Saturday, June 16, 2018

Herb Pesto

We are headed for a heat wave this coming week & many of the herbs & greens in the garden are right on the tipping point for starting to bolt, grow flowers & become bitter as they set their seed.  A perfect time to harvest as much as you can & make some pesto to use later in the year!
I had a lot of cilantro that was towering over me & getting really too big & rather too much to eat before it disappeared in the heat. So I wanted to create a pesto that would be a bit different that they typical basil, garlic, parmesan & pine nut recipe.

I generally do not use nuts nor cheese when I make pesto. I do a basic recipe that can be embellished later on, depending on whatever dish you are making at that time.

My ingredients are: peppercorns, kosher salt, lemons & lemon juice, fresh garlic, olive oil (or avocado oil) & lots of greens.

I made 3 batches today in my blender. A bit noisy for about a half hour, but well worth it! The first batch was cilantro & parsley & this time I added some raw almonds. The texture is a bit more coarse than I thought, mostly because the mixture was too thick for the blender to continue going without me adding more liquid. But it's a great flavour & the texture is nice as well.

The 2nd batch has cilantro & parsley, as well as the almonds & some lemon sorrel & a small hit of cumin. I'm sure the flavour will develop the longer it sits. Am already thinking lamb & curry with this one!!

The last batch is more to what I have traditionally made for pesto - it's arugula pesto with lots of garlic & lemon sorrel! It has zip & zing to it & I really do need to find some perennial arugula for the garden as I love that flavour, especially in a pesto!

So, I'm going to label the jars & pop them in the freezer for use later in the year when the taste of fresh greens is wanted. I find it keeps in the fridge for a good long time too, but I always use small jars as they are so much easier to go through than a larger jam jar.

I can see the garlic scapes starting to grow nice & they'll be harvestable in the next couple of weeks, so we'll be making pesto with those too... wonder what else I'll be rescuing from the gardens over the next while & what I can start planting in all that lovely empty space?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Medicinal Flower Bed

I'm growing some medicinal plants for me to use in teas & this garden has pretty much exploded in growth! I have a few too many plants & I think some need to be harvested soon.
 In early May this is what it looked like. The pink flowers I've yet to identify & I have way too many of them in every flower bed. Time to start removing a few plants... The lemon balm is up to mid thigh & I do put it in my salads & kombucha blends. I will try to dry some for winter teas.
 One of my favourite things to do is to sit right in the middle of it all. Seeing the plants up close & personal is quite therapeutic!

The views are always changing too when you sit in the middle or back of a garden space.
 Earlier in May things were still pretty sparse & small.
Now at the end of the month, I've pulled out a few of those pink flowers & things have really taken off! The borage & calendula are self-seeded & might need a bit of thinning too in order for the plants to be at their best.
The herbs have really taken off & need a bit of a firm hand to keep them in control. Right now, I'm just really enjoying how wild things are!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Jungle Keeps on Growing!

I think I'm obsessed with plants & filling in every space I can...
 This is one of our favourite spots to sit in the afternoon. Our 'bus stop' is what we call it for lack of a proper term (someone commented on the structure last year when we were installing it).
I am working on planting fragrant herbs & flowers here for us to enjoy & we have an evergreen clematis & climbing rose on each end to assist with fragrant blooms & shade.
 I just keep putting in more seeds & other plants to fill up the empty spots & now I'm finding that I have to weed & thin out the seedlings with a heavy hand to allow the plants to grow better & stronger & healthier.
Really looking forward to when things start to bloom in the next few weeks. It's such a place of peace for us.
 This corner bed has my crab apple tree, a gooseberry & a rhubarb plant along with innumerable poppy seedlings that I've been pulling out by the handful every week. 
 This bed is a bit of a monster with all those poppies & this is a lesson I guess I needed to learn - do not seed too heavily & at some point, seedlings will have to be sacrificed to the compost pile as there is no more room in the gardens to rescue seedlings!!
I could probably still use a bit of thinning with the poppies but now at the end of the month things are starting to mature nicely. The only herb I have in here is some dill, so I need to ensure that there is enough space around the plants to allow for growth. Finally, some dill...

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Veggie Gardens

The veggie bed in May had to be covered again as they cats were rolling around over newly seeded areas, making a mess of where I planted things. They still think it's all a game until they get hosed down!

