Permaculture garden first tomato harvest

After some time we had without power, I refused to go back to the electronic world. Instead, I took the baby into the garden, and she happily played while I dodged tomato branches and searched for hidden ripe treasures in the jungle that my garden has become. In the process, I have discovered a ripe red Romanian pepper, quite a few Thai hot peppers – still green but promising, two surprise butternut squashes (and by “surprise” I mean that as I was looking for tomatoes, I have bumped into a squash hanging from a tower), lots of kale, and an abundance of scarlet runner bean pods.

My tomato jungle did not disappoint. I have discovered lots of tiny red grape tomatoes, larger red cherry tomatoes, tiny yellow tomatoes, plum tomatoes, and large red tomatoes. Lots are still in the ripening stage, but I was able to gather about a bowl and a half just by picking those that were already so ripe they couldn’t hang on anymore. Quite a few overripe tomatoes are on the ground – the sacrifice to the fauna of the garden, which is joyfully munching on the cast-aways.

First tomato harvest, md

The birds have discovered the bird feeder and made it their own. Not a day goes by without me seeing quite a few there, happily partaking in the sunflower seeds. Some of the plants are trying to bail from the garden: the beans, the tomatoes, and a squash have surpassed the boundaries and are running wild on the other side of the fence. Surprisingly enough, people who cut grass in the common area have been very gentle so far and have worked around the escapees.

As I was making my way around the towers, I have brushed against the lemongrass, and  does it ever smell divine! I don’t know if it has been effective at keeping undesirable insects from the garden, as advertised, but it sure smells good. We shall see how it fares in a Tom Kha Gai soup once the harvest time is on.

For now, I had quite a few tomatoes to make use of, and so I decided to make a cold tomato soup. My son helped me sort through the tomatoes, keeping the whole ones for future use and getting the split ones washed and cut up for the soup. The recipe is simple, and I just winged it as I went, putting in whatever compatible veggies I had in the fridge.

Tomato soup, md

Cold tomato soup:
– about 6 cups of various types of tomatoes,
– a cucumber,
– a red pepper,
– about 6 celery stalks (whatever I had in the fridge),
– 2 segments of onion, soaked in water for 5 minutes,
– 2 garlic cloves, split in half,
– 2 tbsp olive oil,
– 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar.

I have blended everything together in two batches in my Blendtec mixer, added basil leaves from the garden for garnish and some salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste. This made a refreshing cold soup for a lazy summer afternoon. In fact, I just had some today for lunch, and I must say – it keeps well in the fridge overnight.

So far this summer of gardening has been very rewarding.

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If you have a garden and a library, you will want for nothing

My house has been so full of summer energy, guests from far away, exciting outings, picnics, and playing on the grass outside, that the blog posts have been few and far between. Now that the fall is approaching, the garden is in full bloom, and we’ve been reaping some of its bounty.

kale_tomatoes_pepper_md

Harvest of kale for smoothies, and tomatoes and a red Romanian pepper for a salad

There has been lots of rain and not much sun lately, so that the fruit have been slow to ripen. The greens are lush, however, and hopefully more warm days will fuel further harvest. My scarlet runner beans planted in the middle of the summer have wrapped themselves around the support I provided, the fence behind it, and went all the way up the gazebo nearby. The blooms are beautiful, I shall definitely plant them again.

scarlet_runner_beans2_md

I have been learning more about gardening naturally, and there are some good resources out there, for instance the Garden Naturally TV series by Barbra Damrosch and Eliot Coleman. They talk about mimicking a forest in the garden, making compost, aerating and mineralizing soil, sharpening and using a scythe, nitrogen fixation, planting backyard blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries.

A recent article from Mercola – Why your brain needs a garden – talks about gardening being one of the most potent stress-relieving activities, decreasing levels of agitation and anxiety, stimulating serotonin, and improving learning. Our cat is certainly enjoying all the benefits of his time in the garden.

scarlet_runner_beans_Bagheera_md

Marcus Cicero said, “If you have a garden and a library, you will want for nothing.” Reading a book outside, surrounding by blooming plants, buzzing beetles, and fluttering butterflies during a quiet afternoon hour has an incredible ability to reset my mood and clear my mind.

Let us spend more time in the garden and bathe in these warm blissful rays of late summer.

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Permaculture towers after 50 days

Afternoon garden, light, permaculture towers, day 51, mdIt has been 50 days now, since I have planted seedlings into my permaculture towers, following the garden preparations and the building of the towers, and 27 days since my last update on the towers.

On July 4, after a few days of 35+C weather, it has been a relief to wake up to an overcast sky, with occasional sunshine and a cool breeze. Seizing the chance, off I went to the garden. The night before, my partner guiding the kids in a distraction dance, I have been able to pick out most of the weeds in the garden. It felt so good to just loose myself in a pure physical activity, creeping through the towers in a quest of cleansing.

I have harvested the rest of the radishes, and set off to plant seeds. The following were added to the towers: Reine de Glace crispleaf lettuce, Buttercrunch lettuce,  Komatsuna mustard greens, Cardinale crispleaf lettuce, Rouge d’hiver lettuce, beets, red spinach, snow peas, cauliflower, broccoli, dill, and scarlet runner beans.

The tops of the towers have gained some edible flowers: Cosmos and Marigold. I have also planted verbena, broccoli, dill, and basil throughout the garden.

I have planted lots of seeds all over the garden on July 4. Here are the plants with photo thumbnails for May 27th (day 1), June 10th (day 14), June 20th (day 24), July 4th (day 38), and larger photos from today, July 17 (day 51). You can click on the thumbnails to see more detailed, larger photos.

Due to the fence and the tomatoes overwhelming the sunny side of Towers 3 and 4, the photos from those towers are basically all tomato. Not much I can do to capture the growth of anything else. Yet dill and eggplants are doing well, under all that tomato goodness.

As the Towers and the garden have gained new plants, I include the updated drawings.

Garden

July 4, 2014 - Garden plan, md

Tower 1

July 4, 2014 - Tower 1, md

Tower1, Stevia, md Tower1, Stevia, day 14, md Tower 1, top, stevia, day 24, md Tower 1, top, stevia, day 38, md

Tower 1, top, stevia, day 51, md
Stevia on top of Tower 1. The plant has been trying to recover from the squirrel attack – it has not grown taller, but additional small leaves have sprouted closer to the base. The leaves you see infringing on the tower top are tomatoes growing from the side. This is a recurring motif in the current state of my garden.

Tower 1, sunny, md Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 14, md Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 24, md Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 38, md

Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 51, md
This lovely tomato forest includes Yellow cherry Gold Nugget tomato and buried underneath it butternut squash in one section, and in another –Alba Regie sweet pepper mostly eaten by the same animal as the stevia, another Yellow cherry Gold Nugget tomato and another butternut squash.

Tower 1, sunny-shady, md Tower 1, sunny, day 14, md Tower 1, sunny, day 24, md Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 38, md

Tower 1, sunny, day 51, md
Beefsteak tomatoes, an Alba Regie pepper somewhere in there and the giant leaves of spaghetti squash in one section, Lipstick sweet pepper in the next. Tomatoes and the squash pretty much rule the first tower. I had to install a movable fence to contain this wild greenery. Peppers are flowering but someone keeps eating the leaves. Perhaps the same vicious squirrel with big pointy teeth. I shall attempt to spray the peppers with a jalapeño solution once more.

Tower 2

July 4, 2014 - Tower 2, md

Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, md Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, day 14, md Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, day 24, md Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, day 38, md

Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, day 51, md
Thai hot pepper and German chamomile plants on top of Tower 2. Both are getting munched on by an unknown organism or two. The holes in the leaves are likely from snails and have gotten a bit less of a problem after I have placed egg shells under the pepper plant. The chamomile appears to be too delicious for fluffy sharp-teethed creatures.

Tower 2, sunny-shady, md Tower 2, sunny-shady, day 14, md Tower 2, sunny-shady, day 24, md Tower 2, sunny-shady, day 38, md

Tower 2, sunny-shady, day 51, md
Columnar basil in one section, two Fox cherry tomatoes and a Romanian sweet pepper in the next. The basil is very strong and happy. I have used it today in a delicious thai spicy eggplant dish, and the flavour is great. I can no longer locate the sweet pepper under all the tomato branches without risking breaking them.  I shall just trust it’s there and we’ll see if it grew any better without being chewed on and with sunlight filtered through the tomato foliage.

Tower 2, sunny, md Tower 2, sunny, day 14, md Tower 2, sunny, day 24, md Tower 2, sunny, day 38, md

Tower 2, sunny, day 51, md
Matt’s Wild tomato, lemon thyme somewhere underneath, with a butternut squash at the bottom in one section, and another Matt’s Wild tomato in the next section. Tomatoes and squashes are very happy. Lemon thyme is no longer visible. I think next time I will plant smaller herbs and peppers above the tomatoes, since the latter are so prolific.

Tower 2, sunny 2, md Tower 2, sunny 2, day 14, md Tower 2, sunny 2, day 24, md Tower 2, sunny, pepper, 38, md

Tower 2, sunny, pepper, 51, md
Closeup of the Romanian sweet pepper in the next section. It appears to have been too hard to access for a mysterious sharp-teethed animal, and has reached the fruiting stage.

