Do you know the joy of a seed sprouting? No matter now many times it happens, it brings out the same awe at the miracle of life.
A dry, seemingly inanimate object all of a sudden turns into a real, green, cute little plant.
If you haven't tried it already , you should give making your own sprouts in the winter a shot – the hassle is well worth it. You can see the mystery of life unfolding right before your eyes with no special equipment.
Once you've gotten the hang of sprouts, the next natural step is growing microgreens in the the winter. It gives you a little taste of summer in your salads and sandwiches or a little cheer-up for your main dishes.
Even more than a seed sprouting, I enjoy making more plants and putting roots and leaves on a piece of dry stick.
They are so grateful for being stuck in some water or soil and given a bit of light. I prefer water – that way I can see the roots grow at the bottom of the jar.
Dividing perennials is also tremendously satisfying – I’ve brought one bush of Siberian irises out of Aylmer, and now my banks along the creek are covered with this wonderful plant that has beautiful grass-like foliage, little purple flowers floating like butterflies above it, and needs no maintenance.
And then there is making new shrubs out of softwood cuttings – a little frail piece of a branch tip that can get coaxed into producing an entirely independent new little bush.
As a result of all this dabbling, we now have quite a nursery. I haven’t gotten into grafting fruit trees yet, but otherwise I can propagate the vast majority of shrubs and perennials we have growing at our place. And we have a lot.
All the berry bushes are definitely the prime subject of my propagation efforts – I keep making more plants for the farm, but can’t always keep up with the soil prep required to properly accommodate the new little bushes. I have them temporarily parked along the roads, in the garden, and anywhere I can find a piece of friendly soil.
In the spring, we also have some melon and watermelon starts for sale to those who would like to try growing them on their own.
I would strongly encourage you to plant a few edible plants even if you have just a bit of land. A lot of them are very ornamental, give nice flowers in the spring and beautiful foliage in the fall (think of Red Carpet blueberry for example).
Lingonberries and strawberries make you a nice ground cover. Again, I would refer you to Lee Reich for mouthwatering pictures and great ideas about the possibilities.
I have decided to include here the pictures of my garden in Aylmer on a suburban lot, to show you how edible can also be gorgeous.
This year we have been invited to be a vendor at the Rare and Unusual Plant Sale held at the Experimental Farm in Ottawa on May 15th, 2016.
We are very excited about this opportunity to come out, showcase our plants, and share the information about our farm.
The whole gypsy band of us will be there, kids are planning to bring their musical instruments, and we’ll bring our spindles and the spinning wheel - you should come out, it will be quite entertaining.
Currently, this is what I have available for sale
Different varieties of hardy table and wine grapes – Somerset, Frontenac Red, Magenta, Redliance, Polar Red and Earliblue
Blackcurrants – Titania and Ben Sarek
Pink currants – Pink Champagne, just love the name
White currants – Oyster
Haskaps – Blue Pear and Blue Belle
June raspberries – Boyne (by far my favourite, a sturdy tasty plant), Killarney, Taylor (all red), Brandywine (purple), Lowden’s Black (black), Anne (yellow)
Everbearing raspberries – Kiwi Gold (yellow), and Heritage (red)
Saskatchewan bush cherries (Romeo, Juliet, Crimson Passion)
Cerise de l’isle hardy cherry
Bluberries high bush and low bush
I am sure I will remember some others. Gogies, hardy kiwis, lingonberries and cranberries are not ready yet, but should be available next year.
We also have herbs of all stripes, the list is too long to enumerate.
As far as my ornamental shrubs and perennials go, I have pretty much everything that survives in our climate without a crutch. I only baby the herbs and bring some of the marginal in for the winter.
The plants whose only claim to fame is their beauty need to be hardy enough to get through the winter on their own. And they need to put up with my heavy clay, or else Darwin takes over.
Just as a very incomplete list, I have hostas, astilbe, coral bells, lilies of the valley, solomon’s seal and goat’s beard for shade.
There are peonies, roses, echinaceas, rudbeckias, hardy geraniums, blazing star for sun, creeping phlox, sedums, ground cover thyme, dianthus and Kalmagrostis for xeriscaping, and a dozen varieties of Siberian iris for wet spots.
I have yellow, red and scarlet twig dogwoods, purple sand cherry, hydrangeas and many willows for shrubs. I have lots of beautiful ferns and grasses of all kinds, and some landscape trees, you will just have to come out and see for yourself.