My 100th Post and a Big Thank You!

Can’t believe it, my 100th post!  It has been so much fun so far getting to know new people and sharing our blogs with each other.  It has proven to be a great creative outlet for me.  So I want to thank everyone for their support and kind comments.  I look forward to the next 100 and meeting more fellow bloggers.

But as a thank you I like to give flowers so here are a few pictures from my garden that I took last year.  A bit of a break from the winter if you will.  🙂

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Thanks again everyone.  🙂

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And so it begins with transplanting…..

Given that we just got dumped on by a ton of snow, there are probably several of us who would love to see some green.  This is partly why I am so anxious to start our plants in January!  We planted a few different plants a couple of weeks ago and I showed the seed planting then.  While a few are starting to pop up the broccoli and Brussels Sprouts are going like gangbusters!

seedlings 1 2013

I couldn’t believe how well they are doing.  It’s great because we’ll have very healthy plants to put in the ground come April when the ground is workable.  As we did have a major storm and I realised my bigger pots are in the carriage house I had to make do with smaller 6 packs for now.  I carefully spooned out each seedling and put them each into their own cell.  Watering as I went so they don’t go into shock.

seedlings 2 2013

They will lay down and act like they’ve given up sometimes but they perk up.  I put the clear cover over them and back onto the heating pads and under the grow lights.  So now every one-two weeks we’ll be transplanting and staging the seedlings until it’s time to put them out in the real world….

First Frost of the Season

Where we live it can get brutally hot and bitter cold.  One year we had a range of -30 F (-34 C) to 110 F (43 C)!  It was a bit much.  So for the gardens we have to expect anything and everything.  Last week we had our first frost of the season and it got chilly, down to 24 F (-4 C).  Which meant we had to protect our tender veg that was still going strong.  And right now that is nearly half our garden.

It was time to tuck a few raised beds in.  When you do this you want to use breathable fabric so the plants get air but the frost doesn’t settle on the leaves and veg.  When the sun starts to hit the plants remove the sheets and blankets.

The plants we tucked in were peas, beans, peppers, and celery.  As it was quite windy we had to use clamps and lots of rocks.

The next morning was a very pretty morning.

We actually still had a few blossoms on our strawberries but the plants are still small so we weren’t overly concerned.

I love how the frost settles on the plants in different patterns.  🙂

I was thrilled to see the peas did well.

We were pushing it a bit with the peppers but most of the plants came through.

And I was equally surprised the celery did ok!  Which is good because we have a lot of it and don’t want it to go to waste.

Alas the growing season is coming to an end.  Soon the frosts will be too frequent and the warm days will be behind us.  It’s been a wonderful summer for the food.

Freezing Peppers

We planted a massive amount of pepper plants this year so we have quite the bumper crop.  I didn’t want the peppers to go to waste as the season winds down.  I did a bit of research this past month on the internet and found that you can just freeze them.  You can either freeze straight out of the garden or blanch them.  I choose the easy way.  🙂

I picked a bunch, washed them, and patted them dry.  I chopped them up into the size I wanted and put on a cookie sheet.

I just love all the colours!  I pop them in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

I then vacuum seal in the portion sizes I need.  This vacuum sealer has paid for itself many times over and it is relatively easy to use.  Needless to say our freezer is getting full!

Green House Part 2

I am a very lucky woman.  I have a wonderful husband who supports my garden habit.  Thanks to me he’s probably built more raised beds than he ever planned to and we’re not close to being done!  And he put a lot of thought into making the greenhouse workable for me.  And I love how it came out!  🙂

Rich designed a series of shelves and a workbench at the right height for me to maximize the space in this little greenhouse.

He came up with this great idea for a workbench and a peg board to hang my tools up when I’m finished.  We just need to get the hooks for them.

I got right in and started planting things!  Here are some cilantro seeds.  I also planted lettuce, basil, and radishes as a bit of an experiment.

I can’t wait to see what grows!

Swordfish with a bit of spice

On Sunday we had my parents and aunt come to lunch to celebrate my aunt’s birthday.  I had bought two swordfish steaks and was going to do it the regular old way on the grill.  That is until I took a break and starting randomly searching blogs.  I came across this recipe from Sabor for swordfish with a bit of chilli and cumin.  It looked amazing so I changed course and tried this out.  It was a hit!

