Monday, October 24, 2011

shutting it down

Pictures worth 1000 words

I raised the stakes today ...

& upside down this makes as much sense ... as water off a ducks back! If you think this post doesn't make a whole heck of a lot of sense - wait until you read the one before this (following) ...

One more day and I'm there (I think)!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Nearing the End of the Season Again

Two shots of the garden I like from this season - Summer 2011 - it was a good year.

It's been difficult getting out to actually close the garden down because of all the rainy days which really made for a surprising number of healthy-sized weeds in the pathways where there hadn't been any to speak of a week ago - well maybe there had been a few (but we're not speaking about them).

Which brings me to something else we're not speaking about AND the reason there have not been many updates recently. It's not that I haven't been going to the garden - it's just been that it's taken me some time to figure out how to get to the other side of something that happened a month or so ago. I SAW A SNAKE A-G-A-I-N andThisTimeItWasn'tMyHose (iSortOfHadAFeelingLastTimeItWasn'tMyHoseBUT ... iReallyLikedBeingInHEAVyDenialAboutTheFactThatMyGardenCan'tHaveSnakesBecausePsychologicallyIGoThereToRelaxNotToWorkOnMyPhobias) So enough about that - ya right - you believe that and you'll believe anything I say - don't right now - suffice to say - I watched in utter horror as this one wriggled it's way out of my garden and into the woods and then back into my garden and back into MY little hut - after this I have no idea where it went nor what really happened because I called it a day and calmly left ... without packing any of my things up before going).

As I said I've been back. I just haven't blogged. Things are finally fine again. Seguay to another surprise found in the garden today - I almost fell over backwards when I tromped my way to the back bit by the woods which I'd not gone into for about a month or so and lo and behold there were two HUGE pumpkins the so big you could use them as chairs if it weren't for the sticky-outy stem bits.

I left one on the vine (this big one's not it) and covered it with dead leaves so thieves roving our allotments creating incursions (according to everyone I spoke with today) throughout won't discover it before it's ready. Bad enough the chipmunks seem to have grown teeth at least four times the size they were in Spring and are now taking really big bites out of my stuff. Maybe it's a good thing the Season is almost over - who knows what I'd do if I met one of them now as it was a couple of months ago I would see them leaping through the air ... those little Olympic Gold Trophy-Winning BigAsMonkey flying chipmunks ... at least ten foot high and strides four times longer than a giraffe's neck. It was like 'pop goes the weasel's but with chipmunks.

I'm not sure what the expression is but it has something to do with getting all your soldiers lined up ... at first I started just throwing things all higglety pigglety everywhere then I thought better of it and put the dirty ends of the sticks the tomatoes had been tied to all Season facing south-east (they had to face in some direction and that's the way the first one landed - my garden's on a diagonal so it's the way their cookies crumbled this year - some batches better than others - something to do with the humidity in the air and flowers or something, I can't remember - I'm getting older). I was nice to them because today I remembered coming into my garden on the first day I ever got my garden way back - four years ago - and I remembered I'd noticed Joe had left his sticks for the the next person (me) all nicely lined up and it felt good. I am also thinking ahead to Spring. I understand now why he did it - it's easier to put them there in Fall and it's easier then to get them again in Spring. The way I was doing it was so make work at both ends (haul them into the hut and then haul them back out) when they can just be left in the garden near where they need to go again. I'm learning ... the little things ... the things that count ...

... what can I say but I ripped up my tomatoes today ...

... most importantly - there were no snakes today (nor last week nor the the week before but there was that little one the week before all that that took over the whole garden (NOTE: I didn't stop going to the garden - I just stopped blogging. If I can't say something nice I try not to say anything (often) ... aaaannnd I didn't want to go onANDon about it - you think this is and has been - it hasn't)!

SO NOW ending on a good note - these two plants are the healthiest-looking specimens I've grown in a while ... yeah ... I've had a stevia finally make it - not only that but it's wowed me all Summer ... now I'm taking it home to see if I can keep it alive - along with the rosemary. Chewing on a stevia leaf smelling the rosemary as I carried that into my home from my car ... again the little things ...

