TODAY WAS A BLUSTERY COLD DAY IN MAY ... Mother Nature hasn't looked at the calendar lately and doesn't know that it's the middle of May. It was a day to go to the garden centre and buy bamboo stakes for the garden and to plant our rhubarb plant. On the way back from the garden centre, we stopped at a place in the forest for a walk and came upon FIDDLEHEAD GREENS. We foraged through them and came up with quite a few meals worth. Can't beat free food! Fiddleheads have a fresh sweet taste somewhat like spinach. I like to steam them and serve with butter, salt & pepper. Yum Yum Yum!
IT WILL SOON BE TIME TO START PLANTING THE GARDEN! In preparation, we put out heads together and went through the many seed catalogues we had collected and ordered our seeds. This year our list is extensive and we've chosen some things we've never grown before. We love to experiment with new things, but also we like to grow things we have had success with in the past. It's all a learning experience. Below is a list of what we will be growing this year in our garden:
BEFORE WE PLANT I like to draw up a schematic of where we will plant each set of seeds. I try to keep vegetables that will cross polinate separate from one another which is why I like to have it drawn out beforehand. This also gives me a visual on planting day and I can mark out placement in the garden. Below is what I planned out:
ON THE THEME OF EXPERIMENTATION ... I decided to try my hand at making SEED TAPES. I chose to do it with carrots for a number of reasons 1) to save on the number of seeds to plant as I often waste seeds which later have to be thinned out. 2) To save having to thin out plants as they grow. 3) Properly space out seeds and save space in the garden. Below are some photos of how I made the seed tapes using toilet paper, tweezers, homemade glue made out of equal parts flour and water; a popsicle stick and a sharpie marker.
PLANTING SEEDLINGS is a timing process depending on the type of plant and the date of the last frost in your area. As I live in ZONE 3 (South Central Ontario, Canada), our usual last frost date is known to be May 24th give or take a few days. THIS MEANS THAT by May 24th there should be no more frosty nights and the frost will be gone from the soil. The chart shown depicts which vegetables can be grown from seed indoors and how close to the last frost date - the weeks highlighted at the top of each list is how soon you can plant seeds indoors and which ones should be direct sown in the ground. Note, the ones marked with an asterisk are susceptible to seed rot if the seeds get to wet during germination.
This year I have started herbs and cucumbers as well as brussell sprouts and two varieties of cabbage (according to the above chart). Last year I tried my hand at tomatoes, however, they were too "leggy" and didn't survive when sown in the ground. Each year I like to experiment with something different than other years. For example, I decided to try my hand at growing Lemon Balm, which is a very ancient herb them smells and tastes very lemony and makes for a delicious cup of tea if you steep it in hot water.
IT'S TIME AGAIN - time to prep our garden soil! I absolutely love this time of year. Everything is so green and lush and just makes me feel HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!!!
We started by tiling the garden space, then adding compost. Last year our garden did very well with the use of the compost. Better nutrition and vegetable yields than prior years.
The County that we live in provides FREE ... yes FREE compost and mulch for anyone who resides in the county (two cities excepted). They've done this now two years in a row, and so far we've been lucky to participate both years. The compost is made up of all the yard and lawn waste that the community puts to the curb several times a year and gets picked up by our waste management trucks. I love the idea that a) it's free; b) it's a way for the community to give back; c) it's sustainable; d) we're putting it all back into our garden for soil management and nutrition. Additionally, the mulch is the tree waste that has been chipped into mulch.
This past weekend, we borrowed a trailer from a family member and we went to the location where they were giving out free compost/mulch and we ended up getting 6 trailer loads full and each time returning it to our garden and offloading it (by the shovel full). We were dog tired by the end of it, but it was a good tired feeling along with sore muscles. IN ADDITION, we got 7 bins of mulch which will be added to my flower beds to help keeps the weeds down.
Last year we got 10 car loads full of recycling boxes, totes and grocery boxes full of compost and returned it to our garden. This year, we got smart and more efficient by using the trailer.
WHEN I WOKE UP THIS MORNING, I DIDN'T HAVE A CLUE WHAT I WAS GOING TO MAKE FOR DINNER TONIGHT ...... Then I thought about what I had in the freezer for meat and what vegetables I had in the fridge. I knew I had frozen chicken breasts and I had a bunch of bell peppers, onions and mushrooms. I also had some sour cream in the fridge that needed to be used up. So what I put together will be the makings for CHICKEN FAJITAS. Because I'm low carb, I will just have it on a plate rather than on tortillas, with an added dollop of sour cream and topped with some shredded cheddar cheese. Pictured here is after I got it all assembled in the slow cooker. It'll cook on high for 1 hour, then on low for 5-6 hours after which I will remove the chicken breasts, pull off the meat and shred it and put it back in the slow cooker, stir everything all-together and cook for another hour. RECIPE here.
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