Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Incredible Campari

This tomato was hiding for ten weeks and when found it was in perfect condition!
This morning I had a biggest surprise of my gardening life. OK, so I am gardening only since I retired five years ago, but still.
I was moving a storage cabinet in my basement work shop and out rolled a perfect Campari tomato. Two years ago I collected, fermented and then dried seeds from supermarket tomato because I loved their flavor and size and this was my second season that I have successfully grown them. They are huge producers. (I know that they have registered trademark but I am not selling them.)  
At the end of last September we have collected all tomatoes, including green ones, and stored them in basement. This one must have fallen on the floor and stayed there, on a cold floor, in relative darkness, for ten weeks. TEN weeks! Wow! Next season I’ll try to store them under same conditions: directly on the floor and covered. We’ll see what happens.
By the way, I took concrete floor temperature reading with my infrared thermometer gun and it reads 16°C. The location is close to wall that is insulated only at top four feet. Five feet away the reading was 20°C. It will be interesting to see what happens one year from now and you can be sure that I will harvest seeds from this survivor!
Marjo in my tomato jungle.

Piper in Our Garden

Last September when Marjo’s family was here for my 65th birthday she surprised me by hiring a Scottish piper from Ingersoll. Funny thing, though. None of our neighbors heard him, none! Nobody heard bagpipes being played no more then 40 yards from their windows.
Thanks, Marjo! It was a thrill!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Winter Solstice

In less then week and half days will be getting longer! Time to get seed catalogs out and start ordering. This is a view from our sunroom. It looks like winter will be long but right now it is raining cats and dogs.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Early Winter Blast

We got blasted with a snowstorm really early this year. It started snowing last Sunday, December 4th and today, after four days, is a first day that we didn’t get any new snow. And winter is still two weeks away! Ouch, not a good sign.
Good news is that last week I got my first seed catalog from Johnny’s Seeds. Let the garden planning begin!
This year I'm not going to bather to plant herbs from seeds, it’s much better and convenient to buy seedlings from Heritage Line Herbs that is just short drive away. They have an excellent selection, but I’ll be growing seedlings for specialty Oriental greens and veggies. Unless Deb at Heritage Line Herbs will have them next Spring, that is.
Crap, I need more and bigger veggie beds J !


My Bougainvillea bonsai started to flower again on October 17th. By Christmas it will be one big mass of red flowers with hardly any green leaves and will stay that way for 6 – 8 weeks. Marjo did a great job by transplanting it into a pot that I made and fired last year. It is a bit bigger then I would like so I guess I have a new winter project making a new one.

First flower is turning red. October 17, 2010

Three weeks later, November 6, 2010

Another 3 weeks have passed. November 27, 2010

December 8, 2010. Little change in last 12 days.
Same tree April 24, 2010.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Golf Season 2010 is over

Well, as far as we are concerned the golf season is over for now. Mind you, if the weather warms up I’m sure that Tillsonview Fairways will reopen. When we moved here in 2005 we played day before Christmas Eve, so anything can happen. But, for now, the bags were moved from garage to basement for cleaning, re-gripping and general look-over off all pockets, etc. I usually empty whole bag and then flip it upside down. All in a sudden you find things that you lost months ago J! Of course, shoes have to have spikes changed, white shoes will have to be washed and leather painted, shoe laces checked and if required, changed. Once I broke a shoestring on my backswing. Not a good thing, almost fell on my kisser. Anyway, in 3 weeks days are getting longer and in February there are Golf Shows to go to…
I just realized that this is my first golf post and I wonder when the next one will be. I should have posted last week when we played Tillsonview with our neighbors and friends and I have done something that I have never done before. Since Tillsonview doesn’t book tee times it is first-come-first-play thing. We had six, SIX, slow and I mean slooow, groups ahead of us. But, it was likely last round and we didn’t play alone so we waited and passed time by yapping with other eager golfers.
See you next year! March? April?...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Weeping Mulberry and Japanese Lilac

We had Works Department of our town remove Weeping Mulberry and Japanese Lilac that were planted when house was build 14 years ago on town property. Mulberry was not exactly attractive and healthy and Lilac didn’t flower for last 2 years and was very close to another tree so that it was hard for me to cut grass between and around them. Next year I will have only two trees and one island to go around with my lawn mower! Cool.
Brute force removed the tree in 1 minute...

and left a mess to match.
Lilac's turn. Notice the monster on my wet and soft lawn.

All done.
I am grateful to town Works manager for getting the job done so quickly but I am not exactly thrilled with the mess left behind. Oh well, another garden job before the year is over. I’ll get on it as soon as it warms up again, hopefully next week.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Garden Walkway

Last year we have decided to plant most of our flowers and some vegetables in containers. To do that one needs some paved area; after all it is not a good idea to place large containers directly on the lawn. Only paved area we had was west facing 8’ x 16’ tiled patio. Well, I was more then happy to design and build a walkway that will go around the house. I build it in several stages over two years and the pavement runs along three sides of the house. East facing front of the house, south facing deck and sunroom, then towards patio and continues north along west side of house and along 3’ x 14’ cold frame. To say that there is a lot of room for containers of all sizes is understatement. According to AutoCAD that I used to design the layout all paved areas cover 820 sq.ft. That’s a lot of grass that I don’t have to water, fertilize and cut. At the same time I designed and build one large island for trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses and flowers. That’s another 1,200 sq.ft. of lawn gone. I just love it!
Here is a short tour.

There were lot of pavers, bricks and flagstones to lift several times each, plus a lot of crushed stone and sand to load and lay down for the base. Since bagged aggregate is very expensive I had to look for other sources. I didn’t have to look very far, just 3 km from our house, and what a lucky find it was! Kirwin – Oatman Excavating had moved to present location at south-west town limit of Tillsonburg from another location in town few years ago. We drove by few times a week on the way to Eden golf course but it never occurred to me that I could buy directly from them. One phone call solved the problem. Since they sell by cubic yard for large projects we had to do some calculating for 2 cubic feet at time; that’s all I could shovel into a recycling bin in my Toyota trunk.
My initial call was picked up by the owner but after that only contact I had with the company was incredibly friendly and efficient secretary Gail. What a pleasure it is to deal with somebody that is so friendly and always smiling. Let’s just say that I paid same price as big volume buyers and that it was just a fraction of what it would cost me retail and also the quality of sand and crushed stone is also much better. They also carry screened topsoil, asphalt/stone mix and other aggregates.
Thanks goes to Gail and Kirwin-Oatman without whom I would be way over budget on this project.
Gail, hard at work.
One of the products they sell is screened top soil. Contracted screening machine at work.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I've done it!

After promising my wife that I will start my own food blog I have finally done it! I am sure that lot of people that saw movie “Julie and Julia” decided that it would be interesting thing to try. Where to start?
Maybe I just post some pictures of my garden and food that I have cooked recently. But first, I have to find my way around the Blogger and see how it is done, I guess.

Pan seared duck breast on bed of arugula with three grains risotto (barley, wild rice and basmati rice) that I have served on Thanksgiving Monday..
I will post my version of this dish at a later date.