My Life is really in the Garden

Enjoying and sharing the daily discoveries of the beautiful nature that surrounds me in my lovely garden and everywhere else!


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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Today is starting off in a fog.  Not for me, mind you, I’m as sharp as I can be on a Saturday morning.  Sipping away at my second mug of Yorkshire Tea.  Kitties (they are all grown up, but, to me they will always remain kitties) are fed, treats given … their day is well started.

The world outside my windows is in a foggy state.  Two days in a row now.  Soon the sun will shine through and I will be outside playing in the yard.

Rains are destined to start tomorrow.   Guess that means summer is over?  However, I seem to recall from previous years that there will still be days of sun .. and for that I am thankful, or rather, my tomatoes, squash etc. will be grateful.  Oh, and the beans, mustn’t forget about them.

My marvellous crop of Kentucky Wonder Beans are doing so well this year.  Last year, I’d left the package outside and it rained .. and they sprouted .. and then I planted them in the shade.  So much to learn about veggie gardening.  I’m making progress.  Decided to grow the easy veggies:  squash, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes (well, still learning about them).  And my absolute favourites – garlic and shallots.   And although my experiment with growing potatoes in bags didn’t work out for me this year ..I will try again next year with another system.   Despite a very late start to the growing season … I’m happy with what my garden has given me.

Anyway, my KWB’s grow like crazy … spiraling ever higher!  I had grown some in pots and trained them up trellis up high onto my sundeck.  And learned yet another lesson.  How easy is it to gather the beans from this high?   First of all, I need a ladder set securely on the ground to reach halfway.  Then when I go up to the decking, I am only able to reach down and gather a few.   So think next year I might just grow decorative vines in this area and will leave the beans to flourish on a much better type of structure.

Speaking of garden structure!   I wasn’t really prepared for the extravagant growth of my beans so have been making makeshift forms for them to grow on, adding bamboo stakes, garden trellis, a real mish mash.  I’ve taken photos, just for me to chuckle over during the winter months.

So, one day in August I went for a walk … lovely skies …

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And I met this most lovely dog.  Isn’t he handsome?  I also had a nice chat with his doggy-mom about making blackberry jelly, using apples for the pectin source.  You see, I was picking blackberries on that morning.  And my first reward was meeting this great dog!

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Another reward for my walk was seeing random wild flowers, growing and blooming, despite the dry weather conditions.  The bees love them.

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And these cornflowers brighten up the area also …. random beauty, free growing plants, uncontrolled by any gardener, except for good ole Mother Nature!

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Here are some jars of blackberry juice from my first blackberry pickings.    Now in the freezer.  Yum.

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Blue beans from Renee’s GMO free, organic seeds.  🙂

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As always, loving the diversity of sunflower shapes in my back yard.   Always spreading cheer and beauty.  Thank you .. my lovelies.

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Enjoying this day and ready to change into my gardening outfit … lovely worn Carhartt bibs and long-sleeved tee-shirt, gumboots, gloves (which I rarely wear) and sun cap.   OH .. wait .. I need to brew more tea so I can start my gardening day with a walkabout and admiration of all that is growing in our little paradise.

More on that later.  Time to watch the birdies also.  The lovely Chestnut-backed Chickadees, the Red-chested Nuthatches, the Anna’s, the Fox Sparrows, some house sparrows.  Wrens also.   The Robins seem to have disappeared right now … wonder where they have gone?  Bet I’ll find them when I start moving the compost around, though!  They love those big earthworms.

🙂


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How an early morning walk segued into my first juicing experience!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Well … yesterday I went for a lovely long walk … and found myself on the section of the pathway that paralleled the local allotment gardens.   And along both sides of this pathway were heavily laden blackberries bushes, like a jungle, they were so thick.  So I picked a few and then decided to go home, fetch a bucket and return to pick away.

It was an overcast morning and the hornets were not too much in evidence .. so perfect time for berry picking.  I hadn’t done this for years and it felt good to be just simply harvesting this wild bounty.

As cars roared back and forth on the Pat Bay Highway, which also paralleled the pathway .. not too close, though – I was protected from this traffic noise by the gigantic thick  hedge of tall Oregon Grape and the overgrown thickets of blackberries.

