Saturday, July 28, 2018

Summer Garden Highlights

Four raised beds on a cedar log float.
After a cool June, our weather has warmed with the long days of summer and my garden has taken off in leaps and bounds.

Right now it is hard to keep up with all of the produce coming from the raised beds on my floating garden and containers on our cabin deck.

I kicked off summer by inviting 21 members of the Powell River Garden Club to go on a boat ride up to my float cabin to visit my garden. It was my first "garden party." It was such a hit I plan to do it again next June.

Three tours of seven Garden Club members.

This is the first year I planted garlic in the fall. It made a huge difference in the quality and size of the bulbs. Some were hardneck, my first time trying that variety.

Preparing to hang my harvested garlic to cure.

My red currant plant growing in a large container started producing for the first time. The fruit was too tart to eat raw, but it made an excellent jam.

My Dracaena spike plants have grown from tiny grassy shoots to massive plants in about ten years. This year one plant flowered for the third time. The other plant (pictured) flowered for the first time.

Dracaena spike plant flowering.

I almost gave up on zucchini. After three years of blossom end rot, my plants have been producing well. I think the key has been increased bee action for pollination. I tried a yellow zucchini for the first time and love it.

Yellow zucchini growing in a pot next to a green variety.

How is your summer garden growing? What are some of your hits and misses?

Visit Garden Party at Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olsen.

Shared with Your the Star at Stone Cottage Adventures. And Tuesdays with a Twist at Stone Cottage Adventures. -- Margy

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Red Currant Jam

Last year I planted a small bare root red currant. This year it’s grown considerably and developed clusters of berries on previous year’s branches. I was surprised at how many. Last week they all started to ripen at once.

I’ve tasted a few and found them too sour to eat raw. The label said they make good jelly, wine and preserves so I thought I would try.

Removing seeds in a food mill.
Red currants contain a lot of seeds, they’re edible but I didn’t want them in my jam. I washed the tender berries then warmed them in a saucepan while crushing with a potato masher. Still warm, I processed them in a food mill to remove the seeds.

Half seeds, half pulp.
From two cups of mashed berries I got one cup of pulp and one cup of seeds to be discarded.

I added one cup of sugar and one tablespoon bottled lemon juice to my one cup of juicy pulp. Because the berries are tart, no pectin was needed.

Cook until jelled at 220 degrees Fahrenheit.
I heated the mixture to a rolling boil and kept it bubbling until reaching 220 degrees Fahrenheit (the jell point). Because I was using a small pan, it was hard to keep the thermometer away from the bottom so I backed it up with the cold-water test for jelly.

Result, one half pint of jam.
I prepared two half-pint jars and my small water bath canner, but in the end I only got one half-pint jar of jam.

I chose to use it as refrigerator jam. Maybe next year I’ll get a bigger crop to make enough to put up for the pantry.

I'm pleased with the taste. It's a tart tang, but not sour like the raw fruit. The label on the bare root stock was right. The fruit does make a good jelly or preserve.

Do you grow red currants? How do you like to use them? -- Margy

Friday, July 06, 2018

Float Cabin Reflections

Summer is a wonderful time to live up the lake in a float cabin.

Heading out early in the morning I ltook a picture. When I looked at the result I was pleasantly surprised how the sunshine, calm water and boat wake ripples made a lovely image. -- Margy