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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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!

🙂


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Lots of apples tumbling from the tree! A real Louisville Slugger .. and .. a magnificent Twin Otter flying high in the sky!

Friday, November 9, 2012

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  Again and again ..we have been so very fortunate to have some sunny days .. mixed in with the rain!

A few days ago I gathered up apples that had fallen from one of our trees in the back yard.  Now .. this tree is over 30 years old (how time flies).  And it had only every grown just a few apples.

However, this situation changed last year .. when I began seriously removing the tent caterpillar nests ..and even though I was unable to reach a few of them (too high) .. I believe that this action alone helped the blossoms to reach maturity.

That and the addition of EM! (of course)

I was thinking of having cider made from the apples, but don’t believe that I have enough for that.  Looks like we’ll be having lots of apple deserts of all types over the winter.

The birds love feasting on them .. so I’ve left a generous supply of apples scattered around the base of plants that are tucked away by the fence line.  And more apples, tucked into the crevices of trees throughout the yard.

A few days ago we traipsed (ok . .we drove) out to Dakota Cafe for Won Ton Monday!  What a treat.

We saw one of the locally produced Twin Otters going for test flights.  This one of six that were  purchased by the Vietnam navy.   What lucky timing .. to be at the airport and actually see one of these beautiful works of art.

Viking Air is one of those hard-working success stories.  The company bought the rights to build the de Haviland planes and brought the Twin Otter back into production.  Inspirational story of hard work and dedication.

After our delicious lunch, we left the restaurant and were heading towards the car when my eyes caught sight of a most unusual walking stick!  At first I wondered what it was, the shape was totally unlike any other I’ve seen.

Close up .. I saw that it was a real Louisville Slugger!  The real deal!

The owner, an interesting gentleman who spoke with a soft Southern accent, reminiscent of warm syrup. bourbon and all those comfy images .. recounted that he’d gone on a tour of the factory, down in Louisville, Kentucky.  The pronunciation of this place drew me in and momentarily I was transported to the southern climates.

Anyway, he’d gone all through the tour, admiring his restraint on not buying anything .. when he saw these genuine baseball bats transformed into walking sticks. So, out comes his wallet and soon he is the proud owner .. with his name engraved on the side!

To think that I would have missed this .. if we hadn’t gone for won ton!

And yesterday .. I treated myself to a long walk around town.  And I’ll share what I saw tomorrow!

On with this most lovely, sunny day!

 

 


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Wednesday was a lazy hazy kind of summer day

 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

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Yesterday was a day full of beauty, adventure and surprises all day long.

It was also a day of sadness as it was exactly one week ago that we lost our lovely little Youbou cat.

coincidentally .. my good pal D had contacted me to start our usual wandering/adventures that we started a few years ago.

So we discussed where to go and decided on starting out at Swan Lake.

I took lots of photos of the day and have posted some, but not all of them.

We had the most marvellous fun day .. I really felt like a kid again, although one with a driving license, all grown up and ready to go.

Started off at Swan Lake .. walked the pathways through the beauty of the woods.  Stopping to watch the aerial activity.  Saw Bushtits cavorting in a tree.  Then a pair of yellow feathered darlings flew about .. sorry, can’t remember the name .. will post later.

Several groups of loud talkers passed our way .. I shut out the noisy conversations and settled into the lovely peace of the woods and nature surrounding us.

Finally .. I feel so happy to be back at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  It’s been a few months since I last visited this lovely place and heavenly to be back there.

Saw the Canada Geese, majestically paddling about the lake .. and the Mallards.  D noted that the Drakes were moulting, turns out this happens twice a year.  Some of them looked a little bedraggled.

We threw flatted oats to them all and soon were surrounded by lots of these feathered beings.

D found a cricket .. sadly unable to walk .. perhaps a heavy footed jogger caused some harm?  she gently placed him amongst some tall grasses .. perhaps he will heal and soon be hopping around.

She discovered fruit trees (she’s an apple tree magnet!) and gathered a variety of apples, then later, pears from a boulevard.  It was here that I started feeling like a kid.  Car parked on a side street.  We wandered around a pear tree, trying to find any ripe fruit.  No worries, no schedules .. fun!

From there we made stops at various places.  Chez moi, to gather some fruit from the trees.  Oh, and to drop off some free treasures found in a driveway along the way.  A funky trellis for the garden.  Some plant saucers, a plastic little table, ready to be painted.  Talk about decluttering and then I bring these things home.  I daren’t tell DH!  What would he say?  Well, I think he would laugh, but I’ll leave that subject for now.

Next we went to a local greenhouse, the owners have been there for 50 years!  Bought some terrific produce.

Next we made our way to Saxe Point.  Now, I thought I’d been there years ago, but really, I discovered that in all the years I’ve lived here .. I’d not visited this jewel.

Wandered through paths, made our way down the rocky bluffs to the shore (if you can call it that).

We noticed a couple of scuba divers, happily exploring the waters along the shore, finding treasures in the water.

Such beautiful scenery … ocean lapping at the rocks.  Small areas of dried ocean salts.  D found some coins tucked away in a rock.

Fun times.

It was an amazing, fun, relaxing day .. one of those old-fashioned summer days.  The kind where you just explore areas of the city and find unexpected scenery, flowers, things that don’t cost money.

Just having fun.

So .. more tomorrow .. must head out to the garden now .

 

 


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Today is a planting day .. no more procrastination!

Monday, July 23, 2012

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Sunday was quite the day .. with the skies changing from overcast, cloudy …to bright and sparkling blue .. decorated with quite a beautiful changing series of amazing clouds.  So I spent some time just admiring the scenery and clicking away.

It was also a lazy day .. we are usually away on the weekends, but the weather wasn’t the best for flying .. so it was stay at home for us.  I don’t mind these types of weekends.  Lots of time to just not rush around .. time to slow down and enjoy.  So we did.

