Monday, June 29, 2009

Independence Days Week #8

Here is my Independence Days Update for the week.

Plant something:
- monarda, sweet woodruff

Harvest something:
- nettle seed
- violet leaves
- yarrow
- mallow
- catnip
- motherwort
- plantain
- lamb's quarters
- basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, dill
- 10 oz spinach
- 3 oz peas
- two heads of lettuce

Preserve something:
- started yarrow, violet leaf, catnip, motherwort and plantain tinctures
- drying nettle seed, mallow, violets and motherwort
- making basilcello
- froze spinach

Reduce waste:
- made beans in sun oven while at work
- saved popsicle sticks used as tasters for honey at the farmer's market, was about to throw them out and realised I could keep them for labeling plants
- set up soaker hose watering system in the garden (saves water)
- used dried nettle leaf for hair rinse
- the usual biking to most places, especially to work, the garden and market

Preparation and storage:
- left two or three radish and spinach plants to go to seed so I can try and save some seed, mulched the rest of the now empty bed with comfrey, to prepare for a fall crop

Build community food systems:
- went to farmer's markets on Thursday and Sunday

Eat the food:

- establishing tasty habit of bringing a simple oil and vinegar dressing to garden to make and eat a freshly picked salad under the cherry tree
- using fresh culinary herbs in everything
- used young peas as snow peas in a stir fry

Monday, June 22, 2009

Independence Days Week #7

Plant something:
- a few more bush beans
- parsley and basil gifted to us (People are sooo generous with their surplus plants. I want to be that kind of people! Hopefully next year I will have surplus, so I too can share with others.)

Harvest something:
- wild crafted comfrey, plantain, violet leaves, creeping charlie
- spinach and radishes from the garden (My radishes are infested with some kind of worm. Yuck!)
- chive flowers
- lemon balm and a few mallow leaves
- two beautiful peonies from the garden, to grace my kitchen table (note: I was later told that peonies shouldn't be brought inside because they usually have ants on the flowers. I haven't noticed extra creepy crawlies in my place yet.)
- daisies (also for decoration)

Preserve something:
- infusing comfrey, plantain and violet leaves in oil
- drying creeping charlie
- put chive flowers up in apple cider vinegar
- the ADGMD froze some spinach

Reduce waste:
- made own yogurt from organic milk on sale
- made fertilizer tea from leftover comfrey
- arranged a ride share and traveled by bus to and from a family event this past weekend
- picked up some trash found in a wetland area in the city, while waiting for rideshare
- was given craft supplies from my Oma, who didn't want to throw them out, including an unfinished knit project from my great-grandmother

Preparation and storage:
- put dried violet, raspberry, nettle and creeping charlie into jars for storage
- added black beans to food storage
- took some monarda and sweet woodruff from mom's garden (will be planted in my garden for medicinal use)

Build community food systems:

- had friends visit the garden plot
- shared allotment garden information with fellow ride sharer who seemed really keen to rent a plot next season

Eat the food:
- still enjoying spinach and radish yumminess (with the worm eaten bits cut off of course!)
- fresh lemon balm and mallow tea (Note to self: always bring a thermos full of hot water to the garden to make tea!)
- made violet leaf and creeping charlie tea at my mom's place (My mom and Oma tried it and actually liked the taste. They were both impressed and interested when I told them what violets and creeping charlie are good for.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Independence Days Week #7

Plant something:
- two cucumber plants from the farmer's markets to replace a couple of my seedlings that died
- feverfew
- starting cabbage, chard and kohl rabi seeds in pots for fall garden

Harvest something:
- 6 oz spinach
- 22 oz radishes
- wood sorrel, lamb's quarters, violet leaves, plantain leaves, wild carrot, strawberry leaves

Preserve something:

- nothing for this category last week (unless you count trying to preserve my sanity! ;) )

Reduce waste:

- made my own oat cakes instead of buying them
- enviro-friendly dish and laundry soap refills
- watered tomato plants with leftover whey from yogurt making
- spread coffee grounds around cabbage plants
- collared cabbage plants with toilet paper tubes

Preparation and storage:

- added 6L water to emergency stores
- had day two of herbal apprenticeship
- positively identified mallow
- the ADGMD dug another bed
- planning the fall garden

Build community food systems:

- I don't really have anything for this category either. I showed some friends how to identify wood sorrel and lamb's quarters and explained to another friend where to find and how to use comfrey for composting and mulching...

