Sunday, 31 July 2011

Hot Hot Hot!

With the temperatures reaching 35c or 95F there isn't much chances that I am going to be out in the garden! I think this might be our last big burst of  heat this summer as the rest of the week is going to be in the mid 20's and then everything usually goes down hill from there. However, you never know we could be up for a super hot august so no real compiling yet I guess.
Last night I gave the garden a good watering. It took about a hour and the mosquitoes ate me ALIVE. Oh those little buggers are just so darn annoying and they make me ever so itchy! On the plus side I was able to get the pump working on the second try and there is still water in the well! I'll have to make a post about the pump sometime. You'll never guess where it
On the downside I have neglected my flower pots and they are all a wee bit sad looking. Darn garden stealing all my attention

While I was watering I was able to make a few discoveries.

There are quite a few cucumbers that are now 2inches big. Not big enough for fridge pickles, but very exciting.

The peas are plumping up in their pods. They always fool me into thinking they are ready when I see a full looking pod and then I squeeze it and they are still a few days away. What little teases they are!
Some of the beans both green and purple are ready. I wont have time to pick them till Monday, but I swear there was nothing there last time I looked. Little buggers were hiding on me.

I planted some turnips last night as well. However, just from seed. I don't think they will have enough time to mature, but we shall see. I still would like to plant some more spinach, however every time I go to the seed store in the city they are closed? And to my surprise not one other store I called (walmart, zellars and what have ya) is selling anymore seed for the year!? I think I am going to start buying online.

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The fruits and veggies of my labours

I was busy last night making soup, Saskatoon Berry sundae toppings and jam...not in the same pot, but you get what I mean.

With the cabbage almost at their breaking point I figured I better start doing something with the one I picked or I was going to be out of refrigerator room in no time. Is it bad that I want or rather need another fridge to hold everything from the garden. Its too bad that you cannot freeze lettuce cause boy does it take up room and I don't have any room to spare as it

I decided to make up a big ole pot of cabbage soup. In the end I think it needed more cabbage not sure why I was so stingy with it considering the statement made above!

I am going to take the other half of the head to my parents along with some of that lettuce. I would have liked to use more fresh ingredients, but since nothing else is ready I had to make do with canned tomatoes and frozen carrots from last year.

I also made up some Saskatoon Berry Sundae Topping. Its basically a sweeter version of my pie filling, but who wants to put pie filling on a sundae! So I changed its name..sneaky sneaky I also added Swiss Kirsch to it so it should be even better!
I bought some freezer jam jars yesterday. I had heard some good things about it lately so I figured what the heck I've made just about everything else in the preserving book lets give that a try. It was really really easy. Almost too easy. Why haven't I tried doing this before!! I don't like jam, but I sampled a little bit and even I thought it was pretty darn good.
The only downsides were that when I went to put the lids on my jars I noticed that they were cracked!! Good thing I bought 2 packs of five or I would have been SOL!  And that it said there would be enough for 5 jars and I got 4 and and half.

On the downside this morning I noticed some wee little worms in the berries. I am pretty anal about checking the berries all individually for just that reason. The berries look perfect from the outside and then when I was mashing them up I noticed something white. So now I am worried that the worms are in all the Saskatoon Berry products I made this year :( I was ready to throw everything out, but the hubby and his mom both said not to. So now I am not sure what to do.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Beet it

Its officially beet time. These are just a few of the Detroit red beets that are ready to be picked. I forgot to thin them out this year so it beets on top of beets, but all is good.
I usually plant way too many and end up leaving them in till September and then they look like this.
Huge beet bigger than a grapefruit!

That last picture was from last year and I am going to try and not let them get that big. They still taste great but what do you do with a 8lbs beet?

I just planted a half row this year since the hubby doesn't like them. I think it will be more manageable and I wont end up with the name Mrs.Beets
The majority of the beets I am going to use to make Borscht like a good Ukrainian girl should. I use an old family recipe that was handed down to me from my grandmother. Since her stroke 3 years ago she has had to give up her garden and cooking all together. So when I make borscht I feel like I am carrying on the family tradition.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A few more spinach recipes

As of today the spinach is is officially out of the garden. I had thought it might still produce since it was not really bolting, but I think it has gone through its growing cycle so I yanked it out.

Here are the last to recipes I was able to make with the last of our fresh spinach

Fruity Spinach Salad with strawberry vinaigrette

6oz fresh spinach
1 mandarin orange, toes cut in half
1/2 a nectarine
1/4c toasted pecans

Strawberry Vinaigrette
1/2c halved fresh strawberries
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1tbsp maple syrup
1/4c of olive oil
In individual bowls combine the spinach, orange, nectarine and pecans.

