Sunday, May 24, 2015

My Coffin Bed and Wheatberries

So this weekend this happened:

I opened my last bottle of homemade red.  Yup, you are reading the label right, it's from 2013.  And it's finally really good.  And that was the last bottle.  

I finally finished my raised bed that resembles a coffin.  I took down 2 layers of boards cause I was getting damn tired of dragging wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of dirt down to the back yard.  I did still manage to blow my Fitbit's daily expectations out of the water even with the reduction in workload (it was still a lot of work, tomorrow I expect to moan a lot).

Here's whats going on in my coffin bed.  Under the cloches are zucchini, eggplant, peas and peppers, two seedlings of each.  The tomato has the red plastic under it.  Supposedly the red under the tomato plant helps it grow.  It was too big to fit under the cloches so I'm really hoping the red mulch plastic works because I don't think it's really warm enough for the poor tomato plant.  Under the floating row is carrot, kohlrabi, kale and swiss chard seeds.  Mixed in all over the bed are onions, green onion (scallion) seeds and marigolds.  They are all suppose to help with managing pests.  I put a layer of newspaper fairly low in the bed and mixed coffee grinds in low and at the very top of the bed.  My soil is a mix of peat, compost and manure.  After I got everything in I remembered I had some sage I wanted to put in so it ended up in an odd spot.  Nothing is terribly neat or organized.  It's more higgledy piggledy.  I tried to leave space to sow more seeds over the summer for on-going harvest.  We'll see how that works out....

I prepped supper before heading out to the garden, knowing that I'd be too tired to do much after.  I deboned a very large chicken breast and stuffed it with sauteed spinach, garlic and feta.  I also cooked up some wheatberries.  They take an hour!  It worked out perfect as I let them simmer away while I enjoyed my morning coffee and brunch.  

I tossed the wheatberries with fresh basil, oregano and chives.  I toasted some pumpkin seeds.  Right before serving I add the pumpkin seeds and some feta.  That's it.  Simple and delicious.  It was a heavenly meal, well earned after a hard day in the garden.

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Jacob's Cattle Bean is Not a Chickpea

I made some veggie burgers with Jacob's Cattle Beans and some turnip tops (greens) in the food processor.  I added lots of herbs and spices.  I went for an Indian vibe.  It missed.  Tasted like cardboard.  Turns out you can't just swap out chickpeas and substitute Jacob's Cattle Bean.  In my defense, I was trying to use the local beans I had gotten in my farm share.

On the other hand, Jacob's Cattle Beans make awesome baked beans!

Everything has it's place.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Garden Update

Last Saturday I built my raised bed.  I did it mostly by myself.  Rulers?  They're for wimps!  My neighbor helped me force the 10 inch difference in sides into a lovely box.
My cousin thought it might be my mother's next home...  I didn't mean to make it look like a coffin.  I may take a layer or two off.  I just don't want Ollie to think its a giant dog bed.  Or be able to pee in it.  He has very long legs.  Another shot to give some perspective.
I learned a valuable lesson this week.  Instead of digging holes for the posts, it's better to sledgehammer them in.  It really does work and I just so happen to own my very own sledgehammer. Doesn't every girl?

I also added some more crushed stone to even out the patio.  My Fitbit was overjoyed by the end of the day.  I think I may experience a higher level of exhaustion based on what my Fitbit says I've done during the day.  It's the power of suggestion.  Sunday was rest day...

I'll place patio stones on them later this year or early next spring but for now it tidied up the space. I'm actually quite fond of the stone and it gives more "de-muddifying" space for the dogs to drop some of the dirt and mud before they get to the back door.

Not a lot more got done in the garden (or on the treadmill for that matter) this week due to Ollie.  He strolled a little too closely to death's door this week.  I can speak flippantly about it now but last Monday night I thought he was gone.  I was worried he had an abdominal tumour that was bleeding out.  It's called Hemagiosarcoma and I've lost 2 dogs to it.  He was ok and then he was in complete distress. Thankfully it was only an obstruction in his stomach that his own digestive juices eventually resolved.  So another lesson learned this past week - just because it says it's "dog bones" doesn't mean it really is suitable for dogs to eat.

