The Garden Path
Thursday September 27, 2012
Build a pile, ideally 4-foot x 4-foot in size, in no more than 6-inch layers at a time. Make it 'Super Duper' by adding comfrey, nettles or dried horsetail, because these plants are 'bio-accumulators' containing valuable nutrients that make high-quality compost. TIP: Leaving food waste out prevents problems with rodents.
Manure (cow, sheep, horse, llama, goat or chicken-can be fresh)
Leaves (TIP: store in circular wire cages in fall)
Weeds (avoid weeds in seed or pernicious weeds)
Nettles (in season)
Comfrey (in season)
Horsetails (in season)
Seaweed (follows winter storms)
Wood ash (uncontaminated)
Sawdust and fine woodchips (not cedar)
The Do's and Don'ts of Composting
Do mix layers of carbon-rich materials with nitrogen-rich materials. For speedy breakdown the ideal ratio of compost is 30: 1 Carbon:Nitrogen.
Do provide aeration, by allowing air to flow freely through the pile. (Free palettes work perfectly!)
Do make sure the pile is moist for the aerobic bacteria to work. Keep a hose running on the pile as you turn it from one bin to another.
Do avoid compaction by adding no more than a 6" layer of material at a time.
Do not build compost piles too big - no more than four feet high and four feet wide.
Do avoid weeds that have gone to seed, unless you heat compost to reach the high temperatures needed to destroy weed seeds.
Don't compost diseased plant waste, pet litter, toxic chemicals and any pernicious weeds such as couch grass, ivy, mints, goutweed or morning glory.
Don't use cat, dog, pig or human feces in the compost, because it can spread infectious disease or parasites.
Do avoid large quantities of seaweed with high salt levels. The salt preserves the compost pile instead of decomposing it!
Don't use meat and fish scraps that attract animals and flies; grease and oil do not break down. To avoid attracting rodents keep kitchen waste in rat proof composters, or bury in trenches around the garden, covering with 9" of soil.
Do add 'activators' to your pile to accelerate decomposition. One of the best you can add is fresh manure, steaming with microbes! Empty bins in fall, and apply 2" layers of compost as protective winter mulch. Feeding the soil and smothering weed seeds at the same time is what I call 'organic weed & feed'.
Thursday September 20, 2012
This jelly is sweet and tangy with a bite from the chili peppers. It's one of our favourites with egg and rice dishes, and goes perfectly with a plate of cheese and crackers.
8 sweet red peppers, roasted
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 red chili peppers, halved and seeded
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup (250 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) white wine vinegar
1½ tsp (7 mL) sea salt
2¼ cups (535 mL) sugar
Pomona's natural pectin
Puree the roasted peppers, onion, garlic, chilies and water in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Press the puree through a sieve using a wooden spoon, extracting as much as you can- ideally 3 cups (700 mL). In a saucepan add the puree to the vinegar and salt. Mix in the sugar and add the pectin, stirring into the liquid until they have dissolved. Bring to the boil stirring for 4 minutes. Hot pack into sterilized pint mason jars and process in a water canner bath for 15 minutes. See below:
How to Process High-Acid Foods
Wash Mason jars with hot soapy water and rinse. Fill a canner or large pot with water and heat it to boiling. Using tongs, completely immerse the jars in the boiling water. Allow the water to a simmer at 180F (82C), leaving the jars immersed until ready for use. Place the lids and metal rings in a small saucepan of water heated to 180F (82C), but do not allow the water to boil. Leave the lids and rings in the hot water until ready for use. TIP: Do not use recycled lids if the rubber seal has already been set.
Ladle hot food (hotpack) into the hot jars to prevent cracking from a sudden temperature change. (TIP: Use a wide mouth funnel). Leave ¼ inch (5 mm) of headspace for jams and jellies. Leave ½ inch (1 cm) of headspace for fruit, pickles, tomatoes, chutney and relishes. Using a sterilized non-metallic utensil, remove any air bubbles in the jar, and readjust the headspace if necessary. If the jar rim is sticky, wipe with a clean wet cloth. Centre the snap lid on the jar, and twist the metal ring securely over it, but do not over tighten. Place the filled jars on the rack of a canner; when full, use oven mitts to lower the rack gently into the canner bath, three-quarters full of boiling water, so that water covers jars by at least 1 inch (2.5 cm).
Put the lid on the canner and bring water back to a rolling boil. Process for the time recommended by the recipe. Turn off the heat and remove the canner lid. When the boiling water becomes still (approximately 5 minutes), carefully pull the rack up out of the canner by its handles, without tipping the jars, and place it on a heat-proof surface.
Using tongs, space the jars on a heatproof surface, and leave to cool upright, without adjusting the metal rings. After cooling, check that all the lids are sealed. Sealed lids curve inwards and do not move when tested. Jars that have not sealed can be refrigerated and consumed within 2 days. Remove the metal rings if desired, and wipe the jars clean if sticky.
Label with food and date it, and store in a cool, dark place. Food processed this way will keep well for up to 12 months.... Read more »
Thursday September 13, 2012
Friday September 7, 2012
Saving seeds. Our gardening columnist Carolyn Herriott tells us about the benefit of harvesting your own seeds.
Carolyn's Seed Saving Tips:
Tomato seeds should undergo a wet fermentation process for a few days, which eliminates seed-borne pathogens and allows dead seeds to float to the surface of the water. Choose tomatoes that display desirable traits such as high yields, early ripening, disease resistance or excellent flavour.
Friday August 31, 2012
1cup (250 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup (80 mL) vinegar- red wine, white wine, apple cider
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) soy sauce
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) prepared Dijon mustard or 1 tsp. (5 mL) mustard powder
1/2 tsp. (2 mL) black pepper,
1 tsp. (5 mL) fresh or dried oregano
Whisk together to blend.
Friday August 24, 2012
Friday August 24, 2012
(Fines Herbes Salees Du Bas-Du-Fleuve)
A traditional family recipe from Quebec to preserve fresh herbs from the garden for winter soups and stews.
1/4 cup (60 mL) of coarse salt
Makes 3 cups (700 mL)
1 cup (250 mL) dried kale leaves
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried thyme
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried Greek oregano
Optional: 1 Tbsp (15 mL) dried cayenne pepper flakes
Thursday August 16, 2012
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups (10-15) fresh tomatoes, skins removed in boiling water and chopped into quarters
1 bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) 2% milk
½ cup (125 mL) heavy cream
Optional: 2 Tbsp (30 mL) sherry
Saute onion in butter until soft for 5 minutes. Add skinned tomatoes, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Cook over gentle heat until the tomatoes are liquid for 15-20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Puree in a blender until smooth. Return to the saucepan.
Thursday August 2, 2012
BEANS AND CREAMY MINT DRESSING
1 lb. (454 gr) green beans, topped and tailed
1 sweet pepper, thinly sliced
4 green onions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup (60 mL) almond or extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. (15 mL) white wine vinegar
Steam the beans for 8 to 10 minutes until just tender. Leave to cool. Whisk the oil, garlic and vinegar in a bowl and add the beans, green onions and peppers. Marinate for a two hours or more. Serve adorned with the mint dressing.
½ cup (125 mL) plain yoghurt
½ cup (125 mL) sour cream
½ tsp. (5 mL) paprika
½ tsp. (5 mL) grated lime rind
2 Tbsp. (30 mL) lime juice
2 tsp. (10 mL) liquid honey
1Tbsp. (15 mL) fresh mint, washed and finely chopped
Combine all the above ingredients and blend to a smooth consistency.