To make the vinaigrette combine the first 3 ingredients using a hand blender until smooth. Add oil in a steady stream while continuing to mix until well blended

Drizzle dressing over salad.

Drunken Harvest Pork and Pasta (inspired by guy fieri)

2Tbsp Olive Oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/4c white wine
2 cloves of crushed garlic
2 boneless pork loin chops cut in half lengthwise
1tsp garlic powder
1tsp sea salt
1c white mushrooms
1 medium zucchini cut into 1ich pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups of fresh spinach (frozen ca be substituted)
1 cup half and half
3 tbsp vodka
4c fusilli pasta, cooked

In a large pan over medium heat cook the onion in oil for 5-6mins or just until it starts to brown. Add garlic and white wine and cook for another 2 mins. Season the pork with garlic powder and sea salt. Add the pork to the pan and cook 3 mins on each side. Add the mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes along with the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and cook for another 5mins. Add spinach and cream and cook for another 5mins.. Add vodka and combine. Place cooked pasta in individual serving bowls and top with one chop and some of the veggie mixture. Alternatively you can add the pasta to the sauce combine till well coated and serve family style.

Week 10

I know I say this every time I do a weekly update...but...I cannot believe how quickly summer is going. The nights are already cooling down to 10C or 50F and the days are in the mid 20's/70's which makes it a bit easier to work in the garden so there is always a plus side I guess. But it does not mean that I have  to like it!

Last week had a few firsts. First Kohlrabi,cabbage, and zucchini harvest of 2011. I had never grown Kohlrabi or cabbage before and I think both have been a success. Hats off to I was able to show off my week 9 harvest on Daphne's Dandelions and that made me quite happy.

Enough about last week what about this week. Well since today is the first day of week 10 you would think that there is not much to talk about, however, there is a lot of things going on in the garden.

 There are 4 tiny zucchini that have just appeared over night and one big guy that I didn't notice before.He is coming in for lunch. The plant with the powdery mildew is full of blossoms and the "healthy" plant next to it is all leaves and no flowers. I usually have around 50 zucchini off of one plant so I cannot remember why I planted two. Well I do remember it went something like this. Me -okay one zucchini seed in the ground good enough. My mother -that doesn't seems like enough plant another one. Ha ha got to listen to your moms.
Zucchini Harvest-1.36lbs/557kg
Can you find all 5

 I was able to have my first pea harvest of the year. I didn't weigh them out since I just gobbled them up when I got into the house. There are quite a few that should be ready in the next day or so.

Little Marvel Peas

The carrots although spotty are beginning to baulk up. I usually only harvest them after the first frost  hopefully in October! So they have a lot of time to grow. The variety I am growing this year is tenderlong. I also have purple carrots 3 rows over.

My tomatoes are well I don't know how they are. I want to say okay but more yellow leaves have started to appear and there are on average 5 Roma tomatoes on each plant. Except for the one in the picture below. They all still have flowers on them so fingers crossed I get some more. I am tempted to take these ones in and let them ripen indoor. However, come September when I usually bring them in they are usually still green anyhow so not sure what to do.
Roma window box tomatoes and a weed

The cherry tomatoes are out of control in the foliage department. However, this morning I only counted 10 on one and 3 on the other. I never seem to have luck with cherry tomatoes.

2 hot 100 tomato plants

Everything else is going along at a steady pace and flowering away. Speaking of flowers my Zinnias are finally starting to bloom. I bought the seed at the dollar store for 25cents. Cannot complain about that.
Have a great day!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Happy Weeds

I would have to say that for the most part weeds are the bain of my existence. I hate that just when you finish weeding the garden a million more pop up the next day. I will admit that I am not the best at staying on top of my weeding either, but I do try my best.

One of the weeds that I jump for joy at seeing is Dill. I love dill and smell of it brings me back to my childhood. Playing in both of my grandmothers gardens and learning how to make pickles one summer at the age of 8. Throughout the years those memories fade, but every time I see and smell garden fresh dill my heart swells and my mind goes back to simpler times.

In three of the past 4 years the garden has been without any dill. This has not been by choice , but due to a father that tills between the rows when he comes out. If I had to choose between having a weedless garden or dill I would probably choose to be weedless, but It would be nice to have some fresh dill. This year I am the one that has been tilling the rows with Phyllis and yet again there was not a dill to be found in the garden. Until last week that is. In among my non existent garlic crop lays one dill weed. I am going to let the sucker grow and go to seed. Hopefully next year I will have a dozen more making an appearance and then I will complain that there is too much. Isn't that just the way it works out.

