Type your search keyword, and press enter

Spring Planting

If you live anywhere in Ontario, you’ll be experiencing this strange warm weather as I am.

Very odd.  I keep waiting for the chill to drop.

Regardless.

Time to order your vegetable starter plants! All seeds are heirloom, organic and are grown right here, at Pemberley Farm, organically. Orders should be placed by the end of March, as all plants need time to grow from their tiny seeds. And I don’t want to disappoint you.

 

 

Broccoli:

Waltham – 1954 – standard heads, green, easy to grow

Rapini – Italian, non-heading, grown for flavourful shoots and leaves in salads or fried

Cabbage:

Glory of Enkhuizen – 1899 – medium/large round heads, awesome for sauerkraut

Brunswick – 1924 – large drumhead, stores well, rare (note: mine were gigantic and yummy!)

Red Express – open-pollinated red cabbage, extra early production, perfect for Canada, solid, split-resistant head  (mine grew extremely well as I ignored them)

Cauliflower:

Purple of Sicily – beautiful, brilliant purple heads, sweet flavour, cook to bright green

Pusa Meghna – apparently super-early, tight white curds, heat and cold resistant (new one for me to try out)

Cucumber: 

Boston Pickling – 1880 – vigorous vine, great yields, excellent for pickles

Chicago Pickle – 1888 – thin skins, can reach to 7″ without ruining quality, prolific

Early Fortune – 1906 – sweet, slicing-type, never bitter, 8″ long, 2″ thick

Japanese Long – long, slim fruit, mild and easy to digest, few seeds

Mexican Sour Gherkin – small, cucumber-like fruit shaped like mini-watermelons, unique and fun (limited)

Melons:

Early Silver Line – Korean-type, oval-shaped, yellow fruit, white flesh, crisp and sweet (new)

Golden Jenny – short vines produce succulent, sweet 2lb melons

Collective Farm Woman – Ukraine, melons ripen to yellow-gold, white flesh with high sugar content

Squash: 

Galeux D’Eysines – beautiful heirloom squash, 10-15lbs, peach-coloured skin with large warts, can be baked or used in soups

Waltham Butternut – good yields, amazing flavour, you know you love it

Early Prolific Straight Neck Zucchini – AAS winner from 1938, lemon-yellow, club-shaped fruit, firm flesh

Cocozella Di Napoli Zucchini – unique Italian  Heirloom, long, green ribs

Jack Be Little – tiny, cute 8oz pumpkins, bright orange, sweet

Peppers – Hot

Craig’s Grande – big, fat, green jalapeno. (I love them. Third year growing)

Leutschauer Paprika – 1800, medium hot, drying pepper for making paprika

Purple Jalapeno – deep, gorgeous purple jalapeno (third year seeds)

Thai Pepper – hot heirloom from Thailand, easy to dry, bright red, pungent heat, prolific

Pasilla Bajio – mild-sweet-hot, starts dark green, turn deep brown-purple, used in Mexican mole sauces

Tabasco – 1848 in Louisiana, main ingredient of Tabasco sauce, can be grown in a pot

Estaceno Chile – genuine Northern New Mexico pepper, used in chili verde or salsa, can be dried to make chili powder

Peppers – Sweet

Canary Bell – superior sweet pepper, productive 2′ plants (2nd year)

Corbaci – long, slender, twisted, sweet. Rare heirloom from Turkey. Rich flavour. (2nd year)

Lipstick – thick red flesh, 4″ tapered end, pimento-type, super sweet (2nd year)

Albino Bullnose – blocky 4″ sweet pepper, begins soft cream, ripens to a reddish-orange, dwarf plant

Etiuda – thick walls, orange, sweet, large

Corno Di Toro – Italy, bull-horn shape, 8″ tapered, golden-green, sweet

Red Mini Bell – tiny, red peppers, 1″ wide, great for stuffing and super cute!

Habanada – a heatless habanero, fruity floral notes of a habanero without the heat

Oda – strong, compact plants, produce lilac purple fruit that ages to a soft brown.

 

Tomatoes 

Martino’s Roma – perfect for your sauces, paste-type fruit, meaty with few seeds

Amish Paste – giant, blocky paste tomatoes, Amish community grown

Atomic Grape – elongated cherry-like clusters, lavender purple stripes, ripening to soft reds, cherry -size (limited)

Gypsy – medium-size, deep purple/maroon, great taste, good for soups

Black Cherry – large, dusky-brown grapes, rich flavour, sweet, perfect for popping (2nd year)

Gold Rush Currant – tiny tomatoes, golden-orange, 1/4″ diameter, snacking

Snow Fairy – dwarf tomato from Russia, produces early, small globes, perfect for pots, slightly tart

Accordion – large, pink, ruffled fruit, perfect for stuffing, sweet and mild

Minibel – determinate, bite-sized fruit, tiny and ornamental, sweet and pinky

Purple Bumblebee – slightly elongated little cherries, striped with purple and green, crack-resistant, complex and sweet flavour (2nd year)

Black Krim – Russia heirloom, deep dark red fruit, medium-size, very rich and sweet, a favourite

Yellow Pear – yellow, sweet 1 1/2″ fruit, pear-shaped, highly prolific, will crack if too wet, but so worth the planting.

