Category Archives: Gardening

Dehydrating Swiss Chard

I have a garden full of Swiss chard more than I can possibly eat at the moment so I decided to dehydrate some and thought I’d share how I did this. From what I could find out from the Internet and from some books I have, it’s best to blanch the Swiss Chard before dehydrating it. The times vary from one site to the next from around three minutes to just dipping the leaves in briefly. Since I have oxalate kidney stones boiling the swiss chard helps to remove some of the oxalate in the leaves so I timed the blanching for three minutes. I can understand why another source said to briefly dip the chard into the boiling water as the stuff kind of turns to mush and is hard to spread out. The chard doesn’t take that long to dry about four hours depending on your machine and humidity.

swiss chard
Deveining the leaves.

Pot of boiling water
Pot of boiling water ready for blanching.

blanched chard
Blanched chard, it reminds me of cooked spinach.

Excalibur dehydrator
Excalibur dehydrator.

american harvest nesco dehydrator
Nesco American Harvest dehydrator. This dehydrator is a great little dehydrator, its cheaper than the Excalibur and dries well. The drawbacks are that you have to rotate the trays more often than the Excalibur and the trays are more fussy to clean. It is quieter than the Excalibur, much quieter.

chard on Excalibur drying tray
Swiss chard on Excalibur tray. This tray takes more to fill it up than the Nesco dehydrator.

chard on american harvest tray
American Harvest tray. These trays are stackable from four to eight trays.

chard in excalibur dehydrator
Trays in Excalibur.

dried chard
Dried Swiss chard.

food saver with vacumm attachment
Food Saver with vacuum attachment for canning jar.

chard in bottle
Dried chard in vacuum sealed bottle. It should last for about a year and I’ll be using it for soups and stews.


My Garden is Blooming

I ran outside today to get some pictures of the garden while the peonies are blooming. This year I actually got the big cages around the peonies before they grew to big so they are nice and upright instead of the flowers drooping in the mud. I also took pictures of some red poppies, a little bumble bee that had expired, strawberries, lupine, columbine, nettle, red baby spinach and some kind of grass that grew from the straw I put down.

I’ve also included a couple of pictures of my new sewing machine. I have a mega quilter but it only does straight stitch and reverse. I wanted a machine that was portable so when I go on vacation or class I can carry it easily. This is a simple machine but does have some nice features and it’s made for quilters but I can use it to sew clothes as well, it’s the Husqvarna H-class 100Q.













white peony with fly








Garden stuff 2013

I’ve had a busy summer and I haven’t kept up with the gardening work but I am doing better than I have in previous years. Of course the garden is about 50% weed at the moment and 25% pumpkin and squash vines. Who knew that pumpkin and squash vines were so vigorous, well I did know that I’ve just never experienced it before so it kind of amazes me every time I go down to the garden and I discover just where the vines have grown for the day.

Anyhow here is a slew of pictures no explanations needed.

plum tomato on patio
Plum tomato on patio.

patio beans
Patio beans.

jalepeno peppers
Patio jalapeno pepper.

herb garden
Herb garden.

thai basilThai basil?

sweet basil
Sweet Basil.

garden plus weeds
Garden and weeds.




pumpkin and squash vines
Pumpkin and squash vines.

pumpkin growing in chicken wire
Pumpkin growing in chicken wire.

pumpkin growing inbetween wire and frame
Pumpkin growing inbetween wire and frame.

pumpkin turning orange
Small pumpkin. They start off this shape and then flatten out.

small pumpkin
Pumpkin turning orange.


Gardening 2013

Took some pictures of the garden. There is still a lot of work to be done but hopefully the weeding will get done sometime in the next couple of weeks. I hope to have some more pictures later on in the summer to see how the progress goes.

Seedling on deck
Seedling starts on deck. Tomatoes are rather large.

More potted transplants
More potted transplants.

Potted peppers and tomatoes
Potted peppers and tomotoes (Brandywine and Beefstake).

Containers of beans, cukes, tomatoes
Containers of Beans, cukes, tomatoes, spinach, lettuce mix.

Deck garden
Deck garden filled with various perennials and herbs.

Corner garden with hosta and lilies
Corner garden with hosta lilies, tiger lilies, lily of the valley and phlox.

Side fence garden with hosta and bleeding heart
Fence garden with hostas and bleeding heart. Also filled with tulips and hyacinth in spring, rather overgrown at the moment.

Side fence garden
Side fence garden.

Side fence garden forsythia
Side fence garden, forsythia.

Main garden tomatoes
Main garden tomatoes – Brandywine, Beefstake and italian plum.

Main garden iris
Main garden purple iris.

Main garden red poppy
Main garden red poppy.

Main garden overgrown
Main garden overgrown, peonies, shasta daisies, japanese anemonies, echinacea.

Corner main garden overgrown
More weeds.

Top planter peas and onions
Top planter peas and onion.

Peas main garden
Peas another shot.

Caged garden peppers, strawberries
Caged planter with peppers and strawberries.

