Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Meyer Lemon flowers!!

Since moving the lemon and lime into the greenhouse, they have exploded into flower. That is the lime behind the lemon and the Avocado below it. It smells amazing in there. However, the bees are gone so I have to hand pollinate. I love pollinating but that end of the greenhouse is a titch crowded with trees so it's hard to reach the back. It is so satisfying being a part of nature and creating fruit!! And it's local. Now....I wonder if there's any chance that avocado with ever bear fruit?

Considering I thought I was going to lose this tree this summer, it is amazing to see this. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I sure hope they are right about cutting strawberries to the gound.

read once that after strawberries are done producing to take them back to the ground with a weed whacker. I have never done this. Today I was in the yard surveying the strawberry patch. It is fading, but, there was a whole new set of flowers setting. I have never seen that happen before. I decided to take them right down. I got my hedge clippers from the shed and lopped them right off. I weeded and took out all the little guys that had rooted that I didn't notice during the summer. Then I grabbed the wheelbarrow and shovel and loaded two wheelbarrows full of manure over them. I didn't want to bury them too deep, but just enough to keep them a bit warmer over the winter. I hope they appreciate my efforts next year. 

Update...they have started growing again and are all flowering. Weird for November. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

I cannot believe that we are still gardening on Vancouver Island.

Osakazuki Japanese Maple.

Sugar Ann peas blooming.

Potato cage repurposed to mulch and compost leaves.

I cut off the strawberries and they've popped back up and are all flowering.

Chilean guava fruit.

Extra curly parsley.

Lavender and fuchsia cuttings pushed against the south side of the greenhouse for winter.

HUGE horse manure pile tarped for winter.

These little Brussel Sprouts are almost an inch across. Think I'll get any to eat?

                                    What I got accomplished this week:
-Washed all of the used pots that have been tucked away for two seasons. Big job.
-Lettuce pulled up. Rather than compost I just left it on the soil. 
-Cleaned up the fountain and put it away. 
-Last of the garlic planted and a bit of manure spread. 
-Started to pull the orchid out of its pot. It is so packed with roots, I couldn't get it out. Then I didn't have just the one new Keiki {new shoot} it had many. I stopped yanking on the poor thing, removed my foot from the edge of the pot and dragged it into the greenhouse. It weighed about thirty pounds. I am going to have a massive amount of flowers this year. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

An awesome batch of Kombucha. It even has fizz!!

The continuous brewer method of brewing Kombucha is really a superior way of doing it. The batch ages to perfection in just a few days. It comes out of the crock a bit fizzy. Tonight I added some pure grape juice and sealed the bottle for the second fermentation, turned the bottle upside down to blend the extra Kombucha that I filled the bottle with and it fizzed all over. I've never been so happy to have a mess to clean up. I MADE FIZZY GRAPE KOMBUCHA!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

My Food Blog. Designed to help you with your food choices.

When I am not in the garden, I research both gardening and food. I often sit for hours in the evening reading everything I can find about food, the politics of it and finding tasty alternatives. Until recently I didn't know there was a political aspect to food. I now realize that the political influence surrounding toxic ingredients in our food, is of course the reason they are allowed. Isn't it interesting that we feel we have no say in what goes in our food. That it is up to us to wade through the mire and figure out which ingredients sound safe but are deadly...and ingredients that sound dangerous are in fact the Latin name of say, coconut oil.

I figure I'm doing the research anyway, why not do a blog of my findings. But just a simple explanation of why something is unsafe and here is the alternate product. Finding a suitable replacement can often be the most difficult and time consuming task of all. I created a page that lists my hits and misses in terms of replacement products for GMO or toxic ingredient laden food.
Find my food blog here!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Thanksgiving Day of planting and preparing beds for winter.

We have had the most beautiful year. More sun than I remember here off the west coast of Canada, ever!!! I got to spend Thanksgiving Day in the garden.

      My beautiful cured and ready to plant garlic, 

      Look at the size of this garlic compared to my hand. 

       Kale popped out of the starter trays.

       Kale set in spots they will be planted.

   The kale bed planted and top dressed with manure. 

       Music Garlic set in their holes. Smoothed over with 
       bagged compost and top dressed with manure. 

I completely filled Bed 4 with kale. If you haven't tried winter kale you are really missing out. Summer kale is bitter and hard, but once your kale gets hit with frost, yummmmmmm.
I had to decide where to plant the garlic this year. The only thing that worked was to separate the two varieties. So the music is planted in Bed 1 and Red Russian is going in the lasagna bed. 
I had to admit defeat with Butternut Squash and Pattypans. Not a single one made it to edible size. I have high hopes that with all the horse manure going in the beds, it will be better next year.
I topped off the two beds that I planted with a layer of manure. It is six months old rather than the year, but I didn't use too much. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Plantain and Calendula infusion.

yesterday I saw a Facebook post that featured a batch of Plantain Salve. My friend Lindsey has two boys and swears by it's healing properties. I googled it and found that the first step is to make an infusion. Oh, and I had no idea what a plantain was. It is a weed!! So I walked up and down our street with my weed digging stick thingy and an empty pot. I found more than I thought I would. So I cleaned it and picked off the better leaves. I must say they were some pretty ratty specimens in my batch. I also had some dried Calendula petals from my garden. I threw them all into a mason jar, covered them with olive oil and will let them diffuse over the next ten days and then check on it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

It's garlic planting time! It is so easy, everyone should do it!!

This years harvest. We love garlic so this is always a welcome sight. 
The seed for next year is separate from this. 

It is that time. I feel a real sense of satisfaction at garlic planting time. In my garden, garlic planting happens September 15. I tend to plant on the earlier side. I clean this years harvest. I choose the best heads of garlic for planting. I figure out how many I would like for next year, and I just count out the number of cloves per head.

