Monday, September 9, 2019

A late summer harvest

An almost final harvest of beets in my small vegetable garden here in Quebec yielded some nice-looking beet greens, along with a few (very small) beets.  Clearly, more nutrients will be needed next year in this bed!

beet greens and stems
 The scarlet runner beans have been beautiful -- this was probably close to their last harvest, too.

scarlet runner beans with linen bread bag and beeswax wrap in background
Both beet greens and scarlet runner beans will be on the dinner menu tonight, but in cutting up a yellow zucchini and a small bit of cauliflower (both from Quebec), I was reminded of these peppers I bought a couple of days ago, also from Quebec.

peppers from Quebec
I had just picked them up (they were on sale), noticed they were from Quebec (a point of pride and attractive labeling here), and put them in the vegetable bin.  Taking them out this afternoon, I was struck by their lack of uniformity (I guess I thought they had been greenhouse grown, as these sorts of peppers usually are), but then noticed that they were field-grown. 


Where the heck do folks grow "field-grown" peppers in this climate?  Well, apparently, south of Montreal, these vegetable producers do so, and have been doing so for some time.

"a passion for 6 generations" the label says

Remarkable and fun to discover.  I guess the very long days compensate for the cooler temperatures (in terms of pepper production).  Broccoli and cauliflower, I get, but peppers seem a lot more challenging.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Windfall apples

We have two old apple trees, now largely in shade.  They seem to be normally-grown Quebec apples -- largely "cooking" apples for pie and applesauce, Empire, Cortland, and the like.  They're similar to McIntosh back in the U.S.

They're ripening now and dropping in storms such as we had yesterday, so "windfalls" are abundant.

I've chopped up a few to put into muffins and will try to make some low-sugar apple crisps, but geez, making applesauce could get seriously tedious.  We'll see.

I'm mindful of the hand issues that resulted from peeling and chopping LOTS of apples several years back!  I certainly won't be peeling these...

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Scarlet runner beans

I've only cooked a couple of these beans as of yet, but I'm finally harvesting them in a reasonable quantity from the lovely scarlet runner bean trellis.  They started flowering long before they started fruiting, so we're hoping our then resident hummingbirds were visiting the flowers.

I'll be glad to get a couple of side-dishes worth from these plants,  regardless.  It's been a lovely addition to my small veggie garden here in Quebec.

Oddly, one of our summer standouts has been wild-foraged sea spinach (from a nearby beach where it's naturalized).  Here was a recent post about it.  It's ridiculously easy to collect on this beach, where it's abundant.

And it's delicious!

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Squash (and other veggies) in a cold climate vegetable garden

Amazingly, squash seem to thrive here, absent the insect pests that they normally harbor in warmer places.  They grow rapidly in the long days of summer and seem to fruit well. 

This butternut squash in a local community garden in our nearby village of Le Bic is well along, I thought, for late August (of course, frost could come early, so...)

My container zucchini look like they'll produce a few more fruits -- I just planted them late, from seed germinated in the third week of June in Botanical Interest cardboard containers.

And the zucchini, spaghetti squash, etc. at our library vegetable garden have flourished, too.


I just harvested 4 cherry tomatoes, with lots of green ones still on the vine.  And there are finally scarlet runner beans developing, perhaps enough for a nice side dish! 

The broccoli has been interesting;  I'm getting another small head on a second plant, but largely have just had excellent leafy growth.  Broccoli leaves are actually quite good as a green (tastier than collards, in my opinion, even if a bit more chewy), so I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Apricots in late August

This basket of large apricots was on sale yesterday at one of our major supermarkets in Rimouski. 

I'd gone to this one, an IGA, especially to get "wild" blueberries from Lac St. Jean, which our neighbor had alerted us to  - now available for a short few weeks. Wild blueberries (really a cultivated sort of thing at this point) are a major enterprise in this region across the St. Lawrence, but that's another post entirely.

Really quite nice apricots for the end of August

These apricots puzzled me.  They're from the U.S., packaged by a large fruit and vegetable packing firm based in Montreal.  They puzzled me because it's the end of August.  Normally, I see apricots from California in June in the Southeastern U.S.

