Sweet Detachment

On growing, creating, and capturing the moment.

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Fall Maintainence

Posted by Tricia Drover on October 7, 2015 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Fall is officially upon us and has been for a few weeks. This past weekend I finally managed to pull out the last of my summer veggies and plant my bulbs for the spring.

I have a nice row of tulips at the front of my garden and some garlic planted in the back corner Where I hope it won’t create too much shade for the rest of my plants. I love home grown garlic but it is a big user of real estate, so I have only planted about six bulbs. 36 square feet isn’t exactly enough garden to grow copious amounts of anything!

However, it is still 6’ X 6’ of garden space that is all mine, and I intend to make the most of it!

I still have some beautiful nasturtiums in my garden that I will probably leave until the frost kills them. I have already harvested some seeds although honestly I probably didn’t need to. I am sure I will have plenty of plant volunteers next spring. However, with the seeds I can be a little more selective about where things grow.

The back patio is also (mostly) all ready for hibernation. I have been doing some reading about my hummingbird feeder, and found what seems to be a very knowledgeable guide at this link:



Based on this I could leave my hummingbird feeder out all winter but, as it is glass, I hesitate to leave it out during the freezing months.

I will be leaving my bird seed feeder out for the winter, however. Pretty sure my jays and chickadees will appreciate that.

Most of the plants in the back will either go dormant or die off when the frost comes. I have a few plants that I am not sure what to do with, however. My ivy and my sage are both perennials, but both are still relatively young and have shallow roots so a deep freeze over the winter months may kills them.

I need to decide if I want to leave them in and see how they fare, or bring them in for the winter. And if I bring them in, where do I put them? My house is so dark that they might just die anyway.

One option is to move them both to the deck outside my bedroom. It is warmer and more protected there, and I can construct a little greenhouse area on my shelves to protect them. This is likely what I will do, assuming that I find the time before the cold arrives. We are having an unseasonably warm fall as predicted so it is likely I have a couple more weeks before I have to worry about this.

And my upper deck…well…I will worry about that at the same time! I love my garden and I love my plants but sometimes it would be nice to have a gardener for all of these sorts of tasks. 


Hanging Basket Woes - HELP!

Posted by Tricia Drover on August 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM Comments comments (0)

I had a beautiful hanging basket outside my house this year, filled with petunia, geraium, and lobelia. For the month of July it was my pride and joy!

Now, however, after a couple months of hot weather, it looks rather dismal. most of the flowers are dried out and dead. My geranium has stopped producing new blossoms. My petunia are leggy. Apparently I dropped the ball on maintainence and because of that my beautiful basket is now being regulated to the back yard.

Does anyone out there have any suggestions on what I can do to prevent this from happening again? I would like to have a nice ornamental basket or two again next year, but they are a lot of money for something that isn't going to last the entire season!

Building a Garden

Posted by Tricia Drover on April 21, 2014 at 6:35 PM Comments comments (0)

I have begun creating a new garden in my home. I've been here for nearly a year now, but last year I moved in on July 7th, a little late to do much with my gardening space. This year, however, I (sort of) have the time to do something with it and so I have begun, slowly but surely, to create a little growing space here for me and my family.

I've created a small garden space on my back deck but it doesn't get a lot of sun and I have been really struggling to get it to produce much.

Fortunately I have a small garden plot in the front that gets a decent amount of morning sun, so next year when I have a chance to build a raised bed there I should be able to get some veggies to grow.

This year I am focusing on the small part of my outdoor gardening that seems to be working - my deck. I have tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries growing quite happily.



Preparing to Move

Posted by Tricia Drover on May 29, 2013 at 3:05 AM Comments comments (0)

We move to a significantly darker home in just under two months. In preparation I am sorting through my houseplants to figure out which ones will be coming with me to the new house. Some will be transitioning to my office, some to new homes, and some simply to plant heaven.

My current home is filled with light all day. Our kitchen faces east and south. Our living room faces south and west. We have lots of big windows so essentially right now I live in a green house :) My new home will be much darker. I have an east facing balcony off our bedroom,  but no windows in my kitchen (only wall) so no morning light on the ground floor of our new home. We have a big patio door that faces west but there are a lot of trees (yay!) in our back yard/patio area, so not a lot of direct sunlight comes in. I believe we have a skylight in the dining room area but I can't remember how much light we get from it.

Fortunately I have a lot of plants that like indirect light. I should be able to get enough natural light for those guys. My full sun plants, like my aloe, my cacti, my jade, and mexican hats are probably going to feel a bit gloomy, though. If I have a window at work I might be able to move them there but, if not, I might have to look for some adoptive homes. For some of my more invasive plants (eg, my Mexican Hats) I might just send them to plant heaven. 

