Getting ready for more local eating

May 18th, 2009

Josh and I have just spent a lovely and productive Victoria Day weekend planting our newly expanded vegetable garden.  We’ve converted two of our flower beds to accommodate our 25 strawberry plants and 7 tomato plants, amongst other newcomers.  I’m very excited for our edible garden this year.  We actually started our seeds early enough this year and our tomato plants are over a foot tall already!  We also have a variety of herbs this year and our watermelon seedling is still alive!

Here’s a list of what’s in our garden this year:

  • tomatoes: black cherry, blanche beaute, new: yellow cherry, beefsteak and ruffled red
  • herbs: sweet basil, thyme, chives, cilantro and parsley
  • potatoes
  • garlic: five different varieties (one did not survive the fridge)
  • sweet red pepper
  • wax beans
  • sugar snap peas
  • carrots: scarlet nantes and Chanteny
  • veestar strawberries
  • blueberries: northland and northcountry
  • raspberries

not planted yet: golden midget watermelon

Our local CSA share starts up again in 3 weeks.  Soon, we’ll be back to eating all local, all the time.

Local Food – the reality show?

April 25th, 2009

My sister passed this link on to us. Apparently there is now a reality show that follows six families in Mission, BC who eat local for 100 days. They are following the “100 mile” diet which really kicked the local food movement into the mainstream based on James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith’s book. James and Alisa host the show.

Their website is pretty snazzy with lots to read and look at. I have mixed feelings about the show. Since we don’t have cable TV we don’t have the option of watching it, but post your reviews if you’ve seen the show.

Garden Update

April 24th, 2009

Our sprouts are taking off like crazy! Our tomato plants are huge now, especially our beefsteak tomatoes. Altogether we have ten tomato plants, two basil, a bunch of thyme and two peppers. My parents just brought us some seed potatoes and we have Veestar strawberries on order. I’m feeling like it’s going to be a good harvest this year. Last year we didn’t start our seeds soon enough and they were late blooming.

Speaking of late seedings, we probably need to get our watermelon seeds started this week. Tanny’s probably going to get more basil started as well.

Suspended animation, garlic, Rip Van Winkle

April 23rd, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Our garlic, like Rip Van Winkle, is in suspended animation. Or so I hope. In fact, it’s just in paper bags in our fridge. Dormant; not dead.

What’s next? Good question! When we bought our garlic starts at Seedy Saturday, we were told to keep them in the fridge until final frost has passed, introduce them slowly to the outside and then plant them. Seems simple, but I think I need more details. Anyone have any experience with growing garlic from a start?

Monforte Cheese CSA

April 22nd, 2009

On her way to work last week Tanny heard an interview with Ruth Klahsen of Monforte Dairy on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning. Monforte Dairy is a local Ontario cheese producer of artisanal cheeses. 

She currently uses milk from other local farms, but Ruth is now raising funds to create her own dairy and using a Community Shared Agriculture (CSA) approach to do it. They are offering three different share plans (cleverly named “wedge”, “brick” and “wheel”) ranging from $200 to $1000 with the cheese doled out over the next 5 years. Two options are available to the brick and wheel plans: you can either receive vouchers to buy the cheese at markets or have it delivered. The wedge plan offers vouchers only.

We both thought this was a great idea and wanted to post about it. I’ll add Monforte to our list of suppliers shortly.

Oh – I also noticed that LocalEating.ca is on her blogroll! Yay – and “hi Ruth”.

Happy Earth Day!

April 22nd, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

Not Far From The Tree

March 22nd, 2009

Not Far From The Tree BannerOne of the cool projects we heard about at EcoSuave was “Not Far From the Tree.” They are a non-profit organisation in Toronto that “help fruit tree owners make use of the abundance of fruit that their trees offer by dispatching teams of volunteers to harvest it for them. One third goes to the fruit tree owners, another third goes to the volunteers for their labour, and the final third is distributed (by bicycle or cart) to community organizations in the neighbourhood who can make good use of the fresh fruit.” Last year (2008) they picked 3003lb of fruit!

We thought this was a GREAT idea and will consider calling them if our lonely pear tree is as abundant as it was last year.

Here are some similar organisations in the rest of the province and Canada:

Maple Sugar Rush

March 21st, 2009

This week we ventured out to the Kortright Centre conservation area for their Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival. Tanny and I have a special affinity for the Kortright Centre since we got married there but we have never made it to the Maple Sugar Festival. The centerpiece of the festival is a walk through the forest to visit several interpretation areas (with yummy samples). The guided walk is about an hour. We made our own way along the trail, eavesdropping on the tours when we met them and did it in less than an hour and really enjoyed ourselves. I think that if we didn’t have Ella with us we wouldn’t have taken the entire tour. Some interesting maple syrup facts:

  • Sap from the sugar maple tree is 97% water
  • The ratio of sap to syrup is 40:1!
  • In the old days you had to boil the sap for 24 hours to make syrup – continuously
  • Modern syrup making takes 6 hours
  • Maple trees are one of only four families of trees in Ontario that have opposite branches (i.e., branches and leaves come off the main stem in pairs on opposite sides of the stem). M.A.D. Horse is the way to remember these trees: Maple, Ash, Dogwood and Horse chestnut.

Tanny and I loaded up on maple sugar and maple almonds from their sugar shack. Ella was mesmerized by the pony ride but was a little too scared to get closer than 3m away.

The festival runs until April 13, 2009.

Maple Syrup Festivel Banner

Happy Spring – the sprouts have sprung!

March 20th, 2009

Thyme sprouts

Seeds are in!

March 19th, 2009

seeds from Seedy Saturday

Tanny, Ella and I went down to Seedy Saturday and picked up this year’s crop of veggies. Seedy Saturday was held at the Wychwood Barns this year and it was PACKED!

Our haul for 2009:

  • Tomatoes: Yellow Cherry, Beefsteak, Ruffled Red
  • Pepper: Lipstick Sweet Red
  • Herbs: Italian Large Leaf Basil, Thyme, Italian Parsely, Cilantro
  • Misc: Sugar Snap peas, Brittle wax beans, Scarlet Nantes carrots
  • Garlic: six varieties!

Making a return to the garden from last year:

  • Tomatoes: Blanche Beauty, Black Cherry
  • Sweet Basil
  • Midget Golden Watermelon

This weekend we started all the tomatoes, the basils, the thyme and the peppers. In a couple of weeks we’ll start the melons. The rest we’ll plant directly outdoors.

I’ve already started getting the yard ready for spring. I cleaned up the leaves and debris from our East and South yards (sounds bigger than they are) and some green flowers shoots are already peeking through! We had a nasty infestation of Viburnum leaf beetle that stripped both our snowball trees last year so I’ve been painstakingly pruning all the infected branches.

This year we’re going to convert one of our flower gardens into a vegetable garden since our current vegetable garden is really shaded. We’re also hoping to plant a second fruit tree (to replace a fallen tree) and some Veestar strawberries. It absolutely breaks our hearts to know that we have to clip the flowers from the strawberry plants the first year and won’t get strawberries until 2010!

If anyone has a recommendation for a native fruit tree that doesn’t suffer from neglect and insects but has a plentiful yield – please let us know!