What the heck were these, and where were they grown?

I didn't find definitive answers via my Google searches, but was surprised to learn that apricot breeding for late hardy varieties (for northern latitudes) has been robust in the western provinces and North central U.S. (Minnesota, Wisconsin, etc.) for some time, not to mention also in Europe, where late-maturing varieties are prized, especially in France.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Squash musings over the years

A group email from our Asheville community garden network had me going back to look at past posts, using the search "tromboncino squash."

The search pulled up a remarkable number of posts, all quite interesting to re-read, reflecting many seasons of growing squash (largely attempting to avoid squash vine borers, which make C. pepo varieties almost impossible to grow in the Southeast without chemical intervention, at least in my experience.  Maybe under row covers and hand-pollination?  But that wasn't ever going to happen.

In my new summer gardening climate in Quebec, the cold winter temperatures mean no squash vine borers.  I have two healthy container zucchini plants, planted VERY late in about the third week of June.  I've harvested two lovely fruits so far, so I'm heartened about next summer's prospects in a sunnier area.

Ditto with my favorite vining baby butternuts!

exuberant baby butternut squash
I'm going to have to plant them EARLY in Quebec next summer to get any fruits, I think.

Those nifty Botanical Interests cardboard seed planters would be perfect to use, for early starting, but... I'd need to be up here early!

I loved using them in early summer for nasturtiums and other summer annuals.

Botanical Interests compostable containers

Monday, August 26, 2019

Great to still be seeing hummingbirds!

I'm the northernmost post towards the east on the beginning of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sharing food

Two posters at a local coffee shop in Rimouski, where we hung out waiting for an oil change for my car.  Telling.

The first poster encourages gardeners to share their fruits and vegetables with local harvesters, if they can't use all of it.

Contact us, this poster says.
 This second one describes fresh/refrigerated food available for all.

Nice. And an always welcome thing to see, being a supporter of food outreach programs in the U.S.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Seeing hummingbirds still, here in Quebec

When I was still at the botanical garden where I used to work, I so enjoyed Journey North, both for tracking hummingbirds and monarchs, but also reporting my sightings.

I was delighted to sign in (on a different account and location here in Quebec) to report that we're still seeing hummingbirds.

That dot in the upper right hand corner of this map is my observation posted this evening, for a hummingbird nectaring.

This was a sighting map (my dot is still almost the farthest north in eastern Canada!  They'll be heading south soon, I'd imagine.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A morning walk

I've been doing more posting over on Places of the Spirit.  A morning walk inspired this post.

Baie du Ha!Ha!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Interesting mushroom-growing kits!

Seen at the local garden center.  Marked down at the end of the summer.  What was remarkable to me was the diversity of mushrooms  available to grow.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A colorful snail

A while ago, these snails were an enormous surprise, along a local bike path.  I wrote about it then.

It turned into what has been my only drawing/watercolor so far this summer. I’d like to get back to drawing at some point!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

A wonderful walk in the Parc national du Bic yesterday

A recently discovered trail from the overflow parking lot to Ferme Rioux (where the main visitor center is now located, in the old historic barn),  brought these delightful images.

I love the lichens, firs, and grasses going to seed.  They’re places of the spirit indeed.

And my favorite walk on Le Chemin du Nord - well, this view from the tea house was great, as usual.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

A musing on raisins

Well, I haven't ever grown grapes, but buying cookies at a local bakery and talking with our neighbors and their son over for coffee and dessert after lunch this afternoon, had me thinking about raisins.

A "pile" of Sunmaid brand raisins

One of the cookies I'd bought was full of raisins - common enough in North America, of course, but I suddenly thought why raisins in Quebec.  (This is not a climate for grapes).

When did they come here and where did they originate, I was wondering?....I'd never thought about the origins of raisins before.   

This California raisin site provided some answers to that question:  they've been around a long time.  I've wondered, too, about why dates are so abundant here in desserts (and cheap, too), but that's a different food story.

There is a native grape here, Vitis riparia, but I'm imagining that it's the European heritage of currants and raisins that has been carried over here in Quebec, in a place prone to sweet and delicious desserts.

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