It will be a challenge fitting all my green babies into a new home, but I am eager to try! Expect lots of pictures of my new environment to come this summer.

To be honest this blog will probably suffer a bit this summer. Not only will I not be gardening much but I will also be adjusting to working full time AND moving into a new place. I apologize in advance but please know that this will only be a temporary issue. I am excited to build a new garden in my new home and there will be much to write about then!

Powdery Mildew

Posted by Tricia Drover on April 30, 2013 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)

My pansies are suffering from powdery mildew right now. I have already lost two of my four plants. The last two are fairly healthy but definitely have some spots. Very, very sad about this as my garden is minimal this year and I liked having the pansies there to put some colour into the mix.

I am trying a home remedy to see if I can salvage my plants. I put a teaspoon of baking soda into a litre of water and sprayed the plants and soaked the surrounding soil. Hopefully this will clear the problem up! I found this suggestions (and other great hints) at this site.

Has anyone else had this problem? If so, what methods did you use to combat the fungus? Were they successful?

Follow up:

So unfortunately I think my treatment was too little too late. The mildew was too far gone. The plants were unable to recover.

I took them out today. Now my balcony just has some perennials that I will be moving to our new house and lots of planters with dirt (and a few weeds!). A little dreary, but c'est la vie. You learn from each loss, non?

Great Gardening Links

Posted by Tricia Drover on February 27, 2013 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a wealth of gardening information to be found on the web (and not just on this blog :) ). I've spent a lot of time sifting through different sites on the web and below I have compiled a list of some of the best for you to peruse. Happy Gardening! 

*These links can also be found in the "LINKS" section of the my site. 

Garden Tenders - This is an online gardening community. Here you can showcase your successes, post questions, and be inspired by the creative projects of other gardeners. I found this site extremely helpful when I first started gardening.

BC Living Magazine - A BC based online gardening magazine. Very professional and has lots of information about gardening events throughout the province.

Guide to Common Houseplants - A handy guide to growing common houseplants. This is a great site for those looking to have a few green things in the house and aren't sure where to begin.

Herb Gardening Guru - An handy guide to growing herbs; something anyone with a culinary inclination should try! Nothing beats fresh herbs in your cooking.

How To Compost - A great "how to" on composting. If you have the room to compost at home you definitely should use this site as a resource. Also check out my blog posting on composting: Compost Capers.

Growing Weeds - A fun site that allows gardeners to share various mishaps and stories of gardening gaffes. You can submit your own stories to share.

You Grow Girl - A very popular blog and gardening community launched in 2000. You can follow You Grow Girl on Twitter and Facebook as well.

There are more great links on Sweet Detachment as well. 

Do you have any gardening sites you'd like to recommend? 

Preparing for Spring

Posted by Tricia Drover on February 6, 2013 at 7:15 PM Comments comments (0)

With all this rain it may seem hard to believe, but Spring is just around the corner. 

We all know what that means. It is time to start planning your 2013 garden. 

If this is your first year growing a garden, or if you are trying something different such as growing your own seedlings for the first time, then this entry is for you. Below I have compiled a step-by-step approach to starting your garden this spring.

Step One - Decide what you are going to grow.

This can be done at any time before planting begins, so before late February. You need to look at the growing space you have available and figure out what kinds of crops you want to fill it with. This sounds relatively simple but there are a lot of things to consider. Are you growing in a plot or in containers? Do you have a spot with full sun or are you limited to partial sun? Are you growing crops that will take an entire season to grow (eg, corn), last an entire season (eg, squash or lettuce), or crops that can be sown several times (eg, beets or radishes). All of these things must be considered when planning out your garden.

For example, you want to ensure that you don't end up crowding out or shading plants with things like corn, squash, sunflowers, and other plants that either grow tall or spread out. You also want to make sure you start seedlings early enough, and that you are ready to direct seed as soon as the ground is ready for you. 

The best way to design your garden is to draw out a diagram. This allows you to see how everything will fit together once you have it in the ground. Trust me, it's not so easy to figure it out at planting time!

Step Two - Start your seedlings.

Late February is usually when I begin my first seedlings. For myself, this would be the time I start my marigolds, nasturtium, and basil. I am also going to try onions this year (I haven't had much luck with them in the past). Other herbs and flowers I tend to direct seed. I believe sunflowers and corn could also be started now as well.

I start my tomatoes and peppers around mid-March. They can be started earlier but be prepared to need lots of room as they grow very quickly. 

