Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunny days

It is such a treat to have sunny weather for more than a week now. There is not much going on in our backyard farm except the cleanup.

Three of the pole bean plants have been pulled down last week. One is still standing. Guess it'd better to leave it in the ground than having the beans sitting in the fridge. The cucumber plant is also down.

I also cleaned up all the garlics that were hanging under the patio (cut off the root and the stalk and brought the bulbs into the house). Meanwhile, since the weather is nice, I stuck 10 cloves somewhere in the front just for fun.

Today, Mark sowed some arugula seeds in the back and covered them in the coldframe.

The swiss chard is still growing strong and big since the summer. However, we haven't been eating them at all (besides the baby one that we use in salad). Is there a great recipe to cook swiss chard? I did some searches on the Internet but none of the recipes appeal to me. They look great in the ground, so maybe just let them be the decorative edible plant.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Summer summary

It is 1.40am, and I can't sleep.

I can't stop thinking about stuff, work-related issue is one of them. Also, the environment and all things considered. I watched the documentary Dolphin Dealer on TV tonight and the subject matter really disturbs me. Nothing is new as in the way human interacts with the wildlife, and how we exploit them in order to satisfy our greed. And then I think about the food issue, how we treat the land, produce and consume food in a way that leads to detrimental consequences.

Everyone can make a difference. I'm happy that we are growing our food, supporting local products and talking to people with the hope that our passion can influence them.

Let's do a summary of what we grew (and harvested) this summer:
  1. salad mix
  2. swiss chard
  3. kale
  4. pole bean
  5. snow pea
  6. shelling pea
  7. bush bean
  8. parsnip
  9. beet
  10. carrot
  11. tomatoes (roma, roman red stripped, sungold and lollipop)
  12. cucumber
  13. potatoe
  14. bok choy
  15. onion (red, walla walla, spring)
  16. garlic
  17. leek
  18. strawberry
  19. raspberry
  20. herbs (basil, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, chive, oregano etc)
  21. hop (to make beer)
Did I miss anything? Not bad for duplex backyard!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Planting garlic

This is the weekend after Thanksgiving, and the weather is very co-operative (max 10C, sunny), a perfect day to plant garlics.

This year, we decided to plant the garlic in the backyard. The area in which we plan to grow garlic still have some carrots in the ground, so we pull them out to clear the way. (yes, I have been making carrot cakes and having carrots in salad) Mark is responsible for laying the foundation! First is to dig deep into the soil to pull out as many morning glory roots as we can (we did it in the spring before planting but as we all know, you can't really get rid of them). Then we add our compost into the soil, and mix the soil with peat moss and blood meal.

Meanwhile, I select the big cloves from our garlic (I guess I've opened up dozens of garlic heads) and use them as seedlings. I guess I've planted about 150 cloves. Yes, that's A LOT of garlic. Do we need that many? No. But the process of growing is so enjoyable! And no store brought garlic can beat the flavor and quality of homegrown garlic.

Tonight dinner from the garden: salad with green (the fall sown arugula is coming out, plus baby swiss chard and lettuce from this summer), cucumber, sungold and red onion, pureed parship, stir fry carrots and corn (this is the only item from the farmer's market)

Oh, we also sowed a few bush bean seeds. Don't know what the name is...the seeds are from my in-law.

This is going to be our garlic patch. Carrots are all over the place.

These are the carrots that we pulled from the soon-to-be garlic patch. I've sown carrot seeds around the roma plants (carrots and tomatoes are good companion plants). These carrots are shaded by the tomato plants, so their size is very small)

Compost from our handsome homemade spinning compost bin

Opening up a garlic bulb to get big clove for planting

Planting in process

Monday, October 13, 2008

Tomatoes--the take down

All the roma tomato plants were taken down. I have collected all those which still green but healthy looking with the hope that they'll eventually turn green...or else we'll start looking for green tomato recipe. Unfortunately, after a week or so, all the green healthy looking tomatoes have turned blight anyway. We have to throw away at least half of all the grown tomatoes from our four roma plants. They looked so promising on the vine but they still ended up in the dumpster. It is depressing.

Some info about blight:

Monday, October 6, 2008

The rain

Did I ever get ready for the rain? NO! It has been raining constantly for the past few days and the tomatoes are getting blight. I spent the whole morning cutting the yellow leaves and leaves with brown/black spots, taking out the bad tomatoes, and savaging the still-looking-ok ones.

About half of the roma tomatoes are still hanging on the vine in green, one quarter went to the garbage due to the blight, and the other quarter in the fridge. The red one are stored in the fridge for up to a certain amount that I can do a batch of canning. Today is the day (I spent my day off doing the urban farm stuff!). There are enough to fill 6-one liter mason jar. Not too bad. I'm happy.

I also checked out the raspberry plants. We were only away for two days and without the daily checking, quite a few raspberries have started to get mould. I blamed on the rain...of course.

We got a chance to go mushroom hunting over the weekend. After a few hours of hunting in the forest, we found a few pounds of chanterelle. Not as much as we expected. I guess it is still a bit early for mushroom hunting as we usually go around Thanksgiving time. Still, the amount that we got is plenty enough for a few good meals. We're going to cook them with our homegrown leeks :). Yum!