Shooting Stars in the Garden

Well, I am back, happy to be in the garden- with my little kangaroo tucked into our favorite mei tei style carrier.  Motherhood has been very good to me and I adore our little bird and am so happy to be spending the summer with a newborn. We don’t get to spend a lot of time in the garden yet, but we try and take a walk out there every day.  There has been a lot of rain this year, as I’m sure most Southern Albertans can attest.  The garden has taken a beating (we lost quite a few tomatoes and all of our cucumber seedlings) but now that we are getting some sunshine, the plants are thriving.

A first for this garden is garlic.  We planted it last fall and it was one of the first plants to come up this year.  I love planting in the fall and letting things just come up when they are ready.  The garlic seems to be doing well judging from the top growth.  It reminds me of shooting stars:

Just like onions, the tops are edible and are called garlic scapes.  Thanks to my morning blogroll, I found this out through SouleMama.  She makes pesto with them and recommends pruning them to put more energy into the garlic bulbs.  I might just have to leave a few because I want to see what they look like when they flower!  But I can’t wait to harvest the garlic this fall.  There is nothing like locally grown garlic- the cheap storebought stuff from China (tell me why we must import garlic from other countries when it can be grown here?) just doesn’t stand up.

Fresh Carrots in January

Before the deep freeze hit Lethbridge last weekend, my husband decided it was time to pull out the rest of the carrots we were ‘storing’ in the garden.  Yes, we figured, why pick them and have them slowly wilt in our basement when they could stay in their own built in refrigerator in the ground?  We did this last year, and found the carrots stored well, and just got sweeter the longer we left them. Little did we know we’d be able to leave them in the ground until January this year!

All he did was cover them with lots of leaves:Have you ever left anything in the garden?  How do you store/preserve your food over the winter?  In addition to these carrots, we’re still enjoying plenty of canned tomatoes, potatoes, onions, frozen herbs, relishes and jams.  It’s so great to have garden goodies long after its been gone!

Fresh Greens in October

We currently have 2 cold frames from which we’ve been enjoying fresh greens from lately- lettuce, spinach and chard.  They are fairly basic, just a frame angled slightly to the sun with an old window fitted to the top.  When it’s really warm out, we’ll open them up, and when it gets really chilly at night, we’ll put a blanket over them.

It’s so nice to enjoy some tender young greens this late in the season!  Its been a beautiful fall in Lethbridge, and we’ve only just pulled out the garden this weekend.  Many of our flowers are still in bloom too!  Hubby just finished picking & drying out bunches of hops for winter beer brewing, and next up, we’ll be drying mint for tea.

As for canning, I’m definitely DONE for the season- major canning burnout!

What’s happening in your garden and kitchen?  Are you still growing or preserving anything?

Workshop: Preserving your Garden for Year-round Eating

I know I have been posting about a lot of events lately- there’s just too many great things going on not to!  (and be sure to check out the other events they are hosting at the bottom of the page)

I stumbled upon this upcoming workshop, put on by the CampusRoots Community Garden Association (CRCGA) on October 26:

The CampusRoots Community Garden Association (CRCGA) is pleased to invite you to the second workshop in our series.

In this workshop, Barb Whitelaw of Saucy Ladies Inc. will demonstrate how to make Red Pepper Jelly while she covers the basics of preserving and canning. After the demonstration, Barb will answer any remaining questions you have about preserving your produce for year-round eating enjoyment.

Barb Whitelaw has owned and operated “Saucy Ladies Inc. since the year 2000. Barb started working out of her home producing 5 products and only sold at markets, Christmas shows, and craft sales. Today, she operates out of a certified kitchen and produces up to 17 different canned items as well as cabbage rolls and several flavours of perogies. She uses all fresh vegetables with no added preservatives. Each of her recipes all have their own unique flavor.

