Thursday, June 16, 2011

Updating the Stop Sign

I hate mowing around our stop sign, it is always a messy tuft of long grass. Youngest ds took care of it for me, both beautifying it and making it easy to mow around.

First he cut out the sod around the sign in a circle and mixed in some potting soil and compost.

Then we walked to the greenhouse and picked up some full sun flowers that he proceeded to plant. Well done son! We'll have to check back and see what it looks like later in the season when all of the flowers are blooming.

Now if I could convince dd to yarn bomb that rusty old post....

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More Mushrooms!

Once in a while, maybe once a year, I find mushrooms in the discount bin at the grocery store. LOVE.

This year's haul:

Firstly ds and I filled the dehydrator with them, all six large trays of our Berron's.

Then all of the rest were pickled as per this recipe. Delicious, I could live on these!

This was the final result; nearly 2 full 2 quart jars of dried mushrooms and 11 one quart jars of pickled mushrooms. [of course this jar is already opened and sampled from]

I've already used the dried mushrooms in a recipe, minute steaks in an onion mushroom gravy. Quite yummy. I think in any recipe that calls for mushrooms that are going to be simmered in a liquid I can substitute these. Soups, chili, stews, this gravy....

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The 2011 Season Starts - Garden

The biggest change around here has been in the garden. Once upon a time we had a tiny front garden and planted a row of raspberry canes on the west side. Then they expanded down the north side some. And we expanded the garden itself to the north, and then to the west. Which left us with, basically, raspberries in the middle of the garden shading way too much and interfering with other plantings, rototilling, etc. Then there were the original landscape ties encircling the garden which were also in the middle of things, being in the way.

In this picture you can see the problem. [strawberry bed to the left, garlic to the right, fall rye (green manure) in the foreground, undisciplined raspberries behind with more garden area behind them and to the right]

The in-laws came over for Easter and as usual we had to have a project, this year's was to move the raspberries to the far north edge of the garden. That didn't completely get done but my much desired fence posts to build a trellis to rein them with did get installed.

Much begging lead to the addition of a frame built around the raspberry area too. Then the daughter with the gardening gene and I moved those pesky raspberries north. Ya us!

Then dh was called in to rotovate with orders to remove the landscape ties along the west and north edges of the old garden while I headed off to work. He be not so good with orders :-) I came home to find the original garden un-rotovated as the ties were still in place. Luckily I had a biddable 16 yo son who was desirous of mom's good graces. He removed said ties and dh finished the job.

[What!?! Doesn't your dh have a tractor with offset rotovator??? I thought all urban dads had one. huh. Must just be the market garden on the side, farming addicted ones ;-)]

Then the planting got done, what a long job that is .... I should pop out and take some photos .... Out into the rain I go.... Returned a little damp with these photos:

This first garden photo is taken from the same position as the first one above showing the original problem, much better.:

Looking north, in the ditches are potatoes, the hills will be shoveled over the potatoes as they grow. The stacked up drawers are my sprinkler stand, though it's been too wet to bother with the sprinkler yet this year. You can also see some milk jugs covering some of the baby tomatoes and a couple of the cucumbers. There is also a large cloche covering 4 more cucumbers while 4 more are out in the rain for comparison of growth:

Third photo; baby lettuces, peas on trellises, and little tiny zucchini plants, the dirt rectangles are bush beans, as yet not up:

Fourth photo; the new raspberry patch with trellis built, and another type of pea trellis:

Looking south; the cabbage condos, more pea trellises, and a block of carrots:

Lastly, the dd's weedy sunflower patch, more pea trellising, the cabbage condos, and a great shot of the utility sink I'm currently using as a potting bench soon to be a veggie washing station:

Later on I'll explain the excess of peas and the nitty gritty of the cucumber cloche and the cabbage condos.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Spring Seeding for Transplants

As usual we ordered a tonne of seed, the above photo is only one of our seed orders. [This one from Heritage Harvest Seed in Manitoba] Many of these needed to be grown out for seedlings. With a last frost date of mid May we can get a jump on the season as well as getting long season plants such as tomatoes ready by planting them early. [You must be asking 'whattheheck??' Why would a seed grower need so much seed??? Dh grows items I don't yet save from and I am always on the lookout for more varieties worthy of saving. Thus buying more seed to trial. You can learn more about the seed saving at the Itty Bitty Seeds Blog.]

