Wednesday, September 26, 2007

well don't just stand there looking decorative

Temperatures have been plummeting lately (it's almost October, after all) but today I'm wearing my purple t-shirt, capri pants and flip flops, trying to pretend it's still summer. Brrr! I wonder how long I'll hold out.

The leaves are starting to drop from the trees and there are bursts of colour everywhere, including my garden where I've been busy organizing a few autumnal displays.

A few weekends ago Mr. M brought home some little ornamental cabbages from his secret source at the flea market. I had forgotten how much I love these pretty plants. Just look at the colours.

I stuck a couple in a pot with (clockwise from the back) coral bells, chrysanthemum and variegated sage. I think they make a pleasing arrangement.

And this is my wee owl-y friend nestled between his very own ornamental cabbages, heather and variegated ivy. I love variegation.

In the spring the kids planted a bunch of ornamental gourd seeds. But boys will be boys and after carefully tending to their seedlings for a week or two, both young men wandered off to do more important things and the plants were left to their own devices. One plant did actually survive, so I stuck it into our flower bed where it promptly went crazy and took over the joint.

There were tons of flowers on the vines at first, but only two developed into anything interesting. Are they not weird and wonderful? Eyeless, legless kiwi birds come to mind.

Here they are hanging out with a group of good lookin' friends from the farmers market. Those fine specimens in the back row are in for a BIG suprise come Thanksgiving and Halloween.

Although edible, ornamental cabbages and gourds are not all that tasty so now we'll move on to the more palatable part of fall's harvest.

Last year we took a cutting from our neighbour's thornless blackberry bush and were rewarded with a total of about twenty (count 'em!) blackberries this year. Whee. There is much room for improvement but we are optimistic. If you know blackberries, you'll know that blackberry season is long over, however in our garden they take ages to ripen so we enjoyed the last of them just this past weekend.

The tomatoes are still going strong

As are the miniature green peppers which will probably need to be brought inside soon.

I didn't grow the plant from seed and when got it there were several small yellow peppers on it. At the moment it's covered with green ones which show no sign of turning colour so I'll probably use them now rather than waiting for a miracle.

The secret flea market source also provided these two perky pepper plants.

Sold as ornamentals, these are edible in that they are not poisonous, but I did some reading and found that these decorative plants are often sprayed with a systemic insecticide and should probably not be consumed. BUT, and this is good news, one can save the seeds from the peppers and start a new, entirely edible crop next year.

Last but not least we have pretty, pretty apples from our old apple tree.

We're not actually sure of the tree's age. It was here when we moved into the house in 1995 and judging from its size we also assume it may already have been growing on the lot when the house was built in 1969.

For a long time we also had no idea what kind of apples these were until that fateful day when I presented a few to a neighbour. She told me they were Ingrid Marie apples, her favourite kind. We don't spray the tree at all and usually get a fair crop every two years.

Ingrid Marie apples were apparently first cultivated "by accident" in 1910 in Denmark. One of the parent trees is assumed to be the Cox Orange.

The apples have a really intense sweet and sour flavour that I find to be a bit overbearing when eaten out of hand. I've also made both apple cake and apple sauce with them and wasn't entirely satisfied with the results, but a several years ago we came across a good way to enjoy them: they make the most excellent dried apple rings.

Here you see our high-tech apple-drying facilities.

The apple slices on the top row had been on there for a few days before I filled the rest of the rack with fresh slices. Dipping them in a bowl of water with a bit of vitamin C powder dissolved in it helps to keep the apples from oxidizing and turning brown.

These slices have a ways to go before they're totally dry, but we've been sampling already.

These are a nice snack for kids. Even Boy11, a notorious fruit and vegetable hater will eat them. Sure, too many will make you fat and you'll still need to brush your teeth well when you're finished, for they are quite sticky and do of course contain fruit sugar. What they don't have are artificial flavours or colours and they're made without sulphur dioxide, a chemical often used in the production of dried fruit.

So this fall our garden offers something for the eye and something for the belly. And isn't that what gardening's all about?

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At September 26, 2007 1:47 p.m., Blogger kate said...

