Cooking, gardening, and coexisting with nature are funny things to think about as hobbies. They’re the mechanics of survival! But they can also be fun, and satisfying, and that’s what this weekly post is all about!
Hey out there! This is the first in a series of weekly posts about Life! You know, that mostly green thing all around you.
For most of my life, I’ve been cooking for myself. I haven’t always had the best relationship with nature, but I think it’s okay right now. And then there’s the garden….
This post will be almost all about the garden with a little bit up front about strawberries!
Strawberry season is here, and I shelled out for decent quantity of local ones. If there’s someone who wants to drive me to a farm, I’m right there, but until that happens, I have to rely on the nearby shops.
This time it was Kin’s. 2 big flats. $35 total. Pretty fantastic berries though.
From them I made a straight-up strawberry sorbet. Raw berries blended with sugar syrup and churned in the machine. I have a long-serving ice cream machine. I will probably write about it a lot.
I also made a nice coulis, or thin jam sauce, out of the berries and sugar. The coulis went into 2 batches of ice cream. One was a regular base with pandan extract, the other with lemon extract.
Most ice creams are the same recipe as a vanilla with the extract (or real bean) swapped out for a similar, powerful little shot of flavour. You can even use a liqueur.
I kept some of the coulis back to top an angel food cake I made. Strawberry season is the best. Next year I have to consider growing them.
Strawberries are one of the few things I could grow that I haven’t tried. I expect to have to fight local creatures for them.
We live in Vancouver, BC, Canada, and we’re pretty close to downtown. Getting approval for garden space outside our apartment took a long time, but now I can’t imagine life without it.
We have a long, narrow space that doesn’t get a lot of sun. We set expectations pretty low and made a ton of mistakes the first year, but we still managed to get a lot of food. This is year 2, and we’re still making tons of mistakes, but things are looking much better than in year 1!
Of course you want pictures!
Here’s a row of containers, soaking up some afternoon sun. Closest to the camera are eggplants. Past them are okra, then some bell peppers, and a container of chard.
This gives a sense of how wide of a space we’ve got to work with. Up close are several of our potato bags, almost totally obscured by leaves. Past them are a trellis…
…Which has pattypan squash (3 colours!) and 2 kinds of beets.
Past them are a couple of large containers of zucchini. In amid most of these containers and such are last year’s kale plants, slowly going to seed. I’m slowly harvesting the seeds to plant, some this summer and some next year.
Not sure what this purple stuff is. It just grew. The hummingbirds love it. You can see one of our fading alliums at far left. Between them is a one of a few random potato plants that came up in various places.
This is one of the bigger beds, bordered with cinderblocks. These are onions and leeks. This bed also had spinach and bok choy in it, but we’re down to one lowly spinach. I think it’s just too hot.
This is the same bed, where we have peas and nasturtiums. The peas are climbing the pea net here. I eat a lot of fresh peas.
This is one of 7 potato bags. You plant seed potatoes, or grocery store potatoes with eyes, in a shallow layer of earth in the bag to start, then add earth as the plants grow. This encourages them to grow potatoes in each layer, so the whole bag is full. We did it last year and it worked pretty well. This year we simply added bags. You can also see our rain barrel and our 2 compost bins.
An early success story this year has been the Jerusalem artichokes, or sunchokes, seen here towering over all the other plants. I’m really excited to eat these, and if they do this well, they’ll get lots of space next year.
Another potato bag, and a couple of containers of brassicas. Those are the family of plants that include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and others. The leafier one on the right is rapini, or broccoli raab. The left one was traditional broccoli. Was. Birds got it good. If you look close, closer than this picture allows, you can see hundreds of little beak bites. I have no idea what got into the local birds, to go to town eating broccoli leaves, but they do. There’s a feeder. I feed them good quality seed. If it’s them getting their greens, how am I supposed to argue with that?
I have a long trellis of peas, beans and sunflowers. While intentions were good, how I configured the planting worked against me. I know how to do it in future, but this round of everything will struggle a bit.
The peas needed to be planted at the very base of the trellis, and the others spaced away from it. I did the opposite. The peas are pulling the sunflowers down, but a lot of beans are poking through. I can plant peas again in the late summer, which will make up for it.
This is asparagus! Year 1, so not harvestable. Next year should have an ok yield, and then year 3 is the year. I cultivated it inside, and I’m so happy to see it doing well.
This is a grape vine that is starting to figure out the trellis behind it. On the right, in the container, is a tomato. I went with a green one. I can still cook with them, and maybe the squirrels will leave them alone. In behind is one of 3 cultivation trays I’ve got going with various sprouts.
This bed of carrots and radishes isn’t doing so great. There’s a tree overhead that has exploded with leaves and blocked a lot of the sun. I think something else will probably take the spot. Likely kale.
Finally we have a pea next to a tree! These are out next to the curb, on public property. I planted them. We did a string trellis on the tree and the peas, some beans, and some nasturtiums are climbing it. We’ve had some positive comments, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a lot of food gardens in the neighborhood going forward.
Tonight I had rapini, chard, beet tops, and peas with dinner. All from the garden. I’m going to have to find a way to deter those birds and other creatures, but I expect to have fresh vegetables almost every day for the rest of the summer.
So that’s it for this week! Let me know in the comments if there’s something you want more info about, or a topic you want me to focus on going forward! Thanks for reading!