Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas!

The garden is well and truly frozen and we're enjoying winter (and the coming of spring!).

We should be back more regularly in February as we mull what to do this year in the yard.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

End the harvest

This week we pulled out everything left in the garden except some sunchokes and a few radishes.

Jess helped me haul in more than 10 gallons of carrots and beets after school on Thursday (I think). Some were stubborn and she ended up ass-over-tea-kettle when one group of carrots let go.

I spent Friday night and Saturday processing carrots for the freezer. I also made carrot soup (needed ginger) and sweet potato biscuits. Today I'll bake the pumpkin and make pie and some gnoochi.

I took a rare sick day this week and stayed in bed in the morning. I felt better after lunch and made bread, which was delicious.

With snow expected today I cleaned up the last of the yard stuff (hoses and buckets and whatnot) and noticed the chives on the south side had put out a new set of blossoms.

I expect we'll be starting some Xmas baking this week (nice to have some stuff in the freezer for the holidays). The second batch of sauerkraut is also starting to smell good!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Hard frost

We awoke this morning to the first really hard frost of the fall. The frost really highlighted the lovely pattern of the carrot leaves. I expect we'll haul these out next week sometime along with the remainder of the beets.

We braved the terrible construction yesterday and hit the downtown farmer's market this week to pick up a big bag of potatoes and a bunch of cabbage. I've got it cooking away in the fermenting crock. I still have some of the earlier batch of sauerkraut in the fridge but thought I'd put more away.

I went for a brisk ride this morning under amazing blue skies. The birds have to yet stripped the mountain ash we have out back.

I suspect I'll also be roasting some tomatoes today and maybe Jess will turn the last of the zucchini into chocolate cake.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cider and carrots

The past week I've been busy doing end-of-the-season work, like washing windows, putting away tools and turning under beds. The various violas keep flowering hard despite the overnight frosts.

I pressed some apple juice on Wednesday. Most of this we've frozen for the winter. I decided against trying to ferment it. I still have lots of cider from last year and I'm just a bit too busy at work right now. We have also been out spotting wild asparagus for collection next spring.

Yesterday I pulled all of the carrots out of the front garden. They likely could have stayed another two weeks but I have a lot of carrots in the back to deal with as well. I ended up with about 10 gallons (two pails) worth that I'm soaking right now.

Most we'll store fresh but the smaller ones I will blanch and freeze this afternoon. We've had a few more huge yellowstone carrots plus a large number of nantes. I think we'll roast carrots and beets for dinner. If I get some time this week, I'm going to move some of the raised beds and perennials around to make room for more veggies next year. And I'm still waiting for the sunchokes to die down so I can harvest.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

A new bed, tomatoes and beans

The last of the fall colours are out and the front hedge is amazing to behold! I spent a fair bit of time beholding while a Shaw service guy did amazing work restoring my internet!

This past weekend I finally got around to dealing with a bed at the front of the house. A wasp's nest by the front pillar had held up work. They are still there but there is only one or two left so I started pulling down the pea and bean trellis and then removing the plants that were up against the house (mostly raspberry).

After an hour of digging and transplanting I have a new bed (about 50 square feet) cleared for next year. Not sure what I will plant here. The stunt gardener in me says "corn!". The practical gardener wonders about potatoes and tomatoes.

We had our first hard front this week but just before hand, the tomatoes kicked into high gear, putting out a huge number of new blossoms.

The tomatoes I pulled in two weeks ago are ripening nicely and I made another batch of sauce.

Still trying to decide if coarse chopping is easier than skinning. Faster but requires more muscle on the mill which makes me wonder if I'm not going to break the handle.

I also shelled the beans and peas and set them out to dry. These are mostly a small Mexican red bean (like a kidney, but smaller) that I grow every couple of years to keep the seed stock fresh.

I also pulled out a huge carrot. This one was 11 inches long and 8 and a half inches in circumference.

It is like a huge cob of corn. Can't wait to see what some of the other carrots look like!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pickled radishes

With autumn closing in, things are calmer in the yard. Last week I pulled the second crop of radishes and decided to pickle them in the fridge. There are still a few radishes outside but I'm not sure it will get warm enough for them to mature.

This took about 15 minutes: some cutting, a bit of prep and into the jar with vinegar. I used some more of the chive-infused vinegar I made last year, which has a pink hue to it.

After about two hours, its colour is supplemented by colour drawn from the radish skin and the whole thing has a nice reddish colour. These should be ready in a week or two.

We're also pulling carrots and beets. And there are a few potatoes to dig and a last few tomatoes to bring in.

