Monday, November 25, 2013

Hoop House, or Polytunnel, is up and running.

                 Polytunnel / Hoop House of my dreams

forgot my camera at the store. Yes, again. I was looking for a hoop house picture similar to mine to show you. I stumbled on this picture. It is just so much bigger, better and fuller than mine, I had to use it. I really need a bigger back yard. 

I completely forgot that I have Mache seeds in the fridge. I am going to sprinkle some among the lettuce seeds in the hoop house.

The hoop house took a piece of greenhouse plastic 16x11'. After cutting up the plastic for the hoop house I found that I had a leftover piece that is 8x16'. I've read that you can get tape for this plastic so 
I only need another piece that is three feet (by 16' wide) I think it was $1.75 a foot? Yayyy!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Pink Gooseberry Pyrex. My ultimate find.

This, my friends, is Pink Gooseberry Pyrex. My latest treasures. They nest together, were really popular in the 50's and 60's and were used to store food in. Then we all found Tupperware. Of course now everyone is switching back to glass again. 

Annnnnnd, we've come full circle. 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is a Vitamix worth the money? Darn right!!!

Allan and I love our Vitamix. We use it at least once a day and call it the best money we ever spent. Here are a few of the things we do with it. 

Smoothies: Allan loves making breakfast smoothies. So far all fruit based. Next on my list is a green smoothie. I wish our smoothie prep area looked like this.

Almond milk: I make a litre of almond milk per week. The Vitamix will pay for itself quickly just using it for my almond milk. 

Guacamole: The recipe in the little booklet with the Vitamix is the best guacamole I have ever tasted. 

PiƱa Colada's and other crushed ice drinks: In my mind the Vitamix paid for itself before we left Hawaii, what with the drinks and guacamole. My old Kitchenaid Blender couldn't make this super smooth blended ice no matter how long you left it...the Vitamix does it in about ten seconds.

Tahihi: I eat a lot of Halvah. OMG it is so good. My favorite is marbled with chocolate. When I buy halvah, it says 'made with sugar or honey'. Trying to avoid GMOs, I don't trust the sugar. So I bought ten pounds of organic sesame seeds. Bring it on!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Turning a Poly Tunnel failure into a win!!

The freak 10 degree temperature today on Vancouver Island, drove me straight to the yard. I kept looking at the PVC poles looking a bit like a four poster bed and just pondering. I suddenly had this idea. I had planned on perfecting winter gardening then putting a large Poly Tunnel over two raised beds. Ta Da. We have the PVC, they just aren't long enough. Connectors my friend...connectors.

But back to the low polytunnel...I get carried away. We found the RIGHT PVC flexible tubing. It definitely works better. Tomorrow we are going to attach the keel and put on the plastic. Today I sprinkled lettuce between the rows of kale and spread some frost cloth on them. It was very windy, so while it just looks like I layed the cloth down nice and easy actually took a lot of fussing, 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

It's supposed to get really cold this week, so I bundled up the Rosemary.

Rosemary wrapped in frost cloth. 

Peas still flowering.

Nasturtiums still flowering. 

I found two limes on the greenhouse floor. They are full grown. Will they turn green off the tree?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Brown Sugar Ontario.

I was born in Ontario and my Dad used to make this fudge when I was little. This picture brings back such memories. I haven't made it yet, but I will !

Dad's Brown Sugar Fudge

What you need:
2 cups Golden Yellow Sugar
1 cup Granulated White Sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup peanuts, salted or unsalted (optional) **they say optional, but they don't mean it. Go salted.

How to prepare:
1. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Stir together the sugar, milk, and butter over medium heat until it reaches a boil. Continue to cook the sugar mixture until it reaches the soft ball stage, when it reads 235°F on a candy thermometer. You can also tell if the mixture has reached the soft ball stage if you drop a bit of the sugar mixture into cold water and it forms into a soft ball
3. Once it has reached the soft ball stage, remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
4. Beat the mixture with a wooden spoon until it thickens and becomes creamy in texture, then stir in the peanuts (if using).
5. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan, smoothing the top with a spatula. Let cool completely before cutting into squares. They will be a bit crumbly, so don’t worry. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.

