Saturday, December 25, 2010

Happy Holidays

....from Charlie too!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Lunar Eclipse

Early this morning there was a lunar eclipse. From what I have read, The last lunar eclipse that fell on the winter solstice was back in 1638, a rare occurrence for sure. I took some photos of the eclipse, both outside and from a second story window. Below are three of the best photos, a little grainy but not bad for a cheap 300mm lens:

Lunar Eclipse 1

Lunar Eclipse 2

Lunar Eclipse 3

Monday, December 13, 2010

Harvest Monday

Over the weekend we had some rain and warmer weather so I was able to dig the rest of the root crops. Good thing I got it done because shortly after it turned really cold again and started to snow. Only four more months of this weather.....

Here are all the fall carrots I planted. There are red, yellow & orange carrots. The red ones are Purple Dragon, they did the best this fall.

I planted these parsnips early in the spring and they grew to be monsters. There is still a 5' row of them in the garden. I am leaving them in, they will either be harvest during a winter thaw or early in the spring.

I also dug the remainder of the celeriac roots. I am looking forward to trying them for the first time. Maybe a celeriac soup will be the first thing on the list.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Harvest Monday

Sunday afternoon I managed to dig up a small harvest from the partially frozen ground. In the basket is the last of the fall broccoli, a celeriac bulb, Bright Lights chard & Tuscano kale.

I am hoping for a little bit of a warm up soon so I can dig the rest of the root crops. There is still lots of parsnips, carrots & celeriac in the ground. Looks like Friday maybe a good day to bring in the last of the unprotected crops. The cold seems to be setting in fast this year.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dry Bean Summary

The cold has arrived, the ground is starting to freeze up so I thought I would focus a post indoors today. This season I grew a nice variety of dry beans for the first time. They really reward the grower with lots of variation. Here is a shot of all the dry beans harvested this season:

I am pleased with the results from the beans. There was a 4'x4' area for the bush varieties and three 6' wigwams for the pole varieties. Given the small area they produced quite well. I have yet to cook any but given the weather some hearty meals will be cooked with them soon. A close up of each variety and description fallows:

Borlotti beans:
pole habit, very productive
seed shared by: Gary

True Red Cranberry beans:
pole habit, very productive
seed shared by: Kath

Soldier beans:
bush habit, low producer
seed shared by: Kath

Trail of Tears beans:
pole habit, very productive, produced two crops
seed shared by: Daphne

Vermont Cranberry beans:
bush habit, productive

Tiger's Eye beans:
bush habit, low producer

Purple Podded Pole beans:
pole habit, very productive
These were grown as a snap bean but the dry beans look
pretty good too. I'll report on their taste when I try them.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Garlic's In

Today I planted all the garlic, a total of 35 cloves. First thing was to get the soil in shape. The bed was turned and weeded. Then I amended with a couple inches of leaf mold compost and dug that in. With the bed ready I dug a trench and then sprinkled in some blood & bone meal. The bulbs were spaced about 4" apart with each row 6" apart. This spacing is a little close but it worked out well last season.

Here is the garlic I planted. It is from the farmers market and they call it Elephant garlic. Not to be confused with the other huge Elephant garlic that is actually in the lily family. None the less these are big cloves! It produces around 6 cloves per head that are 2-3 times the size of your average garlic. It is a hard neck variety with a purple flecked skin and had a nice flavor.

I really wanted to order some interesting garlic varieties this season but did not order soon enough. Seems garlic is a hot commodity. Maybe next season I'll get to try some purple, red & spicy garlic.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Harvest Monday

A wee Harvest Monday today. Harvesting has really slowed down now. There are a few hardy vegetables left but I am only harvesting them as needed. In terms of true fall crops things a pretty dismal this year because I never planted many. My plan is to try and transplant some things soon into the poly tunnel in hopes of extending the harvests.

I dug up some Parsnips and was pretty surprised at the size of most of them. This bunch weight in at 2lbs 1oz. The cores were pretty fibrous so I just cut out that part. There are still lots of parsnips in the garden, probably more then I need. Unless I need some I am just leaving them in until the ground starts freezing. They can also be left in and dug in the spring before they bolt.

I also cut some more Red Celery. This bunch is not overly red at the base due to shading. Next season I need to give them more spacing so they get redder. The celery and parsnips went into a batch of chicken pot pie.

