Garden Project - Harvest Dinner

Last fall, just before the first frost, we held a harvest dinner challenge at the farm.  Everyone that participated had to make a dish with ingredients sourced only from the garden and farm (with the exception of cheese and cream). We all enjoyed delicious harvest dishes on a table decorated with homegrown flowers. 

The menu included:
- Cold tomato starter soup - similar to Spanish salmorejo/gazpacho
- Jalapeno pepper appetizers with bacon, onion and cheese
- Zucchini sticks with cheese and salsa for dipping
- Carrots with raisins and apple (popular Finnish dish)
- Potato and bacon casserole
- Broccoli and leek casserole
- Leek casserole
- Roast with potatoes, carrots and onions
- Homemade pickles
- Spelt bread
- Butternut squash (pumpkin) pie with spelt crust for dessert


Garden Project - Part 3

And to the second half of our garden update from last summer - more vegetables, a few fruit and some flowers.  Enjoy!

Melons - Cantaloupe and Watermelon

We planted organic 'Heart of Gold' cantaloupe and organic 'Sugar Baby' watermelon and ended up with fairly small but delicious fruit.  The long summer definitely helped in ensuring that our fruit had enough time to ripen before the first fall frost.  Yum!


Onions and Leeks

The onions were amazing!! All summer long we watched them grow and were thrilled with their progress.  I watched many videos on how to hang onions together (like in the old days) for use during the winter. So many plans. Turns out that we ended up eating them all straight from the garden, even before the season ended.  We planted 'Red Globe' market onions, 'Sweet Spanish Utah' large globe onions, 'Parade' onions, organic "Giant Musselburg' leeks, and organic 'Runner' leeks.  Apparently I took no photos of the leeks :( We will definitely be planting onions again this year!


Peppers - Jalapeno and Green

We harvested a lot of jalapeno peppers and quite a few green peppers this summer.  We were actually very surprised at the number of jalapeno peppers and how well they grew in our climate.  I assumed that they grew better in a warmer climate...

We did plant some red and yellow peppers but they didn't have time to mature. At least I think so. We ended up with all green peppers. No complaints tho'. We planted organic 'Jalapeno' peppers, organic 'Sweet Sunrise' peppers and 'Chesapeake' peppers.


Squash - Butternut

We planted organic 'Waltham Butternut' squash. They grew beautifully and were ripe just in time for our harvest dinner.


Swiss Chard

The organic 'Rainbow' swiss chard we planted grew really well. The colours were amazing but we didn't really know how to eat the plants - we hadn't eaten any in the past.  The internet is great for learning new things and for finding great recipes and we all enjoyed a new vegetable on our dinner tables this year.



Our tomatoes were our biggest disappointment. The plants grew really well until they didn't.  We watched in sadness as each plant down the rows turned brown and died. We did harvest some cherry tomatoes and some of the larger tomatoes that we picked green and allowed to ripen on windowsills did fine but the rest had to be thrown away. We planted organic 'Beefsteak' and 'Brandywine' tomatoes, as well as organic 'Cherry Bomb' tomatoes.



We planted organic 'Dark Green Zucchini' summer squash and some leftover zucchini seeds that we don't know the names. We had zucchini coming out of our ears, there was so much and we didn't even have pigs on the farm this year to feed the leftovers too.  Lesson learned - plant fewer zucchini plants this year.



In addition to the fruit and vegetables, we planted a number of flower bulbs that our mom couldn't use in her own garden as they were planning on moving and wanted to preserve them for the new house.  We had a gorgeous collection of dahlias and gladiolus, as well as one lonely ginormous sunflower that sprouted on its own in the middle of the garden. 


We hope you've enjoyed these posts on the garden. Let us know if you have any feedback on what we did wrong - we want to learn from our mistakes! Those tomatoes, in particular. Any advice would be very welcome.

Read all about our seedlings and garden plot here and the first part of the vegetable series here.

Garden Project - Part 2

A garden update - finally!  It doesn't matter that it's the end of February, right? We've actually been promised a beautiful day - 12 degrees and sunny.  Unheard of in Canada this time of year.  And it's snowing in Rome. Strange happenings!

This post is the first of two updates on our garden from last summer and includes half the veggies that we planted. As we were complete novices at gardening, we had some great successes and a few spectacular failures.  Your feedback and advice is greatly appreciated.

Welcome to our garden!

Beans and Peas

Our beans and peas grew really well this summer and we ended up with more than we needed.  We planted a wide variety - Blue Lake pole and bush green beans, 'Alaska' heirloom peas, 'Sugar Snap' peas, - and some unknown seeds from mom. In some areas, there wasn't enough support for the climbers and towards the end of the summer some of the beans were overly large and not very tasty.  Lessons learned. 



