Tuesday, November 11, 2014

End of Season for Duck Dynasty

~ Percy ~ Horatio ~ Tuesday ~ Monday ~
Well, it's time to admit to everyone - we've harvested our darling little ducks. They are waiting for us to pick them up in a friend's freezer after being crated up & taken to the butcher. 

It's hard having 4 boy ducks. The plan was to have some girl ducks so that there would be eggs to eat & they would in turn be the bug, slug & weed eaters of the yard. Interesting how Mother Nature throws a good wrench into the plans.

They lived a good & spoilt life - full of peas & other stolen garden greens & treats. They had lots of admirers stop along the road & talk to the them through the fence. Many times the ducks would run along the perimeter of the fence, trying to keep up with those on the road, just so they could have a few more moments of their attention.

Who knows what next year might bring. More ducks? Maybe just meat birds (a short growing season of only 12 weeks), or maybe some pre-sexed ducklings so that a set number of egg layers is brought in for longer term... who knows what next year might bring...

But Christmas dinner will be rather special this year: brined & smoked duck, slow roasted in the oven with homemade marmalade & homegrown veggies!! That will be a special dinner indeed.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Another Mushroom Kind of Day in the Forest

~ sulphur cap ~
 Went for another wander through the forest, as I knew there was an abundant amount of mushrooms still out there. I was hoping to be able to harvest some winter Chanterelles for dinner as I had seen quite a few on my previous walk.

~ sulphur cap ~
There was an over-abundance of sulphur cap mushrooms - growing in colonies all over the place - small ones - huge ones - ones that looked edible until you came right up close - ones that even the slugs wouldn't touch...

~ glow-in-the-dark ~
There were even some glow-in-the-dark mushrooms growing out of a tree branch!! Pretty to look at & admire in the murky shade of the forest...

~ day's harvest of winter Chanterelles ~
Eventually we did manage to start spotting the winter Chanterelles & managed to also find a small bolete (my favorite!).

There was just enough to fry up in a pan with some butter & a dash of salt to make mushroom gravy to go along with the evening's meal of beef & lamb meatloaf.

Hopefully there will be a few left the next time we head out for a hike through the forest. Always remember to bring a paper bag with you because you never know what sort of edible treats you'll find!!

(* note: if you don't know your mushrooms - don't pick them - either bring someone who does, or buy a good field guide & do some research before going out!! *)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Saving Seeds for Next Season

Well, I'm a bit behind in my garden chores as well as my writing. The weather has either been too stormy for gardening, or too pleasant for writing or the internet has slowed to the speed of a glacier, which makes sharing a bit difficult...

So, I shall play 'catch-up' as best I can!

~ runner bean seeds ~
I finally hauled down my runner bean trellis systems (beans still don't like growing on or near plastic piping - new solution required yet again for next year), after they were wind blown & tossed around by some wonderful October storms.

The beans I harvested were ripe with seeds - seeds I want to save for next year's planting.

As you can see, they have amazing colours!! Someone asked me if they might make good additions to their jewelery creations once they dried... I will have to wait & see what they will finally look like once they are dried.

~ runner bean seeds ~
I've never dried my own bean seeds before & hope that my system of just lying them out on a cookie sheet, on top of my freezer, down in the laundry room where it is cool, will work!

I suppose I should go & inspect them now that I think about it! Wonder if there are more beans out there in the garden... just in case...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Mushrooms Still Putting on a Show

 Foraging for wild mushrooms is an interesting hobby that many people here on the Coast enjoy. Some are extremely avid about it & devote many (if not all) of their free time during prime season to gathering enough to last through the winter months. Others, such as myself, have a few favorites & will consider themselves lucky to 'stumble' across them when out for walks or hikes through the soggy woods in the Autumn.

Today, I went on such a hike & unfortunately forgot my camera...

These mushrooms are growing in my yard - no doubt a simple 'sulfur cap' - an inedible variety, but pretty to look at. Maybe the ducks know that they can't eat them because there are quite a few growing on the edge of my flower bed!

~ Bolete ~
But today I did manage to stumble upon a Bolete! Last year I found a patch growing just steps from my house & 2 of them were well over 2 pounds each. This year, they did not return to the same area. Today's little morsel was just enough to give me a taste & remind me that I should go out with a bag when taking a walk through the woods... there are still lots of mushrooms out there!! Always research your mushrooms & learn some of the key identifying aspects of what grows in your neighbourhood. I have an excellent book - it's about 3 inches thick, so not really a field guide... But there are about 4 or 5 that I'm confident on identifying & will pick when I see them. I do always verify with my book once I make it back to the house...

