Oups I did it again…

Man, I miss writing.

I don’t know what happened over the last nine months or so, but writing was far, far, far away from my list of things that I wanted to do.

Having surgery last October took it out of me and everything that came after it was just too tiring to consider. I’m not feeling any better at the moment in regards to my health, but I am feeling a little more inclined to write.

The thing is, there was so much I wanted to write about, I just didn’t have the energy to sit down and formulate coherent thoughts about everything I wanted to write about. Most of it pertained to food, some of it pertained to projects and even some still had to do with SALLY & Co.

So what should I do?

How about I start by making this a massive photo-dumping post (because that’s always fun!) and then I could just see how things play out over the next little while.

Sound good? Good.

So without further ado, here we go!

X-Garden Update

This is what our raised bed garden currently looks like, as of about a couple weeks ago. We had a return of bees to our formerly empty hive! For the longest time we had bees and wasps coming into the hive and ransacking whatever was remaining from the previous colony’s stores of honey after realizing we had no bees. As of a few weeks ago, we now have a proper colony of bees again and the ladies are working their little butts off to get enough new stores before the winter hits. Hopefully they will be more successful than their predecessors, who, unfortunately, we were told, had gone into the winter without a viable Queen.

The Hubbs is also beginning the slow process of being mentored in the arts of beekeeping, as we will be the ones taking care of this hive as best we possibly can. Sadly, J & Miss R are no longer going to be doing the bee thing as they lost almost all their hives over the winter, except for maybe two or three of the many they had set up around the city. The Hubbs wants to make sure he can do everything in his power to help this colony survive as there have been so many colonies of bees which have been decimated from all sorts of horrible things. We have been planting as many bee-friendly flowers as we possibly can in hopes that it helps the Little Ladies to flourish.

As for other 2013 Garden Experiments, at the beginning of the summer I had purchased some corn transplants from our fantastic egg & flour CSA farms. Again, a few weeks back, is a photo of the corn’s girly bits readying itself for pollination from surrounding corn plants. Unbeknownst to me at the time, you’re supposed to plant corn in squares to increase the chances of cross-pollination in your corn. The wind is the biggest pollinator for corn and the more chances you give the corn’s silks to catch the falling pollen from above, the better odds of having actual cobs of corn with fully developed kernels on it. We shall see if we get any viable specimens this year, seeing as I only had four transplants and was sexing up all the corn by hand.

One night over dinner, we were discussing my new discovery of corn pollination with J & Miss R and everyone had the mental picture of me going around the garden “sexing up my girly corn bits with boy corn bits”, J said we should play the song “It’s raining men” around the garden to get the corn in the mood for pollination ;D

X-Garden Corn

Well, I finally finished my first crocheted commission projects. Ladies & Gentlemen, I introduce to you Peep and the Lumpy Space Princess.

X-Peep & LSP

I am currently working on Loki for my newest Project #Ranma! Amigurumi and will actually be making a second one in the near future for another commissioned project for a friend of The Hubbs’ in Vancouver.

X-Loki Bits

Now that The Hubbs & I are taking over the beekeeping responsibilities (okay, more The Hubbs, than I, but still!), The Hubbs had some very grave concerns that I might have a serious allergic reaction should I ever be stung because we’re not entirely sure what SALLY’s done to my immune system’s ability to deal with things like foreign substances in my body. The other thing is that we’re not entirely sure if The Hubbs has allergies to stings, either. So as a precautionary measure, we got me a couple of prescriptions for an Epi-pen. HOLY JEEBUS these things are terrifyingly huge! The sight of it even terrifies me and I’m pretty used to needles and scary pokey things now o_O;;

X-Epi Pen

From our wonderful 2013 CSA delivery, we have a first: CANTALOUPE! Homegrown in Alberta! I find that absolutely amazing and it tastes pretty damn fantastic, I have to admit and I am almost considering the idea of naming it my favourite melon… almost.

X-CSA 2013 Cantaloupe

Whilst shopping last week, I stumbled upon this brand new tea: Dark Chocolate Chai. Mmmmm…. so incredibly yummy and is great when used as a base for making steel-cut oatmeal, believe it or not! How, you ask?

