Felt Planters

We like to grow a lot. To the point where we’re running out of space. I realized we needed to take advantage of the endless vertical space we seem to have. After some experimenting and research over the winter, I designed a felt planter to hang on our patio to grow strawberries in.

SAMSUNG

I used EcoFelt which is made from recycled plastic bottles and stands up to the rigours of outdoor life. As the plants grow, their roots are air pruned as they reach the edges of the planter. The felt also helps retain water so the plants never go dry.

We bough strawberry plants from William Dam Seeds, about 25 root stock for $20, and within a few weeks the fruits have developed and we should be tucking into strawberry rhubarb pie very soon!

strawberry

 

There’s been a good bit of interest in these planters, so we’ve decided to put them online for sale on our Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/154871760/felt-wall-planter-envelope

If you want a better deal and want to pickup rather than pay delivery, let me know and we can sort something out. If you time it right, you may walk away with some strawberries to munch on as well.

Canning Garlic Scapes

Back in the fall we planted about 300 hundred hardneck garlic and they’ve been nothing but happy. They are so happy, that they’ve decided to shoot up scapes for us! A scape, in case you’re wondering, is the delicious stem and seed pod that is often overlooked as an edible that forms atop the growing garlic plant. In the spring, the scapes must be removed to prevent the plant from dedicating energy to forming a seed pod rather than the bulb below the ground. Some people leave them on (and complain about small garlic later in the season), some cut them off and let them compost back in, but why waste what is essentially an extra crop?

The happy garlic with their scapes removed. There was some whimpering coming from a few of them.

The happy garlic with their scapes removed. There was some whimpering coming from a few of them.

The scapes can be used as a garlic substitute but seeing as they are seasonal and only last a week in the fridge, you might not be able to get through a glut of them. We harvested 2½lbs, so using them in a week is beyond impossible. My long suffering wife’s grandmother gave me a recipe for jarring them that I’ve modified to create a safer pH level.

Ingredients:

Fresh scapes
3 cups white vinegar (5%)
4 cups water
¼ cup pickling salt

  1. Rinse the scapes. Don’t go crazy scrubbing them. Any bugs will get processed and you’ll never even know they were there. Just remember, accidents happen; there are no true vegetarians. Rinsing just removes any debris holding on.
  2. Put jars onto boil. I add a glug of vinegar to the water which stops minerals from building up on the glass.
  3. Cut the tips above the pods off and compost. The tips are fibrous and not as nice as the rest of the plant.
  4. Cut the remaining part into sections that will fit, stood up, in the jars. To keep things consistent, I put two pieces of tape on the cutting board spaced out at the ideal length for my jars. This anal move will keep your OCD alive and well. Keep any short bits in a separate bowl.
  5. Mix the vinegar, water and salt in a pot and bring to a boil.
  6. Once your jars are sterilized (after 20 minutes of boiling) pack them with scape lengths. Pack them in as tight as you can.
  7. Ladle boiling brine into jars until it covers the tips of the scapes, leaving some head room.
  8. After a minute, or so, the scapes will soften and more can be carefully added to each jar, including the short pieces kept aside.
  9. Wipe the rims of the filled jars, add lids and bands, put them back in your water bath, and process for 45 minutes.

Let them store for a few weeks, crack the seal and enjoy! If you get botulism (and survive) don’t blame the recipe, blame your filthy kitchen.

Scapes cut to length ready to be jarred.

Scapes cut to length ready to be jarred.

I have some extra scapes, still whole, if anyone wants to come by and grab a few to cook with this week. Just let us know in the comments below.

Free Wheel Hoe Plans

Looking for our wheel hoe plans? They’ve moved to our new site Spade & Feather:

http://blog.spadeandfeather.com/?p=112

 

New chickens have arrived!

It’s been a loooooong winter/spring without chickens. We got out of chickens back in the fall and focussed on quail over the winter. Now with a happy covey of coturnix quail outside laying, and a few button quail left indoors ready for sale, we decided on getting four more pullets. After some searching on Poultry Swap Ontario (great forum) and Kijiji, I found the birds we wanted.

I drove up towards Minto to meet with the seller and quickly got lost. Apparently, Google maps has their own names for streets that no other map references or person has ever heard of. With my phone/GPS having seizures on the passenger seat, I was forced to pull over multiple times to ask for directions. Each town sent me to the next town until I saw a sign for Walkerton, 5km. Realizing I was miles off, I rolled up the windows, lost my temper on the steering wheel and cussed until I started to feel better. Thanks to a man at an LCBO (I stopped for directions, not for a drink) I was able to find the farm two hours late.

Fast forward a couple days, a truck cab that smells like nasty chicken turds, and the calling off of my search party, the new ladies are happy at home in the coop. To make for a larger environment for the pullets, I put an addition on the run that also doubles as a potting table. Any dirt or plant matter that falls through the slats is quickly picked apart and devoured by the hens (in theory, not tested yet).

coop addition

The potting table opens up for access to the food and birds

We were lucky to have most of the materials, so total cost was about $25 and a few hours work. The neighbour even gave us free fill to level the bottom out.

The birds we bought are still “chicks” as they’re 10 weeks old. They will start to lay at 18-22 weeks old, so for now they’re just free-loaders not paying their rent. The birds are all New Hampshire X’s (meaning crosses, not exes) and should work out to be relatively good layers, but not to production standards.

nh_pullets2

Hiding from the sun and a decent photo

Each bird is the same breed, but there is some variation in colour. One of the birds is a third red laced, while the others only have hints. The black on the birds is interesting as it has a green iridescence to match the green in their feet.

nh_pullets

“Yeeessssss? Can we help you?”

If anyone is interested in getting some of these birds, let me know and I’ll pass on the seller’s information (and some better directions).