Seeds grow more than plants

IMG_5006Learning to grow your own food, whether it’s a single pot of herbs on the kitchen counter, or a bigger enterprise, like this, is an empowering activity. When you grow something you can eat, you appreciate all your food just a little more than you did before. For many of us, gardening is a labour of love, and out of tiny seeds, many lessons grow. Here are just a few:

  1. Attention: some gardeners plop seeds or plants in the ground, water, and walk away. If they don’t see something happening immediately, they stop paying attention. They don’t realize that daily attention will help them learn when to water, whether there are pests or problems, or how to recognize the living things they are producing, at each and every stage.
  2. Patience: plants can be fast-growing, and beans, or other species, are useful for first-timers. They show themselves very early. This is why transplants can be helpful in the first-time gardener’s plot. The beets and carrots, on the other hand, make us wait. And wait. But we learn they are worth it.
  3. Resilience: sometimes things don’t work out as we hoped. Gardens teach us to go with the flow. They demonstrate that sometimes we get something more wonderful than we expected, but that there are also disappointments – yet the garden carries on regardless.
  4. Ingenuity and charity: over-abundant plants, whether they are tomatoes, zucchini, or other super-producers, provide us with an opportunity to research ways of preserving them to eat later. They can nourish us in the winter, when food prices escalate, or they are natural, healthy gifts we can share with our friends and family.

Gardens need not be restricted to giant country or suburban plots. Small spaces produce amazing and wonderful amounts of food. Busy lives mean that parents may never have learned to garden, and so can’t pass this valuable skill on to their kids. Fortunately there are dedicated volunteers like the folks at Green Thumbs, who are making sure the gardening knowledge is passed on to new generations of growers. I urge you to click the link and check out these neighbours of mine!

 

Gardens Gone Wild: Harvest Niçoise

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We’ve been traveling, attending a couple of family weddings and doing a little business along the way. It didn’t seem realistic to ask them to postpone their special events on account of our vegetable patch, so the consequences when we got home were, well, interesting…

First, beans were just nicely coming into bloom when we left. Which means Jack’s beanstalk had nothing on us when we arrived back. Beets are still growing, and we’ve already harvested potatoes. A few tomatoes were spared the post tropical storm blight that has attacked local crops.

All in all, we had the makings of a lovely salad (and roasted veg are in our future). The eggs, olives, and tuna are not our own, but the rest is absolutely home grown.

For two:

Cook 2 small red potatoes and 1 large golden beet (reserve the greens for the salad). Throw the beans in to blanch, just at the end of cooking.
Hard boil 2 eggs.
Chill all of this (we cooked ours at breakfast time).

Arrange the chopped greens on a plate. Top with the cooked, cooled veggies, some sliced tomato, olives, and good quality water packed tuna.

For the dressing, mix 1T/15ml each of Dijon, olive oil, and vinegar (your choice).

Enjoy!

We've been harvesting deliciousness

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So many good things are coming out of the garden this time of year…it makes all the cold, wet planting in spring worth it. Today we had a small grilled steak with a little chipotle spice and the remains of our crunchy potato salad from the weekend. Paired with a lovely mix of greens (mizuna, Simpson lettuce, romaine, and red leaf lettuce) topped with green onion and mushrooms, dressed in a balsamic Dijon vinaigrette, it truly was the taste of summer at its best.

Inspired by a Trip to the Market

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Halifax’s Brewery Market was full of fantastic things today – with the benefit of hothouses or a slightly milder microclimate than ours, their lettuce and spinach were way ahead. So after a blueberry muffin we picked up the delicious greens you see here. Then we hurried home to start transplanting, now that we finally are receiving some sun and milder temperatures.

When lunchtime rolled around, we topped the greens with a local apple – these are getting to the end of their useful lives now – some Cendré de Lune cheese, walnuts, and a vinaigrette of Dijon, sherry vinegar, olive oil, and tiny spoonful of maple syrup. By next week our own spinach and lettuce will be starting their picking cycle.

Next: more seeding and some flowers for the boxes…

Happy gardening (or eating). Either way, thank a farmer.

Gardening is hungry work!

Yesterday was an absolutely glorious day, and hearing that there was snow in Calgary yesterday, we are grateful for the mild temperature we experienced. It let us get the garden cleaned up, prepped, and some cool weather crops sown for our spring table.

Of course digging and weeding all this (and more) in a locale that is too rocky for a tiller is no mean feat!

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This meant our salmon avocado tomato sandwiches were all the more welcome.

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For two, mix gently and spread on multigrain bread:

1 diced avocado, sprinkled w 15ml/1T lemon juice
4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can wild salmon, drained and mashed
30ml/2T light mayo

Enjoy!

Good Friday Grill

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We spent part of Good Friday in our usual way, praying and contemplating with friends, the darkest point of the Easter story. After driving home from Mass along the seaside, watching the sun glinting off the ocean, we spent most of the afternoon doing yard work. It truly feels like Easter – small signs of life are revealing themselves all over the garden. After an incredibly fierce winter, this rebirth will really be welcome.

Most Fridays we feature fish on the menu, as much out of habit as custom, but on Good Friday we do make a special effort. The combination of sun and fresh outdoor air begged for the grill, and we had just the fish for it – halibut. We served it perfectly cooked alongside a medley of potato, carrot, and some baby leeks we found hiding under a cover of leaves in the garden.

Take it Outside!

20130602-084335.jpg It’s foggy over the bay this morning, but yesterday was the first hot, sunny, really summery day of the year. We started with golf, then into the city to do some shopping and “summer hair”.

Local pork chops were secured from Highland Drive (recommended by Fred as The BEST) and grilled with a little chipotle powder and a light hand on the sea salt. On the side, steamed young turnips and radish, and a salad of greens from our garden – turnip, Vulcan and Simpson lettuces, Bibb, romaine, arugula, and Swiss chard. On top, some steamed young asparagus, and a dressing of Dijon, sesame oil, and Mirin.

On the Urban Farm

What makes the feast even more walkable is when some of the food comes from our own back yard. We’ve been starting tomatoes and peppers indoors, and last week we were able to really get things cleaned up and going in the garden. (The indoor veg will start hardening off in our mini greenhouse this week).

We’re looking forward to some peas – the shoots are finally out of the ground (just!) after a slow, cool start.

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