Thursday, July 28, 2011


I was late pulling out my garlic just as I was last year. Somehow I got confused because every advice on many garlic dedicated web sites gives different visual signs of maturity. Some say that leaves have to be 60% yellow or brown, some 80% brown, some 2 sets of leaves at bottom…and of course, there is about 2 weeks difference between yellow and brown leaves. Next year they will be out on July 15th and that’s it. I will be cleaning them today and then hang them in garage with small fan on for next two weeks.
Last October I have planted German Porcelain, Music, Irkutsk (Siberian?) and cloves from Amish farmer that I grow for last 3 years. The other varieties were new for me this year and were bought at Stratford Garlic Festival. The Music has largest sized bulb and Irkutsk has smallest bulbs but I expect it to be the hottest of the bunch. I assume that next year the heads will be a bit bigger since they will be grown in same location and apparently garlic likes to grow in same patch of soil. Somehow, the Porcelain and my Amish are almost indistinguishable; same shape and color. Interesting thing about Music is that it was developed from Italian garlic on a former tobacco farm. Our house sits on former tobacco farm, maybe that’s why this strain did so well in its first year. Here is an excerpt from Seeds of Diversity Canada publication:
“Music is a Porcelain strain with large, easy to peel, bulbs, a strong flavor and large cloves. It is the most commonly grown type in Ontario and is now generally recognized as the Ontario garlic. It was named for Al Music, who was also a founding member of Garlic Growers Association of Ontario (GGAO) in 1985, developed the strain after getting out of tobacco production in the early 1980’s.”
In 2 weeks I will do my very own “Rye Bread Toast Test” to see how strong each variety is. I will make 4 toasts using rye bread and then rub the clove of garlic on one side only. Each toast will have one strain only. I guess that in order to be objective I will have to rub the garlic exact number of times. There is no way that I’ll be able to go out and talk to other people after this test J!
I will report on results in 2 weeks.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Veggie Garden Update July 26, 2011

This is my first year growing my own cucumbers and to say that I am surprised how fast they grow from flower to mature fruit is understatement. Because of space restrictions in our garden I have decided to grow them (3 plants) in large container on a trellis.  I also grow peppers (2 kinds), eggplants and tomatoes in containers and all are doing very well. Cukes, however, are huge surprise. I knew that my tomatoes will be super-productive but I didn’t expect cucumbers to be the same. City slicker’s ignorance, I guess J.
Here are pictures taken of same cuke taken over span of 4 days. It doubled in volume every day. Another plant that will be grown next year.

And, of course, with so many cucumbers harvested daily I had to start pickling them. After wading through dozens of recipes on Internet I have decided to use Ferdzy’s recipe for “Dill Pickles by the Jar”  published on her blog Seasonal Ontario Food. Now I have to wait 6 weeks to taste the results. What was interesting how fast the cucumber skin turned khaki green from bright green once I poured hot pickling brine in the jars.

The eggplant seeds I bought were for eggplant Gretel (there is also Hansel J) that is white and elongated. Even though I did pick few I haven’t cooked them yet. I did taste them raw and there are no seeds to speak of and not a trace of bitterness, exactly what I am looking for in eggplants.

I did have one nasty surprise, though: Green part at top of fruit has thorns like cactus but almost invisible and when I touched it, it was almost like an electric shock. Next time I harvest with leather gloves. I’ll cook some with garlic and olive oil and use it as one of the toppings for grilled pizza I will make tonight.

Nasty thorns.

Chinese Yard Long Beans
Yup, they are almost a yard long now and growing like crazy. What a great bean this is! The beans are about the size of pencil and no string, no tough parts, just a nice sweet bean that I eat raw when I pick them.  They are best when briefly stir fried with ginger, garlic and chilies. Also, they are very productive and I will harvest right to the first frost. I did last year

Margherita, which is a paste San Marzano type tomato is finely getting mature and red and I will pick first batch tomorrow. When I bought the seeds I didn’t realize that this hybrid is determinate, meaning that all tomatoes mature at same time. However, as you can see on picture some are ready to harvest and others are completely green. What gives? Is there something between determinate and indeterminate tomatoes? I must have missed something. Oh, well, I’ll be freezing them, I guess and make sauce later as needed.

Mountain Magic tomatoes are doing just fine.
I have three kinds of peppers this year: Green to Red, Sweet Pimento and Red Cubana type peppers whose seeds I collected from Mexican peppers sold in big box store. The flesh was so red and thick that I just had to have the seeds. I grew them last year and they were very good. Not as sweet as original but still very good. Conditions for growing peppers in Mexico and Ontario, Canada are a wee bit different, I think J.
The Green-to-Red were first peppers I harvested about  3 weeks ago and yes, they were red already! Amazing!

Sweet Pimento is just few days from first harvest so no idea about the taste and how thick the flesh is.
Mexican Peppers

Turban Squash
I almost forgot about Turban squash because it is not one of my food crops but Marjo’s pet project that I take care of. It stopped dropping flowers and undeveloped fruits and now I can see decent size squash and a tiny brother/sister. I have noticed that lots of ants were inside some fully opened flowers and that later same flower got sort of choked at stem and then dropped of cleanly like somebody tied a rope around it. Since this was a tobacco field, ants are everywhere in garden! This will be one interesting experiment that Marjo started back in March. We will see when fall comes.

Besides radishes, Daikon and herbs that’s about all I grow this year. Garlic report will be posted next.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Veggie Garden Update July 16, 2011

I can’t believe how fast time flies when you are busy. I just wish I could save some winter time in Time Bank and then in summer draw few hours here and there back. Anyway, we went with Tillsonburg Horticultural Society on 3 day tour of gardens in Gray & Bruce Counties in Southern Ontario so there was no garden work, just automatic irrigation. The tour was great thanks to incredible talent of our past president (yup, I am a member now). I will make post on some gardens later on when I wade through few hundreds of pictures. Digital cameras are great but at times they can be a real pain in the ass because it is so easy to get carried away. Enough of small talk and back to my small but very productive garden.

When I’ve planted cucumbers back in March I had no idea how many cukes they will give me. I am not complaining, I am just amazed. I pick about half a dozen a day from 2 plants growing on trellis in container.

I planted 3 varieties of peppers, all grown from seed as every other vegetable and herb in my garden. The “Green to Red” (from Johnny’s Seeds) is red already! I might pick some in next few days, maybe for my grilled pizza on BBQ.

Eggplant Greta is full of flowers and one eggplant is already about 3” long and ivory white as promised. This one will be grilled for a sandwich when ready.

Only beans I am not picking yet are the Chinese Yard Long beans. The yellow bush and French green string-less are picked daily and are very productive with great taste.

The daikon leaves were shading my tomato plants so I pulled some out and rest got serious haircut, again. The roots are decent size and very hot, right up my alley. They are next year repeat but in another location.


We are really getting slammed with tomatoes already. Only one variety, Margarita, Roma type, is still green. However, that one plant has so many fruits on it that I will have to construct some sort of support. Not only there are many tomatoes, they are also quite large.

Since I thought that snow peas were done I pulled them out and to my surprise I picked about a quart of pods in different stages of maturity. I worked in some manure into old pea bed to get it ready for Amish Snap Peas that Ferdzy, author of “Seasonal Ontario Food”, thinks about so highly. I bought my seeds on EBay and they are, supposedly, organic and non-GMO. They will go in as soon as I get them.
Except for eggplants and yard long beans everything is being picked every day. Time to find some good recipe for pickles, I have way too many to eat fresh off the vine.