We planted Merlin beets and they grew really well. I'm not sure if we were supposed to top up soil around the beets as they grew out of the ground and some grew a bit too close together but they were plentiful and delicious.



Our broccoli was all over the place.  We planted a lot ('Green Sprouting' organic and Belstar organic) and some flourished while others flowered.  Perhaps it was the crazy hot and cold swings we had last summer? The wet conditions? The soil? Or we planted too early?  Hmm. Lots to learn.



Our carrots were a success even though the first batch was a bit fat and short. We planted organic 'Nantes' and organic 'Rainbow Blend' carrots.  The colours were amazing and the kids loved eating them straight from the garden.



Our cucumbers grew well in the spring and early summer but withered away by August.  Perhaps that is their normal cycle?  They were the best tasting cucumbers I've ever had! We planted organic 'Marketmore', organic SMR 58 Pickler (not an exciting name) and Calypso cucumbers.



The hot weather that lasted through the end of September and early October was the saving grace of our eggplant (and melons). If it had been a normal late summer, the eggplant wouldn't have had enough time to grow to an edible size.  Even then some of them didn't grow large enough but we did get enough to enjoy the 'Black Beauty' eggplant.



So much delicious and beautiful lettuce - one of our favourites and a great success in our garden. We planted a variety - 'Iceburg' crisphead, organic 'Paris Island Cos', organic 'Red Salad Bowl', organic 'Baby Leaf Blend' - as well as organic 'Regiment' spinach.  We enjoyed the lettuce through the summer and will definitely be planting more this year.


We hope you've enjoyed this first post about our garden adventure.  We welcome any answers, advice and feedback you have - we have plans for another garden this summer. Stay tuned!

Read all about our seedlings and garden plot here.

Garden Project - Part 1

On a dreary winter day, a group of girls sat on comfortable couches with coffees in hand and poured through seed catalogs, dreaming of a great, big vegetable garden.  It didn't matter that none of them had any real experience gardening. As little children played underfoot, the adults chose seeds of every kind and looked forward to summer days of eating fruits and vegetables picked from the back garden.

If you've been wondering where I've been spending my summer days, this project is part of the answer.  I've always dreamed of having a large garden but moving around as much as I have hasn't made it possible.  A few indoor plants does not a garden make. 

I've puttered around in my mother's garden for many summers but this year an opportunity arose to make my dream a reality in the form of a community garden on my sister's farm.  And what an adventure its been.  There's been sweat, tears and lots of laughter.  Three new babies were welcomed into the world over the summer months with baby boy one born on the first day of planting.

We've learned a lot along the way. Mostly the hard way. But it's been so much fun and I wanted to share some pictures from our summer in the garden. This first part shows the seedlings in the greenhouse and the making of the garden plot. Enjoy!

Did you know that seeds are sometimes attached to the plants as they emerge from the soil? I didn't.

The garden at the beginning of the day

So we cheated...or something.  Do other people farm like this? We used the four-wheeler to mark the rows. 

The New House - Windows and doors and so much more

It's probably time for an update on the new house...

The snows came and went throughout late fall and early winter as the house moved closer to completion. The floor heat went in and the concrete was poured. The roof was finished and many of the smaller windows and doors arrived and were installed.  The big glass doors, which appear to have been heavy, were carefully lifted into place. The porch was built during several unseasonably warm November days. The house was insulated and drywall put up. And although the weather changed almost daily, progress moved steadily forward.

Photo credit goes to Gary and Lillian.


In Canada, we get to experience many sunny winter days when it seems that the colder the temperatures outside, the brighter the sun seems to shine as though to make up for the freezing weather.  But then there are days when the clouds hang low and the world becomes monochrome - black, white and shades of gray. Well, perhaps there are some colours but they all seem muted by the heaviness of the atmosphere. 

However, that doesn't stop us from heading outside to enjoy a bit of sledding, an activity that you need to do at least once every winter.

For further images of our sledding adventures, visit here.

State of emergency

In early 2013, a state of emergency was announced in the northern municipality I was living in at the time. Heavy rains had caused severe flooding. The Veuve River, which flowed below Main Street, came close to flowing over the bridge rather than under it. This was absolutely amazing in a horrifying way - I don't know how high the water levels rose but they were something to see.

During the night the temperatures dropped well below freezing, causing a thin layer of ice to form on top of the water in areas where it wasn't moving quickly. In the morning, as we ventured out to survey the damage, it looked like hundreds of plastic grocery bags had blown into town and attached themselves to all the vegetation in the area. As we got closer, we realized that each bush and tree had grown an ice skirt overnight. The ice, left behind as the water receded, shows just how much water came and went in a short period of time.