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.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Thanksgiving prep

With Thanksgiving almost upon us, we spent much of yesterday preparing. Pies were made, husbands were dispatched to the store, etc.

Jess and I pulled some beets out of the garden for dinner. I'm pretty sure we ended up with four types.

There are three red (including a cylindrical) as well as a lovely set of golden beets. These join carrots and potatoes from the yard on the table.

Our neighbours recently pulled down two huge fir trees that have overshadowed the fireplace we have in the back. We've never use this for fear of burning the neighbourhood down but with the trees gone, we fired it up.

Overall, a wonderful way to spend a crisp autumn evening.

 Now to fetch the inlaws!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Some sidewalk maintenance

As part of neighbourhood reconstruction, the city tore out the sidewalk and poured a new one. That disturbed the cobbles in our walk. The new sidewalk is also about a quarter-inch higher than the old, which messed up the grading of our walk (although a quarter inch is better than the eight-inch difference one block west!). 

So today I renewed my man card (and got Jess three credits towards her own card) by pulling up six feet of cobble, regrading and laying it down again. This went reasonably well and Jess seemed to get the hang of it pretty quickly. She was too young to help when we put the sidewalk in back in 2008; she was much more useful today.

It was also a good chance to once again teach the difference between left and right under some pressure. I'd be worried about her seeming inability to distinguish left and right, but it took her three years to figure out the difference between the front and the back door (at one point, when she was five, we were certain she was just screwing with us). I assume an hour of "No, your other left!" will pay off when it comes to teaching her to drive.

I left the city to restore the part between the sidewalk and the curb (assuming they get around to replacing the curb before the snow flies). In the end, you can hardly tell where the join is and it is nice to have a functional front walk. If only I could do something about the driveway the city pulled out. Three week ago... .

We also raked leaves into the front garden beds, I had a long bike ride and I poked around the yard some. The fall rye is coming in and seemed perkier with the slight increase in temperature.

I expect we'll yank the last of the veggies next weekend. I'm hopeful to get a bit of lyme and bonemeal into the beds tomorrow. Assuming I can bend over after this morning's work! I may also bottle some cider.