For two steaks I mixed the following:

1 tsp ancho chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt

I completely forgot the olive oil and to be honest didn’t even miss it.  I do think the next time I make this I will lessen the amounts above because I had quite a bit left over.  We’ll see as the steaks don’t come in uniform sizes.

I grilled it 5 minutes on each side at medium high heat and it was perfection.  I will definitely try this again and maybe try it on chicken as Rich doesn’t like seafood.

Homegrown Mushrooms

I do taxes and this past season I overheard an elderly man being asked how he was doing.   His response was he woke up on the right side of the dirt.  It just cracked me up and made my day.

I love mushrooms and envy those who know enough to forage for them.  But you get it wrong and you wake up on the wrong side of the dirt!  Something to avoid.  So I was thrilled when we came across a little grow your own mushroom kit at a local store.  This one is for oyster mushrooms.

It is pretty simple.  You take out the mushroom starter and make an cross in the plastic then soak for 24 hours.

I won’t lie, it is a little gross at first.  Once it’s soaked then you want to drain the excess water.  Place back in the box and mist twice a day.  Pretty easy really.

After a few days they start to grow.  And grow they do!  It is pretty rapid after this.

Now all that’s left is to find a recipe for this gorgeous mushrooms!  🙂

Parmesan Baked Potato

We have family coming for a birthday lunch today so this will be a quick post as we have various dishes to prep for.  Today is gorgeous and perfect for eating outside.  We won’t have too many more of these days as our days are getting shorter and cooler.

This dish went with the smoked pork tenderloin and a salad.  I found something similar on Pinterest but they had added butter and a bunch of other things.  I decided to keep it really simple.

I first cooked the potatoes in the microwave for 9 minutes.  Then baked them in the toaster oven for about 20 minutes at 325 F.  I then sliced them in half and sprinkled pepper on the open sides.  Then I liberally sprinkled freshly grated parmesan cheese over the pepper for a complete covering.  I put them back in the toaster oven until the cheese was melted and browned a bit.

This is great as a stand alone small meal or a side dish.

Radish Seeds

We accidentally got into seed collection this season.  Which is probably what happened thousands of years ago so this is not new!  I first decided to try it with some peas that were past freshness on the vine.  When I opened the dried pods I saw the seeds looked like the ones we bought.  So I planted them in August and they are coming up just as well as the ones we already had.  Sweet!

Every year we plant the radishes alongside the carrots.  We don’t eat a lot of them, just on salads but they are easy to grow.  Well this summer some bolted quickly and got pretty tall.  I saw they were developing pods so I opened on and saw the seeds.  I took one radish and cut the pod bunch off to dry.

They have been hanging round in the kitchen for a few weeks.  So I decided it was time to collect the seeds.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as I haven’t done this before but I was pleasantly surprised at how many seeds per pod there were.

So one radish that bolted got us this many seeds:

Not a bad return on investment!  I read recently somewhere that you should store seeds in the fridge to simulate winter.  I haven’t done this with any other seeds I’ve bought and then used for a few years so I wouldn’t mind some feedback on this.  In the meantime I put these seeds in a little bag and put them in the fridge.  I don’t see it would harm them.

The Kitchen Garden

For the longest time I dreamed of a bountiful kitchen garden.  Finally when I moved in with my husband 4 years ago we got started on what was stuck in my head for years.  I am very fortunate that Rich is willing to do a lot of digging!   Each year we add a little bit more with raised beds and plots to our small bit of land.  We started out with buckets the first year then graduated to one small raised bed the next.  We now have 9 raised beds!  And it will grow some more.

Here is a picture from earlier in the season:

We are lucky that this part of our garden gets the southern sun and plenty of sun all day long.  Though this year we could have used more rain!  Our rain barrel got quite low a couple of times.

We rotate the crops each year and use our compost pile throughout the year.  We have to be careful how we decide on the crop placement as we don’t have rain gutters and where we planted the tomatoes last year was a mistake.  The rain, in bad storms, shoots a direct hit into one bed and flattened the plants last year!  So only hearty veg in that bed from now on.  At least until we get gutters.