Last Wednesday I spent the afternoon with a roomful of poultry at the Royal Winter Fair where I was treated to an exhibition of fascinating chicken, turkey, and duck breeds.
There were so many beautiful breeds on display. It was truly eye-opening and great research for the day I am finally able to keep my first small flock (Backyard chickens are still illegal in Toronto.) I was jumpy clapping on the inside all day long.
Rhode Island Red is a classic that most people have heard of.
Plymouth Rock Barred is known as a good layer and is particularly suited to cold weather.
Buff Brahma Bantam is another good layer that is recommended for cold climates.
Antwerp Belgian Bantam
My friends and I all agreed that the most stunning and surprising breed of the event were the Silver Sebright bantams. Unfortunately, some quick research reveals that they lay very small eggs and are primarily kept for their beauty rather than egg productivity.
Kangaroo apple (Solanum laciniatum) is one in a long line of marginally edible foods that I have been experimenting with in the garden. The fruits are considered poisonous when green and unripe, and edible when they turn orange.
That hasn’t stopped the squirrels. As I waited patiently for the fruit to ripen so I could have my first taste, the squirrels got there ahead of me and stole their fill while the fruit was still green, rock hard, and supposedly poisonous. Not only did it not kill them or give them so much as a tummy ache, they probably liked this plant more than any other treat in the garden. Proving once again that the squirrels are superior beings that will be roaming the earth harassing and poaching from some other more evolved humanoid-type creature in the distant future once the aliens have come in the name of interplanetary peace but then accidentally reveal their true intention to farm us for food, which leads to a terrible and epic battle for the lives of all humankind.
Spoiler: We do not win. Squirrels survive on the planet for another 50 million years.
Probably my favourite part about giving presentations and running workshops is the one-on-one chatting that happens with fellow gardeners and aspiring gardeners afterward. I love those moments connecting directly with other people who share the same excitement and passion. I love hearing about what they’re doing and the look of satisfaction on their faces is contagious.
For that reason Seedchat turned out to be one of the highlights of my week. The transcript is now online, so you can still be in on the conversation even if Twitter isn’t your cup of tea.
I’ve compiled a few of my favourite tips below:
- Herbs That Dry Easily: Lemon verbena, ‘Dark Opal’ and ‘Purple Ruffles’ basil. We dry and use oregano, marjoram, and thyme year-round in cooking. Lemon balm, mint, anise-hyssop & lemongrass for tea. Also: lavender, calendula petals, rosemary, sage, winter savory, dill seed, citrus peels….
- Lavender Syrup (you can do this with just about any herb): 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, handful of lavender flowers. Bring to boil until thick. Let cool. Strain. Refrigerate
- In response to the high cost of canning jars: Remember that they are reused over and over so your investment will pay off over time.
- Herbal Vinegar: To a clean jar add: Sprigs of fresh tarragon and a few strips of lemon peel. Top with warm (not boiling) vinegar)
There are several more tips in the transcript including: preserving tomatoes, drying beans, drying herbs, uses for various herbs, favourite tomato varieties, harvesting seed, lots of good canning resource suggestions, thrifting for jars, addressing the fear around canning for the first time, making fermented drinks…
Wondering what to do with the various and sundry bits that remain in the late season garden? Join me on Twitter tomorrow night where I’ll be guest hosting Seed Chat for an hour on the topic of preserving the harvest.
Be sure to pre-submit your question through the Seed Chat form to ensure that your question makes it within the time frame.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011
8pm Central / 9pm Eastern
Follow along using the hashtag #SeedChat or via TweetChat
We arrived home late from an evening spent with friends on Thursday, October 27 to the realization that several plants and crops would be spoiled or dead by the morning if we did not act fast. So it was in a panic that we bundled up and headed outside with flashlights and bowls to collect as many of the remaining green tomatoes as we could manage, along with pots of tender perennials that were meant to be overwintered inside. I’m so grateful that we got home when we did because some of the most exposed plants were already covered in frost and others were slightly frozen!
The kitchen was a disaster for days afterward. Every large bowl in the house was filled to overflowing! The basement and fridge doors along with the coffee machine were inaccessible. Guess which hurdle was tackled first?