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.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Radish seeds, poppies, cherries and bees

Vacation has meant more time outside in the yard, cleaning up a few projects and starting to pick some of the veggies. I let a few radishes go to seed to see how that worked and they have put out very pretty seed pods. We'll see if the radishes they produce are any good next year!

The basil seeds didn't take this year but, in their place, we got a bumper crop of poppies. These guys re just about to turn their flower head upwards and give a lovely show of red.

I have been watching the bees. This huge bumble bee landed on Jessica's purple shoe and then flew off. We followed it across the yard until it landed on some delphiniums.

Jess and I went off to forage some cherries this week. On our walk there we saw this neat back alley garden.

I notices that one of our neighbours also has a fruit tree. I'd guess plumbs (despite the apricot colour). The fruit was too far into their yard to get a good look.

We foraged about three litres of nanking cherries from various public plantings near the valley. This is the first year I have noticed these plants (some I walk by every day) so perhaps it has been a good year for cherries? I made jelly with these last night; we'll see what the flavour is like when it sets.

Up next: I have been collecting raspberries and I think we have enough for a small batch of jam. I'm watching the garlic fairly closely as it seems to be heading towards maturity quite quickly this year.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Beer, apples, peas and zucchini

The wet weather has meant we've been busy weeding. Along the way we discover lots of surprises, like some carrots we missed last fall that survived and are not going to seed.

The apple tree has over 100 apples on it, which is a long way from the years where we would harvest two or three. They are also getting reasonably big. Perhaps it is the wet weather? Looking forward to saucing in the fall.

The beer has been racked off and is finishing its ferment in the basement and starting to look like beer. I plan to start a wine kit on Monday.

We're finally seeing some progress from the zucchini plants. Some nice flowers and there is one tiny fruit forming.

We were out for a bike ride on Friday and noticed this back alley garden. I love how people sneak gardens in in weird places. This one has garlic and zucchini.

We harvested the first crop of peas Friday. It was looking like rain and I always associated shelling peas with rain. When I was a kid, rainy days meant trucking into Meadow Lake to do laundry (nice days were for the beach). We'd always stop at a farm relatives had on the way back for a visit and a chance to raid their pea patch.

Jess and I moved around to the front to shell them and the sky let loose with a two hour rain storm. Streets flooded, gutters overflowed and there was so much wind we were driven inside. I will have frozen the peas for Xmas dinner.

There is likely at least one more good harvest (another four cups?) from a second sowing. My trellis partly collapsed on the rain so I spent some time today puling it back upright.

If I get ambitious, I will dry some dill tomorrow. We have plenty of dill seed still but the dried dill leaves is almost gone.

As I was avoiding the weeding this afternoon. there was lots of see. Onions left over from last year are flowering and the ornamental cheery tree is ripening fruit for the migrating robins this fall.

I also managed to catch this bee kindly pollinating the tomatoes out back.

We're getting a pretty decent raspberry harvest this year. I'm freezing them I anticipation of having enough to make jam.