Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Vegetables back in Asheville

Another post that I meant to make here, but was posted on Places of the Spirit.  It’s a post about vegetables and heading back to spring.


Saturday, February 15, 2020

Mountain ash fruits

We’ve been admiring the mountain ash trees, in full fruit, outside our living room window and elsewhere.

I think we’ll be heading south before the various birds that eat the fruits arrive, from robins to cedar waxwings, to many others, according to Wikepedia’s account.

They’re tannic-rich fruit, like hollies, so are much more palatable after winter and freeze-thaw cycles, apparently.  Interesting.


Friday, February 14, 2020

A follow-up from yesterday.

My gardening companion shared two great photos that are excellent follow-ups to my post yesterday.

Here’s a photo of me, about to enjoy crepes.

And a close-up photo of the ice fishing village.  He skied closer to it than I did.

Thinking about gardening and creativity

My first volunteer program in March is a 10 am-4 pm workshop about Tapping into the Creative Side of Gardening at the North Carolina Arboretum.

Inspired many years ago by Fran Sorin’s book, Digging Deep: Unearthing your Creative Roots through Gardening, I’ve enjoyed encouraging folks using her approach.  It’s a brilliant one and really brought me back to realizing my own creativity, with gardening and beyond.

A search on creativity in previous posts brought up a number of them, well worth revisiting as I prepare my workshop to come.  It’s a workshop/class that I’ve done before, but here in a snowy winter, it’s been fun to think about gardening to come and what creativity in the garden looks like.

I highly recommend her book; gardening is a creative activity, after all.  She has wonderful suggestions for ways to inspire others (as well as yourself).


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Gardening zones in Canada

Having fun looking at Canadian seed catalogs (based online), I was bemused by the revised map of Canada’s zones posted by Vesey Seed Company.

That dark green area on the lower left third of the sweep towards the Gaspe Peninsula is Rimouski, our nearby big city.  Much to my surprise, supposedly the last frost dates are Oct. 11-20.

That’s just weird.  As a scientist, I’m just figuring that it’s a bit of an anomaly of weather data that created this odd result.

Obviously, the weather is warming here, as it is everywhere, as I’m quite sure Oct. 1-10 weren’t historic last frost dates, for the surrounding region, just like our older USDA temperature predictions are similar.

In the mountains of Western North Carolina, we went from USDA Zone 6a to 6b, probably pushing upwards at lower elevations.

We met a lovely woman out skiing this morning who was so happy to meet us and practice her English.  She grew up in the Eastern Townships, and had moved to Rimouski 6-7 years ago.  She commented that one reason she moved (in addition to having her son and his family in Rimouski), was that the snow simply hadn’t been reliable over the last 15 years in the Sutton area, where she had lived. And she loves skiing.  She was chugging along faster than me on her cross-country skies, even though clearly older than I am.


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Sunday, February 9, 2020

Foodways in Quebec

I just posted this in Places of the Spirit, but perhaps it really belonged here, as it had to do with foodways and vegetables.


I’m writing about parsnips and fingerling potatoes grown in Quebec.

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Thinking about vegetables (and baby butternut squash musings)

One of the new staff members at the English library where I volunteer here in the winter in Quebec is a keen (relatively new) vegetable gardener.  A young mom, in Rimouski since 2012, coming here as a post-doc in microbiology, I think, she has a community garden plot near where we sometimes start skiing (in the winter) or biking (in the summer) along the Sentier le Littoral.

I don't know that community garden, so I'm glad to learn about it and will look forward to seeing it next summer.  She reports that there are about 40 small community garden plots there (with a waiting list) and they have a nice community feel.  Lovely.

She described some pests that I'd never heard of -- a leek moth that attacks garlic, for example.  In my experience, I've never had any trouble with garlic.  But, there are a LOT more leeks in the markets here than back in North Carolina, so that may be the explanation. She described what sounded like cutworms taking out sugar snap pea and spinach seedlings, too.

I'm going to share some of my baby Honeynut Squash seeds with her -- she starts seeds in April and hopefully, she'll share a couple of the transplants with me when I return to Quebec in late May. 

We're not here in spring, of course, to start transplants, and even though I can bring seeds across the border from the U.S. to Canada (not vice versa), transplants in potting mix, well, I'm quite sure that wouldn't happen.

What I mentioned to her is how delicious immature baby butternut squash are, in addition to their delightfully small size.

a green baby honeynut squash (YUM!)
I started growing them as they were great on trellises and resistant to squash vine borers.  Dan Barber, who encouraged their development via a Cornell vegetable breeder, was looking for taste and small size.  They have both.

But basically they're delicious as a young green squash, much better than Tromboncino squash, which is also resistant.  They have a delightful mild butternut squash flavor as a young squash.

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