Friday, October 26, 2012

Collecting my Bean Seeds

I must admit that I'm not a 'super keen' seed saver. Well, maybe I should say that it's not that I'm not 'super keen', but rather 'super unorganized'. It's true that there aren't many occasions when I don't come back from a stroll through the garden without some bit of seed in my pockets. Occasionally, they even make it to the washing machine because I've completely forgotten that I had a pocketful of nasturtium seeds! Oops! I refuse to admit just how many times I've done that, but let's just say, it happens more often that I would like! :)

Now that we've had a few light frosts and one hard frost, I've begun collecting the seeds of my pole beans. This year we grew 4 varieties - Purple Podded Pole, Emerite, Fortex and Lazy Housewife.. Having just been up in the garden planting another 100 cloves of garlic and moving around a few kale babies, I took a quick peek at the drying bean vines still clinging to the A-frame trellis and decided to collect a few handfuls of the Purple Podded Pole since the pods were crisp and dry in the warm autumn weather. Here are some photos:

They've lost their distinctive purple colour,
but these dried pods are ready to harvest.

If they're still pliable or succulent, leave them
another week or two. The best quality mature
seeds come from comepletely dried pods. 

The dried pods pop open when you run your finger
down the seam. Careful, or the beans will spill out.

Each Purple Podded Pole bean has about 7 to 10

A handful from 3 beans - enough for about 25 plants
next year!! The seed from about 20 beans will yield
more than enough for our garden as well as extra to share.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hard Frost

Garden sage.. so pretty when frosted

It's finally happened, the first hard frost. We've had a few light frosts, but this morning, even the deck was covered in a frosty glaze.. Obviously, I had to run up to the garden and snap some photos (tea in hand), so here are a few shots of the frosted garden with the warm autumn light..

On a side note, if you haven't started closing or mostly closing your cold frames at night, now is the time.. It got down to -2 C last night and so starting tonight (forgot last night!) I will begin closing them at night, but I will probably still leave them propped open a few inches if it's not going to be below freezing. Then, in the morning, they can be opened wide - or fully on rainy days to capture that moisture.

One of the last calendulas.. hardy and tasty annual flowers

I'm always surprised at sweet alyssum's hardiness. Under a mini
hoop tunnel it can bloom until January! Here it is after last
night's hard frost.

Mixed Asian greens shaking off the cold

Hello tatsoi!

Dinosaur kale - my favourite frosted green

Check out these ice crystals on the dinosaur kale! 

and more...

Lacinato rainbow kale.. new for me, loving it!

More Asian greens.. hardy and tasty

So manyAsian greens just thrive in autumn!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Autumn Glory!

On my way home from Shelburne yesterday - where I gave a talk on year round veggie gardening to the most delightful group of gardeners - I passed this incredible sight.. I had to turn around and snap a few photos.. Happy Autumn!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Fall harvest.. almost too pretty to eat?

It's almost supper time and I just made a quick jaunt up to the garden to gather some greens for a salad and some ingredients for my split pea and ham soup.. After filling my basket with turnips, celery, carrots, parsley and potatoes for the soup, I took a few min to ogle the greens.. These cold weather lovers just thrive in the cool autumn weather and I certainly appreciate the fact that there are far fewer pests in the garden now than there were this past spring when my Asian greens were desiccated by the darn slugs! 

I actually feel bad harvesting these gorgeous greens, but harvest I did and now we'll enjoy them for dinner tonight. The funny thing is that I have about 200 square feet of these delightful greens in the garden, but I didn't plant a single one. They reseeded in one of our cold frames from last winter and I just dug up and moved the seedlings in late August, relocating them to our garden beds. Ah, the life of a lazy gardener! :)

Look at the gorgeous colour and (practically) hole-free

A carrot cold frame with a sprinkling of
autumn leaves.. The wire grid keeps
out the deer.

My last warm season crop harvest yesterday - the last
cuke, zucchini and handful of Mexico Midget tomatoes.
Adieu summer!

Gourd Love on CTV Morning Live

For my fun segment with Heidi this morning on CTV Morning Live - click here! Once you're on the site, my segment is on the 2nd page, so click the 2 button and go to 'Got Gourds?"

Monday, October 15, 2012

The 2012 Gourd Collection!

3 of our 4 big snake gourds.. two were
trellised and one was allowed to grow
on the ground, hence the 'snake shape'.

