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Grow Your Own Food: Know Your Canadian Gardening Zone

Grow Your Own Food: Know Your Canadian Gardening Zone

Grow Your Own Food  is an information series on gardening in Canada that will get you started on the right foot and help you every step of the way to having the garden you dream of! This series was originally written for and published on the Food Bloggers of Canada.

Grow Your Own Food Know Your Canadian Gardening Zone on Nutmeg Disrupted

Whether it’s a backyard garden, community garden plot or a balcony container garden you’ve decided, 2018 is the year you want to have a garden.  The idea of growing our own food is something most people envision and it is easier then you think. With a bit of information you will have a basis to start planning for Spring.

Canadian Hardiness Zones

The first thing you need to know to grow a successful garden is what hardiness zone you live in. Hardiness zones are based on temperature and climate and are numbered from 0 – 9, zero being the coldest and 9 the hottest. You will also see the designation of a or b.

The purpose of hardiness zones identifies how well plants will withstand the cold in these areas as well as the hardiness and heat tolerance for growing.  Knowing your zone gives you helpful information about what you can and can not grow for a successful harvest. It will save you time and money and is an important number that you need to know.

The hardiness map for Canada will show you exactly the zone you are in and that number will give you valuable information about gardening in your area such as:

  • what plants such as perennials, trees and shrubs are hearty in your area
  • what types of seeds you should buy
  • when to start your seeds
  • how long your growing season is

 

Grow your own Food - Know your canadian gardening zone on Nutmeg Disrupted

It is important to know this number when you start planning your  yard and garden.  Fruit trees, shrubs like blueberries and perennials  can be expensive so you want to be sure to purchase plants that will survive winter in your area.

It is also important because our goal is to pick plants that will also thrive and be able to survive not only the cold but the heat. It disappointing to have a plant freeze but heatwaves can kill plants as well. The next time you are at the garden center take a look at the tag on a tree, shrub or perennial. You will find information about that specific plant, its sun and water needs and its hardiness zone number.

Now you have looked at the hardiness zone map and you have found that you live in a zone 4b. Great, but what does that mean? That means that you should be looking for plants that grow in zone 4b or lower. A tree, shrub or perennial that is marked anything over a 4b will die over the winter from freezing temperatures. The higher the hardiness zone number the less cold tolerant it is.

The Master Plan

This is a good time to create a Master Plan for your yard, garden and flower beds. I like to use a binder and loose leaf paper for my garden plans. It is handy for taking notes and making drawings of the yard and the garden. And it will become a great resource for you to look back at year after year to see not only the evolution of your garden but to look at the notes to see what did or did not work.

A garden binder or master garden plan is especially handy if you have long term plans for the space. Perhaps you are starting from scratch and are looking at tree placement or adding structural elements, a Master Plan makes the vision manageable and helps you identify what projects you want to tackle in the first year.

While it is too early in the season to purchase plants you can now sit down and start planning for the season. If there are trees, shrubs or perennials you have seen and thought that would be great for your space you now have the tools to do a bit of research to see if they are viable options for your zone!

And if you have no idea what you want, pick up a garden magazine. They do not always offer a lot in the way of information but they showcase gorgeous gardens and are a great resource for ideas and inspiration. It is a great way to beat the winter blues and get you excited about the gardening season!

 

 

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Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Gardeners for 2017

Top 10 Christmas Gifts for Gardeners for 2017

December is upon us once again and it is time to start thinking about those on our Christmas lists! This list is not in any particular order and are all items I have used or I would love to have! If there is something you think I need to add to the list I want to hear from you!

The Top 10 Christmas Gifts for the gardener on your list on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

To kick off my new 2018 garden series Grow Your Own Food we will start with a fantastic Top 1o list of gifts that won’t break the bank for the gardener in your life. If you are the gardener in your family these are some great ideas you should have on your Christmas list.

 

Bee Houses

A Bee House is on the top 10 list for Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

Perfect for the backyard to attract and house solitary bees that work tirelessly to pollinate. Solitary bees do not produce honey, live in colonies or have a queen, their main job is to pollinate the plants all around us from fruits and vegetables to the crops grown by farmers. Just one solitary bees activity is equivalent of up to 120 worker honeybees in the pollination it provides. Now that is a powerhouse pollinator that you want to attract to your yard!  A  Bee House is simply an artificial nesting structure that mason bees, and other solitary bees, can use to lay their eggs.