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mid-September Denuding of the Vines + Bread Baking

I managed to find my bread maker book along with the little instruction manual for using the two small pans that goes with it and sync it up with a recipe I found online here ... with a few changes (added garden chives instead of onions, and cheddar instead of parmesan, etc). I became impatient with how much mixing and waiting time was going on with the machine and whipped the dough out, put it in bread pans, bowls and muffin tins and into my toaster oven.

It goes well with the zucchini marmalade I also adapted to my own taste & what was in my cupboards from the BerNARdin Preserving Book.

It reminds me a little of an interesting vegan recipe for a wacky cake from that I want to try.

It was a nice way to finish the day off after spending time in the garden ...

I was surprised to find raspberries bursting forth like there is no tomorrow at such a late date. I've had them in the garden now for three years and they've done nothing ... to the point I thought they were pretend look-a-likes and I even uprooted one only to find the tag attached to it still letting me know it was a bush I'd paid good money for (so it's now sitting in a container of water trying to fully overcome the trauma I set upon it). Happily it's doing very well again.

When I first looked at the vines I thought there weren't very many ripe tomatoes; but then when I began collecting them, I realized I'd have a batch big enough to be able to can. There are still so many green tomatoes left and I really hope we have some sunny days so it's not all going into green tomato relish. I was 2 weeks late planting tomatoes this year and it's really showing.

I am afraid I am going to have to uproot the morning glories very soon so they don't seed themselves here again next year. Who am I kidding right - no matter what I do, they are going to keep coming back here. What have I done? I really like them but I've had enough infestations to deal with already - the mint has actually grown through the creeping charlie that I didn't have time to get to the root of over on the far left-hand side of the garden ... so I'm going to really get in there and do it some damage once I get all the tomatoes off their vines.

The door frame has once again toppled but I'm not too worried about it now. I needed it to get into the potato patch and I just trampled over the vines and went in (and pulled up what appear to be the same seed potatoes I originally planted in Spring) ... the toppled doorway still allows the vines to breathe.

Here are 3 of the 6 cream coloured pumpkins growing on the fence - they are doing really well up there.

Here's another 1 of the 6 pumpkins - it's about the same size as the ones on the fence and it too is doing really well.

... and a baby pumpkin - I wonder if it will be big enough to pick by the end of October ... maybe I can leave it on the vine longer so long as we don't get early snow.

And I was very happy to see some baby zucs - as much as I'm almost sick of them - I know I'm not and won't be - there is something about them makes me smile - maybe I'll get these guys while they're still relatively small.

Up at the top you can see the bag of lemon balm beside the small silly amount of potatoes that you can't even see in the photo that I was able to farm after digging almost down to China and into my neighbours garden searching for any wayward ones that might have gone astray. There is a nice bag of fancy large tomatoes and a fair number of red figs and cherries. There are not many pastes which I find surprising but I guess I've harvested most of them already. There were some tomatilloes that had fallen off the plant (I usually like to wait and get them all at the very end of the season) and some cucumbers which I was pleasantly surprised to find because I really thought they were finshed. I have lots of herbs (oregano, thyme, rosemary) to add to breads and sauces. And I'll be making teas.

Oh - and the entire time I was in the garden - there was a brazen little chipmunk in as well eating breakfast as if I wasn't even there.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

It Got Canned

Two pots on the stove. In the small pot are all the yellow and green tomatoes from the last haul, chopped & simmering on the back burner. It provides a nice colour change to the red and tastes quite fresh. It supposedly has a lower acid content than the red which is good for anyone with dietary issues.

In the big pot at the front is a zucchini marmalade that I've altered this recipe from the cosmic cowgirl and the BerNARdin Guide to Home Preserving magazine bought at Canadian Tire along with most of my canning gear. Instead of using fresh ginger and putting it into a cheesecloth bag with the pith, I've sliced candied ginger in syrup and added it directly into the zucs, oranges, lemons and sugar. Even after hours on a slow boil, it never gelled - there was little liquid left though so I was able to spoon it over the top of the slaw. I will use it as a condiment with cheese and foie gras.

