Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Harvest season

So it is harvest season here and things are a touch frantic. The apples tree had a huge crop this year and we're eating them and dehydrating rings. 

We're also working at keeping up with the tomatoes (the tomatoes below went into tomato sauce that I froze).  I rolled the dice on Sunday and left the tomatoes out despite the low temperatures and everything seemed to turn out okay! We should have a bumper crop of eating tomatoes. A few weeks of warm temperatures would be helpful in this regard!

We dug the potatoes Monday night. These are Caribe Blues and the harvest was good. Maybe 50 or more pounds and some huge potatoes (big potatoes seem to last longer in storage). We need to clean them up and then get them into the basement tonight.

We had a mystery squash plant volunteer this year (some sort of cross between a yellow zucchini and something else is my guess). Need to figure out what to do with it.

I am starting to put the beds behind the garage down for the year except for one last set of zucchini that I'm waiting to bulk up some.

We're also eating our way down one of the front beds, harvesting carrots and beets to add to the potatoes for roasted roots. I am hopeful we'll soon have space to plant next year's garlic crop.

The beans are also starting to mature and dry out. I've been concentrating on the white pole beans out front (which are closer to finished) but have also started grabbing scarlet runner beans from the back as I see the pod turn brown.  Need to let these guys dry out a bit before putting into a jar.

The raspberry canes are on my to-do list this week. With the potatoes out, I will also move the soil around a bit in the back bed to get ready for next year's crop of beans and peas.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Apples, Black Berries, Beans and Tomatoes

Apologies for the lack of posts this past week; things have been pretty crazy around the house and I just couldn't find the time to blog about the garden.

September has only just begun and it feeling very much like autumn (cooler temperature and overcast). Fortunately no risk of frost in the forecast as there is still quite a lot of stuff in the garden!

A few weeks ago, the blackberries were really starting to look good with a few berries ripening early. Since then I have been out and picked perhaps two cups (the berries are huge--as big as thumb).

There are still a lot of green berries on the canes and I am freezing them until I have enough for some jam. I also staked some of the bigger canes to see if I can get the plant to spread. At the same time, I cut back the terrible black raspberry canes to keep it contained!

I turned the crab apples we foraged into a lot of crab apple jelly. I also did a second batch of zucchini salsa and then put the pressure canner away for another year.

The sun flowers are a welcome shot of colour in the yard and the bees are all over them. I think we will try some larger varieties next year instead of relying on self sowing.

I've started to pull some carrots--mostly to give the rest some additional room to bulk up before winter. These yellow carrots always do well, even in the poor soil I planted them in this year. The knife is 12 inches long and these carrots are a bit on the small side of yellowstone.

We're slowly picking the apples off the tree. They are super red and ripe (the come off very easily). They are also quite tart (more of a baking apple). Jess sliced ten today and they are outside in the dehydrator on their way to being a delicious winter snack for her lunches. Earlier this week we dried some mint and also some celery leaves (I plant soup celery rather than stalk celery this year and it was much more successful).

The potatoes have finally died down. I am going to leave them for a week or two (other projects require immediate attention). I did dig one plant to see what they were like and get a potato for dinner. I got five potatoes from the plant: two baseball sized and three that are about softball sized or more (the beer bottle is for scale).

Today I made some paneer for a curry we'll have tomorrow night. We also made a lovely veggie pot pie for dinner. Most of the veggies and the stock were from the garden (had to buy a pepper and a turnip).

While that was cooking, I started picking the pole beans that were dry.   Most are still green and growing but some of the lower beans are finished.

I'm always struck by how much work goes into getting any reasonable amount of beans! You go to the store and grab a half litre bag for a few dollars and that is quite a deal! We should have a good haul of these small white beans (about twice the size of a tic tac). We also have a bunch of scarlet runner beans that are still green.

Whew.!Now I'm going to sit down and crack one of the beers we made this summer. Tomorrow entails doing some saucing to keep on top of the tomatoes.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tomato, Zucchini, Salsa

It hasn't been a great year for tomatoes (lots of rain but not enough heat). Despite this, tomato season is upon us. So far we've kept up with the ripe ones by eating. The fruits got a bit ahead of us this week and we had some extras.

Fortunately, the zucchini plants have also been producing like mad. The only solution is zucchini salsa. Jess and I made some over our lunch hours the past few days.

So far we've only pressure canned five litres. There are the ingredients for batch of similar size this weekend. Just waiting for the the tomatoes to get slightly riper. The salsa comes in handy during the winter for adding spice to various recipes as well as a condiment. If there are extra tomatoes, we'll maybe sauce some.

While we wait for the beans to mature and begin to dry out, we have the sweet peas to enjoy. Oe of my neighbours has then ten feet high on a trellis.  I have had less luck and am thrilled that a few survived long enough to flower! I will interplant with the beans again next year.

The front yard is half done with the garlic and onions curing. I have planted some buckwheat as a cover crop. On the north part of the lawn (out of frame to the left) we are thinning the carrots and the beets (by eating them) and letting some get larger for storage. I planted mostly cylindrical beets this year and will maybe look at some globe-shaped ones for next year.

