Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Maritime Canning Contest!!


Clockwise from top left - Caribe, Belleisle, Pink Fir Apple
and Banana (also called Russian Banana)
I may have gone a bit crazy with the potatoes this year.. but, in my own defence, I knew it would be a busy season where I ignored the garden more than I wanted to.. hence, my reliance on low maintenance crops like potatoes.

I usually plant two varieties, but this year I went with four different varieties and dedicated three beds measuring 4 foot by 10 foot each to these tasty tubers. I also bought my seed potatoes from NS sources - and Here are my four varieties:

  • Caribe - This has been a favourite for the past few years. We love the amethyst hued skin and bright white interiors. The plants tuber up early, offering plenty of baby potatoes for hodge podgy and roasting, but the mature tubers in autumn are also top notch and can be stored for several months. 
  • Banana - This is the variety I bought from Halifax Seed and was super excited to finally see some fingerlings available locally. I easily snuck 10 small to medium sized yesterday and the elongated tubers held up super well to a quick steaming. They were my 2nd favourite in terms of texture and flavour.. 
  • Belleisle - I got this late maturing spud from Hope Seed and it's said to be 'rippin' dry', but I gotta say that the 2 baby potatoes I dug up yesterday were super creamy once steamed. Maybe they need to be mature before they're dry? I love making homemade baked french fries, so thought these would make a nice tasty treat.. I'll keep you posted as the plants continue to mature. 
  • Pink Fir Apple - I have been waiting YEARS to get my hands on this variety. Hope Seed says it's their favourite variety and I can see why. The flavour and texture yesterday was incredible. The pinkish skin is pretty, the flesh is soft yellow and the tubers had quirky little bumps here and there. My new favourite potato.. I'd like to try and save some for replanting next spring.. I really don't want to risk not finding this variety again next spring. 

Before cleaning!

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Trombetta are coming!!

Just went up to the garden to pick some lunch. Cucumbers, salad greens, a handful of basil and a few carrots.. but, as I was rifling through the rampant gourd and cucumber vines looking for a cucumber, I noticed a HUGE bell-shaped squash blossom.. Upon closer inspection, I saw the fruit attached to the flower and it's a Trombetta summer squash! I planted them last year, but it was such a poor year that the seeds kept rotting and I never managed to harvest any of these gorgeous trumpet-shaped fruits that are said to taste like artichokes.. yum!!

Although you can't see it in the photo, there is another one coming too with a bloom set to open in the next day or so. Gorgeous!!

Another curiosity - I also was checking the tomatoes (secretly hoping for ripe fruits) and realized that one of my vines was heavily laden with rather odd fruits.. I've never seen them before, but recognized them from this seed catalogue. Hmm.. how did they get there?? I don't have a packet of this seed. I also don't remember anyone giving me this variety. It's an heirloom often called the 'Traveling Tomato' because it can be harvested one segment at a time.. plus, the thick skin helps protect the fruits. I know our local seed company, Annapolis Seeds also offers it in their extensive tomato selection, but again, I didn't buy this variety this year.. So, the mystery continues!!

I also poked around the gourd patch a bit more to see what baby gourds are coming.. there are cannonball gourds, birdhouse gourds, long dipper gourds, speckled swan, and about 6 or 7 others.. it's so fun to see the tiny gourds with their flowers still attached mature to such fantastic and unique fruits!!

Don't forget to see your carrot cold frames or carrot beds to be mulched for late fall/winter harvesting!! Tis the season in zones 5/6..

Reistetomate - where did you come from?
Crazy, lobed fruits!!
Snake gourd - I have dozens coming. This
guy was is almost a foot. When mature, they can be
over 50 inches - great for fall decor! When young
they make a yummy squash.
Birdhouse gourds baby coming along.. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

A little tour

Ah, the guilt of being a lax blogger.. this summer is rather busy. Not only am I trying to keep up with magazine deadlines and the weekly radio show, but the manuscript for my 2nd book is due in 5 weeks! Yikes!! That means my lovely summer days are spent working madly on my computer and the garden has suffered tremendously. Firstly, the deer have been making nightly pilgrimages to the garden.. my beloved beans have been desiccated. Secondly, the dry weather has made the soil like dust. We did finally get a rain 2 nights ago, but when I snuck up to plant some leek seedlings yesterday morning, the soil was still dry 3 inches down.