I learned last year that using our own compost for planting seedlings gives them a boost over anything I have found commercially. I learned this year that straight compost sieved fine sets up like concrete once it dries out. I'm thinking next year of planting out in compost mixed with a commercial planting mix we can use and still qualify to be certified under our local 'organic' label.

Our long term goal is to be certified Kootenay Mountain Grown. It will take time as there are many small details that have to be scrutinized and okayed or more likely changed to be in-line with the set standards. This isn't for our home garden, that would be nuts, but for dh's market garden and for my garden seeds that I 'sell'. Everything has to be reviewed, our potting soil, seeds, mulch, pest and disease management practices, overall farm practices as well as long term goals concerning improving the farm we lease. Big head ache, but well worth it to have his veg and my seeds able to have that reassurance for our customers that we are farming in a responsible organic manner.

This year's seedlings were planted mainly in well screened compost and grown out under lights in our 'dining room'. This wasn't ideal and I'm looking into alternatives for next year. They did okay, but weren't quite as nice as those grown in a heated greenhouse. We don't have the space for such as thing here at the house and couldn't do such on our leased farm so alternatives are being looked at. I may beg space from a friend if I don't get a space at the local community greehouse. [Which is a beyond cool programme BTW!]

And now ... just some plant love pictures...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Old Bathroom Drawer Lettuce Planter

When we renovated the bathroom we kept the drawers from the vanity, there had to be SOMETHING that they could be used for! Three of them are in our garden stacked up holding the sprinkler up high. Here is another use. Looking through the shed, basement and greenhouse for a planter for the lettuce seeds I started last month lead me to these. Hmmmmmm this could work. Take one old drawer, clean it out: Line it with a plastic garbage bag, I had to split this one to make it large enough:
Get some gravel from somewhere for a drainage layer, I found these on the lawn: Then add your soil, this is (gasp)from a bag. Planter soil with some compost added. Spread it out...
Staple gun the edges all around: Trim the plastic and then staple again where it is gapping: I took the lettuce seedling I had planted out a month ago, some of dh's onions, and some leftover radish seeds: Separated out the lettuces and spaced them out in the drawer: Planted a row of the onion seedlings down the middle: And finally sprinkled some radish seeds all over, they can be thinned as needed: There it is all done: The radishes will be ready to eat in 3-4 weeks, more can be seeded as needed so there can be a steady supply. The onions can have their tops trimmed for green onions, they will continue to grow more and won't need reseeding. The lettuces can have the outer edge leaves snapped off for salads while the little inside leaves keep growing. All that is really needed is for a container sized tomato plant growing alongside.

I'll stick this where it will get enough sun yet not get overheated and where it will be protected from the frost. Handy this as our conditions in the yard vary as it heats up during the season. Where it will grow nicely now in the cool spring it would bake during the summer. When it does get hot I think the deck stairs on the north side of the house will be best. For right now, either on the south side of the house or even in the greenhouse will work. It is still mighty chilly overnight!

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Edited to add that the lettuce drawer could use more drainage, or a big sign that says, "Don't water me so much kids!" It doesn't look as healthy as it could.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

City Chickens

Our local town council does not currently allow for chickens or for bees. We would like to see that change. So if you are from Creston BC and would like to join us in this endeavor let us know!

You can leave a comment, and/or join the Facebook group, 'Creston Urban Chickens & Bees' and let's get Creston flowing with eggs and honey ;-)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

New Project

Yes, it is time for a new project! According to Joanne Gailius we can grow sweet potatoes here so I'm going to give it a try.

Step one was putting the sweet potatoes into water so they can begin to grow slips. It is very important that you purchase organic so they haven't been sprayed to prevent sprouting. Time will tell if this will succeed. As I am food intolerant of regular potatoes I am really hoping this works, grow what you eat and eat what you grow after all.