Browse Author by dria
Gardening

Garden Update – July 22nd 2016

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Right now my hands smell of thyme and sage. Tonight we will have our first salads from the garden — a simple salad of mixed greens, and a small caprese salad with tomatoes and basil we’ve grown ourselves. There may also be mussels and/or salmon…we’ll see.

Some photos, with notes.

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Indigo Kumquat tomatoes – this is a semi-indeterminate hybrid that has taken over a significant part of our deck. Purchased from the discount bin, it was already sprawling and complicated, and after some judicious pruning and trellising, has started to do pretty well. It’s in a pot that’s probably too small at this point, but there’s no way we can repot it without losing half of the existing large cherry tomatoes, so I’ve topped it up with pure seafood compost and with an extra gallon of water yesterday seems to be doing pretty well. The plant probably has 50 tomatoes started already, the first 4-5 we’ll be eating today, and is starting new flowers constantly. If I can keep it alive, I expect this plant will continue producing right until frost.

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Pea flower – We’ve got three types of peas started, and the first flowers emerged this week. We have about 30 pea plants underway that are being trained up a simple bamboo trellis. I love fresh peas, so I’m hoping these will actually work, even though it’s pretty late in the season.

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Sweet 100 tomatoes – these are a determinate tomato, which we also picked up in the discount bin, scoring 8 plants for $4. They’re planted out in the garden beds and are doing pretty well now. They’ve doubled in size in the last couple of weeks and have set fruit with plenty more flowers on the way.

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Proto zucchini – We love zucchini so naturally I’ve planted far too many. I think we have 20 plants of four types, including golden, green, white, and “Sunburst” pattypan. This week we’ve seen the first itty bitty zucchini on all but the Sunburst plants, so we’ll be swimming in it soon. Luckily zucchini grills up like a champ and is something we’re happy eating pretty much every day.

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The salad bar – I think there are eight types of lettuce here, including three red leaf, three green leaf, “Little Gem” romaine, and Black Seeded Simpson. The tomatoes in the back are “Patio” tomatoes which are a determinate cherry tomato. There are a couple of “Sweet 100s” in here as well. The lettuce is ready to start harvesting, which we’ll do as “cut and come again”, taking only a couple of the outer leaves from each plant at a time and letting them continue to grow for the rest of the season.

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Radish – I’ve planted 3 types of radish and they grow like stink. I think this is two weeks old and it will be ready to harvest in a week or so. I’ll plant more when these are done so we have an ongoing source of radishy goodness.

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Beets – We have …a lot of beets. Or, more accurately, currently we have a lot of beet greens. We’ve planted half Boldor (golden) beets and half Bull’s Blood (crazy dark red) beets, and will start harvesting greens from these soon. The roots haven’t developed yet, but they should be big and ready for a pickling marathon in late September or early October. I make a honey-ginger pickled beet that is pretty much my favourite pickle in the world, thus the comically large number of beets in our garden.

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Broccoli Rabe – Still very small and struggling a bit with the wind (we get a lot of wind), but these have grown quite a lot in the last week or so. I believe there are even some proto-shoots starting, which is encouraging. I will likely seed more of these soon since they’re a cool weather crop and should do better in the autumn.

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Swiss Chard – We planted Kaleidoscope chard seeds and have about a dozen plants going strong. We’ll be able to start harvesting leaves from these pretty much any time, and they should last through until October or so.

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Kale! – This is Blue Dwarf Curly kale and we also have a bunch of Black Kale. Really too much of both, with I think 20 plants of each scattered throughout the garden. Luckily we love kale (thanks to @shappy), and will be experimenting with kale chips in addition to salads and sauted greens. Yum. Kale is another cool weather crop, so these should last through October as well.

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Cilantro, herbs & hot peppers – the herb bed contains Sage (2), Cilantro (3), Thyme (3), Oregano (2), Sweet Basil (3), Thai Basil (3), Lemon Balm (1), Dill (2), plus Jalapeno, Thai Chili, and Habanero plants. They are all going total gangbusters and we can start harvesting from them (except the hot peppers) any time. I will probably figure out how to do herbs indoors this year as well, so should be able to score herb seeds in the inevitable end-of-season seed sales. Woop woop. Oh we also have a spearmint plant, but he’s banished to a container on the patio, and garlic chives courtesy of the previous owner of our house. The chives will be transplanted into a better spot next spring.