Eat the food:
- spinach and radish salad with lamb's quarters and yellow wood sorrel
- shredded radish and yogurt spread, with spinach leaf toasted sandwich
- wild pesto pasta
- creamy salad dressing with yogurt, violet vinegar, oil, wood sorrel and violet leaves

Monday, June 8, 2009

Independence Days Week #6

Plant something:
- cleavers, chickweed, motherwort, waterleaf (from Martha's property)
- tomatoes (most plants were bought at the farmer's market, three were given to us by a friendly gardener)
- yellow hot peppers, sweet pickling peppers (started from seed, they're still so tiny!), one pepper plant from a garden neighbour
- bush beans
- basil, cilantro, chives, parsley, rosemary (bought at the farmer's market)
- lupines, Heartsease (from a garden neighbour)
- meadow rue, blue vervain, jewelweed (from the Native Plant sale)

Harvest something:
- creeping charlie, violet flowers and leaves, stinging nettle, raspberry leaves
- 8 ounces of spinach, 13 ounces of radishes
- chives

Preserve Something:

- drying violet leaves, raspberry, nettle
- making herbal vinegar with creeping charlie
- made more violet flower syrup

Reduce waste:

- cooked lentils in sun oven (to make lentil burgers)
- made my own yogurt
- bought wool blanket and hand rake at yard sale
- scavenged more garden materials
- biking everywhere
- composting everything
- saving and reusing glass jars
- returned milk bottles and egg cartons to vendor at farmer's market
- set aside some stuff for a neighbourhood garage sale next week

Preparation and Storage:

- bought tomato cages
- bought gallon of organic apple cider vinegar (for herbal preparations, the glass jug will be used in the future as a carboy for homemade wine making!)
- bought airlock for future homemade wine making!
- bought canning utensils: tongs, funnel, magnetic lid lifter and jar wrench (the canning pot, rack and a dozen jars I bought second hand in the winter)
- finally finished organising bathroom cupboard and cleared out two shelves for storage space
- moved emergency water to empty cupboard under bathroom sink
- learned to identify sweetfern, bearberry, wintergreen, oyster mushrooms

Build community food systems:
- went to two farmer's markets
- sent mushroom growing links to someone from the wild edibles group
- meeting and talking to garden neighbours: I had a great conversation with one woman who asked about the nettles I was carrying. I was happy to tell her what I know about them. She seemed really interested and keen to try them.
I met a friendly man who has beautiful lupines growing in his plot. I stopped to ask him about them. He said they spread quickly and he has to keep them under control. When I said I would be happy to help him with that, he dug some up for me as well as a heartsease. We chatted for a while. He helped me to identify mugwort which I have growing on my plot and had mistaken for ragweed. He reminded me that it is a beneficial insect repellent and good for keeping mosquitoes away.

Eat the food:
- spinach and radish sandwiches
- spinach and egg frittata
- shredded radish and yogurt spread to go with lentil burgers

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This gardening thing...

There is dirt under my fingernails. My hands bear the scratches from raspberry bushes. My knuckles are tingling from the sting of nettle. My hair is a bit of a mess and I barely had enough time to change out of my gardening clothes and into something more appropriate for the office.

I'm at the office now, sitting behind my desk, looking perhaps not quite as presentable as I could, but I don't think it's too noticeable. It'll have to do.

I'll keep this short and get back to work, but I just wanted to share my trip to the garden early this morning.

Last night, our wild edibles teacher Martha was so generous and allowed us to dig up a few plants on her property if we wanted. I was thrilled to take some cleavers, waterleaf, motherwort and chickweed.

Eager to get them in the ground as quickly as possible, I made the early morning trip to the garden and found new homes for them. As I was leaving, I picked a few more spinach leaves and three radishes! I also took some time to harvest a little more raspberry leaves, nettle, creeping Charlie and violet leaves.

Once home, I quickly chopped up the creeping Charlie, pressed it into a jar and poured apple cider vinegar over it to start a medicinal tonic. I spread the nettle boughs, raspberry and violet leaves out to dry.

Time for breakfast!

