Sunday, January 26, 2014

Boozey Rewards from Last Year's Bounty

There's just something about winter sunshine that makes you want to get busy & crafty...

I had 'almost' forgotten about my batch of loganberry wine sitting in the dark corner of the office! Today was a perfect day for siphoning it out into a clean carboy, measuring the specific gravity to find out the alcohol content & let it sit for another few months before bottling.

I'm not 100 percent sure on my measure of alcohol content as the hubby accidentally broke the hydrometer while putting together his batch of home brew beer, but I may have a fruity dry wine with 10 or 11% alcohol.

I'm going to sit back, relax for a moment in this amazing winter sun & drink my glass of home grown-home brewed fruit wine. I won't have a chance to have any again til its aged for a few more months in the bottle. June, maybe...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

First Sign of Spring 2014

 I was away in Maui for a almost 2 weeks & it was wonderful to return home - even though most of Canada is still swaddled in a Polar Freeze - I was missing HOME.

I've been wandering the gardens this week in search of SPRING. With the Annas hummingbird still at my feeder just outside the window, I knew there had to be the a sign somewhere....

This morning I found it - the yellow crocus are starting to bloom! Usually I see them smack on February 1st, but had the feeling they would be early this year - if only to allow me to see them before I head out again to 'snow country' for a couple weeks.

Thank You, Mother Nature for satisfying my craving for Spring!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Digging into the New Year

~ garden hod ~
Welcome to 2014!

The year started off nice & quiet. It's rather warm & dry out here on the Wet Coast. Today is a mild 5 or 6 degrees Celcius & very light rain - not the usual down pour we typically have at this time of year.

I received a wonderful garden hod for Christmas & promptly went out to harvest lots of kale.

Last night I ended 2013 with a glass of pumpkin spice whiskey & a gardening video. Check out the BBC series: The Edible Garden with Alys or do a google search for Monty Don - he's got many gardening video series & I've just finished watching Fork to Fork. Yes - they are all BBC programs, but they are lovely & I do love listening to them & watching them dig around in what looks very similar to my climate. I just might have to spend a few more afternoons catching up on some 'arm chair' gardening!
~ salad greens in greenhouse ~
 There are always green things in the garden at this time of year & I like to make sure the greenhouse is being productive too.

I planted a mixture of salad greens back in October & then put an extra layer of plastic over the bed to keep whatever heat is generated in the greenhouse closer to the plants.

I won't actually eat these from the greenhouse. I'm growing them for moving into the gardens towards the end of March so that I have a head-start on my spring salads. 
~ marjoram ~

I have a wonderfully healthy marjoram plant also in the greenhouse & have developed a deep love of this herb. I find it tastes slightly better (not as spicy hot) than the oregano I have growing out in a barrel. I'm exploring more ways to incorporate it in some of my winter dishes & herbal vinegars & oils. Hardy little herb.
~ winter greens ~
I have a raised bed that is covered in plastic & inside I have my winter greens growing - mostly of the mustard family, which can take the cold much better than regular salad greens. The bok choy did very well & I'll have to get more seeds from this family for early spring dishes.

So far, the plastic covering strapped on to plastic hoops is holding up quite well. Mind you, we haven't had many severe wind storms or torrential rain storms that would flatten my structure... I like that the soil is being protected & productive at the same time.

~ johnny-jump-ups ~
I covered my lavender bed this year too - I have several new plants in pots that needed extra protection & I thought I would see how the lavender fared with a bit more care...

There are a few 'refugees' in this bed that I'm leaving in place since they seem to be doing well. The violas have been flowering steady since the spring, even if they look a bit tattered & bug eaten I can't help but love their tiny little faces.

The other wonderful surprise in the winter garden this year are 2 Anna's Hummingbirds!! These little birds winter in several spots around the community & I saw them checking out the Christmas lights (the red ones of course) a few weeks ago. I quickly found & rehung my hummingbird feeder & on Christmas Eve managed to entice one to claim my yard in his territory. (I have just been throat flashed by the hummingbird & now have confirmation that it is indeed a male versus the female we thought was feeding. The other one must be a male as well because they frequently 'dance' & chase each other around the deck & feeder). On those good days I like heading into the yard to check on things & just listen to the hummingbird twitters - sounds different than the Rufus songs but still makes me feel like spring is just around the corner!

Grab your seed catalogues & start planning on a new season!!