Dill also make me think of pickles so here is my little cucumber patch.I planted national pickling and hope to make fridge pickles and relish out of them. However, they are best fresh off the vine sitting in the grass with a salt shaker. Last night I counted 50 little babies growing and then gave up counting. It should be a great year unlike last year where I stopped counting at 500!
Cucumber Patch next to corn

Last night a huge hail stormed just missed us. it thundered like a bugger and had me running out of the garden with my hoe in hand. All we ended up getting was a nice sprinkle for about 10mins while the sun shone away. This is a little rainbow that appeared.
Rainbow-picture take from my porch

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The story of how Mrs.Pickles came to be

My last name is not Pickles which is good cause if it was it would have made for a pretty short story.

Three years ago I made fridge pickles for the first time and the hubby LOVED them. Therefore, the next year he was devastated when a hail storm took out the cucumbers. It was about mid season and it seemed like all the hail just hit that one spot. Since it was already mid July it was too late to plant new and the greenhouses had stopped selling plants. So we went a whole winter without pickles. To makes sure we had enough the following year I planted 6 rows of cucumbers. Yeah you read right six 30 foot rows of cucumbers. I don't know what I was thinking. We had enough cucumbers for a grocery store and then some. I was bringing them into the house 3 large black garbage bags at a time. I weighed a few bags and they were 80+lbs Obviously there were just to many for me to keep up. I tried to give away as many as I could, but by the end of their growing season a lot just went to waste. I ended up with 100 1L jars of pickles and there is just the 2 of us.
Every time me parents called last summer I was making pickles so my Dad started calling me "Mrs.Pickles". He even went so far as to make me a lovely wooden sign for Christmas showing Mrs.Pickles Garden. So when I decided to write a blog about my garden the name was a no brainer.

So there you go. This year I did not make the same mistake. Only 2 rows and only half of each row took this year so we should be good!

Flying apples and preserving things

I recently posted about my little apple trees and was very happy to report that they were producing 3 yummy looking apples. Well during the big wind storm we had last Wednesday where the gusts were 90-100km/hour the apples got wings and flew away. I miss them When the hubby and I went out in the afternoon that day we noticed that the one tree was almost touching the ground. He went and staked it. So the tree lives on, but the apples are gone. Well I am assuming it was the wind someone could have snuck into the yard and picked them. They could have just fallen off, but there were no apples on the ground so I figure mother nature just stopped by for a little snack...damn

On to happier things. I was able to get 6 jars of Saskatoon berries canned in syrup. 5 x 500ml and 1 x 250ml. I think I may have been a little to rough with the berries when I was heating them, but I think everything still turned out pretty good.

Thanks to Ginny over at gingerbreadshouse7 I was able to blanch,shock and freeze some of my cabbage leaves. Next time I think I will keep a few more! I am still not entirely sure what I will do with them, but at least I have the option to use them.

I also made beef jerky yesterday using our own hand fed, hormone free beef. In addition to my usual marinade I added in some crushed Saskatoon berries and the left over syrup from the canning mentioned above. I had never tried it this way before and it didn't quite work out the way I wanted it to. Every time I filled up my jerky gun and pressed it juice just shot out all over the Looks like I had a knife fight with a Saskatoon berry in here! However, after a bit of swearing I eventually got my trays filled.  I used 3lbs ground beef this time. It is super duper extra lean and is great for jerky. After drying I ended up with 1 lbs of jerky. I think I left it on a bit too long though cause it was near impossible to get it off the trays. So I ended up with a bag of pieces which is okay since it is just for the 2 of us. It tastes as good and I had hoped for!
Saskatoon Berry Beef Jerky
 We got a wee bit of rain last night. Enough to keep the garden and the gardener happy. Right now we are in the middle of a severe thunderstorm watch so there is likely more rain on the way. As long as the hail stays away everything will be good.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Spinach Pancakes

When my husband first bright home some extra spinach pancakes his mother made I turned up my nose and said Yuck. However, I was always taught to try everything at least once so I did and they were great!

 I asked for the recipe and she didn't know what she put in them so my husband told me how he thought she made them and I tried on my own. There are not as good, but pretty darn close!

