Sunday, June 30, 2013

Living With Roommates–Part 3

I had a meeting the other day with my roommates about things that have been grating on them lately.  Useful to do, illuminating to be a part of. One continuing point of contention was my continual drying of herbs, orange peels and more on the line I had set up in the kitchen.  I was proud of myself for the personal growth I've been working on the last few years, in that I was finally able to say "I'm not going to stop drying herbs" when the point got brought up again. Living with roommates can be tricky, especially when your values don't align. But I finally realized that just because our interests don't align, doesn't mean I have to compromise anything that isn't completely invasive.  There is no major issue (smell, space, etc) emanating from having one string with hanging herbs or more in the kitchen, and so I didn't back down from having the issue brought forth. In standing up for myself, my roommates must have realized that they just didn't like my aesthetic choices/values and realized that a string of drying objects isn't hurting them. And the amount of stuff I can do with something that simple is fantastic.  A proud moment for me in roommate-dom! And a valid lesson too, I suppose–it's always easier making choices when you live with those whose values align with yours, but it's never impossible to do, even if roommates don't understand. Communication and self-awareness, though, are key.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saving Seed

 I've hung up some kale and arugula gone to seed in my kitchen to save the seed. I've read that you need to allow it to "cure" wherein the seeds become dry enough to store.  You can see the difference between the arugula on the right which was hung today and the kale on the left (and below) which was hung a week or two ago (I forget how long ago now...) In any case, once everything is dry, I'm going to take them out of their pods and store them for later in the season or for upcoming years!  It's incredibly exciting and empowering! I'm starting to understand how violating not allowing farmers to keep seeds is, even from just doing it a little bit. It's a cost, it's a livelihood, it's native, or at least can be slowly acclimatized to your location.  So many important things.

Friday, June 28, 2013


So many mulberries!!
I'm now addicted to these delicious berries that grow rampant in my front yard. I've discovered a fairly successful way of catching a few of the higher-up branches too–tossing one end of a bungee cord to grab a branch with it's curved end and pulling it down to my reach. Unfortunately I still can't get at the top branches and will need to prune the tree for it to be manageable in years to come.  But that, later in the year!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Radish Top Pesto

I made an epicly huge batch of radish pesto today with a whole whack of the radish tops in my garden (so many non-radishes! All leg! No root!) 
All I did was, simply, put the washed radish leaves in a blender with enough extra virgin olive oil to allow it to blend, a little bit of salt, and some garlic scape powder that I have from Giddy Yoyo ( That's it! Simple, fast, and delicious! No need to get rid of those un-radishy radishes!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Radish Problemsolving

I finally had some time to do some research of my leggy (ie-tall and lanky) radishes.  It sounds like they have too much nitrogen and not enough potassium–root veg need lots of potassium and phosphorus to bulb nice and big. I have some wood ash leftover and so might mix that in before I plant any more.  I'm going to use the leaves to make some massive batches of pesto, though. Delicious!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rooting Lovage

After my lovage died post transplant, I brought the roots inside, put them in some water, and now they're re-sprouting!  I will soon replant the new shoots and get excited for a vigorous new plant

Monday, June 24, 2013

Great Seed Saving Article

I came across this great article about why seed saving is important.  It's a task I'm planning on undertaking to whatever extent I can this year. The more I learn about the way our seed structures work, the more I realize how important seed saving is.  I've already started with some kale, arugula and radish.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Things, they are a-growin!

And it's the most exciting and grounding experience!
Scarlet Runner Beans

 Snap Peas
Romaine Lettuce,
Mixed Greens,
Swiss Chard

Obviously my soil isn't the greatest, and neither is my sun cover and so the yield and speed of growth isn't great. But for the first year after grass, not bad, I think! And it's just the beginning of summer!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Earthship Biotecture

In volunteering at IdeaCity this past week, I heard a alk from Francis Gendron about Earthship Biotecture. In essence, these sustainably built homes rely on recycled tires, the earth surrounding the land, strategic alignment with the yearly sun, ingenious airflow for natural heating and cooling, and supremely efficient water usage to make them some of the most beautiful and efficient homes I've heard about to date! More specifics here:
Earthship has internships, a full Academy to learn how to build, and a variety of e-books and online videos to learn how to build in this earth friendly way. I think my favourite talk of the three days.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Asparagus Shoots

I was surprised as to the speed that my asparagus rooted and grew–almost 2 feet! (It's the spindly fern-like thing in between the stakes). Sandy soil is good for something, hey?) Wee!  Excited for next years crop!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


I have pea pods on my hilariously small shelling pea plants! They're about the size of the plants themselves.  My sandy soil has not been their friend....  But I wanted to build up the nitrogen in that worst soil area with some peas and beans so before I plant anything else in the area (for a fall crop), I'll leave the nitrogen fixing roots in the soil and perhaps just cover the whole area with topsoil–wood chip mulch included.  Year one learning curves an soil building!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mulberry Tree!

I had an awesome surprise today when I walked outside and noticed berries staining my front walk.  The tree next to my porch is a mulbery!  Apparently it has never fruited until this year–perhaps it was to young? In any case, they're delicious!  I just need to figure out how to harvest the ones off the tall branches....

Monday, June 17, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Porridge

Its strawberry glut season!  I don't know where all the June fullness came from but I haven't had time to preserve any.  I decided to make a big batch of porridge to last me a few days for while I volunteer at IdeaCity (Toronto's answer to TED) to use up some of the massive amount of rhubarb and strawberris that I have.  I made a big batch of quinoa, added sauteed rhubarb and fresh ginger, diced fresh strawberries, cinnamon, vanilla, cayenne pepper powder, and some almond milk.  Delicious!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Free garlic!