Ollie will be 11 in July.  Old age is not his challenge... I am.  Bad mummy.  I'll stick to treats I know and trust from now on.

I finally have some eggplant seedlings!  And my Zucchini are coming along nicely.
Although I went to the market this weekend and the seedlings there put mine to shame.

I don't have a lot of space or warmth to get a lot of seedlings going so I had planned to supplement my garden with plants from other farmers/garden shops.  I did buy mostly seed that could be directly sown.  Those should be in the garden now but the seedlings can't go out until after May 24th due to frost threats.  So I'm only half as behind as I think I am.

I should have done more yesterday but it was so gorgeous I just wanted to sit on my deck after morning errands.  I did get my wall done.
Once the threat of frost passes, I'll put some herbs and flowers in these handing planters.  The bag on the bottom right is actually a planter too.  Tomatoes will soon call it home.  I'm going to grow tomatoes in 3 different spots around the yard to see if I can find the spot they'll do best.  Your yard is a micro-climate, you have to learn to understand it and embrace it!

Last night I had the first burgers of the grilling season.  There is nothing so wonderful as the smell of meat on the barbecue!  I stuffed cheddar cheese in the middle and served them with my mom's homemade zucchini relish (I promise I'll share the recipe when zucchini is overflowing in the garden and market).  I also did a tomato salad.  The greens from the farm have been scarce so I'm trying to compromise until I can get local greens.  I bought a huge pack of greenhouse cherry tomatoes, tossed them with some feta, olive oil, dried mint, dried oregano and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  My buckwheat greens (see last post) went in as well.  It was a nice little salad!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Land of Dirt

Let’s look at the current situation in my yard/garden.


I’m hesitant to call it a “garden” as it’s barely more than a bit of dirt and some big dreams at this point.  But my speciality is difficult relationships so I’m optimistic I can make my dream to have a meaningful relationship with mother earth a reality. 

On a positive note, all my seeds have sprouted.  I’m even trying my hand at growing buckwheat greens.  You soak them for 12 hours like sprout seeds because, well they are sprout seeds…  Then you drain them for 12 hours in a sprout bag, jar or tray.  After that you put them in a tray of 1inch dirt and cover them for 3 days, keeping them moist.  I used an egg carton.  Then you take the lid off, water them daily and keep them in shade or indirect sunlight (which I’m pretty sure is just another word for “shade”).  After 7-10 days they are ready for eating.  I’m hoping to use them in sandwiches or on salads, soups or casseroles.  Gotta get your greens!

 All my lovely seedlings.

I’m struggling with my eggplant seeds.  I’ve reseeded them since the first batch didn’t spout.  I just don’t think it’s been warm enough for them.  It’s warmed up quite a bit now so I’m hopeful.  If these seeds don’t take I’ll try them directly sown in the garden under cloches.  I’m also planning on using the cloches for my zucchini and tomatoes.  The first batch of peas are already in their happy home with their cloche. 


I’ve got some nice greens coming up.  I’ll eat these as baby greens.  It will soon be time to thin these lines out. 


Due to the late melting of the snow and ice, produce from the farm is slow to come this year.  They couldn’t get to their greenhouses until the last week or so, never mind the actual garden plots.  This week we are getting fingerling potatoes, parsnips, carrots and a bag of sprouts.  That’s it.  Thankfully I had wilted and froze kale, stinging nettles, turnip tops, sugar snap peas and broccoli last season when each veggie was abundant.  I’m thinking roasted fingerlings with a beer can chicken and some greens from my freezer for Sunday when it’s supposed to be 22C.  (This translates to somewhere between 26C and 29C on my deck depending on the breeze.)  Maybe some Carrot Ginger soup for a night during the week.  And some lovely grilled pork chops with parsnip, potato, onion and greens in a British inspired Bubble and Squeak. 

We had some sweet potato and spinach from the farm last week so I made sweet potato and spinach gnocchi.  I’ll have some of those frozen leftovers with some of the frozen tomatoes the farm has sent us in previous weeks.  I’ve said it many times before but it’s worth repeating, thank goodness for my freezer!  I also have bottled beets, not pickled, that roast up really nicely when tossed with olive oil and a splash of balsamic in a 400F oven for 30 minutes.