End of June Veggie Garden Photo Tour

image

The end of June has come very quickly and the garden is coming along wonderfully!  It has been a slower start this year, but July will have many, many treats for us! We have not purchased any supplemental veggies at all this month, and we hope to be able to supply everything we need from now until October (though we may not always get what we want on a given day, it does teach us to eat what is ripe and available.)

The tomatoes in containers seem to be doing the best, followed by those with the red plastic mulch.  The new beds along the back have been slow to start, but I expected that – I find it takes a few years for the soil to reach the perfect mix of nutrients, worms and texture. I finally took the plastic off the zucchinis and butterbush squash because they were getting a bit stressed from the days finally getting warmer (the leaves have greened up even since the pictures were taken!)

The berries have started – Haskaps were first and now strawberries are starting to ripen.  There is going to be a bumper crop of Raspberries and Blueberries this year as well as wild Blackberries!  I have found a few little hardy kiwi hiding under the leaves, fingers crossed!

My wee girl’s garden is filling in wonderfully!  Her runner beans are starting to climb, the purple cauliflower heads are just starting and her Black Plum tomatoes have a few little buds poking out.  She has seen many little bugs and bees visiting – more will arrive once the flowers she has planted begin to bloom.

The weed suppressors are doing a great job!  In the potato beds without film or straw the weeds are doing almost as well as the edibles…grrrr…time to find some more clan straw.

Enjoy the end of June tour!! To see more beautiful end of June gardens, visit Helen, the Patient Gardener.

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please me eyes or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my soul, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.” ~ David Hobson

Advertisements

Everything is coming up Rhubarb!! Family favourite recipes from Nova Scotia and “From away”

image

This year’s rhubarb harvest has been simply awesome!  The colder, wetter weather has really helped prolong the productivity of our little patch that was transplanted from Papa’s garden in Cape Breton and Grandma’s garden in Antigonish County. The kitchen smells like fresh rhubarb cake, crisp and pie almost every other day!  The only problem is that it all disappears so quickly I can barely get pictures of the yummy-ness to share! Since it looks like we may get to enjoy rhubarb delights for a few more weeks, it only seems right to share some of our family’s favourite recipes (maybe someone will post one of theirs in the comments for us to try too!!)

2-Grandma’s Sour Cream Rhubarb Pie

East Coasters are not the only ones who love Rhubarb – my husband is “from away” and his favourite spring dessert growing up was Rhubarb Sour Cream Pie – it was years before 2-Grandma would share it with me!

4 Cups fresh chopped rhubarb

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup flour

1 cup sour cream

Combine and pour into your favourite pie shell, then top with:

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp cinnamon

Bake on the lowest shelf of the oven at 425 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes until cooked through and brown on top!

image

Rhubarb Coffee Cake

This is my all time favourite cake – I eat it for breakfast every chance I get (if I eat it before 8am I am sure to burn it all off throughout the day, right?!)

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar

1/2 cup softened butter

1 egg

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 cups fresh chopped rhubarb

Cream the sugar, butter and egg together.  Add dry ingredients alternately with sour cream to creamed mixture. Fold in rhubarb.   Place in a greased 9×13 pan and top with:

1/4 cup each white and brown sugar

1-2 tsp cinnamon

Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven for 45-50 minutes, don’t share – they won’t like it…as you can tell from the photo below.

image

Apple Rhubarb Caramel Crisp

This recipe has no special origins or source – it just simply happened one day when we were playing in the kitchen trying to find the world’s most amazing Crisp recipe EVER!!  This is definitely a keeper!

4 cups-ish peeled and sliced apples (we used Macs because we had them from our CSA box)

3-4 cups fresh chopped rhubarb

image

Place together in a 9×13 pan, mix them up well, then pour over:

1/2 cup melted butter mixed with 3/4 cup brown sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon

Top with combined:

1/2 – 3/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup melted butter (this keeps it crispy!!)

2 shakes of cinnamon, 1 shake of nutmeg

image

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until it is bubbly and brown on top.  Serve with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream sweetened with 3 tbsp of real maple syrup.

image

Mmmmmm, just writing this made me hungry – I am off to bake again!!  Would it be mean to send the girls out in the rain to pick more rhubarb?!

“Diet tip: Your pants will never get tight if you don’t wear any!” ~ Unknown

Picked and Planted – 14 – 23 June

This week we picked:

Bok Choi, Kale and Swiss Chard

Market Express Turnip (and the greens) and Radishes

Oregano, Sage, Chives and Italian Parsley

Dinosaur and Ragged Jack Kale

1 Strawberry and 12 Haskap berries!

This week many of the cooler greens have begun to bolt – we still eat them, but it is a sign that our diet will be changing from a lot of lettuce and spinach to more early summer root veggies, kale and chard and hopefully peas very soon!! We will leave a few of them to flower and collect some seed for the fall, but most of them will head to the compost once the remaining leaves are removed.  This week also saw the end of the radish harvest.  I am a bit sad, I really like to snack on radishes and hummus (as does my summer waistline!!)  The kids, however, are quite happy to move on, though they are both sad that there will be no more fresh pesto until the garlic scapes are ready in a few weeks. The powerhouse veggie this week was the bok choi, which was priced at $3.99 for a package of 4 baby heads – we picked 16 tonight for stir fry!!

image

The only new players in the garden this week were one little strawberry and a handful of haskap berries, also known as honeyberries – these were an experiment 2 years ago and have done amazingly well around our deck.  We purchased them direct from LaHave Natural Farms Haskap Orchard as plugs and all 9 are now 2 feet tall and producing their wonderful early berry!

image image

Approx savings compared to local market: $56.57 (Running total – $233.72)

Total weight picked this week: 6.86 lbs (Running total – 46.81 lbs)

This week we planted :

The garden is almost all planted!  This week I reseeded a few bare spots where carrots and beans failed to germinate with all of this rain and we planted the rest of my wee girl’s perennials that she had grown from seed or spent her birthday money on at plant sales (did I ever mention how much I love that kid?!)

I can only imagine how much the cost would have been for all of her flowers that she grew, but in fairness and honesty, I would never, ever, ever have bought 136 coleus or 86 rudbeckia from a greenhouse!!  Thankfully she has given away the majority of them as gifts to everyone from her teacher, to Niki Jabbour when we were invited to be on her radio show, The Garden Show on News 95.7 (was that ever fun – we were the 11am segment on June 7th!!) and to everyone who has come to our porch in the past few weeks!!

image

“Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon!” – Doug Larsen

All from one tiny seed – a reflection…

Tonight my heart is raw. Not from sadness, not from despair.  Not from loneliness or hopelessness. 

imageIn fact, quite the opposite is true. It is full.  It is inspired. It has been challenged, loved, overwhelmed and is now simply raw. And I am really, really tired. One of the many little tiny seeds that have scattered into my life, at one point or another, has taken root. Maybe even two or three or twenty seven. I don’t think I will ever be able to count, but at least I have been blessed with an opportunity to truly see that I am growing.

This rambling is not specifically about gardening, it will not detail what veggies are ripe or which flowers are blooming in my yard.  It is, however, about growth. It is about the strength of a few little “seeds” that can grow into something so beautiful they could never be captured in words or photographs. It is about the need for support, the need for nourishment, the need to be loved and the need to have roots while still striving to reach upwards. It is simply what is in my heart.  I am writing this rambling tonight because I have just spent the last 3 days being reminded that truly wonderful people, who wish for nothing more than to help others, day in and day out, are very, very present in my life and I was’t even consciously aware of how badly I needed that reminder.  Yes, tonight I am writing a very emotional memoir.  It may make me vulnerable, it may make me cry again as I type and it may not be of any consequence in the end.  But if just one person reads it and is re-invigorated after feeling dragged down by whatever individual situation that is their reality in this moment, then it is worth it. If that one person shares it and others read and relate, that would be even more worth it. I feel that if I did not acknowledge and share the little seeds that have taken root, they could simply blow away, and what purpose could that serve?

So here are the little “seeds” that have been scattered throughout the many, many facets of my life and what I was so humbly reminded of this weekend as I sat at what I hoped would be an interesting, educational (and maybe even fun) Professional Development Conference. It was so, so, so much more than that.

image

The Forget-me-not

I am a health professional – which profession really does not matter in this context though I am incredibly proud of my peers and of my profession. Every day I encounter patients in pain, who have reduced mobility, sometimes with experiences and beliefs that keep them prisoner from their potential, who suffer because we don’t have an “answer”, who don’t always know how to cope with their own reality or who may lack support to face their new realities.  Sometimes they simply have to be on crutches for a few weeks but that means they cannot fulfill their roles within their family unit, sometimes they have such catastrophic injuries that they may never be able to return to the life they knew.

I come to them with my own experiences, my own beliefs and my own background as well as my own limitations and coping strategies. And sometimes I don’t always remember that the encounters are not about me but because they are hard for me, I pull on my shell so as not to be vulnerable. Or I look at the person like a standard package of seeds; looking at the 2 dimensional cover picture, reading the directions, following the guidelines and then become baffled when they do not do what I expect them to. I don’t mean to, but it happens. I was reminded that my role is not to impart my knowledge, assume the person receiving it will accept it and then lay blame on them when they do not flourish as I expected.

I was reminded that not only at my work, but in every area of life, people suffer. Deep inside, we all just need to feel valued.  We all need to be validated and heard.  Not just listened to, but heard.  We all need support and a strong root system if we are going to grow. I was challenged to the core to remember that though it is my “job” to treat people and help them to improve their function, it is my purpose to “Forget-them-not” and always remember that there is a vulnerable little seed in each of us. I can be the nourishment and the support, I can provide the space to flourish or the windbreak for protection for those who may be vulnerable. I can be the advocate and the voice for those tiny seeds surrounded by weeds who may not know how to find their way on their own.  But I can also very easily be the hail, the grasshopper, the hurricane or the hungry deer. Without realizing it, I can cause harm and hurt by simply not hearing what I should have.  In every area of my life, in all of my interactions and especially in my profession, it is the lives, the values and the beliefs of others that I need to hear and remember. Not just mine.

image

The Sunflower 

I am always amazed at how little a Russian Mammoth seed is compared to the flower that grows from it. I am struck by how spindly the little seedling is when it pokes out. Yet, given the right conditions, one little sunflower seed that falls out of the bird feeder into earth that is ready for it, can grow and grow and grow!  It matures into a flower that physically smiles into the light!  It’s smile is infectious and as it continues to grow, it produces more and more and more seeds!

That one little seed never set out meaning to make a difference in the garden. It certainly never intends to feed hungry birds with the thousands of it’s own seeds that are produced as it’s season winds to an end. And it could never possibly have imagined how far it’s little seeds could be spread by those hungry little birds as they scatter them abroad.

There are sunflowers in my life.  There are sunflowers in my family, there are sunflowers at my church, there have been many, many, many sunflowers in my patients.  They can never fully understand the impact they have had with their big, sunny, light chasing smiles. And the most beautiful part about the sunflowers in my life and those I witnessed this weekend is that they don’t want to be roses – they are not looking for any recognition or renumeration, they simply want to share the joy of their smiles and are brave enough to do it.

But for sunflowers to produce enough seed to feed the birds and be spread as they fly, they too must have fertile, receptive soil and be given lots of light and space. The inspiring people I heard speaking this weekend and many others I have encountered in my life are truly beautiful Sunflowers. And hopefully those of us listening are the elements they need to keep growing.  Without all those supports, or when left alone without light, the smile fades and the flower droops. The quiet supporting elements are just as important to keep the Sunflower smiling!

1269476_10153398428950001_885872457_o

Hen and Chicks

These are amazing little plants.  They do not propagate from seed, they don’t spread far and they don’t put on a big show. But they thrive in a variety of settings and together they stay strong as the Mama hovers over. I love how wikipedia describes them ~ “The “hen” is the main plant, and the “chicks” are the offspring, which start as tiny buds on the main plant and soon sprout their own roots, taking up residence close to the mother plant.”  As I finished my conference, I walked to towards the water to meet my children and my father for an evening sail.  The Halifax Waterfront on a warm sunny day truly is one of my favourite places to be.  I grew up spending time on or near the water and it is where I go when I grow weary.  The shear enormity of the ocean can be overwhelming, but the harbour is a safe, welcoming inlet bursting with life.  I love my little girls, truly, deeply, simply. To bursting.  They try me, they push me, they challenge me, but they always fill me. Obviously, they are the “chicks” to my “hen”.

But I realized I have the opportunity to help other “chicks”. After listening to a story at the conference that touched far too close to home professionally about a patient who was lost to suicide and how that experience affected one of my peers to advocate on behalf of hundreds of thousands who could have been lost within themselves or the system, I walked towards the water with a renewed drive to keep pushing for what I know to be right in my heart. When I see that something is happening and that I may be able to advocate on behalf of someone, I have to.