~ arugula ~

~ kale ~

~ lettuce ~

~ spinach ~
~ garlic & broad beans & green onions ~

~ peas ~

The veggie bed is now uncovered & a few things have been removed to make room for more seeds & other plants. The peas are finally taking off & I've done several harvests of kale to tuck into the freezer for winter meals. The leeks on the bottom left are going to flower soon, so I'm trying to eat at least one a week. The spinach is going to bolt soon, the cilantro & other herbs really need a heavy trim so I can dry herbs for the winter. I planted pole bean seeds last week & I see other things starting to pop up. The lack of rain means I'm watering every day to try to keep things moist & growing. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

What's with Weeds?

I have weeds in my gardens. 
I have been letting weeds grow in my gardens because they are green & provide cover for the fresh soil.
I have a problem with pulling a plant before I identify what it is - just in case it's something I want! 
(like the day I discovered I was obsessively yanking out all the red clover that I had planted on purpose because it's red & really easy to remove!! Argh!!)
 Anyway - I'm letting a few weeds grow because I still don't know what they are.
 I have used my own definition of what a weed is by some physical characteristics - such as spreading growth. If it grows big like a dinner plate, crowding out other plants, it is most likely a weed...
I'm waiting for these 3 'weeds' to bloom in only a few areas of the gardens as I'm pretty darn sure they are just weeds & will prevent some of the other plants from developing. It's not that I'm lazy about weeding - I'm curious to see what they develop into!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Blooming Blooms Again

Just a quick photo bomb post of what's been in bloom over the last 2 weeks.
~ blue iris ~

~ rhodo ~

~ rhodo ~

~ clematis ~

~ white iris with purple edging ~

~ azalea ~
~ calendula ~

~ pale yellow California poppy ~

~ green onion in bloom ~

~ yellow iris ~

~ rose ~

~ geranium ~

~ honeysuckle ~

~ lilac - Miss Kim ~

~ dwarf azalea ~

~ yellow rose ~

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bring on the Berries

I love to grow my own food. I think it is so therapeutic to be able to head out to the garden & pick something fresh to eat right away! I also am learning about growing some medicinal herbs to help heal us when we are not feeling well. One of the plants I've been wanting for many years is a black elderberry. I found one last spring & planted it along the fence line outside the kitchen window. It has been slowly growing in a sprawling manner & I really want it to grow upright so it will produce flowers & eventually berries. This is a tough spot as it is along the west side of the house & receives late afternoon sun.

 Well, the photo below is what it is doing now at the end of the month. It is sending up strong vertical shoots & there is at least 1 large cluster of flowers in bloom. The rose to the right is a bit of a surprise as I took it off a different rose we were given, which is a chocolate rose.
 These resemble more a wild rose than a cultured rose & smells quite lovely. I'm happy to have it in the yard & just need to get out there to try to tame it a bit - get it growing more horizontally to produce more blooms & make sure to mulch & feed it.
Black elderberry flowers are very showy too! I hope the black elderberry we have in the front yard are flashy like this!
 Along the fence out in the back yard I have some marionberries grown. They produce long, thorny vines one year & then the next year, those vines bloom & produce the fruit. So, I tied up last year's vines heading over to the left along the fence in a horizontal fashion. They are now flowering like crazy & are full of bees.

These clusters of fruit will ripen up wonderfully now that they are not hidden under leaves or other pieces of the vines. The new growth coming along now is going to be tied off to the right along the fence & next year it will produce. Once this year's vines are finished fruiting, I'll cut the vines back & have an empty space for the new growth next year.
 I have a black currant growing along the fence as well & this year it is putting out a lot of new growth & has a lot of fruit! I prefer the black currants over the red ones & just the smell of the leaves is enough to remind me of what the berries will taste like once they ripen up.
 A garden should always have a comfrey plant. Mine is so large, it needs a name & a mailbox... But the bees love the flowers & quite possibly next weekend I will cut it completely down to use as mulch or to brew up into a compost fertilizer tea. The plant will grow back to produce another crop of leaves & flowers later on in the summer.
I also have a couple monster lovage plants along the fence. I need to transplant one out to the front side bed to get go wild as I cannot possibly harvest the leaves produced from 2 plants. I've got some leaves drying to see how that works so that I can have lovage available in the winter after the plant has died down.

Fences are great things to grow plants along - they provide shelter, keep in some heat & give structure for vertical & horizontal growth.