Chilly Carrots and Kale

Adversity? Nope – Hard core gardening!!  Fit for a deer?! We aren’t going to let a snow get in our way…

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Who said you can’t have fresh back yard garden veggies in the Canadian winter?! It takes some planning, some luck and a bit of crazy – but seeing little faces light up when they find veggies they planted last summer under the snow is pretty cool.

It was actually warm enough to dig under the snow with some garden gloves in the winter tunnel this morning (a balmy +3 degrees celsius!).  The strong winds and piles of snow destroyed our pitiful little tunnel, but the straw insulation managed to protect the few precious carrots we had left!!  Hubby thought he had picked most of them for Christmas dinner but there were enough little guys left for a quick snack!!  The kale is still going strong – that “vile weed” seems to survive everything we throw at it.  Thank goodness it tastes good in soup and pasta…

The beet, turnip, leek and onion tunnel is still covered in ice and feet of snow (completely unaccessible on crutches), hopefully we will be blessed enough with a few more warmer days before winter sets in again and we will be able to see some green under there as well!

Worth a try next year in your yard?

 

“Always seek out the seed of triumph in every adversity.” ~ Og Mandino

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The flurries have begun and the 2015 garden $$ totals are in…Picked (but not so much planted) Sept 22nd – Nov 18th

The garden is tucked in for the impending winter season.  Will it be soft, gentle, fluffy and peaceful or a raging onslaught of freezing rain, blizzards and hurricane speed winds?  In Nova Scotia one never knows.  I have been holding off on doing the final tally of what we picked, weighed and calculated this season thinking that we would have stopped bringing in a regular harvest long before now.  But blessings be acknowledged, the girls continued to haul in buckets of treasures up until last weekend!  We did have to buy some tender veggies and extra salad greens from the market last week – the first real time since June!!  There are still beets, carrots, kale, chard, leeks, onions and mixed greens tucked under hoop tunnels and snuggled under frost blankets for special treats between now and full freeze up, but I think it is safe to say that the majority of our harvest is now in! We had our first flurry today, winter is unavoidable.

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When we began asking ourselves how much we could be saving in produce, we never expected that the totals would be so high.  We also never anticipated the volume of veggies that we could actually consume as a family of four during 1 season, nor how much we would be able to freeze and jar to extend our feasting. And we certainly didn’t even stop to think about how much fun it would be to weigh, track and tally our bounty – who knew kids could get so excited about book keeping?!

 

In the end it is safe to say that this experience has been far more worthwhile to us than any actual $$ total.  It has taught us to be less wasteful by ensuring we consumed what we picked, less picky because even ugly cucumbers taste great and save us money and to be even more grateful for our ability to “shop” for dinner right in our own backyard.  It is amazing how much more we appreciated our own produce when we compared what the weekly prices were in the market for what the kids simply pulled out of the (non-chemically treated, clean earth, worm filled and flower kissed) dirt. Dirt is amazing!  And seeds, well they are just mind blowing. Really.

 

So without further adieu…..drumroll please…..the totals for Sept 22- Nov 18th of our 2015 season are:

Approx savings compared to local market: $972.75!!!!

Total since May 26th – $2355.45 WOW!!!

Total weight picked this period: 136.09 pounds!!  That is almost as much as I weigh….

Total to date: 341.15 pounds (That is a lot of veggies!!!)

These totals are compared to local produce when possible but not specifically organic produce – we would prefer to eat local than purchase organic food that has had to travel very long distances, using wasteful packaging and not being allowed to ripen to perfect.  We do use organic methods in our own garden, so the estimated savings would likely be much more significant had we compared to local AND organic produce!  Not to mention the savings in jams, jellies, spreads, sauces, salsas, dried and frozen herbs, saved seeds, compost, cut flowers…you get the picture!

 

Dollars and cents may speak to some, time outdoors and exercise to others, quality conversations and relationship building to most…how do we put a price on the value of our family garden?!

 

 

 

Picked and Planted – 6 July to 14 July

This week we picked:

Sugar Snap and Oregon Giant Snow peas – over 6 litres of them!!

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Baby Beets and Market Express Turnip

Red and Spanish Onion

Early broccoli (it started to bolt before the heads got big so we ate it anyways!)

Garlic Scapes

Rhubarb

Kale, Swiss Chard, Lettuce

Herbs – Chives, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Parsley, Basil, Mint

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We picked the last of the Strawberries and Haskaps (single tear…they will be missed!)

We also tried some edible flowers – the Lavender is wonderful as a tea, the nasturtium was not a taste I enjoyed and I am still not sure about Calundula petals…..

Approx savings compared to local market: $98.35 (Total $435.25 since 26 May)

Total weight picked this week: 15.11 pounds (Total since 26 May – 79.42 pounds, which is more than my wee girl weighs!)

This week we planted:

A few extra Marketmore 76 cucumbers to fill some gaps

Replanted Laurentian Turnip for the fall because the pheasants ate all of the seedlings….

From our garden to yours, have a great week!

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“It might take a year, it might take a day, but what is meant to be will always find it’s way” ~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!!

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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!

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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!!

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

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

This week we picked:

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

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

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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 :

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

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

Alaska, Subarctic Plenty, Gold Dust and Scotia determinant tomatoes

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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

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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….

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“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! 

