Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Garden Update: Making due...

This could possibly be the first year I have not had some sort of a garden...

It has not been easy for me.

Above pictured is our proposed garden space for next season.  It seems like an eternity to me sometimes.
Certainly everytime I go to the grocery store and have to buy things I used to get for free in my backyard.

It stings a bit at the checkout too.

However...in true Pedersen fashion...we are making the best with what we have!

We started a number of containers with herbs.

My mother in law donated a whole herd of plants!

Crazy stuff like lime basil and purple basil.

The living mint plant I bought from the grocery store in march still lives!

Ches turned the back part of the old garden patch and planted all of the gifted plants.

Tomatoes a plenty!  Romas, cherry, beefsteaks and yellow plum tomatoes.

Our pepper plants went into an old metal container we found next to the garage.

Repositioned at the end of the big garden , we have a bunch of pepper types growing.

Yellow wax hot peppers...

Also regular green bell peppers.

It's amazing what you can do with a little imagination!

So the garden efforts are a bit hampered this year, they are not spent!

There are other things happening on our property that were pre-existing.

The concord grapes are coming along nicely (we think)...we've never grown grapes before!

I plan on reading up on their care this winter, but for now we are just marveling at how they grow.

Another thing we seem to have plenty of, in all of the areas with disturbed soil, is lamb's quarter.

Lamb's quarter is one of those wild edibles you never forget once you identify them. 

We're seeing it in all of those containers pictured at the top, basically anywhere we used the free topsoil from my husband's parents property.

You can use lamb's quarter like you use spinach, either steamed or raw.

I seem to only like the young leaves in salads...other wise the leaves of just about any age plant (before flowering) are good cooked.  The reportedly have astronomical health benefits.

How are your gardens doing?

Be sure to post pictures of your gardens and bounties on my facebook page!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Just about missed the strawberries!

We are so fortunate to have a choice of pick-yer-own farms in our area.

Both are great for different reasons.  Both are run by members of the same family.

We decided to go to Paulridge this year, because of necessity.  My mother in law called ahead to see which farm actually still had strawberries left!  We had waited too long in the season to have the luxury of choice.

So off to Napanee we went back at the beginning of July!

(Ideal timing in our area seems to be the middle to end of june for strawberries...but raspberries are later on)

Paulridge Farms is a family run operation that has been going on for years.

They really do have it down to a fine art.  They provide everything one might need for the experience.

Quaint placards display current pricing, wagons to haul your load to the car.  The parking lot is a short hike from the fields...kind of a nice treat to see the exhaust is kept a safe distance back from the food.

Owen shows me he is ready to go with all the tools he needs.

(Lucky for him Mum brings the other essentials like sunscreen, a cushion for your knees or bum and lots of water.)

The driver takes us on a flat bed trailer to the spot that is currently being picked.

Owen moves down the rows searching for the ultimate berry!

Lucky for us it was a hot day with no scorching sun.

Owen still needed a rest in between the rows.  Whew!

We were able to haul out 3 baskets of berries between Owen and I.

Nana picked 3 baskets herself.

We do eat some while we work...but after a while you just want to get out of the uncomfortable hunched over position.  So you pick faster...and snack less.  On the ride back to the main buildings, we snack a bit in sheer exhaustion and bliss.  Behind Owen are the baskets picked by the employees.  Those berries are sold at a premium, as "pre picked berries" at the main buildings.  The flavour of home grown, fresh picked berries but without the back pain.

Paulridge Farm has a play area at the main buildings. 
Its a nice little spot to rest up before heading back home.

We had to wait a little bit as Ches and Noah went their own route.
We decided to divide and conquer, splitting our efforts between strawberries and raspberries!

Ches and Noah picked 2 baskets of raspberries, which is saying a lot!
We have found that filling a full basket of raspberries takes twice as long because they are smaller and the bushes hide those ripe suckers!

In the end the boys were happy with the haul.
Total haul:  6 baskets of strawberries, 2 baskets of raspberries, 4 pints of fresh peas and 1 pint each of green and yellow beans.

It took approximately 2 and a half hours from the start of our trip door to door.

We made a huge batch of strawberry jam along with a couple of raspberry jams.
We rinsed and froze some of each kind of berry in large freezer bags.
Some of those frozen berries will turn into smoothies or be inserted into pies or crisps.  The newest thing for us is thawing a few for a batch of home made raspberry vinaigrette. 

All the tops we cut off the berries when we prepared them will go great in our composter too!

We ate the beans and peas almost immediately.
Eating fresh peas from the pods remind me of my childhood driving from Oshawa to a farm in Bowmanville.
My Mom and I would shell and eat them all the way home.

My paternal Grandma Bell was also big on picking your own when they were in season.
Perhaps that is a peak into her farming childhood or a reminder of the hikes in Selwyn Park in the Kawarthas where her and her husband built a cottage on Chemong Lake.

I just hope that my sons take their children picking berries and the tradition will continue.

Memories are made along the journey...not when you get to the destination!