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Rob’s Potato Towers – Rob is somewhat obsessed with growing potatoes, so has built and planted four potato towers with three types of organic potatoes (Yukon Gold, Russet, and Chieftain). The towers are about 2′ x 2.5′, and will be 2′ tall when they’re finished. The theory is that you build a frame that can be made taller throughout the season, and as the potato plants grow upwards, you build additional layers and fill them in with soil and compost, giving the plants more space for potatoes. Rob just added the second layer to these this week, and they should be finished up in a couple of months. The source of these plans claims that you can get as many as 100 lbs of potatoes from each tower, but we’ll see. We’ll make a video of the harvest when the time comes!

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The crazy apple tree – this is one of the three apple trees on our land, and is by far the largest. This is also where about a billion goldfinches live. We have no idea what kind of apple it is, and the tree has been sorely neglected for at least a decade, but we’re looking forward to spending a few years rehabbing this tree and seeing what it can produce. One of the other apple trees is very similar, but smaller (also in rough shape), and the third is a crabapple tree, which will be handy for jams & jellies (crabapples are a great source of natural pectin) and for the birds.

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Not pictured – two types of cucumber (doing well), three types of snap bean (also doing well, but pretty slow…we’ll see), and four types of winter squash that probably don’t have enough time to ripen anything before the hard frosts come, but I’m going to let them carry on and see what happens.

And that’s the update for today. There have been some failures along the way — I had to ditch all of the asian greens because they were infested with flea beetles. Next year they’ll all be in one bed and grown under row cover until they’re large enough to survive on their own. Also the cucamelons are super super slow and there’s no way they’ll produce anything this year, so I’m going to pull those out today and use the space for something else. I’ve got some bunching onions I want to plant, as well as perpetual spinach, snowball turnips, arugula, and maybe some leeks.

Food & Cooking

Turkey chili with black beans and sweet potatoes

turkey chili with black beans and sweet potatoes

I love chili and we make it a lot in the autumn and winter. Sometimes you need to try something different, however, maybe lighten things up, eat less red meat, cram in a few more superfoods? That’s where this turkey chili came from, and it’s really delicious.

Turkey chili with black beans and sweet potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 med onions, coarsely chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (or more) whole fresh jalapenos, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 2-2.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 0.5 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.5 lb ground turkey (extra lean)
  • 2 28oz tins of diced tomatoes w/ juices
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into a rough dice (half inch pieces or bigger, don’t be fussy)
  • 2-3 cups of black beans (pre-cooked or tinned, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 tin corn niblets
  • Grated cheese, chopped cilantro and diced avocado to serve.

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in the bottom of a large (6qt) dutch oven or heavy pot. Saute onion over med-low heat for 5 mins to soften. Add garlic and jalapeno and saute for another 5 mins.
  2. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder and pepper. Stir and saute for 2-3 mins. The pot will seem really dry at this point, but it’s ok. We’ll fix that in a minute.
  3. Add tomato paste and stir, then toss in uncooked ground turkey. Stir occasionally until turkey is cooked through. This can take 10-15 mins on med-low.
  4. Add one and a half tins of diced tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil, then lower to simmering. Let this simmer for 15-20 mins. Hang on to the rest of the tomatoes, you may need them
  5. Add the diced sweet potatoes and stir to combine. When this comes back to a simmer, cover and let cook over low heat until the sweet potatoes are almost cooked through (25-30 mins).
  6. Add beans and corn, stir to combine, then let simmer for another 10-15 mins over low.
  7. Add the rest of the tomatoes if it seems too dry.

At this point the turkey chili is technically done, but it will sit indefinitely and will just get better with time.  Eventually the sweet potatoes will disintegrate, but that’s no big deal.

Serve with crusty bread and butter, top with cheese, fresh cilantro, and some diced avocado.

This isn’t super spicy (unless you’ve used a hot chili powder), so feel free to add hot sauces or whatever if you like.

Food & Cooking

Sausage and vegetable pasta

sausage and vegetable pasta

We’ve made a few billion variations of sausage and vegetable pasta over the years, but this is one version I actually took the time to write down. It’s a simple and filling weeknight meal that is perfect any time of year, and is a great way to use up leftover grilled sausages.