I hope to find some more treasures out in the woods the next time I go for a walk!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Garlic Planted - Finally!!

~ garlic bed turned ~
 There was a break in the weather today & as soon as I got home, I knew it was finally the moment for me to plant my garlic! Generally, I've had it planted around the Thanksgiving weekend, but our October weather this year has been wet... very wet... & I didn't relish the idea of digging up an entire bed & turning it into a mud puddle.

So, with the waning hours of the afternoon, I grabbed my pitchfork & dug up the bed. This year I grew potatoes in here, so I knew there would be some soil amending required as garlic enjoys rich soil. Thankfully I remembered to buy bone meal & my composter is full of rich home made compost just waiting to be applied!
~ garlic I grew last year! ~
 I had a very successful harvest this past summer & have more garlic for the winter than I'm sure I know what to do with!

Pick the largest cloves & don't bother to peel them.

An interesting twist on garlic is that it is capable of evolving it's flavour based on the growing conditions. I started with Salt Spring Island garlic (healthy & solid history of growing very well) & so this year, I'm planting my own version of this variety - I'm sure that what I harvested this summer is slightly different than the original. Each year you plant your own variety of garlic that you've grown in your own soil, with your own amendments & seasonal changes, you'll find slight changes in flavour. If you really like the flavour of the original variety - than you should make sure to go & find a reliable source & continue planting someone else's variety. I'm looking forward to developing my own special brand of  'Bamfield garlic' & I think it might take a couple more growing seasons before we are able to notice a difference... if you are that picky about your garlic of course...
~ plant it deep ~

I made sure to dig deep down - you don't want your garlic freezing during the winter & I have the feeling that this winter, we will have a very cold one!! I sprinkled in a heavy amount of bone meal & planted the bulbs a little bit closer together than I did last year - maybe only 2 or 3 inches apart - but staggered.
~ top dress with compost ~
I applied a couple bucket fulls of compost to the top of the bed & over the next couple weeks I will bring a bucket down with me to harvest kelp that I find drifting in the harbour when commuting to & fro to work. All the beds could do with a top dressing of kelp this year!

Percy supervised the entire procedure & even jumped up in the bed to investigate the freshly turned soil for insects...

~ cover to protect soil ~
At the end of the day I threw a plastic cover over top as I knew it was going to rain quite heavily over the next week & I really didn't want all that fresh compost to be washed down & away too soon. With the cold weather predicted, I just might leave the plastic lying down until late in January & then once the early spring sun returned, I'll prop it up on the garden hoops...

I'll also throw in a couple buckets of duck house litter to add to the soil.

All this talk about home grown garlic has me craving roasted garlic for dinner tonight!!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Green Thumb vs Green Fingers

 I'm doing a bit of reading this week while away from the gardens & came across this short piece that I thought I'd share with you.

"A person with a 'green thumb' of course has a natural talent for gardening. However, the origin of the phrase is hard to pin down.

In Britain, the idiom for such a person was one with 'green fingers'. Some believe the name originated with King Edward I, who had a great passion for gardening. According to legend, the king enjoyed fresh green peas so much that he engaged several serfs to keep him supplied. The serf who had the 'greenest fingers' from many hours of shelling was always given a prize.

In the United States, the phrase 'green thumb' seems to date to colonial times, when tobacco provided a major cash crop for early Americans. Farmers handpicked the flowers from the crops to increase the size & weight of tobacco, using their thumbnails to simply cut the stem, which after some time could turn their thumbs green."
 (found in my current reading material: The World's Most Fascinating Flora - the Big, Bad Book of Botany by Michael Largo)

Thought I would share that with you - in case you've ever stumbled across either or expression. I'm going to delve more into this book to see if there are other interesting tidbits or facts - gardening related or otherwise...

Monday, October 13, 2014

A Sweet & Sour Kind of Day

~ lavender honey in the works ~
Today is a dark & stormy day out on the coast. Some of us are calling this the first 'winter' storm. Huge amounts of rain & ferocious winds which mean it is a day for indoor projects!

My first winter project was to make a batch of flavoured honey... I made a citrus honey last year that was extremely interesting in flavour - mostly because it fermented, I believe, due to the extra added liquids from the lemon & limes. This year I wanted some more lavender honey.

