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.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Fruitcake, sidewalk, and seeds

An early spring has allowed us to get the yard cleaned up and ready for planting. We've also had time to plan ahead for Xmas and make Christmas cake (we forgot to do this last year)..

We liberated a very old bottle of inexpensive whiskey from my inlaws liquor cabinet and have been using that to douse the cake Jessica made.

The whisky adds a good flavour but without the extra sweetness of rum--which is an interesting change. These are now tucked away in a cabinet to age over the next eight months.

There are a few flowers blooming--mostly various pansies that either over wintered under the snow or were self-seeded.

A big project we planned to deal with last year (but then ran out of good weather) was to lift, level, and re-lay the front walk.

We put the walk in about 11 years ago. Ants and winter have caused some slumping up at the top. About four years ago, the city lifted the bottom six feet when they put in new sidewalks. They then re-laid the pieces and the base slumped (leading to pooling and ice).

I lifted the bricks and levelled the base (which was tricky). Jess then took over and put down two-third of the bricks.

It took us a day and a half to complete the project but the result is pretty good for two amateurs. There is one brick that is slightly high that I'll need to go back and re-seat. But otherwise, we're good.

We also planted most of the rest of the garden this weekend, with radish, beet, carrot and peas going in. The onions are doing fine and the garlic we planted in the fall is just coming up.

As soon as we can get the potato seed we wanted, we'll plunk them in along with the sunflower seeds. The tomatoes, squash, and peppers will wait until a bit later in May when the weather stabilizes a bit.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Early Spring!

We seem to be having an early spring this year, with perennial and bulbs already coming up!

The pansies on the west and south side of the house are up, including some annuals that seem to have survived the winter.

I've been cleaning up the yard as the snow retreat (just the backyard left under snow). While we wait for the grass to emerge, I've also been going through the remains of last year's harvest. We have enough onions left to get us to summer. We also have some potatoes left.

There is already some weeding to do in the back beds (!) and I see our infestation of tulip tarde (which I dutifully dig out of the vegetable bed each year and move around to the front) continues!

The rhubarb is also coming up in the sunnier bed.

A few more days and we should have enough depth in the front bed to put in onions--must go off to see what Apache Seeds has in stock.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

End of the harvest

So winter came a touch early this year, with snow and frost putting the garden to bed by the 13th!

We managed to get all of the tender stuff inside. While we wanted for the root crops to thaw out, we processed some acorns we harvested from nearly tree.

Tannins make the acorns inedible. We crushed the, between two flat pieces of wood to break the shells open.

We then took the meat and tried to leech the tannins out in water.

Ten days of leeching (with multiple water changes) was not super effective. Some of the bitterness came out but not much and the process slowed down over time.

So I decided to boil them. About 90 minutes of boiling with eight water changes and they were edible (and softer). They were not super tasty, though.

We tried roasting them in the oven with a bit of oil and salt (like pumpkin seeds). That helped slightly but the general consensus was that this was starvation food and not worth the effort. Acorns from a different type of oak might well yield a different outcome (I think we have a green oak next door).

 As the snow melted, some flowers put on a last, desperate show!

 We then harvest the last the the carrots and beets.

The next week is supposed to be sunny but cool so I have disassembling the trellises and dumping the water barrels. I'll also clean up the beds and turn in the mulch before raking the leaves across. If I get ambitious, we may pick some sea buckthorn berries and try jelly.

Monday, September 3, 2018

September catch up

Alright, so it looks like I fell behind in blogging so Im going to try and catch up. We've been pretty busy this summer. Most of August was about canning zuchinni salsa (21 litres) and tomato sauce (10 litres). 

The tomatoes bore really well this year and I have all of the window sills full of ripening fruit. I will do one more run of sauce an then focus on turning the rest (that we don't eat) into tomato puree for soups and whatnot. This is the first year I canned tomato sauce (pressure canner) as well as froze some.

There is a frost warning tonight so split the difference and brought in half of the remaining fruits (25 pounds or more), leaving the less mature fruit outside. It looks like there might be another two or three weeks of summer left if the frost holds off tonight.

We also had a bumper year of potatoes--some 150 pounds between the front and the back beds.

Jess and I split the harvest to give our (my) back a rest. She pulled and gathered in the front and then ran the fork in the back.

Its nice she can do more of the grunt work as the bending is starting to get to me after a few hours.

This was the haul from the front bed (about half the front yard) and clocked in at 75 pounds  Most of these are in the basement in storage.

The back yielded fewer spuds but much bigger ones (looser soil, a touch more sun, I think). Some are the size of yams.

Here are some of the bigger ones with a pound of butter for scale. Again, many of these went into storage although the larger ones we'll likely eat (awkward to store). We planted only but caribe this year (after years of planing several varieties) and I'm pretty happy with the yields and the scab resistance.

The corn has been pretty decent this year. We'll likely get two meals out of the one bed we plants (maybe 12 plants?). The yard-long Armenian cucumbers have been more of a disappointment, seeming to cap out at 12 inches.

I have a bit processing to do tomorrow (some green beans I'll blanch and freeze) once Jess is back in school. I also have some herbs to dry.

Friday, August 10, 2018

So hot...

The last two weeks have been pretty extreme, weather-wise. We had a few days of rain and the slugs materialized so I had to bring in all of the tomatoes that were sitting on the ground before they were ruined. 

As the weather turned towards insanely hot (+37C in Edmonton and days of +30 or more?), I also brought in a bunch more to try and take some of the load off of the plants. The upshot is we have three cookie sheets of tomatoes (most now ripe) that need to be sauced.

A friend also let us pick his apple tree. We turned 15 gallons of apples into 24 litres of sauce. This is pretty easy with a food mill but still took a whole morning of canning to safely jar them.

The next day we had the pressure canner back out as we made another seven litres of zucchini salsa. This was pretty tasty and I look forward to using it over the winter.

We also went for a walk and I finally saw some wild plums (that I have read about but assumed were fictional). I grabbed two near-ripe ones to try and also to seed if the seeds would sprout.

Our own apple trees are loaded. With the heat up over 35C, they are all maturing faster that I'd like! Usually these are a September harvest. We'll see how long they stay on the tree in the heat.

I've spent the past few days watering and digging up more irises to give away. The sunflowers have also started blooming out front.

I hope to get a vacation in next week (for a few days, anyways). The temperatures look set to mellow out a bit so we can go away without too much worry about gardening.