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.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Hooray for a new cherry pitter

My one-cherry-at-a-time OXO cherry pitter is perfectly nice, but... it's time-consuming to pit an entire collection of cherries like this;  today, we picked about 8 strainers worth, and my gardening companion is out there picking (thank goodness).  Picking cherries is work, and I'm glad to share that.

He just brought in a giant bowl's worth (bigger than the amount in this strainer) and is out there for more.

 So thank goodness, my cherry pitter from arrived today.  It's noisy, but makes short work of cherries, even if it's still one cherry at a time.  It's a LOT faster than the OXO. 

They're going into the freezer, pitted, for winter jams and dehydrated cherries (yum to both).  I've just microwave-dehydrated a batch, too, to go into whole-grain muffins tomorrow.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Saturday, August 3, 2019

A couple of foggy days

The fog was lifting this afternoon as I returned from grocery shopping.  Havre du Bic views were still foggy as I came back by the park;  kayakers were returning from their afternoon excursions, too.

Finishing up my bread baking this evening completes the picture.  Chez Lisa -- boulangerie edition.

Whole-grain bread with walnuts and dried cranberries

A foraged coastal vegetable mystery: solved

A delicious wild-foraged vegetable found at the monthly farmer's market in Le Bic turns out to be Atriplex prostrata (creeping saltbush, fat hen, halberd-leaved atriplex, or orach in English;  in French, epinard sauvage or arroche hastée).

I'd spent time over the last week trying to make it into sea kale (Crambe maritima), as the vendor had told me it was "sea spinach" and I thought it must be sea kale, which is similar in its habitat, but not really in its morphology, so I was skeptical about its identification, especially as the 15+ pg list of native and naturalized plants of Quebec that I'd printed out last summer, didn't include it, although it was historically grown here and there's increased interest in it now, as a perennial vegetable crop.  I'd also seen it grown at Monticello, Old Salem, and in historic British vegetable gardens.

So I was delighted to visit the weekly farmer's market in Rimouski today and discover my mystery vegetable's true identity (it was a delicious vegetable, so I was motivated).  Two vendors were selling it (along with Salicornia, too, as last week's vendor was), although in much smaller packages. It was still pricey, though at $4.50 CA (roughly $3.40 US); we paid $10 CA for the bag last week.

It turned out to be an Atriplex  -- a large genus of both annual and perennial shrubs.

Identification solved!
Not a large bag for $4.50 CA, but it was wild-foraged.
 So, knowing I'd seen quite a bit of Atriplex growing along a nearby beach, I headed over there this afternoon and collected this salad spinner amount of leaves in about ten minutes, collecting large leaves (easier to harvest), and thinking that cooked, they'd be perfect.

collected along a local beach

description in a flora for coastal areas of Quebec and the Maritimes

The taste test will be part of tonight's dinner.  Small, younger leaves vs. the larger ones.  There's a lot more plant geek information that I gleaned along the way about this plant and its distribution, whether it's native or not (not clear), but this species is clearly a ruderal plant that thrives along coasts around the world.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Monarchs and swamp milkweed

An update from a previous post. There are still three (large) monarch caterpillars on our swamp milkweeds in Quebec.  Presumably the other two have pupated somewhere, unless a blue jay, unused to seeing monarch caterpillars, tried them...

Currently two are munching their way down one stem, happily leaving the flower buds to open, with one on another shoot, also eating leaves.

We’ve lost several inflorescences, but still have a few to enjoy, so we’re not complaining.

Hopefully, the adults will still have time to make it Mexico.  Our neighbors had never seen the caterpillars here before, but neither did they have neighbors who planted milkweed.  Common milkweed is throughout Quebec, although has probably become much less abunandant because of pasture and potential previous eradication efforts, if it’s like the US, (because of livestock).. 

I haven’t seen any common milkweed here, in Bas St. Laurent,, although it was abundant through Vermont on a recent visit to Shelburne Farms.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Connecting vegetables with seeds (and names)

It's been fun to think about a program for 6-8 yr-olds about gardening and nature (in English for native French-speaking kids in Quebec).  It's a younger group than I've worked with in the past (the pre-schoolers a week ago, hmm...they were totally unfamiliar!)