 

Gazing Balls

Gazing Balls are on the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

Gazing balls have a very long history and have been around since the 13th century first being made by Italian artisans using blown glass. Kings first displayed them in their gardens believing they held magical powers and they were thought to have brought prosperity and good luck to the owner. Over time homeowners would place the  globe near the front entrances to ward off bad things like disease, evil spirits and even ghosts. It was thought to keep witches away when placed near the door to the home, thinking witches would see their own reflection and thus be scared away. I may be a bit late to the gazing ball party and would love one of these as an addition to my yard!

 

Woodstock Chimes

Wood Stock Chimes are on the top 10 list of CHristmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

These are the most amazing windchimes I have ever heard and I cherish the set I was gifted. They truly are musical. (taken from their website- In 1979, musician and instrument designer Garry Kvistad founded Woodstock Percussion with a single great idea – to make the world’s best sounding windchime. He’s been creating his world-famous, musically-tuned Woodstock Chimes ever since. Today his company offers a unique variety of high-quality, affordable, musical gifts from around the world that inspire, entertain and bring pleasure to people of all ages.) Garry is behind the design, development and tuning of all Woodstock Chimes.

 

Mother Earth News

Mother Earth News is on the top 10 list for Christmas gifts for the gardener in you life on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

Mother Earth News is the definitive gardening magazine that  provides wide-ranging, expert editorial coverage of organic foods, country living, green transportation, renewable energy, natural health and green building. Every issues is jam packed with topics that inspire, teach and cultivate the passion to live well! A must have subscription for anyone who loves to garden.

 

Berry Scoop

Berry Scoops are on the top 10 list of Christmas gits for gardeners on Nutmeg Disruped

 

 

If you have done any blueberry or saskatoon picking it can be an enjoyable but time consuming and tedious activity.  There is a better way! Let me introduce the berry scoop! It makes it easy to pick large amount of berries much quicker then hand picking individual berries. A must have for any berry enthusiast.

 

Mushroom Growing Kit

Mushroom kits are in the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

 

These kits are absolutely fantastic! In as quickly as 10 days you can grow and harvest a variety of fresh mushrooms right in the comfort of your own kitchen.  They are very easy to care for and it is quite amazing to watch your crop of mushrooms come in! These easy to grow mushroom kits are a must have for any mushroom lover.

Pruning shears

pruning shears are on the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

There is something to be said for a high quality set of pruning shears. These are a must have for any gardener! They make cutting a breeze from trimming branches on trees and shrubs to chopping up amendments for the compost pile or any task the requires cutting. A good set of sharp shears make the job quick and super easy.

 

Terrarium

Terrariums are on the top 10 list of Christmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

Terrariums are a fantastic gift! Gardening under glass is  great way to bring nature indoors, The gardener in your life will be able to create an amazing zen garden that can be enjoyed year round for many years to come.

 

A Gardeners Tool Seat

The Gardeners Tool Seat in on the top 10 list of CHristmas gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

 

These are small portable fold up seats that also house all of your hand held tools, row markers or anything you make use of out in the garden. It helps reduce strain on knees and hips by being able to sit low to the ground for a more comfortable gardening experience.

 

Hori Hori Knife

The Hori Hori Knife is on the top 10 list of Christmas Gifts for gardeners on Nutmeg Disrupted

A Hori-Hori knife, sometimes referred to as a “soil knife” or a “weeding knife”, is a heavy serrated multi-purpose steel blade for gardening jobs such as digging or cutting. The blade is sharp on both sides and comes to a semi-sharp point at the end. This one came highly recommended by the most amazing gardener I know. He has had his for 10 years and said it is the best gardening tool he owns.

I want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a bountiful and prosperous New Year! Be sure to stop back in and follow along with my Grow Your Own Food series throughout 2018. If you have ever wanted to grow your own food but were unsure where to start I will guide you through the entire process from learning about your growing area, what seeds to select and will walk with you from Spring through the harvest in Fall and right up to prepping your yard and garden for 2019.

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Apple Pie Filling

Apple Pie Filling

Surrounded by thick forest, with trees so big you couldn’t wrap your arms around them. The forest floor a cushion of moss, wild flowers and fallen leaves. Rays of sunlight streaming through the tree tops like something out of a child’s fairytale. It  was a little slice of heaven.

That was 18 years ago.

It was where I grew my first garden and had fruit trees. Where the passion for growing my own food was ignited. Where I read as many books as I could to learn how to can and preserve everything I was growing.

Along with all the pickles and jams I made, my most cherished jars were the 9 liter jars of apple pie filling made from the tree out back.

This recipe is super easy all the work is in the prep, but once the apples are peeled the rest of the job is  breeze.