Bottom planter lettuce, beets, carrots, garlic, onions
Bottom planter in main garden with lettuce, carrots, beets, garlic, onion, radish.

Main garden raspberries
Main garden raspberries.

Lower garden
Lower garden.

Lower garden delphiniums
Lower garden delphiniums.

Lower garden poppies and peonies
Lower garden poppies and peonies.

Lower garden overgrown
Lower garden one corner left to weed contains pampas grass (or the equivalent).

Lower garden peonies
Peonies at other end of lower garden.

Rhubarb under the maple trees.

More rhubarb
More rhubarb.

Looking up towards house main garden
Looking up towards the main garden and back of my home.


Oven Towels Done

Well I finally finished all of the towels for the shower in August. I ended up crocheting 28 towels and giving away two for the oven towels tutorial so I have 26 left for little thank you gifts for the wedding shower guests.

Oven towels for wedding shower.

I took a photo of the poppies so that people could see the after picture. My flowers have turned out nice this year but there is always the problem of trying to stake them so they don’t fall over. I haven’t figured out how to do that with the poppies, oh well.

Poppies, one of three beds.

I received the swirl swap in the mail that we did last month. I did this same swap last year as well so I now have enough squares to make a quilt but I’ll hold off on that until after I finish beading the scarves for the bridesmaids but I thought I’d post a picture so people could see the different colours.

Swirl swap 2008

And finally I’m posting a picture of the material I received from “Thousands of Bolts”. I had placed a small order a few weeks ago and was pleased with the quality of the fabric so decided to order more. Well because I live in Canada and the online store is based in the states shipping costs are always a factor so it was cheaper per metre to order 30 yards instead of six at a time so yes I ordered 30 yards. Needless to say I was so pleased I ordered another 30 and I’m waiting for them to show up in the next couple of days, then I can probably safely say I’ll call it quits for quite a while until I use up some of the fabric.

30 yards of assorted colours from Thousands of Bolts (well not actually I seem to have chopped off a few yards when I took the picture).

The fabric on average is around $3.85/4.15 yard for cottons and around $5.95 yard for batiks. With the taxes and shipping it works out to less than $6.00 yard which is far cheaper than what I’d pay here at the fabric or quilt store; it’s even cheaper than Walmart, which by the way is closing down the fabric department in their stores in our area.

I’ve checked around the Internet and these are pretty good prices. I wouldn’t be ordering the fabric otherwise. Some of the fancy name brand fabrics go for around $9.95 yard and thats a bit to rich for my blood. The quilt would have to be pretty special for me to out-lay that kind of money especially for buying fabric over the Internet rather than in person. I’m not even sure I could get the same prices if I crossed the border and bought at JoAnn’s so I’m happy.


Garden Flowers

Well the weather for May was unseasonably cool but it didn’t bother me because I’m not very partial to heat but today we got socked with temperatures up in the high eighties. I’m not too sure what the high was because I stopped looking at 10:30 a.m. when it was about 86 degrees Fahrenheit (yes I’m old school it should be in Celsius).

Anyhow I rushed down to take some pictures of the poppies in the garden because with the heat I’m sure they will be blooming soon. The couple of iris buds that were closed yesterday where open today and and I do have one red poppy showing. It should be a real treat in the next couple of days when they all pop open and I wanted to have a record of it.

Along with the flowers starting to bloom the weeds have come back with a vengence. It took about 3-4 weeks of work on the gardens to get them dug and weeded but you wouldn’t know it. The thistles have really deep roots and they’ve all come back including some in the raised bed that got put in. John sprayed them with round-up today, well most of them so I’ll leave them alone for a couple of days then dig them out. There doesn’t seem much point in digging out the weeds to turn around in three weeks and do it again. We’ll see if this works.

I got carried away taking pictures so here are a few.

One of the poppy beds in the back garden.


Star Columbine.

Purple Iris.

Raised Bed with a sorry assortment of veggies.

Some strawberries in second raised bed.

The dreaded thistles.

Pampas grass, it never seems to do well and always takes forever to come up after winter. Two miserly blades.

Cosmos, there must be a dwarf variety because these don’t seem to grow over a foot tall.

Forget-me-nots. These were growing outside the garden border as weeds. They will take over the garden if you let them and despite ripping them all out they’ve managed to find a spot to grow.

Columbine the usual variety.

Bleeding Heart.

I forget the name of this one, just that I bought it for shade.

I have other plants growing but I’ll save those for a rainy day?


Almost done…

Well I’ve been very busy this past week working on gardening. I’m almost done as today (hopefully) will see the last of the beds dug and some tubers planted – big leafy things – the name of which I can’t remember but I’ll be sure to post a picture when they’re up.

I planted red geraniums and yellow marigolds in the front bed. I also planted some purple flowers that I haven’t a clue what they are. They look like a cross between a daisy and a chrysanthemum. The hubby and I had put in some mulch, it’s a bit too orange for my taste but hopefully it will fade as the summer progresses. The front is very colourful at the moment. The side of the house it is very hot and receives little rain so I put in some portulagas since those flowers do well in hot sun.

