Friday, August 23, 2019

Fruit and potatoes

The last few weeks have been busy but rainy. The good news is that the blackberry bush has flowered with all the moisture and I think we'll get a good harvest this year. Blackberry jam is one of my favourites and blackberries don't seem to like our climate (they were basically weeds in Ireland).

I've been busy preserving what we've been picking. I did a quick batch of raspberry jam as I was running out of room in the freezer.

We also blanched and froze a bunch of asparagus. I didn't dry the stalks for soup flavouring this year as there is still lots left from last year.

I spent some time converting the strawberries we picked into strawberry-rhubarb pie filling.

I also mixed a bunch of strawberries in with Saskatoons picked from a neighbour's bush and made some pie filling (which is also lovely over ice-cream).

The flowers have been disappointing this year but the poppies came back.

Last night, we harvested the first of the potatoes, as the plants died down last weekend. These are blue caribe that we planted from last year's harvest after they went leggy in storage.

I think we harvested about a third of the potatoes (rest are later variety) and got about 40lbs. These are sitting the garage firming up a bit.

We also harvested the onions from the front. It was a terrible year for the onions, with most being small or just failing to do anything. The garlic harvest was better and they are still curing in the garage.

I'm busy splitting irises out front and making room to move the rhubarb and some soil around as we prepare for construction of a new garage.

We have a lot of traditional dallies in bright orange. These are a darker variety and I have to say I'm surprised how they bloomed. They're pretty but obviously some different stock.

Sunday, August 4, 2019


It was garlic week as the leaves were dying down and some local urban outdoorsman had helped himself to a bunch of heads we were growing in the alley.

We harvested about 75 heads. Some were a nice size and some were huge!

These were heads that had gone two years in the ground. We'll have to see what they are like once they are cured (the smell in the garage while they hang  is both wonderful and overpowering).

We also got our second and likely last harvest of peas. Most of these were blanched and frozen.

The rain wants we had big, big peas this year. The story in the tomato patch is less hopeful with a reduce crop due to the cool weather.

With the old garage on its last legs, we are making plans to replace it next year. This means disassembling the garden beds in the alley, burning the old wood, and moving the soil elsewhere (instead of planting a cover crop with the garlic harvested).

There are a couple of spots the city dug up four years ago to put in a new sewer line. The fill they put in slumped, leaving big depressions. So Jess humped the soil here, smoothed it out, and then we threw some grass seed down.

I suspect this week we'll be doing some thinning of the irises out front which will include making room to move the rhubarb away from the garage construction site. The raspberries are also continuing to produce huge amounts of berries and I will have to finish up canning the strawberries so we have adequate freezer space!

Saturday, July 27, 2019


This was the start of berry season for us. Earlier this week, Jess and I headed out to Strawberry Creek Farm for a late start to strawberry season due to the rain.

The berries were big and we managed to pick 20 pounds pretty quickly. What wasn't evident was that the wet weather meant that about half had hidden rot or mould. So I spent a nasty bit of time thinning the berries.

The next day I put up about three litres of strawberry-rhubarb pie filing. I froze the rest of the berries and will convert them to preserves (more pie filling, maybe jam) shortly.

I also broke out the dehydrator and dried a year's worth of oregano. The basil is struggling with the wet weather so I'm going to leave it until August.

Our own berries are start to produce. The Saskatoons are just about done but we got a good harvest. The neighbour just offered some of his so we'll maybe hit that tonight.

The raspberries are just coming into season so that will be the main crop from now on. I also picked our gooseberries. What a nasty plant! I also see the blackberry bush has blossoms this year (it does better in the wet) so I look forward to making some jam.

It is raining again today but, if it lets up, we'll maybe harvest some the garlic (a visitor has already grabbed several head from the back alley) and the peas. As we're looking at building a new garage next year, the beds behind the garage will need to get disassembled, the wood burned, and the dirt stashed for use when construction is done next fall.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Back from Ireland

So we took a family trip to Ireland and entrusted the garden to fate. Before we left, I did a few things with the early harvest. I missed the window on the radishes so we had only modest number.

I decided to make refrigerator pickles from them.

The spring as also very wet and the peas were really giving their all. Usually, we have about three- or four-foot plants. This year there were over five feet before we left.

We also managed to catch the first of the peonies before we went.

We came back to a very much garden (about a foot of water over the two week were were gone). I got a jet-lagged Jess out to pick some early Saskatoons.

We then harvested about 75 garlic scapes. This was a few more than normal for us but meant lots of pesto.

Jess had come around by this point as the bucket started to fill up.

We then processed them in the house (very smelly!)

It was quite a pile to work through and rough cut.

We then hated out the processor, made maybe two litres of pesto, and froze most of it for the winter Although judging my Jessica's breath, she's been into the jar in the fridge.

The pea plants were over six feet by the time we got back and had run out of trellis. I did a quick early harvest and got three litres of peas.

Some we ate and I'll process the rest today to freeze.

I'm hopeful we'll get to pick some strawberries on the weekend. I also need to spend some more time thinning the carrots and generally knocking back the weeds.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Wet June

Based upon the photos, June has been a reasonably wet month, after a smoky end to May. The water helped with the carrots, that have finally come up!

The first of the radishes are ready to harvest and we have been baking with and freezing rhubarb. I plan to get the dehydrator out for the oregano, which has established itself on the south side of the house.

The rest oft he garden is growing pretty much on schedule. The potatoes came up in two groups (blue caribe and red sangre slightly later). The onions are also doing well, with only one cutworm so far.

We had both chickadees and robins nesting in the backyard this year, with both sets of young fledged and off now.

It looks this will be a good year for saskatoons, with both bushes loaded with little berries. The raspberries also came up after a slow start and the bees are busy in there.

Both apple trees had lots of blooms and I see enough tiny apples that we should be good for sauce this year.

We've also launched into iris season. The beds that we thinned out front are a bit sparse, but around the side we will get a nice set of blooms.

Other than one more sowing of lettuce, we're basically done with planting for the year. Hopefully we can start harvesting. It looks like some self-sown lettuce out back is also ready for this afternoon.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Planting finished

It looks like the mont got away on me and I forgot to post and update! The up shot is that the painting is 95% finished.

We put potatoes in in early May (well, Jess did--I supervised with a sore back).

We also put in most of our annuals around mother's day. The pansies and violas seem pretty hardy and self seed so that it what we went with again this year to complement the volunteers we got.

The tulips are up out back and still making a mess out of the veggie bed. I will be transplanting these again to the front once the bloom is done. The will free up a few more feet of bed for bush beans.

It looks like a great year for Saskatoons. Both bushes have been loaded with blooms.

I'm hopeful the bees are doing their work so we can get a decent harvest this year.

The onions and garlic are all up as well, including this one which pushed its skin up with the stalk.

We've also seem the potatoes push through the soil after about three weeks.

I thin out the old raspberry canes and then we built a fire. I always forget how flammable the canes are after a winter of drying!

And the apple trees are about to bloom, which is lovely.

All that is left for us are some beans and a late sowing of lettuce and I think we're good for the season.

Now off to continue the war against creeping bell flower.