Tower 2, shady, md Tower 2, shady, day 14, md Tower 2, shady, day 24, md Tower 2, shady, day 38, md

Tower 2, shady, day 51, md
Two oakleaf kale seedlings in one section, and two more in the next one. I have put crushed egg shells around some of the plants to deter snails, but considering the almost-completely eaten leaves I would venture a guess that whatever is eating the kale on this tower is from a larger species. Since I have lots of kale in Towers 3 and 4 that is not being so completely consumed, I figured this was my “planted to share with nature” kale.

Tower 3

July 4, 2014 - Tower 3, md

Tower 3, top, nasturtium, md Tower 3, top, nasturtium and carrots, day 14, md Tower 3, top, day 24, md Tower 3, top, day 38, md

Tower 3, top, day 51, md
Nasturtirum – Empress of India – on top of Tower 3, surrounded by a few growing carrots (you can see the tiny leaves picking out from under the nasturtium leaves). The nasturtium is big and happy.

Tower 3, sunny, md Tower 3, sunny, day 14, md Tower 3, sunny, day 24, md Tower 3, sunny, day 38, md

Tower 3, sunny, tomatoes, day 51, md
Japanese eggplant at the bottom of one section (impossible to show anymore), and in the next one – Bellstar red tomato, parsley (also covered up), and at the bottom Spacemaster cucumber (still growing). The tomato forest is overshadowing everything else.

Tower 3, shady 2, md Tower 3, shady 2, day 14, md Tower 3, shady 2, day 24, md Tower 3, shady 2, day 38, md

Tower 3, shady 2, day 51, md
Two green kale and two oakleaf kale plants in one section, two green kale, one Swiss chard, and one oakleaf kale plant in the next one. They taste great in salads and I now harvest some every few days.

Tower 3, shady, md Tower 3, shady, day 14, md Tower 3, shady, day 24, md Tower 3, shady, day 38, md

Tower 3, shady, day 51, md
Another shot of two green kale, one Swiss chard and one oakleaf kale plant from the previous photo, and two more green kale, two Swiss chard, and one oakleaf kale plant in the next section. A small scarlet runner bean plant is showing at the bottom of the tower. Another one got consumed by local fauna.

Tower 4

July 4, 2014 - Tower 4, md

Tower 4 top, nasturtium, md Tower 4 top, nasturtium and radishes, day 14, md Tower 4, top, nasturtium and radishes, day 24, md Tower 4, top, nasturtium and radishes, day 38, md

Tower 4, top, nasturtium, day 51, md
Nasturtium – Empress of India, with encroaching tomato leaves almost covering it. The tomatoes take over everything.

Tower 4, sunny, md Tower 4, sunny, day 14, md Tower 4, sunny-shady, day 24, md  Tower4, shady 2, day 38, md

Tower 4, sunny 2, day 51, md

Red cherry tomato, Brandywine tomato, and rosemary below in one section, and in the next section – another red cherry tomato, followed by dill, a Brandywine tomato, and Lebanese cucumbers. It is impossible now to capture the tower from the same angle as the first two photos, since the West fence is now in place, so I had to instead provide a side view, capturing the first section with rosemary. The next section is shown as part of the next series of photos. The tomatoes, the dill, and rosemary all seem to be doing well. I’ve picked out most of the dill by this point, so I planted some seeds along the fence next to the scarlet runner beans.

Tower 4, sunny 2, md Tower 4, sunny 2, day 14, md Tower 4, sunny, day 24, md Tower 4, sunny, day 38, md

Tower 4, sunny, day 51, md
Red cherry tomato, followed by dill, a Brandywine tomato, and Lebanese cucumbers from the photo above, and in the next section – early Roma tomato, dill, Brandywine tomato, and eggplant at the bottom. Can’t tell where anyone is, except maybe the dill poking through? Me neither. At this point I don’t want to disturb the tomatoes so as not to break them, and the fence is in the way to reach underneath. I shall just have a mystery harvest once the time comes.

Tower 4, shady, md Tower 4, shady, day 14, md Tower 4, shady, day 24, md Tower 4, shady, day 38, md

Tower 4, shady, day 51, md
Three green kale and two oakleaf kale in one section, and in the next – three green kale and one oakleaf kale. The kale plants are doing well. Tomatoes are infringing on their territory. Along the bottom, between Tower 4 and the lemongrass, I have planted sweet peas, on June 1st. A few of them came up now and nothing seems to be eating them.

Tower 4, shady 3, md Tower 4, shady 2, day 14, md Tower 4, shady 2, day 24, md Tower 4, shady 2, day 38, md

Tower 4, shady 2, day 51, md
Cilantro between two green kale seedlings, and Swiss chard lower in one section, and in the next – tarragon, followed by two kale plants and a Swiss chard plant. Cilantro has gone to flower. The rest of the greens are growing happily and I harvest kale and Swiss chard every few days.

Aside, borage, lovage, md Aside, borage and lovage, day 14, md Aside, borage and lovage, day 24, md Aside, borage and lovage, day 38, md

Aside, borage and lovage, day 51, md
Borage at the top of photo, lovage lower, behind Towers 1 and 2. On the last tow photos, borage is on the left and blooming in beautiful blue flowers.

Aside, calendula and watercress, md Aside, calendula and watercress, day 14, md Aside, calendula and watercress, day 24, md Aside, calendula and watercress, day 38, md Aside, watercress, day 38, md

Aside, calendula, day 51, md

Aside, watercress, day 51, md
Calendula at the top of the first photo, watercress lower, following few photos – reversed: calendula being at the bottom, and watercress at the top. Now I have to take pictures of them separately, as the tomato forest blocks the calendula. Both plants seem to be very happy, and I have used watercress in salads.

Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, md Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, day 14, md Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, day 24, md Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, day 38, md

Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, day 51, md
From left to right: grape vine 1, lily of the valley, chives, onions, Tower 1 butternut squash. You are going to have to trust me on this. The giant squash leaves and the tomato branches are hiding the rest of the plants. I use chives and green onions in salads quite a bit.

Aside, grape vine 1, md Aside, grape vine 1, day 14, md Grape vine 1, day 24, md Grape vine 1, day 38, md

Grape vine 1, day 51, md
Grape vine 1 is climbing the gazebo quite happily. There are black bugs eating through the leaves. I remove them and drop them in a bowl with soapy water on a somewhat regular basis over the last two weeks or so.

Grape vine 4, md Grape vine 4, day 14, md Grape vine 4, day 24, md Grape vine 4, day 38, md

Grape vine 4, day 51, md
Grape vine 4, Concord Purple Grape, planted last year, next to Tower 3. The black bugs are present on this vine to a much lesser extent, and I’m removing them as well.

Aside, Comfrey and Day lilys, md Aside, Comfrey and Day lilys, day 14, md Aside, Comfrey, grape vine 2, and Day lilies, day 14, md Aside, Comfrey, grape vine 2, and Day lilies, day 38, md

Aside, Comfrey, grape vine 2, and Day lilies, day 51, md
Day lilies, comfrey, and remains of grape vine 2, butchered during last year’s roof replacement. Comfrey is growing giant leaves. The lilies stopped growing. I suspect it is due to me replanting the same bulbs every year. Perhaps they have grown as much as they can. The grape vine was heavily affected with what I guess was downy mildew. I have removed quite a few affected leaves, and it seems to be recovering well.

Aside, grape vine 3, tulips, hyacinths, md Grape vine and bird feeder closeup, day 14, md Grape vine and bird feeder closeup, day 24, md Grape vine and bird feeder closeup, day 38, md

Grape vine and bird feeder closeup, day 51, md
Grape vine 3 is happily growing up the shepherd’s hook with a bird feeder and a bird bath. Lots of black bugs had to be removed from this one as well.

Aside, lemon verbena, lemon grass, md Aside, lemon verbena, lemon grass, day 14, md Aside, lemon verbena and lemongrass, day 24, md Aside, lemon verbena and lemongrass, day 38, md

Aside, lemon verbena and lemongrass, day 51, md
Lemon verbena on the left and lemongrass on the right. Lemon verbena is growing happily and turning into a small bush. Lemongrass has recovered from being trampled during the fence reconstruction and seems to be full of life as well.

Aside, Grapefruit mint, md Aside, Grapefruit mint, day 14, md Aside, grapefruit mint, day 24, md Aside, grapefruit mint, day 38, md

Aside, grapefruit mint, day 51, md
Grapefruit mint. The mint is doing well, and I have used the leaves in salads and cocktails.

Aside, garden mint, md Aside, garden mint, day 14, md Aside, garden mint, day 24, md Aside, garden mint, day 38, md

Aside, garden mint, day 51, md
Garden mint. Happily growing in its pot, and I have used the leaves in tea a few times.

Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, md Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, day 14, md Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, day 24, md Aside, russian sage, day 38, md Aside, winter savory, day 38, md

Aside, russian sage, day 51, md

Aside, winter savory, day 51, md
On the first two photos: left – winter savory, top right – Russian sage, bottom – lily of the valley. Because of the sun, the recently-installed West fence, and the tomato overshadowing the savory, I have taken the third photo from the other side, with lily of the valley being at the top, the winter savory on the right, covered by a tomato branch, and the Russian sage on the bottom left. At this point, there are so many tomato branches and leaves, that I have to take pictures of Russian sage (first large photo) and winter savory (last photo) separately. Both seem to be quite happy.

