Thursday, July 2, 2015

Saskatoons, raspberries, beets and zucchini

The garden in starting to turn toward summer with some of the early Saskatoons ripening in the front yard. Along with gooseberries and strawberries, I'm collecting these piecemeal and adding them to a bag in the freezer for a mixed berry pie in the autumn. I managed ti stick myself good on a gooseberry thorn.


The bees are into the delphiniums and the Persian cone flower making the backyard a busy place.


I see that, in the dying days of June, one of the local schools planted a veggie garden. They have lovely flower beds around the front but I'm always excited to see kids learn some gardening.


I don't have quite enough beets to pickle yet but they are coming along. Maybe by the weekend. Can you pickle radishes? The zucchini are setting some fruit, which is nice.


Our front, the black raspberry is also starting to set its fruit. It will be another three or four weeks before we can hazard the thorns on these guys.


With my summer vacation started, we'll be doing more around the yard. I'm presently cooking some soup to start thinning out the remaining veggies from last year. And we ate the first of the carrot thinnings this morning.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Garlic scape pesto

I haven't had a lot of time for garden projects this spring (work has been insanely demanding0 but things are slowing down. I noticed the garlic scapes were out on Sunday so I went and nipped them off. I think I used them to pickle beets last year.


Anyhow, this year I decided to try pesto. Some scapes, almonds, parmesan, oil, salt and pepper and away we go.


The pesto was amazingly garlic-y and delicious. We ate some on crackers (and then it proceeded to flavour everything else I ate that day...). Might be nice with a touch of cream cheese too.

The rest I dropped into small muffin tins and froze. I will extract it tomorrow and bag it for winter as an alternative to tomato sauce on pizza. Will go well with the asparagus I froze last week and some mozzarella.


I hope to get some bread going tomorrow (it has been too hot to bake) and see if I have enough beets to warrant thinning and pickling. The dill is ready so just need the beets. We also have some radishes to deal with and some buckwheat to plant in a couple of beds I'm letting lie fallow this year.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Food forest, peas, tomatoes and berries

Last summer, a bunch of folks planted an urban food forest in the river valley. The idea was to use a city program designed to increase the number of trees to plant fruit-bearing bushes. I took a wander through this week and, unfortunately, it doesn't look like much survived (although the grass was quite high so perhaps some is just hidden).


I did, however, almost step on this nest of chicks. You can just make out their open beaks in the dark spot (click on the photo to zoom in).


The heat is really helping the plat. We're seeing the mock orange start to fade along with the peonies. But the day lilies are just budding up and will be with us the rest of the summer. On the south side, we're also seeing the delphiniums getting ready to bloom/


More exciting are the first few tomatoes that have set. I started cleaning out the freezer today in anticipation of lots of sauce come fall. Around front, the Persian cone flowers are attracting the bees.


The strawberries are also ready and we're starting to see a few shell peas. Everything is requiring watering during this spot of really hot weather.


The zucchini have also finally hit their stride and are noticeable bigger every time I'm behind the garage.


I'm hopeful that Jess and I can pick some strawberries during the first part of vacation. Today we bought some cherries at the farmer's market and I'be pitted and frozen a bunch for smoothies in the winter. I'd also like to do some baking and can some rhubarb but it is too hot to turn on the oven!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Irises, peonies, mock orange and beans

We're just coming to the end of the iris season. The blooms have been spectacular but the sheer number plus the shadows cast by the boulevard trees make it hard to get a clear picture of how many blooms there are. Hundreds and hundreds along the front and side of the property.


All of these came from a few plants I inherited (maybe 8) about 10 years ago. I have given lots away as irises multiply. I've already flagged about a dozen that need to be removed this summer (they tend to spread into the veggie beds) so if anyone needs some... .


Around back the chives are flowering (to the delight of the bees) as are the mock orange bushes.


The veggie beds are mostly boring at this time of the year. The recent rain has really helped increase the size of the plants.


Both the walla-walla onions and the bush beans are starting to look more like real plants. All around the veggies are thousands of elm seeds (they look like oatmeal flakes) that will need to pulled out as they germinate.

The elms seem to be responding to the drought by heavily seeding. Not as crazy as 2007 (when we had drafts of seeds in the backyard) but enough to require a lot of energy removing before they sink a tap root.


