Tuesday, October 29, 2013

First Frost of the Season

~ frosty lawn ~
 It's late in October, the weather has been wonderfully dry & warm & sunny, so I'm not sure why I was slightly surprised to see frost this morning...

I'm still busy out in the gardens planting new bulbs & transplanting things out of the veggie beds & into the flower beds.
~ frosted clary sage & purple toadflax ~

 We are lucky out here on the coast to be so close to the ocean. While it does bring us fog in the late summer, it does keep us moderately snow free in the winter.

I'm glad the ground won't freeze for another month or so & I'm also glad I put the plastic row cover over my winter greens!

In a few hours it will be warm enough for me to head back out in shorts & t-shirt to continue playing in the garden!

Monday, October 21, 2013

King Bolete Jackpot!

~ Boletus edulis ~
 I came home the other day & saw a group of mushrooms growing alongside the road. I knew they were Boletus mushrooms (Boletus on Wikipedia) so I quickly picked them & brought them home for further identifying.

This was the Jackpot!

They are Boletus edulis - or King Boletes - probably one of the best flavoured mushrooms out there. (well, according to my tastebuds...)
~ jackpot! ~

~ Second one: 2 lbs! ~
~ First one: 2 lbs! ~
There were 2 very large mushrooms & each weighed 2 lbs! That's a lot of 'shroom!

Since mushrooms are tender finds, you'll want to process them immediately, so I chopped up the 2 large ones & fried them in butter & garlic.

I now have servings in the freezer for winter stews & soups.

The smaller ones I sliced up & dried. I like to grind them & add sprinkle them on whatever I'm cooking for some added nutty flavour. One of my preferred ways to use it is when I'm making rice - grind it up, sprinkle in with the rice & water & instant yummy flavour!
~ mmmm-mushroom! ~

Monday, October 14, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ surprise lupin ~
Thanksgiving weekend is upon us once again. My favourite time of year!

The sun is shining & there is still warmth in the air. A great time to be outside in the gardens...

Here is a bit of what I did this weekend:

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Time to Plant your Garlic

~ Russian hardneck garlic ~
 This is the perfect time of year to plant your garlic for next year's harvest.

This year I purchased some Russian hardneck porcelain garlic from Gabriola Island (on the east side of Vancouver Island). The cloves are nice & large - which is what you want; plant large cloves & you should grow large heads of garlic!

Pull the cloves apart (keep the small ones for cooking - you do want to know what your future harvest of garlic will taste like), don't peel them & I wouldn't plant any that are damaged or don't look plump - they might not develop properly.

~ trenched & bonemeal added ~
I dug trenches about 4 inches deep & 2-3 inches apart. Put about 1 tsp of bone meal under each clove & plant them pointy side up (just like your tulip bulbs!) Cover them up & if you know there won't be rainfall for a bit, give them a drink of water.

They should send up shoots in a few weeks & then go dormant for the rest of the winter. Next spring when the soil starts to warm up, they'll start to grow again - apply some more bone meal & a pinch of lime to the soil around the shoots & water regularly.

They will send out flower shoots called scapes, which you will want to cut off & eat. The flowers will take energy away from the development of large cloves & they taste amazing in stir fries. Garlic will be ready towards mid-July; the leaves will start to dry up & turn brown. Reduce the amount of water they receive about 2 weeks before you are ready to harvest. Dig them up by hand, hand to dry out in a dark, cool area for a few weeks. Brush the soil off, trim the roots & you can either braid the stalks together or cut them off a few inches above the top of the head.

I just remembered that I have some garlic downstairs that I grew last year & haven't eaten yet. I should take a look at it & see if there are large enough cloves to plant. Garlic will acclimatize to the conditions of your own garden soil & if you re-plant your own garlic, over the years it will develop its own unique flavours. I would like to try this! In one area grow 'new' garlic & in another continue re-planting what I've grown year after year.

Happy Thanksgiving to you & Happy Fall Gardening!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Berries in the Fall

Fall is my favourite time of year.
The weather may be unpredictable but the rains are necessary after the drought of summer & usually mean a continuation of the growing season for another couple months.

As long as the sun shines, the berries will continue to produce & I absolutely love fall raspberries!

This year my raspberry patches were great producers. I've never had such an abundant crop in the summer & the berries were all large & full of flavour. Must have been the mason bees I invested in!

The fall crop is also doing extremely well - check out the size of these berries!! Must have been the pig poop I applied & the well timed rain fall...

Many of the canes are well over 8 feet tall & since my supports aren't that strong, they all lean over, nearly touching the ground. This means that the flowers are closer to the level that I find most of the fall pollinators are flying at. They seem lazy & sluggish, but I always double check the canes before wading in to pick fresh berries.

I hope to get a picture of some of the pollinators - they are the late season bees & lots of wasps - yes, wasps are pollinators too!

Looks like I'll be picking well into November this year! Can't wait.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Savage Nature in my Backyard

~ June - just moved in ~
 On June 11 we opened our gardens & our hearts to 3 cute little ducks.

~ June - learning the pool rules ~
~ June - morning coffee time ~
~ June - getting bigger ~
~ June - morning snack time ~

~ foraging in the yard ~
~ July ~

~ August - morning stretches ~
~ August - we love snack times~

~ August - helping in the gardens ~

~ Duck Rogers ~
~ Lucy ~
~ Sweet Pea ~
~ August foraging in the yard ~
~ Rains = big puddles ~

~ September rains make new favourite spots ~

~ September:follow us around like dogs that don't want to be petted ~

~ October mornings as full grown ducks ~
We lost our ducks on October 7th to late-night marauding raccoons
Rest in Peace
Sweet Little Ducks
Duck Rogers, Lucy & Sweet Pea