Timing depends a lot on how much you want to cook down the tomatoes, but you can speed this up by using a simple (ie: tomato/basil) pre-made pasta sauce if you’re in a hurry.

This version is a very generous meal for two. Feel free to adjust the garlic and red pepper flakes as you see fit. We really, really, really like garlic.

Sausage and vegetable pasta

Ingredients

  • 2-3 mild or hot Italian sausages
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1-2 tsp hot red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 med zucchini, chopped into rough chunks
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped into rough chunks
  • 1 med red onion, chopped into rough chunks
  • 1-2 tsp fresh oregano (or 1/2-1 tsp dried)
  • 1 large tin diced tomatoes (796ml, 28oz)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Penne or other chunky pasta
  • A goodly pile of freshly shredded parmesan to serve

Method

  1. Grill or fry the sausages until fully cooked. Slice into rounds.
  2. Put the sausage rounds into a saute pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. Toss in the minced garlic, shallot, and red pepper flakes. Saute that all together for a couple of minutes.
  3. Throw in the zucchini, pepper, and onion. Saute those for a couple of minutes, then add the oregano and a few gratings of fresh pepper. Stir a few times, then add the diced tomatoes with all their juices.
  4. Bring up to a boil then reduce to a lowish simmer. Let it simmer for 20-25 mins…the idea is to let the tomatoes cook down and become more of a sauce. This is a matter of taste, really, so you can cook it for as long as you like, just don’t totally overcook the veggies.
  5. While the sauce simmers, bring a big pot of generously salted water up to boil and cook your pasta when the sauce is almost done.
  6. Serve in big ol’ bowls with lots of parmesan cheese and fresh pepper.

We make up variations of sausage and vegetable pasta as we go, so feel free to riff on this using whatever vegetables you have on hand. Sometimes I’ll add a tin of white kidney beans, or other vegetables (broccoli rabe works insanely well), etc. The sauce will keep in the fridge for a few days, so make extra if you like leftovers as much as we do!

Food & Cooking

Soba noodle salad with edamame and tofu

soba noodle salad

Mark Bittman did a soba noodle salad in his Minimalist article a while back, but his version was a little weird and involved entirely too much lime juice. I modified it a bit, and this is what I came up with.

Soba noodle salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1.5 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 oz soba noodles (dry weight)
  • 1 c edamame (out of pods)
  • 1-2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1/2 package of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2 c green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 c baby carrots, shredded
  • 2 tsp white or black sesame seeds

Method

  1. Whisk together oils, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce, and ginger. This is really just a basic vinaigrette with soy and ginger. I just dump it all into a mason jar and shake like hell. Taste and adjust as necessary — I tend towards the vinegary end of the spectrum, so you might want to check.
  2. Cook the soba noodles in lightly salted boiling water until they’re at the texture you want. These are fast — usually no more than 3-4 minutes. Test after 3 minutes to check. When the noodles are cooked, rinse under cold water until cool.
  3. Cook the edamame — I just cook it from frozen with the soba noodles (they take about the same amount of time). Similarly, rinse the edamame under cold water until cool.
  4. Put the peanut oil into a shallow pan and heat to medium-high. Dump in the tofu and fry ’til a bit crispy – usually 2-3 mins per side. This part is optional, really…you don’t have to fry the tofu, but it adds to the texture. Let cool.
  5. Divide noodles into two big ol’ bowls, top each with edamame, tofu, green onions, and carrots. Pour 2-3 tbsp of the vinaigrette over each and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

And that’s the extent of it. Soba noodle salad is a healthy, filling and delicious meatless recipe which is super quick to throw together once you get the hang of it. Double the recipe and you’ll have leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch, just leave the dressing off until you’re packing your lunch up in the morning.

I always feel amazing after eating this (and it’s way cheaper than freshii).

Food & Cooking

Baked salmon with lemon and tomatoes

baked salmon

This is one of my favourite ways to make baked salmon for a weeknight dinner. It’s fast and crazy simple — start to finish it takes about 40 mins, including prep time. You can change this recipe up in a bunch of ways, but this is how we’ve done it the last few times. This version feeds two, but it can easily be doubled.