* Bring to a boil 1cup milk + 1 1/4 cup water + squeeze of honey with 2 teabags.
* Turn down heat to simmer and add 1/2cup steelcut oats.
* Cook for 5 minutes, remove teabags.
* Continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes, or until thickened, stirring occassionally!

X-Chocolate Chai

Finally, my last photo of today’s post: 1L of iced teaccino. The weird thing? Even though it’s a 1L mason jar, it’s not actually a lot of caffeine. There’s a full tray of ice, a small cup of strongly brewed rooibos tea, a large espresso and finally a 1/2 glass of milk.

X-Teaccino

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Veggies, Cronuts & Sliders! ^_^

*First roma tomato harvested from our garden!

*First garden harvest of sugar snap peas!

*Hello Kitty mini maple-glazed cronuts filled with vanilla pastry cream & rolled in cinnamon sugar
*Round caramel pecan-glazed cronuts filled with vanilla pastry cream & rolled in cinnamon sugar

*Mini hamburger sliders!
Pizza bun hamburger slider made from leftover offcuts of cronut dough, left “Traditional” mini maple-glazed cronut hamburger slider, right

Things I’m making…

image

This year we’ve finally managed to harvest our first ripe tomatoes! Admittedly, I could eat them right away, but it just felt right for me to preserve them for a winter meal instead. So this year’s tomato harveat is being oven-roasted/dried with my homegrown rosemary and basil, low’n’slow, then put into freezer bags for later in the year.

image

HOLY CRAP I made sauerkraut!!

Bzzz… bzzzz!!!

I forgot to mention, but the Mother’s Day weekend brought me honeybees!!

The ladies have been moved to their new digs in our backyard and are hopefully settled in and finding adequate places to feed!

Hopefully the ladies are happy in their new home and will have a successful harvest in their first year! :D

… Must give the Queen a name …

Fun things from our Garden

We have a huge monster strawberry plant that has managed to grow ridiculously huge over the years.

It’s sprawled out over the entire garden and we haven’t really bothered to try and contain or control its growth.

This year, for the first time ever, our garden has given us (well, me, The Hubbs is quite happy to let me eat them all) an incredible number of strawberries. I’ve been eating a small handful of berries almost every day this summer and they are so incredible tasting. They’re sweet, they’re juicy, they’re red, and they’re so incredibly fragrant.

They’re quite small in comparison to the commercial strawberries that you find at the grocery store, but oh my goodness they taste like real strawberries!!

There’s only one thing, some of them are a bit mutant shaped. Case in point:

Uhm. Yeah.

Not the most attractive berries to some degree, but on the other hand, they ARE attractive being all weirdly alien-looking like this. Because they’re so freakish looking, I’ve been intentionally pulling them apart, section by section, to eat the berries individually :D

Other than that, there’s not much else is going on in our garden.

The one zucchini plant that survived our winter growing experiment has finally decided to put out flowers and I’m hoping I’ll get at least one squash from it this year.

The tomato bush is looking decent and The Hubbs says we might actually get a few ripening fruit before the end of our short summer season, the rest will be green, as usual, and I’ll probably have to make green tomato relish with them.

We transplanted all the pepper plants that were in the house into permanent indoor pots. The mini medusa pepper plants will probably be okay staying in the pot we put them in since they’re a miniature variety to begin with, but the green peppers will definitely have to go into something larger. We put 3 pepper plants into one small(ish) pot and since the transplant they’ve all gone super huge in a short period of time.

The only other plant we have growing from our initial winter experiment was a tomato plant, of which I have no idea what kind it is. My guess is that it’s a bonny best or something to that effect. I don’t think any of the heirloom tomato seeds we planted survived. Kind of disappointed by that, those were the tomatoes I was hoping would grow but Calgary probably just doesn’t have the right climate for them to thrive in.