Outside, looking around the yard, amazed at the changes brought about by the addition of the EM to the garden.  Never have the fruit trees bore so much fruit.  I am so very very happy that I took the Organic Master Garden course (Gaia college) .. it totally changed my way of gardening forever.

And the “shifting of paradigms” as noted at the beginning of the course is so true .. my view of gardening has gone in a whole new direction.  I am aware now of the worlds beneath my feet .. the living beings that inhabit the soil and transform it into a healthy growing medium for plants.  Healthy soil = healthy plants.  And as I gaze around my yard I see the proof.

More about that on a later date.  Today I just want to share the joy that I feel as I walk around my garden.

I’ve made enquiries about where to have the bountiful crop of apples transformed into lovely apple cider .. no rush, they won’t be ready for a few months yet .. but I want to be ready!  Last year I’d made jams, baked pies .. but want to try my hand at the cider.   Having not done this before and how fun to sip on cider from the trees.

I’d found sites on making cherry wine from frozen … so might try that … however, I’ve gotten into the habit of using the frozen cherries (from our tree) as ice cubes in summer drinks.   And they taste delicious at the bottom of the glass, plus, vitamin C!

The squash, cucumber and zucchini plants are starting to grow tendrils so I’m trying to find things to use for guides .. tree branches, that sort of thing.

My lovely garlic crop is drying beneath the sundeck.  I spent some time hanging groups of them from nails along the boards …. planning which ones I will save for the fall crop.

Looked at the veggie bed .. planning more garlic rows .. for more garlic.  This time I’ll give the cloves a bit more space for them to grow.  I’d tried growing some in containers, resulted in smaller cloves .. so won’t do that again.

Heavy crop of raspberries and blueberries.  Really enjoy just going outside everyday and picking a basket of them for us.   Memories of days spent on a relative’s farm … hot sunny days, fun times.

The plum trees are fully laden.  We have three types:  Italian (large plump fruits); tiny purple (don’t know the type) and another type of medium purple (again, don’t know type) .. they are all good .. and so I might have these made into something like wine or whatever .. depends on how much fruit makes it to the end of the season.  Plus, this year I’ll spread out tarps to collect the dropping fruit .. easier to clean up.  To avoid the end of the season hornet attacks .. I’ve been picking up all fallen fruit daily and over to the compost they go.

Admiring the green lush growth of the grass .. where the seaweed has dripped … not that I’m into lawn, but, I like to maintain what we have.   Notice that there are fewer dandelions growing throughout ..a sign that the lawn has been receiving nutrients required, the extra vitamin C is no longer required, there is sufficient now, it seems.

There are still perennials to be planted .. I’ve arranged them in the approximate areas where I’d like them to grow … and so today I think .. is the day to do this!

Beautiful sunny day and now I’m on my way.

A – planting – I – will – go!  Goodby – procrastination!  Hello – happy plants in their new places!

🙂


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Flying over eagles, gathering raspberries, blueberries …. cherries .. lovely summer

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

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Where on earth does the time go??????

We are finally enjoying some hot weather here .. so that means the veggies in the garden are growing .. I can see some pumpkins and squash, flowering and fruiting .. that is a good sign.

The garlic .. well, I dug it all up today.  Except for some in pots.  There are a variety of sizes and I’m at a loss as to figure out why.

The first bundle that I dug up were mostly large.  And today, there was a mix .. some healthy sized bulbs, some medium-sized, some rounds (which I’ll plant in the fall, for large bulbs next summer) and a lot of smaller bulbs.

The cloves that were planted were pretty well the same size.  And I think that spacing the cloves out a bit more gives the roots the opportunity to spread out and grow more.  I was just antsy to plant as much garlic as I could last fall.  So this year .. I’ll try to be more mature.  But, not by much!

I do know that the EM & the seaweed made a big difference as all the bulbs were much larger than last year’s crop.

I’ve been picking raspberries, blueberries and cherries.   For the past few days I’ve been drying cherries in the oven .. they dry like raisins.  And I’ll use these in my granola .. that I’m going to make.

The winds had been so strong in the past few weeks … I was despairing of having enough fruit from the cherry tree for us to eat .. as the winds were causing quite a few fruits to drop to the ground.  I’d gathered up lots from the ground, so as to dissuade the wasps from visiting.

Anyway, 2 days ago, I noticed that the lower branches were dripping with ripe cherries!  That was a great surprise as I hadn’t noticed them before!  So I gathered quite a bit and pitted them, dried them in the oven and now have a good supply in containers, for my next batch of granola.

Today I gathered more and am waiting for a few more days for more to ripen .. and then I’ll make up some cherry pie filling!

Lots of cherries at the top of the tree for the birds and enough for us at the lower edges.

Last weekend we went to Port Alberni for DH to go sailplaning …. beautiful weather .. except we saw lots of cloudy weather which turned out to be the outflow from fires in Siberia!!

Anyway … DH arranged for me to go for a flight with the lead instructor … we were up in the air for over an hour .. sheer bliss!

At one point, we were flying over a pair of eagles who were soaring a thermal .. how utterly exciting was that!  I took pics, but they are only dots in the screen.  Suffice it to say that this was a wonderful moment.

And as if that wasn’t enough .. soon, we were flying close to DH .. that was utterly fantastic!    He was flying along at the same height .. and it was so lovely to be in the air at the same time!

A few dips and turns and such a lovely time.  I just didn’t want to land .. rather, I wanted to stay up in the air for a few more hours.

Look forward to a self-launching two-seater sailplane .. a gal can dream, right?

Well, outside to hang up the garlic .. or rather, to find a place where I can hang this lovely crop .. to dry!

🙂