Baked salmon with lemon and tomatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 salmon filets
  • 1 lemon
  • 12-16 cherry tomatoes
  • olive oil
  • fresh ground pepper
  • a pinch of salt
  • fresh herbs if you’re feeling fancy (tarragon or dill work really well)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 375.
  2. Lay the two sheets of tinfoil out and pour a bit of olive oil in the centre of each.
  3. Place the salmon skin-side-down on the oil.
  4. Sprinkle fresh ground pepper and a bit of salt over the salmon — not a whole lot.
  5. Cut the lemon so you have 8 slices, not including the end bits. Put 4 slices across the top of each filet.
  6. Slice the tomatoes in half lengthways and put those on top of the lemon slices, cut side down.
  7. Carefully fold the tinfoil up to contain everything, and tightly seal the edges so steam and liquid won’t escape. It’ll end up as a sealed packet with air inside over the salmon.
  8. Place these on the baking sheet and bake for 20-25 mins — the salmon should be opaque all the way through, but not crazily overdone. Don’t worry about it too much.

That’s it. If you want to get fancy you can toss in a sprig or two of tarragon or dill, or maybe some thyme or a couple of basil leaves. Serve your baked salmon with a side of buttery steamed spinach or a simple salad, and some short grain brown rice.

House & Home

Renovations!

As I’ve mentioned previously, Rob and I found and purchased a cute little house on a gorgeous bit of land in record time. And the house is great — really well built, very well maintained, new roof, new windows, dry basement, great insulation, etc.

There were two problems, however:

  1. It was decorated in the mid 1980s and never updated
  2. The kitchen

So we’re having some renovations done. The painting and minor cosmetic stuff we’ll do ourselves, but we’ve hired some folks to rip out and replace all of the existing flooring, and to design, gut and rebuild our kitchen/dining room.

The two major issues with the kitchen were that it had no space for a dishwasher, and it was small & dark and sort of weirdly cramped. I also hate having the fridge right beside the stove, but that may just be me.

Here’s what it looked like right after we bought the house (aka: Kitchen Renovation Before):

kitchen renovation before

Here’s what it looks like currently (Kitchen Renovation During):

kitchen renovation during

As you can see, we’re opening the kitchen up entirely and merging it with the dining area to make one bigger and brighter eat-in kitchen. The dining table will be in the middle and double as a large island/prep area. The floors will be a lovely grey-tinged (wet-moppable) laminate that will carry through to the living room. The rest of the house will have warm neutral-grey carpet.

We have also ordered all new appliances including a kickass slide-in dual-fuel gas stove from KitchenAid. We are ridiculously excited about this — we had a very similar stove in our old house in Moncton and have missed it dearly.

I promise that we’ll post (many) “after” images once it’s all done.

Tomorrow the floor guys are coming in, after which Rob and I will finish painting and (finally) start moving in. We’ll be without a full kitchen for a few weeks yet, so it will only be a part-time move-in, but at least we’ll start getting set up and (soon) stop living out of gorramn duffle bags.

I am pretty tired of living out of a duffle bag.

vans_joel_tudor_duffle

Gardening

Garden update – July 4th 2016

In our original “move back to Moncton and buy a place in the country” plan, we expected to be house-hunting for at least a couple of months, with the end-goal of moving into a new place by the end of September. We blew that goal out of the water, however, accidentally finding the perfect spot in a matter of days rather than months.

The weekend after we took possession of our house, I leapt into action and planted six flats of seeds (from Vesey’s Seeds over in PEI), including:

  • lettuces (various red, various green, black seeded simpson, sweet gem, etc)
  • kale (blue curly & black)
  • zucchini (richgreen, golden, sunburst, magda)
  • swiss chard (kaleidoscope)
  • cucamelon
  • cucumber (calypso, summer dance)
  • spinach (space)
  • french beans (maxibel, teggia, soleil)
  • beets (bulls blood, boldor)
  • tatsoi
  • qing choi
  • chinese cabbage (emiko)
  • peas (misty, dalvay, sabre)
  • squash (sweet mama, sunshine, early butternut, heart of gold)
  • broccolini (artwork)
  • various greens (baby leaf, stir fry, spicy mix, etc.)