The day we bought all the indoor pots to transplant everything, I treated myself to two rosemary plants from the nursery and a fluorescent pink pot to put them in. They are currently hanging out underneath the Aerogarden light which I’ve since cleaned and disassembled from my first set of herbs. The roots were starting to get into the pump and making things sound rather unhealthy, plus the plants seemed to have been at the end of their growing cycle. I took a snipping of basil and tried to plant it in the rosemary pot, but it’s looking pretty sad and wilty, I don’t think it’s going to live. The leaves are all droopy and wilted looking, but there are two sets of itty bitty leaves still struggling to grow at the top, so I’m going to leave it for maybe another week to see if those continue to grow. I don’t know that it will be successful, but I have my fingers crossed. If not, I’ll just yank it back out of the pot and start up another round of Aerogarden herbs. My second seed kit consists of Italian herbs: Genovese basil, Oregano, Italian parsley, Chives, Thyme, Mint and Savoury. I have my doubts as to the chives growing in the Aero only because the first batch failed to grow. Maybe it was just a shoddy batch. I just have to sanitize the Aero with a bleach solution (must buy bleach) and then I can start the new seed kit!

Yaaaay!

Woohoo!

You can tell I’m starting to get an itch for spring — This afternoon we went to Canadian Tire and bought a whole bunch of vegetable seeds to grow in this year’s garden! For the last couple of weeks I’ve been watching a ridiculous number of gardening videos by this awesome guy named Praxxus, on youtube, and it’s just got me wishing even more for raised beds in the garden and a place to put shelving and a grow-light in the house to get a jump-start on seed growing. Although, I am wondering if perhaps I am starting my seeds too late..? This is Calgary of course and you can’t put anything in the ground until after the May long weekend at the earliest. This year is all about experimentation.


Seed & Starter kits for 2011 Growing Season

Tonight I planted:
* 3 kinds of tomatoes – rainbow blend, bonny best, and brandywine(!!)
* 3 kinds of peppers – medusa, red, green
* 2 kinds of zucchinis – UFO, yellow
* 1 bean – generic green beans that came as a kids first plant grow cup
* 1 radish – watermelon!
* cilantro, green onions, and orange seeds just to see if we could get an indoor plant out of it.
* a blueberry bush

Most of the seeds I planted were what we bought today, though the UFO and green onions were what I had in our seed box from previous years and the orange seeds were just some seeds The Hubbs kept for fun to see if we could get something to grow. I think what I might do is actually transplant the orange seeds into peat pots in the morning.

I don’t know if this is a recent/new invention or it’s been out for awhile, but you can buy starter kits that have hard discs that are solidly compact and dehydrated soil. You put them into warm water, then they reconstitute and expand to something like 4x their original size! They’re really cool and it looks like a lot of starter kits come that way.

This year we picked up the Planters’ Pride Pellet Greenhouse Kit for something like $5 and you can buy another 20 refill pellets for only $3 to start more seeds at a later date. I also picked up a cute salsa starter kit called a Grow Fresh Grow Bowl for $6 and it came with 2 of those weird dirt pellets, a biodegradable bowl(??), green pepper, brandywine tomato and cilantro seeds. To be honest, the bowl seems kind of small to accomodate all those seeds now that I’m thinking about it. You’d have to transplant everything just after they’ve sprouted! What I should do in the morning is just plant a whole bunch of the cilantro seeds in the bowl all by itself and take out the orange seeds to put into peat pots.

I’m excited… and nervous and scared.. and suddenly realizing that I should probably plant more radish seeds because I’m pretty sure that 1 seed = 1 radish. Silly me. I won’t get a very large harvest with planting only 4 seeds ;D Another thing: I really would like to have a place in the house to grow plants. The Hubbs & I discussed perhaps getting a set of shelving for the basement and hooking up a grow light to it so we could help everything along. The thing is, I hate going down to the basement.

