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Garden Report 2021 - Part 4 - August - week 4Sep 5, 2021

It's looking a little sparser in there, isn't it? A few more bare spots. A little more yellow. (Please ignore the very rude tree in the background that is almost all yellow.) 

We pulled the last of the beets at the end of the month. We had 3 lbs left. We gave half to a friend, and I kept half to roast. I'm hoping to dehydrated a couple to throw into stews or soups over the winter. We're only talking about enough for a 125mL jar to try it. There are half a dozen onions left. Still most of the carrots. We picked every last ear of corn. Our squash started suffering from powdery mildew, so we picked the remaining spaghetti squashes and brought them inside to finish ripening. And we thinned the rhubarb one last time for the year.

The cucumbers are still producing (take a break, buddies, please!) We picked 13 lbs of cucumbers on a Friday night. We are all pickled out (out of jars, out of shelf space, out of energy) but we gave them to a friend. On Saturday afternoon in the daylight, we found another 3 that would have taken it up to 15 lbs. Plus we have a ton of field cucumbers left. The tomatoes are very generous and are giving us about 5 lbs every two to three days. Ross hilled the second crop of potatoes again. I'm hoping to see flowers on them this week. We've already used a lot of our onions, so we'll definitely be planting more of those next year!

We went to the farmer's market on the last weekend of August. We were surprised at the lack of variety and volume from the local farmers. They must have had a bad year with the drought. We went specifically to buy apples for jelly. All we have left to can (that we're planning on) is apple jelly and tomato sauce. Anything else will be a bonus.

Running canning total:

June

4 half-pint jars of stewed rhubarb
spice bottle of dried chive blossoms

July

6 half-pints + 2 - 125ml jars of strawberry rhubarb jam
11 half-pint and 4 - 125ml jars of strawberry jam 
6 half-pint + 2 - 125ml jars of raspberry jam
3 quarts Pops’ Dills (overprocessed, we’ll have to see if they’re still edible) 
3 quarts Pops’ Dills  
3 quarts + 1 pint Joyce’s Dills 
2 quarts + 1 pint Christine’s Dills 
12 cups frozen strawberries 
6 cups frozen spinach
2 cups frozen celery  
550 g potatoes 
Dried herbs

August (to Aug 31)

10 servings of borscht (frozen)
Dehydrated peppers (they all fit in a 125 mL jar so far.)
12 cups frozen beans
4 quarts Dilly Cukes (another dill pickle recipe we are testing)
1 quart Bread and Butter Pickles
2.2 kg potatoes
2 kg onions
7 pints pickled beets
7 spaghetti squashes totalling 36 lbs (gave away 2 squashes/ 10 lbs)
10 cups frozen rhubarb

12 cups of shredded zucchini (donated)
Dehydrated zucchini (enough to fill a half-pint jar.)

4 half pints + 4 125mL jars of hot pepper jelly
5 pints salsa
3 pints dilly beans
8 more spaghetti squashes totalling 27.5 lbs (gave away 2 squashes/ 7.5 lbs)
6 cups frozen rhubarb
1 - 4L pail of fresh herbs, dried (rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano)
6 cups frozen corn kernels
3 pints tomato sauce

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Garden Report 2021 - Part 4 - August - weeks 2 and 3Aug 20, 2021

We may be on vacation but the garden keeps on chugging along.

We've been picking and eating and pickling and freezing all kinds of goodies.

Like today.

We needed to clean up the tomatoes and prune all the branches that didn't have tomatoes on them. We're in mid-August and most of the tomatoes have not ripened yet, so we need the plants to send energy to the fruit, not slacker branches. We also cleaned up the spaghetti squashes. Two of these we picked deliberately; the last guy decided he was ready and his stem came off when we moved the vine.

In the last 10 days, we've picked:

5 kg/ 11 lbs of field cucumbers 
2.5 kg/ 5 lbs of pickling cucumbers 
1 bunch celery 
22 cobs of corn 
10 cups of purple beans (about 1.5 kg) 
7.3 kg/ 16 lbs of spaghetti squash (the three in the picture) 
2.5 kg/ 5 lbs of beets 
2kg / 4.5lb of onions 
2.5 kg/ 5 lbs of potatoes  
5 kg/ 10 lbs of tomatoes 
8 hot peppers 
10 cups rhubarb

We aren't canning all this - a lot of it we are eating fresh. Because we did the work and now we're enjoying the reward.

