Sunday, July 20, 2014

Summer Blooms

~ purple daylily & feverfew ~
 I love wandering around the yard at this time of year & seeing all the different colour & texture combinations out there. Some work very well - planted either on purpose or by happenstance.

~ hydrangea & astilbe mix ~
I also enjoy being able to bring in bouquets to the house to enjoy up close.

Hope you get out to enjoy the summer flowers & wouldn't it be lovely to have a neighbour share a bouquet with you?!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Garlic Ready for Storage

~ first garlic harvest ready for storage ~
Earlier this week I harvested my garlic - well, only half of it as I needed to make room for some cuttings & lettuce.

I left it out on the deck for a couple days to cure & dry the skins & have now brushed off the dirt, snipped the roots short & cleaned up the stalks.

I like to arrange the bulbs in order of smallest to largest - that way, I remember to stop eating the garlic just in time for fall planting!! You want to make sure to use the largest & healthiest bulbs in October for next year's crop.

This will hang downstairs where it is cool & dark & dry & every once in a while, I'll head down & snip off a head from the bottom & bring up to use in the kitchen.

Can't wait to see how my 2nd harvest looks in another week or so! Am hoping for larger heads...

I should roast some up to test out the flavour now too! Nothing quite like home grown & fresh picked garlic...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Marionberry - Part 2

~ Marionberry patch ~
Back a couple weeks ago, I introduced you to my new Marionberry patch & now I'm doing a bit of work on it.

The very tall & flowering mustard has reached its expiry date. Well, for me it has. I can't eat it - it has become so hot that one little leaf will more than likely have fire shooting out of your nose!! And they are now starting to shade out the pole beans I thought I would plant in here in order to utilize the new soil & the vertical growing space.

Plus, I needed to install some duck barriers...

So, today I cut back & mulched the mustard (which will no doubt reseed itself & continue to give me edible & decorative displays), found the beans & tied up some of the marionberry canes to the fence in order to start growing them for next year's harvest.

~ Marionberry patch manicured ~

With the lawn mowed & the duck barrier installed & the squash plant tended to, things are looking pretty good over here!

Now to just keep the ducks out of the beds...

I just might be eating beans this year instead of darling ducks!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Adventures with Ducks - Sow it, Grow it, Watch Someone Else Eat it...

~ Percy & Horatio find Food ~
 Well, my blessed, darling ducks have continued to provide me with a constant source of amusement & frustration.

They love their greens so much that they are now helping themselves to the greens I have growing in my raised beds.

One particular bed is doing extremely well this year & has peas, Swiss chard, borage, runner beans, squash & a variety of herbs, all crowded in tightly in a confined space.

Percy & Horatio have shown the twins where this lovely bed is & they have nibbled on all the leaves that stick tantalizingly close to the edge of the raised bed. And it's a tall bed...
~ Duck Barrier installed ~

I spent my morning stapling small sized wire mesh around the top edge of the beds to discourage their hungry & curious bills from ripping everything out.

But Horatio proved to be a smarter duck than anticipated... he saw a pea leaf leaning towards the outside edge of the bed & he just simply jumped higher than the barrier & ripped the whole pea plant out over top...
~ Duck Barrier installed after the Destruction ~

I wasn't quick enough on one of the other beds. All 4 ducks managed to rush over & have a 'pea hauling' feast before anyone realized just what they were doing. It looks like my pea harvest this year will NOT be shared with the ducks, as previously anticipated.

Let's see if I still have time to resow something in the now barren beds & grow some food to feed me...

~ Never turn your back on a duck ~
I caught all 4 of them in the greenhouse - do they look guilty to you?? I shooed them out before they could get in-between the tomatoes & peppers & sit on the rosemary & do massive destruction... Trust a duck... I don't think so...

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Trying Something New - Part 2 - Harvest of the Jostaberry

~ black currant vs jostaberry ~
A couple weeks ago I showed you how my jostaberries were coming along. Well, I've finished my first harvest & wanted to show the difference in size of berry.

How could you not want to grow more jostaberries?! A much larger berry & the shrub seems to grow much better than the black currant shrub.

The only down side is that the flavour is not as intense as the black currant. So, I think I will take a bunch of cuttings from the jostaberries this year & grow at least a half dozen more shrubs (more likely a dozen!) & plant them out in different areas of the property to see where they prefer to grow & keep my black currant shrubs just so I can add a handful or 2 to whatever it is I decide to make with my harvest. The first few years it might only be for personal use, but I would love to share the flavour with others who come into town!

I'm just glad that I managed to harvest the berries before the ducks found them! Ducks can & will & do jump in the berry patch to get tasty treats...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

My 'Blessed' Ducks - Part 1

~ exploring their new herb bed ~
 I thought it would be a grand idea to give the ducks some extra special 'things' in their enclosure. This time is was the concept of a herb bed. The ducks I had last year couldn't have been bothered with excessive greens in their diet & I thought this was a nice way of breaking up their space, providing some break from the wind & sunshine & to give them some 'pretty things' while stuck in the pen all day long.

Little did I realize I've created green-machines... these ducks LOVE their greens. They get quite aggressive with my feet in the mornings if I decide to clean their house prior to feeding them chopped up greens - the same greens they munch on all day long if they are running around the yard [dandelions, borage, comfrey, sorrel...] but in the mornings, they demand that it be chopped up & in the water basin & that I sit there for 15 minutes & hang out with them.
~ duck proof herb box ~

The destruction they caused in just one day when left with their new herb bed was truly amazing. Broke my heart a wee bit, but I was laughing too much at their curiosity & their love of greens to really be all that upset. Now the herb bed should be indestructible with the 'duck barrier' I installed - at 7:00 in the morning & replanted with some very sad calendula.

If the herbs recover, maybe I'll snip a few pieces off for them to enjoy later on in the year...

Lesson learned... You feed ducks greens from hatch out day & they'll consider any reachable green part of their diet - not yours...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Harvest Time: Garlic

~ first garlic harvest this year ~
Well, mid-July is the time when we start to harvest garlic. I decided to haul a few out in order to make room for more seeds in a week or 2 & to see how well they were growing for me this year.

I can see that a few are not so healthy, but the rest look wonderful!

Pull the garlic out, lay them in the sun to dry a bit & just brush off the dirt. You can either tie them up in a braid or cut the green stalks off about 2 or 3 inches above the bulbs & store in a cool, dry, dark area for many months.

Stop watering your garlic about a week or 2 prior to harvest - that helps with flavour. You'll also want to take a look at the bulbs at this stage too & set some aside to plant in October for next year's harvest. Pick the largest & healthiest bulbs from the ones you've grown.

Garlic will evolve & modify itself to the conditions within your own growing space. So the bulbs you bought last year or the year before & continued to propagate yourself, with not be the same if you bought new ones each year. Decide if you enjoy your own flavour & maybe start sharing with your neighbours. Garlic you propagate yourself will also be healthier - as long as you start off with the healthiest bulbs (hard as it is to reserve those for planting!)