Thursday, May 26, 2011
The vegetable seedlings are fully planted and now they can grow into glorious plants with loads of fresh veggies waiting to be picked, right from my own backyard! I only have a small space in the backyard where I can plant veggies directly into the ground, so I decided to plant the tomatoes there and do the rest in containers. As you can see here, I have all of my peppers and herbs up on the deck. I decided to buy some raised shelving units just so I didn't have pots sitting directly on the deck. I found this shelf in the garage/automotive section of Walmart for a very low price of $29 - it is designed to be one 5-shelf unit, but I broke it down into a couple of shelves to allow the plants to get more sun.
Here are the tomatoes. It is a bit tricky to see from the picture as there are tons of pink petals all over the ground. Our neighbor has a beautiful large cherry tree in their backyard that is blossoming, and the tree shades part of our backyard. We have tons of pink blossoms all over our backyard and it looks so pretty! Hopefully the tomato plants don't mind!
Here is a closer-up view of the peppers, plus a snow pea plant that already has a very tiny cute snow pea growing on it.
Two balcony container planters full of herbs - you can read about them in detail if you'd like on my Richter's Herbs blog post from last week. You can also read more about the veggie plants that I bought from Urban Harvest in this blog post.
This is my first time growing veggies in the new house and I have had great successes in the past, so hopefully this year is as good as ever! Let me tell you, I haven't had to water the plants much as it has been raining here non-stop these past few days.
We like to feed the birds in our backyard, but occasionally, we will have other outdoor wildlife visit as well. Here is a picture that I took of a chubby bunny, munching happily on dandelion leaves. My apologies that it is a bit far away, I took the photo from inside the house as I didn't want to scare him away! If you click on the image, you can get a larger view.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Searching around online for local organic vegetable plants was rather difficult. I wanted to buy plants that were non-genetically modified, organic and heirloom varieties. Not only would I love access to fresh veggies from my own backyard, but if I am going to the trouble of growing veggies, I would like them to be non-GMO and free of pesticides.
I visited the retail location of Urban Harvest and found an amazing selection of organic veggie plants and seeds. They have a wonderful philosophy and commitment to saving our seed heritage. They also only sell open-pollinated varieties so you can save your own seeds. Their selection is quite diverse with over 350 varieties of seeds and they have been operating for 15 years.
I picked up the following organic, heirloom, and even some endangered varieties: Sweet Pepper Carmagnola Yellow, Little Bells Sweet Pepper, Chinese Five Colours Hot Pepper, Red Cayenne Pepper, Hungarian Wax Hot Pepper, Variegated Fish Hot Pepper ( apparently these will have stripes!), Tom Thumb Snap Peas, Matt's Wild Cherry Tomato, Rona Tomato, Baxter's Bush Cherry Tomato, and Principe Borghese Tomato.
I will be planting everything over the weekend, provided that we have good weather. I can't wait to start up my veggie garden again! A sure sign that Spring is here and Summer is around the corner!
I should also mention that the retail shop of Urban Harvest is in the West end of Toronto. They have their seeds at multiple retail locations near Toronto and you can order online as well. If you would like to purchase seedlings like I did, I highly recommend visiting their store. There are so many types of tomatoes and plants, you won't be disappointed!
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Monday, May 16, 2011
Today after work, I drove out to the country, beyond Toronto and Markham to Goodwood, Ontario. What's out there, you may ask? A wonderful gem called Richter's Herbs is worth the drive!
There are so many unique varieties of herbs and seeds there; everything and anything you could possibly want! They grow the herbs there and they don't use harmful pesticides, plus many plants are organic.
I can't wait to plant some of these outside, or transplant them to bigger pots. It will be wonderful to have access to fresh herbs again! I purchased: Pedro Perpetuo Basil, African Spice Basil, Oriental Breeze Basil, Rex Rosemary, Greek Oregano, Lady Lavender, Vietnamese Cilantro, and Salad Burnet. As for seed packets, I bought Cilantro, Chia, Thai Basil, plus Mizuna, Green Leaf French Purslane and Salad Bowl Lettuce to grow indoors as I am going to try to grow some microgreens.