I sang at a fundraiser today, which had some beautiful table displays of young garlic.  I totally grabbed a bunch as they were cleaning up (they wanted to get rid of so much!) and hung it on a banana hanger to dry and enjoy soon. Always check if people are throwing things away after parties–so much waste happens at corporate events!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Iced Tea Recipe 1

I made a delicious iced tea today with some fresh picked mint and sliced ginger. If you pour cool water into a pitcher and let it steep overnight, it steeps as though it was in hot water.  Cold mint used to be so strange sounding to me but, in fact, it is delicious and refreshing!

Friday, June 14, 2013

First Radishes

My first radish pickings! They got strange and tall pretty fast....  I need to do some research...
They were still delicious, though!  And I steamed the greens with a bunch of kale and chard to put on top of rice.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Dried Citrus Peel Resource

While I was getting a lot of oranges in my Foodshare weekly produce box, I had been drying peels fairly regularly.  In my internet ramblings  I found this great resource for things to do with dried citrus peel.  I've definitely got a bunch powdered already for when I'm ill as vitamin C but will certainly consider adding it to my roasting veg! And I'll definitely try candying peels in the winter... What a present that would be! YUM!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

First Garden Filled Hearty Salad!

My first pickins!
From left to right top row: bok choy, kale, mustard, chard, radish, arugula.
From left to right bottom row: lovage, chive flowers, arugula flowers.
I made a delicious rice pasta salad after I baked some organic chicken with dijon mustard and fresh cracked black pepper, roasted a red pepper, a yellow pepper, and 2 asian eggplant, and diced them all up. The herbs and greens I cut up nice and fine and yum! Fresh, hearty garden salad!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Seed Potato Transporter

I discovered the best seed potato transporter–2 egg carton tops!  
I had been saving these to start seeds in and had some left over.  I was needing to trek my seed potatoes over to my other plot and voila!  Brainwave!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Lamb's Quarters

Ever since I got back from my friend Derick's farm, I've been seeing Lamb's Quarters everywhere!  They're a great addition to steamed veg, a salad, or an easy, free snack when you're walking down the street.  You will never look at a streetscape the same again!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Monsanto's Dirty Dozen

I came across this list of Monsanto's contributions to society and I was a little nauseated...  But feel good to be informed.

I also came across this list and was a little shocked as to the extent of Monsanto's reach. Read and think again if you had any doubts about not buying organic... Monsanto's got its paws in just about everything else...

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Beautiful Sight

After collecting a bunch of lovage (left), sage (top), and mint (bottom), I decided to dry the majority. Lovage is a great perennial herb that I never knew about until now and it's one of my new favourites!  Its a very pungent celery/parsley-like flavour. Sage is great for cooking or for a throat soothing tea, and mint tea is one of my go-to's for digestive tonic. 

I also cut a bunch of nettle (hanging far right) to make into a cleansing tea in the future. One of my new favourite sights!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Asparagus Donation

So Derick kindly gave me 2 asparagus after we spend a day planting a field-full on his farm. Instead of planting from seed, you can buy "crowns", a root system of a 1 year old asparagus plant. It totally looks like an octopus! These went in my garden on top of a small mound of vermicompost, with the roots spread out to either side in a bit of a trench. Crossing my fingers that they take!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Innoculating Mushroom Logs

After visiting Bozena's farm, I headed over to another friend's farm.  Derick had been wanting to innoculate his shiitake logs for a few days and luckily he had two sets of hands appear to help him do so.  We spent a good 5 hours innoculating a dozen logs with 1200 plugs.  Yes 1200.

We drilled holes in each log (top) and then pushed in the sawdust and mushroom spore plugs (middle).

This is the guy to see if you want mushroom everything:

This was less than half the pile of logs we ended up with...  So many mushrooms! I'm so excited for harvest!  They will take a year to grow after innoculation, but woop!  Summer of 2014!

After all that innoculating, I'm considering buying a pre-innoculated log from him at market (he sells just around the street from me). I do eat a lot of mushrooms...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bozena's Plot and Makeshift Rainbarrel

Sometimes making a rain barrel is as easy as sticking a big barrel under an eavestrough...  This one had a spigot on it for easy hose attachment but for a small area, you could totally just dunk a watering can into it. The only problem with an uncovered rain barrel would be breeding mosquitoes. A fine-ish netting on top would solve that easily.

Here is Bozena's beautiful round plot too!  She started it last year and this year is growing a cover crop of buckwheat. It'll be great to plant potatoes there next year because of all the extra potassium the buckwheat builds.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Stalking the Wild Asparagus

Can you see it? There is a patch on the lower left and one that Bozena walks in front of in the second photo.

This was literally on the side of a road, just outside of a farmers field. I had no idea how asparagus grew before this weekend. Apparently, if you don't pick it, it turns into a fern!  And it's from the lily family!  Who knew?
Also, a side note–foraging is so empowering!  One of my first experiences doing so and I am definitely going to capitalize on Bozena's expertise in the future...  Excited!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Foraging Adventures

I went out to Grafton ON and did a bit of foraging with my friend Bozena today. We found tons of beautiful wild mint, GIANT rhubarb (that leaf was bigger than me!) and a few asparagus.  Tomorrow–more asparagus hunting!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Making homemade vanilla is on my preserving to do list this year.  I use a fair bit, in my porridge most days, and I think it would make a lovely gift, too!
Here's a great description on how to do it: