Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Garden Collage

I found a free program off the internet and have been playing around with a few of my garden photos making a collage of some of the flowers of this year's garden earlier in the season........before the drought !! 

There's not much colour happening in the garden these days.   But, maybe it will change... we're having a rain day today !

Free down load is PhotoPad Image Editor....

Saturday, July 28, 2012

It's a Boy ....

Grand baby # 2 arrived safely into this world.  It's a Boy !

I knitted this layette set with washable acrylic yarns.   It's the same pattern I used for our first grand daughter  - an old Beehive pattern called "Moss Stitch Set".

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rain Rain ... Finally !

The rain finally arrived one night this week !   My rain barrels are full again... yay!   
Once our seven rain barrels were full I re-routed the down spouts from the roof to the pool 
and the raised the pool water a couple of  inches.  

Our grass is still very brown but will take more than one rain fall for that to change. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Becoming an Urban Homesteader #10 : This Week's Happenings

This past weekend we foraged for wild raspberries.   Pickings were very slim, but there was lots of garlic mustard going to seed and collected a lot of seed to make garlic seed mustard (stay tuned).

Picked blueberries and gooseberries at a local farm for freezing.

Made two big pots of garlic scape soup for the freezer.

Re-seeded the vegetable garden for a 2nd harvest after my daughter's dog dug it up a couple of times.  He's a seven month old Blue Heeler/Shepherd cross.   We gave him a bone and he hid it and dug it up several times all over the my garden.   He's quite the digger.  I think I'll get him to turn over my garden in the fall/spring !

We need rain.   We get the clouds/thunder/lightening and maybe 5 minutes of rain and then passes us by.

my very very dry brown grass - we need rain !
Garlic Mustard seed pod
Wild raspberries

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Things I Leared About Growing Garlic

Garlic in Spring
The last few years I have been growing garlic in my garden. 

Garlic is very easy to grow.  Each fall I plant a clove of garlic into the ground.  Each clove will give you a bulb of garlic.

As the garlic plant matures a garlic scape appears.  Garlic scapes are the flower of the garlic.  The scapes need to be cut off or you won't get any garlic, as all the energy of the plant will go to the scape (which turns in to garlic seed) instead of the bulb we eat.   I have let one garlic stalk go to seed just to see what it would do.   One plant produced about a 1/4 cup of garlic seed.   You can plant the seed, however you'll not see a decent size bulb for several years.

The scapes can be used in many ways.   The flavour is a mild form of garlic.  I've chopped them up and put into soups, sauces, stir frys, sauteed and used omeletes.   The scapes make wonderful soup and amazing pesto.  Check out my recipes folder for the soup and scape recipe.
Garlic Scapes starting to appear

Things I've learned about growing garlic:
1)  Plant garlic cloves in fall for following year harvest - garlic does best when given a winter chilling period before sprouting.
2)  Plant about 3 weeks before the 1st expected frost so the roots can get established enough to resist frost heave.
3) When planting garlic be sure to get from a garden center or locally grown farmers market or feed store. Grocery store garlic may not be reliable as they have been treated to prevent sprouting.
4)  Scapes need to be cut off in Spring to allow the bulb to grow
5)  Harvest time in southern Ontario - usually mid July.

Things I have learned about garlic:
1)  Garlic is a natural antibiotic
2)  Garlic is a proven antioxidant
3)  Eaten regularly can help reduce high blood pressure
4)  It's a natural insect repellent. 
5)  Added to recipes makes your recipe taste better
6)  Homegrown or locally grown garlic tastes so much better than the imported garlic.
Garlic Scapes
Garlic Scapes
Fresh Garlic - just picked early July

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Becoming an Urban Homesteader #9 - This Month's Happenings

This month's happenings at my little urban homestead in the suburbs:

We desperately need rain !!
  1. Drought is happening where we live, the rain barrels are dry, the grass is brown and very crunchy, my perennials are drying up very fast and leaving bare patches in the beds.  I'm only watering my small vegetable garden now and having to supplement with tap water.  Crop failures are beginning and I've heard some local farmers are starting to slaughter their herds because they won't be able to feed them this fall/winter.   In the news we hear suggestions of higher food prices come fall for produce and meat, because of the crop failures.   Unusual times we're going through.   Another reason to have a good pantry supply, emergency supplies and preparedness plan at home.
  2. There are many ways I have learned to conserve water - see my post for some ideas.  
  3. Made strawberry jam from fresh locally grown strawberries a few weeks ago - enough for 16 jars.  The rest of the berries were frozen.
  4. Kale, swiss chard, peas are ready for picking from my raised vegetable garden
  5. Knitting/crocheting for babies.  Learned another grand baby is on the way (that makes 3 for us this year).  I can't share my work yet, until after they're born.
  6. Picked all my garlic and have planted some other vegetable seeds to see if I can get another crop before the fall frost.   Frost seems so far away as we go through one heat/humidity wave after another.
  7. Tomatoes are already starting to ripen, which is early for us.   They usually don't ripen until mid August.
  8. There has been great garage sales this month !  I was thrilled to get a crib/mattress in good condition along with fitted sheets, bumper pads and bed skirt (for our visiting grand babies) - all free !
  9. We were given a few empty large water cooler bottles.  We're using them to collect the water from the humidifier off our furnace fan.   On a humid day (which we're getting quite a few these days) we can fill one of these large water bottles, which holds about 20L (5 gal).  Water is used on the vegetables outside.
  10. Starting to collect free firewood as we see it for winter heating.
  11. Rhubarb has done well this year after I moved some of the plants to a new location a couple of years ago.  So far have made a few pies, fruit crisp, muffins and chopped up some for the freezer.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Kale - Things I Have Learned

This year I tried growing Kale for the first time.   It has done quite well considering the lack of rain we've had in Southern Ontario.

I recently learned to love Kale.  They make great chips for snacking, which is much healthier than regular potato chips.  The recipe for kale chips can be found in my recipe folder.   Kale chips are an easy way to get more greens into our diets.  I'm looking for ways to preserve all this kale so if anyone has ideas let me know.

Some things I learned about Kale: 
1)  Kale is loaded with vitamins, minerals such as Vit A, C, E and K as well as phytochemicals called zeaxanthin and lutein.
3)  Lutein and zeaxanthin is optimal for eye health.  Both these phytochemicals help reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration and helps protect the retina and eye lens.  Kale has an abundance of these phytochemicals.
2)  Kale and other leafy green veggies have been linked to lower risks of heart disease, cancer and osteoporosis.
3) Kale is high in vitamin E which is thought to protect brain cells and helps to keep your mind sharp as you age.
4)  Kale is also a great source of Vit K, which helps to protect your bones from thinning.
5)  Low in calories and is fat free .... and tastes good !

Friday, July 13, 2012

Special Place

I have found a spot in my house which I can call mine.

A spot that no one else clutters up with their stuff.  Everywhere else in the house, even my desk gets cluttered up with others' papers and stuff, as well as the kitchen counters and table.  It's frustrating sometimes, when I start to cook a meal or want to work at my desk I spend a chunk of time cleaning up before I can even start.  And, by the time I'm done cleaning up I don't want to do what I first started out to do.

I'm one of those who need some order and a spot where I can sit, to read, knit/crochet, etc., somewhere there's no clutter, somewhere there's space, somewhere to be just me. 

The spot I can call mine is an old threadbare couch, covered with a throw to cover up the holes where the stuffing is sticking out.    I have a small folding table that can hold a book, journal, pencil, my latest knitting/crochet project and a cup of tea.  From my spot I also have good view of my garden.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Simplify Your Life

Lately I have found the pace of life getting faster and faster.  Work life slowly creeps into family/personal time and before you know it - it all feels blended together.  Time for what matters most seems to have diminished and our minds are so cluttered with stuff, work and to-do lists.    Has it always been this way ?  Is it my age catching up with me?  How do you turn off the outside world and all the noise and distractions that goes with it to actually give your brain the rest it needs.   I know vacations are suppose to do that, however most of my "vacations" seem to be spent either planning an event, doing for others, or completing that long list of chores/house projects that need to get done but haven't had time while working, which has left no "down time" to regenerate one's self.  

I am reading a great book right now call the Joy of Less by Francine Jay.  To get the full benefit it's not a book you'll want to race through, which is a good thing, as these days my mind seems to wander after a few pages and I don't know what I've read.    In order to make any real changes, taking the ideas in this book one step at a time will help with lasting changes.   I have read many books about simplifying but this one has alot of practical and easy steps in all areas of one's life.  From decluttering your home, room by room, finding free time in your day, for a more streamlined, simpler and serene life.

My blog page has changed.   It was beginning to get too busy looking and cluttered/distracting for me so have chosen a simply more serene looking page, one that is to fit my lifestyle a little better.  

Pin it