Friday, July 22, 2016

Garden Update: Mid Summer

My garden is hopping (the endless sun seems to really help!) I've been harvesting kale like crazy as well as tons of lettuces. I *finally*thinned my carrots and made a pint of refrigerator pickled carrots with the thinned plants. I've even harvested a few small zucchini.

My garden is still a bit thin when compared to other folks in my community garden site but I think this is a wonderful and successful first garden!  

Friday, June 17, 2016

Garden Update: First Harvest (16 June 2016)

I harvested enough kale and green onions to make a very delicious salad yesterday! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Garden Update

As I stated in my Garden Planning For Newbies! post, my garden goal for this year was that if... 'one plant grew in my plot then I had a successful gardening year'. As the beautiful photos of baby kale sprouts show, I'm well on my way to success!

I planted these 'Red Russian Kale' on 2 May 2016 - which is remarkably early for Yellowknife - under home made pop bottle cloches. That seemed to work remarkably well as they guys have lived through several frosts. As the weather has warmed up they have been doing even better! 

Another project I tried in the garden this May was the use of olla pots - which are simply buried clay pots as a form of irrigation. I picked up some unglazed terra cotta pots from the store and buried them in the garden. They seem to be working quite well and have been keeping my kale nicely watered. 

This is my first year gardening so I wasn't even sure I would enjoy it - but thankfully I love everything about gardening. Every time I see those baby kale sprouts I get really happy! I did a big planting a few days ago so hopefully I'll have a lot more updates at the end of next month. 

How is does your garden grow? 


Friday, May 20, 2016

Willow Wreath

We went exploring in the JEEP and found a road that is completely surrounded by willows. Willows will be an important part of life on our homestead as we plan to coppice willow for heat and cooking and I hope to weave willows into fences and baskets for functional use around the property. I decided to explore willows so we purchased some shears and went back the next day.

This unequal wreath was surprisingly easy to put together as willows are remarkably pliable!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Brewing Ginger Beer

Brewing has been on the to-list for a few years now. We purchased a bunch of equipment when I still lived in Toronto and it's been through a few moves now. I did attempt a few batches of all-grain but they never really worked out - my husband insists that the fact that I winged my own recipe has something to do with this failure. That can't possibly be true as all the books say 'if you can make lasagna, you can make beer!' 

Those failed beer attempts really zapped my enthusiasm for brewing so we decided to start slowly with a non-alcoholic extract ginger beer kit. This was meant to test our sanitation process and to boost brewing related skills.

It was a success! We have 5 gallons of bubbly, clean tasting, ginger beer in our fridge at the moment. 

Now to order in some supplies for an all grain beer recipe! Onwards and Upwards! 

Friday, May 6, 2016

DIY Reclaimed Wood Bench with Manual Hand Tools!

Construction skills are going to be an important part of life on the good ole homestead and my history with successful woodworking includes a failed MDF shelf project and a hammer that was used exclusively for hanging artwork so I really needed to improve my prowess with a hammer and nails.

We needed a bench for the front entryway of our apartment so I decided to give it a go!  

There is a well-established scavenging culture here in Yellowknife so I was able to get the majority of the wood for this project from free pallets. Free wood reduced the stress level of this project a lot because if it didn't work out I had not wasted money but only time. 

I decided to use manual hand tools (hammer, saw, sandpaper) instead of purchasing electric hand tools because the upfront costs of those tools is great and because we will be off-grid on the farm so I want to reduce my reliance on electricity for these types of projects. Manual hand tools are time and labour intensive but they are safer than electric tools. 

The bench turned out surprisingly sturdy which I think was due to the over-kill support but this bench can hold my husband and I and seems to be very stable! A success all around!  

I posted a lot of photo updates of the project on my instagram and I'll be including rough plans in the 2016 edition of Almanac 84

Friday, April 29, 2016

Bread Baking Day: Tips

Many moons ago I volunteered and then worked for an artisan sourdough bread business in Toronto. I really feel in love with bread - I loved everything about that time. The smell. The feel. The taste. The way I'd smell of fresh baked bread and sweat on the subway ride home after an exhausting 12 hour shift. It was really wonderful.

After I moved on from that job, I grew my own sourdough starter and started baking at a home scale on a regular basis but I soon simply stopped baking bread. We usually did not purchase bread so I wasn't stressing over the lack of freshly baked bread in the house. However, since moving to Yellowknife we've been purchasing three loaves of bread every week or so. We get a nice full grain one for sandwiches, a sweet one for the toaster oven, and usually some bagels because really... bagels!

So I've decided to take the plunge again and start baking bread on a regular basis.

1. Pick a casual day to become the regular bread baking day. It usually takes a few hours to go from yeast and flour to fully baked bread so it's best to plan bread baking for a day usually spent in a casual manner. This is especially important for me as I don't like to leave the house while I have bread rising or proofing - I'm just a bit overprotective of my dough!

2. Start small. Don't worry about replacing all of the family's bread intake immediately. Focus on slowing reducing purchased bread while increasing home made bread.

3. Read. Take bread books out of the library. There are a plethora of bread baking books with various techniques and advice (sometimes contradictory) and combined they offer a great resource.

4. Experiment. Don't just make plain white sandwich bread. Experiment with various traditional and unusual recipes. Experiment with pan shapes and free-form loaves.

5. Pantry Staples. After a few weeks of bread baking you'll know what times of grains, flours, and additives you need to keep in your pantry. Keep your pantry stocked with these items so that you can easily bake family favourites as well as experimenting with recipe variations.

6. Leftovers. On occasion, not all of your glorious home made bread will be consumed before it becomes hard so develop a few recipes that use up bread crumbs and stale bread (stuffing!)