I knew that this would be a busy summer, so I tried to plan ahead and choose plants that wouldn't need me so much - tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, pole beans (damn deer, sniff), kale and such. The heat has been kind to the tomatoes, which are over 6 feet tall, but my lack of time means that they are inadequately staked. Oops! Maybe this weekend I can get out there and do a bit of work. I did find time to start some fresh trays of seedlings indoors for fall/winter though. I have more kale, broccoli, kohlrabi, endive, lettuces, swiss chard and a few other tidbits coming nicely under the grow lights. Soon, they'll be moved into the garden.

And I also sowed two beds of winter carrots. I still need to tidy up the cold frames and get them enriched for the late season crops, but again, it's on my list!

Lettuces, endive, Swiss chard and more - 1 1/2 weeks old!
One part of the garden that I'm thrilled with is the high bush blueberry patch. The plants are 3 years old now and bearing their first heavy crop of super delicious berries. Last year we harvested about a cup from each bush. Now, they're 4 feet tall and we've gotten 2 cups from each already with many more to come. The staggered ripening process means daily handfuls of the berries and I already have plans to greatly expand that bed next spring.

Next season - no book deadlines (or so I tell myself) as I want to get back to the pleasure of gardening and not 'speedy gardening', where both the crops and the gardener suffer!! :)

I promise to be a better blogger! Thanks for hanging in.. much appreciated!

Five types of kale, 2 quick maturing cabbage and kohlrabi

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Rainy Day Garden Tour

I know, I know.. I've been very slack in updating my blog lately. To be honest, I'm also very slack in getting anything done in the garden! Thankfully, it can (mostly) take care of itself.. I do need to get in more peas for fall though, as well as start a few things under the lights for autumn (kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli, etc.) Plus, in just a few weeks, it will be planting season for fall/winter carrots!

The rains just paused for a few minutes, so I ran up to the garden to breathe in the fresh air, get away from deadlines and take a few photos.. Here they are!

Who invited aphids (and the accompanying ants)
to my spinach!! The seeds will be ready to harvest soon! 

Blueberries! The low bush are just starting, but the high bush
have another week or two before the big berries are ripe.

This is the Beet and Chard Braising Mix from Renee's Garden. I've
been using the baby leaves in salads non-stop and love tossing a few
handfuls in stif-fries at the last minute. So good!! I've planted
it under a pole bean teepee.. 

My first Bojangles marigold has finally bloomed. I grew these
from seed and think they're so cute.. Not as striped as I would
have liked.. but fun!

So.many.garlic.scapes. This garlic plant
produced 2 scapes.. first time I've seen that!!

Part of my garden edging - Drunken Woman lettuce, Red Lollo lettuce
and a butter head whose name has escaped me.. 

Drunken Woman lettuce in the rain.. I got the seeds from
Hope Seed last autumn.

Poppies.. this ones looks a bit down about
all the rain!

My peanuts are growing! I planted them 3 weeks ago and
have about 20 plants - already 6 inches tall!!

Another poppy.. electric red/pink colour!!

Another lettuce border.. that deep red
Lollo Rossa lettuce is hard to see.. but it is one
of my very favourites and not often bothered by
the slugs.. maybe because of the super frilled foliage?

Speaking of slugs.. and snails.. what does this little guy think
he's doing to my chard!!

Little bugger!! 

Cosmos 'Pink Popsocks' from McFayden. The flowers are small,
only about 2 inches across and the plants
are slow growing.. but very pretty blooms.

My pea/marigold/nasturtium/eggplant/pepper
garden on my back porch.. it's very hot and usually

Two mini bell peppers of an unnamed variety that I'm
testing for a seed company. They've begun
to flower.

I love my herbs - this is lemon thyme, rosemary and lemon verbena
on my back deck.. great for marinades!!