This weekend we'll likely make some more tomato sauce as the green tomatoes on the window sill are ripening nicely.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Gourdious autumn weather

Fall has definitely arrived and the leaves have really started to turn. Jess and I spotted this maple on our way back from the library this morning

Frost has taken down the most sensitive plants so the remaining squash are all in the house along with the tomatoes. Not a great year for squash--I will try to vine them upwards to the back deck next year.

The frosts have not yet been hard enough to kill off the Jerusalem artichoke. I'm keen to harvest our first crop of tubers this year once it dies back.

The beets and carrots are still going strong. The yellowstone carrots look huge (housekey for scale).

I also managed to get a second crop off some of the beds. I will pickle these radishes this weekend.

The garden is starting to wind down so the next few weeks will include harvesting root veggies, putting amendments in the beds for spring and I will be moving a few plants.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Tomatoes, squash and sauerkraut

The weather in September is always a mixed bag. We had a near frost this past week but the tomatoes all survived. But we're looking at another near frost tomorrow night so I decided to call it a year and picked all of the large tomatoes this afternoon.

I decided to leave the squash out, including this butternut that is just too small to pick. This was supposed to be a cucumber! Oh well.

The buckwheat was flowering out front so Jess got a lesson is sickle operations.

 Jess and Jess also made may a huge and rich lemon cake for my birthday.

I did some processing this week. The red cabbage sauerkraut tasted about done so I pulled it out of the crock and jarred it for the fridge. I will make another batch in a few weeks.

We had lovely weather Saturday so I spent the afternoon outside transplanting raspberry suckers from the front yard to the back fence. I also moved a bunch of dirt (in the background of the picture below) to close off these rows and get a few extra feet of garden.

I have more to do but need a hard frost to kill off the wasp nest in the front yard. There are many fewer wasps, but enough that I don't want to fool around with it!

To make room for the tomato harvest, I pulled out my tomato mill. Being an INTJ, I kind of can't help myself when it comes to experimenting with process improvement.

Today I didn't skin the tomatoes (just rough cut them) and that worked fine. I also moved from freezer bags to these one-cup plastic tubs I found. These store much better (stacking) in the freezer and mean I don't have to measure volume. So far, these are good improvements and I haled the processing time.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Wine, blackberries and squash

With autumn approaching, we bottled the spring wine. It was all hands on deck as we has two carboys ready: a malbec and a cab-merlot-shiraz. If the world ever ends, I'm going out loaded.

The garden is starting to wind down. The beans are setting and the summer was hot enough to produce a few black berries!

Having run out of pickled eggs, I decided to make an early batch of sauerkraut in the crock I picked up. A week in and it is smelling and tasting like a good batch.

The potatoes are done and we'll harvest them today. The tomatoes are still producing lots to eat and maybe enough for another two batches of sauce.

The cucumbers are now producing enough to make salads with and are slowly covering the garden where some onions need picking. I see one of the "cucumber" plants is actually some other kind of squash.

The pumpkin patch has five fruit, this being the best example. It is turning a crazy deep orange.

We're slowly make some minor changes to the garden layout while I wait for some hard frosts to kill of two rather inconveniently located wasp nests. The post berry growth of the raspberry patch along the north fence has been encouraging!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Early harvesting

The heat this summer has meant harvesting has begun earlier than in past year. The tomatoes have been coming in pretty steadily, meaning both good eating and weekly saucing.

I also pulled the carrots out of one of the rows in the front. These were most yellowstone carrots. We are eating some fresh and the rest I have blanched and frozen.

Part of the reason for pulling the carrots was to make space for some garlic cloves for next year. We planted four kinds of hard-neck. Garlic seems to do well and home-grown is much better than store bought so I have increased what we planted by 100%. 

Planting garlic is fun now that Jess has developed a more adult sense of distance and can space the clove son her own. We are also eating some fresh cucumbers.

In addition to saucing tomatoes, we're starting to pull potatoes for roasting. Next year we'll plant more potatoes and perhaps fewer beets and less swiss chard. If I get ambitious, I will also make an early batch of sauerkraut this week.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Apple season

Apologies for the lack of posts; it is apple season. Our tree finally gave us a good harvest this year!

We were able to turn down offers of crab apples because I slightly over canned jelly last year... .

Jess quickly turned our apples into pies, tarts and other baked goods.

Then more apples arrived. These were mostly sauced.

I picked up a food mill after some suggestions from friends and it made saucing infinitely quicker!

The rest of the apples are being juiced this weekend and I'm going to freeze the juice and sort out what to do with it when the rest of the harvest tasks are done!