Garden Expert: In The Food Garden
Cooler temperatures still yield garden goodness.
I have been thinking about food a lot lately. Every time I go out into my 10-acre garden, I am reminded that the food I grew with such pride through the summer is melting away into pockets of rot. But I am here to tell you there is an encore happening in your garden, and the celebration is not quite finished. It won’t be, in fact, for another few weeks.
Leeks are running my life these days. I grew more than I expected on account of when I sowed four packets of their seeds, I had 110 per cent germination (an impossibility, I know, but this is how it feels to be successful in the garden). Every gardener has had this experience. Leeks enjoy the cold, especially temperatures below freezing. They get bigger and better by the day.
Carrots are much the same. “Bring on the cold weather,” they say to one another as they huddle shoulder to shoulder in the cold, sandy soil. I suggest that you dig them soon and put them in bushel baskets of dry sand to hold them over the next couple of months in your garage or cold cellar. They can carry on their discussion there while waiting for you to bring them to the table.
You will no doubt be picking up a pumpkin at your local food retailer or farmers’ market soon. I suggest that you keep it on your porch or in your garage until Halloween just to prevent it from being hit by frost and going gooey and rotten before the big day.
I remind you that pumpkins are 90 per cent water. Therefore, throwing them out or disposing of them at the end of your driveway makes no sense. Think about all the garbage trucks in early November that are driving around with large, orange vegetables: neat packages full of water. It makes more sense to place it on the surface of the soil in your garden and let Mother Nature rot it down into something useful. In time it will assist in building microbes and organic matter there.
The whole routine of planting and harvesting garlic is counterintuitive. You plant the cloves now in open, welldrained soil. Come July, they will sprout a long stem with a pigtail and flower on the end of it: this is called a scape. Three or four of these sell for big bucks at the farmers’ market in July, so cut and use them. Every part of the garlic plant is edible, so be creative and use the flowers in salads or whatever you are cooking on the barbecue that time of year. Harvest the garlic in August and leave the bulbs in the sun for a few days. Then tie the stems together and hang them in a cool, well-ventilated place until you are ready to use them in the kitchen.
If you had a great crop of raspberries this season, now is the time to cut them down by removing the canes that fruited this summer. Cut the woody stems to the ground. Leave the young growth that occurred in August to mature and produce fruit next season. If you have fall-bearing raspberries, then finish picking and cut down the fruiting canes next spring.
If you have a large rhubarb plant in the garden, now is an appropriate time to dig it up, divide it into smaller root portions and replant it or give away some of the divisions. This is also true for hostas, daylilies, monarda, and many other perennial flowering plants.
Strawberries that have been in the same soil for three years or more are ready to be dug up, separated, and moved to new ground. Make sure that their new home is completely weed-free at the time of planting or you will regret it. Weeding strawberries is not my favourite job.
Spring is when the new plants are available for sale and therefore planting. However, if you have an established clump, now is an appropriate time to make sure that it is weed-free. Let the leaves and stems stand over winter. They will help to accumulate snow as a natural insulator and they add some interest to the winter garden.
It may be late in the gardening season, but don’t forget that the garden still needs some of your attention.
Mark Cullen is an expert gardener, member of the Order of Canada, author and broadcaster. Get his free monthly newsletter at markcullen.com. Look for his new best seller, The New Canadian Garden, published by Dundurn Press. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCullen4 and Facebook. markcullen.com
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Photography By LARRY ARNALThe smallest space in the home is the perfect place to unleash your most daring design desiresWhen I design a powder room, I think of the “pow” factor. Homeowners often are worried it is going to be “too much!” Fortunately, it is the one place in the house that you are allowed to take your design ideas to the edge, and then go a little farther, with complete success.ONCE UPON A POWDER The term powder room, apparently was coined in the 18th century, and described a small interior closet where people would go to have their wigs and faces re-powdered. The term survived through the Victorian period and ultimately became a euphemism for using the toilet, as the English frowned upon anything related to healthy bodily functions. The term has survived through to the present.SMALL & SALIENT There is no question that adding a powder room during a renovation adds value to a home. Located on the main floor, powder rooms are often mentioned on real estate listing sheets as one of the benefits of the house. It’s possible to squeeze them into a three-foot by five-foot space with room for only the toilet and a small sink. Ideally you want to keep them close to existing sewage and water source. In very tight spaces, you may have to use a corner sink or something very narrow. If you have ever gone to the “powder room” in a restaurant in Europe, you will recall that sinks can be incredibly small while still being functional. You may need specialty plumbing shops like Watermarks or Porcelanosa to pull it off, but it is completely doable.BOLD IS BETTER Now you get to create a room that is fun and interesting. You have to remember that unlike any other room in the house, the powder room is intended to be used completely alone every time. It’s great when the design is unlike any other part of the house. Think of it as a break from everything and everyone in the house where you have your own experience before returning to the group. Push the envelope in terms of colour, pattern and details.Don’t be afraid of a deep colour or complex pattern in the powder room. It’s visually interesting and the darker or more complex patterns actually make the room seem larger. The drama makes it difficult to perceive the dimensions of the room. Wallpaper is a great choice for the powder room, then use the darkest colour in the wallpaper to paint out the other details of the room, such as the trim mouldings, ceiling and doors. The final experience of the room will be magical.EVERY LIGHT SOURCE UNDER THE SUN You also want to layer the lighting in the room. Overhead lighting like a chandelier or pot lights combined with a wall sconce is perfect. As a general rule, flank the mirror with a sconce on each side, but if you’re tight on space, a single light fixture above the mirror will suffice. Use a large-sized, detailed mirror if possible. Besides enlarging the space, the added details like bevels and mirror-on-mirror layers reflect and refract the light like a jewel. And if it’s one thing I insist on: install a dimmer! Guests can decide on light intensity on their own. I typically pre-set the light level before a party so that guests don’t have to fumble for the light switch. Also, add a candle for a little romance along with a pleasing scent.Even if you don’t need to powder your nose in the powder room, there isn’t any reason why the room can’t pack a Pow.Powder Room CHECKLIST
- Can be created in a 3’x5’ space, 5’x7’ is better!
- If you’re adding one, keep it close to existing plumbing to save costs
- Specialty plumbing stores can help you find spacesaving sinks and toilets
- Use dark colours and complex patterns on the wall to enlarge the look of the space
- Layer the lighting in the room for visual interest
- Sconces around a mirror offer the best light
- Choose a mirror that has an interesting frame or shape
- Boldly use large art work
Glen Peloso has worked in the design industry for 20 years. He is co-founder of Peloso Alexander Interiors, and is a regular design expert on The Marilyn Denis Show and Morning Live. Contact him at pelosoalexander.com
and/or follow him on social media. Twitter: glenpeloso Instagram: glenpelosodesigner
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