Friday, July 13, 2018

Rain, raspberries and peas

The first part of July has been a mix of hot (+28C) and wet (lots of rain). The result has been a lot of growth in the yard. We've managed to mostly irrigate the back from two rain barrels of the garage. The front has required a fair bit of tapster (tomatoes and peppers and whatnot).

The most exciting part of the mid-season is watching the potatoes fill out, flower, and then start to make new potatoes. I have not been feeling around beneath the plants but all indications are a big crop this year. This is good news as we always run out of potatoes around Christmas.

Although the Saskatoons were disappointing this year, the raspberries are early and are looking good. I expect we'll have a big crop this year--we're already getting two cups a day of the early berries. We also froze some gooseberries for later use.

We've been drying herbs (lots of dill weed this year). The peas are also ready and we picked the biggest pods this week and then spent a half hour on the front desk shucking them.

We got about three-quarters of a litre of peas (they wee big peas!), which I blanched and froze for Indian food and Christmas dinner. I expect we'll get another one of two crops off of the peas before they pack it in and the beans we planted behind take over.

I'd like to get out to a u-pick this weekend and get some strawberries for jam and pie filling. We'll see how that goes. We also have a lot of zucchini this year (three varieties) and I am keen to replenish our stock of zucchini salsa. Just need the tomatoes to start ripening! In the meantime, Jess is making zucchini loaf.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Flowers, fire and bees

The end of June turned hot again and the plants have shot up. Lots of annuals in full flower, like these snap dragons,

The city lifted the fire ban a few weeks ago and I finally managed to burn off the four wheel-barrows of old raspberry canes one evening. Man, they went up fast!

The potatoes are all up and in flower.

Our front, the zucchini plants are also producing flowers and the first fruits of the year.

The mock orange on the south side of the house is in bloom. I spent some time here putting in some new raspberry canes (that were suckering around front into the main garden bed) as well as some perennial violas (red and yellow) and generally cleaning up the overgrown bits.

The main apple tree has lots of apples on it. The dwarf tree has a few and continues to disappoint, year after year.

The most fun is watching the bees. There are at tonne of them this year. Not so many of the honeybees (with stingers) but lots of little pollinator bees.

We hung Jessica's bee house under the deck out back (no activity so far) but the bees are everywhere, especially in the raspberries, tomatoes, and on the marigolds.

This weekend we'll be doing some cleaning up in anticipation of guests. I have a failed wine project to pour out and a bunch of leaves and whatnot to clean up.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Rhubarb, berries, and bees

Apologies for the lack of updates; work got busy! We're just at the end of the peak rhubarb season. Jess has made pies and crisps and I've frozen some for muffins and also to combine with strawberries into pie filling to can (likely mid-July).

The rest of the fruit crops are coming along. It looks like we'll have a good harvest of raspberries this year.

The gooseberries are also almost ready for picking. I'm not sure we'll have enough to jam this year.

The strawberries are also coming along. The recent rainy weather has really helped the entire garden, with the annual vegetables really jumping up with the extra moisture.

Out back, the bees have been frequent visitors in the snap dragon's Jess planted in the old stone planter by the garage.

I spent some time this morning repairing our 20-year-old reel mower. The handle finally broke off due to rust. Four hose clamps put it back into its third decade of service. Which was good a the lawn was a real mess and needed a cropping.

This afternoon I have some weeding to do and then maybe we'll get a mason bee colony that Jess got for Christmas nailed up under the deck. I may also get the food dehydrator out and take some herbs in to dry.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Asparagus season!

The end of the flowering shrubs is in sight, which means the lilacs are out!

And, after a lengthy period of doing whatever it is that they do, the potatoes have finally pushed out of the ground.

The summer flowers are also underway, with these self-seeded poppies brightening the front porch.

On the weekend, Jenn and I rode down to the farmer's market and picked up several bunches of asparagus. We ate some fresh and the rest I started processing. Most of it was snapped, blanched and frozen for pizzas or veggie pot pie in the coming months.