To be honest, though, the garden is winding down for the year for the most part.

The corn left on the stalks is drying out. I'll try to salvage some for freezing, but it's not good for eating off the cob anymore. The cucumbers have one good picking left. We might try to make another batch of sweet pickles because it will only be 2-3 pints, I think. Most of the onions have been fulled. The beans are almost done. We've processed beets till we can process no more and still have some left.

We still need to pull all the carrots. It's going to rain for the next few days, so we'll do it after that when it's drier. We have one more bunch of onions to pull but we'll give those another week or two. The peppers are starting to come in, and we're going to try to make a batch of pepper jelly this weekend. Ross's second batch of potatoes are growing well, and those will stay in the ground until Thanksgiving. And the tomatoes are just starting to turn red. It's interesting that the giant staking tomatoes are a pink-red while the other varieties are the regular orange-red. I wonder what colour the tomato sauce will be after it goes through the canning process.

Our trip to the farmer's market on Wednesday was a bust; nobody had apples, so we have not been able to make the jelly yet.

Our canning is also coming to an end. We only have apple jelly, pepper jelly (small batch), salsa, and tomato sauce to go. Of course, with all the tomatoes we can see, I think we'll have a dozen jars of sauce at least. That'll be a whole day, for sure.

Running canning total:

June

4 half-pint jars of stewed rhubarb
spice bottle of dried chive blossoms

July

6 half-pints + 2 - 125ml jars of strawberry rhubarb jam
11 half-pint and 4 - 125ml jars of strawberry jam 
6 half-pint + 2 - 125ml jars of raspberry jam
3 quarts Pops’ Dills (overprocessed, we’ll have to see if they’re still edible) 
3 quarts Pops’ Dills  
3 quarts + 1 pint Joyce’s Dills 
2 quarts + 1 pint Christine’s Dills 
12 cups frozen strawberries 
6 cups frozen spinach
2 cups frozen celery  
550 g potatoes 
Dried herbs

August (to Aug 20)

10 servings of borscht (frozen)
Dehydrated peppers (they all fit in a 125 mL jar so far.)
12 cups frozen beans
4 quarts Dilly Cukes (another dill pickle recipe we are testing)
1 quart Bread and Butter Pickles
2.2 kg potatoes
2 kg onions
7 pints pickled beets
7 spaghetti squashes totalling 36 lbs (gave away 2 squashes/ 10 lbs)
10 cups frozen rhubarb

12 cups of shredded zucchini
Dehydrated zucchini (enough to fill a half-pint jar.) (My sister's neighbour gave her two huge zucchinis and she gave one to me. It was 7.2 kg.)

Garden Report 2021 - Part 4 - August - week 1Aug 9, 2021

We're a week into August and we can't stop running.

We began our holidays on Friday at 5pm. Two weeks of relaxation. Yeah, right :)  We started a stroll through the garden. Here's what we ended up with - in one picking!

2.2 kg of field cucumbers

953 gr of pickling cucumbers + 1261 gr from earlier in the week

434 gr of purple beans

434 gr of onions

93 gr of hot peppers

156 gr of herbs

and

over 20 lbs of spaghetti squash!  This is only 4. We have at least 8 more growing!

The early corn is ready. We're only picking a couple of cobs at a time right now, but soon we'll have to do something with it. I'm considering borrowing (or buying) a pressure canner, but that's a big investment for something I'm not sure I'll enjoy.

Now that we've measured a pail of field cucumbers and come up with just shy of 5 lbs, I can estimate that we ate or gave away 15 lbs of them in July. Seriously, we were eating one or two a day, plus pawning them off on whoever we could. 

Then we have the beets.

Last weekend, I made a double batch of borscht to freeze for eating over the winter. That's 10 containers. It called for 2 lbs of beets. That only used six. SIX. Thankfully, my sister took two big baskets of beets, but we planted two 12' rows, and we have more than half left. We'll be pickling this week. And eating roasted beets. And I'll beg my sister to come back again. 

We have enough cucumbers to make another batch of pickles, and since it's waste-not-want-not, we bought another box of quart jars. The potatoes that we planted in the former zucchini area have sprouted, which is a great sign. We continue to hand out field cucumbers like candy at Halloween. And I'm giving my sister the 6 lb spaghetti squash, which is only fair because she's the one that spotted it half-hiding under a rhubarb leaf. 