I am crossing my fingers that the seeds sprout! I would really, really, REALLY love it if we could get brandywine tomatoes to grow to a decent ripeness. Like holy cow, I am super excited and nervous about them. It’s a pity that I have no idea what kind of tomatoes I’ve got growing from the rainbow best packet. Seems a bit of a shame to only plant 4 wee little seeds and not have a clue as to what variety they are. I suppose I could plant the whole packet and see what happens, but I don’t think we have enough places in the yard to grow them. That and I think year we’re going to definitely have to plan ahead and make some sort of portable/retractable protective coverings for all the veggies we’re hoping to grow.


Seedlings planted for the 2011 Growing Season!

The Chinese grandfather living next door, that we don’t have a fence with, made a bunch of rather nifty “retractable” coverings for the gardens he made last year that you just raise and lower as needed to protect against hail and frost. It was just made of cheap materials like plastic sheeting stapled to wood pieces hung by nylon cording through eye-hooks all over the fence, but oh the difference it makes in protecting plants! I think we should definitely consider something along these lines.

From the sounds of things we definitely have our work cut out for us this year since we have to fix our existing garden and probably dig up more of the yard to make new ones to accomodate for all the seeds I’ve got starting. I’m crossing my fingers that The Hubbs will perhaps make at least one set of raised beds by the fence between the maple tree and the wee little pine tree, this way I might be able to plant a lot of easy to grow and reproduce veggies like radishes and green onions throughout the season. Maybe I’ll even toss in a few bulbs of garlic just for fun.

Wish us luck and hope we get lots of great weather for growing stuff this year!

OMG!

I think spring might be coming!

All the snow on the deck has completely melted off so I went out for 2 minutes to right all the deck chairs that were toppled over from the strong winds we’d had this winter and guess what I saw!?

ASPARAGUS!!

The asparagus is coming up!

That means spring is on its way!

….At least, close to the house, it’s on its way :P~

But still! It’s a veritable sign of spring, right??? :DDD

Edit: *sigh* I was mistaken. There’s no asparagus coming up from the ground yet, after all… What I thought was asparagus (and technically it IS asparagus), is actually all the dead plant material leftover in the garden from last season. 300pm

It’s aliiiiiiiiive!!!

It’s May Long!

Guess what that means? GARDEN CENTRES ARE OPEN!!

Officially (unofficially?) it means that the likelihood of frost happening in Calgary has passed and so bedding plants and seedlings can go into the ground and hopefully survive until fall.

Last night The Hubbs diid a little garden tidying and planted 2 kinds of squash seeds: zucchinis & UFO/pattypans. Today, we hit up IGA’s garden centre and picked out a nicely established roma tomato plant for the garden and 2 hanging baskets — one “Hippo” plant (Fuschia), one cherry tomato.

One of the old hanging baskets we transplanted some chives into in hopes that it’ll take root nicely and establish itself so we can hack out the massively growing chives in the garden. We also have a few stalks of asparagus doing wonderfully, so far ^_^

As a brief conversation earlier, while we were out driving, The Hubbs asked me if I would like to get that greenhouse I’ve always wanted. That’s a pretty sweet idea that I’m kind of excited about, but also scared about seeing as my abilities to do much upkeep on stuff is pretty minimal… but could you imagine? A greenhouse?? With veggies growing early spring until fall?? OMG that would be so awesome. We could grow the jalapenos and bell peppers they were selling at the garden centre this year!

*vibrates audibly*

Garden Harvest 2009

Sunday is supposed to cool down considerably in the city.

We’ve had 30C+ weather for the last week and it’s about to get chilly!

Having said that, The Hubbs harvested what edibles we had going on in the garden and though the tomatoes are not ripe, as expected, their sole purpose was to make green tomato relish anyways. We certainly got a heckuva lot more potatoes than I ever imagined would be possible of four little seedling potatoes that were gifted to us earlier in the season. Some are even a decent baked potato-worthy size!

Check it out!


Unripe Yellow Boy Tomatoes


Potatoes!

It may not look like we got much, but that’s because the bowls make it deceiving looking.

Throwing each bowl onto the trusty scale, I would say minus the weight of the bowls, there’s approximately 2.5lbs of green tomatoes and I would guess 3-3.5lbs of potatoes.

Not too shabby, I am rather pleased!