Aside, currants, md Aside, currants, day 14, md Aside, currants, day 24, md Aside, currants, day 38, md

Aside, currants, day 51, md

Aside, currants, closeup, day 51, md
Two currant bushes between Tower 2 and the South fence. Both are growing well, and the one in the corner of the garden has a few delicious black currants. I put cones around them to contain the sprawl.

Aside, currants, blackberries, day 14, md Aside, currants, blackberries, day 24, md Aside, currants, blackberries, day 38, md

Aside, currants, blackberries, day 51, md
Two currant bushes between Tower 2 and the South fence, unknown perennial plant along the window, and what I suspect is our blackberry bush planted last year – Black Satin Blackberry. I have put a cone around the blackberry bush to contain it. So far no berries.

Aside, raspberry, md Aside, Raspberry bush, day 14, md Aside, raspberry bush, day 24, md Aside, raspberry bush, day 38, md

Aside, raspberry bush, day 51, md
Raspberry bush along the building. No berries here either.

Aside, scarlet runner beans, day 10, md Aside, scarlet runner beans, day 38, md

Aside, scarlet runner beans, day 37, md
Scarlet runner beans along the West fence. I have planted these on June 11. Quite a few of them are now happily growing up the support.

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Bolting and fungi in a permaculture garden

This morning, before the +40°C weather hit, I put out some more egg shells into the garden to discourage snails from chewing through the leaves, and sprayed the plants with the jalapeño infused water, to deter squirrels. Not five minutes after I have sprayed, a neighbour of the squirrel persuasion came to visit. It circled the garden perimeter on the fence, sniffing suspiciously, and decided the garden did not hold any bounty of interest. I’ll take it as a good sign.

Before spraying, I have poked at a few more radishes on top of Tower 4, and pulled out those that either looked ready or threatening to become inedible hard roots. There shall be a salad tonight.

garden_june_30_2014_harvest_radishes_dill_med

It has been very hot for the past few days. We have spent quite a bit of that time at a beach or relaxing inside, and during that time, our cilantro appears to have bolted (which means the flowers are out and the plant is going to seed). Unfortunately, it grows best in cool, moist environments and does not like hot weather much. (Welcome to my garden of 10+ hours of hot burning sun every day, dear cilantro.) This is the exact same experience I have had last year. Shade did not prevent this rapid flowering. So, sadly, cilantro leaves are no longer flavourful, and the only thing to do is to let it go to seed. I think next time I shall plant it in the ground, as opposed to a tower, so that it can easily self sow.

One of the two dill plants has gone to flower as well. I have gathered up the stalks with the flowers to preserve for the pickling time. Dill will likely be another plant I would like to move outside the tower. Interesting thing I have learned, is that dill and fennel will cross-pollinate, creating less-than-optimal results for both plants. I shall keep that in mind if I am ever to introduce fennel into the equation. I will still plant dill and basil in close proximity with tomatoes, as they act as pesticides keeping tomato horn worms away.

One of the grape vines worries me as well (not that it ever gives any fruit, it just grew in the garden without any encouragement on our part): it has light green spots on the leaves, and some leaves are curling and have dried-out regions. After a bit of investigation, I think the vine has been chosen as home by downy mildew. Most sites do not list natural ways to deal with it: controlling it includes selection of the spot to plant the vine and picking a resistant genetic variant (since it just sprouted on its own, no input had been possible on our end) or applying pre-infection fungicides (which we have not done) or, less effectively, post-infection fungicides. As we do not want to spray anything toxic, I welcome alternative suggestions on how to approach this.

It looks like very hot days this week, with thunderstorms promised tomorrow (truly an Ottawa Canada day: go outside for a certainty to get burned and a chance to get struck by lightning), so I shall leave the harvest of greens until the plants can drink in the sunlight and the rain.

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First harvest

Wednesday morning, I have spent some time in the garden placing crushed egg shells around the plants in the permaculture towers that showed signs of snails partaking in the leaves. Egg shells also provide minerals to the soil as they break down, so I figured I would annoy the snails and feed the garden in one go.

While in the garden, I have seen a few Easter Egg radishes poking out of the ground ready for picking, so I took the opportunity to pluck those out. Seeing how some of the greens had juicy-looking leaves, I could not resist to harvest some for a quick salad. This made for the first official harvest that made an entire salad (besides dill, parsley, cilantro, and onions I have occasionally been picking).

garden_june_25_2014_harvest_radishes_kale_chard, med

A fresh salad of kale, Swiss chard, radishes, with a little olive oil and vinegar made for a perfect summer dish. Sharing the bounty in the evening with my family, it felt very rewarding to have grown this delicious food ourselves. Our daily watering ritual gives me time to reflect on the green life enveloping the permaculture towers, and be grateful for having access to land.

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Permaculture tower progress

Morning garden, permaculture towers, day 24, medIt has been almost a month, since I have planted seedlings into my permaculture towers, following the garden preparations and the building of the towers. Each day I marvel at the strong green plants sprouting out of the towers. Some are already blooming, a few small green tomatoes have formed, and with each rain things get greener and wilder. Here is a progress update on the plants, with photos on May 27th (day 1), June 10th (day 14), and June 20th (day 24). You can click on the thumbnails to see more detailed, larger photos.

Due to the fence that is now in place, it is a bit hard to take photos of the sunny side of Towers 3 and 4. Thus it is not easy to display progress clearly. I also have to really try to find the time of day when the sun is not too bright: lately the sky has been cloudless, and so it has been hard to get clear pictures that are not overexposed.

I have planted sweet peas, snow peas, and scarlet runner beans around Towers 3 and 4, on June 1st, and some scarlet runner beans on a small patch by the West fence, on June 11th. I have also thinned the radishes on top of Tower 1, on June 15th, and replanted those I pulled out into the top of Tower 2, around the hot peppers and chamomile.

Tower 1

Tower1, Stevia, md Tower1, Stevia, day 14, md Tower 1, top, stevia, day 24, md
Stevia on top of Tower 1. The plant is generally happy and is sprouting new leaves. However, some time in the second week, someone (I suspect, a clumsy squirrel) broke the top of the plant off. I have collected the leaves and used them in salads. The plant seems to be recovering well.

Tower 1, sunny, md Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 14, md Tower 1, sunny-shady, day 24, md
Yellow cherry Gold Nugget tomato and butternut squash in one section, and in another –Alba Regie sweet pepper among strawberries, another Yellow cherry Gold Nugget tomato and another butternut squash. Very few strawberries have survived being transplanted, so I have pulled those out to allow more space for the living plants. The tomatoes, peppers, and squashes seem to be happy and growing well.

Tower 1, sunny-shady, md Tower 1, sunny, day 14, md Tower 1, sunny, day 24, md
Beefsteak tomatoes, half-dead purple basil, Alba Regie pepper and spaghetti squash in one section, Lipstick sweet pepper and strawberries in the next. As expected, the purple basil did not survive, as it was dying even before transplantation. The tomatoes, peppers, and squash are doing well.

Tower 2

Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, md Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, day 14, md Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, day 24, md
Thai hot pepper and German chamomile plants on top of Tower 2. I have covered the top with straw to hold in the moisture and prevent extensive soil movement during watering. I have also transplanted radishes which I have thinned out of Tower 4. They did not like it much, so I’m not sure how many will survive. It was that or throw them out, though, so I figured I’d give them a chance. Next time, I might make seed tape instead of planting directly into the ground.

Tower 2, sunny-shady, md Tower 2, sunny-shady, day 14, md Tower 2, sunny-shady, day 24, md
Columnar basil in one section, two Fox cherry tomatoes and a Romanian sweet pepper in the next. As opposed to the purple basil, the columnar basil seems to have taken to its spot well, and is putting out new leaves. The tomatoes and peppers are growing quite happily.

Tower 2, sunny, md Tower 2, sunny, day 14, md Tower 2, sunny, day 24, md
Droopy strawberries, Matt’s Wild tomato in their midst, and lemon thyme underneath, with a butternut squash at the bottom in one section, and more strawberries and another Matt’s Wild tomato in the next section. Tomatoes have grown so much already that they are overshadowing lemon thyme. I shall keep an eye on it – it might need to be transplanted to get enough light. Most of the strawberries have died in this section as well, so I cleared them away. The squash seems to be doing well, and the tomatoes are blooming and already putting out fruit.

Tower 2, sunny 2, md Tower 2, sunny 2, day 14, md Tower 2, sunny 2, day 24, md
Closeup of strawberries and another Matt’s Wild tomato in the second section from the photo before, and a single Romanian sweet pepper in the next section. Strawberries removed, the tomato is growing a bit slower here, but seems to be strong. The pepper plant is blooming.

Tower 2, shady, md Tower 2, shady, day 14, md Tower 2, shady, day 24, md
Two oakleaf kale seedlings in one section, and two more in the next one. Slowly but surely the kale is growing, although someone seems to find it tasty. I have put crushed egg shells around some of the plants to deter snails, but so far I’m unsure whether it’s the snails that are causing the damage.

Tower 3

Tower 3, top, nasturtium, md Tower 3, top, nasturtium and carrots, day 14, md Tower 3, top, day 24, md
Nasturtirum – Empress of India – on top of Tower 3, surrounded by carrot seeds. Very few carrot seeds have sprouted – I’m not sure whether my neighbours of the squirrel persuasion have had a paw in that. I had to remove quite a few weeds from around the towers, as the organic straw sprouted, encouraged by all the watering. The nasturtium is growing rapidly and has put out two flowers so far. The few carrot sprouts are growing slowly.