Picked and Planted – May 26th – June 1st

This week we picked…

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Cherry Belle and Easter Egg Radishes

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Ragged Jack, Dinosaur and Scotch Blue Curled Kale, chives, chives and more chives! And some cilantro…

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Buttercrunch lettuce, Spicy Mesclun, Arugula and Tyee Spinach and…

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Rhubarb and a lemon!!

Approximate savings compared to the local market: $44.64

Total weight picked this week : 12 lbs

This week we planted:

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Sunstripe, Black Beauty and Butterfish Summer Squash

Mouse Melons, Marketmore 76, String Burpless and Calypso Cucumbers

Scarlett Runner, Tanya’s Pink Pod, Purple Pole Beans

Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Ragged Jack and Redbor Kale

Purple Cauliflower

Purple Sun Carrots

Many, many tomatoes into pots…and a salad bowl!

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“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.” ~Elizabeth Berry

We have germination, OUTDOORS!!

Take that Mother Nature! It has snowed, gone below zero, rained every day this week and been down right, unseasonably, unthinkably yucky. But under the frost blankets and hoop tunnels, we have germination!! Not much, not all, and not quickly, but we have it. The seedlings we planted under the hoops are also happy and thriving, whew!

Score Tally: Us = 2, Mother Nature = 0… The “Spring that Wasn’t” saga continues…

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Lovely little green veggie babies snuggled under their blankie…kind of cute, hey? These were planted 10 days ago.

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And under the hoops the big brother and sister seedlings are going strong!  Not much germination yet, but they were only planted on Sunday.  Can you spot the lone Bok Choi poking up?

Under the hoops are Taunus, Detriot Dark Red Supreme, Chioggia and First Crop beets, Rainbow mix and Napoli carrots, Cherry Belle and Easter Egg radish, Bok Choi, Peppermint and Bright Lights Swiss Chard, Ragged Jack and Dinosaur Kale, red and white onion sets, Giant Musselborough Leek, overwintered hard neck garlic and Butter Crunch lettuce.

I hope they all stay alive and that more join them soon!

“Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love and something to hope for.” ~ Joseph Addison

Nightmares about Hares – a “Guest Post” (written by my daughter!!)

Encouraging my children to get involved in our garden has been quite the adventure…  Even though we don’t necessarily take the same lessons out of the garden, it has had an impact on each one of us in one way or another.  This rambling…ahem…memoir…was prepared by my eldest daughter as a “guest blogger” who apparently found our encounters with a very hungry bunny last year very unsettling!  Watching her read, edit and re-word this narrative has once again provided me with yet another special memory of my big girl growing up. This little glimpse into her budding imagination has been a very entertaining (and sometimes humbling) view of a shared event from my child’s perspective, so neat. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have!

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The nemesis.

I am not a gardener… but I will help from time to time with watering. Occasionally if I’m in a good mood, I will also help with planting. When I read this blog it brought back some pretty annoying memories. My mother is very big with gardening, meaning me and my other relatives come a close second to her beloved veggie babies. Sometimes she would come from work and she wouldn’t say hi to us or our dad but just stomped towards her garden and violently started to weed. That’s how we knew it was a bad day at work. She takes very good care of her plants and even my “less than inclined gardener” father was on the scene when an unexpected visitor started to make unscheduled appearances.

The bunny.

Can I have some of those garden goodies? Please? I am hungry!

His plan must have been to show up right when my mom was leaving for work so that all she could really do was yell for the little bunny to go away. He just stood on his two paws with his ears up, usually munching on some lettuce, peas or kale. My mom was furious just watching the thing sit there happily munching. We also had other problems as well, such as deer trying to eat our flowers. So the next summer, after my mother spent weeks of planning, shopping and researching, we finally put up our electric fence. It may have kept wild animals partially out but it also kept our dog out as well. He like to eat kale too. We were working in the garden one day when he ran up and got shocked. He shrieked and started to run around the yard in circles yelping. (It won’t actually hurt him though.) So we had succeeded with keeping the dogs out who would sit in the garden eating our kale and the deer when it was actually turned on. (It is my job to make sure it is on at night. I have really bad memory).

So we were set for a while until the little bunny returned. Sometimes we would send the dog in after him but the dog isn’t all that smart and didn’t have a chance of catching the bunny. And in the slim chance that he did, he probably would have no idea what to do with it. So he was usually just our “back up” in those situations but only really succeeded in chasing it away.

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Wouldn’t you be afraid of this face?!

When my dad got in to the action he brought up the idea of just using a paintball gun and shooting the thing to get it moving but was quickly extinguished when my mom thought the idea was crazy. He is from Northern Ontario and used to hunt with his dad. He was astonished when he found out that kids in Nova Scotia didn’t get a week off in the fall to go goose hunting with the whole family. One day my dad walked in the house with a new slingshot from Canadian Tire. He said that it wouldn’t really hurt the bunny, just get it to go away. He asked me and my sister to fill up a red bucket full of small rocks. By the time he actually hit the bunny – after many, many, many attempts – he simply jumped up in the air landed back on the ground and continued his business eating. Later on in the year the slingshot broke and we just had to accept the that was life and in life there are bunnies. So if you ever had a bunny don’t try to hurt it or scare it away you just have to accept that he’s there and you’re helping him live. It’s not like he can eat all your garden in one day. Or you can just get a dog. Either way embrace the fact that your garden is so great that you even attract nightmares of hares!

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It does look pretty tempting!

– Ally Griffin (not my real name!)