While those were busily sprouting, Rob and I built 10 4×8′ 6″ deep raised beds, and filled them with a mix of garden soil and seafood compost. I’ll tell you this: you know you live in the maritimes when your compost is full of lobster shells.

beds-1sm

As for planting, we started with the sunniest bed and filled it with herb and hot pepper plants we purchased (not enough time to do those from seed this year). Yesterday, I planted out most of the seedlings and will finish those up today along with direct-seeding a bunch of radish (they don’t like being transplanted). The finishing touch will be making bamboo & twine trellises for all of the climbing things, such as beans, peas, cucumbers, and zucchini.

On top of all of this, Rob also built and planted four potato towers, using three types of seed potatoes. Suffice it to say, we’re super curious to see how all of this works out.

Anyhow, that’s the garden update for this week! More photos and updates soon!

photos by robcee

House & Home

A little house by the river…

So, we bought a house.

It’s been a whirlwind since my last update: we drove back to Toronto, finished packing/cleaning our house there, drove back to Moncton (one way trip!), settled into our temporary lodgings, started the house-hunting process, found the perfect spot on day 3, put an offer on it on day 4, finalized the purchase at the end of that week, and closed on it a week after that.

Yep, we bought and took possession of our new house in under two weeks.

It’s just a little house — 3 bedroom, 1 bath, 3 level split (plus basement) that was built in the mid 80s. It’s in great shape (unlike the other oh-my-god-teardowns we looked at), new roof, well insulated, and on the edge of Moncton proper meaning we’re on city water & sewer (yay!). We also have fiberop internet that weirdly comes bundled with free phone & TV. So I guess we have TV again.

The most significant change from our plans and our actual purchase is the amount of land we ended up getting. We were initially looking for 10+ acres (or at least 5+) outside of city limits, but ended up getting 2 acres just within city limits. This changes what we can do slightly — limit on # of chickens, no goats or other livestock — but it turns out 2 acres (gorgeous, south-facing, totally cleared and well-drained acres) is enough for pretty much everything else. It’s a good size, and is really just a lovely bit of land right on the Petitcodiac river.

What the house does have is a lovely 12′ x 20′ room that will be my combination office & studio. This is a huge bonus for me, of course, and I am really excited to get my studio set up so I can get back to work. It’s been really way too long since I’ve been able to do any printmaking, and I’m itching to get back to it. So many projects I want to work on!

Unfortunately we’re not going to move in to the house for a few weeks yet, as we’re doing some renovations. More on that soon.

That’s enough rambling for now. More updates soon (now that the initial chaos has finally settled a bit). Have a lovely Canada Day!

 

House & Home

Just about finished in Toronto…

Rob and I are in Moncton this week, having just driven the third and final truckload of our stuff here from Toronto. Everything we own is now stashed in a pair of storage units where it will live until we buy a house and some land here in New Brunswick.

In a couple of days we’ll drive back to Toronto to finish up there, then it’s one last one-way drive back to Moncton, wherein the house-hunting fun begins.

Our goal at this point is to find property that is 10+ acres, has a small but well-kept house, and has decent high speed internet. Extra outbuildings (barns, garages, greenhouses, sheds, etc) would be a significant bonus, but aren’t a hard requirement.

Once we find a place & move in, we have a bunch of stuff we want to get accomplished before winter:

    • whatever maintenance and repairs need to be done to the house & other buildings so they’re sound for winter
    • buy a generator, a lawn mower, a snow blower & any other tools we need (second-hand wherever possible)
    • buy & install a wood stove (if there isn’t one already) & make sure we have a few cord of wood for the winter
    • plan the permaculture part of the gardens (fruit trees, etc)
    • plan our first year vegetable & herb gardens
    • build & mulch some double-dug raised vegetable beds
    • prep & mulch soil for the herb garden
    • prep & mulch soil for fruit canes, shrubs and trees
    • prep & mulch soil for an asparagus bed
    • prep & mulch soil for rhubarb plants
    • prep & mulch soil for growing regular row crops (mostly beans)
    • set up shelves and grow lights for an indoor winter salad & herb garden and for seed-starting in late winter
    • order fruit canes, fruit trees, asparagus crowns, rhubarb plants, seed potatoes, etc
    • order vegetable and herb seeds
    • order and plant a lot of garlic

On top of all of this, Rob will be writing the third book in the New Providence series, and I’ll be working on a bunch of new prints & relaunching my Etsy shop(s). (I have nascent plans for three new shops in addition to Parchment Moon…but more news on that later!)