Apple Pie Filling
 
Author:
Recipe type: Preserving
Cuisine: Dessert
Serves: 9 1 liter jars
Ingredients
  • 36 cups of apple, quartered and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1¾ teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Wash, peal and core apples.
  2. To prevent darkening use Fresh Fruit Powder following the directions on the label.
  3. Drain apples and place in a large kettle with the remaining ingredients.
  4. Bring slowly to a boil and simmer until all the sugar is dissolved, stirring constantly.
  5. Pack into hot jars leaving 5cm of headspace.
  6. Seal and process in a hot water bath for 25 minutes.
  7. Remove jars and allow to cool completely.
  8. To make a pie line a pie pan with pastry.
  9. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of cornstarch.
  10. Add one jar of filling and sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of cornstarch.
  11. Cover with pastry, seal edges and cut vents.
  12. Bake for 10 minutes at 425F then reduce to 350F and bake for 30 - 40 minutes.
  13. Makes 9 - 1 liter jars of pie filling

 

Canning apple pie filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

 

Cooking apples for pie filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

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Beet Leaf Holubtsi

Beet Leaf Holubtsi

When I plan my garden I have a few must have veggies that are top priority in my kitchen.

Number one on that list is beets.

Fresh beets from the garden.

Beets are the more versatile vegetable I grow. I use the entire plant, and especially love the leaves. You can use the baby leaves in salads or wash and freeze them for smoothies. But to truly enjoy them allow them to grow a little longer until they are about 2 1/2 inches wide. The perfect size for rolling them around a creamy rice, bacon, dilly onion filling.

I have been making Beet Leaf Holubtsi for years. The tender leaves make the perfect blanket for the rice with fresh dill and onions. Bacon is NOT required but makes a nice addition to the rolls.

They are finished off by topping them with a bit of butter and baking them in whipping cream with some shaved onion.

I like to pick the leaves the day before, Wash the leaves and place on sheets of paper towel to dry. Once dry I put them in a large bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and leave them in the fridge over night. The next day you will find them lightly wilted and ready for rolling. I have read of a few methods of wilting the leaves, from freezing them to placing them in the oven. I have tried the oven method with okay but very time consuming results. Just pop them in the fridge for the night. Trust me.

 

Beet Leaf Holubtsi

beet leaves

2 cups of white rice

2 tablespoons of butter

6 slices of bacon – diced

1 medium onion – chopped

whipping cream

fresh dill

salt & pepper

Prepare the rice according to the package directions.  Meanwhile fry bacon, after 5 minutes add 1 tablespoon of butter and chopped onion. It is done when the bacon is crisp. Pour the bacon and onions, over the rice. Add a generous amount of freshly chopped dill and stir to combine. Now is a good time to season with salt and pepper.  Add a 1/4 cup of whipping cream, stirring until it all becomes creamy.

Beet leaf holubtsil filling on Nutmeg Disrupted

Place a beet leaf on a cutting board and trim the bottom part straight across to remove the stem. Place a generous teaspoon of filling on the trimmed edge of the beet leaf and roll it towards the tip. Gently place the roll in a greased/buttered baking dish. Repeat until you have used all the leaves and filling.

Beet leaf holubtsi on Nutmeg Disrupted

*They are not rolled like cabbage rolls when in when making cabbage rolls you tuck the edges in when rolling. It is fine to leave the edges of the beet leaf holubtsi open.

Beet leaf holubtsi on Nutmeg Disrupted

Pour whipping cream and a few teaspoons of shaved onion over the rolls just until lightly covered. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chive Blossom Vinegar

Chive Blossom Vinegar

When I moved up north the yard I ended up with was in dire need of much love and tlc. It truly required a complete redo from the trees and shrubs right down to the lawn. Everything had to go. The only original section of the yard is a tiny 1×3 foot section in the back which is now my herb and bulb starting garden. And that is strictly because of the chives that grow there.

Growing chives in the Nutmeg Disrupted garden.

I love to use them in everything and it is always the first taste of spring to come from my yard.

Somewhere last summer I seen a picture of a bottle of deep magenta colored vinegar made from chive blossoms. Seriously, a genius idea. And I immediately headed out back to pluck a handful of pungent purple flowers.

Fresh chives with blossoms on Nutmeg Disrupted

I gave them a quick rinse then allowed them to air dry.

 

Chive blossoms for vinegar on Nutmeg Disrupted

I filled a jar full of blossoms and covered them with regular white pickling vinegar. Store someplace dark for 2 weeks.

Steeping chive blossom vinegar on Nutmeg Disrupted

Strain and bottle.

It is fantastic! The blossoms give the vinegar an almost sweet onion aroma and the flavor is rich, tangy pure onion goodness.

vinegar

 

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