Garden Tip of the Week: 19


. . .Summer bounty at the Penticton Farmers Market

Planting and growing garlic isn’t difficult; however, attention to a few critical details will help ensure a good harvest. You can find lots of info online of course, but the best tips I’ve ever had on growing garlic were learned at Brenda Lende’s course at C.URB last year.  I planned to attend this year’s again but couldn’t make it.  (Maybe you were there?)

Here are the main points:

Softneck garlic heads (thin necked varieties) store longer than hardneck (thick neck) types.  Plant your own cloves or buy seed.  Garlic bought in the grocery store, which has been shipped from afar (i.e. China) is often irradiated and will not sprout, so avoid those for planting.

Mix compost into your soil a week or two ahead of planting.

Separate the garlic heads into individual cloves, being careful not to break or remove the papery skin from each clove.

Plant individual cloves a foot apart, or in a 10” grid, staggered. When garlic cloves are planted  too closely, they will stop growing as soon as their roots touch the next plant, so give them lots of space!

Pointy end up! (That’s the end of the clove that sprouts  to form leaves . . .)

Plant 2 inches deep near frost, or 1 inch deep earlier, when the soil is warmer.  Mid to late October works well in the Okanagan.

Put one teaspoon of bone meal in each planting hole. Fill hole with soil and cover your new garlic patch with straw or leaves.  Water lightly.

In the spring, keep the patch weeded and watered.

I’ve grown garlic in past years, but this summer’s crop had the biggest heads ever after following the above planting instructions!

Garden Tip of the Week: 18


(. . . Where did summer go?)

So you’ve successfully grown a crop of winter squash (Butternut, Buttercup, Delicata, Kuri or other varieties) and are wondering when to harvest them. Winter squash are ripe when you can’t pierce the skin with your thumbnail. They benefit from ripening further on the vine and even a light frost, however, so leave them until the vine begins to die back. Cut through the woody stem at least an inch above the fruit. Clean them, if necessary, with a damp cloth, and allow them to cure for two weeks in a warm dry place out of the sun. Store winter squash in a cool, dry place, dark if possible, and check them every few weeks for signs of spoilage. If you see some, cook and freeze the good parts.

Note that Acorn squash belong to a different family. They need to be stored in cooler, moister conditions (e.g. the fridge) and don’t last as long as the other varieties.

Garden Tip of the Week: 17

Master Composter Poster

First, the garden tip; then a reminder about classes.  Have you harvested your onions and garlic?

Very likely you’ve already pulled your garlic and onions, but if you haven’t, do it now before the fall rains really begin. Allow them both to cure in a warm dry place for at least two weeks (onions can tolerate sun but garlic can NOT). Store them in well-ventilated containers in a dark, cool, dry place (5 to 10 degrees is ideal). Properly cured, they should last into late spring, but if they begin to dry out, transfer them to the fridge to extend their lives.  Thick necked onions spoil faster than thin, so use those first! 

A reminder about PUAA’s last course for 2014:

PUAA’s last offering for the 2014 growing season is Brenda Lende’s ever-popular “Growing Garlic and Ground Covers.” Brenda is giving this course on Saturday, September 27 from 1 to 3 PM. It will take place at the Younie farm on Corbishley Rd., but since parking is limited there as well, let’s meet at the Shatford Centre Parking lot once more and carpool at 12:45.   I took this course last fall and learned a lot. Best garlic crop I’ve ever grown was the result!

To register and for more info, please call  250-494-8244.

Last but not least, one more class to take you into fall:

The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen in collaboration with the Friends of Summerland Ornamental Gardens invites residents to a Master Composter / Recycler course on Saturday October 18th and Sunday October 19th at the Summerland Ornamental Gardens. The two day course is designed for local volunteers interested in teaching effective composting and recycling to friends, family and their community. The course is free but participants will be asked to donate to the Friends of Summerland Ornamental Gardens Society.

The RDOS Master Composter/Recycler Program was started in 2010 to help empower volunteers to teach effective composting and recycling. Participants have gone on to build compost bins for local community gardens, present talks to local groups and assist neighbours in setting up compost bins. People that complete the weekend long session are asked to record their volunteer hours. Once they have more than 70 volunteer hours they are recognized as RDOS Certified Master Composters/Recyclers. So far 4 individuals have been recognized with this distinction.

Interested participants are asked to register by Thursday October 16th by contacting the RDOS at 250-490-4129 or e-mailing





Garden Tip of the Week: 16

website 1571

If you don’t already do this, consider keeping a garden journal.  Buy yourself a blank, hardcover notebook and “dig in!”   There are many ways to approach it.  Here’s what I do:

Each spring, I draw a rough “map” of the vegetable spaces in the garden.  I draw lines and label each area with what I have planted.  That way, I can keep track of crop rotation from year to year.

I keep a record of what date I planted each crop.  If I remember, the brand and variety of seed gets listed!  I make a note of when I start harvesting each vegetable, just for an “almanac” sort of record.

I record which vegetables  grew well and what flunked despite my tender care. And  make notes about what to do next year, as these ideas come to mind.

Also, I keep a list in the journal of what canning, drying and preserving I did.

If you keep a garden journal, you don’t have to start form scratch every spring, wondering what you did last year and where you planted what!

