Monday, March 17, 2014

Temperatures are still way below freezing and there must be four feet of snow on my patio, but I’ve begun getting ready to garden!

So far, I’ve planted petunia “Kentucky Old-Fashioned” seeds, both cherry and regular-sized tomatoes, Espelette pepper, mini sweet peppers, basil, ground cherries and kale. I had saved most seeds from two years ago, and I’m glad that they are all germinating well.

I also listed seeds that I don’t intend to plant on a local seed and plant-exchange Web site. These are mostly seeds for turnip, broccoli and beet, i.e. things that I’ve found don’t grow particularly well in containers. 

I’ve decided to try my hand at growing melons this summer. I ordered three varieties of seed: Minnesota Midget, Extra Early Nutmeg, and Golden Midget Watermelon. As their names imply, they are smallish varieties that grow fairly quickly, and so I’m hoping that we’ll succeed in harvesting at least a few fruit! 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

From the archives: I harvested a few Espelette peppers last autumn, air-dried them and finally got around to grinding them a few weeks ago. Even though I left them out in the open air for months, they still pack a nice spicy punch. 

The first thing I made with the Espelette powder was spicy brittled peanuts, from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook (I replaced the Cayenne pepper with three times the amount Espelette). They were a hit!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Back from hiatus

Last August, I abandoned this blog pretty much overnight; fortunately, my disappearance is due to happy circumstances! I found out I was pregnant (yay!), but my nausea prevented me from going anywhere near my garden (boo!). The smell of tomato plants made me sick, the summer heat made me sick, the color green made me sick. I neglected the garden, caring for my plants only as necessary and sending my boyfriend out to the patio as much as possible. Luckily, we were still able to harvest quite a bit of produce and we still have some of it in the freezer!

I should be better able to stomach my patio garden next summer (I’m due in March), but I’ll be scaling down a bit and planting a lot of low-maintenance varieties. Planning for the garden is still a long way off though—the patio is buried under something like four feet of snow right now—but I’m looking forward to blogging about gardening again. 

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Both my Espelette and paprika peppers are ripening nicely.

Below, tons of basil. I’m going to freeze so much pesto this year!

Monday, August 5, 2013
The garden is finally beginning to explode with produce! Today’s harvest included a monster zucchini. I pulled up a carrot as well, but it turns out they aren’t big enough yet.

The garden is finally beginning to explode with produce! Today’s harvest included a monster zucchini. I pulled up a carrot as well, but it turns out they aren’t big enough yet.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Garden snapshots, July 28. 

Above, a bumblebee on the hyssop flowers. Middle, soon-to-be borage and dill flowers. Below, still-green tomatoes, and a ready-to-be-picked “white lightning” eggplant fruit. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013
One happy mini sweet pepper plant. I don’t know what variety it is.

One happy mini sweet pepper plant. I don’t know what variety it is.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sometimes I forget that gardening is all about patience.

I took a new photo of a corner of our patio, and realize that things have come a longlonglong way since March! Heck, even since one month ago! (Click on the links to see “before” photos.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What I’ve learned so far - A midsummer review

While this year’s container garden is a success by my rookie standards, I’ve made lots of mistakes, and taken lots of notes. Hopefully, I’ll remember to reread this post next year.

  • Pole beans and peas need some serious trellis and will grow taller than my patio railing in no time. Without proper support, they will tangle together and fall over. 
  • Radishes are hard to grow in pots. Better to use that early-season space to sow some peas in the spring. 
  • Petunias are pretty and grow well in window boxes, unlike morning glories. 
  • Eggplants are finicky; they cannot be set out too early, while nights are still cold, but need to be put in ground to really start thriving. Therefore, transplant early, but protect at night. 
  • Tomatoes are fine and tasty, but a happy plant produces like a mofo. Consider using some of that space for something else, like summer squash (I only have one zucchini plant this summer, and I’m regretting the lack of variety).
  • One never has too much basil. 

What did you learn this summer?

Monday, July 22, 2013

We spent last weekend visiting with family in the Gaspésie region, and we took advantage of a beautiful day on Saturday to visit North America’s northernmost vineyard. The Carpinteri vineyard is located in Saint-Ulric, Québec, at a latitude of 48°N, and benefits from a warm microclimate and sandy soils.

The vineyard was created only a few years ago in a region better known for seafood and wind farms (you can make out wind turbines in the background). In addition to grape vines, there are cherry trees and a small greenhouse on the property. 

The vineyard produces several house wines, including whites, reds and ice wine.

Nothing beats the sight, smell and taste of a real garden-grown tomato. My tomatoes are ripening into a rainbow of colors. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

This weekend was the first one in a long time where I got to stay at home and [do nothing but] work in the garden and kitchen. I’ve been busy as a bee moving pots around, pulling things up and planting new seeds.

Temperatures have really started to climb, so I moved the kale, chard and lettuce to the front balcony, which gets some sun but is mostly shaded by the maple tree. I also pulled the last of the radishes and arugula; they were flowering anyways. I planted some basil, cilantro, spinach and mixed brassicas, the latter being a mix of lettuce and hotter leaves like mustard and rapini. I’m not sure it will fare great in the middle-of-summer heat, but who cares! If it’s a bust, I’ll let them go to seed, save the seeds and try again next year.

I drove down to the farmer’s market yesterday. Strawberry season is upon us! I bought 24 pints worth and hulled and froze 21 pints to ensure delicious strawberry goodness throughout  the winter. 

Nasturtiums (Alaska)

Nasturtiums (Alaska)