So simple to make! I had just finished drying my last harvest of lavender & put about 1 cup of whole blossoms into a large jar - covered it with honey & then gently warmed it all in the microwave. Stir it around & let it steep for a few days or a few weeks (depends on how intense you want your flavours) & there you go - flavoured honey!

I usually strain out the herbs by gently reheating it & pouring it through a strainer into a clean jar, but with honey - that gets really sticky very quickly. I might scoop out the herbs (as they will float to the top of the jar) & use this thick, gooey mix as a coating for on top of roasted salmon or chicken. The rest will be used in teas & other recipes throughout the winter. Honey is a great item to have in your pantry - super healthy!! I tend to go for the unpasteurized varieties which still contain a little bit of the 'extra goodness' from the bees & pollen.
~ sage apple cider vinegar ~
Next on my list was to strain out & rebottle my herbal cider vinegar. Earlier this spring I had made up a large batch of marjoram vinegar & that one went very well with my brines & marinades.

At this time of year, the marjoram had already been harvested for drying for use during the winter, so I pruned back my large sage shrub & brewed up a batch of sage vinegar.

Try marinading your chicken breasts for about 20 minutes a side in a dish with some cider vinegar. Then bake or bbq it as you normally would. There is an extra sweetness to the chicken & the meat is super-juicy!

My favourite is to brine a whole bird overnight in a mix of salt, water & cider vinegar, rinse off the next morning & let sit in the fridge til it's time to roast it. Amazing flavour!

~ fruit vinegars ~
I also have a couple batches of fruit vinegars that I like to sell to the local foodies at the beginning of the holiday season.

The first is a fresh raspberry white wine vinegar - since this year was such a great berry year, I added extra raspberries to the jar & the result is an intense raspberry flavour. I like to strain the vinegars many times through cheese cloth so that the end product is clear with as little sediment as possible. I might do one more strain before rebottling in time for the Craft Sale at the end of November.

The other fruit vinegar is a deep fruity-herbal blend of salal & rosemary with red wine vinegar. Every year it is different, depending on the amounts of salal juice & fresh chopped rosemary I put in the jar. Some years I'll add a touch of balsamic vinegar or maybe even a 'secret spice' to mix up the flavours. This is a great vinegar to have for salad dressings - add a bit of dark fruit jam, grapeseed oil, Keene's dry mustard, salt & this vinegar... voila! You'll never go back to store bought salad dressings again!

Now the house smells a bit tangy from working with my vinegars, but I'm going to sit in front of the fire with a cup of tea & a spoonful of lavender honey! Perfect way to spend a quiet Thanksgiving Day out on the stormy west coast...

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

The sunrise this morning was spectacular & the ducks hardly noticed. Hopefully the rains hold off for at least part of the day so raspberries can be harvested for fresh eating with friends & family on this long weekend.
Blessings to all of you - may your gardens grow with the return of the rains, may the weeds appear only where you want them & may you remember the lessons that Mother Nature continually & gently & with humor, always teaches us.
Happy Thanksgiving!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Alternative Processing of the Harvest - Part 3.1 & 3.2

~ lox with sugar & lime ~
 Wednesday night I removed my sockeye lox from the fridge, unwrapped & removed the salt/sugar crust & rinsed it off. I put the fillets back into the fridge for the night after a small sample - which was really salty!

The next morning I sprinkled the fillets with sugar & grated lime & the juice from the lime in the hopes that this would add some interest flavour & help reduce the salt (did I mention it was really salty??)

~ lox vac sealed ~
After work on Thursday I came home & vacuum sealed the fillets (cutting them into smaller portion sizes) & I put them in the freezer with the rest of the salmon.

I have the whole winter to become creative with my salty cured fish...

~ tomatoes, cream cheese, spinach, lox & balsamic vinegar ~
 Thursday night's dinner was spur of the moment - sliced tomatoes with cream cheese, spinach & lox & then a drizzle of balsamic vinegar... ooo - heavenly!!

~ lox sushi ~
Tonight's dinner was a bit more time consuming. I was craving some fresh made sushi & thought that the blended flavors of wasabi & the lox & fresh veggies would help tame that salty bite.

~ lox sushi ~
Of course, I didn't have the proper sushi rice (Jasmine works just fine with sushi seasoning!) & I've misplaced my sushi roller (a towel &/or saran wrap works just as well!)

A very simple meal of avocado, yellow pepper, greens, wasabi mayo & sockeye lox rolled in seasoned rice with a gluten free tamari soy alternative sauce & chilled white wine...