 Spinach Pancakes
1c milk
1tsp salt
1st ground nutmeg
1/2c flour
1oz butter, melter
2 eggs
2tsp sugar
6oz chopped spinach, cooked and cooled (can use frozen)
butter and oil for cooking

Combine milk, nutmeg, flour. Stir in melted butter. In separate bowl combine eggs and sugar. Add to batter. Add spinach. If the batter is too runny you can add more flour by the tablespoon till it reaches your desired thickness.
Melt butter in saucepan add a little bit of oil to stop the butter from browning too quickly. Spoon mixture into skillet and spread to 3inch disk. Cook 3-5mins on each side.

Pancakes frying in the pan

finished product...YUMMY!

First Ever Harvest Monday

Yahoo I finally am going to participate in Harvest Monday over at Daphnes Dandelions!

 Today I harvested the last of the spinach. I think I may try and plant some more if I can find seed anywhere. However, I have heard that spinach doesn't grow well in the summer.
Last of this years spinach
More Saskatoon Berries. These are destined to be canned in Syrup. I am not a big fan of eating them that way, but my Aunt loves them so they will all be for her. I also tried something a little different. I mashed up some of the berries and added them to my beef jerky marinade. 

Kohlrabi- There are about 20more that are almost ready. I hope they keep maturing a few at a time. Since I don't know what I am going to do with all of them.

Bon Vivant Lettuce- I am surprised that all the heat we had didn't turn the lettuce bitter. I bought a new variety last week and think I will plant it today. If it doesn't turn out then at least the weeds wont take over

I was able to harvest  a garden first today. Cabbage. I am not sure if it was ready or not but it was big so i figured what the heck time to come out

And last but not least the first zucchini of the year and maybe last!

Harvest this week

Spinach 2.98lbs/ 1.03kgs
Saskatoon Berries 5lbs/2.26kg
Kohlrabi 1.6lbs/627g
Lettuce 2lbs/.907kg
Cabbage 4.6lbs/1.9kg
Zucchini 12.2oz/347g

Weekly Total 15.85/7.07kgs

Harvest totals to date

Radish 3.33lbs/1.85kgs
Spinach 9.68lbs/3.95kgs
Kohlrabi 2.6bs/1kg
Lettuce 6.1 lbs/2.76kg
Saskatoon Berries 10.07lbs/4.85kgs
Zucchini 12.2oz/347g
Cabbage 4.6lbs/1.9kg

Grand total  36.76lbs /16.675kgs

Preserved to date
8 jars of Saskatoon Berry Jam
6 Jars of 6 Saskatoon Berry Fruit in syrup
10 cups Frozen Saskatoon Berries
48oz Frozen Spinach

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Me and My Spinach

Right now everything in the garden is at a standstill. I keep telling everything to hurry up, but not one veggie is listening to I guess it is for the best since once everything is ready I am sure that i will be complaining that too much is ready.  Just like I was complaining it was too cold yesterday and now at 9:40am its already too hot inside...gesh.
With the spinach all but done I thought I would just show a few pictures of my 2011 adventure in freezing spinach. I am sure every other gardener has been doing this for years. However, this is my first year growing and therefore freezing spinach. This way I can look back and see how I did it since I am bound to forget by next summer.

Freezing Spinach
First off big surprise you need some fresh spinach and a lot of it. 3lbs shrinks down to about 12oz. Once you have collected the spinach wash it in cold water and remove the stems. Take about 10oz at a time of  the spinach whole or cut into pieces and place into boiling water. Blanch for 2 mins and then place into an ice bath to stop the cooking and cool it down.
Spinach Blanching
Next take the spinach out of the ice bath and place into a strainer. Try to squeeze out as much water as you can.
Once you have gotten most of the water out place spinach to dry on paper towel lined cookie sheets and press the layers to remove more moister.
1st time I left the leaves whole. The next few times I chopped them before blanching
Repeat these steps till all of your spinach is blanched and ready to freeze.
I then divided out the spinach into 6oz bags and used my food saver to vacuum seal them
And there you go spinach already to go into the freezer.
I harvested roughly 8lbs of spinach and after blanching I was able to freeze 48oz. Its Crazy how much that shrinks!
The pictures here show how I did this the first time. The next time I used my pasta pot with its stainer. This helped rectified the issue of trying to scoop out all the spinach out of the pot. I also chopped the spinach up before blanching. This makes it easier to add to sauces and what have ya. The last  time I blanched I tried steam blanching the spinach in my steamer. Once the water was boiling I let it steam for 4mins and then followed the same steps as above. I think I liked that the best since it did not heat up the house and the removable steam section made it handy to scoop out the spinach.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Jam and other things

