Monday, 30 May 2016

Harvest Monday: May 30, 2016

This is my submission to Harvest Monday hosted by Dave at Our Happy Acres.  Harvests are generally slow at this time of the season but the perennials are starting to kick in.  I did not post last Monday but the picture above should have been posted then.  I've harvested a second batch of rhubarb this week as well.  The first batch was used to make the rhubarb syrup I posted about Saturday (the second batch frozen for later use).

I've also had more asparagus here and there.  I don't get more than a few spears at any one time so no reason to take a pic.  And it turns out that I have asparagus beetles for the first time (at least the first time I've noticed) - in both asparagus beds on opposite sides of the house.  Here is what a few of the spears look like as a result ... actually the picture doesn't do it justice, the affected spears are pretty much brown and lifeless.

I've been picking them off as there aren't too many but I obviously didn't catch them soon enough.

And the first harvest from an annual this season comes from a kale plant that I started indoors along with the rest of the brassica starters (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower) and transplanted out about a few weeks ago.  Just a few leaves but enough to do something with!

I am really looking forward to some rain although there isn't much in the forecast.  I can manage watering my garden but farmers must be hurting with the hot and dry spring we've had.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Rhubarb Simple Syrup (and Susan's Cocktail)

I was surprised how pink this came out considering most of my rhubarb is more on the greenish side.  But I guess there was enough pink to make this beautifully coloured simple syrup.

Rhubarb Syrup

6 cups rhubarb
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar

Add all ingredients into a pot.  Stew the rhubarb until soft, but no longer as you don't want the water to cook away.  Cool then strain the liquid into a jar.   This syrup can be stirred into yogurt, mixed with soda water for a refreshing rhubarb soda or used in a cocktail (recipe below).

This is the recipe my friend Susan made for us last weekend (although her rhubarb syrup recipe was a bit different than mine).  I went straight home and made some syrup.  Then picked up some bourbon soon after!  Although the syrup had a nice pink tinge, the colour of the bourbon makes for more of a caramel colour for the cocktail.

Muddle several leaves of mint and a piece of lemon in the bottom of a cocktail shaker.  Add some crushed ice and the following ingredients:

- 1 oz bourbon
- 1/2 oz limoncello
- 2 oz rhubarb syrup

Shake and serve.

I didn't have limoncello so just used the bourbon and rhubarb syrup (with the mint and lemon) and it was just as delicious!

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Haralson Apple Tree

When I first moved here, I found a Haralson apple tree already planted.  It has barely grown leaves, let alone fruit in the past few years.

This is now my 4th spring here and I am excited to see blossoms on the tree this weekend.  It must be into its 7th year or more considering its size when I first saw it.

I sure hope this means some possible fruit this year!  But don't apple trees need another tree for pollination? 

Monday, 16 May 2016

Harvest Monday: May 16, 2016

Well, the experiment of growing greens in the greenhouse in early spring didn't work out very well.  I forgot that we don't really have "spring" here.  The weather usually goes from super cold to super hot in a short period of time (and back to super cold now and then).  I sowed some arugula seeds as soon as I could but it has already bolted before I could eat any!  I fed it to the compost.

The radish were bolting as well which is why I've harvested them even though they are quite small (but still tasty).  I have also harvested some more asparagus but I still have only half of the 12 crowns producing right now and hoping the others kick in soon!

Link in to Our Happy Acres to see what other gardeners are doing on this Harvest Monday!

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Hardening Off and New Plants from Yuko

I have neglected to get my seedlings outside to harden off lately and I have only a week or two before they are ready to be transplanted.  Hardening off is a process that allows seedlings that have grown up inside to essentially get acclimatized before fully transplanting into an outdoor garden or container.  And why is that important?  Well, let's look at the sun damage on some brassicas that I put out a few weeks ago without properly hardening off ...

After a veeeery long week at work, I rewarded myself by heading to Yuko's annual plant sale this morning.  I think the same thing every year ... I do NOT need anymore plants, don't overdo it!  And then I buy a bunch of plants because she usually has so many interesting options.

I was hoping to pick up some Jimmy Nardello peppers as the one I bought at her plant sale last year was the first time I had tried them (and loved them!).  Unfortunately, she said her tomatoes and peppers wouldn't be ready until next weekend (her sale runs over two full weekends).  Or maybe it is fortunate ... after I returned home, I set aside some of my own peppers and tomatoes that I will be giving to a friend and then did the count - I have 40, !!!!, yes 40 pepper plants.  I'm pretty sure with that many, some will be neglected.  Yowza.

But that didn't stop me from buying a bunch of plants - again.  One plant I bought but is not pictured below is another Marina di Chiogga squash.  I bought two from Yuko last year and, although not particularly productive, I did like the squash itself.  I saved some seeds of my own but decided it was easier to just buy one of her plants.

And here is what else I bought, starting with some flowers ...

