An update on the progress of our garden is long over due, I think. Earlier in the spring, I shared our garden plans with you. Now it’s time to take a peek at how things are growing.
Spring is in full swing, and that means it’s time to turn a bit of attention to the garden. Beyond the basic spring yard cleanup, we also undertake the planning & preparation of our veggie garden. Today I’m sharing a bit about how we plan out our garden, which produces an abundance of fresh veggies for us during the summer months & some stored food for the winter.
There might still be the occasional snowflake falling from the sky these days, but it is time to turn some attention to garden planning & prep. My hubby is truly the brains behind the operation, while I lend my hands & time to the work in the spring, summer & fall. He comes up with our garden plan each year, while he plans out the other yards for his urban farming business. Even the seeds for our own garden get lumped into orders for Happiness By The Acre.
Yes, indeed, the How Grows It? post was really just part one of our yard. Here’s the remainder. I’ve saved the herbs for last. Some we enjoy fresh and others we simply dry for use throughout the year. In fact, last year, we dried so much sage that we’re still using it (and we put sage in lots of recipes). So here’s a peek at the rest of the garden:
There’s lots of time being spent in the kitchen these days. It’s not the weather that’s keeping us in there, it’s just the season. Growing season means lots of preserving to do. Chopping, freezing, drying, and boiling. Repeat. So how about a little peek into the kitchen over the past couple of weeks?
Confession: Our backyard is a sea of dandelions.
They’ve taken over any area that we left as lawn. In past years, we tried pulling, mowing, even spraying them with vinegar (we refuse to spray any chemicals). This year, I’ve given up and I’m treating them like just another crop to harvest.
Here’s some tips I’ve found handy so far:
There are lots of interesting things to make out of dandelions. There’s a good collection of ideas & recipes on The Prairie Homestead blog. I started out simple, just making come dandelion green salads. There’s really no end of possibilities when it comes to salad combinations. Just think of some of your favourite salads or dressings, and add or substitute dandelion greens. For example, I love broccoli salad, but there’s no broccoli ready to harvest in the backyard, so I used dandelion greens instead, added my usual raisins, nuts, and cream dressing. Viola! I tend to like adding sweet things to salads made with dandelion greens, just to cut the slight bitterness of the leaves. I’m thinking strawberries and sunflower seeds next time around or maybe a sweet rhubarb dressing. Just have fun experimenting with it!
There are several things I want to try making with the dandelion blossoms and petals, including syrup, fried blossoms, and wine (if I’m super ambitious one week). We made dandelion cookies this week from some of the fresh petals. They were yummy and a hit with Sam. I used a recipe from the Dinner For Everyone blog. Since they are basically oatmeal cookies with dandelion petals, I want to try adding raisins to them next time around.
Have you ever done anything with dandelion greens or blossoms? Would love to hear about it! Also, should let you know that if you happen to be one of those lucky folks who don’t suffer from dandelion invasions in your yard (or don’t have a yard), chances are you can purchase dandelion greens from your local urban farmer or grocery store. Here in Calgary, you can check out the YYC Growers & Distributors booth at some of their upcoming farmers’ markets. Some of the greens you purchase from them might just be from our yard.
If it is, then there is very little chance that Sam will eat it. He’s always been picky when it comes to vegetables. It’s why we were thrilled to discover that he really liked kale, which we made into chips for dessert and slipped fresh into his morning smoothies. So as the garden was drawing to a close, and we were staring at bushels of broccoli leaves to pull & haul to the compost, we decided to try a little experiment.
With my little helper at my side, we harvested some big bowls full of broccoli leaves, and batch by batch, loaded up the dehydrator. Each batch took about 8.5 hours on a low temperature setting (approximately 115 degrees). Once the leaves were dehydrated, I ran them through a hand blender, removed some of the tougher stem bits, and then ground it all into a finer powder with a good ‘ol mortar & pestle. Some of this could have been simplified if we owned one of those electric spice grinders. It wasn’t too tricky and at the end of it all, we had a lovely bowl of super green powder. That might not seem all that exciting to some folks, but in my mind, it means we now have the ability to sneak some more veggie goodness into Sam’s morning smoothies. I haven’t given it a try yet (we just finished up the last of our kale), but hope to soon.
I thought it was high time I shared some of the yummy things we’ve been making with the harvest from the garden (especially since the garden is close to being finished for the year). Hubby has posted good photos & recipes of some of the dishes he made. My dishes consisted mainly of tomatoes, tomato sauces, and soon a whole lot of tomato paste.
Feeling like I need to get a little bit more experimental with my vegetable cooking. I swear, cooking is definitely a muscle that requires constant flexing. Too much time away from it and you fall into such a sticky rut. Anyway, there was a great deal of tasty fresh veggies enjoyed this summer and plenty that has been frozen to enjoy in coming months.
We’ve been enjoying some pretty warm days in Calgary, but the winds are starting to blow. The temperatures are cooling off, the days getting shorter, the leaves starting to turn & fall. All the signs of autumn are surrounding us. Here’s a little peek at what the last days of summer have meant at our house, this year:
Everyone seems to celebrate and commemorate the end of this season with some special treat or tradition. Especially here, where hot days don’t last long, and are quickly replaced with frosty mornings & the anticipation of the first snowfall (which I keep being told will come early this year, but who knows). We’ve still have a lot of winding down to do here. Clearing out planter boxes & flower beds. Waiting on things to harvest from the garden and then putting the beds to rest for the season. Watering the trees heavily before the temperatures drop. Putting away the random garden toys & tools & furniture. And maybe, hopefully, finally, getting the last coat of paint on my wooden bench (a task I keep putting off).
I’d love to hear what the last days of summer look like at your house. Is there anything special that you make a point of doing or enjoying each year before true autumn hits?