The programs are all part of a bi-lingual outreach effort from our local Heritage Bas St. Laurent agency, which sponsors two English-language libraries, in Rimouski, our nearby city, and the village of Metis-sur-Mer.

My French is limited, of course, and the kids are supposed to be learning English, too, but I am familiar about teaching about plants, seeds, and vegetables and their connections!

So, I've rounded up seeds (and vegetables) to match up to what we planted in the garden behind the library in Rimouski, along with the neighboring plot, so we'll venture forth on Saturday to match up vegetables with plants.

It's all about connecting seeds to flowers to fruits.

I'll be taking some scarlet runner bean flowers with me, along with nasturtium and sugar snap peas.  And a head of lettuce, too. All with seeds to match, of course.  

scarlet runner beans on trellis

scarlet runner bean flowers

the first squash flower, with developing fruit

I'm also taking lettuce seeds, corn seeds, cucumber seeds, and bean seeds (along with the results).

Hopefully, it'll be interesting enough after their story-reading time at the library!

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed in Quebec

My gardening companion spotted these monarch caterpillars today and took this photo.  I'd just made a mental note yesterday that the swamp milkweed flowers were about to open.  Totally exciting to see these caterpillars, even if the flowers on this shoot seem to be their primary food source.  Leaves on another shoot were also being eaten.

monarch caterpillars on swamp milkweed
It was a surprise to us;  I'd see monarchs in the Eastern Townships and northern Vermont on a recent excursion, but hadn't see any here.

We're at about the farthest point north that monarchs get, here in Bas St. Laurent, at the base of the Gaspé Peninsula.

Here from Journey North is a distribution map. The arrow indicates where we are.

Monarch range in North America in summer

Monday, July 29, 2019

gardening in Quebec

Some thoughts about gardening and wild foraging posted on my sister blog: Places of the Spirit

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Mushrooms and strawberries

At the local market in the village of Le Bic this afternoon, I saw both Quebec strawberries (from the Ile d’Orleans, near Quebec City, and which have been in the market for awhile) as well as these truly local ones from Bic.


I also saw these beautiful cremini mushrooms from Ontario - perfect.

They have an interesting story.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

I've been doing more posts lately on Places of the Spirit, but this one seems more at home here.

These are peppers that don't appear in our U.S. markets, but I keep seeing them here.  They're called red field peppers, and are grown in Mexico.  They seem to be large red pepper varieties that flourish somewhere in Mexico and are packaged in 4-packs for the markets here.  They're always somewhat unusual shapes; early in summer, they looked more like Italian frying peppers on steroids; now they look like unusual, and oddly shaped, bell peppers.

I chopped up an even more interestingly shaped one this evening.
Red field peppers
This last photograph picked up the bar code on the package, which led to their website, for Frescadel.

I rather appreciate that they're selling peppers that are a bit unusual-looking under the rubric of "field peppers!"

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Lonicera sempervirens

I never expected to see our native (from the Southeastern U.S) Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) in flower next to a historic house in the village of Le Bic, even though our cultivar on the arbor has parentage from it.

It's native to the Southeastern U.S., and is generally well-behaved, although I was sorry to see in this Missouri Botanical Garden characterization, that it's escaping outside of cultivation in some places.

It's pretty darn impressive in this nicely pruned specimen in Le Bic; the perfoliate leaves and abundant flowers attest to the careful pruning.

It's hardy to Zone 4, joining its fellow SE denizens, Baptisia australis and Aesculus pavia, in extending their hardiness WAY beyond their natural ranges.

Coral honeysuckle

Friday, July 12, 2019

Lonicera x 'Mandarin' revisited

I've been admiring the Mandarin honeysuckle on our arbor;  it was a new plant to me last year, and happily is a sterile cultivar, developed by folks at UBC.

There are other lovely honeysuckles here that aren't so benign; a delightful-looking bush honeysuckle (Tartarian honeysuckle) now in fruit is apparently a rampant invasive in Ontario, and has popped up in Parc National du Bic and other "wild" places that we've visited recently.  It's not a species that we grow in the SE United States, so I wasn't familiar with it.  Attractive, but not in relatively undisturbed places.