Viola - "Johnny Jump Up"
Periwinkle Blue
Tiger Lily

And this is a combination of flowers and veg ... the beans are edible but only with a lot of preparation, so it is mainly grown for the flowers:

Hyacinth Bean

And on to edibles. 

Lovage - my first time growing it

Celery - what the heck, I'll give it a try

This next one is wild garlic.  I bought some from Yuko a few years ago but must have done a very bad job with the planting as it all died - I mean really, when things grow "wild" how bad does it have to be to kill it?!  So I'll try it again in a different spot this year.

And this one ... oof.  She conned me into buying it with all the talk about how great it is for you - bitter melon.  In last year's post on Yuko's plant sale, not only did I mention my general dislike of bitter asian vegetables, I specifically referred to bitter melon. So now maybe you understand my impulsive nature of purchasing plants - I can't help myself.  So now I am growing bitter melon (but I refuse to look after it once it is planted).

And the one I am most looking forward to is this red currant bush.

I am quite excited about growing this but somewhat overwhelmed considering that just a month ago I purchased this Goji berry plant from the farmer who sold me the hay bales I have this year.

So now I have two new fruit bushes to learn about with the red currant and goji berries.  I'll be googling a lot to figure out the best approach.  Containers maybe?  Or is in ground better?  How big do they get?  Acidic soil preferable like most berries?  Are these perennials or not in my northern climate?

Any advice on these is appreciated as I have had little luck in the past with fruit!

Monday, 9 May 2016

Harvest Monday: May 9, 2016

The asparagus is coming up ... slowly.  But I'll take whatever I can get!  Not all of the plants have started to produce yet so the pace should pick up in the next week or two.

Meanwhile, I've started the cucurbits (summer and winter squash, melons, cukes, etc.) in potting soil.  They grow quickly and should be ready to transplant outside in early June.  I sowed seeds for Crystal Apple cucumbers in the greenhouse bed but the rest of the cucurbits will be planted in hay bales outside.

And yikes, the tomato and pepper seedlings really need to get in the ground soon!  But not this week as there is a frost advisory for the next few nights. I started them later than last year but they are more advanced than expected - must be the fish emulsion I've been using.

Xanthi peppers

Some have started to flower, which isn't good for transplanting (so I'll pick off the flowers before I transplant - this will allow the plant to focus it's energy on settling into the new space rather than producing fruit).

Flower buds on Feher Ozon peppers

I look forward to seeing what other gardeners have on the go this week by linking up to Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Sweet Potatoes: Slips Into Potting Soil

Well ... this being my first effort at growing sweet potatoes, I have been relying on youtube videos and other blogs to figure out what to do.

I purchased the sweet potato "seeds" at a seed exchange in order to grow slips. The slips are basically sprouts from the seed potato that get removed and are then rooted in water.  I had the luck of running into the person I bought the seed potatoes from at a recent gardening seminar (I plan to share info on that and other seminars in other posts).  She suggested it was better for me to transplant the slips into potting soil at this point as it would be easier for the final transplant into the garden space.

And that is what I did this weekend.   For some ...

But just in case, I kept some of the slips in water.

And I also have more slips growing from the original seed potatoes ... just in case.  Because I have no idea what I'm doing.   :)    But whatever I'm doing seems to be going pretty well!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

My First Asparagus of 2016! (And a Question ... Do You Cut or Snap)

If you love asparagus as much as I do, you might be able to relate to the fact that I'm posting about harvesting two, yes just two, spears of asparagus from my garden.  But it's very exciting for me!

I have about a dozen other spears on the way but these first two had a head start and I feared they would begin to fern out - LOL, no idea how to refer to this stage ("flowering"?).  Anyway, I didn't want them to mature into the next stage where they become fern fronds.  Mind you, even though this is now my fourth season and I should be able to harvest steadily throughout the season, I still think I'll avoid taking too many in the first 6-8 weeks to allow the ferns to grow and replenish the nutrients for next year's production.

When I harvested them, I grabbed a knife and cut the spears just above the soil.  As I was cutting the second one, I suddenly had this realization that I have always snapped the asparagus when harvesting and why was I using a knife?

There is a similar question when preparing asparagus to eat ... I generally snap the asparagus which (according to literature and my general experience) naturally breaks at the point where the woody point ends and the more tender portion starts.  Many cooks choose to cut the asparagus rather than snapping (on rare occasions when I am desperate to save as much asparagus as possible, I'll use a peeler to remove the tough parts).

So ... do you cut or snap?

And by the way, I ate the spears fresh.  They tasted like spring. 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Harvest Monday: May 2, 2016

A small harvest this week including another clipping of the lettuce shown above.  And a bonus harvest of a single parsnip and some fingerling potatoes while planting new crops in the respective areas.  It is always fun to find a few leftovers from the fall harvest that were left undiscovered.

I am linking in to Harvest Monday hosted by Our Happy Acres.  Check it out to see what other gardeners are doing this week!