Thursday, June 25, 2015

Tis the Season... Almost

~ blueberries ~
 The rains have held off for quite a few weeks, which means the berries are ripening a bit earlier than usual.

The blueberries are coming along nicely & I would actually like to have a bit of rain to plump them up a bit.

At least the deer are no longer munching on the plants & it looks like the pollinators did their jobs well this spring - there are loads of berries on the bushes!
~ wall of marionberries ~

The marionberries are coming along strong as well & I love the look of them rambling up & through the fence with the Sweet Williams growing at their feet.

I'll have to be patient with these berries - at first glance, they look very much like the loganberries - long & red... but the flavour is not like the loganberry & I think if I leave the fruit on the vine a bit longer, it will darken up & the flavour will start to pop... I'll let you know in a week or 2!

Things that Wander into & out of the Garden

~ Egyptian Wandering Onions ~

I was once told that onions are the easiest thing to grow in the garden. I, of course, had to prove them wrong... I'm not very good at growing your traditional white, yellow or red onion BUT I am very good at growing these wonderful onions - Egyptian Wandering onions. They are great! They will actually take over if you aren't harvesting them. As you can see - the tops of the onion form their own little bulblets that get heavy & cause the plant to lean over & start growing new plants where those land in the soil. Hence, the wandering around the gardens...

While the plant doesn't grow a large bulb like your traditional onion, you can eat all aspects of it. Roast them up with other veggies & meat or chop them up & toss them into your fresh-from-the-garden summer salads! I've heard that you can even pickle those little kernels on the top!

The fun thing is when you pick those little bulblets & spread them around the gardens. I like to slip them into the flower beds for an added bit of interest & texture.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Garlic Scape Harvest

~ garlic scapes growing big ~
 The garlic is having a very good growing season this year. I'm very happy to see many large stalks & I'm hoping that the bulbs themselves will also be large & fleshy. But that will have to wait a few weeks longer.

Right now, the garlic scapes are growing quickly & in order to have the plant put all its energy into those bulbs in the ground, they need to be removed from the stalks.
~ garlic scape harvest ~

Garlic scapes are a wonderful early 'garlic hit' & have a power-house of nutrients that we can eat & take advantage of.

~ garlic scape pesto ~
Once you cut them from the stalk (best to do it early in the day so that the cut has a chance to heal up & not ooze all over the place in the heat of the afternoon), you can keep them in the fridge for a few days while you experiment with them in the kitchen.

Why not roast them up along with your potatoes & chicken? Or how about chop them fine & add them to an omelet? Or how about try a new twist on the pesto idea?

That's what I did - pesto - one of my most favorite condiments in the fridge. I usually make pesto with my spring harvest of lemon sorrel & then pop all those little jars into the freezer to use up during the year.

Why not try it with the garlic scapes? This version tastes tart & garlic-y & has the potential for so many great things... I just used some sorrel leaves, lemon juice, olive oil, salt & pepper. Whip it all up & put into jars & freeze for later experimentation.

The whole process would have been a whole lot easier if I would just invest in a proper kitchen tool (food processor) to do the job... maybe that's something I can look into down the road for future gardens...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Brewing up a Little Tea... Compost Tea...

~ compost tumbler cooking ~
 Now is a great time to give the gardens a much needed boost with some fertilizer. I like to use what I have on hand - finished compost!

This is a double benefit - it gets the compost spread out into the gardens & feeds the plants immediately without having to disturb the soil to get the compost mixed in.

The compost tumbler has been brewing up a new batch of compost since late winter - I emptied it in February & the finished compost from then is what I'm using. The compost tumbler needs some grass clippings & I might just let that batch brew up for a few more months before emptying it again.

~ finished compost ~
 This finished compost is what I want to spread around. There are lots of worms in this - which is great! I can add worms to the soil while I'm feeding it!

I put several scoops into my buckets & added water. Stir it up. Pour it on! It gets messy & can be a bit smelly if the compost has sat for a while without air. It's all good in the end for the plants.