Tower 3, sunny, md Tower 3, sunny, day 14, md Tower 3, sunny, day 24, md
Japanese eggplant at the bottom of one section, and in the next one – Bellstar red tomato, parsley, and at the bottom Spacemaster cucumber. All the plants seem to be quite happy. I have already used parsley in salads quite a few times, and the tomato is growing fast.

Tower 3, shady 2, md Tower 3, shady 2, day 14, md Tower 3, shady 2, day 24, md
Two green kale and two oakleaf kale seedlings in one section, two green kale, one Swiss chard, and one oakleaf kale seedling in the next one. The greens seem to be happy in the semi-shade provided by the towers. We water daily unless it rains.

Tower 3, shady, md Tower 3, shady, day 14, md Tower 3, shady, day 24, md
Another shot of two green kale, one Swiss chard and one oakleaf kale plant from the previous photo, and two more green kale, two Swiss chard, and one oakleaf kale seedling in the next section. All of the greens seem to be growing steadily. Along the bottom, between Tower 3 and the grape vine, I have planted scarlet runner beans, on June 1st. So far (day 20), two plants have sprung up so far – one with two leaves is visible at the very bottom of the photo.

Tower 4

Tower 4 top, nasturtium, md Tower 4 top, nasturtium and radishes, day 14, md Tower 4, top, nasturtium and radishes, day 24, md
Nasturtium – Empress of India, surrounded by radish seeds. The radishes have sprouted and I had to thin them out, transplanting a few into the top of Tower 2. The nasturtium is growing slower than the one on Tower 3. The radishes are quite happy.

Tower 4, sunny, md Tower 4, sunny, day 14, md Tower 4, sunny-shady, day 24, md
Red cherry tomato, Brandywine tomato, and rosemary below in one section, and in the next section – another red cherry tomato, followed by dill, a Brandywine tomato, and Lebanese cucumbers. Lebanese cucumber leaves got eaten by someone, so the plant is not doing well. It is hard to capture the tower from the same angle, as the West fence is now in place, so I had to instead provide a side view in the last photo, capturing the first section with two tomatoes and rosemary. The next section is shown as part of the next series of photos. The tomatoes, the dill, and rosemary all seem to be doing well.

Tower 4, sunny 2, md Tower 4, sunny 2, day 14, md Tower 4, sunny, day 24, md
Red cherry tomato, followed by dill, a Brandywine tomato, and Lebanese cucumbers from the photo above, and in the next section – early Roma tomato, dill, Brandywine tomato, and eggplant at the bottom. Aside from the sad fate of the Lebanese cucumbers described in the previous paragraph, the rest of the plants are doing well. I have used the dill from both sections in salads a few times as well.

Tower 4, shady, md Tower 4, shady, day 14, md Tower 4, shady, day 24, md
Three green kale and two oakleaf kale in one section, and in the next – three green kale and one oakleaf kale. The kale plants are doing well. Along the bottom, between Tower 4 and the lemongrass, I have planted sweet peas, on June 1st. So far (day 20), a few of them have sprung up.

Tower 4, shady 3, md Tower 4, shady 2, day 14, md Tower 4, shady 2, day 24, md
Cilantro between two green kale seedlings, and Swiss chard lower in one section, and in the next – tarragon, followed by two kale plants and a Swiss chard plant. All of the greens are doing well, and I have already used cilantro in cooking. Along the bottom, next to winter savory, I have planted snow peas, on June 1st. So far (day 20), a few of them have sprung up.

Aside, borage, lovage, md Aside, borage and lovage, day 14, md Aside, borage and lovage, day 24, md
Borage at the top of photo, lovage lower, behind Towers 1 and 2. Both plants are happily growing, although borage is being overshadowed by the raspberry bush, while the blackberry bush is growing over the lovage.

Aside, calendula and watercress, md Aside, calendula and watercress, day 14, md Aside, calendula and watercress, day 24, md
Calendula at the top of the first photo, watercress lower, last two photos – reversed: calendula being at the bottom, and watercress at the top. Both are growing well, and watercress is flowering.

Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, md Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, day 14, md Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, day 24, md
From left to right: grape vine 1, lily of the valley, chives, onions, Tower 1 butternut squash. The lily of the valley and the chives are being mostly overshadowed by the grape vine, with the chives putting out flowers but not growing much. I have been harvesting the onions and some chives for salads. The squash is doing well. The grape vine is detailed in the next series of photos.

Aside, grape vine 1, md Aside, grape vine 1, day 14, md Grape vine 1, day 24, md
Grape vine 1, came with the property, does not give fruit. This grape vine has grown rapidly during the previous three summers, and despite a part of it being destroyed during construction last year, it’s coming back strong. I have installed plant supports behind it to help guide it towards the gazebo and have started training it on one of the gazebo pillars.

Grape vine 4, md Grape vine 4, day 14, md Grape vine 4, day 24, md
Grape vine 4, Concord Purple Grape, planted last year, next to Tower 3. This vine did not give fruit last year and most of the leaves last summer have been destroyed by pests. I have covered it for the winter (as I did with grape vine 1) and it seems to be coming back well this summer. I will be looking into ways to control for pests without using harsh chemicals.

Aside, Comfrey and Day lilys, md Aside, Comfrey and Day lilys, day 14, md Aside, Comfrey, grape vine 2, and Day lilies, day 14, md
Day lilies, comfrey, and remains of grape vine 2, butchered during last year’s roof replacement. Comfrey is growing giant leaves, and is now largely in the shade of the rapidly growing Grape vine 2, which I have started to train along fishing line attached to the gazebo. Otherwise it would overgrow the small piece of land by the porch and will not let anything else get any light. The lilies are growing as well.

Aside, grape vine 3, tulips, hyacinths, md Grape vine and bird feeder closeup, day 14, md Grape vine and bird feeder closeup, day 24, md
Grape vine 3, next to fence (to be reconstructed), with tulips and hyacinths. The tulips and hyacinths have bloomed and I have removed them to make space for the bird feeder. I have kept the bulbs to be planted in the fall once more. I have installed the shepherd’s hook with a bird feeder and a bird bath, and have started training the grape vine to go up the pole. It has been hard to attract birds to the garden so far, since the feeder is too close to the building – yet we have little option regarding its position. I have tried leaving a trail of seeds from the tree where birds chirp in the morning to the feeder, and someone has definitely eaten it, but since the seeds in the feeder are not diminishing, I’m assuming we have provided dinner to a larger bird or a squirrel, against which this feeder is protected.

Aside, lemon verbena, lemon grass, md Aside, lemon verbena, lemon grass, day 14, md Aside, lemon verbena and lemongrass, day 24, md
Lemon verbena on the left and lemongrass on the right. Lemongrass got a bit trampled during the installation of the South fence (I’m guessing the workers assumed it was a weed, or just plain didn’t look where they were stepping), but has survived. It has not grown much, however, and I’m not sure if our climate is favourable to its growth.

Aside, Grapefruit mint, md Aside, Grapefruit mint, day 14, md Aside, grapefruit mint, day 24, md
Grapefruit mint. A little unhappy after replanting, the mint has come back in all of its might, and is now growing new leaves. I’m keeping it in the pot, knowing how easily mint can take over the garden.

Aside, garden mint, md Aside, garden mint, day 14, md Aside, garden mint, day 24, md
Garden mint. Kept in a pot for the same reason as the grapefruit variety, it has been quite happy once the roots took.

Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, md Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, day 14, md Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, day 24, md
On the first two photos: left – winter savory, top right – Russian sage, bottom – lily of the valley. Because of the sun, the recently-installed West fence, and the tomato overshadowing the savory, I have taken the last photo from the other side, with lily of the valley being at the top, the winter savory on the right, covered by a tomato branch, and the Russian sage on the bottom left. It is hard to tell from the photo, but the sage has put out purple flowers. The lily of the valley has flowered already, and all of the plants seem happy.

Aside, currants, md Aside, currants, day 14, md Aside, currants, day 24, md
Two currant bushes between Tower 2 and the South fence. I know that one of the bushes is black currant, yet unsure whether the other one is black or red. So far neither has gone past the green berry stage, so perhaps we shall discover their nature this year. The first photo has been taken from the spot where the South fence now resides, and so the last two photos are taken from the opposite side, with the larger bush being on the right. The smaller bush is depicted in the photo series below as well.

Aside, currants, blackberries, day 14, md Aside, currants, blackberries, day 24, md
Two currant bushes between Tower 2 and the South fence, unknown perennial plant along the window, and what I suspect is our blackberry bush planted last year – Black Satin Blackberry. The blackberry was hardly flourishing last year, and so I assumed it would not have survive the winter. However, once the garden was cleared of weeds in the spring and the towers installed, the bush started growing. We shall see how it progresses. The mystery perennial plant has been replanted from the South-West corner of the garden where it has bloomed next to the rose for two summers. It has happily taken to its new place and has put out new leaves.

Aside, raspberry, md Aside, Raspberry bush, day 14, md Aside, raspberry bush, day 24, md
Raspberry bush along the building. I have removed a large number of smaller raspberry plants that have sprung up around the garden, but have left the “mother bush” alone. It seems to be growing well, overshadowing the borage plant. Hopefully we get some berries this year – it only gave us a handful last summer.