Wow, what bounty! I'm jealous! Gorgeous photos, too.

As for weather, around here we always seem to go directly from "shorts and tank tops" to "sweaters and long pants," pretty much overnight. I think the days of summer are coming to an end...

At September 26, 2007 2:34 p.m., Blogger .:mar said...

Fabulous picture of your flowers and vegetables, but the dried apple slices fascinate me: I have never seen anything like it!! what a wonderful way to have a gesund-healthy snack!!

At September 26, 2007 5:15 p.m., Blogger CaliforniaKat said...

*Sigh* Gosh I miss having a garden, but I'm glad at least I can see yours! Oh the blackberries, the tomatoes and the apples. Just beautiful -- it's great to be low tech and natural

At September 26, 2007 10:16 p.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

This post is just fabulous, Christina. All of it. The photos are so colorful and gorgeous. You really make a good photographer...besides a fantastic cook! I hope you know that.

At September 26, 2007 10:16 p.m., Blogger Dixie said...

Pretty, pretty, pretty! Isn't autumn wonderful?

At September 26, 2007 11:53 p.m., Blogger The Big Finn said...

You love variegation? Well, who doesn't?
Do Canadians call them "ornamental cabbages"? Americans call them: "ornamental kale"!!!

Crazy Yankees!

At September 27, 2007 1:11 a.m., Blogger Maribeth said...

Ah wonderful! The fruits of your labor! How wonderful!
I am back from the dog show! Arnie did great!!! I'll be around more now for commenting and hopefully writing too! I sure have missed the blogasphere!

At September 27, 2007 3:29 a.m., Blogger Expat Traveler said...

Holy cow - now you have hinted and spoken and shown pics about the garden but sheesh, that is amazing!

If you lived over on Grand, I'm sure you'd be picked for the "model" garden tour...

Amazing pics too and so many ideas for everyone.

At September 27, 2007 9:04 a.m., Blogger Betsy said...

You make your own dried apple rings?! How cool is that!! I love those things, and buy them sometimes from the farmers' markets. It never even occurred to me that I might be able to make my own! Where did you get your rack?

At September 27, 2007 2:09 p.m., Blogger christina said...

kate - Thanks! I'm really happy that we have a moderate climate that most stuff will grow in. The kids really like harvesting their own food from the garden.

mar - Thank you! The dried apple slices are delicious. You can actually buy them everywhere here but it's fun to make our own.

californakat - Yes, except for the computer, low tech is my middle name. :-)

Ginnie - Well thank you so much for the compliment, my friend. Going back and looking at the colourful pictures always gives me a lift.

TBF - Well, I looked it up and there are both types of plants - they said ornamental cabbages have sort of rounded leaves while ornamental kale's leaves are more crinkly. So I'm just calling these ones cabbages - they could indeed be kale. Who knows? :-)

maribeth - I'm going to go right over and read about the dog show. Yay Arnie!

Expat - Oooh, I dunno about garden tours. Right now it's a sort of controlled chaos with a little bit of everything for my short attention span. :-)

Betsy - I've never tried to dry other types of fruit, but the apple rings are SO simple to make. Mr M made the rack himself, I'll send you the instructions in case you're feeling handy. You might be able to get something like it at health food stores as well, I'd think.

At September 28, 2007 3:46 a.m., Blogger Berlinbound said...

Your garden is outstanding ...

It's just a darn tough thing to grow vegies in a city garden - all the beer bottles and dog droppings and wasted college kids mucking it all up.

I'll bet you make a wicked pumpkin "something" ... right?


At September 28, 2007 7:13 a.m., Blogger Runaway Rubber Duckie said...

The apples look great - What a good idea to dry them like that! and I have never heard of thorn-free blackberries. I am still picking thorns from my shoes!

At September 28, 2007 9:20 a.m., Blogger Cynthia Rae said...

I'm tired just from reading about all that work! Looks wonderful though. Next year I will have to try to plant a couple of thing. I'm not good in the garden though, I tend to be more like your boys.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!hehehe!


At September 28, 2007 4:18 p.m., Blogger Rositta said...

