Monday, July 24, 2017

Wine and jam

We've had a busy few days trying to keep on top of the garden with the raspberry season in full swing. We have made a couple of batches of jam, one of which I over cooked and turned into toffee.


We also racked off the strawberry wine and have set it aside to clarify and settle some. I've put Jess on raspberry duty. The 50 feet of canes we have put in over the past few years have become a roaring success and we can pick a gallon or more every other day.



I've been busy jamming.


We also pulled in the first crop of green beans and peas. The beans we blanched and froze for soup this winter. The peas have been eaten fresh.


We've finally had a few days of good soaking rain to break the heat. I'm hopeful we'll see a big push by the tomatoes over the next few weeks. As the onions and garlic come to an end, I'm contemplating some major soil amendment out front.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Berries for jam. Plus garlic scape pesto

We had a pretty week of making stuff. We started off with garlic scape pesto. The scapes were just ready for harvesting this week and I sent Jess out to get them.


We then cleaned, chopped, and blended with some oil, nuts, parmesan cheese and salt. This year's batch seems way hotter than last year's--maybe the drought? Or maybe we needed more oil? Anyhow, we froze them in muffin tins which is a nice appetizer size


We also made Saskatoon jam and strawberry-rhubarb pie filling for the winter. This is probably the last cutting from the rhubarb for this year as we were pretty brutal.



Jess also pulled the first turnip while we were out watering yesterday. It has been very hot and dry (+30C) and everyone is looking forward to a rainy week.


I also made from strawberry-saskatoon jam the other night. I didn't quite cook it long enough and it is a touch runnier than I might like. And we dried some saskatoons (meh).


The raspberries are also coming on and we've harvested about a gallon. If the weather cools off some, I will make jam with them tomorrow. The now mature raspberry hedge is one of my happiest gardening accomplishments. At about 50 feet in length. it should be enough to meet all of our needs.


I was out (watering.. again) and I see that the scary-hot peppers have fruited. I'm looking forward to drying these for winter use.


Ive been watching the north bed in the front yard and thinking that now that the tree stump has mostly disintegrated, I might spend some time in late August moving the soil about and amending it in anticipation of growing some tomatoes there next year. Tonight we're going to rack off the strawberry wine into carboys.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Tomatoes, scapes, and Saskatoons

Jess and I took a short trip to Calgary this week, leaving Jennifer in charge of watering during a gruelling hot spell. We came back to find everything in intact, including the start of what looks like a great tomato harvest.


My plan this afternoon is to harvest the garlic scape to make pesto.


I dumped an old seed back I had into one of the back planters to see what came up. Answer: poppies.


We're just at the end or the peonies but these are being overtaken by daylilies. I still see some evidence of some kind of a disease in the daylilies (mostly swollen but stunted flower heads). I've been deadheading the diseased flower buds and, over the past two year, the incidence is way down.



We drove out to T&D's Saskatoons this afternoon to get four gallons of berries. The berries were amazing--they have really plumped up in the heat. Our own bushes need picking as well--maybe tonight after it rains. The robins have been in the trees each day getting their fill.



I cleaned the berries we picked and froze three-quarters for later jamming or use in baking. The rest we'll likely eat fresh with ice cream. If there enough left over, I might try wine making. The strawberry wine is cooking in the basement and smells amazing.


Now off to harvest some scapes.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Peonies, poppies, and preserves

The peonies continue to bloom in the back yard, with new plants coming into flower each day. I don't think we've seen such a show ever. Perhaps the plants are finally becoming mature?


The garden is also starting to produce useful amount of food. We've been thinning the lettuce boxes to make room for more mature plants to grow. This is one of the boxes in the back. I tried to get a bit artsie this year with different varieties in one box. I see we also have a tree coming up between the box and the garage (arrgh) and a few volunteer bush beans.


Last week we picked gooseberries. This was the first year we had enough to make jam. The result has had mixed reviews. I like it (tastes like a prairie version of marmalade). Others appreciated the flavour less... . Not a huge disappointment given how terribly thorny the mature plants are.


The carrots have finally germinated. They were crazy slow this year and I wondered if I had a bad batch of seed. I need to thin these more this week.