Aside, scarlet runner beans, day 10, md
Scarlet runner beans along the West fence. I have planted these on June 11, and so far (by day 10) one has sprouted.

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Planting seedlings into permaculture towers

Following the garden preparations and the building of permaculture towers, I have planted different types of large and cherry tomatoes, eggplants, sweet and hot peppers, carrots and radishes, butternut and spaghetti squash, kale and Swiss chard, cucumbers, and a variety of herbs. Below are the photos and notes on each plant’s uses, environmental preferences, and useful plant combinations. Please note that “shady side” in my garden implies only partial shade, as we get lots of sunlight and heat during the summer.

The full plan of the garden includes 4 plant towers (T1 to T4), four-stone path where we have the barbeque set, a few bushes, herbs, and flowers planted in between the towers, and the gazebo to cover a paved patch of the garden.

Garden plan, med

Since my planting completed just as our fence replacement was supposed to start, the gazebo has been shifted over the towers while the construction has been done, so the photos reflect that.

Tower 1

Tower 1 plan, med

Stevia
Planted 1 on top of Tower 1. Loves full sun. Naturally sweet plant, the leaves can be used to sweeten drinks and salads. The sweetness comes from two chemicals: Rebaudioside A and stevioside.

Tower1, Stevia, med

Stevia on top of Tower 1

Purple Basil
Planted 2 in Tower 1, under tomatoes, looking droopy upon transplanting – I don’t think it shall survive. Basil has always been tricky in my garden.

Alba Regie Sweet Peppers
Planted 2 in Tower 1 – one in top third among strawberries, next to beefsteak tomatoes, another in bottom half above spaghetti squash, both on sunny side.
Endangered Hungarian heirloom.

Lipstick Sweet Peppers
Planted in Tower 1, above strawberries, top row, sunny side.
Early, heavy yields.

Tower 1, sunny-shady, med

Beefsteak tomatoes, half-dead purple basil, Alba Regie pepper and spaghetti squash in one section, Lipstick sweet pepper and strawberries in the next

Strawberries
Once we had removed the stone tiles that covered the part of our yard that is now a garden, three years ago, strawberries have sprung up. Since then they have taken over a large part of the garden and I had to remove them to make space for the towers. In the process, I have transplanted some to Tower 1, sunny side, top half. Most of them did not survive the transplant shock, but a few plants are still fighting.

Beefsteak Tomatoes
Planted 2 in Tower 1 in rows 1 and 2, on the sunny side, next to basil, between sweet Alba Regie and Lipstick sweet peppers.
Flavourful tomatoes, got seedlings from a friend.

Tower 1, sunny-shady 2, med

Closeup of Lipstick sweet pepper and strawberries

Butternut Squash
Planted 2 in Tower 1, bottom row, next to spaghetti squash, sunny side.

Spaghetti Squash
Planted 1 in Tower 1, bottom row, next to butternut squash, sunny side.

Yellow Cherry, Gold Nugget Tomatoes
Planted 1 in Tower 1, lower third, sunny side, above butternut squash, under the strawberries.
Early cherry tomato.

Tower 1, sunny, med

Yellow cherry Gold Nugget tomato and butternut squash in one section, and in another -Alba Regie sweet pepper among strawberries, another Yellow cherry Gold Nugget tomato and another butternut squash.

Tower 2

Tower 2 plan, medGerman Chamomile
Planted 1 on top of Tower 2, next to a red bell pepper.
“It has been said that if you have a failing plant, simply plant chamomile next to it and it will revive.”
Likes full sun

Hot Thai Peppers
Planted on top of Tower 2, next to German chamomile.
Chili plants love heat and full sun, and there are several ways to preserve peppers.

Tower 2 top, chamomile and hot peppers, med

Thai hot pepper and German chamomile plants on top of Tower 2

Columnar Basil
Planted 1 in Tower 2, within the top third.
Planting basil with tomatoes protects them by repelling insects. Basil prefers partial sun.

Fox Cherry Tomatoes
Planted 2 in Tower 2, top row, sunny side, between columnar basil and Matt’s wild cherry tomatoes.
Loves full sun, very prolific.

Tower 2, sunny-shady, med

Columnar basil in one section, two Fox cherry tomatoes and a Romanian sweet pepper in the next

Strawberries
Transplanted some to Tower 2, sunny side, top half. Most of them did not survive the transplant shock, but a few plants are still fighting. Strawberries produce more in full sun.

Matt’s Red Tomatoes
Planted 2 in Tower 2, next to strawberries, in the top half, on the sunny side.
Deep red cherry tomato.

Lemon Thyme
Planted in Tower 2, sunny side, in the bottom half above the butternut squash, under the Matt’s Wild cherry tomato.
Good to use in marinades that call for lemon, likes full sun to part shade.

Butternut Squash
Planted 1 in Tower 2, bottom row, under lemon thyme, sunny side.
Butternut squash prefers direct sunlight.

Tower 2, sunny, med

Droopy strawberries, Matt’s Wild tomato in their midst, and lemon thyme underneath, with a butternut squash at the bottom in one section, and more strawberries and another Matt’s Wild tomato in the next section

Romanian Sweet Pepper
Planted 2 in Tower 2, one in top third, next to strawberries and Matt’s wild cherry tomatoes, another one in bottom third, under fox cherry tomatoes, both on sunny side.
Romanian heirloom, very sweet.

Tower 2, sunny 2, med

Closeup of strawberries and another Matt’s Wild tomato in the second section from the photo before, and a single Romanian sweet pepper in the next section

Oakleaf Kale
Planted 4 in Tower 2, in the top third, on the shady side.
Prefers full sun or partial shade. Unsure if that’s the Red Ursa or Russian Kale, will have to find out once it grows.

Tower 2, shady, med

Two oakleaf kale seedlings in one section, and two more in the next one

Tower 3

Tower 3 plan, medNasturtium (Empress of India)
Planted 1 on top of Tower 3, surrounded by carrot seeds.
Loved by predatory insects and bees, edible flowers. Likes full sun.

Carrots (seed)
Planted on top of Tower 3, surrounding the nasturtium plant.
Will need to try mixing with radish seeds, perhaps the next batch.

Tower 3, top, nasturtium, med

Nasturtirum – Empress of India – on top of Tower 3, surrounded by carrot seeds

Japanese Pickling Eggplant
Planted 1 Tower 3, lower level, sunny side, next to cucumbers.
Likes full sun.

Bellstar Red Tomatoes
Planted 1 in Tower 3, top row, sunny side, above parsley.
Early plum tomato, likes full sun.

Tower 3, sunny, med

Japanese eggplant at the bottom of one section, and in the next one – Bellstar red tomato, parsley, and at the bottom Spacemaster cucumber.

Spacemaster Cucumber
Planted in Tower 3, bottom row, on a sunny side, under the parsley. Two plants did not want to separate root systems, so I planted both together.
Likes full sun, compact and good for pickling when smaller.

Curled Parsley
Planted in Tower 3, mid-way down, on a sunny side, under the Bellstar red tomato.
Likes full sun.

Tower 3, shady 2, med

Two green kale and two oakleaf kale seedlings in one section, two green kale, one Swiss chard, and one oakleaf kale seedling in the next one.

Green Kale
Planted 6 in Tower 3, top half, shady side.
Likes full sun.

Oakleaf Kale
Planted 4 in Tower 3, next to green kale and Swiss chard, second half, shady side.
Prefers full sun or partial shade. See Tower 2 for more.

Tower 3, shady, med

Another shot of two green kale, one Swiss chard and one oakleaf kale plant from the previous photo, and two more green kale, two Swiss chard, and one oakleaf kale seedling in the next section.

Swiss Chard
Planted 3 in Tower 3, on the shady side, middle rows, next to green kale and oakleaf kale.
Loves to be planted next to green beans, cabbage, broccoli, tomatoes.

Scarlet Runner Beans (seed)
Planted around Tower 3 base, on semi-shady side.
Attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and Russian women interested in permaculture.

Tower 4

Tower 4 plan, med

Nasturtium (Empress of India)
Planted 1 on top of Tower 4, surrounded by radish seeds.
Loved by predatory insects and bees, edible flowers. Likes full sun.

Easter Egg Radishes (seed)
Planted on top of Tower 4, surrounding the nasturtium plant.

Tower 4 top, nasturtium, med

Nasturtium – Empress of India, surrounded by radish seeds.

Barbeque Rosemary
Planted in Tower 4, sunny side, below Brandywine tomatoes, lower third.
Prefers full sun, attracts bees and hummingbirds.

Brandywine Tomatoes
Planted 3 in Tower 4, middle row, sunny side, under dill and above rosemary.
In need of lots of sun and pruning.

Early Roma Tomatoes
Planted 1 in Tower 4, top row, sunny side, above dill, next to red cherry tomatoes.
Disease-resitant, need at least weekly watering.

Red Cherry Tomatoes
Planted 2 in Tower 4, top row, on the sunny side, next to dill.
Pinch out side shoots regularly.

Tower 4, sunny, med

Red cherry tomato, Brandywine tomato, and rosemary below in one section, and in the next section – another red cherry tomato, followed by dill, a Brandywine tomato, and Lebanese cucumbers.

Dill
Planted 2 in Tower 4, under tomatoes, in the top third, on the sunny side.
Loves full sun. Plant next to cabbage or onions, but keep away from carrots.