These snap dragons are still going strong even with the heavy frost we have been having. They were sown this spring from seed shared by Granny.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Leaf Season

The time has came to start composting leaves again. There are 10 large maple trees along the property line that drop lots of leaves. Last year was the first time that I started to compost them on site, previously I put them out for the city to compost. That turned out to be a pretty big mistake because leaves make some excellent compost for the garden. Here is how I went about composting leaves from last season:

To collect the leaves I used a mower with a bag attach, this really makes the process easy and mulches them up nicely. They then went into an open top bin were I compacted them down and watered well. The photo above shows them in early summer. They shrink down considerable over the winter and starting in the spring I start working them into compost. As the photo shows I dump out the bin and then rebuild with a mix of leaves and grass clippings, about 10 parts leaves and 1 part grass clippings. I did this 3 times this season and it did a good job of speeding the process along.

Now that it is time to start the process over I screened out the black gold making way for the new leaves. Last year I only collect leaves from the lawn and ended up with two big wheelbarrows worth of compost, about 12 cubic feet. The end produce was so nice this year I am collecting as many leaves as I can.

Here is a close up of the compost. It's about as good as it gets, airy, retains moisture well and is full of goodness. This was screened with my Compost Screen, a bit tedious to do but I think it is worth it. It removes sticks, stones and some maple roots that started invading the bin. This season I am putting landscape fabric down in hopes of keeping the trees from growing into the bin.

At this point about half the leaves have been collected and the rest are still on the trees. In a couple weeks they should be all down and in the bin. If I run out of bin space I am going to start storing them in leaf bags over the winter. By spring it should shrink down enough that they will all fit in the bin.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Wine Brewing

I started making my first batch of wine tonight. Since starting to brew last fall I have made three batches of beer and a batch of hard cider. The only thing left is wine so I thought I would give it a go.

Here is the grape must all mixed with pitched yeast on top

Here is the wine in the fermentor with an airlock on top

The kit makes a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc which is my favorite white wine. I am hoping it is really close to the Stoneleigh Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc that I prefer. If everything goes well there will be 30 bottles on Dec 8th which I will split with my Sister.

If you would like to see the brewing proccess check out my other blog: Daniel's Home Brew

Monday, October 25, 2010

Harvest Monday

It has been quite a while since I participated in Harvest Monday. On this rather grey but warm fall day I decided to harvest some crops. I headed out with a basket, clippers, camera and a pint of Muskoka Harvest Ale. The ale was a fine dry hopped pale ale by the way :-)

I ended up with quite a nice mix of veggies today. The fall has been great so far, no frost, lots of rain but a little lacking in sunlight. Frost must be coming soon so I brought in everything that will be affected by a freeze.

  • Three Waltham Butternut squash
  • A couple bell peppers grown from Granny's seed. The bell peppers had to much shade this year so they didn't produce well. I'll have to relocated them next season.
  • A good bunch of Big Chili II peppers, they seemed to do alright in the shady spot. I will roast them, remove the skin and freeze for later use.
  • My lone head of cabbage was brought in, it was grown some seed shared by Soggy Creek Seeds . The chipmunk ate the rest of the crop early in the spring.
  • One head of fall broccoli, more to come for them.
  • I also picked the only Petit Gris melon of the season. They were shaded by the tomatoes early on and didn't seem to like it.
Today I also harvested a bunch of Red Fennel seed. They were not so good at producing fennel bulbs but did produce very fragrant seed. I'll dry them and make porketta and maybe some Italian sausage later on.

Here is what I have harvested in the last couple weeks, Just some red celery. This celery is hallow inside and is only good once cooked. It has a reddish base and adds an excellent celery flavor to soups, stews & red sauces. The celery was used in a Leek & Potato Soup and Lasagna.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fall Photo's

Today I have some photos to share of the new season. The air has cooled and all the leaves have changed in our area now. I really enjoy the fall, it's similar to spring but without all the work. The fall has been pretty good so far, fairly cool but no frost yet. Below are a few photos I have taken on the nicer days:

Field o' pumpkins. Spooky Hallow Rd, Norfolk County Ontario

Turkey Point, Ontario

Martyn Line & Jamestown Line, Elgin County Ontario
This was kind of a crazy road. You had to cross a river and
the bridge was really old and had wood paving. Wish I took
a photo of it now.

Levey Lake

Cow's on West River Rd in Glen Morris, Ontario
They appear to be grass feed, not a spec of corn in sight!

Trumpeter Swans. We have seen them nest two seasons
now on this pond. They had two babies this year.

