Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Beach Day

It feels like beach days are getting fewer and fewer these days. Days when it's warm enough to walk in the wake and calm enough to sit on the beach and read without the wind flipping pages. April really is a beach girl. She has no fear of the cold or waves or creepy crawlies that roam the beach. She contently seeks out little treasures on the beach. Such a west coast girl.
This particular day, as I was lying in the sun, a native plants tour passed us. I couldn't help but listen in. They were hunting for yarrow and cow-parsnip. I love listening to the historic uses for these "weedy" plants.
It really was a gorgeous day. All the beautiful blue, green, yellow and beige made me think that I need to make a beach quilt to keep these sunny days in our home in those long winter months. So perhaps a quilt is in my future. Until then we will be soaking up every drop of sunshine and spending time at the beach.

Monday, August 27, 2012

In the Hive

Things in the hive are going very well. I'm so pleased that these bees have adjusted as well as they have. Because we got them in July and not early in the year, we were concerned about their ability to put aside enough food for the winter but by faithfully feeding them they seem to be succeeding in their efforts to survive the winter.
They are slowing down with brood production and many of the drones have already been kicked out of the hive. The few drone cells that were still present in the hive, I uncapped to help with the verroa mites. The mites are a bit of a problem in our hive. Even with the mite treatments, their numbers are not as low as we would like. I hope that by removing drone cells that I can help the mite problem.
Since my last hive inspection the amount of brood frames has decreased, which is to be expected as summer comes to an end, and the amount of honey frames has increased. They seem to have even been able to find some pollen in this late season. I was excited to see some bees crawling around with pollen on their legs.
I also did some "housecleaning" while I was in there. I cleaned the excess comb from the sides and bottom of the frames, cleaned some of the propolis from the frames to make them easier to remove and added the entrance reducer to keep the wasps out.
All-in-all it was a very pleasant inspection. The bees are healthy and I am happy. I may only do one more inspection before I close them up for the winter. Let's hope they stay healthy and well through the winter.

Friday, August 17, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

In the Garden

There is a big turn over going on in the garden right now. Summer harvests are coming out and fall/winter seeds are going in. I'm still harvesting cucumber, zucchini, beans, kale, peppers and cabbage. The tomatoes are very sad this year. They are small and weak-looking with few few fruit on each plant. I've been giving them this fertilizer in the hopes that they would perk up but no luck. I guess we won't be making much salsa and tomato sauce this year.
I'm also disappointed with the cucumber harvest this year. So far I've only had enough for one jar of pickles. I'm hoping by the weekend I will have enough to make a small batch of cucumber relish. My cabbage on the other hand has done well for the amount of space I gave it. We've had several coleslaw dishes and I have one batch on sauerkraut on the go and I'll start another on the weekend.
Another disappointment is that the rats have found that my garden is a excellent food source. They have demolished my brussels sprouts, there isn't a single leaf left, they ate every ear of corn and the have started eating my beans. I've been trying to be very on top of picking the beans so we can save as many as possible. I think a cat may be in our future.
On the bright side, it is a stellar year for pears. In a couple of weeks we will be swimming in them. I'm collecting jars already for all the chutney and pear sauce I will be making. We are also having great luck with our wild blackberries that line the property. I think the bees were a big help with those this year. I've already picked over 4lbs of blackberries, made a batch of jam and frozen a couple containers and it isn't even September yet.
Fall planting is well underway. This is my first attempt at a full fall/winter garden. I've already planted cabbage, carrots, spinach, lettuce, parsnip, peas, turnip, radishes, beets, broccoli, cauliflower, scallions and pak choi. I still have to plant (another round of ) brussels sprouts, garlic, arugula, mustard greens and water cress. I planted my kale in the spring and I'm hoping to over-winter it like I did last year. Things seem to be doing well. I've lost one cauliflower plant to the slugs and the carrots are not what I had hoped and the rats have pretty much ruined my peas but all-in-all things are pretty lovely in my garden.
Are you planting for the fall? What is your favorite fall harvest?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Right Now

We are getting ready for one of nature's great shows: the Perseid meteor shower. I usually try to be away camping for the shower so as to have the best conditions possible for viewing but this year we are staying close to home. I am really hoping that my neighbours will turn off as many lights as they can so we all can get a good view. It's so hard to watch the stars in the city.  Hope you all get a chance to head outside tonight and catch a glimpse of these breathtaking meteors.

Friday, August 10, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Ukrainian Harvest

I call this haul from the garden the Ukrainian Harvest because it is my Ukrainian husband's favorite of the year. Garlic and potatoes.
One thing is for sure, I did not plant enough garlic last year. That little basket plus the few bulbs that we took inside were all that we had. I will be planting triple that amount this year (and if I can find the space I might plant even more than that!). This variety was one that I bought from a local garden society at a summer party last year. I don't even remember the name of it but I do remember it is a heirloom variety. It looks very much like red russian and it is a hardneck so that may very well be what it is. The bulbs are huge and very flavorful. Garlic is one of my husbands favorite ingredients though I don't love it quite the way he does, I am very excited about the garlic harvest.
When I planted these potatoes in the spring I had great hopes for how I would use them for my family. The lemon basil potato salad from Cynthia Lair's Feeding the Whole Family, is amazing and I couldn't wait for my potatoes to be ready so we could eat it almost every night. Unfortunately between when these went in the ground and when we pulled them out, I have developed some inflammatory issues in my joints and have been instructed not to eat nightshades. So the 26lbs of Yukon Gold potatoes have been sitting in the pantry, waiting. We did use a fair number of them to feed some families we had over for a barbeque. Most of these potatoes are destined to be made into perogies that will fill our freezer for use later this winter.
Now all I need to do is get my cabbages out of the garden and make some sauerkraut and we will have a Ukrainian feast!

Friday, August 3, 2012

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by SouleMama

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Blueberry Season

It's blueberry season. Oh how I love blueberries. In all honesty freshly picked blueberries are better than candy in my opinion. However, like candy, getting carried away always results in an upset tummy. I will admit that on the way home from blueberry picking I had quite the upset tummy.
We went back to a farm we went to last year to pick our berries. We were there for just over an hour and had picked 18 lbs of blueberries (plus whatever went into April's mouth during that hour). Aside from all the berries that were eaten fresh (the best way to eat them in my opinion), we frozen two large freezer bags worth of berries for smoothies and muffins in the winter, made a small batch of blueberry jam and of course enjoyed some french toast made with blueberry syrup. Yes, I love blueberry season.
My own blueberries have not done well this year. We have got about a handful of berries and we have 3 bushes! My bushes are second-hand from my parents so I think they may have been damaged in the transfer. The plan is to dig these ones out and plant new bushes next year. There really isn't a reason why blueberries shouldn't do well here. Full sun, compost, frequent mulching, what more could they want?
I think we will be going back to pick more blueberries next week. I would like at least one more bag of berries in my freezer and a few more jars of jam. How do you like to enjoy your blueberries?