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!