Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Sick? Fresh air and garlic.

I'm sick. I am outraged...I never get sick. I have a cold. My nose is plugged, my throat is sore. I have a splitting headache. But I have a plan. I've always done the same thing when I don't feel well. If it's winter I open the windows, if it's summer I go outside. I crave fresh, real air, so I spent the day outside. So no difference from a usual Monday for me. It's my day off. I garden. So, this is what I accomplished today. I planted a tomato, I tore out a duplicate peony and a day lily. I dug up all the garlic..which was in heavy soil so it was a chore. I planted a short row of parsnips, seeded lettuce, lifted the landscape cloth I used to kill buttercups. Now that I know the vinegar trick to kill them, I can manage without cloth. I had a coffee on the deck in the sun. Judy gave me some lettuce and freshly picked blueberries for supper. I made a nice salad. Thank you Judy. I broke up a newly harvested garlic. Took two nice big fat cloves and ate them raw. That's the other thing I do when I get sick. Garlic.

Tuesday update: I feel a little less congested today, and less headachy. I have opted not to go to the store and infect everyone. It looks like it is going to be a bright, sunny and hot day. Hmmm. My remedy for illness. Fresh air and garlic...bring it on!!!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Red-Breasted Sapsucker damage...really?

This is my birch tree. I was watching the cutest little woodpecker tapping at the birch tree. About 15 minutes I'd say. My bird ID book told me he was a Red-Breasted Sapsucker. When I went out later to see what he was up to, this is what I found. A ring around the birch of deepish holes some about a centimetre across. So, I was remembering a conversation I had with you in April about this same birch tree. I thought it was reaching the end of it's life shortly. Thanks for the help little red bird. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

My garden versus neighbour Judy's garden

Judy's carrots and beets
Judy's blueberries
Judy's raspberries
My carrots and beets...close up no less

No contest!! Judy, I bow to your mastery.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Time to beautify the garden paths

I have been killing grass and buttercups for quite a while this year. Once I got a proper sprayer for my vinegar solution, the killing factor intensified. You can't get the coverage using a hand sprayer...and the toll it takes on your hand after a few weeks/months is pretty brutal. The secret to killing buttercups is this. Spray the buttercups and cover the leaves completely. Then hold the spray nozzle on the ground to let it soak in to the root a little bit. I was able to kill them in one or two applications. I was up to 15 sprays with the hand sprayer and still couldn't kill them. So it must be the deeper spraying that did it. I am thrilled. I have one path in the garden pretty much clear of grass etc, so I took a little stash of redwood mulch that I had tucked away and spread it along the one side of the garden. Oh my gosh, it looks so much better. Now I'm anxious to finish it off.
Yet to be done.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Judy's garden tour

On Monday my neighbor Judy held a garden tour. Judy's vegetable garden was the inspiration that started my own garden journey last year. The garden was in perfect condition for the tour. The women who attended looked as impressed as I always am. Judy even made lunch for everyone. Later she brought a piece of Raspberry Flan over for Allan and I. It was incredible. She is the perfect neighbor.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Raspberry...blueberry...jam making

I know I am not going to be able to grow enough berries to make jam. It just takes so many. Each week I go to the Sidney market and buy some berries from a couple of different farmers, both located on Oldfield Road in Central Saanich. My neighbor Judy goes to a couple farms for the large amount of fruit she needs for her smoothies that she makes each day. She freezes enough for the year. Saturday my sister Jess and I went to Dan's Farm. I cannot believe that I have never been there before. (Yet something else to thank Judy for) Dan is an organic farmer and sells fruit and veg, as well as baked goods, free range eggs, Organic meat etc. They have goats, chickens and dogs. I can honestly say, Dan's raspberries are probably the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. Yes...in my whole life. I bought a flat and that made two batches of jam and I buzzed berries for two more. So, four batches per flat. I think I'm going to go back this week and get more. Then Jess and I went just up the road a bit and went into the field of blueberries and picked. Again...how could I have lived 15 minutes away and never bought food from these magnificent farmers. Why isn't everyone buying from the farmers? When did it become okay to buy tasteless fruit and vegetables from the supermarket, that has traveled an average of 1600 miles using fossil fuel to get to us. It's no wonder kids eat so much junk food. I couldn't stand fruit and vegetables either until I started growing my own. Then I realized why. Growing up in a family of farmers...(seven generations of them in Canada so far) I was very spoiled by their delicious food. So I am getting back to my food roots, and farmers like Dan are going to play a MUCH larger role in my new food habits. Thank you Dan, for doing what you do!!

Please support your local farmers. You can find Dan's Farm at 2030 Bear Hill Road. It's at the corner of Oldfield Road and Bear Hill.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Photo essay. What the garden is doing right now.

Grouping waiting to be planted

Radishes ravaged by slugs. Note Sluggo beads on ground.
NZ Spinach

Tomatoes crawling along Greenhouse roof.
Organic catnip
Twisted Pepperoncini Pepper.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Beans all twirl the same direction

See...all the same way.