At back are jars of dark tomato sauce that was in the slow cooker on high for 3 days total (I would only have it on high for 2 days if I did it again - I think) or maybe on low for 3 days). That said, I need to taste it on pasta to see if the flavour is too deep. It's a work in progress. I will dilute it with another sauce if necessary. I like the colour and think the layers of flavour will prove to be good so it was worth experimenting.

I made a simple syrup using organic golden cane and threw in a dash of pink salt harvested in the Andes Mountains to give it a caramel taste. I poured the boiling syrup over the tomatoes and let them stew for over an hour then placed them in the dehydrator on high for a few hours with thick cut zuc chips dipped in syrup as well (eaten & not shown)!

There is not a whole lot to say about a pot of pure chopped tomatoes slow cooking and filling your home with the rich smell of Summer harvest that reaches deep into your soul and touches your bones with the shiver of Autumn ... hmmm

... maybe there is ...

but I'll leave it up to your imagination

I have finally figured out a system for labeling - writing directly on the lids with a laundry 'sharpie' works well with the metal lids because they can only be used to seal the jars once (I'm not sure yet how I'll label my Tattie Lids which are reusable - I have to find a label that stays on yet is easy to remove once it's done it's job - the ones I got a year ago from Lee Valley already look like they've lost stickiness.


All in all - yesterday's annual first day of canning went well. There are dirty dishes galore piled on the floor waiting for some soap and water ... and the kitchen, dining and living rooms look like a pack of wild animals were let loose to party in them ... other than that ... smooth as dupioni silk!

Note to Self - get a gel mat for the kitchen sink/stove area. Woah was Me & my aching back!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Second Canniversary

Canning in Memory of Wayne on the 2nd Anniversary of his Death

Three bags full & three days in the slow cooker!

Meditations & Good Vibrations and ...

seven 500ml jars of gardening goodness.

I canned for ten days straight after Wayne died.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Something told me there wouldn't be too much to do
in the garden today ... was I wrong ... I arrived
to find the new squash doorway I'd built collapsed
(no big surprise really - what was I banking on -
miracles - it's put together with tomato ties and
not even sunk into the ground more than 1/4" because
I got pooped out hitting the top of the post with a
rock at an awkward angle ... and it seemed to stand
up) ... SOOooOooO ... I spent about an hour & a half
trying not to get knocked out by the swinging pumpkin
as I rebuilt it with more tomato ties and little stakes
placed at a whole lot of rinky dink angles to support
the two main posts ... many of which are hidden from
prying eyes by copious numbers of vines and leaves.

So here it is now - O-Ya! please let there be no wind
or any weather, etc for the rest of Summer - just miracles!

... evidence that were some ripe red tomatoes before my visit
today - eat the whole thing & leave me some next time chipmunk ...

... other things are ripening too but not quite there yet
(in the b/g are some mini chocolate peppers - I'm assuming
they are hot - if not - then that's a whole lot of
energy out for just one little salad.

I spent another hour and a half clipping off dead branches
and spotty leaves - I'm being ruthless this year ... these
guys are getting lots of air flow ... there are still flowers
on some of my plants ... there's still potential for some ripe
tomatoes (next year I'll let the whole garden take a tomato
rest - I say that now) ... that's a lot of fried green tomatoes?

Todays catch ... flowers & herbs (dill, thai basil, mint),
squash blossoms, tomatoes, garlic and a marrow (it might
look like there's a lot of tomatoes in there but there
aren't ... not enough for me to get sick of eating them
which is the whole point - not by a long shot)

... the year of the zucs & cucs what can I say ... they are going gangbusters and I'm enjoying them in salads (except for the tough seeds and they are almost all seeds - heheh) ... and I finally have all the ingredients purchased to make a zucchini bread so there will be baking.

Monday, August 8, 2011

1st Tomatoes

I think I'm about a week or two behind last year ... I was a little late getting the tomatoes in after a cold and rainy Spring ... my tomatoes were really small as well.

This is the first year for morning glory ...
beans will work along the fence next year!

The first big tomato ... albeit it's split but it's ripened!

Last week after putting up the door frame ...

What a difference the week made to
perk the pumpkin plant & the pumpkin up ...

The herb patch ... and yes I'm letting
purslane grow in the pathways - it's edible!

Catch of the week ... just one zuc (phew) ...
some tomatoes, chard, mint and a little cuc