The last of the "must do" canning projects this year is crab apple jelly. Today during lunch we dashed out to a local tree and picked eight gallons. I will start to cook these into liquid this evening and maybe make jelly on the weekend.

After that, we'll maybe unearth some potatoes and start some clean up on a few beds. And then there is a wine kit to look into... .

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Rain, radishes, black berries and beans

So, it has been a pretty damp summer, with major rain storms every day at 4 (kind of like living in Calgary...).  This was a few days ago with the sun to the west streaming in as the clouds dumped buckets of water!

The veggies are loving this. The zucchini are finally producing and Jess is baking zucchini bread as I type. I expect we'll have enough to make zucchini salsa again this year.

I harvested a 3x3 bed of long white French radishes. I saved a couple for roasting but the rest I pickled using garlic from the yard and some of the chive infused vinegar we made this spring.

The radishes were lovely to look at. Nice and crisp and snow white on the inside.

The tomato harvest is coming along. We're managing to keep on top of the ripe ones with a salad each night. But in a few weeks we're going to end up with a glut. Some I will juice and the sauce for use in the autumn.

Most of the potatoes are long done flowering and are looking about ready to wilt down and die before the harvest. Out back there appears to have been a rough Russian Blue in one of the best which shot up some flowers while we were on holidays.

In the front, the blackberry plant has more fruit on it that we've ever had and is also pushing out new canes. I suspect the wetter weather this year has helped it.

The bean vines are also really hitting their stride. These scarlet runner beans are up eight feet and are climbing past the top of the trellis onto the liliac bush and up towards a bird house. They are also producing lots of bean pods.

The back garden needs some soil amendments this fall to loosen it up (still too much clay) but the dill seems to have run wild to fill in the gaps. I must dead-head these plants before they go to seed!

Inside, we racked off the rhubarb wine again and will let it bulk age for several months before bottling. Sitting a month has helped clarify it a lot and the brief taste I got while racking suggests it is not too bad! I am hopeful we can open a beer tonight and see how it is developing.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Tomatoes, beer, peas and apples

The first of the tomatoes are staring to bear this week and they are delicious!

We were kept fairly busy with projects. Jess and I bottled the beer we made on the weekend and then tucked it away to carbonate. I'll tackle our wine kit next week (maybe!).

We also harvested the rest of the peas and I froze most of these after Jenn and Jess shucked them on the front steps.

Apple season has started early. Friends invited us to glean their tree and we got 15 gallons of apples.

I spent several hours one day turning them into sauce and then another several hours jarring the sauce the next. We ended up with five gallons of apple sauce and a litre and a bit of apple butter. The preserves closet is starting to look a less barren!

This garden on my bike ride is quite the site. Apologies for the panoramic distortion. The south facing part has numerous raised beds that are filled with veggies and I think they are growing borage in the rocky bed on the left.

We have some fruit to pick this coming weekend as I'd like to try currant jelly and also stock up on crab apple jelly.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Dill, tomatoes, sunflowers and bees

We took a few days away from the garden to do some camping and cycling. While we were gone, the dill burst into bloom, to the delight of the local bees.

We've also begun harvesting. The first three tomatoes came in today and were delicious. We also harvested green beans. They were tasty and I blanched a bunch along with some peas for freezing.

It looks like we've come near the end of the raspberries but I managed to get some jammed the other night. Looking around the neighbourhood, it appears apple season will also be starting early this year. I need to make some crab apple jelly and apple sauce. 

We dropped rode t the downtown farmer's market yesterday and picked up some fruit and new potatoes (ours are still growing and I hate to disturb them).

This afternoon we'll be harvesting the garlic and planting a cover crop (likely buckwheat since I have a bag of seed in the cupboard). I think Jess is also bringing in the last of the peas.

This afternoon we also need to bottle the beer I have been brewing. To free up some bottles, I will apple jacking some cider for two years ago (which has finally smoothed out). And the rhubarb wine could likely stand to be racked off again (much clearer now). I think I'll save the next wine kit for a week or two to accommodate another short vacation.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Poppies, canning and dill

We had a busy weekend. I juiced and jellied the nanking cherries Jess and I foraged on the weekend. As I have been riding around the neighbourhood, I have been noticing all of the cherry bushes--seems like a bumper crop this year.

We've had lots of visitors to the garden. So far the only think that has been disturbed was an onion pulled from its bed (not sure by what).

There are also lots of flowers blooming in our neighbours gardens (I often get tapped for water while they vacation because they seem to think I know what I'm doing).

We have some poppies up in the stone planter at the back. These are from seed my dad picked from my parents' garden in Calgary and froze for 25 years. The original seed is from my grandmother's garden in Saskatchewan.

This shot is of the same kind of poppy but backlit by the sun. Below we have some of the many dill plants that have naturalized in the yard. Not where I want them (out front) but rather in the back vegetable beds.

The rhubarb has come back enough from the earlier cutting that I cut some more to make a second batch of strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. I think we have enough to see us through the winter months.

If I get ambitious tomorrow I will make some raspberry jam.