This may seem silly to you serious gardeners, but I couldn't help but notice, all of my 18 bean plants are twirling around the bamboo poles in the same direction. My mind, of course, went right to the obvious question. Is that a northern hemisphere thing, and they twirl the opposite way in the southern hemisphere? Anyone??

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Do not read if you are offended by foul language

I had an insane fear of slugs when I was younger. I could NOT walk in a forest. I once was on a hike with Allan and two friends. There were slugs. After a couple minutes I froze and could not walk. They took sticks and cleared a path for me. I could not garden unless it was super hot and dry. Could not dig my own holes in the earth...I also had an insane fear of earthworms. Both of these fears have subsided through exposure. I still really do NOT like them, but I can be semi reasonable. I had this experience the other day and emailed my sister Jess. She said I should post it. I just didn't know. Too much swearing. But it's real...so here it is, every so slightly edited. As in  %$.

"So. I'm in the garden watering. I notice one of my apples on the ground. It has a claw mark on it and a little branch attached. Damn raccoons. So I'm noticing that Helen's bulbs have been pulled out. There are two little bulbs on the surface. So I figure I'll just push it back in the soil. It was cold and it was squishy. F%$K ME...HOLY SHIT THAT IS A FRIGGIN SLUG. I wipe my finger on my pants. Look up to see if it really is, through my glasses. BLECH. Yes it is. F$&K ME. I spit on my finger....yes really. And wipe on the pants again. Grab the hose. Water the finger and wipe again. Ooooooo, yuch. Okay back to watering. I came inside and didn't burn my pants. Yup still got 'em on. So...I think I've come a long way. I'm proud of myself. Giggle snort."
Love Erin

Monday, July 16, 2012

Millions of tiny plants in my compost top dressing

I think I may have used my compost prematurely. I thought once it looked and smelled 'dirt like' it would be ready. I have millions of little fine clumps of seedlings and oodles of tomatoes coming up in the gardens where I spread the compost. Is this typical? I never did get the heat that people speak of.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Rhubarb about four feet across

Four foot rhubarb...far cry from last years plant.
Fortex beans in the hot sun today.
One remaining raspberry has some new growth.

Compost for my dying raspberries.

Empty compost bin. You were right Mark. Patience.
My raspberries look awful. They have slowly turned brown. I've been cutting back the dying bits hoping they would shoot out some nice new green growth. No such luck, and now I have a raspberry plant with a few stalks, a few dead leaves with just a blush of green on one leaf. The other is dying really fast. It looked good, set some raspberries and suddenly started turning brown as well.
One almost dead raspberry
The other very dead raspberry
My gold raspberry is going gangbusters, so I really don't understand. I wrote to Marigold Nursery and she suggested that I feed them and maybe they will send up some new growth. Sounds good to me. So me, being me, I gave them a heck of a treatment today. I never do anything half-assed. First I mixed up a batch of my wonderful Seawood Liquid. Watered it in well. Then I threw some of my dry fertilizer around each plant. It takes about a month to break down, so it's for the future. Then I set about doing a lot of weeding and general puttering around the yard. I was out all day. After dinner I went outside to putter some more, and thought, I wonder if I can get some compost out of bin one. I started digging around in it and found that there was a LOT of useable compost. I used my pitchfork to sift it a bit (I need to make a compost screen...stat) and started to spread it in the berry bed. There was so much that I put about 3-4 inches in it and brought the soil level back up flush with the bed. I had enough compost to thickly spread around the asparagus plants and the rest of that bed. I put the uncomposted bits in bin two and called it a day. A job well done. I'm achy but satisfied. I got a small handful of strawberries to put on a bit of ice cream tonight. I love berries. Nature's perfectly delicious food.
The berry bed doesn't look bad from a distance.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Glass art in the strawberry patch.

Everyone knows I love whimsy. These are the lastest creation of Kitras Art Glass in Ontario. I brought a few into the store just to check them out. I LOVE them and grabbed three for my garden. They are perfect.
Not quite a Dale Chihuly installation, but perfect for me.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Garlic Scape Pesto is every bit as good as they say

My garlic patch suddenly scaped. The garlic seed was given to me last August by garden guru Jim, so I didn't know if they were hard or soft neck. The three different types he gave me were all hard neck so I got lots of scapes. I had already decided to make pesto, so I was ready to go. Here is the recipe. I took liberties with the recipe. I didn't measure anything and just kept adding olive oil until it tasted right. Once it tasted right, I helped myself to several teaspoons. Yummmm.

Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup of garlic scapes, top flowery part removed, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1/3 cup of pine nuts
3/4 cup of olive oil 
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
black pepper to taste 
Place scapes and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor and buzz until well combined and somewhat smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until integrated. With a rubber spatula, scoop pesto out of bowl and into a mixing bowl. Add parmesan to taste; add salt and pepper. Makes about 6 ounces of pesto. Keeps for up to one week in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. For 1/2 pound short pasta such as penne, add about 2 tablespoons of pesto to cooked pasta and stir until pasta is well coated.