It's no secret that I LOVE my gourds.. in fact, I think I'm becoming rather obsessed and have already begun to source seed for next year.

I was very impressed with our snake gourds this year - until I read the results of the Annapolis Valley Giant Vegetable Growers. At first glance, it said 'Longest Gourd - 67 inches'.. My first thought was "I bet I can top that!!".. but then I noticed that was the children's division.. oops! I definitely don't qualify for that! So, scrolling down on the page, I see that in the adult division, the winner of the longest gourd grew a 106.25 inch specimen!!!!!! Wow, how do I get some seed from that sucker?

Yesterday, we popped into The Dill Farm in Windsor and we were able to actually see that huge snake gourd. Because it was trellised, it grew straight and long and to keep it from breaking, they have it supported against a long board. Let me tell you - from recent experience - these gourds can snap easily! Especially when they are so long. Like these competitive growers, I also grow our snake gourds on trellises, but I don't think that my trellis would be nearly tall enough.. maybe if I grew the plants up our roof..?? Something to think about this winter.   :)

Except for pumpkins and our spinning top gourds, all the gourds we grow are called hardshell gourds, a type which can be dried and preserved. They can take months to dry, but once they are ready, they can be kept for many many years. Over history, these types of gourds have been used as musical instruments, spoons, serving utensils, baskets, bushels, birdhouses, canteen's and so on. We love growing them because it's just so fun!

Anyhoo, there were lot's of other crazy gourds we grew this year - and saw even more yesterday at The Dill Farm.. Here is an overview:

Here is Fred Ansems massive snake gourd on
display at The Dill Farm (A must-visit

This fun squash/pumpkin turtle greeted us
as we entered The Dill Farm.

Another look - If you added a spiral to his 'shell', it would
make an excellent snail too!

Two of the giants of 2012, the left grown by Gerard Ansems 

at 1727 LBS - the BIGGEST pumpkin ever grown

in the Maritimes!

Gerard Ansem's other pumpkin - 1616 LBS

Some of our gourds - 2012! Long Dipper, Cannonball, Snake,
Spinning Top

Two just-picked long dipper gourds

Our collection of long dipper gourds - really want to dry
these for GIANT spoon/dippers!

Another angle of the long dipper gourds

Hello, who are you? Maybe a mutant long
dipper gourd? A pear gourd mixed in

A sense of scale with a long dipper gourd.

Spinning top gourds - so fun!!

Our cannon ball gourd - I think?? why isn't it
round - the pressure from the trellis?

The Dill's Farm also had some giant watermelons!
I think the biggest was 140 LBS, grown in NS.
It's that big sucker in the middle.

They let us buy their smallest giant watermelon!
It was 59 LBS.. notice I said 'was'.. all I can
say is that it was sweet and delicious!

Check out that bright reddish-pink flesh!

Pretty big eh? That isn't a small spoon.. I have saved some
seed for next year.. 

Saturday, October 13, 2012

First Frost

Oh Canada! Frosted grass and a red maple leaf.

The first fall frost almost seems like a rite of passage for the garden. What is hardy enough to survive and what has succumbed? Last night the temperature was predicted to plunge to freezing for the first time and a frost was likely. That mean picking the last of the basil - all 40 mature plants, plucking leaves for hours and whirling them with a drizzle of olive oil in the food processor. Now, a dozen large basil 'pancakes' are in the freezer where we can taste homegrown basil in our pastas all winter long.

The sun streaming through our windows just woke me up and so, naturally, my first thought was 'did we have a frost?'.. I got up and looked out the window and could see the frosted kale from the kitchen window and so before the sun rose over the house and onto the garden (any minute!) I ran up with my camera to capture the first frost.

Happy Fall Frost!

Dinosaur kale - now sweetened up with the frost!

Half of the nasturtiums leaves are frosted,
half are not.. It was a low lying frost obviously.

A bed of densely planted Asian greens.. 

This zinnia was protected by the kales.

Red Russian Take 1!

Red Russian Take 2!

Smile pretty for your photo op! Red Russian Take 3!

Last one - Red Russian Take 4!

Frozen nasturtiums.. 

Love the frozen flowers and the spiderweb
frost pattern on the leaves.

Opps, I lied! Red Russian Take 5!

Baby Asian greens - check out the frilly red
mustard by my hand - 

More Dinosaur kale from a 2 year old plant. It just
keeps growing. And growing. And...