Right now, it’s raining and it’s quiet. There is no traffic noise. No sounds of people going past on the sidewalk. No sirens or honking or noise from the neighbours. Nothing but the rain.

House & Home

A still-waiting-to-finish-moving update

Pictured above, a mid-summer New Brunswick sunset. It really is very pretty where we’re going.

There’s not really a whole lot to update, since Rob and I are currently waiting out our close date in our mostly-empty house in Toronto. With the majority of our stuff already moved and in storage, it’s a bit of a drag, but we’re making do.

trajectory2

Trajectory: Book 2

Rob’s putting the final touches on his anxiously-awaited second novel (the follow-up to Trajectory Book 1) which he expects to make available for pre-order very soon, with full publication to follow soon after. Full disclosure: I’ve read it, and it’s great. Read his blog post and then go grab Book 1 to get ahead of the game!

Art & Photography

As for me, I’m in a bit of an artistic limbo. All of my art/craft stuff has been moved into storage, where it will live until Rob and I find and buy a place out East. This includes my giant photo printer (boo), so I’ve had to temporarily take all my photography work out of my Etsy shop. I do still have photography available in my Redbubble Shop, but it’s a significantly smaller part of the collection right now.

I am still selling my block prints and chess sets on Etsy, however, and orders for those keep coming in, which is lovely. And I’ve been adding more products to my Canadian Postage Stamps collection on Redbubble. The stamps look crazy great on the totebags and t-shirts, and I love how the framed prints ended up. Fun.

Either way, it really (really) means the world to me when someone likes my work enough to pay me for it and to support me as an artist. Some day I will figure out how to properly thank everyone who has bought some of my art. There may be future surprises in store!

daisy

Gardening research

In the meantime, while in mid-move-limbo, I’ve been doing a buttload of research for a personal vegetable & herb gardening calendar. My goal is to cobble together a general week-by-week schedule & plan for 2017 that covers seed starting, transplanting, and harvesting so we have some idea of how to approach our first year with extensive* vegetable and herb gardens.

There are a bunch of planting calendars out there, but I haven’t found one that covers everything I am interested in growing, and information about all the various vegetables is scattered all over the place. More than once I’ve had the urge to start a public wiki and start compiling it all in one place.

As an example, most calendars have “beans” as a general catch-all, but there are lots of different kinds of beans (pole, bush, snap, dry, fava, lima, edamame, etc.) and seed starting and transplanting recommendations vary between them. Also, many of the information sources I have found don’t have all the details I want, and then the information that does exist isn’t always consistent. It’s a little frustrating.

As an aside

If you know of an excellent, detailed public wiki about vegetable and herb gardening, or if you know of really solid sources for this sort of information, please (please!) send me a note on Twitter or Facebook. It will be hugely appreciated.

A few years from now I’m sure I’ll laugh about all of this because I expect most successful gardening is the result of hard-won experience & wisdom rather than all this rote book-learnin’. But, well, this is where I am right now. And it’s fun, really, I just can’t wait to get started.

 

grasses

Other stuff

In addition to all of that, I’m continuing to read as much as I can about other stuff related to our overall plans, such as

  • Food storage, including freezing, canning, and root cellaring (pickle all of the things!)
  • Compost, soil testing, and soil amendments since we will not be using chemical/synthetic fertilizers in any way
  • Pest & disease identification and remediation, again ideally using organic methods as much as possible (can’t promise I’ll sacrifice an entire tomato harvest to blight, however, so we may not be 100% organic on this part)
  • Pollinator garden design, since we want to attract as many beneficial pollinators and insects as possible, including bees, butterflies and hummingbirds
  • Designing and building chicken coops & chicken tractors — we will probably leave chickens to year 2, but I want to have some idea of what to expect in terms of cost and complexity

Et cetera, et cetera, yadda yadda. It suffices to say that I’m managing to fill the time, I just wish it were less sitting-around-reading and more feet-on-the-ground looking for a place to buy so we can just get started already.

But, that will all come soon enough, I’m sure. More updates as events warrant!

* meaning “more extensive than zero gardens”, which is what we’ve had in Toronto