I rinsed off my freshly picked radishes and spinach leaves. I checked my very first attempt at making yogurt using this method. It worked! I had left it a touch too long and it had started to separate into curds and whey, so I strained out the whey (and saved it for a later use) and was left with a thick and creamy yogurt. Next, I popped two pieces of bread into the toaster. I buttered my toast, covered it with slices of radishes and spinach leaves. I spread a nice think layer of yogurt over it all and sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on top.

A strange breakfast you say? Maybe. A weird combination? Perhaps. Taste? Oh my god, you have no idea! Sooo good.

There is dirt under my fingernails. My hair is a bit of a mess. I raced to work on my bike to get here in time, and I couldn't be happier. Hmmm...this gardening thing is fun!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

First Harvest!

At the garden a few days ago, the spinach caught my eye. "Getting big", I thought. But my mind was focused on a 'to do' list, and I moved on to another task, forgetting about the spinach.

Last night I checked again, this time a little more closely. I'm glad I did because there was enough spinach ready for me to harvest a basket!

Our first official harvest from the garden amounts to just a little over 5 ounces! That's worth like at least $5 dollars at the farmer's market. I'm so darn proud.

Now I know that some of you old pros are used to this sort of thing, but garden neophyte that I am, this is super exciting for me! The ADGMD and I did a little dance and shared a ceremonial leaf together.

And just 'cause, here's a picture of the cherry tree and back corner of our garden. (You can just make out the basket of nettles I harvested for the seed.) I'm hoping to naturalize this space and add some native, wild plants to this shady area. (Ottawa Native Plant sale)

Yes those are scarves hanging in the tree. And yes, that kinda does make me a bit of a hippie. You wanna make somethin' of it? ;)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Violet Ideology

“You can't be suspicious of a tree, or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.”
~ Hal Borland

The violets have been blooming the last couple of weeks and I've taken the opportunity to play with this pretty plant. (I'm not quite sure what kind of violet is growing around here. I'm fairly certain it is the common blue violet and not the sweet violet but I'll have to go and look more closely at the plant for distinguishing markers.)

I'm drying leaves to make a tea.

And here are some pictures of my first time making syrup with the flowers. Most of the recipes I found called for white sugar and lemon juice. Since I have neither, I used honey as this recipe calls for (using the flowers, but not the leaves for this syrup).

Freshly picked violet flowers.

Steeped overnight.

Simmer down!

Violet syrup! (Notice the colour change.)

After reading this forum I topped the syrup off with a little alcohol to prevent it from fermenting.

I also made violet vinegar using this recipe, and adjusted for the amounts I had on hand.

I just love how gorgeous this colour is! The taste is so delicate and very pleasant.

If you have violets blooming, why not try one of these recipes out, throw some flowers in your next salad or use the leaves for tea. Here are some more violet recipes. Enjoy!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Independence Days Week #5

Plant Something:
- spring garlic gifted to us from Martha's garden
- 2 pepper seedlings gifted to us from our garden neighbour
- yarrow
- 7 cucumber seedlings
- 4 cabbage seedlings

Harvest Something:
- spring garlic
- violet leaves
- Gill-over-the-ground (or apparently, more commonly known 'round these parts as Creeping Charile or ground ivy)
- chives
- red raspberry leaves
- nettle seed
- dandelion leaves and flowers

Preserve something:

- drying violet leaves, Creeping Charlie, nettle seed and raspberry leaves
- dandelion vinegar

Reduce waste:
- cooked chickpeas in sun oven while at work (it's nature's slow cooker!)
- used the chickpea water for soup stock
- scavenged wood to build cucumber trellis
- scavenged seed starting trays and pots out of blue boxes

Preparation and Storage:

- added bulk lentils to food storage
- added 2L water to storage for a total of 26L
- got hatchet and the blades on my antique food chopper sharpened by the neighbourhood sharpener dude who drives around in the summer time ringing his bell. He's like the ice cream truck for adults who have blade sharpening needs!
- learned to identify Lamb's Quarters, yellow dock, Lady's mantle
- registered and had first day of year long herbal apprenticeship

Build Community Food Systems:
- went to potluck with fellow wild edible's participants
- talked about Independence Days challenge at peak oil discussion group, and with a friend
- shared green garlic with others
- helped neighbour gardeners protect some seedlings from risk of frost
- went to farmer's market

Eat the Food:

- ate the last of my homemade sauerkraut
- used chives in a version of this tasty recipe