I am not going to create new policy or change the world. There is little chance that more than a handful will ever remember my name when I am gone, but everyday I have the honour of building relationships with one new person at a time. It won’t be necessary for each new patient, each new friend or each family member, but I need to strive to recognize those moments when I need to be someone’s “Hen” to their “chick”.  It may only help one person at a time, and it may not be significant to anyone else but them, but it must be done.

The Trillium

image

The little plants that grow in the woods, deep in the shade, where few venture sometimes have the capacity to produce the most beautiful blooms. The final seed I want to share is the Trillium.  This was not part of my conference. This was not part of the times I spent with my friends or even the girls afterwards.  It was simply one of those moments when I was wrapped up in a task and something from the shade came to light.

I was helping my Dad prep the sailboat to leave the floating dock and as I was untying ropes and telling kids to put on life jackets and watching for other boats, a man called to me from the wharf above.  He simply called to me said he had a gift for me.  He was scruffy and dirty but there was a little light in his eye and he was smiling from his heart.  He was clearly someone who was from the “shade”. He was reaching out his hand to toss something down to me, so I smiled and commented on what a lovely day it was.  He beamed back and told me I had pretty hair and that a butterfly would be perfect in it.  I wasn’t sure what he meant, but he obviously meant no harm.  I am not sure why, but I reached up and he handed me a little silver clip.  On the clip was a delicate silver butterfly and 2 little flowers.  The clip itself was broken, and it was very likely a trinket he had found on the boardwalk that no one else would value.  But I will value it.  My girls will remember it.  And as I climbed onto our sailboat and we pulled away from the dock, he smiled and waved and wished us well. My wee girl held the butterfly clip in her little hand, smiling and waving back.  To us he was not a plant in the shade, he was a beautiful trillium that we were blessed to simply see for a moment.

And again I am crying.  It was the simple act of giving to make someone else feel valued that touched me so deeply. It was the look in the eyes of my little girls and the smiles on their faces that made my soul soar because I knew they understood in their hearts what this little gesture meant.  Here I was, leaving a conference about how I could go out and change lives and support others who were changing the world.  Here I was, in nice clothing, surrounded by my family, climbing onto a beautiful sailboat. And here he was, from the “shade”, what many would consider broken and worthless. Yet he was the one who gave me such a beautiful gift.  He was the one with nothing but a smile, a few kind words and a broken clip with a delicate little butterfly and 2 pretty little flowers. And I was the one who felt valued and loved.

image

Maybe, just maybe, I am the delicate little butterfly, my girls are the 2 pretty flowers, growing all the time but always close to me, and maybe it is actually my patients, my friends and my family who are the supports and nourishment I need so that I can bury my roots deep and smile brightly at the sun. 

Picked and Planted – June 9th -15th

This week we picked:

image image

This week the garden did not produce any new items from last week, but it was very productive!!  We had a lot of sun which led to some of the cool, early greens to start to bolt a bit.  We had planted slower veggies with the early greens (carrots and broccoli) so as we cleaned out some of the bolters, the other veggies will now have more space to grow.  The added bonus of planting quick greens with slower veggies is that it helps me space out the broccoli properly instead of planting way too many seeds at once and really boosts our “bang for our buck”!

This week’s list included:

Market Express Turnip and greens ( I could not find these at any local markets, the price per pound is compared to white turnip)

Radish (5.2 pounds!!) – We froze 1 litre of radish leaf pesto for the winter

Spinach, Arugula, Spicy Mesclun, Buttercrunch lettuce, Kale and Romaine lettuce (the money crop this week!!) Needless to say we have had to eat a lot of salad and smoothies!)

Chives, Green Onion, Cilantro

Bok Choy

Rhubarb

Approx savings compared to local market: $82.39!!