Now - get growing gardens!! I'm getting hungry for fresh veggies!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Feast your Eyes... part 2

 The hydrangea with the dark leaves is most certainly putting on a show this year & I love looking over to that corner of the yard.

I'll be taking some cuttings & rooting them up so I can plant more in other areas of the yard & share them with a few friends.

This is one of those plants that someone gave a cutting to me from their plant & it holds special memories of that friendship...

Can't wait to share it with others!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Harvest of a Different Sort

~ coho with anchovy ~
 Happy Father's Day!!
What a great day to be out on the water - we took a day off from the gardens & went out to harvest something of a different sort... fish!!

Our adventure took us 25 miles off the coast of Vancouver Island to the Big Bank... wow - what a journey! I really wish I had taken a photo of what the island looks like from way out there....

The sun was shining & the seas were calm.
~ our 'catch of the day'

One of our coho salmon was still chasing after the anchovy in the water when we hooked it & brought it into the boat!

Our day brought us back to the dock in the early afternoon & we brought home a small halibut, a couple spring salmon & a couple coho salmon.

We have food in the freezer to share with friends & family!

~ Nola gets the anchovy ~
The pooch (Nola) was excited to see the harvest & certainly enjoyed her fresh anchovy!

Now that we've had some fun out on the water, it's time to get back to the gardens...

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

When Life hands you Frozen Berries

~ big ol' bucket of wine ~
Last year the berry harvest was incredible... I made lots of jams & jellies & a couple batches of wine & STILL had enough berries in the freezer to make another batch of wine.

Which is what I need to do now that we are fishing once again. There is limited room in the freezer & I rather like using up what I have before it goes bad or turns or starts to take on the flavours of the freezer... which is why I try to have 2 freezers: one for the fish & one for the berries.

So, this is the start of Blackberry wine with a hint of Raspberry. It's actually a great time of year to start the wine as it will take until Christmas to mature & mellow.

I'll keep you updated as to how it is coming along.

Recipe: 22 lbs fruit, 13 lb sugar, water to fill just past the 5 gallon mark, wine yeast. If you want, add the other components involved in making wine but I like to keep it simple, uncomplicated & I rarely have issues. Besides - it doesn't stick around too long once it's ready for drinking!! Great way to start the summer season!!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Feast Your Eyes...

~ hydrangea ~
 The flowers are pretty intense right now & a feast for the eyes...

It appears that I was rather slow on seeding my annuals (nasturtiums, marigolds, calendula) so right now, we are enjoying the perennials.

The bees are enjoying them as well. Good to hear so many of them out amongst the plants.

~ lily ~

~ lily ~

~ rose ~

~ Sweet William ~

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What's in the Garden?

~ garlic ~
 June has arrived & finally brought some heat & sunshine. That means the gardens are taking off & changing almost by the day.

The garlic is starting to produce some scapes, which I hope to turn into pesto or maybe sell at the Market to those who didn't get their garlic planted last fall.

In a few weeks, I'll stop watering this bed to allow the garlic to set. There are some very large stalks & I can't wait to harvest them & see how big the cloves are!!
~ greenhouse beds ~

The greenhouse beds are seeded & starting to sprout. A new drip line was just picked up & this coming weekend, we'll be installing a better system than what is currently in place. This is going to be such a dry summer that consistent watering will be a major requirement to any amount of success for greens.

Can't wait to have it all installed & set up!! 
~ marionberries ~

The Marionberries are getting very large! They look like loganberries & I truly hope these are blackberries... They should start to ripen up in a few weeks & the plants are very happy & healthy in the bed they are planted in. I have Sweet Williams flowering all along the base of the plants, so the berry flowers have been pollinated successfully.

I think I need to find an early flower to plant around my currant shrubs to entice the bees early in the spring to pollinate those flowers - they aren't doing as well as I had hoped (again).

