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.

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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

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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.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Seaside goldenrod

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.

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Monday, August 5, 2019

Vidalia onions

This post perhaps really belonged here, being about onions, but it was also about place.

It's about discovering Vidalia onions (from SE Georgia) in my local market in Le Bic, Quebec today.


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.

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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.

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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!

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