Our big tomatoes still haven't turned red, but we're getting a handful of cocktail tomatoes every day, which is nice. The beans are really starting to come in. We've enjoyed several meals, but are picking more every day so we can start blanching and freezing them. If I get a pressure canner,  I'll also look at canning some beans.

Running canning total:

June

4 half-pint jars of stewed rhubarb
spice bottle of dried chive blossoms

July

6 half-pints + 2 - 125ml jars of strawberry rhubarb jam
11 half-pint and 4 - 125ml jars of strawberry jam 
6 half-pint + 2 - 125ml jars of raspberry jam 3 quarts Pops’ Dills (overprocessed, we’ll have to see if they’re still edible) 
3 quarts Pops’ Dills  
3 quarts + 1 pint Joyce’s Dills 
2 quarts + 1 pint Christine’s Dills 
12 cups frozen strawberries 
6 cups frozen spinach
2 cups frozen celery  
550 g potatoes 
Dried herbs - more
10 servings of borscht (frozen)
Dehydrated peppers (they all fit in a 125 mL jar so far.)
2 cups frozen beans

Garden Report 2021 - Part 3 - JulyAug 9, 2021

For the last 4 years, we've had a small - 3'x3' - strawberry patch in our garden. In all that time, we picked a total of 1 cup of strawberries, at a push. Last year we couldn't get an appointment at a u-pick farm because everybody was desperate for them. This year, we managed to snag an appointment on July 2nd, and ended up with 4 baskets.  4 baskets of strawberries yielded this bounty, plus another 12 cups in the freezer.

20 cups of strawberries = 11 half-pint and 4 - 125ml jars of strawberry jam, plus a little extra. Double batch.

8 cups of rhubarb and 4 cups of strawberries = 6 half-pints + 2 - 125ml jars of strawberry rhubarb jam. Single batch.

Our spinach came in well. And fast. So fast. I think we could have had more if we hadn't let it bolt (go to seed) but we got one meal from it, and we froze 6 cups. I see dip in our future.

I also got a first picking of basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme, which I dried and saved.

The celery started getting swamped by the cucumbers, but we did cut back 4 bunches. Some we ate fresh; some we froze.

The peas that were supposed to cover a decorative metal frame failed. We planted 20 peas, got 7 sprouts, only 3 had a decent size, and we got 2 pea pods. Then they died. RIP Peas.

The zucchinis did well in July too. We tried a new variety. Unlike the ones we've planted in previous years, we did not get any monster zucchinis; these were mostly finger sized, so there was a lot of plant for not much vegetable. We enjoyed baked zucchini sticks and a couple batches of zucchini fritters. We did grow three decent sized ones, and ended up with four 2-cup bags of shredded zukes for future fritters or baking. We pulled them at the end of the month because there were none left on the plants to grow.

At the end of July, things got very interesting. And by very interesting, I mean who decided to plant all these cucubmber plants because 8 is twice as many as we need please help us we're drowning in cukes! 

Last year was the first year we tried to make dill pickles. The recipe we chose was a disaster and would put the Dead Sea to shame with its saltiness. This year, I asked friends for tried and true recipes. We got 3. The first batch of Pops' Dills (not my Pops), I over processed after misreading the recipe. So we did it again the next weekend. A week later we had enough pickling cucumbers to try Christine's Dills and Joyce's Dills. 

And then, at the end of the month, I hit a sale on raspberries. We cooked up a batch on a weeknight because as delicious as raspberries are, they spoil very quickly and they wouldn't have made it to the weekend without turning moldy. 

9 cups of raspberries = 6 half-pint + 2 - 125ml jars of raspberry jam. 1.5x batch.

Oh, yeah. And Ross wanted to see how his underground veggies were doing, so we pulled one carrot, two onions, and one potato plant.

 

Two potato plants (of the 6 we planted) yielded 550 g of potatoes, about 1 1/4 lbs. We decided to let the other two boxes/4 plants continue to grow, but we replanted some of the tinier potatoes into the spot where we pulled the rhubarb. These potatoes took about 10 weeks to grow. All of August and September and the first week or two of October (Thanksgiving) is about the same period, so we're hoping to get a second crop.