If you're not in the area, they have an online catalog and they do mail orders! What an amazing greenhouse full of herbs (also, a friendly orange cat was following me around the greenhouse, who instantly captured my heart!). Now, just to buy my veggies soon and it will be time to plant my garden!
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Saturday, May 14, 2011
I have been so busy at work that I haven't even had time to blog! Last week, Paul and I had an amazing homemade vegetarian sushi dinner that I took some pictures of and just had to share! The seaweed salad was store-bought, but the sushi was lovingly handmade and then devoured by us! We made kappa maki (cucumber rolls) and inari sushi, which is rice inside a tofu pocket. Paul found the tofu/soy bean curd pockets at a Korean grocery store near his work. It was exciting to make the sushi that we normally order at a restaurant in our own kitchen!
For our cucumber rolls, we also added green onion because we had some in the fridge. The mild onion and cucumber combination was delicious! The inari sushi pockets came with a small seasoning packet of sesame seeds, dried onion and dried carrot that you add to the top of the rice.
For preparation directions on how to make sushi, I'm sure you could find them just by searching on google, but I also highly recommend a book that we own called Vegetarian Sushi by Brigid Treloar. It has step-by-step instructions on how to prepare the rice and roll the sushi with large pictures. There are also lots of great vegetarian sushi ideas! You can pretty much roll any veggies that you like into the sushi rolls, but there are some really innovative types of sushi that can be made with ingredients that you find in the Asian section of your local grocery store. I must admit that the tofu pockets aren't readily available in your local grocery store, but if you have any kind of Asian grocery store near you, you should be able to find them.
We also enjoyed a special bottle of wine with dinner that we purchased while on our Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine Tour vacation last summer - a Cabernet Franc Rose from Pondview Winery. It was such a delicious and special dinner that we made together and enjoyed together!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Yesterday, I spent the afternoon with my sewing machine and made some new curtains for our upstairs bathrooms. We bought these fabrics from Ikea: Pink bird fabric for my bathroom and this bird/tree fabric for Paul's bathroom. I am a brand new sewer and sewing machines have always scared me a little bit - this goes back to my days of middle school home economics classes, attempting to sew a pair of shorts with the sewing machine making awful sounds at me. I am so new to sewing that I had to literally go step-by-step to wind the bobbin and threading the needle. By the end of the afternoon, not only had I conquered basic sewing, but I have these awesome curtains made and hanging up in our bathrooms!
These are the curtains hanging in Paul's bathroom. He has a bit of a tree theme going with the brown tree shower curtain, so these curtains match perfectly - trees and bird houses with a pale pink bird on each side.
The curtains themselves were very easy to make and would be a breeze for anyone who sews on a sewing machine. You could probably even hand-stitch these, although it would take quite a while. Each curtain has two panels, as you can see a bit more clearly in this photo:
Cut two pieces of fabric to the size of your window, allowing a bit of extra space around each side for the seam. Put the fabric inside out, with the right sides facing each other. Stitch around the entire outside of the fabric on the sewing machine, leaving the top completely open, plus a few inches from the top going down each side (you need to leave an open space where you will slide the top of the curtain on the curtain rod). Turn the fabric right side out. On each fabric piece, sew the seams along the sides that were left unstitched previously (don't sew the two pieces of fabric together, just fold over the fabric to create a clean seam on each side). Then, on each piece of fabric, make a clean seam by folding over the top of the fabric and sewing along each top side. Then, sew both top pieces together. Lastly, sew straight across the fabric from side to side, from the bottom of one opening to another. Slip the curtains over the curtain rods and you're done!
These last photos show how the curtains look during the day with a bit of sun coming through the window. My bathroom with the pink curtains has a wonderful dark pink glow to it now!