It was a lovely and quiet time of the day .. only two passersby … a lady with a Dutch accent who commented that the best berries are always at the top of the canes .. true!  And a brisk walker who was on her morning jaunt and on her return I saw her stop and taste the berries!

Well, I don’t really know how long I spent carefully detaching ripe berries from the thorny branches, but it must have been well over an hour.   I had nearly ¾ of a bucket and decided that was enough for now.  Next time I’ll bring a little step-ladder with me to get some of those top berries.

Back at home, I searched for recipes using these blackberries .. but not in the mood for baking, so decided to just freeze them.  A thorough rinse, patting dry and I put the first of 3 large parchment paper lined trays in the freezer.

After awhile .. a thought popped up .. I remembered that I had bought dh a juicer for Christmas and it had not been used yet.  Hmmmmmm

Maybe I’ll try my hand at juicing.

I must say, first, try to imagine a spotless kitchen, with the latest kitchen gadgets spread out on a tidy, work surface.  Everything is spotless and sparkly.

Hold that thought .. cause that isn’t how it all worked out.  But I didn’t take any pictures, so there is no proof, ha ha ha .. read on! You’ll see why I didn’t take any photos .. perhaps next time.

So I removed the 3rd tray, the berries hadn’t frozen yet.   Assembled the juicer, which is a Hamilton Beach, Big Mouth Extractor.  And what a powerful little juicer this machine is .. I love it.

The first batch of blackberry juice streamed out of the machine and I soon had a few jars full .. tasted the juice and it was very concentrated … and needed to have water added.

This is so much fun, I thought .. so why don’t I juice the frozen berries!   Went to the freezer, found all the ziplock bags, 2 large and 3 small and began my next juicing session.

Well … I soon discovered that this little machine churned out what was almost like blackberry ice-cream!!  The motor slugged away and soon I had more jars filled.   Time to empty out the pulp container… and it sure seemed like there was a lot of juice left in the pulp .. so I put the pulp in a strainer.

Finished cleaning out the juicer and thought, what the heck, why don’t I run this pulp through again .. and received more juice.  This time I put the pulp in zip lock bags to take to the compost.

I then cleaned out the machine .. this is no big deal, soapy wash, rinse, brush the metallic sieved bowl and ready for action again.

This time I juiced carrots .. oh, my.   Concentrated vitamin C.

After several hours of experimenting with other berries .. it was time to call it a day.  Carefully put all my new juices into the fridge, some in the freezer for later.  Thinking it would be a good idea to fill some ice-cube trays with juice, for easy future drinks.

I have a lot to learn about juicing, that is, to blend various fruits together, but that will happen.

Anyway, time to relax and watch some Coronation Street, so I just left the zip-locked bag of berry pulp on the counter and to the land of tv I went.

Returning to the kitchen awhile later .. I discovered another lesson learned.  That is, not to leave a plastic bag of berry pulp on the counter.

There was blackberry juice on the counter, trailing down the kitchen drawer, cupboard and puddled on the floor and baseboard for a circumference of about 3 feet.

Oh, shoot … this isn’t good.

My first thought was, darn, I could have used that juice, what a waste.

My second thought was, omg .. this blackberry juice stains like crazy.

My third thought was, omg .. I am so glad that dh is not here right now.

I quickly gathered cloths to soak up the beautiful juice that was everywhere.

Next I found my container of “Mother’s Choice” hard surface cleaner (manufactured by Pink Solution in Vancouver) applied some of the grey paste to a cloth and scrubbed away.  This magic solution completely eradicated any residue of the beautiful blackberry liquid and our counters, wooden trim on the cupboard door, plus the cupboard door surfaces, baseboard trim and flooring  now bear no evidence to my “juicing accident”.

Relief!!

Well, if I hadn’t gone for  walk yesterday, I wouldn’t have noticed the zillions of blackberries growing so close to home, which resulted in my gathering enough and this segued into my entrance to the world of juicing.

Yeah

Seems to me that every time I go for a walk, whether by myself or with my pal D, something interesting  occurs.

Which reminds me of our very interesting walk a few days ago. We were invited on a tour of a garden which belonged to the most amazing planted boulevard.   A tour which lasted for two hours!   And lots of pictures.

But that is for another time.

For now I will just marvel at the results of my first juicing experience and I think I will search out some sparkling water to add to some of this nectar!

🙂