gardens. grey water for garden

“But, wait,” you might say, if you’ve followed this blog at all, “Don’t you harvest rainwater for your garden?”waterfall pond 1You’d be right. When we were building This Green House, we installed a rain-fed re-circulating waterfall that culminated in a 2000-gallon underground tank. With that water, we flush our toilets and water the garden. The building process shown hereGail Hunt Rooftop GardenI had no concept of how much water a summer’s worth of toilets and garden watering consumes. After a month of no rain and hot temperatures, I had to fill the cistern with potable water. Each month of no rain = fill the tank with the hose.

So, although the water in the cistern is no longer potable, I feel guilty using it to water the garden, because it comes from the outdoor tap. We schlep and we schlep, but we cannot schlep enough when we only bathe every three days.

But, some of our plants seem to be doing just fine. Neither deer nor drought destroy these hardy perennials. Here are the stars of the garden in this difficult summer:

Rudbeckia –

Virginia creeper –

Lavender –

Wooley thyme –

Garry Oak –

Fountain grass –

St. John’s Wort –

Rugosa rosas –

Jack-o-lantern Plant (Physalis alkekengi) –

Rosemary –

Heather – 

Stand up and take a bow, you wonderful plants, you!

Sharing with: Rooted in Thyme (Featured!)  In The New House, The Charm of Home, The Chicken Chick, The Dedicated House, Tuesday Garden Party, Savvy Southern Style, Lamberts Lately

89. Garden Upgrade – Greenhouse Tomatoes

harvest 2014A garden is such a personal document. Its design reflects who I am (and who I was), and who I want to be.

Every garden undergoes change, of course. Particularly if our hand is not in it at all.

Plants want to grow. Especially weeds.

Decisions I made about new garden design four years ago may not suit my current goals. I shared, in this post, some lessons I’ve learned about the dangers of overplanting. And, in my zeal to plant a drought-tolerant xeriscape, have I missed some very desirable plants?

Those trees are now big enough that they shade the tireside garden too much. I can plant cooler season crops there this year.tireside garden

And, are those self-seeding hollyhocks actually getting more pink each year, when what I wanted was a red and white colour scheme there?hollyhocks

red & white flowers

The blueberry plants were completely shaded by the abundant raspberries, so if I want them to produce, I’ll have to move them.raspberries

I swear that plants are tricksters. They like to keep me on my toes. A plant that does very well one year is the very one that nose-dives the next, even when I diligently practise crop rotation. Slugs have gained a foothold on my rooftop garden. The carrot fly has finally discovered my patch. Some bird has fixated on my tiny pea shoots. Edamame never did grow. But disappointments are often offset by pleasant surprises – finally, beets and basil have decided to grow, and OMG, would you look at that stevia and that wasabi!wasabi

Last year, the first year I had a greenhouse, I was so looking forward to growing perfect tomatoes, basil, cucumbers, eggplants, and peppers in this “perfect” environment. I would say the cucumbers and basil were successes, but I’m not sure, because they also did well in the open garden.

The tomatoes, in pots, were my biggest disappointment. At first, they had lots of green growth, and appeared to be happy.

tomato plants in greenhouseBut then there was a hornworm infestation, while I was away and couldn’t spot them myself. And all the tomatoes had blossom end rot, even though I used the soil mix my nurserywoman recommended. Obviously, somewhere along the line, I missed the need for calcium.used pots

This year, with D’s help, we emptied all the soil from the pots and sterilized it over the fire.sterilizing garden soil

The purpose here was to start with a fresh base. I know that all the helpful bacteria and microorganisms that we were killing benefit the soil, but I was intent on getting rid of insect eggs, and there was no evidence that there had been any earthworms in there at all.

After thoroughly scrubbing out the greenhouse (and finally cleaning the windows and putting screens over the opening windows to keep out most flies), I replaced the tomato pots with planting beds, built from our scrap lumber pile. Some of the cedar boards were from a sling of used fencing from the former flower farm, now the Beer Farm. I hope that’s good karma for my tomatoes.tomato beds in greenhouse

Ground up eggshells and oyster shells add more calcium.eggshells for tomatoes

oyster shells in tomato beds

Also, cleaned out the bottom of the compost to add that black gold, which teamed with earthworms. Some lime, more Salish Soil, epsom salts, organic fertilizer, and perlite for aeration, and I think I’ve found a good balance. I sure hope so, because there is absolutely nothing as delicious as a fresh tomato off the vine. (Well, maybe a fresh raspberry!)

