Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Product Experiment - Upside-down Planters - The Results are In!

By completely accident we became the owners of two separate upside-down planters.
I have always been intrigued by these contraptions.

We never had one during our apartment days.
But I always kinda wanted one secretly.
(not so secret now though)

By the spring, this year, we had two of them.
Along with our gigantic garden and auxiliary garden beds,
it seemed like we really didn't need them!

However, I thought it would be worth a try this year.
And to show you all the results!


We chose two different varieties of cherry tomato plant.
One was a sweet million...the other was labelled tri colour.
(we never did find out what tri colour meant....
they looked exactly like a sun gold to me)
We had them both on our deck railing.
Both were south facing with loads of sunlight.
One did far better than the other.

The tri colour started going to flower almost instantly!

The sweet million died shortly after its first water.
(Luckily we had a bunch of sweet million volunteers in the garden,
so we didn't do without red cherry tomatoes at all!)

I have to say...I was completely unimpressed by these things!
Sure, if you live in an apartment, they kinda make sense.
If I were an apartment dweller...I would just go with planters and elevate them
using milk crates or whatever.
That brings the planter up to a height were the whole plant gets enough sunlight.
(those barricades are tall in apartments!)
I would also recommend rotating the plants so that the entire plant gets light...
instead of just one side.
Its important to note that if you use planters...
make them big but not so big you can't rotate them.
(or put them on something with wheels or casters)

We usually resort to planters for cherry tomato plants because when we plant them
in the ground...they truly go insane.
They branch out and lay down all over whatever had the nerve to be planted next to it.


Don't bother!
Use a container that allows the plant to grow as nature intended.
If you are only looking for a few handfuls of cherry tomatoes...
than maybe this is the solution for you.
Me?  I love cherry tomatoes.
A few handfuls wouldn't do me (let alone the rest of the family)
any good.
The whole season reaped a sad return for my efforts.

Anyone else had a turn with these contraptions?
I'd love to here your feedback.
Sound off below!

Monday, January 11, 2016

4 of my Top Hearty Meals

Ham and Split Pea Soup

We started with the ham bone leftover from Christmas dinner at my mom's house.
Boiled for a few hours with spices (oregano, thyme, bay leaf, s n p)
and vegetables (onions, celery, carrots).

Removed the bone and added the remaining contents to a blender,
then returned to pot.

Added chopped leftover ham and simmered a few minutes more.


Turkey and Dumplings

Saved leftover turkey from Thanksgiving and froze it.
Thawed the meat in the fridge and placed it in a casserole dish.
Added frozen veggies from the garden (peas and beans)
Prepare a can of cream of whatever soup (I used cream of broccoli).
I also used a whole can of milk and a 1/3 of a can of water...
evaporation almost destroyed my first attempt at this dish.
(sauce was waaaay too thick)

Added veggies thawed or frozen...doesn't really matter.

Pour soup over all of that mess!

Cook covered in oven at 350 for approx 30 mins...or until bubbly.

NOW...mix up the dumplings and roll into 8 or so 2" balls.

Uncover casserole dish and place dumplings evenly over the top of the soup mixture.
Cook uncovered for another 15 or so minutes until the dumplings are firm.

Topped with 7 pepper spice...for a kick!


Pumpkin Soup

Roasted a pumpkin stored from the garden 
(a cheyenne bush pumpkin from Wendy Moreton of Hamilton!)
Scooped out the flesh and ran it through the food processor.
Simmered onions in a pot.
Added pumpkin mash, 6 cups of water, s n p and a hint of thyme.

In the last few minutes, add cream or milk (we added milk)
Topped with the last of the roasted pumpkin seeds 
(for added fibre...ok who am I kidding...it was for the crunch!)


Giant Hashbrown with Chipotle Mayo


Shred a whole potato into a bowl.
Squeeze out any moisture you can.
Add 1/2 a chopped onion and 1 egg.
Heat up a frying pan and grease it with oil or spray.
Once hot, spread the shredded potato mixture evenly around the pan.
Use a cutting board to help flip evenly.

Top with Chipotle mayo for a spicy way to start your day!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

End of the Season 2015 part 1

It was one helluva gardening season this year.
Well...not really.
I worked at an organic vegetable farm called The Kitchen Garden from May-August.
Here's where I worked...

A small view of the enormous fields at the farm.

Inside one of the hoop houses I helped build by hand.

The big pond I helped dig by hand.

The smaller pond I helped dig...that waterfalls into the big pond.

Working at the farm was an amazing experience but it was incredibly draining.
Meaning that poor husband of mine spent more than his share working our own garden.

I was grateful.

I was also exhausted.

Some days it was just because I'd spent 5 hours hoeing and just couldn't look at another weed.

Other days I had spent 5 hours picking beans...and couldn't fathom picking any more.

We still managed to put away a crazy amount of food.
(stay tuned for more on that)
But the amount of food that we grew that got wasted broke my heart.

I learned an incredible amount as well.
I learned about working smarter...and harder.
I learned about different varieties of vegetables.
I learned how to trellis them and maintain their health.
I learned how to harvest them...and quickly!

Speed is of the essence at a farm.
The margin is so small on vegetable sales.
You work fast...
even if you feel like the heat is
making your body move in slow motion.

I learned how to use hand tools...
something I've never done before.

(Seriously?!  she's been gardening for over 10 yrs now!
How is that even possible!?!?)

Well...we've been doing it by hand.
Literally by hand all of this time.

Sure, we might use a wheelbarrow or a shovel.
But all of that weeding and harvesting was done by hand.

Let me tell you, I have some amazing discoveries to share in the coming year!
No trademarked secrets that only The Kitchen Garden uses.
Sorry folks, that's privileged information...and you'll have to work there to find out more.

What I'm going to share with you are all of the
things that I will be doing differently in my home garden.
Tools, tips and trellising tricks...
and much, much more!

Its all gonna change this year!
Stay tuned...