Sunday, April 17, 2011

Starting 2011

Okay, so we actually started several months ago when Linda did a ton of winter sowing...but a couple of weekends ago we actually got out into the yard and did some serious labor.

For starters, we finally did some lasagna gardening along this side of our house, where we planted 38 of 50 strawberry starts that we'd bought.

But before that'd we'd done some serious trimming of the blackberries (pictured above in the middle of the strip) and moved the grape plant across the yard.

The grape had been doing fairly well where it was, but the lattice work we had in place wasn't holding up to the task. So, we decided to trim it completely down, dig it up, and transplant it. Hopefully it survived the move.

For those who may be wondering about the two leafy green plants in the front of the first picture, those are rhubarb plants.

They make for a delicious crisp...

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to have a slice. ;-)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Sadly, our cold bed seems to have met an untimely demise, due to the record snowfalls we've been getting this winter (4.5 feet to date since Xmas, more forecasted tonight).

As a result, we've had a cave-in:

Thankfully, we did get some harvest from the bed before the damage - a few carrots, beet greens, turnips, turnip greens, and lettuce.

Stuff inside might be okay, but we won't know until all the snow is gone. Likely, not...

On the bright side, Linda got some winter sowing done - flowers, tomatos, broccoli, leeks, and onions, to name a few. ;-)

More to come later (winter sowing and posts)...after all the snow melts, that is.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Cold Bed

Yesterday I took a little time to build a cold bed around one of our square foot gardens.  The bed is planted with lettuce, collards, kale, turnip, kholarabi, and carrots.  With any luck, we’ll be able to harvest the bed throughout the winter.


We had bought about twenty bales of straw from a local farmer at a great price.  It took ten of them to surround the perimeter of the garden, and the plexiglass windows we used for the ceiling we got for free via Freecycle.  The wood sticks and rocks we had laying around the garage.

Putting the bed together was a little bit tricky.  Not only was the straw heavy and soaked from hours of the rain I worked in, but the bed has five lengths of iron rebar  sticking out of the ground around the perimeter of the bed (we use the iron to support trellises during the warmer seasons). 

The rebar made for setting the roof to be a little tricky.  Hence the fact that some of the window panes are sitting kitty corner on top. 

Almost immediately after I laid the roof down, the windows started to fog up from the underside (it was a very cold and windy day).  With the first frost advisory of the season tonight, it’s good that we didn’t wait any longer to set it up. 

We’ve already bought a wireless outdoor thermometer so we can watch the temperature inside.  We’ll post more as the bed progresses. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Look at the Curve on this Blackberry!


Hehe.  If you don’t get my little joke you can just crawl back under your rock :)

Anyways on to the blackberries.  We planted two roots (one last year and one the year before) and they have since decided to take over the yard!  Needless to say we have tons of berries this year.  Thank goodness they are the thorn less variety.

I picked a couple of pounds over the course of 5 days as they ripened and decided to turn them into jam.  In the hopes of making it a little bit less seedy I put 1/2 the berries through my food mill to catch some of the seeds.  It didn’t work too well unfortunately.  But not to worry, the finished product is delicious.

Here are the pictures of the finished jam. Yielded 8 half pints

The jam didn’t set up as thick as I would have liked but still a good consistency.  Perfect drizzled over ice-cream or warm biscuits.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

We ate like Gods

Here’s the virginal sacrifice. 

Weighing in at exactly 1 pound.  It’s our first beefsteak tomato of the season. The variety is called Mortgage Lifter.  If you’re interested in how it got its name here’s a quote from here.  There is more to the story at the link.