Last night I made my first batch of preserves for 2011. Saskatoon Berry Jam. I was able to get 8 250ml, 1 125ml and 1 150ml. I should have just made another 250ml, but it did not look like I had enough so I got the too smaller ones and then once they were both full and I had some more left over I had to give myself a slap. Oh well its still all good. I like to make the tiny jars and give people a sampler of 3 or 4 different jams. The cool weather outside made making jam a breeze! I'm usually overheated and the house is overheated and that makes for grumpy times. Last night it took me just under an hour and I did not even break a sweat. However, with our 3rd day of overcast rainy weather I am looking for some heat again.
Saskatoon Berry Jam
In other news I am happy to report that my leeks are finally up. Not very many though maybe 6 about enough for a couple of batches of leek soup. I think I may have pulled out a few while weeding though. Next year I think I will start the seeds inside since our growing season is just not long enough.

The garlic is still a no show. After my mother and I had planted it I read online that you are suppose to plant in October or at least before the first frost. Live and learn I I still have faith that something could still come up in the next few weeks, but I wont hold my breath.

My cauliflower seems to be taking off, however nothing is forming as of this moment. It claimed to be an early maturing hybrid, but I think they might have been full of it. It is yet another first time in my garden veggie. So like the leeks and garlic I will know better for next year.

In funny news the kitten have almost figured out how to get out of cat flap. I watched Bast call them while standing at the flap and then I could see their little bodies on the other side of the flap trying to get out. It was very funny and cute. However, I was glad that the best they could do was get a paw out each.
Bast calling the kitten to come out side

Friday, 22 July 2011

Week 9

This week seems to have had it all humidity, extreme heat, wind, rain and nights that make it seem like November already. Today is wonderfully overcast again. Not exactly the kind of weather you want in the summer, but after that little heat wave it is a nice break.

The garden is still a few weeks away on almost everything. With the set backs of who knows what this week .I will just be happy if half of it survives. As of this morning everything still looks good.

Its amazing how much the plants can grow in a week. My cucumbers went from hardly anything there to flowering and producing already. The peas have already formed pods and now I am just waiting for them to fill up. I love fresh peas the most. They always remind me of raiding my grandmothers garden and eating peas until I was sick.

With the presence of potato beetles in the yard I have been keeping an eye on my taters. And I have to say they look so good that if I was a bug I would have a hard time keeping my sticky little feet off of them. Last year was not a good year for potatoes. Some took others did not and then it rained for 2weeks straight at the end of the season and then we got 2ft of snow. So I was out in a snow filled mud pile in November trying to get out what I could. Most of them were ruined from the frost so we ended up with only 2 months worth instead of a good years worth.
Onions and Potatoes
This year our local stores caught early blight and therefore I was unable to buy both purple ad fingerling potatoes. I have never tried either before but there is always next year.

The seed potatoes that I planted I got from my mother in law. Last year she had a bumper crop so they should be good. I have 2 rows of red skinned potatoes and 1row of Yukon gold. I would have to say I prefer the Yukon gold, but the hubby brought home more red.
Last night I was able to harvest a few things. A first time harvest of Kohlrabi
I think I could have left them on for at least another couple of days, but I got too excited and pulled them. The rest of the row is just a bit smaller so within the week I think they will all be ready.
Kohlrabi Harvested: 1lbs or 472g
I also went and picked Saskatoons again. The hubby took the ladder out, but it never made it across the yard to the Saskatoons. I was able to pick almost everything at my height and there has to be a few more buckets that are at the 6ft height. The branches are so full they are all bowing over, but still out of reach. I was able to collect enough to make a couple of batches of jam. I know I had said I was not going to make jam this year, but the hubby says we need that is the plan for this evening.
Saskatoon harvest- 42.8oz or 1.23kg

Thursday, 21 July 2011

The Good the Bad and the Ugly

The good news is that for now the heat spell has broke. Phew...the house felt like a sauna. It was so hot in here that my hubby's stash of chocolate was melting...well I went and touched a few pieces and they were soft..but I am going to go with MELTING!

Despite the odd colored leaves everything still looked good as of last night. I haven't been outside yet today so aliens could have taken everything to Mars for all I know. However, I am sure things will be okay.

 The bad news is that the winds yesterday were 90km and they blew over all the corn and sunflowers. Unfortunately I don't have anyone or any supplies to make something to stand them back up. They had to lay down over night, but with a little elbow grease I should be able to get them standing again. Everything else is a wee bit wind kissed as well. However, there is always one day every summer like that. Better to have it now when everything is just flowering than later when my beans will end up in Kansas.