Happy taste buds & happy tummy & I think solitary dinners like this are going to be much more frequent since it takes very little time or effort to whip up!
~ lox sushi with tamari & white wine ~
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!! 
Traditional turkey dinners or West Coast Seafood dinners such as this!! 
Enjoy your food - Celebrate your Family & Friends & Keep Growing & Experimenting!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Alternative Processing of the Harvest - Part 3

~ whole sockeye ~
 On Sunday I had pulled out a bunch of coho to be brined & smoked. I also had this sockeye that I wanted to try something new with. Someone suggested lox after I mentioned I would like to learn how to cold smoke process my fish but didn't have the equipment.

Lox is fish that has been cured with salt & sugar & a herb (usually dill) & other seasonings (depending on the chef). I decided to experiment once again!

~ remove fillet ~
First I had to remove the fillets from my fish. I finally learned how to fillet in a very simple & easy fashion this year. I'm still learning the delicate art of cutting as close to the spine as possible & how to remove the belly bones & other little bones. Key is a very sharp knife & I also learned that if the fish is still slightly frozen, that helps immensely!

~ sockeye & thyme ~
I kept the fillets rather large - I can portion them up once the process is done & vac seal them for the winter.  I love the colour of sockeye!

Since I didn't have dill this year (yes, I was able to finally grow it, but it was more ornamental than practical...) I decided to use thyme. Hope this works!
~ coat in salt & sugar & pepper ~
The recipe calls for equal measures of salt & sugar (ie: 1/2 cup of each) & then some fresh ground black pepper (~ 2 Tbsp).

~ add thyme ~
Place the fillet on plastic wrap & coat in the salt-sugar mix.

Place a large amount of herb on top & then wrap the fillet in 2 layers of plastic wrap.

Some recipes call for daily flipping & daily unwrapping & basting in the liquid that comes out & for a weight to be placed on top... But the idea is to leave it in the fridge for 24 to 72 hours. Again, it will depend on the chef as to what the end product will be. I'm trying to keep it simple - I flip the fillets in the morning & again in the evening & I do have a weight on it.
~ lox almost ready ~

I decided to see how the curing process was coming along, so this morning I unwrapped one & cut a thin slice off the end. Would have tasted better if I had rinsed it off (ooo salt & pepper!) but I think it's coming along & I'll more than likely unwrap, rinse & dry off the fillets tonight after work.

Fingers crossed - I've had lox before, but it was a cold smoked product. Will let you know how this curing process works & if I need to do some more research & refine the process. So much easier than brining & smoking & canning!! But then again, I'm always keen to learn something new & experiment in the kitchen!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Alternative Processing of the Harvest - part 2

~ slow boil ~
I stumbled across home made molasses last year by complete accident. I had several batches of salal jelly that refused to set, so I emptied all the jars into a pot & slow boiled it until I reached the jelly stage (a more traditional method of making jams & jellies - one I don't use too often because I'm not that patient...)

The end result was a very thick & syrupy dark jelly that tasted very much like molasses!! Was amazing & disappeared pretty quick as gifts to friends & family.

This year I recreated the product on purpose but used blackberry, loganberry & a currant jam - all which had not set well or I wasn't satisfied with the end result the first time around. I did throw in some salal juice. The pot was very full...

After about 4 hours of slow boiling & stirring on occasion, I was rewarded with 9 jars of heavenly fruit molasses! It can be used in baking - just like regular molasses, it can be used in bbq sauces or marinates for meat, you can eat it just like jam if you really want... a deep smoky flavor is brought in by the use of black cardamom & allspice & juniper berries. There is a tartness from the loganberries & the salal & blackberries blend very well together.

I can't wait to hear what others use this for - I'm going to be experimenting with a couple jars myself this winter & hope to have a few suggestions for next year!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Alternative Processing of the Harvest - part 1

~ smoked coho ~
 I'm still working on processing food for the coming winter months. One of my staples this year will be the fish I caught just outside the harbor our little community resides in.

Today I hot smoked some coho caught earlier this summer. I filleted the fish, cut them into manageable chunks & last night put them in a brine: salt, sugar (I used white this time), water & some other seasonings (tamari & Chinese pepper).

The amounts of my brine always vary - never the same product, which makes it interesting - I'd rather not get bored with my food! This time, I used a little bit more sugar than I would normally use & the end product is definitely sweeter than previous batches. I quite like it.