Sometime during the early 1940's, Radiator Charlie decided that he wanted to develop a very large tomato, so he set about trying to locate the largest tomatoes that he could find. He soon located four varieties of very large tomatoes: German Johnson Pink, Red Beefsteak, an unknown Italian variety and an unknown English variety. From these, he grew ten plants which he cultivated in a very unorthodox, very unique fashion. He planted nine of the plants in a circle and then planted a German Johnson Pink in the center of the circle. Byles then cross pollinated the German Johnson's flowers with pollen from each of the nine plants in the circle and saved seed from the resulting tomatoes. The next year, he planted the seeds and selected the best seedlings. The very best of these again went to the center of a circle, while the remaining were planted in a circle around them. Again, the plants in the middle were hand pollinated with pollen from those in the circle. Byles repeated this process for the next six years until he had created a stable variety that met his needs. After that, he never had another type of tomato on his place. The resulting variety became known as the Radiator Charlie's Tomato and soon established themselves as being very desirable. Every spring, gardeners from as far away as 200 miles came to buy their tomato seedlings from Radiator Charlie, which he sold for one dollar each, which was a substantial amount of money for a tomato plant back then. Mr. Byles sold so many tomato plants of his new variety over the next five or six years that the profits of his tomato enterprise paid off the $6000 mortgage on his home!

I wouldn’t take this story as gospel  as I’ve seen it vary and some times outright disputed at other sites. But it sure sounds good, doesn’t it?

For the sacrifice this will be our alter.  Toasted Jewish rye covered in peanut butter and bacon.  Does any one else find it ironic to have bacon on Jewish rye?  I guess I never claimed that this was a kosher event.

Yes, you read that correctly.  There is peanut butter in this sandwich.  No lettuce.  If we wanted a BLT we’d make one but this sandwich is a Peanut Butter-Tomato-(Bacon) Sandwich.  I should point out that bacon isn’t required to make this sandwich.  It’s delish with or without the porky goodness. Don’t forget to sprinkle salt and pepper on it to bring out the tomato flavours. Hmm-Hmm good.

Here is the end result.  If you feel a little queasy at the idea of combining tomato and peanut butter look at Indonesian food.  Some dishes combine peanuts and tomatoes and are quite delicious.  If that doesn’t persuade you to give this a go, how about a double dog dare? Post feedback if you’re brave enough to try this sandwich out.

Friday, July 24, 2009

First Tomatoes of 2009

We’ve picked our first tomatoes of 2009 – woot!  They are called Sungold and Black Cherry cherry tomatoes.  The former is a hybrid and the later is an open pollinated variety.  I think we managed to get tomatoes about a week ahead of last year which is pretty darn good considering how late we got them planted.

Here’s a snap of them.

I could have probably left the blacks to ripen a bit more but the Sungolds were nice and sweet.  Both varieties were quite tasty – probably the tastiest cherry tomatoes we’ve grown.  I sliced them up and sprinkled salt and pepper on them last night for dinner.

This doesn’t have anything to do with tomatoes but thought I’d toss it in here.  Yesterday I noticed a huge zucchini when I was picking cucumbers to  make relish so I nabbed it and turned it into zucchini bread.  Been ages since I’ve had zucchini bread.  I hope to turn the next two zucchini’s into a mock apple pie.  Suppose to be quite delicious.  I’ll post results of that if I can get it made.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Relish, It’s a beautiful thing

And delicious too.

Today I made some with vegetables from the garden – cucumbers, peppers and onions. 

I followed the Sweet Relish recipe in this book.  Very simple.  Chop veggies with a food processor, soak in salted water, drain and then cook with vinegar and spices.  I did run into a problem where I was 1 cup short on cucumber and 1/2 cup short on onion – I just put in an extra 1 1/2 cup of peppers.  I’ve done that in the past and had good or at least unnoticeable results. 

Here are some pictures of the process. The cast:

All chopped up.  If you lean in close enough to the monitor you can smell how yummy it is.

Cooking with the yummy sugary spicy goodness.

The finished product.  Yum.  It yielded 4 pints.  I plan to make one or two batches more.  I’m not sure if I’ll try different recipes or stick with this one.  We’ll see.


We’ve actually forgone buying relish since we ran out of our homemade stuff a few months ago.  We’re such snobs that we’d rather wait for homemade before buying the other stuff :P