A closer look at the Mandarin honeysuckle as we left for dinner this evening had us admiring the lovely hue of its flowers.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A trio of cans (for debris, recycling, and compost)

A walk in our nearby village of Le Bic found this remarkable trio of cans.

On the far left is the trash can, with the frowling image.  The middle can is the recycling bin, with the salute image.  The smiling image is reserved for the compost bin.  Delightful!

We don't use our compost bin much, as we have the handy compost in place site down pat (it's over the fence, easily covered with a bit of soil, as needed.  We also have the chicken manure and horse manure site, too, so we have compost covered.

Woody, who's now an old boy at almost 11, is learning how to go up and down a ramp to our cars.  His leg that had the draconian knee ligament reconstruction for big dogs has finally gotten problematic (he was lucky it took this long).

Down is easy, sometimes I have to demonstrate going up for him to follow!

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Another visit to Jardins de Metis/Reford Gardens

Shortly after I arrived in Quebec, we made our first visit to Jardins de Metis on June 6, just about 40 minutes away.  It makes a great excursion, with lunch, coffee, or dinner on the way back.  The scenic drive is along the coast, which takes a bit longer, but we frequently take it back.

We visited for the second time yesterday; it's a wonderful place to visit frequently, as it's filled with unusual horticultural treasures. There had been lots happening over the last few weeks, as you'd expect in a northern climate!

I'm not normally particularly enthused with "collector's" gardens, but Jardins de Metis provides a remarkable array of interesting plants that are unfamiliar to us, from blue poppies to globeflowers to rock garden plants to color arrays of rhododendrons that we'd never see back in the U.S., not to mention an abundance of peonies and shrub roses.  And it's simply charmingly and eclectically gardened, with imaginative combinations of colors and textures in the display beds -- in quite a distinctive style.

The setting is equally lovely, on the edge of the Metis River facing the Gulf of St. Lawrence, complete with the historic house turned exhibit space and lovely restaurant and cafe spaces.

And the lupine meadows -- well, last summer, they inspired my gardening companion to plan on doing lupine beds here at our historic cottage, replacing the weedy variegated Bishop's weed that comprised much of the groundcover plantings around the house.  The lupines he grew from seed in early May are now sturdy young seedlings.

lupine bed near the house
a wonderful apricot-colored Rhododendron

Blue poppy

Trollius europaeus

a Trollius flower

view from the beldevere

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Recycled paper pots (Botanical Interests)

As part of our "swag" at the recent Garden Bloggers Fling in Denver, we received a pack of recycled paper pots from Botanical Interests.

I thought they were interesting, and because the season is so short here in Quebec, planted some edible flowers (nasturtiums) and a few squash seeds (even though it's late for this).

It'll be interesting to see how they work -- I love the idea!  I'm not really concerned about whether I get squash or nasturtiums, just seeing how they break down.  They have a perforated base that makes transplanting a breeze, apparently.  Love that, too.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Growing "warm season" vegetables in cold climates

I have a vivid memory of seeing foldable glass protectors over squash and cucumber seedlings in England.  They were apparently meant to provide a bit of "greenhouse" warmth for what I'd grow as a warm season vegetable in the Southeastern U.S.

Growing tomatoes there -- well, that was a greenhouse endeavor, as far as I could tell.

I loved this small greenhouse full of tomatoes in a rectory garden.

Here in Quebec, I'm musing about how folks manage to grow any tomatoes or peppers.  I guess you're hoping for a heat wave in July and August.

These are lovely temperatures for outdoor activities, but not particularly squash, tomato, cucumber, or basil-friendly!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A growing vegetable garden

Long days and warmer weather (highs between 60°F and 72°F, and up to 75° one day) mean the vegetables in my beds and in the ground are growing rapidly.

It's interesting to see the scarlet runner beans emerging as the soil warms up;  the spinach looks great;  the poor basil plant that I put out early, hmm, it's looking wan.

But kale and lettuce from transplants look great.  The broccoli needs more sun, I think, but looks fine, and the emerging beets, etc. also look good. 

Such a different climate than where I've grown vegetables in the past!

kale, chard, and kohlrabi

wooden container bed with chives, lovage, kale, and kohlrabi

side vegetable bed

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