This is another shot from the pond with the swans.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Harvest Monday

For today's Harvest Monday I have the last two tomatoes of the season. One Kellogg's Breakfast (seed from Granny) and one Japanese Black Trifele. The tomato season was good compared to last year but it was definitely not a home run either. They were late to produce and then got blight late in the season. I tried starting the tomatoes much later this season which resulted in a much later harvest. Next season I am going back to starting them 8 weeks before transplant.

Also in the basket is a bunch of Double Yield Cucumbers. They are still hanging in so they may make a few more appearances.

I also picked this butternut squash that was getting this weird pattern on the skin. Ever seen this before? It almost looked like it was excreting sap that was forming this pattern. I peeled the skin in this area and the flesh looks completely normal and was still very firm. Not sure if I have the nerve to eat it though!

On Sunday I cleared out all the tomatoes plants. Because of the blight they all went out with the garbage. Not running the risk of contaminating my compost! I also knocked off all the lower leaves on my brussels sprout plants . My thought is the plant will now send more energy to the sprouts. Hope it works!

The harvests will now be sifting to cooler season crops. The weather has really turned now, seems like the norm now is 15c (60f) in the day and 5c(40f) at night. The only warm season crops left now are peppers and they will be coming in shortly. I was hoping they would turn colour before harvest but I don't think that will happen now. Seasons are a changin....

Monday, September 27, 2010

Harvest Monday

For this weeks harvest monday I have a bunch of roots crops and some other warm season crops. We are starting to have much cooler weather now compared to last week, definitely more fall like.

I dug the last of the potatoes, there was about this many already harvested this season. Not a lot but potatoes never seem to produce much in my garden. To much summer heat I think. In the mix are Alaska Sweetheart (red skin, pink flesh), Purple Viking (purple skin, white flesh) and Pacific Russet.

I also dug all the spring planted carrots. The parsnips were completely covering them so they had to be pulled. Next season I need to grow the carrots elsewhere, parsnips just grow way to big. In the mix here are Amarillo (yellow), Purple Dragon (reddish) and Scarlet Nantes (orange).

Here we have a bunch of tomatoes, they are just about finished up now. There also are a few Double Yield cucumbers. I think I am going to try an all female cucumber next year. This variety is just not producing much, probably a pollination issue. Also in the mix are a few Purple Sprouting broccoli florets.

I'll ends things off with the last of the dry pole beans. It is a mix of Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco & True Red Cranberry beans. There also are a few Purple Podded pole beans that I am letting dry. Once shelled they filled two dinner plates.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Fall Garden

With a new season upon use it seems like a good time to update on plant happenings. There is not much to update on fall planting because I have hardly done any. However there is still lots out in the garden so here goes a few photos:

There are four nice sized butternut squash ripening. They are about ready now but I will most likely leave them on the vine until we start getting frost warnings. The squash really took their time this year, I think because the peppers shaded them early on.

The mass of green is a double row of parsnips. They are engulfing the fall broccoli in front and smothering the poor carrots behind them. I think I will pull the carrots for this coming harvest monday and tie them back from the broccoli.

There is a nice cabbage forming. There should be two more but the chipmunks ate the other seedlings early on. Must remember to start extra plants next season!

The brussels sprouts are starting to sprout now. Perhaps this will be the first year they actually produce something. They are quite floppy so I will have to stake them up soon.

The purple sprouting broccoli have grown into monsters. So far they have produced a few small broccoli sprouts here and there. Hopefully they produce more as the fall progresses.

The celeriac has been bulking up during the last month. They are in between a hard ball and soft ball size now. I have no idea when they are ready, something I need to look into.

A few 'Petite Gris' melons have been sizing up. They are extremely late this year. I am half hopeful they will ripen before the fall frosts in late October.

Some blight has shown up on my tomatoes a couple weeks ago. It is not affecting the fruit so I am not to concerned. It is late in the season and most of the tomatoes are already done.

Asides from a few stragglers all the dry pole beans have been harvested. I am quite pleased with the dry pole beans. They produced a very nice yield from only three wigwams. I will post a dry bean overview soon.

Now to wrap things up with Charlie, the cat that showed up in the garden this spring. She is now a very content indoor cat. She has been spayed, vaccinated and is up to a healthy weight. As the picture shows she likes to find every new spot she can. Last night that spot was the basements false ceiling. If she only knew the tiles wouldn't hold her weight..... That aside she is a very nice cat and likes lots of attention, almost dog like really.