Lebanese Cucumber
Planted 2 in Tower 4, lowest level, two together since the root systems were attached.
Prefer shade in hot climates
Try to keep the roots cool by applying mulch
, to avoid cucumber beetles that can destroy the plants.

Japanese Pickling Eggplant
Planted 1 Tower 4, lower level, sunny side, next to cucumbers. See more in Tower 3.

Tower 4, sunny 2, med

Red cherry tomato, followed by dill, a Brandywine tomato, and Lebanese cucumbers from the photo above, and in the next section – early Roma tomato, dill, Brandywine tomato, and eggplant at the bottom.

Green Kale
Planted 10 in Tower 4, top half, shady side. See more in Tower 3.

Oakleaf Kale
Planted 3 in Tower 4, next to green kale and Swiss chard, second half, shady side.
Prefers full sun or partial shade. See more in Towers 2 and 3.

Tower 4, shady, med

Three green kale and two oakleaf kale in one section, and in the next – three green kale and one oakleaf kale

Cilantro
Planted 1 on the shady side in the top third of Tower 4.
Sensitive to heat, prefers full shade in hot climates
.

Swiss Chard
Planted 2 in Tower 4, on the shady side, middle rows, next to green kale and oakleaf kale. See Tower 3 for more.

Tarragon
Planted 1 in Tower 4, top row, shady side, above green kale, next to red cherry tomatoes.
Full or part sun, likes moisture.

Tower 4, shady 3, med

Cilantro between two green kale seedlings, and Swiss chard lower in one section, and in the next – tarragon, followed by two kale plants and a Swiss chard plant.

Sweet Peas (seed)
Around  Tower 4 base, in the ground, on sunny side.
Prefer cool days, are great climbers.

Snow Peas (seed)
Around Tower 4 base, in the ground, on semi-shady side.
Prefer full sun to partial shade.

Plants in-between towers and around the garden:

Borage
Planted 1 in the ground, between Towers 1 and 2, close to the house.
Loved by bees, with edible purple flowers. It likes full or partial sun.

Lovage
Planted next to borage, between Tower 2 and the house, in the shade.
Likes full sun or partial shade

Aside, borage, lovage, med

Borage at the top of photo, lovage lower, behind Towers 1 and 2

Calendula
Planted 1 in the ground, between Towers 1 and 2.
Full sun, tolerates moderate shade.
Attracts butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects.

Watercress
Planted between Towers 1 and 2, towards the house, in a small hollow I have formed, so that the water pools in it. A few days in, the plant is already flowering.
Full sun, tolerates light shade, grows best in semi-aquatic environments.

Aside, calendula and watercress, med

Calendula at the top of the photo, watercress lower

Chives
Planted 1 in the ground, next to Tower 1 and green onions.
Prefers sunny locations. Plant on the edge of the garden to repel insects.

Green onions
Next to chives and lily of the valley, there are some green onions that have sprouted from an old onion I had in the pantry. They seem to be thriving.

Lily of the Valley
Pulled out some to place Tower 3, and replanted it next to chives. Left the remainder between Tower 3 and Tower 4, it was still blooming.

Aside, chives, green onions, lily of the valley, Tower 1 butternut squash, med

From left to right: grape vine 1, lily of the valley, chives, onions, Tower 1 butternut squash

Grapes
There are random vines coming up all throughout the garden. The largest vine is by the porch that I train to climb up the gazebo. Another smaller vine is on the other side of the porch, among the day lilies. It usually climbs up the other side of the gazebo and towards the window. Third vine climbs up the middle of the South fence. None of these vines produce berries.

Aside, grape vine 1, med

Grape vine 1, came with the property, does not give fruit

I have purchased and planted another vine last year – Concord Purple Grape, which is now next to Tower 3 and close to another gazebo support. Last year it did not produce berries. We shall see what happens this year.

Grape vine 4, med

Grape vine 4, Concord Purple Grape, planted last year, next to Tower 3

Comfrey
Planted 1 separately from the Towers, next to the porch with the lilies.
Will grow in full or partial sun. Might take over the garden as it spreads like mint.

Day Lily
A few of them are coming up next to the porch, surrounding the comfrey plant. I usually replant the bulbs in the fall or leave the existing ones in the ground over the winter.

Aside, Comfrey and Day lilys, med

Day lilies, comfrey, and remains of grape vine 2, butchered during last year’s roof replacement

Hyacinths
Most have finished blooming and I have pulled out the bulbs to be planted in the fall.

Tulips
Done blooming, pulled out the remainder of the bulbs and saved them for the fall.

Aside, grape vine 3, tulips, hyacinths, med

Grape vine 3, next to fence (to be reconstructed), with tulips and hyacinths

Lemongrass
Planted in the corner of the garden next to lemon verbena and Tower 4.
Full sun, natural insect repellent
The plant got somewhat trampled during fence replacement, but seems to still be alive.

Lemon Verbena
Planted along the South fence, next to lemongrass, close to Tower 4.
Full sun, natural insect repellent

Aside, lemon verbena, lemon grass, med

Lemon verbena on the left and lemongrass on the right

Grapefruit Mint
Planted in a pot, as mint frequently takes over the garden.
Likes full sun or partial shade

Aside, Grapefruit mint, med

Grapefruit mint

Garden Mint
Planted in a pot, removed all the parts of the root system that has spread throughout the garden from the previous years.
Prefers cool moist areas but will grow in full sun.

Aside, garden mint, med

Garden mint

Russian Sage
Planted in the ground, between Towers 3 and 4, next to winter savory, partial shade. Drought-tolerant. Planting sage with onions, carrots, cabbage or turnips protects them by repelling insects.

Winter Savory
Planted in the ground, between Towers 3 and 4, next to Russian sage, partial shade.
Needs at least six hours of sun.

Aside, lily of the valley, russian sage, winter savory, med

Left – winter savory, top right – Russian sage, bottom – lily of the valley

Black Currant
I have two bushes, both of which have been planted last year, yet I do not recall if both are black or one is red. They are planted next to each other along the South fence, next to Tower 2.
Permaculture favourite, since they can bloom in partial shade.

Blackberry
We have planted a blackberry bush last year, but it did not look like it was taking to our garden very well, and with the raspberries spreading like wildfire, I thought it was overrun. However, something is coming up along the window that does look like blackberry. We shall wait and see if it recovers.

Aside, currants, med

Two currant bushes between Tower 2 and the South fence, unknown perennial plant along the window, and what I suspect is our blackberry bush planted last year – Black Satin Blackberry.

Raspberry
We have planted Killarney Raspberry bush last year, and although it has not produced more than a handful of berries, it has spread through the garden quickly. I have removed some of it to pass on to a friend, leaving the initial bush. So far it is growing rapidly.

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Permaculture tower construction, cooking session, and belly beads

Belly beads - Fire opal - closeup, smTo pick up on our permaculture adventures: we have constructed The Two Towers. It took most of the day today and here are the details.

The straw was supposed to arrive on Wednesday, and so I have decided to make Tuesday a day to cook and catch up on beading and other things. I have made two strands of belly beads: Fire Opal and Blue Lagoon, and have put together designs for a few more. Baby and I went for a walk to ship some items, snuggled, played, and spent the rest of the day at home. I have put together the fencing for one of the towers on Sunday using twist ties we had lying about, and have completed another one on Tuesday.

Among our garden adventures, I have made chicken bone broth, and so on Tuesday, once the boys were out, the baby and I got cookin’. I made yellow chicken and potato curry, curried butternut squash soup, curry squash chicken sliders, steamed some broccoli, and cut up some fruit for snacks. I even remembered to make myself a smoothie of kale, a half-eaten apple (kids love doing this, don’t they?), some frozen blueberries, ground flax seed, hemp seed, and water. I have also made a batch of sangria, although using grape instead of orange juice (as I didn’t have any) made it a bit too sweet for my liking.

Belly beads - Wild Flowers - closeup, smOn Wednesday, I worked in the morning, and had a friend come visit around noon. Our  kids played and we chatted. Our organic box arrived later in the day. I have assembled the fencing for the remaining two towers using cable ties, and have worked on the lovely Wild Flowers belly beads in dark blue and purple glass beads, with amethyst, lapis lazuli, and blue crystals. Later Sebastien stopped by with the straw. We were all set for planting.

On Thursday, I made beet and sweet potato soup in the morning, and later, as the baby settled to sleep, I stepped outside of our yard looking for wooden sticks to put into the towers. Luckily, as the fences are currently being replaced by the rental corporation, part of a neighbour’s lilac bush got sheered off, and they had no problem with me taking the branches. It took a while to separate them into small enough pieces, armed only with scissors and a rather dull pair of secateurs, yet that meant I did not have to go any further to find wood for the towers.

To clear space for the first two towers, I have transplanted several offshoots of my raspberry bush into a pot for a friend. (I have planted the raspberries last year and they have already started to take over the garden.) The mint ended up with the same fate, as it also loves to spread itself around.

Once that was done, I have started to set up one of the towers. As our plot of land is small, I had to work on one tower at a time, clearing out plants to make space for it. I have assembled the tower from the fencing rolled into a cylinder, held together by twist ties, and attached it to four poles rooted into the ground by cable ties.

Tower 1, empty, md

First empty tower with four supports

An approximately two-inch layer of straw went onto the bottom to act as a barrier for weeds from the garden soil.