I compost and do any amending to the bed I plan to plant. I use my dibber and punch holes about three inches deep and 6-8" apart. Place a clove in each hole. They go in the hole point up. You can sort of see where there roots will grow on the bottom of the clove. Fill the holes with dirt, water and ignore. 

Some gardeners recommend mulching. I have mulched and I have not mulched. I didn't notice any real difference. 

In the early spring you will see the garlic starting to grow. Let them grow. Treat them like any vegetable in the garden. Food...water. In June you will start to see the curly garlic scrapes forming on the tops of hard-neck garlic. Cut them off and use them for garlic scape pesto. {recipe below} Truly one of the most delicious things ever. Shortly you will start to see some brown leaf tips. Slow down the watering and stop entirely when it starts getting very brown.  I wait until just over half of the leaves on the garlic are completely dead. Time to dig up your precious garlic. Dig up one or two and see if they look well formed, and if they look good, dig them up.

Hang the garlic in a cool darkish place for a month....or more. Not an exact science really. When cured take them down, cut the hard stalk about an inch or two long. Peel of the outer layer of skin that comes away easily and brush the dirt off the roots and trim them. This is where you keep the best for planting in fall and.........then start the whole process again!!!

Garlic Scape Pesto (Delicious)

1 cup of garlic scapes, top flowery part removed, cut into  1/4 inch slices
1/3 cup of walnuts or pinenuts.
3/4 cup of olive oil 
1/2 cup grated parmigiano cheese 
1/2 teaspoon of salt 
black pepper to taste 

Place scapes and walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and whiz 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 parmigiano 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.

I freeze my pesto in an ice-cube tray to keep for winter. 

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Emptied Compost Bin #1

We just returned yesterday from Seattle. It was glorious. We had to track down a Starbucks.....because we were in Seattle. We did and we partook. I was too tired to do any real gardening but spent a bit of fun time in the yard. 

Today was another story. It was supposed to be wasn't, it was wonderful. I emptied the compost out of bin one. It was raunchy looking, a bit rough, but I spread it anyway. I decided to put it in the lettuce bed in the greenhouse rather than outside where the nutrients would leach away. 

I took out every other alpine strawberry. They were just crammed in there. I must stop planting things so close together. You can see that I spread a bit of the compost and horse manure in the raspberry, kale and strawberry bed. 

 Yard fashion shot. The gorgeous blueberries turning bright red and Beamer the gardening cat.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Christmas greenery in the yard...

    Pretty scrawny at this point. It is lusher and prettier now. 

Shortly after buying this house in 1979, I planted a holly tree. I love Christmas and all the natural greenery that goes with it. Shortly after that one of my neighbors at the back, planted a cedar hedge along our property. About the time the holly was getting big enough to cut, I saw a picture in Victoria Magazine of a floral arrangement that included variegated holly. I went looking for one. I found a nice sized plant at Marigold Nursery. It was about 2, maybe 2.5 feet tall. I put it in the ground in a shadyish area. It grew slowly to about 4 feet tall and just stopped. It didn't really grow much for about 18 years. The berries were few and far between when there were berries. I considered removing it. I'm so glad I didn't. About 5 years ago I gave it a bath and good watering of fertilizer and it started to grow. It is beautiful and with the pruning last year, I'm quite smitten with it. It is delightful at Christmas. I tuck holly into wreaths and arrangements. I always take some to the store. It is wonderful to be able to walk around my yard with pruners and cut all the holly and cedar that I want. There is enough for my whole family. Merry Christmas!!

I'm thinking this lovely greenhouse would fit right beside the other.

This summer I cleared out the wild area / snowberry garden. It left me with about 200 shady square feet. I measured and this 8 x 16 foot greenhouse would fit there right beside my old greenhouse. It would give me a total of 8 x 28 feet under glass. Wow. I need to do something about the hedge from hell to get some sun in this location. When that is done, I'd be free to do this. I would build a brick wall 2-3 feet tall and set it on the wall. That would make it really tall for tomatoes and my precious citrus fruit trees. It really sounds like I've made the decision doesn't it. 

But first the hedge. My nemesis. My nemesis. 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

The most beautiful pile of manure I've ever seen!!

This morning I had five yards of horse manure delivered. It is a happy, happy day for me. There is NOTHING like manure to get a gardener salivating. Here are a few more pictures to make you totally jealous!!

Look at the steam. LOOK AT THE STEAM!!!!!!!!!

Pumpkin and Squash variety chart.

I found this lovely pumpkin and squash identifying chart in the Earthbound Farm Organic site. 

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Raspberry of life's finer things.

I cannot tell you how much satisfaction I get from canning, growing, preserving and preparing food. Growing veggies and fruit has given me a whole new respect and love of food. I enjoy sharing what I make and grow with people. 
So at nine tonight I decided to make a batch of raspberry jam for Allan. I rarely eat jam, but he has it every night. I bought him some from the Sidney Market, but it just wasn't as good. Not to toot my own horn....but my jam really is pretty good. 
So he grudgingly ate the jam I bought, but he kept asking when I was going to be making more. Well today is that day my friend, today is that day.

The beginning of the raspberry jam. Made from my favorite farmer Dan's organic raspberries and non-GMO cane sugar. 

Jam aftermath.

The finished product!! I'll get a better picture when the sun is out. 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Harvesting Orca beans. They are so beautiful.

Be honest now, aren't these the prettiest beans you've ever seen! I sure think so. I love dried beans and had high hopes of having a couple jars worth. Here is what I have so far. I think the close up picture is much superior. 

Well, there's always next year.