Tuesday, October 25, 2011

We're not the Only Harvesters

The Ornamental Kale blasts black against the white pickets and garden hoops. I'm really pleased with how it's performed and although sold as ornamental, this Kale is fine to eat, just not as tasty as some others out there. The nasturtium bounced back from the initial frost while Egyptian Walking Onion and baby garlic spike the foreground. It's time to take a seat.......time to sit, watch and listen. Can you hear the crows in your garden making a racket most mornings now? The squirrels are scampering through the forest mouths full of whatever it is squirrels store other than pine nuts. We had a little one munching on a cherry tomato the other day...so small and unafraid; the tomato looked as big as an apple clenched in such tiny claws. It's good for the soul, to take notice and appreciate the precious treasure around us.

Sometimes, I can get so focused on the jobs to be done, the prep for next year, the taking care of business before the heavy frosts and winter's arrival, I don't listen to what my garden is telling me, or look to see what nature is showing off...like Mr. Chipmunk stocking up for the long cold nights ahead. What if I hadn't been sitting, watching and listening? He was a highlight of my autumn day, with Olympic dreams, health maintained  on a diet of  Vitamin 'C' packed rose hips (Rosa glauca rubrifolia to be exact).

Olympian upside down pose
Vitamin C capsules for Optimum health!
We've been sifting compost the last few days..and by we, I mean the Captain..not me. However, the shifting of same was carefully done by Moi... gently shoveled under the hoops where seeds of spinach and winter greens were planted way way too late. Chard, Dinosaur Kale and Red Bull Beets are still providing crop. Sigh....Chocolate compost...the way to a garden girl's heart.

Mr. Chipmunk and I are thinking alike, storing food for winter. Today was spent blitzing kale and chard for soups; green confetti squished thinly flat in freezer bags. That way, it stores easily and I can break off bits of it's rich earthy robustness to add to wintertime soups. Meanwhile, I also tried a Kale Kimchi which needs a week or so to ferment. This fermenting business is new (again) to me, and seems a promising way to store a lot of vegetables. Yes, I've pickled things in the past, made cider and baked bread, but there's a whole world of ferment out there I haven't accessed yet.

The cold framed raised bed also received a nice dressing of compost. This is our second winter trying to extend the season with fresh salad greens and it can be done! Niki Jabbour will soon have a book available through Storey Publishing and I can't wait until it's out in December. Hers is a Nova Scotia experience so it appeals greatly to me, although the book itself is for all regions.

Meanwhile, The Cap's gone all tired with the work he's had to do......The poor man needs a rest.......

Happy Halloween!


  1. Hi Brenda. I love the cold frame. How long can you grow your veggies in there? Lettuce. Chard? Would you mind telling me how many hours a day you spend in the garden?

  2. what a satisfying post - everything, everything - especially the listening to your garden bit. Thanks.

  3. I wondered about Nikki's book, I'll be asking for that for Christmas! The chipmunk is wonderful, how in the world he held on with - his toes? I listen to the squirrels chattering daily here. They take up posts in the orchard at this time of year and there's a lot of arguing over who gets what while I try to convince them to pay more attention to lurking cats.

  4. Hello and thank you ladies. I so much appreciate your comments and questions. Hope your gardens are letting you sit, listen and enjoy although wet snow expected tomorrow here in NS. Yikes.

    Erin...he and I talked about how much time we spend in the garden and it was just so hard to answer your question. Ten years ago..a lot!! Now...we likely average about four hours a week and some of that is play. That would include lawn mowing and edging, seed starting and planting, tidying beds and tucking them in for the winter where we do not winter crop. It wouldn't include the things like building the cold frame and raised beds though. After the big push the other day...haven't done anything since except cleared out a bit in one of the long beds. This weekend we will plant two Satomi we bought half off, and a few shrubs. There's four hours!!

    You asked how long can we grow our vegetables here...just depends what we grow and if there is enough sun. We are zone 5b to 6 often with a deep snow cover. If you clicked on Niki's name you can get a good indication of our growing climate here and how long we can grow...four seasons. Just depends on what you grow and where. I know there is a book out in your neck of the woods on four season gardening in the Pacific Northwest and I think it is pretty awesome (saw it on SSI at the organic grocery store). You might look at this pdf which will be very useful


    I hope to eat chard, winter types of lettuce and greens and kale for a short while yet, also, Brussels sprouts at Christmas if all goes well.