I’ll be planting some tomatoes in the planting box in the sun under the eaves, with a stone wall for a heat sink, for a controlled experiment, and even a couple in the rooftop garden, so we’ll see how that goes.protected planting bedAlways learning, I’m sharing with:

Lamberts Lately, From My Front Porch to Yours, HomeAcre Hop, An Oregon Cottage, Rooted in Thyme, The Charm of Home, Fabulous Friday, The Chicken Chick, Cozy Little House


78. Big Garden Tour

This Green House 2.jpgSo, it’s all over. The Botanical Garden Society’s Tour of Private Gardens (ours was one of seven gardens) on Sunday was met with perfect weather, in spite of a 60% chance of rain forecast. Five minutes after the scheduled end of the tour, a few raindrops fell. Good karma was goin’ on.

My last post tells about some of our preparation work.Mary painting sign Today’s post attempts to give you the tour at This Green House experience in pictures.

Mary drew an amazing map for our visitors.This Green House Garden Map jpg She painted signs for our eleven points of interest. I wrote out and laminated informational signs, along with names of some of the interesting plants, mostly in the dye and medicinal gardens. artichoke dye sample

Now, I’ll just throw a bunch of pictures atcha:deer signDear deer.jpg

bear sign

nasties in rotting log

studio yard


quilters' workshop

patio and sky garden

birdcage planter

greenhouse insideMary demonstrated natural dyeing while I demonstrated some sewing in the studio.

mary tour guide dyeing

dye pots at garden tour

dye samples at garden tour

pizza patio

box planted 2.jpgThis Green House



red garden vignette

wilde land

greenhouse signs

lady's mantle

Medicinal garden.jpg

strawberry hills close

kitty resting

My friend brought me a big bouquet of peonies to grace the herb tea and treats table. Aren’t they gorgeous?

pink peonies

garden tour collage.jpg

thank you for visiting


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Savvy Southern Style, Cozy Little House, Creative Country Mom, DIY By Design, A Delightsome Life, Ivy & Elephants (FEATURED!), The Brambleberry Cottage, Have a Daily Cup of Mrs Olson, I Gotta Create, Fishtail Cottage, HomeAcre Hop, The Charm of Home, French Country Cottage, The Dedicated House, Jennifer Rizzo, One More Time Events, Little Red House, Dwellings – Amaze Me Monday


77. Prep for the Garden Tour

Wilde Land.jpg

Goodness, things are hoppin’ ’round here, as we prepare for the Sunshine Coast Botanical Garden‘s tour of private gardens (Sunday, June 8, 11-4, tix at garden centres).

Mary, our only WWOOFer this year, came to help with final preparations ten days ago, and am I ever glad to have help. She’s a graphic artist back home in Switzerland, so we agreed that she would paint the signsMary painting sign

Dear deer.jpg

garden signs

and draw a tour map for our visitors and do lots of weeding.weeding at this green house

She was game to make woad balls from the plants in the dye garden.making woad balls A lot of work for 2.5 balls (see the little one she’s balancing on her nose?)Mary with woad balls

It’s astounding to me how anxious I am about presenting a beautiful and interesting garden. We’ve only been here for four years, so very few plants are mature. I’ve been working on it flat out for three months now.Medicinal garden.jpg

We’re getting there. So far, it’s been a better-than-average growing year.

D and I have nearly finished the new greenhouse. (Well, almost 95% has been done by D – I’m just doing the stonework around the bottom.) It’s growing those tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, basil and cucumbers to beat the band, as long as I remember to water.

The tour theme this year is Artists and Their Gardens. I have not spent nearly enough time pimping my studio and gallery wall, let alone making art. I do plan to do little dyeing and sewing demos, though.

I’ll be back with a full garden tour when it’s all over.

Wish us luck!


Sharing with: A Delightsome Life, Fishtail Cottage, Rooted in Thyme