Sunday, August 29, 2010

From My Garden

We got a bunch of onions and carrots. I got another 3.75 lbs of cucumber (so much! I've been making pickles but seriously too many cucumbers this year), 1.75 lbs of scallopini, 1 lb of parsnip and 5.5 lbs of pears. I also picked about 1lb of blackberries from my yard and made some delicious blackberry jam. Last year we were overwhelmed by zucchini and this year it's the cucumbers. Any ideas on how to deal with a surplus of cucumber without spending my days canning?
I'm still getting some tomatoes out of the garden but most are still green and my squashes look good. Looks like I should have some pumpkin, acorn squash and butternut squash this fall.
My flower garden is doing well too. I've got some lovely pink hydrangeas, purple gladiolas and a bunch of sunflowers. I'll be sad when there are no more flowers out there. But I think I'll try amaryllis indoors again this year. I learned a lot from the experience last year.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recipe: Curried Apple Chutney

This is an amazingly delicious chutney. I'm not a huge chutney fan but I ate almost a whole jar of this at just one dinner. I promise it is not spicy at all but rather a sweet and savory chutney. Now is the perfect time of year to try this recipe since the apples are coming ready. This recipe is taken from the Well Preserved Cookbook.

You will need:
9 cups peeled, chopped and diced apple
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups brown sugar
1.5 cups cider vinegar
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1.5 tsp salt
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tsp curry powder
0.5 tsp each of ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, cardamom and ginger

Prepare the preserving jars.
Combine all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours or until thickened, stirring often. Stir almost constantly during the last 15 to 20 minutes of cooking time to prevent scorching.
Remove from heat. Ladle the chutney into hot, sterilized jar leaving 1/2 inch head space. Wipe rims clean. Seal and process jars.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Camping at China Beach

This past weekend we went camping with friends at China Beach along the Juan de Fuca Trail. It was rather chilly weather all weekend but I think we all still had fun. We didn't get to hike much of the trail since there were children along but we did do a nice hike in the woods and along China Beach.
The forest trail down to the beach was a nice walk. There were a lot of stairs (which I was dreading having to climb back up). The weather was interesting there was some sun but also some fog rolling in from the beach. We checked out fungi and enjoyed some huckleberries and thimbleberries. And although we didn't get a good picture of them we did see a few stellar blue jays and heard a couple ravens.
There was plenty of evidence of the wind storms from this past winter. This poor tree looked like it just exploded. The wind this winter was worse than I can remember. It was the only winter where the wind was strong enough to knock out power at our home.
I loved this tree. It was just dripping with lichen. In general the forest was really dry. Most of BC has been battling forest fires. In fact there was a fire burning just up the way from where we were.
This was a fresh water stream flowing down from the forest into the ocean. It was so cold and refreshing. I love the green color of the trees in this picture.
The beach itself was beautiful. We were hoping to see some whales or seals but no such luck.
We did encounter a dead jellyfish. And we found some interesting animal paw prints in the sand.
Overall it was a really nice camping trip. We had hoped to do one more hike but unfortunately it rained on us and we were just too wet and cold to attempt a hike. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Garden Surprises!

So I made the mistake of thinking that once the weeds in your garden have become so thick it is hard to walk  that your vegetable garden is through. I truly thought I would get nothing. Jon and I were clearing some weeds tonight and found an abundance of surprises.
To date I have about 5 lbs of scallopini from the garden. I'm not sure they are supposed to be this big. I always thought they were smaller but this is my first year growing these so I'm learning.
On the left is my overwinter cabbage that is only just ready now and on the right is my summer cabbage. To date I have about 7 lbs of cabbage from the garden. I'm going to be making a lot of sauerkraut.
The fabulous basket of goodies. In this basket we have 2.5 lbs of red potatoes, 4.5 lbs of yukon gold potatoes, 4.5 lbs of cucumber, 0.5 lbs of tomatoes, some onions and carrots. I also got 4 lbs of zucchini but I didn't get a picture of them. It's amazing. Those potatoes were completely taken over by weeds but as we were digging out the weeds we kept finding potato after potato. And I cannot believe how much cucumber I have. I thought they all had died from lack of water but now I guess I have some pickling to do.
I'm thrilled. I really thought this year was a wash but I'm amazed at how resilient my garden turned out to be!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Check out the Planets

I didn't know this but apparently this weekend Venus, Mars and Saturn will all align.
 The article claims that it should be visible to the naked eye shortly after dusk. It states that the plants will look like a bright line on the horizon. So give it a try! Check out the western horizon tonight or tomorrow and let me know what you see!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Summer Disappointments

If you read my blog you know I went into this summer season with really high hopes. I had a great vegetable garden last year and managed to attend most of the summer festivals. This year has been wildly disappointing. I have had a terrible garden year. This year everything seems to be struggling; everything except the weeds. My plants seemed too small to really take hold and be productive. The weather was weird in the beginning of the summer so I had quite a few things fail. The weeds are beyond what I or anyone else can handle. I literally gave up in about the last week of June. I've decided the best thing to do is to forgo the winter garden and cover the whole garden area to squash back the weeds and try some raised beds next year. I can't stand all the horsetail, morning glory, fireweed and clover!! Maybe once we get chickens they can give us a hand.
The other huge disappointment this summer has been me. I have zero motivation. I still work at the Moss Street Market and I'm working on getting my ECE but that is about it. I planned to spend the summer reading, hiking, gardening and canning. I've done none of those things. I have not canned a single thing (probably because I don't have enough out of the garden to can), I have neglected my garden so my pole beans failed, some of my peas didn't get watered and my potatoes got crowded out by weeds. Since June I've been struggling with migraines. Some of my triggers are light and heat and guess what? Summer is hot and bright. I think that the migraines have been a major reason why I've done nothing.
So here is a new set of goals. Blackberries are ready! Time to buckle down and make some jam. The weather is getting a little cool, perfect for a hike! Instead of dwelling on the failures in the garden this year, I'll begin to prep for a successful year next year!