Yesterday I finished planting the containers on the deck with marigolds, impatiens, alyssum and another small trailing purple flower whose name eludes me at the moment. I then spruced up the two beds in front of the deck and finished planting the rest of the leftover flowers.

Ivy geranium, a very different looking one at least to me.

I worked on helping my husband build the frame for a new raised bed. I stained/painted the boards, which was a new experience for me because I’ve never worked with stain before and it runs very easily but since this is only for the garden its no big deal if there are a few unsightly blobs.

Raised bed square and leveled in the garden ready for planting.

I’m hoping to get three more of these raised beds installed and then goodbye to massive turnings of soil in the spring and hopefully less sore backs from extreme stooping and bending. The new bed is about half garden soil and half new soil – black earth, peat moss mix and manure from the nursery so it should be a lot easier to work with and provide more nutrients for the plants.


Beaded scarf continued…

Well I finally finished one end of the scarf and got the main garden all turned over and dug up yeah! It’s been very rainy for the last couple of days so I’m going to have to wait until I start planting but that’s okay considering the tempratures have returned to what’s normal for spring and I really shouldn’t be planting at this point anyhow.

I remembered the beaded scarves as taking a long time to do but when I started I was optimistic but yes they do take a while to get done (I’ve only done the one end) so it’s going to be interesting to get five of these babies finished; good thing I’m starting now at the beginning of spring/summer instead of later.

Finished beaded end of scarf
One finished end of beaded scarf.

Close-up of beadwork
Close-up of beadwork.

That’s about all I have to post as I haven’t really done anything else aside from working outside and beading. I still lots of work left in that area so unless I get bored and do something else I’m afraid the blog is going to be a bit sparse in the coming weeks. Our church is having a garage sale and we can rent a table to sell stuff and I’ve been tempted that way thinking maybe some tie-dyes but there is so…much…to do around here it’s incredible. Everytime I turn around something else needs cleaning or doing. Oh well, such is life.


Spring Fever!

I see the last time that I’ve posted has been April 15th, a week ago. In some ways it seems like forever. I’m not sure we had a Spring here in Whitby, Ontario, Canada. For about a week now the tempratures have been around the 70 F/21 C degree range during the day. We have had little rain as well for April so what that has meant is that I’ve had perfect conditions for working on the garden out back.

Last year I left it to late and by the time I went out the ground was rock hard. We have a clay based soil where the garden is and unless you work on it first thing during the Spring it becomes unmanagable. I suppose if I had help (talking hubby here) then it wouldn’t have been a problem but I admit with a bad back I just gave in last year and did nothing.

Since I’ve had perfect weather conditions and the soil is breaking nicely I’ve been out back this past week working away for about 2-3 hours each day trying to wrestle this thing into submission. 
Perinnial Garden

Perennials in top half of garden.

It didn’t help to leave the garden untouched for a year because now I have all sorts of weed roots that need digging up so as I turn the soil I’m constantly bending over picking out the roots. If I don’t pick out the roots then I’ll just get more weeds so…it’s been a long slog and I’ve about 2-3 more days work left before I figure I’ll have the garden soil all turned.

Unturned part of garden.

Raspberries and weeds

Raspberry stumps and weeds. I’ve removed all of the raspberries but two as I’m fed-up with trying to keep them under control. The coons get the berries anyway so what’s the point?

After working on this garden I have the decision to make of whether or not to turn over a smaller bed farther back that is completely overgrown or to take out the existing flowers and add them to the big garden. The problem is that I have four peony bushes back there and they take up a lot of space and I’m not sure I want to sacrifice the room in the main garden, which is why I created the smaller flower bed in the first place but it’s a major pain to keep the grass out of this bed.
Garden from back showing house

View of entire garden and back of house, note large “dead” cherry tree. You don’t get the perspective but it is a good-sized garden.

We finally lost our cherry tree last summer to fire blight. Unfortunately we didn’t realise thats what was wrong with it until to late.  It’s a huge tree but needs to come down. We also lost one of our maple trees and will have to dig out the stump. Of course the husband didn’t want to fork out the money to get some men to come in to reduce the stump because of course he and the two strong healthy boys can do the work. That was last June and needless to say the stump is still there and most likely will stay that way for who knows how long. All I know is that the replacement tree is not going to be put into the ground until the stump is removed and Spring is supposed to be the time to plant. It kind of burns me that I might be the one that has to dig it out. At some point you ask yourself “okay exactly what are you doing around the house?”. This always leads me to the notorious Ann Landers question “Are you better off with him or without him?”. I usually only think these thoughts when I’m feeling hard done by and put out. It doesn’t seem to matter that my husband goes off to work everyday because in my head there are certain jobs I regard as a man’s and to my mind removing tree stumps is one of them.

Dead cherry tree

Dead cherry tree, yes it is big isn’t it?

Tree stump

Maple tree stump and it’s huge. Well it’ll seem huge once “someone” starts to dig it out.

So much work to do…so many things to fix…and now that I think of it…so many things to make.