Remember, it’s your journal.  You don’t have to show it to anyone, so it can be as neat or as messy as you please.  You can adorn it with drawings, and paste in clippings of interest.

Mine has now been going for a decade and I started a new one this spring.  It’s fun to look back and realize how your knowledge has grown from your own experience, from any courses you took, or from good old trial and error!

Course reminder:

PUAA is offering a course in “Seed Saving for Beginners.” Instructor Michelle Younie is a young farmer who has been successful in saving seeds from her favorite vegetables and using them to grow next year’s crop. She’ll share her methods with us and answer our many questions. She’s offering this class on Tuesday, September 16 from 6 to 8 PM.

Tell your friends and register soon; this one will fill up fast. Reply to this email or call  250-494-8244 for more info and to register.



Garden Tip of the Week: 15


We’re at the time of year when we cut back on watering crops like tomatoes and squash, to encourage ripening for tomatoes, and to allow the skins of winter squash varieties to harden for storage.  You can cut new flowers off your tomato plants (unless you want tons of little green ones in mid-October) and let the vines wither on your squash plants.

It’s a bittersweet time.  The vegetable garden doesn’t look as “pretty” as it did a few weeks ago, but there’s hopefully lots of produce to be harvested in the coming weeks.

This is the moment to congratulate yourself on what grew well this summer, and learn from what didn’t.  Every gardener is involved in life long learning!

In case you want to celebrate the successes of your summer’s work in the garden, below is a recipe for vegetarian curry.  Delicious. And colorful, especially if you have a few fresh cooked beets on the side of your plate.  Hope you will enjoy making it from your own harvest!

VEGETARIAN CURRY (4 servings + leftovers)

1 med. onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 knob of peeled chopped fresh ginger

2 Tbsp curry powder

½  tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt or to taste, and pepper

1 tin coconut milk

1- 1 ½  c water

1 scant Tbsp brown sugar

Juice of half a lime

2 tbsp dark rum

 2 or 3 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1” chunks

1 small cauliflower, cut into chunks

1 small head of broccoli, cut into flowerettes  (or a handful of cut green beans)

1 red pepper seeded and sliced in strips

large handful of roughly chopped Swiss chard (or spinach)

fresh basil leaves for garnish

Saute onion in butter and olive oil til soft, add garlic and ginger at end.

Add curry powder and turmeric and cook for 2 minutes.

Add water, brown sugar and coconut milk, plus salt and pepper to taste

Add carrots and simmer uncovered 30 min until cooked.

Cover and add broccoli, then cauliflower, then red pepper strips and spinach at end.  Cook until cauliflower is just tender. . .do not overcook .

Add rum and lime juice.

Serve over jasmine rice accompanied by bowls of toasted chopped almonds, chutney, and plain yogurt.

Optional toppings include  raisins and chopped green onions.

Garden Tip of the Week: 14


(It’s not a ghost . . .it’s vegetables nestled under row cloth)

Planting fall vegetables in your garden?  The following may be of some use:

The Many Uses of Row Cloth

‘Row cloth’ is a lightweight white material the primary use for which is to cover crops vulnerable to flying-insect damage, in particular the cabbage butterfly that lays its eggs on members of the mustard family and on cole crops (cabbage, kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower) resulting in little green caterpillars that are very hard to see.  The cloth is a physical barrier to the butterfly so must be put over the plants as soon as they are set out or germinate if direct-seeded and left on for the whole season.

Use a wide piece of cloth so the edges come to the ground, or close to it, even when the plants are mature. The cloth is light and won’t crush delicate seedlings.  It allows water and sunlight through.  Small stones at the corners and strategically along the edges will hold it down and make it easy to lift the cloth to inspect your plants.

All row cloth is not equal; avoid any that say “biodegradable” as they will end up in the first season in tiny, irritating pieces all over your garden.  Good row cloth is available from Lee Valley (store in Vancouver or order online), can be bought in bulk, and has the best price around even with shipping added.  It can last several years if you’re careful not to put holes in it!

Row cloth has other uses.  Here’s a sampling:

  • To protect vegetable seedlings from variable weather conditions, help warm the soil, and prevent severe temperature fluctuations around the seedlings. Note: if temperatures drop significantly (ie towards or below freezing, you may need to add a layer of plastic over your seedlings on top of the row cloth
  • In extreme heat over smallish plants anywhere, to help preserve moisture and protect from direct sun, or over raised beds which tend to lose moisture more quickly than in-ground beds
  • Over tender plants in fall (tomatoes, peppers, melons) when night temperatures drop close to freezing, double layer if possible. If frost is forecasted, you’ll need to add plastic sheeting or other heavier protection (blankets, burlap sacking, etc.)

Garden Tip of the Week: 13

website 1597

Oops!  The post is late this week, sorry!  I’ve had my head in the canning kettle.  It’s that time of year again, when we preserve the garden’s rewards for the winter months ahead.  Still, your vegetable patch requires some work!

If your wax or filet beans are flowering but not producing beans, now is not the time to give up and pull the plants!  Beans become stressed in the heat, and they may sulk for awhile.  Keep watering them and they’ll produce again when it the air is a little cooler.  Continue to pick them (don’t let them go to seed) and they’ll reward you with a longer harvest.