Gardening Late in the Year

A few weeks ago we decided it was time to finally pick the last of what was growing in our raised beds at the house on Pender Island. This year had been our experimental year as we had never grown vegetables before in this climate. To make things even more interesting we are also absentee gardeners. The plants we grow cannot be something that needs to be babied, they must be able to withstand drought and weeds (and raccoons and deer) for the times we are not on the island.

raised garden bedsThis year we built three raised beds, in two we planted a selection of vegetable seeds, and in the other strawberry root-stock.

strawberry plants

The strawberries have done well once we protected them from the raccoons. The vegetable patch had hits and misses. The first issue with the vegetable beds was figuring out just how the sun was going to sweep across the yard and which trees we going to block the sun. For the most part I guessed right except for the planting of a few very leafy plants that grew much faster and higher than the carrots keeping them in shade for much of the summer. The other thing I discovered was the melons and cucumbers were a total disaster; I think these plants need a bit more love and attention than we can provide.

garden vegetablesThe vegetables that seemed to do well without daily care were the carrots, beets, radishes, salad onions and romaine lettuce.


golf ball carrots


I think we have decided that the root vegetables are our best bet. We are also thinking we just may have to think about some type of watering system for when we are not able to water, especially if we have another summer like this past one where it did not rain for a full month.

planting seeds

After picking the vegetables I decided to try an experiment and plant a few more seeds of cool weather plants. I am not sure if it will work, however when I plant late in April in Alberta often it  snows on the planted garden and the seeds still sprout and grow. I am hoping this will work with this garden and it will get a jump on the season if we have a warm early spring. If it doesn’t work it is just a handful of seeds lost.

planted vegetable bedsNext spring we will be building more raised beds. We have also planted an apple tree and are still trying to figure out if we need two trees to have fruit. If anyone knows the answer, let me know. My eucalyptus tree that we planted in October is still doing well; I am collecting all the deadfall leaves for dyeing wool and fabrics.

eucalyptusIf you look closely at the pictures of the raised beds you will see a weird mish-mash of netting, bricks and such. This is our raccoon and deer prevention program. It may be ugly but it works. Prettier coverings are also on the “to do” list for next year.

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10 Responses to Gardening Late in the Year

  1. Great job Deb! I’ll be interested in seeing how your late planting works. I was once given some heritage snow peas that came from a woman in Vancouver’s Chinatown. Her family would plant them at about this time of year and they would have enough produce to sell to pay their taxes. Unfortunately the peas didn’t like it here. You might want to try a trickle system with timer and mulch for your watering problems. We have 50 gallon barrels under our downspouts to collect rainwater. I think you might want to get a second apple tree of a different variety to act as a pollinator.

    • Deb says:

      I am hoping the late planting will work. In theory, compared to Alberta spring temperatures, it should. It is bound to be more successful than the time I tried to grow carrots in our basement under grow lights. (I’ll try anything once!)

      We have a 1250 gallon barrel off a downspout but we have yet to figure out just how the previous owner has it set up. There is some sort of funky pump system on it, different to how we have it rigged at the cabin, so a problem to figure out on a day when we feel like doing a lot of head scratching. The timer is a good idea. I’d like to run it on solar as we shut down the power when we aren’t around. I also wonder about watering edibles with rain water collected off asphalt shingles, but we could perhaps reroof the shed with galvanized and put a collection system on it. I know a guy who probably could arrange that (LOL!).

      I wasn’t sure whether we needed another apple but I will take your expert advice. Is it just a case of any other variety of apple tree will do?

      • Hmmm, carrots in your basement. One interesting idea I saw was growing carrots in buckets. That way you can put them anywhere handy – on the deck, next to the kitchen door or take them out kayaking.

        Our watering timer works on 1 small 9 volt battery and lasts all Summer. I would think if it is an old roof the shingles probably have done all the off gassing they are going to do. (Beside, you’re from oil country! We had friends who used live in Coronation, AB. Their tap water smelled like strong creosote and all the sinks were stained brown). The metal roof is a good idea sometime in the future. Though I don’t find them as aesthetically pleasing as a shake roof, the low maintenance factor of metal is a big plus.

        You can never have too many apple trees. I think any apple will do. Transparent and crab apples do well on the Coast but perhaps check with a local nursery to see what does well in your area.

        When we cruised the inlets in our boat we would come across huge apple trees, loaded with spotless fruit at the sites of old homesteads and logging camps and no one pruning or watering these trees. Gave me a different idea for gardening – more low maintenance and natural. Years ago I was told not to water my fruit trees too much so that their roots would grow deeper and they would become hardier trees.

      • Deb says:

        The carrot idea is a good one. I was thinking of doing something similar with radishes because they mature so quickly (and travel more easily a la kayaking!)

        We won’t discuss the “brown water” in Alberta; let’s just say there are many towns I will not drink water in!

  2. What a great batch of vegies you received. I do not have a green thumb, but keep trying. At least the local plant nursery benefits from my many visits replacing what I lose. LOL

  3. Deb you have done well for a first summer in a new climate, your carrots look like the round ones I had, I’m a tad envious of your beetroot, I will be trying a different variety next year as I love beetroot, I was going to ask if your watering system could run on battery and see another commenter has said it, racoons with their ‘hands’ I can imagine being a bit of a nightmare, when I was camping on Galiano a pair of racoons were found opening bags and jars of a young couple who had gone for a walk and it took a lot to make them stop and clear off, after eating jam they even had the nerve/brains to wipe their hands on the towel hanging out to dry near by!
    good luck with completing all on your ‘to do’ list, Frances

    • Deb says:

      Raccoons are such a challenge and they are so brave. They growl at us when we go outside at night. We have had to special order a locking garbage can due to our raccoon issues.

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