Monday, August 26, 2013

Harvesting - Already?

This summer has been flying past me in a blur.
I took a couple of weeks off in May, a long weekend each in June and July (my August one will be this weekend) and then I have a week booked off in September and another one in October.  Summer's projects included building three new raised garden beds (two done just this past weekend) the near completion of the back fence project and getting ready for some major renovations that will take place while I am away in September.
The last few weeks have had me starting to harvest the bounty of my garden.  My Scarlet Runner beans (seeds courtesy of a neighbour of mine back on the Isle of Jersey) have produced some half dozen bags' worth of frozen packed beans for winter consumption (each bag is about two meals.) The Kale is in the process, also, of being harvested and processed for winter consumption (though truth be told, it's a crop that can be left out and fresh harvested all winter long - so I'm not working too hard at cleaning that up!
Rhubarb may actually give me one last gasp of fruit for winter processing as well.
The next few things that will have me seriously hopping will be the tomatoes and the pears.  The tomatoes are starting to ripen - I've had one already, a second is nearly red and there are a handful more that will be soon ripe enough to eat, stew, freeze or otherwise process. When I was out inspecting the GIANT yellow flowers on my Crown Prince pumpkin (also a Jersey seed)  I tested a pear and they are looking like they will be ready to pick imminently as well.  That will mean that next weekend after my cabin time I will be coming home to pears to process and can.
I cleaned off the garlic bulbs yesterday and cut off the roots and leaves - they are in the house and waiting for use in sauces and soups... I'll need to get next year's garlic into the ground pretty quick, come to think of it, but the bed it will be going into next year isn't quite ready for it yet, so I have a little time there.  Plus I need to get my mind wrapped around what I want to put in - whether I want to save and plant from this year's harvest, or buy new stuff...
Thankfully, after the pears are done I will have a *little* breath time before I need to worry about the apples... they look AWESOME (if I do say so myself) and then after the frosts come I will start planning the pumpkin plans... I'm going to probably try my hand at canning some of that as well - if I have enough jars when all is said and done!
When I was in my teens and early twenties I never thought I would find something like this interesting.  Now in my forties, I have to admit, there is something truly magical to me about being able to put food that *I* grew in my own yard on the table.
With love across the waters...

An Early Morning Walk

I think that, on work days, my second favourite time of day (the first being the moment I get home from work and Jasmine greets me with love when I get to the door) is our early morning walks up in the trails around Cumberland.

Here’s why:
Early morning sunlight through
the trees

"Hey Mum - hurry up!!!"

That's my gorgeous girl!
With love across the waters,

A Rainy Day at the Cabin is Still Better…

… Than a sunny day at work. 

That was my Facebook status update yesterday.  It has been truth before, it will be truth again, I am certain.

The thing is, down here when it rains there’s this sound.  It is so very hard to describe and I’m certain that only a few of you will understand it, or perhaps have a place, or maybe just the memory of a place, that the rain sound fills you – the way it does for me here. 

The roof isn’t insulated – so when it rains you hear each drop hitting the shakes and each drop combined with all of the others falling makes this sweet natural music that reminds me of being “stuck in the cabin” with Grandma and Grandpa and my brother Rob (back when we called him Robbie) on a gray and rainy day… playing cards.  Grandma drinking instant coffee as black as night and Grandpa with his little Brown Betty tea pot beside him. Eating fried up scones that Grandma made…

Playing Rummy. 

Playing Crazy Eights. 

Playing Crib.

Honest to God.  A rainy day here may be filled with comforting ghosts and sound and scent memories, but it will always be better than a sunny day at work.

With love across the waters,

A Raised Bed and a Surprise!

In July of this year, after the bulk of the back fence project was done, I decided it was finally time to start putting in raised garden beds. I have a fair amount of yard space that can be given over to planting vegetables and fruits, but in the interests of keeping Jasmine (not to mention Missy) out of my food supply, I determined that putting in raised beds would be a Very Good Idea.

I picked up four 12’ rough cut cedar planks (I went with 1”x8” but in retrospect I should have gone with 2”x8” instead) and once home set up my portable saw horses and got to work.
The spot where the new bed would go
Portable saw-horse reporting for duty - and behind it
is the pile of dirt left over from digging post holes
Boards cut and ready to assemble

I decided that the bed I was putting in should be two foot deep by 10 foot long and so measured and cut my boards to suit this.  A number of years ago now Mum & Dad started replacing their raised beds (that were made with wood) with concrete poured raised beds – where they are they have to combat the roots of cedar trees and so concrete is a better fit for them. To that end, they gave me the corner connectors that they had bought from Lee Valley Tools (the BEST store on earth ha ha ha) and I took out 8 of them (and the screws) because this particular bed was going to end up being 2 feet wide by 10 feet long by 16 inches deep. Boards cut I got things into place and connected all of the pieces and then stacked the two “boxes” to make one very deep one. This should end up being PLENTY of space to grow whatever I end up planting in there (on purpose) in.

MORE than deep enough!
Bed in place, I next took on the compost bin move project. Before re-claiming all of the compost material, I lined the very bottom of the new garden bed with newspaper.  This will eventually help keep down any serious weeds that may be already in the ground… Next up I took apart the two-bin compost I built at the beginning of last summer and moved all of the material in that over into the bottom of the new raised bed.  On top of that I put another thick layer of newspaper and then on the very top I put the soil that had been initially displaced when Dad and Rob (my brother) dug out the fence post holes.

New bed in, filled with compost material
and left-over post hole dirt
I will need to top dress the bed with sea soil and more potting soil, and I’ll need to over seed that through the winter with something like fall rye (which can be dug under in the spring and rots down into a lovely green manure) but for now… It’ll do just fine!

About a week after I got the new bed in place and all the dirt moved in I noticed a plant… kind of a large leaf plant – that had self-started in the new bed.  I know it is a member of the squash family – I have checked the leaves and now that it is flowering, looked at the flowers and have confirmed it is definitely a member of the squash family.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t know exactly WHAT it really is.  It might be a pumpkin – I did try to sprout some Crown Prince pumpkin, but thought that all of the seeds were not viable and so gave up on them and chucked them into the compost bin. It may also be a butternut squash… or a regular orange pumpkin – I have had a number of those throughout the year and when I was preparing them I just threw all of the seeds and guts into my compost without thinking.

Female flower

Male flowers

Whatever it is, it may not have enough time to ripen before the frosts come.  I actually hope it does though – I’m curious to see what it is, and I would LOVE to have some of my own squash or pumpkin for winter consumption!

With love across the waters,