Tower 1, bottom layer, md

Bottom layer of straw

The process consisted of layering straw on the outside, while putting soil in the middle, interspersed with a few wooden branches to hold in the moisture.

Tower 1, bottom, md

Packing in straw and soil

Tower 1, 1 quarter full, md

Straw outer layer and soil inside

Packing the soil against the straw was slow work, as I had to ensure the tower was even, the straw layer thick enough to hold in the soil, yet not too thick for planting, and the soil and sticks packed in tidily. The baby waking up part-way through the first tower did not speed things up. She decided it was the perfect time to play and be held, so I took a break for a couple of hours after the first tower, spending time with her, grabbing some lunch, and eventually settling her back to sleep.

Tower 1, md

Wooden sticks inside the soil for moisture retention

Tower 2, half full, md

Half-completed tower

First tower, about 2/3 completed

First tower, about 2/3 completed

As the tower was packed, the fencing bulged a bit on the sides and settled lower to the ground, leaving the tower shorter than 4 feet. The tower came out a bit tilted. The plastic supports do not appear to be very sturdy, so I shall go to a hardware store later today to search for something stronger to reinforce it. With the strong winds we have, I want to make sure the tower is sturdy enough to weather them.

First tower completed

First tower completed

It was a good thing I talked to the man doing the work on the fences in the neighbouring yards. Apparently our fence is to be ripped up next week. He came over to look at our yard, and said that we’d just have to move the gazebo over (as opposed to disassembling and removing it completely) and take hooks off the fences. According to him, there is no need for me to transplant the black currant bushes away from the fence. He had also complimented me on the towers and said it’s too bad more people are not planting gardens. Indeed, it is somewhat of a concrete jungle in our neighbourhood.

The second tower took less time, with the baby sleeping through most of the assembly. I have been making sure to pack the straw and soil more evenly, approaching the tower from all sides, to avoid tilting and bulging, and stopped frequently to evaluate the result. However, the tower still ended up settling lower, even though it came out more straight than the first one. I guess, that comes with using flexible fencing. As long as it stays sturdy enough though, I don’t see a shorter tower as a deal-breaker.

Tower 2, wooden sticks, md

Second tower with wooden sticks inside

Tower 2, 3 quarter full, md

Second tower, more than half full

Tower 2, almost complete, md

Second tower with a soil pile

Two towers, side, md

Two towers completed

For the next tower, I would have to extract all of the strawberries I currently have growing in the garden, to make space for it. So the plan is to do it tonight, planting them into the existing towers, as it’s not going to be so hot in the evening. We shall see how much I end up accomplishing, after needing to get to a hardware store before then.

Two towers, md

Garden with the two towers

It has been sunny and quite warm all day, although not without a refreshing breeze and an occasional cloud. As I write this, there are peals of thunder and now the pattering of rain outside. I have finished the towers quite timely, it seems. Let’s hope that the rain will ease up tonight so I can transplant the strawberries into a tower.

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Permaculture garden preparations

It has been a busy, productive and fun weekend, with lots of playing, fresh air, and garden preparations, so much so that I had no time to write this until Wednesday evening.

On Friday, I ventured out to pick up a roll of garden fence and a few poles, to get ready for the construction of plant towers.

On Saturday, my son and partner have gone to a store in the morning to get a birthday present for a party at a climbing/crawling/swinging entertainment venue they were attending later in the day. In the meantime, I dealt with the chaos in the kitchen, and have gotten lunch ready, so that there would not be much stomach space left for the usual fare of pizza or hot dogs (seriously, I cannot believe this establishment caters to children). Having had lunch, they took the gift they bought at the store along with some Russian-English translation cards I made, and set off.

I was left at home to tend the baby and plan the garden, as we were getting seeds the next day and I needed to know what to plant. (The four unlabeled circles are the spots for the plant towers.)

gardenPlan600

I have spent some time looking into bird feeders, as I’d like to bring the birds into my tiny garden to help with the garden insects. While searching, I have found this lovely solar-powered garden fountain that birds are supposed to like as a bath. I don’t know about birds, but I’m in love with it. Perhaps some day…

green_ceramic

I was not so lucky finding a bird feeder I liked. The one that struck me as the most aesthetically pleasing, is made of plastic, and according to reviews is utterly destroyed by squirrels. You do recall my squirrel issue? Well, I have set out to find a feeder with squirrel protection, and have found one, together with the pole for it. I have also looked into getting a ladybug house, but, according to some, ladybugs do not have a nesting instinct and so it is futile to get such a house: they won’t live in it.

I have ventured out in the afternoon to get organic tomato plants from a friend: large cherries, beefsteak, brandywine, and roma tomatoes, and to acquire the bird feeder, the pole to hold it, and some tent pegs, to further secure the towers.

I have stayed up late Saturday night, drawing out the towers and the plants to go into them at different levels, on sunny and shady sides. Planning is half the fun, although I had to guess how many plants could possibly fit into a tower while leaving proper spaces between them. As I have never planted in a tower, I had assumed 5 rows with about 8 plants in each, alternating between two types of plants per row (sun- and partial-shade-loving) and between the rows, so that hopefully the same type of plant does not overpower its neighbours, possibly helps them out, and is easy to distinguish when grown.

towers 1, 2, md

towers 3, 4, md

We shall see where this logic leads me. I’m sure the reality will be different from the plan, as it depends highly on the availability of seedlings and seeds, the final tower height, and so on.

On Sunday, my partner and son went to get the car fixed and to get groceries, allowing me to briefly review my copy of The Edible Balcony and come up with some more plant possibilities for the towers. I have also calculated that I needed about 2 cubic yards to create 4 towers, each 4 feed high with radius of 1 foot, and so I have ordered organic mix of peat moss, manure, black peat loam and mushroom compost from Manotick Gardens.

Greta’s organic seeds and seedlings was our destination for the afternoon. It is a beautiful piece of land, with fish ponds, a chicken coup, and greenhouses full of plants. We spent at least two hours there, my son running around reveling in all the green space, my partner keeping an eye on him, and the baby cuddled up in my ring sling, while I listened to Sebastien‘s plant recommendations and gathered up the seedlings into trays. We also got some seeds for peas, beans, kale, lettuces, carrots, and other plants to be started throughout the summer.

Seedlings outside, md

I have spent some time in the evening clearing out a corner of the garden for the soil that was to be delivered the next day. I had to replant a black currant bush and a mystery flowering plant (I can’t recall its name, but it has been growing back ever since I had planted it 3 years ago). I have also cut some tulips and hyacinths to put in a bouquet, and dug out the bulbs from other flowers that have already bloomed, to save them for next year.

Monday was Victoria Day in Canada, making for a long weekend. The soil was delivered in the afternoon, and the driver said he could not drive up to our back yard, since if he left deep tracks on the lawn, our rental corporation would be after him. We have come to a compromise of dumping the soil near the parking lot on a lawn (since even our rental corporation would hardly object to some organic soil feeding that wilting lawn corner). This meant that we had to transport the soil from the parking lot into our garden.

It was an arduous job, more so because I could not help much due to tending to both kids. Once the baby was asleep, my three-year old woke up and decided to help papa. This involved a toy truck and shovel, running barefoot on the grass between our yard and parking lot, and lots of excitement. My partner had to use our little wooden wagon without its sides, and two garbage cans, into which to shovel the soil. We have broken the wheels off our large garbage can in the process – they have just popped off, so we’ll have to figure out a way to fit them back on.

Wagon, md

Shoveling soil, md

Dumping soil, md

Once the soil has been moved, my partner had settled down with a cold beer, and I had engaged my son in starting the seeds we got the day before. He quite enjoyed scooping the soil into the planting trays, scattering the seeds, and watering them. We continued playing outside after dinner, as the weather was still not too hot, my son had lots of energy, and my partner needed more rest.

Lots of activity over the weekend, and at this point we are all geared up to plant, lacking only the straw that is to come later in the week, and wood sticks that Sebastien suggested we incorporate into the towers to hold moisture.

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Mother’s Day, belly beads, and permaculture adventures

It has been a few busy weeks, and it seems the next few shall bring much activity as well, so it took me until Friday to write this post. With the spring coming, I’m working on a fresh new product line of belly beads and planning my garden using the permaculture approach. And so far it has been an exciting adventure with lots to learn.

We had a lovely Mother’s day. My partner made banana oatmeal pancakes, and we spent the morning at home playing with the kids. In the afternoon, we set off to our respective adventures. The baby and I went to Mothers, Midwives & Babies: Celebrating 20 Years of Ontario Midwifery, and my partner and son spent that time at the Aviation Museum. It was great to see the midwives, get a tour of the new birth centre in Ottawa, view a collage of old photos documenting the history of midwifery in Ontario, and spend time with friends outdoors while kids played around us. Afterwards we came home and had a relaxing evening with Thai takeout for dinner and more quiet play.

bellyBeadsMd

For the past couple of weeks, I have been working on belly beads and loving it. I have initially thought of making belly beads for pregnant bellies only, but then I tried some on and realized how wonderful they feel. They also do seem to make me a lot more aware of my core muscles – which makes me remember yoga a lot more often. I have been wearing some around the house for the past few days. The Canada Post lady delivering a package smiled in surprise – I thought to tell her that, yes, I just belly dance all day, hence the attire.