I brined the fish over night in the fridge & early this morning I drained & rinsed them off. After sitting on the smoker racks with a fan blowing on them for a few hours, I put them in the little smoker with hickory chips for about 2 1/2 or 3 hours. I was rewarded with a moist, sweet & flavorful fish!

They are now sealed in vacuum sealed bags & back in the freezer for simple & easy dinners or appetizers during the winter. Great with cream cheese & cucumber or flaked on a salad or just as is! Yumm!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

First Harvest of Winter Squash

~ winter squash ~
Well, I seem to have misplaced the package of seeds that this particular squash came from, so I'm not able to share with you the variety!

That's sort of been the theme for my gardens this year... But the squash plants most certainly enjoyed growing in the pig manure that was applied to the bed last year!! The vines were growing all through the yard & into the neigbhouring bed & up the fence installed for the marionberry plants I got this spring.

Here's a tip: grow your squash vertical! You might need to support the veggies once they set & get growing so they don't rip off the vine or pull down your support structure, but it is such a space saver & keeps the squash out of the way of slugs & bugs (& ducks) & prevents rot spots.

I've got a few more out there & will stagger my harvesting - just in case they will grow a little bit more if this wonderful Autumn weather (sunshine & heat) continues...  Can't wait for roasted squash this winter!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

When Grooming is too Close

I came home the other day to find that the ditch clearing machine has once again cut things to the quick - and right to the fence... Looks horrible & has removed the wild, wooly look to the place and ALL the privacy the front yard had.

I should be used to this by now - happens every 3rd year... But it's still a shock to come up the hill & view this! I'll work on cleaning up the fence line a bit more - needed to be done anyway since the brambles are growing through the fence & trying to take root in the yard.

I'll have to make more of an effort to plant shrubs on the inside of the fence line so that things don't feel so naked each time this happens.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Best Lavender for the Wet Coast

~ Spanish lavender ~
I try to hold off harvesting the last of the flowers at this time of year in order to give the remaining insects a little bit more food to get to where they are going. But the lavender was just perfect for harvesting!

Spanish lavender seems to be the best lavender - at least in my yard - for the wet coast. It grows tall & lanky - which allows the air to move through the branches & dry the plant out, especially important during the winter when the cold & the rains come in.

I cut this bouquet & pruned the plant back in preparation for winter. I know I pruned the plants hard this spring because they do suffer a bit from the frosts & any snow fall (maybe I should cover them this winter...) but it's so great to have lavender at this time of year! Next month I'll put plastic over top my other lavender plants (English lavender) in order to keep them from becoming water logged.

I'll dry the buds & then grind them up for use in my herbal salts (edible) or in a bath (put the buds in a cloth sack under the hot running water) or I might even steep the buds to make lavender jelly or a simple syrup for baking or cocktails in the winter.

I like to brine my chickens with dried lavender buds & then when I roast them, I'll grind up some more lavender & put a salt-lavender crust on the meat. Great flavour for the winter!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mornings are Still Amazing

~ early morning ~
 Pretty soon these lovely early mornings will be a memory for a few short months. For an early riser, it is hard to wait for the sun to come out & get the day going, especially when you've been awake for several hours!

Autumn mornings are great - cool & crisp - not yet a hint of frost, but a sweater goes a long way for that first cup of coffee while watching the ducks run around the yard or while watching the sun crest over the trees.

There's that wonderful smell in the air too - sometimes it's wood stoves, sometimes it wet grass, sometimes it the leaves on the ground. What a great way to start the day!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Herbal Harvest

 ~ sage ~
 This Autumn weather is simply amazing - rainy in the morning & then glorious sunshine in the afternoon. Allows for quick & small projects out in the garden with time to contemplate & reflect on the past year while enjoying it still.

I realized that my supply of dried sage was almost non-existent! I had also run out of herbal apple cider vinegar - I always have a few bottles of that around to add a bit of zip or zing to a recipe.

Today's recipe (a great bean salad) called for zippy cider vinegar as well as fresh herbs. Perfect timing to run outside & harvest some sage before the frosts arrived & nipped off the new growth that my plant produced for me over the last little while.

When harvesting your perennial herbs, especially at this time of year, don't cut too far down the stalk - not into the wood areas of the stem (unless you are pruning them back hard). They need to be ready for the winter season & you wouldn't want them to suddenly produce a new flush of growth that might remove energy set aside for next spring.

 I harvested a lovely bouquet of sage - plenty to meet my needs for the winter months.

