Big City, Little Homestead

Living rural in the city.

Garden bees, beasts, and plants update

Yay house slippers. 

Well, I’ll bee. I wish I had a camera just a moment ago. I went outside to dump this week’s litter box into the compost, and right away encountered a leafcutter bee in flight, with a leaf disc in its paws. Right over by the compost bin is a rose bush that was in bloom a few weeks ago, which has had subsequent growth (it will bloom at least once more; the established Cabot roses are blooming now, whereas the transplants, in their second year, are still just getting established). This rose bush has long been a favourite of leaf-cutting insects, and now I know that they’re native bees, using my rotting logs for nesting sites. They are welcome to it. I always have kept a couple of logs and some brush piles for wildlife to hide in or climb.

The Mason bee house is occupied, and I have also seen it being used as a source of fibre for other bees, gathering material for their hive. They chew up the wood and build paper for nesting cells. This includes the wasps who are again succeeding in occupying the upper corner of my garage door.

Middle hole
Middle hole
Bottom two holes
Fibre gatherer

As for beasties: Though I’ve seen scrapes and mowed-down day lilies earlier this season, last week my resident skunk kicked out a lot of dirt from under my deck. I had to take what she excavated, a pile about six inches deep on top of my penny royals and flagstones around the pond, and spread it out over the rest of my garden, rather than push it back under the deck.

Things grew while I was in Ontario a week ago. My ground cherry plants and some tomato plants needed transplanting from their pots into the plots that were too sparse; since I transplated them on the weekend, we’ve had some rain and some sun and they are all settling in and I can expect more growth. My lettuce bed is coming along despite being attacked by slugs; arugula does the best. I’m counting on a harvest this year. My peas grew and then got eaten by something that made the leaves look lacy. My beans in the front yard are bushing out or climbing the fence.

Flax is even growing!

The tomatoes are far from flowering (except one tomato is on the vine) but that is OK by me – so far. The cucurbits are flowering – a good sign. But, my marigolds have done nothing since I planted them. And the strawberry plant came up, but did nothing since. Maybe next year.

I’m considering what to do about my messy garden in the back. Its configuration and ability to grow stuff is just not the greatest. I’ve decided in the fall to do a soil test, rent a rototiller, and and lay on a thick layer of whatever will correct the soil, and then plant things that best grow in partial shade and sun and a decent amount of rain (the front yard is drier). Also, I look at other gardens and realize that it is probably wiser to buy seedlings than to start them from seeds yourself; if I build the garden shed that I recently conceived, then I’ll have a better space to start the seeds – but I’ll still buy more seedlings than I have in the past as I’m just tired of transplanting with a low success rate. And, if I build the garden shed, I’ll reclaim more space for a better configuration of food plants mixed in with ornamentals. I could have a prettier back yard and all I’ll lose (maybe) is a dining table that I hardly ever use. Plus, I have a grapevine starting that looks promising.


  1. Hi Jane, Did you ever build your shed? I am part of the tiny house movement in Montreal and I saw your link to here. I am looking to build again this spring/summer if you are interested.
    Ken Bailey

  2. Hi Ken, Thank you for your comment and offer! I did not end up building this lovely little shed, as the place to put it was in the sunniest part for the late afternoon, and I enjoy sitting there and have a need for space. However, that does not preclude building something, especially something that can accommodate a hammock.
    This year, I expect to be the recipient of some good reclaimed cedar wood, many boards of which will be 16' long (so I will be stockpiling them for a future tiny house). I intend to reconfigure the decks in the back yard in a significant way, and would love to have input and turn it into a building project. Ideally it would happen sooner rather than later, because of 1) vegetable gardening and 2) to welcome the skunk's return and not evict her.

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