I have incorporated gemstones, crystals, and Czech fire-polished beads into the designs, and have tried two- and three-colour combinations so far. They come out vibrant and light. I added a small drop to each one to hang over the belly button, as an accent. Some of them are being field-tested by friends and so far I’m getting great feedback. A friend has mentioned that her daughter would love some, and so I shall be testing out belly beads for children. And there are beads in the works for two friends who wish to celebrate their beautiful growing pregnant bellies. It is shaping up to be a very exciting and fulfilling project.

Bright side of life cards, etsy, front hyacinth, md

If I did not have my hands full before, I’m certainly lining things up to be busy this summer. For three years now, we have been growing some food and flowers on our tiny plot of land. Some plants in some years gave plentiful harvest, but we have to struggle with a clay-filled shallow soil, lack of an external water hook-up, and hours of blazing hot sun that burns down plants even when they are watered every day. And although I have grown some beautiful flowers that made it onto the postcards, so far nothing that requires even partial shade has survived a summer, and our daily watering ritual includes hooking up the garden hose to the kitchen sink, which requires partial disassembly of the tap. Last summer, watering was a bit easier since there was so much rain, but few things ripened as there were not that many sunny days. It is a delicate dance between scorching heat and never-ending rain, not with any consistent results.

Oh, and squirrels. Did I mention squirrels? If we actually manage to grow anything edible, before we even know it’s nearing a ripe state, squirrels consume half of it and scatter the other half. Strawberries, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, flower bulbs and petals, – you name it, they eat or destroy it. And peanuts are to be stored in my flower beds, since that’s the best hiding spot in the entire neighbourhood. The flowers can just move over in their opinion. To be fair, I cannot blame the squirrels from picking on me, as most people in our town house complex have their back yards paved with large square stone tiles and do not suffer anything to grow if they can help it.

So this year I am attempting to put more thought into the garden design, and I have been looking into permaculture with the help of the wonderful Dasha and Sebastien from Agape Gardens. I have been watching Geoff Lawton’s inspiring videos on transforming dry terrain into luscious gardens and learning how permaculture designs use the natural features of the land to create a viable food-producing ecosystem.

Our rental corporation is planning to replace all the fences, and so we have to be constrained in our design, to prevent the trampling and destruction of the plants during the construction. So for now nothing can climb fences or grow too close to them, which is unfortunate. Since we have so little space and so much sun, we have decided to go vertical and create plant towers. That can allow us to plant flowers or root vegetables (such as carrots, beets, potatoes) on top, heavy vegetables (squashes and such) on the bottom, and things like strawberries, tomatoes, and greens on the sides of the tower. The herbs can then go on the ground around the towers. The towers will also allow us to create some shade and hopefully prevent the plants from being scorched if the summer is very hot.

If anyone has any ideas on how to deter the squirrels, I’d love to hear them! I have tried black or cayenne pepper sprinkled on top of the plants, but it gets washed off by the first rain, and squirrels seem to ignore it in any case. We cannot put any wire or anything spiky on the ground, as we do have children and a cat who can get hurt by it. We are planning to get a bird feeder to attract the birds to the garden for insect consuming purposes, and perhaps squirrels will take more interest in the feeder than in the plants, but I have my doubts. After all, flower beds are a great choice for peanut hiding, and the towers will likely be as well.

Lots to learn, and lots to plan and implement. I am excited to try this approach and see where it takes us.

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Puzzle: Mediterranean Garden, California

Mediterranean Garden, California, med
Size
: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 48.5 cm x 35.5 cm
Producer: Sure-Lox, The Canadian Group

Puzzle: One of the earlier additions to my collection, this puzzle has a bit of glue damage. The easiest places to start are the window with the white flowers under it, the steps, the walls of the house, the purple flowers, the solar light, and the horse. The large flower bushes, and the darker area in the bottom left can follow. A very pleasant puzzle to do.

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Puzzle: Birds of the Season, 3 of 4, by Greg Giordano

Birds 2, med

Size: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 40.64cm x 50.8cm
Producer
: Karmin International, Birds of the Season series
Artist: Greg Giordano

Puzzle: One of the 4 puzzles in the box (first, second, third, fourth). As the others, it’s pleasant to make with the bright flowers and green leaves. The uniform areas of the fence and the watering can, the smaller leaves and sky, the white narcissus flowers and the bird’s bright red and black plumage are good places to start. Tulips and blue and lavender flowers stand out as well. Those could be followed by the darker regions, the green leaves, and the yellow narcissus flowers, leaving the rest easy to complete.

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Puzzle: Birds of the Season, 2 of 4, by Greg Giordano

Birds 1, med

Size: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 40.64cm x 50.8cm
Producer
: Karmin International, Birds of the Season series
Artist: Greg Giordano

Puzzle: One of the 4 puzzles in the box (first, second, third, fourth). Easy to start assembly from the wheel, the birds, and the top background. The flowers are a little more tricky, but the bottom dark part can be filled in first, followed by the yellow centres of the daisies, the washed out green at the bottom centre, yellow patch of colour at the bottom of the wheel, and the rest should fall into place after that.

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Puzzle: Birds of the Season, 1 of 4, by Greg Giordano

Birds 3, med
Size
: 500 pieces
Dimensions: 40.64cm x 50.8cm
Producer
: Karmin International, Birds of the Season series
Artist: Greg Giordano

Puzzle: One of the 4 puzzles in the box (first, second, third, fourth). The bright red bird is the logical start of the this puzzle. The rest of it looks relatively uniform, so assembling darker areas, the large white leaves and the flower centres is one way to approach this puzzle, filling in the leaves and the branches afterwards.

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Puzzle: Trinity Church

Trinity Church, med

Size:  500 pieces
Dimensions: 48.5 cm x 35.5 cm
Producer: Sure-Lox

Puzzle: This puzzle is not very exciting to do due to dull grays of the building and the dark greens of the bushes and trees occupying the most of the picture, but Sure-Lox pieces fit together well and the size is small enough to not present a challenge. I just wish the photograph had more colour and contrast in it to really highlight the beauty of the old architecture. The sequence of assembly could start with the sky and its boundary with the roof and the trees, and with the grass and its boundary with the flowers. The border between the building and the bushes provides a good horizontal guide, and the tall windows can serve as vertical guides. From that point on, the picture is trivial to assemble.

Notes: I no longer have the puzzle box, so I’m unsure where this church is situated (there are plenty of Trinity churches around the world, it seems). If you have any information on the location of this building, I’d love to know.

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Puzzle: Greenhouse

Greenhouse, med

Size:  1000 pieces
Dimensions: 54.5cm x 70cm

Puzzle: Beautiful hydrangea domes make this puzzle a serene one to do. The easiest place to start are the walls and the roof of the greenhouse, the paths, the evergreen tree, and the lighter blue flowers at the bottom. The fern-like blooms, the yellow regions, and the tulips are distinct to put together as well. The rest of the puzzle can be done in any order. Good lighting is a plus.

Notes: I do not have a record of the producer of this puzzle as I do not have the box anymore. A clarification is welcome – if you have any clue as to the details regarding this puzzle, I would much appreciate that information.

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Puzzle: Gateway Solitude

Gateway Solitude, med
Size
: 500 pieces, 1 missing
Dimensions: 33.9 cm x 45.4 cm
Producer: Wrebbit, Perfalock foam puzzle series, 2003, 22406

Puzzle:
I felt like assembling a foam puzzle which I haven’t done lately. The fit is unique and takes getting used to, but quite pleasant. A good starting point was the walkway, since it provided a vertical guide and split the bottom of the puzzle into three distinct regions. The gate and the brick pillars came afterwards, followed by the flower bunches, the trees, and the sky. Simple and enjoyable puzzle to do.

Notes: IntroducingPerfalock, the first puzzle that goes anywhere without going to pieces! Make it, move it, mount it, and it won’t fall apart. Precisely crafted out of flexible foam, Perfalock pieces fit together so perfectly you can barely see the seams! Its unique backing material means that Perfalock puzzles stay together without messy glue. Perfalock from Wrebbit. We make great puzzles happen. [Puzzle box]

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Puzzle: Love each day

Love each day, med
Size
: 1000 pieces
Dimensions: 51 cm x 69 cm
Producer:
Empire, Puzzle Makers, #620205

Puzzle: Not a completely trivial puzzle to do due to variation in puzzle piece format and similarities of the coloured regions, but quite enjoyable. The easiest parts to do are the uniform white of the path, the bench, and the fence, the green of the grass, and the blue-white of the sky. The willowy tree is a good region to tackle next, as well as the groups of similarly-coloured flowers. The trees in the background can come last.

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Puzzle: Sunlit Patio by Ming Feng

Ming Feng - Sunlit Patio, med
Size
: 550 pieces
Dimensions: 60.96 cm x 45.72 cm
Producer: Hasbro, Milton Bradley, Picture Perfect series, 2002
Artist: Ming Feng

Puzzle: I like the feel of these pieces and the way they snap together. The easiest way to approach this puzzle is to start with solid areas of colour: the floor, the chair, bench, and table, and the door. From that point on, it’s a matter of separating areas with similar flower and leaf colouring and assembling those. A very pleasant and calming puzzle to do.

Notes: Beautiful puzzle cut with gaps being nearly invisible. Pieces fit together perfectly and there is no paper dust. A pleasure to assemble, glue, and display.

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