Last night I went and pruned off all the discolored leaves off the tomato plants and sprayed them. I am an idiot and should have just tried one leaf first to make sure my homemade spray didn't kill the whole plant. So yeah hope for the best cause I sprayed the beans, cucumbers, zucchini, sunflowers and strawberries too...Oh gesh what was I thinking
After reading a lot of information online I think I have an outbreak of Sclerotina bacteria in the garden. I hope that everything will still produce and if the spray doesn't kill everything that it all works out in the end. At this rate I am thinking of moving the garden somewhere else in the yard. I am not sure if the bacteria survives our winters and I will be stuck with the same problem next year or if I can just rotate the crops and every thing will work out. I see a lot more reading in my future. Its times like this that I wish I knew a lot more about gardening. Robin over at The Gardener of Eden Suggested that I may simply have a deficiency. I looked into it and I think she may be onto something :) I am going to stop in at a greenhouse in the city and see what they can suggest. I hope that my spraying everything doesn't make it worse...and if it isn't a deficiency then at least everything got a little
Also a big THANK YOU to Robin for confirming the powdery mildew! The hubby hates zucchini so he is quite happy if they all die, however, I am thinking the spray will work now just to spite him now!

 And the Ugly
Colorado potato bug larva have been spotted. They were found near the peas and the tomatoes on some lovely weeds. Must get weeding!!! However, so far there are none across the garden on the potatoes. The little buggers are icky, but not the first year I have had them. The first year I put in a garden my hubby said the only way to get rid of them was to pull each one off. I still do that if there are a lot but I usually just dust with ash or soap the suckers up..So although ugly not a huge upset like on the other side of the garden.

As for other ugly and smelly things. Our momma cat Bast has been bringing her 2month old kittens Dusty and Squeakers mice to play with or munch on not sure which. Usually about this time she calls the kittens to come outside of the garage and follow her. Which always makes me mad cause they are 2months old they do not need to be running around the hamlet, but she never listens to me. This year we put a kink in her plan since we installed a kitty door. She still tries to call them put I doubt they are going to figure out how to climb up the door 2inches above their cute little head and climb trough the little flap. So after awhile she gives up and goes hunting on her own and brings them back a treat. Nice mommy, but she puts the mouse in the covered cat house and she seems to think they need a lot of mice. The kittens don't eat solid food yet so the mice fester till the hubby gets home to clean them out. This leads to stinky kittens by the way. Not so fun to pet stinky Also not very fun to reach down to grasp a kitten and you touch a dead mouse..ICKY

On a side note lasts years kitten we named Wiener (too many wobbly pops around the camp fire while roasting hot dogs during a family reunion)Wiener was suppose to be a boy and when he was about 5 months I noticed hmm a couple of things were missing. So we named him Sophie. Last week I walked into the garage to find my 2 female cats getting a little frisky. Since they were both female I thought whatever gay cats good for you. But then I noticed that Sophie had something a little extra. I figured who they heck is that cat. So I chased it away but it kept coming back and it looked exactly like Sophie. So I guess Sophie is a male think me or the hubby would have noticed something in the past 12months.....Crazy cats!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

This week is only at the halfway point and it has been so turbulent that I cannot wait for it to be over. This has included us driving to the city every day this week and again tomorrow. For people that usually only go to the city once a week. It has been hard. It also meant that we have been eating out everyday. Something that is exciting the first day and then turns into longing for a home cooked meal. However, I did get that burger that I have been craving for a month now. So I am good for another few months.

I thought I would post about the Spinach and Strawberry Salad I said I was going to talk about a few weeks ago. Its the same salad dressing that I used with the Salad on the tuesdays-feast post. The picture makes it look a little dark, but it tasted really good. Now if my darn strawberries would just bloom then we could have this more often. I did pick up some B.C fresh Mandarin oranges yesterday from the farmers market. However, when I ate one at home the sticker said product of Peru. Last time I checked B.C was still part of Canada....oh well they are yummy. I think i will try them in the salad on the week-end. Enjoy

Spinach and Strawberry Salad with creamy balsamic vinaigrette and toasted Pecans
4 cups of fresh spinach washed and broken into bite size pieces
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp mayo
1 tsp coarse German mustard
1tbsp maple syrup
3/4c extra virgin oil oil
5 strawberries stems removed and sliced
1/4c pecans, toasted
salt and pepper to taste

Using a hand blender mix the vinegar, mayo, mustard, syrup until well blended. Slowly pour the oil in while mixing until oil is fully incorporated.