Around the side, the peonies are also blooming. These tend to be among the last of the large perennials to flower and are lovely.


And the violets are now responding to the additional moisture.


I have a long weekend of weeding ahead of me as rain and houseguests pushed things back. I also received a huge bag of rhubarb from my dad that I will need to can this weekend.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Irises, beets, carrots and zucchini

The irises have really started to bloom around the front, replacing the last of the tulips. These create a nice barrier (about three feet deep) between the sidewalk and the vegetable beds. Just enough to discourage the junior high kids from mucking about.


I have already flagged a couple of plants for removal after the blooms are done. They are blocking the ends of several veggie beds. I'm also experimenting with a new camera, which seem to be much better than my old one in terms of autofocusing!


Much of this weekend was spent on chore-type tasks: cleaning the garage, disassembling some old chairs that had rotted, and cleaning up the mess that accumulates under the back deck. I was also going to do some pruning but it was too hot. I put the sprinkler on the veggies and then came inside to have a look at the state of the preserves, instead.


The apples continue to form up. It will be awhile before I have a sense of how much of a haul we'll have this year. But out front the beets and carrots are starting to become big enough to thin and count!


And the zucchini finally moved beyond the cotyledons and (along with the pumpkins) are well on their way to being annoying large and prolific.


The rest of this week entails some weeding. I have been trying to simultaneously kill some alpine currants and replace them with raspberries along the north fence. So far, so good but the currant s tenacious. If the heat will abate, I'll take some snips in and cut them back to the stumps again.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Raspberries, goose berries and potatoes

I spent part of this week travelling and left Jess in charge of the garden (mostly watering). Very adorably, she watered every night (even the nights it rained!) and I returned home to lots of growth.


The raspberries are flowering. This is a very prolific but extremely thorny black raspberry plant (wonder if they crossed with with blackberry). The berries are tasty--otherwise I would have killed it long ago, as it is a blood-soaked horror to pick.


Lots of later spring perennials are flowering, including the phlox. And the violets that appears and disappear are tucked in with the onions. I can't bring myself to weed them out. I also had my first beet (thinning) this year, washed off with the hose and eaten while squatting in the front yard.


Jess had a day off on Thursday. We spent some of the morning with a second seeding of carrots (a few bald patches in the front beds) and then I left her to water everything in.


Around the north side, the potatoes have come up. We've never grown anything here (except for raspberries) and I'm happy to have a reason to weed here. I bet we could do beets on the north side next year. The gooseberry plants really grew last year (also thorny bastards to pick) and we may have enough berries to warrant a jamming session.


And we've started the crazy iris season. They time nicely with the end of the tulips. This weekend we have some weeding in the back to do and also some pruning around the old fire pit before company arrives.

Friday, May 29, 2015

May flowers

The end of May has brought out a host of blooms, from chives to lilacs. I don't now if has been the drought or the heat, but the flowering trees and bushes have been pretty spectacular this spring.

 

The perennials in the front yard have also been really blooming. This phlox is beautiful and the early irises are booming in behind.


I've no recollection of what this yellow flower is but it keeps coming back despite several transplants so it must be something hardy. It also seems able to compete with the raspberries in the same bed.


The apple blossoms are done and some of them are starting to fatten into apples. It will be a few weeks before we can start to estimate the harvest but the blossoms were impressive this year. I need to go up and top the apple tree as it is just ab out as high as we want it. Maybe when I get up to clean the gutters.


The early vegetables are also starting to make progress in the heat. The storage onions have about caught up to the garlic in height. The walla-wallas are a bit behind.


The pole and bushes beans are also up and about. I was a bit concerned the bush bean seed was bad but they finally started to push up today. The pole beans are making some headway and the peas have grabbed the trellises finally.


The potatoes are going strong in the good beds. They are also up in the newly recovered beds and on the shady north side of the house next to the foundation.


Finally, the carrots have germinated. They are also so slow and the dry conditions have necessitated a lot of watering which sometimes causes the beds with more clay to get a bit of a hard surface. But the carrots have prevailed.


Hopefully Jess can keep everything under control while I head out of town for a conference. I knocked back and froze and bunch of rhubarb this week as it was again shading out the basil in the stone planter. We also pulled out half of dozen bunch of chives that were taking over the strawberry beds. Boy, chives are aggressive!