Running canning total:

June

4 half-pint jars of stewed rhubarb
spice bottle of dried chive blossoms

July

6 half-pints + 2 - 125ml jars of strawberry rhubarb jam
11 half-pint and 4 - 125ml jars of strawberry jam 
6 half-pint + 2 - 125ml jars of raspberry jam
3 quarts Pops’ Dills (overprocessed, we’ll have to see if they’re still edible) 
3 quarts Pops’ Dills  
3 quarts + 1 pint Joyce’s Dills 
2 quarts + 1 pint Christine’s Dills 
12 cups frozen strawberries 
6 cups frozen spinach
2 cups frozen celery  
550 g potatoes 
Dried herbs

Garden Report 2021 - Part 2 - JuneAug 8, 2021


All our seeds. We planted one row of corn a week before the May long weekend, and one row a week later. The beets, spinach, and onions did really well. The empty spot on the right hand side of the spinach was where the lettuce failed.Like a lot of folks, we had a dismal result with carrot seeds and only had about two dozen carrots. So we planted a third row right down the middle with all our remaining seeds. Some of those eventually sprouted, but we aren't going to have as many as we'd hoped. 


Our tomatoes really took off once they were out of their pots and in the ground. The zucchini (far left) took a while to get going but eventually got in the game. The beans were slow to start as well.

Check it out - we grew celery! A lot of celery. The cucumbers weren't using the frame yet, but we discovered pretty quickly that we'd overprinted this little area. The rhubarb in the back has already recovered from multiple pickings.

We built five of this 2'x3' garden boxes last spring when we realized the pandemic was going to keep us at home over the summer. This year, we turned three of them into potato boxes (picture), one into a pepper box, and used one for roma tomatoes.

All the seedlings we transplanted from the seeds we'd planted in May, and the seeds we'd sown directly into the garden had taken well to their new homes. In fact, we were able to start harvesting! Yes, it was only the chives and rhubarb in June, but we got 4 jars of stewed rhubarb and a couple rhubarb crisps made.

Running total:

4 half-pint jars of stewed rhubarb

spice bottle of dried chive blossoms

Garden Report 2021 - Part 1 - MayAug 6, 2021

We started this year's gardening a month too early. We were anxious to use our new garden, and bored (after four months of winter in Winnipeg, you'd be eager for spring too) so we planted tomato, celery and peppers seeds in March. Note to self - that was about a month too early. In April, we added cucumbers, squash, pumpkin, and zucchini. Then we planted the stuff that needed to go into the ground over the May long weekend. Not everything sprouted, but we did pretty well.

In total, here's what we ended up planting. Note - the rhubarb and chives are perennial; they come back every year.

  1. Rhubarb (a perennial, it comes back every year)
  2. Chives (a perennial, it comes back every year)
  3. Rosemary (successfully overwintered inside!)
  4. 6 potatoes (3 boxes, 2 x 0.5 seed potatoes per box)
  5. 1 pumpkin
  6. 6 spaghetti squash (originally planted 4, 3 destroyed in a spring storm, 5 more seeds planted directly into garden)
  7. 8 zucchinis
  8. 4 pickling cucumbers
  9. 4 slicing cucumbers
  10. 30 celery plants (The seeds were so tiny! We sprinkled a fraction of the seeds into 2 seedling containers and that's how many came up.)
  11. 5 Pruden's Giant Staking tomatoes
  12. 3 Goliath tomatoes
  13. 7 Roma tomatoes
  14. 5 cocktail (cherry) tomatoes
  15. 2 rows of onions 
  16. 2 rows of carrots
  17. 2 rows of beets
  18. 3/4 row of spinach (old, donated seeds)
  19. 1/4 row of lettuce (old, donated seeds)
  20. 20 peas (old, donated seeds)
  21. 2 rows of purple beans
  22. 2 rows of corn (60 kernels planted)
  23. 3 red bell peppers
  24. 4 Cajun Belle peppers
  25. 1 banana pepper (purchased)
  26. 1 parsley (purchased)
  27. 1 thyme (purchased)
  28. 2 oregano (purchased)
  29. 2 basil (purchased)
  30. 8 peas (3 sprouted, planted 12 more, 4 sprouted). They were supposed to cover a decorative metal frame.

Pretty impressive planting, huh.

That was May. Then, we waited.

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Jilly has called in reinforcementsJul 5, 2021


I'm excited to tell you that North Pole Unlimited's latest couple will be introduced on November 15th!

The couple: Frank Cardinal (game inventor) and Ginger Malone (NPU marketer)

The place: Kenora, Ontario

The matchmaker: most definitely NOT Jilly (although she might be offering some advice.)

You can preorder it now!