To toast the pecans. Place a sauce pan on medium heat and spritz with a little oil until coated. Add the pecan to the pan and toast on medium heat for 5mins or until pecans just start to turn a darker brown. Take saucepan off heat and allow nuts to cool for 10mins. Once nuts have cooled break into smaller pieces

Place spinach into individual serving bowls and top with sliced strawberries and toasted pecans.Spoon desired amount of dressing onto of each bowl of salad.

Thinking this might be a bad year

Last night while taking a quick look at the garden I noticed A LOT of things that I did not like one bit.

Firstly the weeds seem to love this hot weather we are getting. Yesterday it was 35C and a humidex of 90% It was hot and sticky and not at all like Saskatchewan! It seemed like I had all the little buggers under control and then WHAMMMO they are everywhere and Oh well at least they are easier to pick when they get so big. I hope this weather settles down for the rest of the week and then I can actually go out and get somethings taken care of.

Secondly I think I might have powdery Mildew on one of my Zucchini plants. The one right beside it looks fine though. I am pretty sure I have had this every year though and the suckers produced like not sure about that. I included a picture below so I will try to compare with something somewhere. I am pretty sure that is what it is though. I found a few natural treatments so I am going to give one a try and see what happens. It calls for fresh milk and the hubby is a dairy farmer so I don't think it will get much fresher than that.
9 parts water to 1 part milk and spray in the evenings 3 times a week. It that doesn't work then I will try the baking soda option..but hopefully the milk does the trick.
Powdery Mildew?

Thirdly I think my beans and cucumbers have bacterial leaf rot. Again I do not know for sure. I looked it up in my books and that is what it looks like. However, once again I think I had that last year and I had amazing crops. This year everything is blooming and besides the odd leaf looks great. So I will just clip off what I can and hope for the best.
Bacterial rot on cucumbers

Bacterial rot on beans?
I also just noticed that one of my sunflowers has gone rotten over night. It was strong and green 12 hours ago and now..
Rotten sunflower?

I am very disappointed and I hope that I am just being paranoid about all this. With the tomatoes yesterday and and now all of this I hope the whole garden is not a complete failure.

I also need to get the hubby to bring the ladder out for me so I can pick more Saskatoon's. I think the birdies are having a great feast over there. However, that is neither the Saskatoon's fault or the birds..its the darn weather and well a supper busy hubby :P

On the upside we did get a wee bit of rain last night and today is wonderfully overcast and drizzly for the moment. Not good for the hay that is suppose to be drying on the field or for our wet However, great for the garden

Ending on a cute note. Here a picture of of Zada our furbaby. She is a silly dog that always puts a smile on my face.
Zada laying on here favourite thing to eat...grass

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

A is for Apple

After talking about buying fruit trees for the past 4 years we finally took the plunge this year and bought 2 Norkent Apple Trees from Costco. Neither of us had ever heard of them, but it said that they are suppose to have a nice apple/pear taste and be quite like golden delicious. However, we obviously do not know how to read cause both of us missed the section at the bottom that said for optimum pollination plant with a different species...oooopps! We do have Saskatoon bushes and a crab apple tree near by so I figured that would be good enough for this year and next year we can do it right.

With my Dads help the trees were planted on the west side of the garden in hopes that they would eventually give us some privacy from our neighbour that subdivided their lot.

One of the apple trees..don't mind the tall grass I haven't cut yet this week

When we planted the trees they were full of blooms and I was hoping that we would get at least one apple this first year and to my surprise we ended up with three. They look a little strange, but I took a look online and it seems they are suppose to look like squashed apples..

I have noticed that both trees appear to have Cedar Apple Rust. This is a wee bit strange to me since we have neither cedars nor junipers in the yard. I took a quick sneaky look at the neighbours yards and they don't appear to have any either. However, the apple trees were beside the cedars and across from the junipers at Costco. So I am blaming Costco for the fungus...why

I hope that the fungus doesn't kill off the trees. I will have to keep a closer eye on them next year and read about the problem before it happens. If that is possible!

To night I was giving some of my garden a nightly drink and I noticed that some of the leaves on my tomatoes were turning yellow. I am not sure if this is just because I have not watered in a few days and we are stuck in a heat wave......or dare I say it BLIGHT!! I took off as many leaves as I could and then rushed in the house to see if I could find an answer. And the final answer is I am not sure. I took a picture so I could  compare it with what I could see online or in my books and nothing so far matches it. I am hoping for the best and thinking of only the worse. I have 14 tomato plants and nothing canned from last year due to late blight....FINGERS CROSSED!!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

How Big is it?