So far - so good... just need a bit more consistent sunshine & we'll be eating fresh food in no time!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

What's in your Veggie Beds?

~ garlic ~
 We have lots of 'high cloud' - which makes taking photos difficult sometimes. Things are GREEN out here, so they all sort of blend in together...

While I've just planted (oh so late for me!) my new greenhouse beds, I do have other garden beds that have been planted, need to be replanted & are producing on a slow & steady level.

The garlic bed is being watered regularly right now, but in a few weeks I'll remove the drip line & allow the plants to dry in preparation for harvest. From the size of the stalks, it looks like I will have some large garlic this year!
~ potato ~

My potato bed has mustard greens growing that self-seeded from last year. I'm certainly not going to complain about those fresh greens growing wild!! Just means that I'll have to eat more of them...

The sage plant at the end of the bed is almost in full bloom - I'll harvest those stalks in the next week or 2 after the bees have received their full measure of sage pollen.
~ lettuce & greens ~

My other lettuce & greens bed looks like it did not like the return to cool temperatures & I'll have to go through most of the seedlings, remove those that are sending out flower shoots. They will not grow any more & can be eaten - roots, stalks & all.

This will allow me room to pop in other seeds to fill the holes & keep the production up for the season. Might consider planting winter greens here...

~ rose in veggie bed ~
My last veggie bed - the deepest one - has been a 'cutting bed' for a few years. Every time someone gives me a cutting of one of their plants, this is the bed I would put them into in order to develop roots.

Well, the bed is now overwhelmed with roses (such as this dainty little white rose) & hydrangeas & other odds & sods...

I have some transplanting projects ahead of me in order for me to prepare this bed for planting... I might be ready towards the end of the season, so maybe garlic in this bed in the fall is an easy solution & will allow me the time to transplant & move things around without too much damage to the current plants. It's really not a very good time of year to move plants around too much unless a proper watering schedule is in place to help re-establish the plants in their new homes.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Greenhouse Rebuild - Part 3

This morning I thought it was time to show what we've accomplished for the greenhouse project.

The beds are full of fresh new soil - lots of wonderful soil & compost & manure! Lovely stuff!! {wish I could get this stuff in by the dump truck & re-do ALL the veggie & flower beds...}

Yesterday we installed the drip line & I planted-planted-planted many seeds & some herbs I rescued from elsewhere.

How easy it is to go out, turn on the water & soak the beds!! I now don't have to expose myself to the early morning or late evening bugs & I know that things will be watered with some consistency...

Now - get growing!! All we need is some sunshine & warmer temperatures...

Monday, May 25, 2015

When Spring turns into Summer

~ poppy ~
May is almost finished! Where did the time go? We are now entering into the summer season & I'm really not ready for it...

The flower beds continue to grow & evolve on their own & this year, I've delayed planting much in my veggie beds due to the cool temperatures & lack of sunshine.

More updates are coming... I'm in love with the wild-ness of the yard this year & look forward to showing you...
~ rose ~

~ iris ~

~ pink columbine ~

~ chives ~

~ white columbine ~

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Spring Disappeared but Forgot to Tell Anyone

~ yellow iris ~
 The spring weather has been 'interesting' & a bit of a challenge this year. It has cooled down & remained cloudy & even foggy for most of the month & those rains that we usually get to help get new plants & seedlings on their way, hasn't returned...

This is going to be 'one of those years' where the weather will remain unpredictable - which, for a gardener can be frustrating as those great weather days perfect for gardening usually fall during those days when working elsewhere is required...

So, with cool weather, lack of proper rain - but lots of dew still - it's difficult to find the energy & enthusiasm to get into the gardens proper... I tend to take short excursions to take photos & check that what I do have seeded is taking care of itself. Right now, the flowers are putting on a show. I'll have to take some time to update the veggie gardens & where I'm at with the greenhouse project.
~ apple blossoms ~

~ comfrey in bloom ~

~ perennial bachelor button ~

~ pink flowering dogwood ~

~ pink flowering dogwood ~

~ pink flowering dogwood ~

~ lilac ~

Sunday, April 26, 2015

My Garden Shadow

~ Nola ~
I have a new Garden Shadow this year. Her name is Nola & she's a lovely little Cairn Terrier.