I used some of the left over stalks and the water from blanching to make soup stock. I also put some of the ends of the asparagus in the dehydrator to make asparagus powder.

Over about 20 hours, five trays of split asparagus stalks lost about 90% of their volume. A quick whirl in the coffee grinder and they were reduced to about a half a cup. The powder will go into soups over the next winter.

The first of the radishes are ready out back. We harvested them along with a first cropping of lettuce for a salad last night.

I have done a second sowing of lettuce in some of the bald spots in the lettuce bed. We also planted from scarlet runner beans in behind the peas (which are up about 8 inches).

Jessica and Jenn also cut some rhubarb and combined it with some of last year's frozen strawberries (freeze clean-out time) to make a lovely pie.

We're forecast to get a bit of rain and a break from the heat this week. That's good as the watering demands have been crazy these past two weeks.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Lettuce, fruit blossoms, and zucchini

We finished planting out the garden over the past week, including putting in the corn starts that we grew inside plus the peppers an the rest of the tomatoes. I think we'll seed some beans this weekend in behind the peas and we're likely done for the season

The lettuce and radish bed has germinated and are starting to fill in. Some volunteer lettuce growing out the side of the raised bed was the furtherest along but is quickly being overtaken as high temperatures (+25C and more) are really encouraging growth.

The fruit trees and bushes are all in bloom, with the apples (above) and saskatoons (below) both promising good crops.

Some of the direct seeds crops are also germinating. The zucchini (below) is in a foot race with the onions and garlic. I'm also seeing the first of the carrots and the chard poking up.

Jessica's yard-long cucumbers also germinated. Trying out new varieties often leads to disappointments so seed the germinates is a good start. No sign of the potatoes yet but it is still early.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bulbs, sap, oregano and peas

Spring moved into high gear this past week, with the bulbs all breaking through the soil and leaf litter.

The sap is also running in the trees. Not sure why the cherry tree in the back yard has these nicks where it dies. I wonder about sap suckers?

The herbs have come back and we planted a bunch more of annual herbs this year. I have been interspersing them with flowers, mostly for aesthetic reason. I'm hopeful we can dry more herbs this year as we ran out of most of the usual kinds over the winter.

The raspberry canes have also started too leaf out and I will start to prune out the dead canes. I meant to do that last fall but ran out of energy.

Out front the peas have germinated and we also put in some tomato starters. I have a bunch more tomatoes and peppers that I picked up today but will wait until Friday to put the, out as the weather has cooled off slightly.

The early tulips are up out back and have added a shot of colour. We managed to get the rest of the carrots, onions, beets and bush beans planted in the back. There is just a small section that I will leave until June for some later vegetables.

The onions and garlic have started to come up. As have the radishes and lettuce. No sign of the zucchini or chard yet. Keen to dry some asparagus stalks to have on had for soup mixture.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Carrots, onions, peas, chard and beets

Spring has really come on fast this week, with the bulbs jumping up and the soil thawing. I finished up most of the yard clean-up (just one small patch of raking left to do) and we visited Apache Seeds to pick up a few more packets.

The bigs are also making a come back. Jess found the first lady bug of the season while we were planting onion sets.

At this point, we have pretty much everything in the ground except the tender plants and a bed of carrots (the bed needs more work). In addition to the onions, we planted some yard-long Armenian cucumbers (our bit of stunt gardening for the year), a bunch of summer squash, and some beets, chard, and carrots.

We also got the peas in the ground and sorted out a couple of beds that were in some disarray after last fall's gardening flame-out in late September.

This week we need to do some more infrastructure work. There is an old bird bath that finally broke over the winter to break down and dispose of. We also have enough dry branches and twigs laying about that a fire might be a good idea. I spent some of Saturday staking out the tomato beds in the front so we might plant them next weekend (depending on what the weather forecast looks like).