I have been reading a lot of blogs lately and the ones that focus on gardening usually say how big their garden is. I have always thought I had a big garden, but I had never actually measured it. After seeing all the produce people have been harvesting I began to think that maybe my garden was on the small side. So yesterday I went out and walked foot in front of foot along the length and width of my garden and set out to find its square footage. I know that is not the most exact way to figure it out, but I was home alone and had no one to hold the other end of the tape I am sure my neighbors thought I was quite strange walking ever so slowly and to be honest almost falling over a few times! So when I was finished I wrote out the numbers 120ft length by 32ft width. At first I added everything together..yeah not the best at math and ended up a small number and figured that could not be right. Finally the ole brain kicked in and remember its length x So the total square footage of my garden is 3840 sq ft give or take a bit for my faulty measuring system. I am not sure why in the past 4 years I have never thought about measuring it, but now I understand why I get so tired when I go out there and

Even at the size my garden is I still feel that I do not have enough space. This year I do have 4 rows of various flowers taking up space. I had wanted to plant honeydew melons, but I bought seeds to late in the season and I wasn't sure if they would have enough time to produce. However, after seeing a few blogs with lovely melons I wish I would have chanced

I have wanted to make a Herb garden for quite awhile now. During my first ever garden four years ago I set aside a section of the garden and planted seed for 10 different herbs. Nothing came up and since my dad tilled that area every time he came out nothing was going to come up that The next year decided to just go out and buy some seedlings and plant them in one huge container. The problem with that was the stupid cats we had at the time decided to use my herb garden as their toilet and thus ended the herb garden. The next 2 years I just went out and bought a my herbs as well established plants and planted them in individual containers by the house. That seemed to work, but everything bolted so quickly that I hardly had time to use the herbs fresh and therefore drying them was not even an option. This year I set out to try again from seed, but I couldn't seem to figure out where to plant them so they are still inside a bag in the closet. I know so very

I think I am going to find a nice spot somewhere in the yard and do a raised herb garden for next year. Now I just have to go outside and scout out the best spot!

Today I decided to go out in the hottest part of the day and weed. I was not very productive and only got one row done. I started on the leek and garlic row, but since I am still not sure if anything is coming up or not I just left it.Well I would have continued but started seeing spots so I figured it was time to go in. The mosquitoes yet again were just horrible.

Before I came in I harvested the spinach again. I had chopped off the flowers and I think that helped stop the bolting a wee bit. I was still able to cut half of the plant off again and there is still enough for a few more feedings I hope. I decided I was just going to freeze what I brought in since the fridge is still full of lettuce.

This time I chose to chop the spinach before blanching it. I thought that it would be a lot more work, but I was done everything in 1 hour. I used my pasta strainer in my pot this time so I wouldn't have to pick out every last piece and it worked surprisingly well. After I got out as much moisture as I could I was able to get 2 6oz bags and one 6.5oz bag. I then used my food saver and vacuumed sealed the bags. I love that food saver!! I thought it would be really hard to use, but it is pretty well idiot proof...just my cup of tea!


Spinach Harvested 3lbs or 1.3 kilos if my math

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Week 8

Wow it is hard to believe that summer is almost over. I am always surprised when I look at the garden and everything is blooming. I think "its to early for everything to be this big" and then I realize that we are past the midway point in July. Summers in Saskatchewan are just too short, however, with all the work that gardening takes I am not sure if I would want it to be
week 8 looks better in

Today I decided to stay out of the garden for the most part. I had a lot of inside chores that were piling up, but every time I went outside I found myself picking weeds or checking things So in the end nothing really got done inside or out...except for cutting the

My lettuce and spinach continue to amaze me with how much they are producing. I hope to harvest some more spinach to freeze tomorrow.
 I noticed that my beets are about radish size now so borscht wont be that far off....YUMMY. I think that if I got digging around I might be able to find some baby potatoes..much nicer than the store bought ones looking at me right The onions are about half way to where I want them to be and the leeks and garlic are still no shows.
The broccoli and cauliflower are going like crazy now. I think if I can just keep the moths off of them they just might produce!
The hot 100 tomatoes are insane. I don't see many tomatoes but the plants are so HUGE they are breaking the cages. Otherwise everything else is doing great !

from r-l wild flowers, strawberries, cukes and corn along with weeds and some veggies you cannot

I harvested my first ever raspberry. It was yummy and I think the only one we will get this

Some of the nice flowers blooming in front of the house. I can never remember what these are called. Last year they didn't come up...but I think that is because I thought they were weeds and pulled them up..haha. One of the up and down sides of buying an older home you never know what is planted in your flower bed!