Total weight picked this week: 15.31 pounds

This week we planted :

image

In the weird and wonderful row…

Tomatillos (you need two..), Asian eggplant, Berlotto Firetongue and Tanya’s Pink Pod beans

In the new raised beds along the back:

Medicinal bed: Comfrey, echinacea, Chamomile, Monarch Milkweed (for our butterfly friends)

In the Herb bed: Italian and Curly Parsley, Curry Plant, Fern and Bouquet Dill, Purple Sage, Summer Savoury, Russian Tarragon, Cilantro

Organic Sugar Small Pumpkin (and some seedlings that we picked up the market without a tag – they were calling to us!), Spaghetti squash, pole beans and Sunflowers

White onion sets, Luscious Bi-colour Corn

In the main beds:

Purple and Green Runner beans

EZ Gold, Burgundy and Labrador Bush beans

Repeat greens

Basil and cilantro underplanted around the tomatoes

Flowers:

Strawflowers, Calendulas, Zinnia, Marigolds, Nasturtiums (all started indoors from seed)

Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.” ~Dorothy Day

Beautiful Blooms – June 14th

The wonderful thing about planting a mix of perennials, annuals, flowering shrubs and vegetables is that there is always something different in bloom when I take a minute to slow down, sip a cup of coffee and wander.  I think the girls captured some amazing blooms this week, even if they did almost miss the bus trying to get the perfect shot!  Soccer, Highland dane competition and sailing season are upon us, school ends in a few weeks and summer will be in full swing – not much time for playing in the garden!  I am grateful for my weekend mornings more now than ever.  What is blooming this week in your gardens? My wish is that all my friends find a moment to slow down, breathe and enjoy the beauty around them…

“The flower blossoms not for others, but for itself…and holds a beauty beyond compare.”

Tree Following – My Wee Girl’s Magnolia in June

My tree is getting bigger!  It is bigger than last month! This picture is from far away.  It has friends, a blackberry, a maple and a spruce. It is very happy this month!

image

These are it’s babies, they are buds. There are lots of buds but there are no flowers yet.

image

This is it’s bark that protects all of the branches, leaves and buds.

image

These are it’s leaves, the buds grow on them.  I think that there is 100 leaves. Wait, I don’t know?! Actually, I think there are 97 leaves…

image

See you next month!!!

Picked and Planted (and poking up!) -June 2nd to June 8th

This week we picked:

image image

Pak Choi and Market Express Turnips and greens -planted 26 April

image image

Easter Egg radish (aren’t they pretty?) The Cherry Belles are getting really big…

image image image

Mesclun, Buttercrunch lettuce, Red Oak lettuce, Arugula and Spinach

Peppermint Swiss chard – We ate it before we took a picture…ooops…

Ragged Jack and Dinosaur Kale

Rhubarb, Rhubarb and more Rhubarb!

Cilantro, Chives, Green Onion and Sweet Basil

Approx savings compared to local market: $50.12

Total weight picked this week: 12.64 pounds

This week we planted :

 image image

These are the “Salsa bed” and the “Italian bed” – I love the flowering Kale that overwintered under the tunnels.

image

Big Beef, Lemon Boy, Black Plum, Menonnite and Sungold Indeterminant tomatoes

Alaska, Subarctic Plenty, Gold Dust and Scotia determinant tomatoes

image image

image

The tomatoes were getting “leggy” from the cold weather while they patiently waited on he deck to harden off – we plucked the lower leaves off and buried them deeply in the raised beds and sideways in the rows.  We are trying planters, black film, red film and straw mulch this year, it will be interesting to see which way works best…

Elsewhere in the raised beds and rows…

Jalapeno, King Arthur, Big Bell and a few mystery peppers (my wee one ate a pepper from the market, saved seeds, planted them and stuffed them in the garden!)

Sweet and Opal Basil

Cilantro

Utah celery

Packman and Munchkin broccoli seedlings

Flowers: Galdiolis, Nasturtuim, Calendulas and Sunflowers

image

Boyne Raspberries and Galdiolis together in a newly redone bed

Poking up:

My wee girl’s garden is popping up all over the place! The squash have also poked out from the black plastic but no signs of the cucumbers yet….

image

image image

“If you are what you eat don’t be fast, cheap and easy” ~ No idea who said this, but it made me bust out laughing when I saw it on a mug! 

Beautiful Blooms – June 7th

The sun came out today after a cold, rainy week and with it some more beautiful blooms to enjoy with a Sunday morning cup of coffee!  We even found our very first tomato blossom this morning smiling at the sunshine, that means some yummy tomatoes are on the way.  Most of the pictures were taken by my girls this week, which certainly adds a new perspective to the blossoms in the garden and in the woods. I love getting to see what they see through their sweet little eyes. Happy Sunday to everyone!

“Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.” ~ Unknown