Date: Wednesday, October 26
Time: 7:00pm
Location: Details to be provided upon confirmation of registration.
Cost: Free to CRCGA members; $3 for non-members

TO REGISTER: RSVP to Leona Jacobs, CRCGA Director & Workshop Coordinator (email = jacolm@uleth.ca; please include the Subject Line: CRCGA workshop RSVP) by Tuesday, 2011 October 25.

For more information see: http://campusroots.ca

Mark your calendars for other upcoming CRCGA workshops:
November 23: Vermicomposting – Putting Worms to Work!
December: No workshop! Happy Holidays to you!
January 25: Permaculture 101

Apple Time

Slowly but surely, it is turning into apple season here in Southern Alberta.  That is… if your tree(s) grew any apples this year.   Many trees, including my own, did not blossom this year (well, wait there were three blossoms and three apples- which the birds got first dibs on).  Was it the cool spring, the lack of blossoms, the lack of bees?  A bit scary, if you ask me, at how easily our food supply can be interrupted or put on hold due to these conditions.  I also know that there were very little to no saskatoons this year too.  I asked around and even in the Fort MacLeod area, which is usually abundant and there were none.

apple-less tree

But bee genocide (seriously) and global warming aside, some people were lucky enough to get apples this year (keep reading if you were not one of these people for an idea on how you can get some of your own for free.) And since everything seems to be late, now is the time for apple abundance.  Now that we are almost done with tomatoes (this past weekend, I canned about 20 jars of them), it’s time for apples!

I got a box from an older couple who’s apple tree faithfully produced this year- but they told me to use ’em up fast, because they start rotting from the inside out!  So, I peeled and cored them and made a nice thick applesauce.  I added a bit of honey but no sugar- and consequently, it’s still too sour to eat on it’s own, and I’m too stubborn to add more sugar.  So, I opened up the index of ye ‘ol Joy of Cooking and of course, there is a recipe for applesauce cake.  Here is the recipe.  It’s a lovely autumn-tasting cake- very dense, moist and spicy- but I would add less sugar next time. And it’s great with some ice cream!  Afterwards, I packaged up the rest of the applesauce and threw it in the freezer for future winter versions of this cake.

My next batch of apples is coming soon from the Okanagan via a food co-op i belong to, and I’m also thinking of scavenging some crab apples from trees around town. I see the Hutterites do it all the time. There is certainly not a shortage of crab apples from what I’ve seen, and I’m sure people would appreciate them going to use instead of falling and rotting.  You may even be able to get your hands on some non-crab apples (check kijiji for ads or put one of your own up.)   Let’s get the fruit rescue movement going in Lethbridge, too!

So once I have the second batch of apples in possession, I think I’ll make apple juice. Liesl and Myles from this localish blog, Nest (cute eh?) have a post on Mother Earth News this week on How to make Home Made Apple Juice.  And… my favorite part- they encourage you to include the peels and seeds- which eventually get strained out but are full of nutrition and flavor.  And they even explain how to can it- cause really, one can only drink so much apple juice at a time!  I was also thinking it would be good hot as the weather cools off.

What are you busy harvesting and preserving?  Feeling burnt out yet?!  And how ’bout this nice weather we’ve been having; our whole garden is still alive and kicking with some cold frames in place for future cool days & nights.  More on that soon.

Preserving A Community

Chances are, you might have already seen this video.  But if you haven’t, you must watch it!  It tells the tale of Classie Parker, an urban gardener who teaches people how to can and preserve in New York city.  It reminded  me of  how lucky we are here in Lethbridge to have so much SPACE.  So use it!  Plant a garden!  And then preserve it!

I’ve been busy the past couple nights with some dill pickles and zucchini & green tomato relish.  Are you preserving your harvest?  If so, what have you been making?

The Canning Queen of the Desert from Etsy on Vimeo.

All in a Day’s Harvest

Today I harvested potatoes, carrots, tomatoes (some are still green but will ripen on my counter), zucchini, beans and ground cherries.

also not shown in pictures but consumed for supper: kale, chard and onion.

Luckily, this is just a small portion of what’s available in our garden.  Plenty more on it’s way!