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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes

So the past ten days have been pretty busy as summer heat causes things to move along. The corn is looking pretty good this year and I expect we'll get edible heads.

The raspberries are going into their last weeks of picking but we have lots frozen and I made a batch of raspberry jam. If the weather would break, I'd make a second batch.

The apple tree is also ripening. Friends have offered us their apples in the next week or so to sauce with (ours are more autumn eating apples).

We're also starting to see the tomatoes ripen. First up are these tiny tomatoes. Very flavourful.

On the weekend, we visited Strawberry Creek Farm by Warburg to pick strawberries.

It was a lovely morning (about 20 with a breeze) and the berries were good.

We came home with four gallons. We froze some, I did two batches of jam and two batches of strawberry-rhubarb pie filling. We also ate a lot with ice cream.

Our own garden is coming along. The yard-long Armenian cucumbers are setting fruit. I'm interested to see how these do.

We also have a huge amount of dill from some seeds inadvertently spilled last year after the harvest.

The front yard is in good shape. We're halfway through splitting the irises and gave buckets away to neighbours and Facebook friends. I need my back to recover a bit before we do the other half.

The potatoes are fully grown and I'm starting to see the early plants start to yellow and die back. This seems a touch early but I'm happy to know new potatoes are imminent.

The tomatoes are also just starting to get a bit red. We should have lots to sauce this year. And a second crop of zucchini are ripening so we can do another batch of zucchini salsa. Jess has been cooking more and did a lovely set of grilled veggies on skewers the other night.

We also have some flowers and I think I have the midge problem on the daylilies under control,

Hopefully we get more of these in the coming days.

The weekend should see us make some more jam and continue watering the yard (it has been so hot--nearly 30 every day for almost two weeks).

Friday, July 20, 2018

Blueberry Jam and Zucchini Salsa

We didn't manage to get to a strawberry u-pick this week but I did find a deal on organic blueberries so we bought a couple of flats. Some we froze to baking, some we ate and I made about two litres of blueberry jam.

I don't think I've ever made blueberry jam before. When we used to pick wild blueberries, it would take so long to get even a few cups that jamming was a terrible waste of fruit! This was pretty good but not as good as raspberry.

The alternating heat and rain has made the front yard very lush. The add-on of a bunch of compost last fall may also have helped. The potatoes on the left and the tomatoes on the right are going crazy.

We also purchased a few pretty flowed to interplant. I have no idea what this pinkeye is but it is very nice looking.

The yellow summer squash are also coming in so it was time to make salsa. I recruited some help with the chopping.

After some overnight salting, I put the rest of the ingredients together and started cooking it.

Zucchini salsa is good enough that it is worthwhile bringing out the pressure canner for and we made 7 litres with the first crop. Since we eat salsa fairly regularly, I'm planning at least one more canning session when more zucchini ripen (maybe two).

The tomatoes are also starting to fill out Nothing red yet, but lots of green tomatoes. Hopefully the harvest is a good as its promise seems to be.

We've been picking raspberries every night and freezing them (those that we don't eat) so I soon hope to have enough for a couple of batches of jam. Just need a few cool days to steam up the kitchen. I've also been drying herbs and need to get back at the basil and maybe also some garlic scape pesto.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Rain, raspberries and peas

The first part of July has been a mix of hot (+28C) and wet (lots of rain). The result has been a lot of growth in the yard. We've managed to mostly irrigate the back from two rain barrels of the garage. The front has required a fair bit of tapster (tomatoes and peppers and whatnot).

The most exciting part of the mid-season is watching the potatoes fill out, flower, and then start to make new potatoes. I have not been feeling around beneath the plants but all indications are a big crop this year. This is good news as we always run out of potatoes around Christmas.

Although the Saskatoons were disappointing this year, the raspberries are early and are looking good. I expect we'll have a big crop this year--we're already getting two cups a day of the early berries. We also froze some gooseberries for later use.

We've been drying herbs (lots of dill weed this year). The peas are also ready and we picked the biggest pods this week and then spent a half hour on the front desk shucking them.

We got about three-quarters of a litre of peas (they wee big peas!), which I blanched and froze for Indian food and Christmas dinner. I expect we'll get another one of two crops off of the peas before they pack it in and the beans we planted behind take over.

I'd like to get out to a u-pick this weekend and get some strawberries for jam and pie filling. We'll see how that goes. We also have a lot of zucchini this year (three varieties) and I am keen to replenish our stock of zucchini salsa. Just need the tomatoes to start ripening! In the meantime, Jess is making zucchini loaf.