Saturday, 17 March 2012

Early Planting

We've been having some amazing warm weather in Southern Ontario this week; it's like summer. Today was St. Patrick's Day, and my two bonnie lads got busy digging! Elijah had a long afternoon nap, but the rest of us enjoyed the groundbreaking.
 Being March, our main garden is awash in spring melt water, and completely muddy, but we decided to dig one row on higher ground to start planting some early greens.

We went to a great event put on by Seeds of Diversity last week where I attended a workshop by Kyla Dixon-Muir about planting early, using coldframes to protect the young plants. Since our weather has been so warm, we decided that it was a good time to get started with planting greens and radish plants. We'll just keep an eye on the temperature over the next few weeks.

 If the temperature dips back down below 4 C, we'll build a cold frame to protect the plants. Basically, we just want to house the plants in a mini green house of sorts to protect them from wind, flying grit and frost.
A coldframe can be a frame made from boards surrounding the garden, with heavy clear plastic covering the structure, with rocks to weigh down the sides, or can even be clear plastic juice jugs with the bottoms cut off, stuck upside-down over seedlings.

We planted the vegetable varieties that are the hardiest, and that would normally go in the garden in April. We used a soil thermometer to ensure that the soil was warm enough; lettuce, chard, radishes and kale are some vegetables that will germinate if the soil temperature is as low as 4C ( 40F). Thanks to the warm weather, our soil was already reading 16C!

We planted Rainbow Dinosaur Kale, Red Russian Kale, Rainbow Chard and Red Flame Lettuce from Urban Harvest, and French Breakfast Radishes from Seeds of Diversity.

It was a great afternoon of digging and planting; even if this warm weather doesn't last, it's wonderful to get a head start on the garden. We should have some baby greens to eat in about a month!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

The Giant Pumpkin

Our family has been hoarding a giant pumkin all winter. When we first harvested this beauty in October, baby Lily was just born, and now she's almost six months old!

This lovely pumpkin has just been sitting in the corner of our kitchen all winter, kept perfectly in it's shell. It was the first time we grew pumpkins...yes, plural...there were we didn't know how long they would keep. We cut the smaller one up many months ago, but this one we saved while we used up all our squash first. Also, we sort of wanted to see how long this big old thing would keep for!
 We wiped the surface of each pumpkin and squash with vinegar after the harvest, a technique that is supposed to remove the bacteria and cure the shell, preserving the gourd through the winter months.

Who knew a pumpkin could be so darn fun?!

Well, time to get serious...being mid-March, we had a hankering for fresh pumpkin, so...we decided it was time to cut it open!

Wow, I don't know what's scarier...that knife or my husband Andy's winter beard. Maybe he can can use the knife to shave that monster beard when he's done cutting up the monster pumpkin.

Daniel & Elijah had the best time getting the seeds out of the pumpkin-poor Elijah could hardly see inside, the thing was so big!

Yum! Raw pumpkin!

The whole family got in on this pumpkin cutting! Later we cut it up into small chunks and stored it in the up, pumpkin soup, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin frittata...that's a lot of pumpkin...we're going to have to find some new recipes!