Last year it was a group of ducks, this year it's a wee little dog who loves to be outside, investigating every weed I dig up, every plant I cut & every edible I harvest. She will gladly try to eat anything I am harvesting, only to find out that right now, herbs & greens are not what she was hoping for... Wait til the berry season arrives!!

She'll pop up right in my face in between the flowers & remain either under hand or under foot while I'm working away. Right now, I'm gently training her to stay out of the beds so she doesn't trample the young plants. Thankfully, she's not yet figured out the joy of digging in the dirt!! I'll let her dig in the tide pools down at the beach (looking for crabs or snails), so maybe that will not be an issue we need to worry about.

I'd like to think she enjoys the walk-abouts looking at the flowers just as much as I do. She certainly has a nose for them!
~ forget-me-nots ~

~ perennial bachelor button ~

~ raindrops on columbines ~

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Life Becomes More Simple - Finally...

~ drip hose with potatoes & greens ~
This year I've finally installed a drip line in my veggie beds. I picked some up last year, but just didn't find the energy to install it. Took minutes... literally...

So, with the simple aid of a timer for the water flow, I've got the summer drought months taken care of! No more hauling out the hose to spend rushed minutes at the end of the day, covered in swarming-biting insects to water plants that should have been watered in the morning... No more throwing hands up in the air saying 'I just can't grow that' because I chose not to water...

Of course, there is always a bit of fine tuning to be done throughout the growing season, such as: water pressure - too high? too low? One bed requires more water, one bed requires less water. Are the plants at the edges of the bed getting enough water? How much water will I actually be using during those weeks in July & August when we have absolutely no rain & the rain barrels are empty?

I look forward to finding out the answers to all of this!

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grow Your Own Fertilizer!

~ comfrey ~
I've mentioned this before, but growing comfrey is such a benefit to your gardens, you'll actively search out this 'weed' growing in the wild just to dig up & bring home. I've got them planted inbetween some berry bushes, in hard to mow spots of the lawn & in areas that should be left to grow wild.

I use the leaves whole as mulch or chopped up with a lawn mower (that's at the end of the season when they are ratty looking) tossed into the composter (an activator), or tossed into a bucket with water to make comfrey compost tea.

The purple flowers are a huge attractant to insects, especially bees, & can be eaten in salads. The small tender leaves can also be eaten in spring salads & taste like cucumber.

If you have ducks or chickens, they love this plant too, so if they run around the yard at all, provide a bit of protection around the plant or else the silly feathered garden helpers will eat the entire plant in one sitting... (been there, done that...)

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Berry Blooms Con't

~ red currant ~
 I love taking a few minutes each day to walk around the gardens & yard to see what's popped up, what's blooming & how things are doing without constant care & maintenance (I rather do like a low-maintenance approach if I can get away with it...)

The currant bushes are in full bloom & loving the warmer weather & sunshine. I wish I had mason bees this year, but there are lots of other insects out there pollinating things for me.
~ black currant ~

Why are the red currant blossoms so much smaller & unassuming than the black currant blossoms?

I prefer the black currant fruit over the red currants but the black currants are notoriously more difficult to get to produce any sizeable crop, whereas the red currants are profuse...

Mother Nature has a sense of humour!

~ John Downey crab apple ~
My wee little crab apple tree is in full bloom this year - every single one of the branches & leaf nodes is open with blossoms! I know I'll have to remove some of those if I want to harvest fruit of any size or quality - it just wouldn't be fair to a tree of only 4 feet to produce a full load of fruit such as it seems to promise.

Looks like a great year for berries indeed!