Sunday, March 29, 2015

Wine, onions and a bird's nest

Well, between cycling and shovelling, March got away on us! We start a Merlot-Cab-Shiraz wine a few weeks back and it is now racked off for the secondary ferment. Jess was quite excited to stir in the oak chips.  

After a bike ride this morning, I was out raking the leaves up off the lawn and I noticed some onions starting on the south side of the house. These came from seeds I nicked in the river valley a few years back.

I had initially thought they were a nodding onion but the seed head (which comes in full and purple) is wrong. Maybe they are a Geyer's onion?

The snow is almost gone everywhere but in the back yard. It will be another week before I can get a spade in deep enough to turn over this fall rye. We did put some kale seeds in the cold frame and we have some tomatoes under grow lights in the basement.

The hedge yielded some interesting items this weekend, including a tiny bird's next (tea-cup sized) and a cantaloup-sized wasp's nest!

If I get ambitious tomorrow, I will wander over to Apache seeds and pick up some onion bulbs at lunch. I also see a tiny bit of outside maintenance to do before gardening season is upon us.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

And the garden starts to melt out...

While there is still 18 inches of snow in many places, a few days of warm temperatures have meant the garden is starting emerge from winter. The buds on some of the bushes (like the Saskatoon below) are looking more prominent.

The backyard planter is also melting free, revealing last year's basil plants. I spent some time two weeks ago sorting out what gets planted where this year and also looking through the seeds we have on hand.

This week we'll likely set up the grow lights in the basement and look to plant some tomatoes. I think we are about 8 weeks from weather good enough to risk some early tomatoes transplants. I finished tuning up the bicycles yesterday and hope to hit the road this afternoon for few terrifying kilometres of exercise (north-south roads look good--not so much east-west roads).

Along the side of the house, the raised beds are thawed down about 2cm and the soil smells fantastic. I think I will throw a plane of glass on the right-hand bed to see if I can get the soil thawed a bit more this week and then plunk in some spinach or kale seed (is chard cold hearty?).

I also need to rack off a carboy of wine for some bulk storage and get a second kit started. Trying to get far enough ahead that I never have to drink the wine young.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Winemaking and seeds

Happy New Year! Apologies for the long silence--we've been busy enjoying winter sports, making some wine and just generally ignoring everything gardening related ( a bit of burn out after apple and tomato season).

Tonight, though, Jess and I moved a batch of Malbec from the primary to a carboy and started chatting ("keep stirring!") about the garden for next year. Santa brought Jess some seeds for her stocking and she has some ideas of her own.

In the "more" category are carrots, golden beets and tomatoes. The tomato mill I got for my birthday made making pizza sauce a snap and we're almost out. We're also hopeful to get a decent crop of zucchini this year and I'm hopeful for some pumpkins out front. I'd also like to grow a few more green beans and more shell peas--although we may freshen our seed stock here.

In the "less" category, fall Russian blue potatoes, swiss chard and white onions. We'll replace them with more yellow storage onions and another batch of walla-walla onions (which were amazing while they lasted). Also, slightly fewer scarlet runner beans are the plan.

We still have a few onions, lots of garlic and a bunch of potatoes so I think we're in good shape. I also seem to have over-estinated the amount of apple sauce and crab apple jelly we're using--although we're a long we from new preserves so I guess we'll see!

I'm keen to see if I can coach a seed crop out of the carrots and beets we're over wintering in the basement. On my list of chores is hunting up the grow lights for tomato seedlings this spring. And perhaps we'll also grow our own bedding plants.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Xmas baking and bashful carrots

Garden burnout is beginning to subside as 18 inches of snow erases all signed of last year!

Jenn and Jess have begin the Xmas baking. My contribution (booze-fueled fruitcake) has been finished since late summer. I am also thinking about another batch of wine as Jenn likes the malbec I made last year.

I have almost finish most of the fresh carrots (including this bashful one) but we have plenty of potatoes. The last few weeks have seen soups made almost entirely from the harvest (excepting salt and olive oil and bay leaves).

I actually dropped by the grading store this week to pick up an Xmas present for Jess and I've been quietly pondering the crop rotation for next year. The tomatoe sauce we made with my tomato mill has been fantastic so more tomatoes!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Pumpkin muffins and Hallowe'en fun

Snow flurries (not yet sticking, though) and cooler temperatures have brought the gardening season to an end. Now it is all about eating! I'm certainly appreciating the apple sauce in oatmeal and the dried soup stock ingredients.

I'm currently roasting our pumpkins to make the base for muffins and a cake. Interestingly, one appears to be a traditional pumpkin while the other has been interbred with a spaghetti squash.

Jess' Lego costume was a huge hit trick-or-treating last night as well as at the school costume parade. 

I finally dug out some Jerusalem artichoke root (above) and some daylily roots. The daylily was far stringier and harder to clean. Both tasted appropriately starchy. I wonder if there is some opportunity to naturalize the artichoke in a local park? Guess we'll see what comes up in the spring.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Last of the veggies and beets

We spent a lovely day in the yard spreading wood ash, raking leaves and picking the last of the carrots and beets (about 6 gallons all in). 

Jess distributed a fair amount of the veggies to the neighbours and then we washed up the rest. It all went into the fridge for consumption over the next few weeks. I made a veggie pot pie for dinner with everything but the red pepper and the sweet potato for the crust being from the yard.

Tonight we may have a fire or we may bottle the rest of the cider (depends on my energy level!). As I was raking leaves today I remembers I wanted to move some of the raspberry suckers around to the back so that will be tomorrow's project. Along with harvesting some daylily roots to see what they taste like.

I also noticed this odd striped pattern on the south hedge. Interesting how different alpine currant plants have different frost tolerance points. I so wish this hedge produced something useful but that is a project for another year.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A hundred pounds of yeast and some copper line...

 ...sings the wife as I haul a bunch of bottles and Jessica into the basement to finish up the first batch of cider. This batch sat for about six weeks after the final racking so is likely as ready as it will get.

Jess handled the bottles and the siphon while I ran the capper, the camera and for more bottles at the end. A full carboy fills 32 660ml bottles (note to self for next week...).

I ran out of brown beer bottles but fortunately I had some green ones with the same size cap. And then I grabbed and sterilized a couple of flip-tops I collected over the winter. 

We'll be back at this on the weekend to bottle the other carboy In the meantime, we've been trying to get out into the waning days of autumn for walks and bike rides. This is a great time of year to spot asparagus plants for next spring. I have cycled past this plant maybe 200 times in the past few years and only noticed it when Jenn said "is that where you get our asparagus from?" It is next year, dear.