I spread out several cuttings on the tray to dry out over the next week or 2 & the rest I rough chopped, put into my glass jar & covered with apple cider vinegar. I put some plastic over top to not have the metal lid come in contact with the vinegar & gave it a good shake. The vinegar will sit for a few weeks until I feel (by taste & smell) that the vinegar has enough sage flavouring. Bear in mind that apple cider vinegar is slightly sweet, so the flavour is a bit different than you might expect. Sweet, tangy & zippy - with whatever herb flavour you want to throw in the mix!

I like it with potatoes, a splash or 2 in veggie or seafood stir fries & just over the top of a salad.

What are you harvesting from your gardens at this time of year?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Sunshine you can Taste

After a few days of much needed rain, we are back into sunshine & warm temps... A great day to work in the gardens & continue to harvest an amazing bounty of raspberries.

I usually freeze my berries immediately for use later in the winter, but am taking some moments for myself to observe the gardens & eat this bowl - no ice cream required, no added sugar needed, just really appreciating the fruits of my labour  & looking forward to sharing some with friends.

Wonder what else I'll uncover out there today?

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Today's Harvest

~ fava/broad beans ~
 The summer weather seems to be lasting a bit longer into September than usual. This is great! Garden Therapy at this time of year is so refreshing & relaxing...

It's a great time to take stock of what worked & what didn't.

I planted quite a few fava beans this year - broad beans - in the hopes I could harvest quite a bit & freeze them for the winter. Well, the ducks like fava beans - they managed to rip most of them down & out of the beds (even with barriers installed) & the later crop that came in yielded a much smaller amount. These are what broad beans look like - very much different than pole beans, runner beans or your typical bush bean. The broad bean has a thick fluffy shell that you don't eat - just let the pods remain on the plant til you can feel their size through the thick pod & pick. I roasted mine up with fresh dug potatoes & garlic...
~ fingerling potatoes ~
Well, the ducks didn't actually dig up & eat all my potatoes this year. I decided to dig the bed out in preparation for the garlic I'll plant in there in a few weeks & I harvest a bucket & a half of potatoes! The ducks jumped right up in behind my excavation looking for insects, but I think all the found was a mouth full or 2 of soil... things are really dry out there in the gardens!

So, there are a couple Yukon Golds, but the rest are all fingerlings. I like to roast them whole with a bit of lemon juice, a small amount of coconut oil & some herbal salt. Will be nice to have a special treat of potatoes this winter.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Getting the Greenhouse Bed Ready for Winter Production

 Ok, I didn't get a shot of what the bed looked like before I ripped out everything - it would have been embarrassing to share that with you. I had 2 pepper plants in pots that never quite made it into the bed, I had 4 tomato plants that were 3/4's dead & had rotten tomatoes hanging off them (eek!), there were 5 foot high arugula plants with seeds popping out everywhere, a dill plant that had been loved til it wasn't & died & a multitude of poppies & grass... I kinda sucked at my greenhouse bed this year...

What's left are: rosemary plants in the front & marjoram in the back & a harshly pruned arugula to see if I can transplant it later this year or early in the spring. (I do enjoy arugula)

Well, what happens when you mess in the dirt...

Horatio is constantly watching me. He knows that where I go, there is usually food involved...

He felt right a home jumping up into the bed & rooting around. Normally I do not allow the ducks in the greenhouse because of this tendency for them to jump right up & sit on things & eat things, but he somehow knew that today was a good day to be naughty.

The others quickly figured out what fun it was to be in there without supervision & they joined in on the fun. Of course, I did boot them out when I saw them all making a bee line for the marjoram & they were just standing on it...

What's up with ducks & herbs anyways? Last year the quackers destroyed all my thyme plants by taking naps on them! (I've yet to grow the replacement plants - must try harder next year).

I soaked the soil well - twice - because this soil just gets dry so quickly. I must remember to water it more frequently - better yet - install a drip line system on a timer so that I don't have to remember!

I planted fava beans (broad beans) & a lettuce blend. The hoops & plastic are necessary right now to keep the ducks from getting in there & digging everything up. The plastic will be necessary over the course of the winter as double insulation - will actually help keep the emerging plants warmer & keeps the moisture in the soil for a bit longer.

At least it worked that way last year. I hope to have similar results this year.

I'm over-wintering my herbs in here too. I have some sage & 2 types of rosemary & a couple wee thyme plants all in pots. I may or may not have to drape a plastic sheet over them as well - depends on how cold it get in here in the winter.