Guest post by Emira Mears
The only remaining bulbs I had on my list to plant for the Fall was my garlic. Planting out the garlic required a bit more preparation as I had to clean up some space in my veggie beds getting rid of finished beans, cukes and some arugula that had bolted and I swear was making a run for the basement door, before I would have room to put the garlic in.
This will be my first time growing garlic and so far I’ve already learned a lot. For starters, I ordered way too much (so if you’re in Canada and would like some lovely garlic to plant let me know via ourdomicile at gmail dot com and perhaps we can work something out in the way of a trade) getting a bit confused by the whole bulb vs. clove business when I placed my bulb orders. You see, it was obvious to me when they arrived, but for some reason not so obvious when I placed the order that five bulbs of garlic meant five bulbs full of a bunch of wee cloves that then get broken up and planted individually. But I was thinking more along the lines of 5 bulbs = 5 bulbs to plant like with my tulip order and so foolishly ordered 10 thinking that was quite conservative. I now have planted about 40 cloves of garlic and have some extras for those who are interested.
Anyway. I woke up to another sunny day yesterday and decided I would use the opportunity to get my garlic in the ground. I did a bit of web searching and discovered that there are all kinds of opinions about what one has to do to grow good garlic. Many of the web sites I read stressed the difference between “growing garlic” (which is apparently easy) and “growing good garlic” which is apparently trickier. I followed the advice of a few handy tips I read online and soaked the cloves in a mixture of baking soda (1 heaping tablespoon for one bowl containing the cloves of 5 bulbs) and water for a few hours to make it easier to slip off the skins and apparently to help kill any fungus that might be on the cloves. I also read suggestions to add liquid seaweed to this mixture to help feed the garlic but I didn’t have any around the house and I was feeling mighty impatient (and like this may be my last sunny Sunday of the season). I then prepped the soil, turning it over well and adding some compost. After that I undertook the very laborious task of peeling the skin off all those cloves which took a fair while, and then drained the baking soda liquid off to replace it with a quick soak in some 100 proof vodka. This was recommended as a further way to ensure any fungus on the garlic was killed, and given the wiff of garlic/vodka I got as I was planting these little nuggets I’d say that was successful.
I planted them at a 2″ depth about 4″ apart and was careful to mark all my spots so I don’t dig them up again next Spring. I’ve also read in numerous spots now that applying some mulch to the ground for the winter is a good idea to help keep them warm. I had been planning on mulching my veggie beds anyway to help keep weeds down and add nutrients so now I’ve got an extra incentive. If even half of my garlic comes up we’ll be doing pretty well, which is great as I use a lot of it in the kitchen and even more when I’m preserving in the Summer. I’ll let you know how it goes and if I suspect any of these tips were useful, but I’m afraid you’ll have to sit tight for a good six months or so to find out.
Guest post by Amy Urquhart
Today I got around to grinding up my dried herbs. Why? Because I found a great deal on a coffee bean grinder at Loblaws…$9.99! It worked really well.
Each weekend lately I’ve been harvesting from the garden whatever edibles I can. I managed to bring in almost all of the sage I had growing, along with all of the thyme and a bunch of mint, too. I hung them up in little bundles on an old wine rack in our laundry room. Today I found they were all nice and crunchy, so I brought them upstairs to the dining room, rolled up my sleeves, and got to work separating all those mint and sage leaves from their stems. The sage leaves came off very easily with a satisfying little snap as they popped off the stem. The mint was a bit more problematic, though. I basically just had to crunch whatever I could into a bowl. The stems were much more unwieldy. This is an herb that would do better if you cut the leaves off the stems before drying.
Herbs ready to be ground.
At some point I hope to get ahold of an old window screen, so I can spread leaves out on it for drying. For now, the hanging bundle method will have to suffice.
The new grinder did a bang-up job of whizzing catnip, mint and sage. I kept the catnip and mint around the consistency of tea (since I intend to use the mint as tea) but ground the sage as finely as I could. It smelled wonderful, and I inhaled a little catnip, but found it extremely satisfying to pour the contents of the grinder into a Ziploc bag, marking the contents as I went. I feel like I’ve moved on to “Advanced Gardening” now that I’m harvesting everything!
Of course, Farley had to help, too.
He just has to get in the middle of everything!
Well it took a couple of weeks, but I think I have finally accepted Fall. Once the windows were closed, the houseplants brought indoors, and the knitting projects pulled out there was no turning back. Monday is Thanksgiving here in Canada. We are a non-traditional household who generally ignore most holidays, but we like Thanksgiving as a way to celebrate the harvest (the garden was good to us this year) and an excuse to stuff ourselves with food.
Inspiring Thanksgiving Ideas:
- Maple Leaf Roses – Link via the forums. A distinctly Fall way to make a centrepiece.
- Pumpkin Pie – We’ve got the pumpkin so it’s all systems go. I know I pump this one a lot but I’m proud of it and we enjoy it whenever pumpkins are available.
- Apple / Pear Pie – Another pie I have developed. I still have to write the actual directions down but the trick to it is that I first make apple sauce (sometimes adding pears too) and then spoon it on top of the apple and pear slices in the pie before putting the top on. It makes a moister pie that allows for less sweetner. We use maple syrup.
- Yam Butter
- Roasted Pear and Fennel Salad
- Baked Lemon Basil Chicken – I am just about to harvest my remaining lemon basil.
- Dandelion Hortopita – This is on our list for Monday’s meal. I’ll be going over to the garden this weekend to harvest a bunch.
- Drying Gourds. We made these mini pumpkin lights for the table a number of years ago. Davin made them by cutting ridges into the sides with lino carving tools and using a drill to make little dots.
- Gourds, Just Sitting There – I like these wee gourds on Wee Wonderfuls. Just sitting there. So pretty. I currently have a pumpkin and two acorn squash (one green and one variegated) sitting on my special hutch in the kitchen waiting to be cooked but in the meantime they are just sitting there. Looking pretty.
- Here are more Fall-like things sitting and looking pretty. Together. Except the peppers which are still growing. The flat pumpkin is a Long Island Cheese Squash. I think they’re gorgeous and could sit and stare at one for hours, but they also happen to make a great pie.
- This is a Hubbard Squash that I carved out and planted up with lemongrass and pansies. Everything is edible!
World Food Day was first organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1979 to bring public awareness concerning global food issues and the importance in supporting agriculture. World Food Day is now celebrated on October 16th in 150 countires.
Ann Slater of the Ecological Farming Association of Ontario takes on CropLife Canada, a trade association for the manufacturers, developers and distributors of pesticide and GMO products that has been working on a smear campaign targeting organic food production.
Why is CropLife Canada so keen to smear organic? According to their survey of Canadian women, 77% sometimes buy or consider buying organically grown fruits and vegetables. Twenty-one percent say they buy organic because they are concerned about pesticides on their food and 22% believe organic produce is more nutritious. On top of that, 14% say they sometimes feel guilty about buying cheaper conventional produce when organic is available.
- Full article here
Her argument references this article by two market farmers from Oklahoma who carried out an experiment to tackle the question: “Are supermarkets cheaper than farmersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ markets?” Their results are interesting.
The results reveal that perceptions rather than facts influence the false assumptions that grocery store food is always cheapest.
…grocery store food is not as cheap as some customers believe it to be. Nor is local simply for the wealthyÃ¢â‚¬â€œit is competitively priced since our research showed grocery storesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ low posted prices tend to hide lower weight and quality.