Saturday, July 26, 2014

Baneberry, Dill and Onions

Jess and I took a wander in the valley between rain storms and ran across a bunch of interesting plants. I've no idea what this flower is--it grew tall (like a hollyhock) but the flower looks different. It was an isolated specimen so may be bird dropped.

The fruit forest that was planted is amazing in its scope when viewed from above. There has to be almost 1000 plants involved.

We also ran across what I think is baneberry, which is a no-no for foraging.

In the backyard, the potatoes are all putting out seed pods. One particular type (Russian Blue, I think( is putting out lots of seed--I've seen singles before, but never multiples like this.

The dill is spectacular and smells great. I must read up on when and how to dry it.

And the onions are almost ready to pull. This one is between a baseball and a softball in size and the top is still green and standing so I expect it will get bigger. A bunch of the onions have keeled over and are looking ready to die back.

Earlier this week, we lifted about half of the garlic and put in some buckwheat as a green manure. Nothing has germinate diet, but this soaking should help.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pesto, Beets and Tomatoes

The yard is humming along. The basil is at its peak so I pinched a bunch of leaves and made some pesto to freeze. Much smoother than the dandelion pesto that I made earlier this year!

We're also seeing the beets start to mature. There is an interesting selection of cylindrical, globe and others as I had to do several sowings this spring to get a full bed (lousy weather in May).

We're finally seeing some tomatoes ripen. The cheery tomato plants are loaded with green ones but I found a red one that I'm watching.

There are also some interesting darker heirloom tomatoes ripen out back, but these are a ways of.

And the lilies are out. I am amazed where these appear as I've made a concerted effort to root out the left-behind bulbs and put them in a flower bed. But up in the middle of the carrots they come.

I'm not sure what we'll do this afternoon. The jamming is finished and the splatter has been cleaned up (until raspberry season starts in August). I may just sit down and read a book this afternoon! I also have what looks like wild mustard coming up in the back alley. Must go find a plant identification website.

Monday, July 21, 2014


Jess and I went out to T&D's Saskatoon's north of St Albert yesterday to pick some berries. It showered on and off as we drove out and we started in a slight drizzle.

You could hear the heavy rain coming across the fields and it was insane for about 10 minutes. We just stepped further into the row we were picking and continued. Jess thought it was a hoot, especially as her shoes picked up two inches of gooey mud and she stomped around pretending to be Gozilla.

We ended up with four buckets of berries and I started jamming last night. I'm most of the way through 10 or 11 litres of jam. The house smells amazing but I am looking forward to sitting down. I'm making some plain saskatoon jam and some mixed with strawberries from earlier this year. I have also put some saskatoons away to add to the raspberries when we go pick them.

With vacation upon us, I'm eager to get out tomorrow and grab some basil and make pesto. I also have some swiss chard to dry.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chard, Raspberries and an Urban Food Forest

While the weather this weekend was mixed, it was a busy one. Towards the river, a large number of volunteers put in Edmonton's first urban food forest. I think this is a fantastic idea and wish I had read the invitation a bit more closely about RSVPing. Oh well--bike ride instead.

Closer to home, the garden is coming up with the swiss chard being easy to harvest this week. I have the food dehydrator ready to go. I expect these could also be blanched and frozen.

The raspberry bushes are also getting ready to pick, with a few of the early bushes already bearing.

Similarly, the apple tree seemed to really appreciate the warm weather last week.

We took a stroll over to the river last night and checked on the hawthorn berries. They have come in in a large enough quantity to pick later on for jelly. Must locate some gloves to protect from the insane thorns (bottom right of picture below).

On our way home, we ran across another front yard garden.

This is an encouraging trend (Jess is a bit sick of me saying "imagine what you could grow in that space?") and the Front Yards in Bloom folks gave me a nice "Edible Front Law" sign this week. Now off to pick some Saskatoons.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rhubarb and more basil

The sweltering continues this week, with daily temperatures above 30C! The garden is loving it but I am having to water a fair bit, especially the intensively planted beds.

The rhubarb is still putting out lots of stalks so I chopped some down (it was shading the basil) and jarred it to top oatmeal in the winter.

The basil also got a further thinning. This batch I froze in oil for salads. Next up will be some pesto.