***Recipe adapted from Redpath Sugar's recipe.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fuchsias are in full bloom.

I would say climate change is a given. It is November and the fuchsias are in full bloom. I really cannot say more than that. Except, how beautiful is this?

And just a fun picture of my leaf composting facility.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just showing off.....citrus flowers in the greenhouse.

I really wish that you could smell this. I keep thinking that the lemon and lime trees are done and will drop blooms and make fruit....and they just keep flowering more and more. I really LOVE my greenhouse.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fall Rye spread as a cover crop.

Spread fall rye in the parts of the garden with nothing that will overwinter. It is a wonderful 'food for the garden'.  This nasturtium has begun growing and blooming again. The strawberries are also in bloom. Autumn crocus have begun sending up their late spring shoots. It is a very strange year.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

First Poly Tunnel attempt......a failure

We started the day really excited about putting our first Poly Tunnel or Hoop House together. Everything was going smashingly, until we tried to bend the PVC into arches. It was REALLY difficult. We were using PVC plumbing connectors.We are using 3/4" PVC which is about an inch across in total. We were bending two 8 foot long pieces to meet in the middle to the connector. It would be a tall hoop, but kinda cool I thought. When we got it just about there the connector snapped. It is about 9 degrees celcius today, could that be it?

Can any of you brilliant gardeners enlighten us?

                Look it's Beamer the gardening cat!!

Friday, November 08, 2013

Spices are beautiful. Garam Masala Blend and the recipe for this dish.

Spices are so beautiful I just wanted to share this with you. Isn't it beautiful. Allan wanted to make Garam Masala based chicken. It called for a few spices that we didn't have. I went to my 'go to' for spices, Sidney's Natural Food store. They have everything in bulk. I like to buy small amounts of spices and use them fresh. They had everything and here is a picture of the mixture of spices. 

Chicken Tikka Masala

2 tsp. garam masala 
1 tsp. paprika
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground coriander seed
¼ tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. cayenne pepper (we found it a titch hot, so I'll reduce this amount next time)
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 cup low sodium chicken stock (we used vegetable)
1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken 
breasts or thigh, cut into ¾-inch cubes
Salt to taste
3 Tbsp plain yogurt or whipping cream
Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Heat oil in large, deep skillet set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender and light golden, about 5 minutes. Mix in spice mixture, tomato paste, ginger and garlic. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. 

Mix in diced tomatoes and stock, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook 5 minutes. Season the chicken with salt, and then stir into the sauce. Simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 12 minutes. Stir in yogurt or cream and heat through 1 minute. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed, and then serve. If desired, garnish servings of the chicken with cilantro sprigs.

**Steamed basmati rice is the perfect side dish for the saucy chicken. To make about 3 cups of cooked rice, place 1¼ cups white basmati rice in small to medium pot and add 1¾ cups cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to its lowest setting, cover and cook, undisturbed, 15 to 18 minutes, or until rice is tender. 

Monday, November 04, 2013

Even in Seattle I find one of these.

On a recent trip to Seattle, we were strolling around the Fremont area. I found, yes, tractors. Allan couldn't resist the photo opp.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

November Gardening!!

We had a huge storm on Friday night. Wind, rain and more wind. I went out to survey my domain today and found little in the way of wind damage. The lemon and lime tree are blooming like crazy in the greenhouse and I see small little fruits forming. Joy! 
I checked on the Borlotti Beans. They didn't suffer too badly from the rain, but I cut them all off {yes this is all of them} and brought them in to dry. I picked my Jonagold apples. Aren't they a sight. They are less than two inches across. I'm going to eat them anyway!!
I wandered, puttered and admired. It is a freak sunny day about 10 degrees so I was loving it. 
I'm very glad that we got the manure pile covered before the torrential rain. 
I've just sat down to have a wonderful nespresso with some Camino organic hot chocolate in it. Oh yummmmmmm.

I planted a bunch of these over sized Snowdrops. I put them between the blueberries in the blueberry walk. I love them. Any excuse to plant snowdrops...the ultimate spring flower.