Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Veggin' Out!

After basically ignoring my garden for the past couple of weeks (except for not-frequent-enough watering), I spent the bulk of this afternoon out frolicking in my "cabbage patch".

Here's a photo of the main raised bed; as you can see it's quite a jungle in there! This side of the bed has spinach, bush beans, onions, carrots, and assorted herbs (you can see the mint in the bottom left corner).

Here's the view from the other side of the the bed; zucchini, pattypan squash, cabbage, and some more bush beans (also some lettuce that has majorly bolted!) Oh yes, at the very back you can see the pumpkin starting to climb up towards the deck. I'm so excited- the plants are starting to flower, and if we actually get some pumpkins to grow the kids are going to be ecstatic.

The green beans have arrived! I spent about an hour picking them this afternoon, and there are more on the way.

I've gotten into playing around with the camera and taking some artsy kinda shots of the veggies. Call me crazy, but I really think they are just gorgeous (the veggies, that is, not my pics!) I am pleased with how some of the photos came out, but my digicam is not that sophisticated and I can't get the closeup shots I would really like. These will do for a start; I particularly like this cabbage one.

Here's a pattypan squash just starting, with the blossom still attached

Today's backyard garden harvest! I cannot believe how many green beans I picked (there's got to be at least a couple pounds there) as well as a bunch of spinach and what I could salvage of the lettuce. There are a couple of wee onions too that had gotten mostly uprooted in yesterday's storms. We had some of the green beans for dinner - I cooked them to perfection and they tasted incredible!

I think I'm going to have to brew up a batch of Lettuce Soup to use up all my lettuce before it spoils. No, I'm not joking, I really do make a soup with lettuce, and it's actually quite tasty. Most importantly, it uses 16 cups of lettuce to make a normal-sized batch of soup!

The other really cool thing I did this afternoon (when I wasn't out communing with the cabbage) was teach Nathan how to knit! He was watching me work on my knitting, and asked if I could teach him how. You should have seen his face light up when I told him I would teach him right then.

This is as far as we got, but Nathan did a couple of stitches of cast on, plus most of a row of knitting, with me sitting behind him and doing a bit of hand-over-hand with him. Oh yes, and he specifically requested blue yarn to learn with (his favourite colour). He wants to work on it more tomorrow. He says he's going to knit Marley a sweater - gotta love that kid!

Monday, July 10, 2006

Life is Good

This weekend was one of those truly wonderful (and not-common-enough) ones of which summer memories are made.

Nothing spectacular happened. Just full of those simple, small but contented moments that, strung together into a couple of warm, sunny days, are exactly what we all long for when we're pining for summer in the middle of January. The kids ran up and down the street all day playing with their friends, and I got some time to do a few things on my own (in between intermittent supervision of the swirling mass of children).

I went for a glorious bike ride full of hills, puttered around the garden, strolled over to the library, and just basically did what I felt like for most of Saturday (is there anything better on a warm Saturday afternoon than sitting on your front porch, sipping a coffee, and knitting, while watching the world go by? No, I didn't think so.)

Saturday night we all went to see Ice Age 2 at Dundas Valley Conservation Area. This is a really cool thing - all summer long they do a "Films in the Forest" program, where you get to see movies outdoors on a giant, inflatable movie screen. And, if you have a Conservation Area membership, like we do, it's only $2.50 for the whole family to get in! What a great deal, and a whole lot of fun.

Sunday morning we got up late, strolled down to the park (with Marley of course) then came back to hang out on the porch when it got too hot. We did a bit of errand running in the afternoon, but as boring as that sounds, it was highly satisfying since we actually got everything we were looking for (how rare!) - and I snagged two new knitting magazines at Chapters.

Most importantly, the raspberries are here!

To my great delight, the canes I planted this year have yielded a (very small) but luscious little crop of raspberries. Not enough to do more than nibble off the bush this year - I don't know how long till I have enough to make jam, but I'll surely enjoy whatever we get. Did I mention raspberries are my absolutely, positively favouritest fruit of all?

The rest of the veggie garden is shaping up nicely for the most part too (although there are some scruffy areas in the main bed as I had to pull a bunch of bush beans which were succumbing to something or other, and all my broccoli bolted right off the bat without producing anything edible ::sigh::)

In this photo you can see a zucchini plant in the middle (it's enclosed in a mesh "cage" to keep it from taking over the entire bed, that's why it looks so tall) Potato plants (also in cages) are to the left, with bush beans, peppers, and assorted herbs somewhere in the mix too. In the hanging bucket is one of our "upside down" tomato plants, which seem to be doing all right so far - they are starting to flower and a couple of itty bitty tomatoes have formed. If all continues to go well, we should be up to our armpits in summer squash, beans, peppers, and tomatoes in no time.

Ahhh, summer!

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Sticky Canada Day Tradition

Okay, I'm cheating a bit (all right, a lot) here by writing this post over a week after the fact, but hey, at least I've finally managed to get it done!

We continued our long-upheld Canada Day tradition - making strawberry jam. It is one of nature's cruel little quirks that it needs to be *hot* for strawberries to grow, thus forcing strawberry jam making activities (including the picking of 12 quarts of said strawberries) to be conducted in the most blistering heat ever seen in Canada. I swear there is nothing hotter on earth than the middle of a strawberry jam making session. I always feel like I've lost about 15 pounds by the end (yeah, sure).

While I was in the process of cleaning up my jars in preparation for sterilizing them, I came across this label still attached to one of the jars (I took it off and stuck it onto one of the completed jars afterwards).

Although you can't make it out in the photo (well, if you look *very* closely, you can just make out the swirly loop of a "J") it says in very faint ink "July 1985". In my handwriting! I was 14 years old in July 1985 - that must surely have been one of the first batches of jam I ever made. Cool. And the jar's still in service 21 years later. That's cool too. Canning is one of those activities that connects you to the past in so many wonderful, mysterious ways. And the jam is darn tasty too.

The final product:

We cranked out 20 jars altogether, plus a bit more which went into the "surplus" jar then straight into the fridge!


Happy Canada Day everyone!