The easiest way to decide when to start your seedlings is to look at the seed packet, or, alternately, Google it to see when you need to get started. 

How does one start seedlings in February? Obviously the lack of warmth and natural light is an issue. You will need at the very least a grow light. Ideally you will also get a warm pad, or place your plants in a warm location, to encourage growth. I have a very basic set up in my kitchen - one small grow light on my kitchen shelves - but it has served me well for a few years now. I usually move to natural light during the day, when possible, after the equinox.

I do recommend using seed starter for your seedlings. Although some people do say that compost or regular soil works just as well you are risking disease and contamination of your plants when they are at their most vulnerable.

Step Three - Direct seed and plant your seedlings

Once spring is well underway, usually around early to mid-May, it is time to start putting your plants outside. 

Plants can be put outside earlier if they are in a protected spot such as a covered deck. Plants that will be exposed to the harsh environment without any protection, however, shouldn't be planted until the risk of a frost or near freezing weather is over. In Vancouver, May is usually a safe bet for this.

Seedlings should be hardened off before they are planted outside. This means setting them outside for a gradually increasing amount of time each day until they are accustomed to the harsher climate of the outdoor world.

When direct seeding you don't need to worry about hardening off, but be sure to read the seed packet to see if seeds need to be prepped prior to planting. Some seeds, especialy legumes, sprout better if soaked in water for 24 hours before being placed in the ground.

Read seed packets or Google to find out how deep and close together your seeds should be, and for the ideal time of year to plant them. Since every type of plant is different and everyone likes growing different things I'm not going to go into details in this how-to about how to grow particular plants.

Step Four - Maintaining your garden

Planting your garden is an ongoing process. As things mature and are harvested more things can be planted even into July. In addition some crops can be grown starting in September so you can feasibly continue planting for the entire growing season!

Make sure you plan in advance what crops you will plant once your first crop rotation is harvested, and it is good for the soil to change up what crops are grown in each location . It's also a good idea to add nutrients to the soil prior to growing and after the growing season. Some like to add compost to the soil in between plantings.

Do you have any questions about getting ready for the upcoming growing season? If you do please put them in the comments section below! 

Winter Herbs

Posted by Tricia Drover on January 10, 2013 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)

A nice way to ensure that you have fresh herbs for the winter months is to grow a small indoor herb garden.

This can be done in a sunny windowsill or with the aid of grow lights.

Many herbs grow well in pots - oregano, thyme, mint, sage, basil, dill, rosemary, and cilantro are a few that can spice up your winter cooking.

If you are growing with a grow light you can grow from seed, but I usually just buy starter plants from a local grocery store. There is a great little market a few blocks from my house that sell herb starters for $0.99. If this isn't an option for you, a local gardening store will probably carry herb starters year round.

The best part about herbs is that they are usuable right away. You don't need to wait for the plant to develop fully to start plucking off pieces to use in your recipes. In fact, most herbs grow better if kept pruned down, rather than left to grow in an unruly fashion.

This year I personally chose to grow thyme, rosemary, oregano, and sage in my windowsill. It has definitely added some zest to my pasta dishes!

Winter Planting

Posted by Tricia Drover on November 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Much like my summer garden, my winter planting this year is a very simple affair.

I cleaned out my garden plot and (as described in my previous entry) planted bulbs for spring.

On my deck I have added a few plants to dispel the grey of the dreary winter months. Just some kale and pansies to give me something to love until the long, sunny days of the next growing season arrive.

Above are pictures of my newly planted winter crop.

Want to put in some plants for the winter months? Below are some suggestions for things that will grow even in the coldest months here on the coast:

Kale (edible and ornamental)



Brussel Sprouts

Lettuce, swiss chard, spinach (if kept in a covered shelter with good drainage)



More information on winter growing can be found at the Royal Horticultural Society website, or in this earlier blog posting.

Fall planting brings spring flowers

Posted by Tricia Drover on October 31, 2012 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I just planted my bulbs for next season. Mid-October is right around the right time to do this, although I have planted my garlic as early as labour day weekend before.

I planted garlic (from saved bulbs from my 2012 crop). Bulbs can also be purchased at your local gardening store but I recommend doing this earlier in the season. The stores were all sold out when I went looking for bulbs just before Thanksgiving.

I also replanted old tulip bulbs I had in my plot and added some new ones for a nice bright row in the spring. I didn't pick a colour scheme as I just want a burst of colour, not a premeditated pattern in my garden. Tulips can be used for both - you can be very creative with how you place your bulbs. I have limited growing space, however, so I just did one border row for fun.

Looking forward to see all of this popping up in 2013!