Monday, July 26, 2010

Why ever would I want a front lawn?

So ... the neighbour gestured across the street in the direction of my front yard gardens and said ''I don't mind if you grow that ... I'm not about to call the city*".

I'm not bothering to put in the context of this sentence, but the gesture was an astounding insult to my gardens and, by extrapolation, to me.

I came in the house and thought, and thought ... and tried to go to sleep last night and thought until about 2:00 a.m. ... and got up this morning and decided to develop an entirely new garden out front so marched out at 7:00 a.m. and started removing multiples and burying green and brown decomposables in trenches between plants so that they (a) develop soil and (b) hold moisture in the soil for the plants and (c) become sponges for rainwater. Meanwhile, husband had gotten up and cut grass on the nearby hill, so I had beautiful clippings to put on top of newly cleared areas.

I have yet to decide what to put in the new zones, which need to survive under a tree (ie be in shade), must have shallow roots, must be able to grow in the poor soil that was exchanged for ours by the City several years ago when the road was rebuilt. The obedient plant is coming on and one purple flowering unknown, which stretches and lays down in the shade zone is sending out side shoots so we'll have purple all through.

Slightly east of the shade area, I also deadheaded coreopsis and golden marguerites, preparing for second growth. Trimmed back some bergamot for the same reason. Deadheaded lavenders also; they were gorgeous. There've been waves of colour out front. Sprint phlox and dianthus, tulips, daffs, sun rose, gaillardia. Rue and ladies mantle flourished. The Russian sage is huge this year. Campanula carpatica is flowering its soft blue/purple bells. We will have September ruby michaelmal daisy, purple coneflowers will be out, rudbeckia and sneezeweed (brown eyed susan) are coming soon.

Sustainable, organic, evolving, soil creating, moisture retaining, continual bloom cycle, colourful, scented, enjoyed by hundreds of people who go to and from the medical building at the end of the street, loved by me and mine. Not tidy according to one neighbour.

Anger as always been my biggest motivator.

It's gotten me seated on my husband's incredibly uncomfortable chair, writing this on his computer, because my own has been dead for two weeks.

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Garlic Seeds? "Bulbil" is not the name of a Hobbit.

Greetings! I am still around. But gardening season is upon me. And ...

It's the time of year when the bulbils are waving in the air in my garden.

Bulbils are not aerial artist Hobbits. They are the clusters of small bulbs that form in the garlic scape that is left on a garlic plant.

I hadn't planted garlic until a few years ago, when I began planting what I call "redemption garlic" Redemption garlics were the one or two cloves I'd keep from the imported garlic - China! Philippines! - that I was reduced to buying when I ran out of Ontario grown. I figured that if I let the cloves grow in good soil - instead of what I assumed was pesticide-treated - and grow in my backyard - instead of traveling fuel-oil-packed miles - then they would be cared for, redeemed somehow. Plus, it would redeem me for buying the imports!

So I started growing garlic and did a bit of reading to figure out when to plant ... but basically popped cloves in whatever ground I had available whenever I had some. As things grew, I began to notice scapes and bulbils. "Bulbil" turned out to be the correct term for what I was calling the funny seeds that formed at the top of the tall garlic stalk.

Bulbils. Such interesting thing! Edible themselves. Different on different types of garlic ... and I still have no idea what types of garlic I have because there were never any labels or hybrid names on the imports, or on the Ontario grown from market. I started to wonder if the bulbils could be planted fresh, straight from the plant top or if they needed to be kept from a late July garlic harvest - given time to cure - and then planted in late October.

How long did it take to get from bulbils to garlic? Is it a one year or a two year process?

Lots of questions.

And I still don't have definite answers - sorry! - because I'm a lousy note-keeper, because I planted so randomly and because I seem to have at least four different kinds of garlic growing. They all grow at a different pace.

But I'm inspired to pay more attention to the bulbil-to-garlic growth cycle by a couple of recent articles in The Canadian Organic Grower quarterly journal*, that pretty terrific publication I've mentioned before.

There's even a project going on for people to report in on their experiences with growing garlic from bulbils. I've taken the project notes that follow from the Winter 2010 issue of COG from Paul Pospisil's article Growing Garlic from Bulbils.

Check out the information below and if you are intrigued send Mr. P. an e-mail

Happy harvesting!

Why's Woman

The Bulbil Project
Growers and gardeners, especially home gardeners, are invited to participate.

Purpose: to grow garlic by the bulbil method in as many regions and soil conditions across Canada as possible to validate the utility of this growing technique in maintaining a strong, healthy stock of garlic for planting.

What do you need to do? Plant different types of garlic bulbils. Harvest, weigh and measure the first year's crop, and replant. Continue with this until you have full-size bulbs (i.e. at least two inches in diameter). Each year record the planting and the harvest, as well as any growing observations. Growing instructions and record forms are provided. Your information will be consolidated with other reports into a database that can be used by growers. A set of five bulbil strains will be provided to start or you may use bulbils from your own garlic. Provided bulbils will be free but The Garlic News asks for a small contribution to help pay the mailing costs. Any garlic you grow from this project is yours to keep. If you already grow from bulbils, your information would be appreciated.

Contact for further information: The Bulbil Project: Paul Pospisil, editor of The Garlic News, 3656 Bolingbroke Rd., Maberly, Ontario K0H 2B0,

*The Canadian Organic Grower quarterly magazine is wonderful. It may be available in your library. It is not published online, but is available with membership in the the excellent Canadian Organic Growers organization (