I am envious of your garden and missing mine terribly. I'm told that my late raspberries are still going strong and there is still a fair tomato crop to be had. I guess by the time I return in late October it will all be gone. Beautiful photos...ciao

At September 28, 2007 4:55 p.m., Blogger essie said...

um...I want a secret flea market source, AND an equally beautiful garden!


What I would give for all of that fabulous bounty!! BTW, I'm going to try your plum recipes!

Can't wait!

At September 28, 2007 6:32 p.m., Blogger Windrose said...

I love your creative touch with everything food and garden (and of course photos), Christina. And I could not agree more with your little "Fazit". That's indeed what gardening is all about.

At September 28, 2007 8:08 p.m., Blogger tinakala said...

fabulous pics, as always. I make dried apples in a warm oven, covering them with cinnamon before. This way you can`t see the discoloration and the taste in heavenly.

At September 28, 2007 10:38 p.m., Blogger hexe said...

I have to add in my admiration. Gorgeous colors, yummy fruits and veggies, and pumpkin treats - I'm moving in!

At September 30, 2007 10:56 a.m., Blogger Pam said...

I'm right behind Hexe - I wanna move in too! What a glorious garden...and your photos are AMAZING!!!

At September 30, 2007 8:06 p.m., Blogger Sparky said...

You are such an ornametal person!!!
probably one of the reasons why i have such a crush on you :).

At October 01, 2007 10:32 a.m., Blogger christina said...

berlinbound - Yes, it must be difficult. I know that even our neighbours who live on the main road get garbage tossed into their yard and sometimes the kids will come along and cut off all the flowers when they're not looking. We're more secluded and only get the occasional cat coming through.

rubber duckie - I used to love picking blackberries when I was a kid. I probably still have scars from all the thorns. I think this vine has tiny little thorns that don't hurt that much.

cynthia - I'm not that great either, but I DO try to remember to water the stuff. Whatever grows, grows. Whatever doesn't doesn't get to be in a picture. :-)

rositta - Yeah, I miss it when we're away too, but we're usually at my parents and my mother has an even better garden.

essie - Mr M and the kids go to the flea market EVERY Saturday! Do you guys have some sort of a garden where you are?

windrose - Thank you so much! I love being able to look out the window and see something beautiful and ever-changing.

tinakala - Yum. That sounds good. I saw a recipe somewhere for apple wedges done in the oven too, I'll have to try those.

hexe and Pam - OK, come on over! But you'll need to help with the weeding. :-)

Sparky - Aww, Sparky,honey - you really know how to make my day! :-) *virtual smoooches*

At October 01, 2007 10:46 a.m., Anonymous ian said...

Christina, you make me want to give up urban living, move to a spot of land and grow something delicious. Great post.

At October 01, 2007 9:07 p.m., Blogger Mike B said...

Nice stuff ... made me realize I didn't get around to having anything of a garden this year. Bummer.

At October 01, 2007 9:10 p.m., Blogger Carol said...

Beautiful photos!! Just lovely, every single one of them!

You were one of the bloggers I mentioned by name when I thought of those I wish had been able to be in Frankfurt on Saturday (see my blog). One day we really MUST meet!


At October 02, 2007 8:00 a.m., Anonymous In Actual Fact said...

I thought gardening was all about backache, actually... Thanks for changing my mind.

At October 03, 2007 10:32 p.m., Blogger christina said...

Ian - We lived right in the city for the first five years I was here and that was quite enough. I need some green around me to survive. :-)

mike b - Well, there's always next year if Germany manages to hold you in her clutches that long.

Carol - Thanks! I'm pretty sure that we WILL meet up some time, some place. :-)

Actual - Well, I just forgot to mention the backache, but it's not like I'm out tilling the fields every day so it's not too bad.

At October 04, 2007 5:17 a.m., Blogger susan d said...

Those pictures are so beautiful they look fake! Especially the pumpkin and gourds. Cool

At October 05, 2007 3:10 a.m., Blogger Tim Rice said...

Beautiful photos here! Makes me hungry looking at them. :)


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