Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Looking back at this years vegetable garden

The weather today is cold and windy, quite a change from yesterdays 17°C.
It's the perfect day to sit by the fire and look at the notes of the years successes and failures.
 I sit and try to decipher the scribbles on the random pieces of paper and enter these notes into my garden journal. Each success (and failure!) is noted for planning the following years garden.
Thinking about it now, it must have been a successful year as the freezer and pantry are full, and we ate fresh, homegrown produce for a good part of the season.
I knew I wanted to learn to can this year, and so my garden was planned accordingly.
The first crop this year was Asparagus.  Anyone that has tasted fresh picked Asparagus knows there is nothing like it!  None of ours made it to the freezer this year so I added more plants.
Then came the rhubarb. This plant's size astounded me this year, and we ate plenty and froze lots too.
We had plenty of Black Currents too and some were frozen and some made jam.

I have been on an endless quest for the 'best' tomaotes to grow so I plant several types of tomatoes- some for slicing, some for canning and some cherry type for eating. And each year I try new varieties.  As long as I have gardened, I have always planted  'Sweet Millions'.
 They are a great cherry tomato, producing many  clusters of very sweet tomatoes and they have never let me down. They will always have a place in my garden. This year I planted 'Grape' tomatoes as well. They were very uniform and tasted good - UNTIL you tasted the 'Sweet Millions' and then the 'Grape' tasted almost sour.
  For slicing, I planted 'Beef Master', 'Parks Whopper', 'Money Maker' and 'Mortgage Lifter'.
The 'Money Maker' I grew from seed, they others I bought plants. The 'Mortgage Lifter' was put in late and I paid dearly for the plant because of the rave reviews I heard.
They were a huge disappointment ... small fruit and very few. The taste wasn't great either. 
Never again will I plant them!
The 'Money Makers' produced clusters of small tomatoes ... nothing to write home about.
My favorite was the 'Beef Master'. Lots of large slicing tomatoes, very juicy and flavorful.
The 'Parks Whopper' was a close second. I would grow them both again.
For canning I planted 'Sicilian Saucer' and 'Roma' . The weather was odd all season, and all the plants were very short, but these 2 varieties did very well. The Roma's produced TONS of uniform fruits that were great for canning. The real surprise for me was the 'Sicilian Saucer'. It produced some HUGE tomatoes and they were excellent for both slicing and canning, and very plentiful.
 
 
 I will definitely be growing these again!
On my list to try next year are the 'Tomato Berry' and 'Homestead 'tomatoes.
I'd love to hear from you if you have tried these varieties!
 
Something new we tried this year was Cucamelons.
 
They were a tiny, watermelon looking fruit that we thought were more of a novelty.
To my surprise, the kids liked them! The plants climb and so can be easily trained to grow up a trellis, so they will have a spot in next years garden.
The 'Sugar Snap' peas had a great year as always and will be planted again.
The bush beans did well too. I will always have a few varieties, already decided on 'Blue Lake' and 'Royal Burgundy' for next season.
 Carrots and onions had a good year. I'm not even sure what varieties I planted, but have already decided that there will be red onions as well as yellow. 
I battled the dreaded Cucumber beetles and squash bugs again this year, and so there were few zucchini's and cucumbers.
A garden is only as good as the soil, so I tried to get ahead of my spring chores by topdressing the garden with compost this fall. I FINALLY had a good amount of compost and I needed the space for fall cleanup. I hope to dig the rest this spring.
 Good looking stuff, huh?
The gardens are all cleaned out now, with the exception of the kale that I have been picking.
Planning a garden is ALMOST as much fun as actually growing it.
 Not long ago, a friend gave me this bag of seeds with a large variety of veggies to try.
Inside was almost everything a person needs to plant a good veggie garden. I don't think she realized how happy a bag of seeds could make someone - she looked SO surprised when I started jumping for joy! The only seeds I need to buy next year are peas, beets, and kale!
Planning next years garden just became SO EASY!
 
 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Beautiful Autumn colors

My Mother once told me "the older you get the faster the time passes".
I am realizing this is very true!
October is here, and I can hardly believe it.
Seems like just last month I was planting my veggie garden and putting in annuals.
Autumn is such a busy season ... time to put away all the patio furniture, take down the pool, clean up the gardens, harvest the last of the veggies, get firewood, move compost, clean the eavestroughs, bring in the goldfish, get heating fuel ... the list goes on and on and on.
But I always try to take some time to enjoy the gorgeous fall colors.
Last weekend was picture perfect and I was in awe of the beauty in my neighborhood.
 


And a few from my yard




Enjoy the beauty of Autumn while you can ... it won't be long until winter is upon us.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Playing catch up!

It's been a busy few weeks. 
I've been meaning to post here, but somehow I just never got a chance.
Lots has happened since my last post on August 23rd!
Country Boy had his 18th birthday and moved away to college the very next day!
Not sure if I should still be calling him 'Country Boy' anymore?  After all, he is 18 now, which is legally an adult! Regardless, we got him all settled in at Residence.

It's oddly quiet around here. I miss him a lot and look forward to next weekend when he will be home for the weekend.
Little Country Girl started grade 6 the very next day. Gosh, they are growing so fast!
With the beginning of school comes the beginning of all the extra curricular activities ... aka
skating. Little Country Girl will be skating 3 days a week again this year beginning October 1st. With this comes a commitment of 10 volunteer hours for ME. Because I am not busy enough this time of year!  (eye roll here :) )
Our town had its annual fall fair a few weekends ago. We had many things entered again this year and won a few ribbons each. And made a few $$ to pay for our day at the fair. I somehow forgot to take photos of our entries, but did get a few of my 'Stunt Girl' on some rides. 

Yup, that's her in the first car, hanging upside down. I would be wearing my lunch if I went on that ride! Little Country Girl loved it and went on many times with her friends.
Earlier this month we had a nasty storm blow through. Thankfully we were all home when the storm hit, because we had all just come home a few minutes before.
It was a scary one! It hit all at once with strong winds, heavy rain, hail and lots of thunder and lightening. We were all scrambling to close windows and the wind was blowing things all around. Even had tomatoes blow off the window sills! The storm lasted about 20 minutes and when it was all done there were hundreds of branches to pick up, patio furniture to gather up, our picnic table was destroyed, and our tv tower was bent. Still looking for someone that can remove the top before we get our internet 'dish' re adjusted.
It's been a great year in the veggie garden for tomatoes. Not sure if it was the secret new formula I added to the soil at planting time or the compost added this spring. I picked more tomatoes than ever!
Look at this giant 'Sicilian Saucer' Tomato!
I grew this type for canning, but soon discovered that they made an excellent slicing tomato too. They were very meaty with few seeds and a wonderful taste. I'll definitely be growing these again!
Tried making salsa for the first time and it turned out excellent. I entered some in the fair and it won 3rd place. Not bad for a first timer :)
Used more tomatoes than ever ... have some canned, frozen, stewed, salsa. Ate lots too and even gave a bunch to friends. Haven't counted, but the pantry is full of jars of home grown, canned pickles, mixed vegetables, salsa. The freezer is full of peas, beans, tomatoes too. Carrots and onions yet to harvest when I have a bit of time as well as cabbage and kale. I would say this years garden was a success!  I also learned a lot about canning this year, and look forward to doing more next year.
The flower gardens are winding down now. Fall is in the air and we had our first frost on Friday.
I haven't had time to assess the damage yet. I was able to get out and snap a picture the night before.
Fall officially begins tomorrow, which brings along a whole new job list.
I just hope I have time to do it all :)