Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Hallowe'en!

What a difference from a year ago today.  Outside, it is sunny, breezy, and a mild 12 degrees.  I had my cup of coffee sitting on the front step this afternoon.  A rogue pansy is still thriving at the edge of the driveway.  My kale and Swiss chard is still growing, as are little clusters of dandelions around the base of the raised beds.  Birds are singing.  I can hear little chickadees at the back of the house.  The grass is still green, and I have several little pumpkins sitting on the front step to mark the holiday.

Last year on Hallowe'en, it was around -22 degrees (I should have recorded the actual temperature) and we had a half foot of snow.  Needless to say, there was little, if any, door-to-door trick-or-treating!  No doubt that was disappointing for the little guys, though I suspect more than a few of their parents breathed a sigh of relief.  There were several organized Hallowe'en events in town for the children, so costumes could still be worn and candy collected.

No pumpkins last year.  Instead, I made this for my front step:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

First Snow of The Season

Merry Hallowe'en!

It was only a matter of time.  This was taken at 7:30am, zero degrees outside.  That snow is wet, crunchy, and full of big, sparkly ice crystals.  I think it will melt soon.  I'm not ready for winter.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Days Getting Shorter...

Good morning!  It is 7:30am.  It's 6 degrees Celcius.  Supposed to get up to 18 degrees today.

I'm loving October this year.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Maple-Roast Parsnips

Oh, boy.  This is good.

Instead of roasting my parsnips with the usual salt-pepper-garlic-olive oil, I followed this recipe for Maple-Roast Parsnips.  The only thing I did differently was add a light sprinkling of salt before roasting.  They are very mild, sweet, caramelized, and delicious.

Maple-Roast Parsnips
  • 2¼ lbs parsnips
  • 125ml  vegetable oil 
  • 80ml maple syrup 


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F.
  2. Peel the parsnips and then halve them crosswise, then halve or quarter each piece lengthwise.
  3. Place the parsnips into a roasting tin. Pour the oil over the parsnips and mix them well so that the oil covers all of the pieces.
  4. Pour the maple syrup over the parsnips and transfer the roasting tin to the oven. Roast the parsnips for 35 minutes, or until they are tender and golden-brown.

Burn, Baby, Burn

We have a LOT of compostable matter from the gardens and not many places to put it.  R thought he might try to burn the pea vines I'd rolled up and stacked in the front garden earlier this summer.  As predicted, they are still too damp to burn well.  

The remaining peas and their pods snapped and popped loudly as the vines burned.  Peas were whizzing through the air.  Lots of thick smoke, too.  Quite entertaining.  The poor man's fireworks!

Cutting back the lilac bush...

Piles of branches from the lilc bush and a crab apple tree.  The birds will enjoy hanging out in them this winter!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Planting Space and Parsnips

R. decided to move the plastic containers we had lining the south side of the house and build wooden containers instead, using left over fence boards from last summer.  The plastic containers will be placed elsewhere throughout the yard.  The plastic containers are not what you would call elegant looking (*cough*) but they give us space to grow.  The composters will be placed near the back fence, making room for a wooden container in their place.

I pulled a parsnip this morning to see how they were doing.  Very well, it appears!

Saj enjoying a "salad" along the walkway.

(Sunny and 10 degrees - a beautiful Fall day!)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Seed Swaps and Exchanges

Last week, I mailed in my contribution to the 3rd Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange.  It is hosted by a woman named Nicky who lives in Ontario and has a great gardening blog.  Participants send in a maximum of 40 packets of heirloom and/or open pollinated seeds to exchange, along with a list of wished-for seeds and return postage.   This year's exchange was posted on various gardening forums two weeks ago, and already 44 people have joined in.  It is my first time participating, and I am eager to see the different varieties of seeds I get back.  I'm hoping for lots of beans.

Details about the 3rd Annual Canadian Autumn Seed Exchange can be found HERE.

Other Canadian-friendly seed exchange sites

Canadian Exchange on GardenWeb  - the best year-round exchange group I've found online.

The Secret Seed Exchange - Canadian, a basic mystery swap modelled after "Secret Santa" exchanges. 

Seeds of Diversity  - Canadian, must be a member to receive their annual trading catalog.

Seedy Saturdays - in-person events held across the country.  This list is updated throughout the year.

I Dig My Garden - in the Trading Bazaar thread

Folia - under Seed Swaps in the top menu

Free Heirloom Seed Swap - not the most convenient for Canadians, in my experience, but I have done a few trades.  

Canadian Heirloom Seed Swap - group on Facebook.

~*~  For a list of Canadian Seed Libraries, check out this LINK. ~*~

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Voodoo in the Garden

Well, voodoo had nothing to do with it, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the greens that were done for the season - stripped to the bone by cabbage moths and no longer green, but grey - have started to come back to life.  A second-wind crop of kale, collards, and endive!


Frisee endive (Swiss chard to the left)

Lacinato/Dinosaur kale  (Red Russian kale to the right)

Red Russian kale

The Swiss chard continues to grow, and the remaining beets still look good.

Cloudy outside and 8 degrees today.