I expect we're about to enter the Saskatoon season which means more jamming. Cooler weather (and maybe even rain) seems imminent which is hopeful!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Peas and dragonflies

We had a lovely hot day, which was a perfect excuse to not mow the lawn and instead fiddle with easier tasks. We picked the first flush of peas and then adjourned to the shady front step to shuck them. 

We had four lovely cups. This was a lesser yield than last year (different soil and weather? or loss of vigour?) but still worthwhile--an early, frost tolerate veggie that is good fresh, frozen, canned or dried and  produces it own seeds. Some I'll blanch and freeze for Christmas dinner and the rest I'll toss in a stir fry this week along with some garlic scales and maybe a couple of daylily pods.

The rest of the day we dried basil, watered the potatoes, did some weeding (in the shade), and tied up the tomatoes.

As I was out front, the dragon flies were sitting on the plants, soaking up the evening sun. Which is my plan as well, except I'll use a chair.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Peas, Corn, Potatoes and Tomatoes

Most of our gardening work this week was light watering and weeding. The heat of the week has really helped move the garden along. 

While none of the spinach I planted n this bed came up, I did have a lovely head of lettuce volunteer. I've let this go to seed to harvest it for next year. The delphiniums are also flowering this week.

Out front, the corn is making up for lost time ad has shot above the peas that are supposed to use it as a trellis (whew!). One spot in the corn beds is struggling. I think this is where the tree stump was ground off and I wonder if the rotting wood (lots of carbon) has locked up all of the nitrogen this year?

Out back the tomatoes are starting to fruit. Lots of little tomatoes and some of the larger roma and early girl are setting. I need to go out and tie up the plants again.

The peas are also ready for the first harvest. If we pick them now, we'll likely get a second set of blooms and pods before autumn.

The potatoes, both out front and out back are really big. Jess is just over five feet and these come up to her chest (minus about 9 includes of lift for the raised bed). No need to weed this bed, really.

We must be getting close to saskatoon season so I think that will be the next big round of canning.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

We got the beets...

Jess and I harvested the first of the beets yesterday. These are in raised beds behind the garage and get a lot of heat in the morning. This thinning should leave a bit more room for the slower maturing beets to grow.

We steamed the beets for dinner (very tasty). We also sort through the leaves and ran the food dryer twice to put some soup fixings aside for winter. We also ate some carrot thinnings and despite being small, these were delicious!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Strawberry-rhubarb pie filling

This weekend has been busy with city-wide soccer playoffs. This morning I managed to jar the last of the strawberries, mixing them with some rhubarb and apple to make pie filling. On top of the 18 jars of jam we made and the gallon or so we've eaten raw, I think we're good on strawberries! 

The day lilies are flowering in the backyard and I wanted to try to incorporate these into some recipes. I will hunt something up this afternoon after the gold medal match is finished.

An insane rain on Friday night has spurred the garden onto new growth and some poppies are now flowering. These are originally from my grandmother's garden in Perdue.

My dad saved some seeds in a baby-food jar after he sold our place in Calgary in 1981 and then I had the seeds in my freezer for a decade. When we dump them out two years ago, we got two plants but they seem to be naturalizing and also getting bigger.

The mock orange bushes are also in full bloom. Ours has reacted to additional light now that the neighbour has cut down a pair of huge spruce trees.

We never used the fire place out back for fear of setting the spruce trees on fire. Now that they are gone, we'll trim back the mock orange and maybe give it a go later in the summer.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Peonies, saskatoons and strawberry jam

Summer has arrived with a vengeance! The peonies and bees seem to be loving it, but I forget how hard working in the sun really is.

Our Saskatoon bushes are looking to be loaded this year and are maybe 2-3 weeks away from ripening. We'll likely still need to visit a uptick but we're getting closer to self-sufficiency (with the kindly donation of a neighbour's berries).

But the strawberries have started. Jess and I took a long lunch yesterday and hustled out to Koziak's strawberry farm to get four pails. Damn, it was hot (+32)!

The berries were so warm to touch that they started to cook on the ride home and I had to ice them.

I got up early this morning to get a batch of jam done before the heat (and work) started. Is there a happier sound than the "sssssnick" of a jam lid snapping down as the jar cools?

I'm going to do another batch tonight and the set aside some to freeze so we can mix them with the Saskatoons when they ripen. And I'm going to also do a batch of strawberry-rhubarb pie filling this weekend. And finally move some raspberry canes.