Grandmas' poppies have also come on strong, essentially infesting a raised planter. They are pretty if confined here. Ive been pulling plants that have migrated elsewhere.


Our first experiment with tomatillo seems to be yielding fruit. I'll need to do some research on when these guys are ready and how to process them for salsa.


The perennials are also in full bloom. This is a lovely Persian coneflower that the bees like. I've started to thin the perennials around yard at they seem to love the vegetable beds.


The strawberry plants we put in last year have really put our a good crop this year. Not quite enough to make anything with but nice for fresh eating.


To get enough volume for jam, wine, and pie filling, we went to Strawberry Creek Farm yesterday. It was warm (27C) but the breeze helped. We picked about six gallons of berries in an hour.


Jess was a trooper; this has been a nice change over the years when picking used to be measured by how much I could get done before she got bored and whiny.


Today I'm racking off wine and juicing some berries for strawberry wine. I plan to start making pie filling tomorrow (in the early morning while the house is still cool).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fruit and peonies!

 Summer is in full swing and I've been spending a fair bit of time weeding! This includes a bumper crop of self-seeded violets (in the wrong spot) and some very aggressive growth by perennials.


It looks like the fruit crop will be a good one this year. The apples seem to coming along well and the raspberries and Saskatoons have both set fruit.


Our flowering baskets are also beautifully colourful.


I'm thrilled to see the potatoes blooming. I've never tried to grow potatoes from seed but I might try to snag a few seeds this year and try in the spring.


The real star of late June is the peony. We have half a dozen of these (mostly gifts from Jenn's mom).


The have just started opening and we'll have likely two weeks of blooms. The bees have gone mental for them and it is hard to walk along the side of the house without colliding with fliers.




The intensity of the colours has been amazing this year. And the subtle shading looks like water colours.


Around back we also have a huge bunch of mock orange bushes in bloom.


These need to be cut back each year so I feel free to bring in as many blooms as we have vases for.


The rhubarb wine is still cooking in the basement. It is a bit of a slow ferment but progress is being made. Apparently we also have enough points to buy a free beer kit. I need to drink my way down to enough free bottles before we do a beer kit. I have some more oregano in the drier today and we harvested enough gooseberries last night to make jam.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Rhubarb, irises, and peonies

Good weather meant I got a touch behind in garden blogging this week. We had a wonderful father's day trip to Elk Island Park, with cycling, hiking, and kayaking.


We also did a lot of things this week. I sugared the rhubarb, then juiced it, and it is cooking away in the basement. 


We also wrapped up the chive vinegar experiment and bottled it. I used the remaining chive vinegar from last year to make some pink pickled eggs.


The strawberries have formed berries and I' just waiting for them to ripen. I'm hopeful we'll get out to Strawberry Creek Farm in the next few weeks so I can make jam and wine and pie filling. We're just about out of strawberry-rhubarb pie filling from last year!


The garden has been growing. I was thinning the beets and ran across this pineapple weed. I am waiting for this plant to get a bit bigger before harvesting the buds for salad.


The perennial flowers are also starting to bloom, including this daisy (which has seeded itself everywhere).


It is also iris season. It is a bit hard to capture the sheer number of irises that are blooming. There are ta least 500 flowers in the front and side yard. 


Working from home, I often get to listen to passersby during the (the windows bounce sound from the street into my office) and the front seems to be a ht. Shame it only lasts about 1o days. But man, is it amazing.


The vegetable garden that is in behind is starting to really take. The tomatillos are flowing and setting fruit alongside the pepper plant. The garlic are also doing well and the rest of the tomatoes seem to be pushing up (finally).


The violas have seeded themselves everywhere and I've now started to weed them out o the veggy beds when they get too close to the vegetables.


We're also awaiting the start of the peonies. The flower heads are full and the ants are all over them.


I got this shot after a shower. Not the best peony picture I've taken, but a nice one with the water and the sun.


I'm hoping to rack off the rhubarb wine this weekend and also do a later sowing of peas and bush beans (the corn bed was a bust). We should also be harvesting lettuce this weekend. And maybe gooseberries.