    Thanks so much for being interested and I do hope you can find that book as I tried to find it online and couldn't. I really thought the title was Four Season Gardening in the Pacific Northwest...

    Also, just a note Erin, it's tomato jam and he's delivering it to the business with your seeds. Your blog is so enthusiastic..I love reading it and sharing your experiences. GB

  5. That little chipmunk is quite the acrobat! I have a great fondness for them, even though they love to dig holes in my flowerbeds. I have cleared out my vegetable beds, but still have a bit of work to do to get them ready for winter.
    I have a great interest in learning about cold frames and have asked Niki to do a guest post on them (and also to help a fellow Nova Scotian and blogger promote her book).
    P.S. I like your pretty patty pan squash. Forgive my ignorance, are they edible or ornamental?

  6. Jennifer...yes that little chipmunk came back every day until all the hips were gone, providing lots of entertainment! How he managed to hang on I don't know and I didn't think chipmunks took chances like that, even running across the top of the fence like the squirrels do. Brave Olympian!

    Great that you asked Niki to do a guest post because it was Niki I turned to (and Eliot Coleman's book) figuring out about the direction and height of the lights (the transparent cover). I moved our cover to the front raised bed as the Paperbark maple has grown so large this year, even without it's leaves it still throws enough shade to not be optimum for the back raised bed.

    The patty pan squash are not sold as ornamental although I end up with a lot as they reseed in the garden when I don't gather them all up! So I put them on the posts around the garden or use them to decorate this time of year. They are edible and quite lovely sliced in "steaks", seasoned and pan fried or added to soups or even the center cored out, filled with chilli and covered with shredded cheddar and baked. All good!

  7. I FOUND IT!!! Thanks for letting me know of your answer. You are the most enthusiastic gardener I know, nest time you're out here, will you let me take you for lunch??!
    Have you ever taken a picture of your whole veggie area?
    I am already heavily planning next year. Where I can put some new beds. How many more asparagus plants should I do, where can a put a couple rows of beets, should I bother with onions, who should I get my tomato seeds from??? Oh my gosh Brenda, I almost feel like I was just born this year. I feel whole and complete when I have my hands in the dirt. Out in the pouring rain today spreading coffee grounds. Amazing.

  8. I did some googling and tried to find the book. Can't find it either. I really appreciate the breakdown of how long it takes you in the garden. To look at it I really thought it would be an all day, every day job. It is truly a work of art.

  9. I like the halloween photo, made me laugh.

    We get squirrels here but clearly not chipmunks - the boys love them but I tend towards seeing them as vermin - they keep stealing our walnuts, grrr..

  10. Yes, winter is coming and the chipmunks know it...love those picture of your little olympian.:)

    We are growing a similar kale this year and absolutely love the dark color it brings to the garden. Best of luck with your fermentation endeavours...bet kale will make for an excellent kimchi.

    I am also looking forward to the release of Niki Jabbour's book.

  11. I was at the Halifax Farmers' Market and saw so many market goers with bunches of the black kale. It's beautiful, perfect for Halloween and looks to be a popular market crop!

  12. Wow! You have certainly been busy both inside and out! Everything you are busy freezing and I am very interested to hear how the fermented Kale turns out?

    As I'm sure you can guess, the chipmunk pix are my favorites ... you really got some great pix of him. He's so busy gathering his winter food. That upside down pic is really funny!

    I must say, I am worried about the poor overworked Captain! I hope he will find time for some R & R, so that he will feel and LOOK more like himself!! hee hee!!

    Great post! Happy Halloween! Michele

  13. Love the black kale against the white pickets!! You have such a great eye, Bren..

    Also, Jennifer of Three Dogs in a Garden has just loaded up my guest post - she did a fantastic job! :)

  14. A tasty post, Brenda with a spooky punch at the end!

    I agree completely on taking time out to just watch the garden (you’ll know that by now). Absolutely love your purple ornamental kale. What a beauty it is to see in the garden. I’ve admired that in Potager gardens a few times.

    Enjoy your produce and your new book when it comes out. Love that little chipmunk… they look real little characters. Enjoy all your bird and wildlife visitors just now :-D

  15. The Captain does look tired! ;) Your vegetable garden looks great, and it's amazing to me that you can grow greens all winter. We will have to try that down here. The chipmunk is adorable -- such full cheeks!