Chocolate Pear – bronze-red pear-shaped fruit, slightly sweeter than yellow pear, highly prolific, rich flavour

Tomatillos – gorgeous, green, husk-covered fruit that tastes like a tomato and an apple. Used in salsa verde and the delicious tomatillo soup. You need to buy two for fruit. I highly recommend.

Herbs

Basil – lemon; lime; cinnamon; thai sweet; purple; blue spice

Cilantro

Parsley

 

I will update this again in a few days. Puppies need tending. If you would like any plants, you can reach me at:  loveandoregano@gmail.com

 

thank you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas Cookies

I do not apologize for not having updated my website.

I’m a farmer, y’all.

I do not sleep until winter.

 

But I am taking the time to give you the recipe for these Christmas cookies because you are going to lose your mind.  All of my recipes are copied from someone, and then I modify. Because I love to modify. To plan and change until it all comes out perfectly, and then I never change it again.  These cookies are a mix of two recipes. One recipe is from Sugar Cookie Cutouts, and the icing is from my friend, Susan, who lives in Tennesse, y’all. She’s the bomb.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you,  ‘Lavender and Lemon Christmas Cookies’.  I have no idea what else to call them.

 

                  lavender and lemon bites of deliciousness

 

 

Ingredients:

-1 cup of butter, softened (I always use salted butter, even though they always say, don’t. What do they know?) Softened butter means you can dent it with your finger.

-1/2 cup of sugar (I like organic, fair-trade, raw sugar)

-1 egg (organic from the farm!)

-1 tbsp vanilla (um…feel free to just splash it in, not measuring it)

-3 cups all-purpose flour (I use hard white organic)

-1/2 tsp baking powder

-1/2 tsp salt (but isn’t there already salt in the butter? Yes. Your point?)

Directions:

Do not turn on your oven yet. It takes too long to roll them out and if you live where I do, hydro is freaking expensive. And I am not baking cookies after 7pm.

1-In a large bowl, with a mixer (although I have done this by hand) at low speed, beat softened butter and sugar until blended well. Then increase the speed to high, and beat it until light and creamy like a cloud.

2- At a low speed, now, add egg and then vanilla.  Then beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, and then baking soda. I will tell you now, that at some point, the whole thing will gum up in your mixer and you’ll have to mix the rest by  hand. And that’s ok.

3- If the kitchen is hot, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm. My kitchen was freezing today, so I was fine.  On a lightly floured surface (or on a big chopping block in between parchment paper), roll out 1/4 of the dough to about 1/8″ thick. Or thicker. Depends how you like your cookies.

4- Use your heirloom/brand new cookie cutters and cut them out, putting them on a baking sheet/cooking sheet.

5- Now. IF you are just going to use maraschino cherries or sprinkles, then go ahead and put them on the cookies and then put them in the oven. BUT if you want icing, go ahead and turn on the oven to 350F and wait for the ding to say the oven is ready. Lick bits of cookie off your fingers and eat the fallen crumbs.

6- Bake in oven for 10 minutes. That’s it. Just 10.

7- Try not to eat them all while they cool

 

Crazy Crack Cake Icing

This icing is from the Crazy Crack Cake recipe that Susan gave me. I like a melted icing. It makes me happy. So I modified it.

Ingredients:

-1/2 cup of butter (or one stick for you Americans)

-6 tbsp cream or milk (I use vanilla soymilk)

– 1 tsp vanilla (this is optional. I found it made my icing a strange tan colour, so I don’t use it)

-3 3/4 cup of icing sugar

Directions:

1- In a small saucepan, combine butter and milk. Heat until it melts and whisk away. Add in one cup of icing sugar and then whisk until smooth. Do this with additional cups until you get the right consistency. Like a good shampoo, not runny.

 

With a silicone brush (cause that’s what I found in the drawer), stir the icing, take it off the heat. Now this is the fun part. If you want lemon-flavouring, go ahead and add some. If you want mint-flavouring, almond, whatever, go ahead a add a few drops.

But with your brush, pick up remaining cookies that have cooled, and paint the entire cookie top. Put cookies down on a rack and finish painting cookie.

Sprinkle immediately with fresh/dried lavender buds.  And then add a the faintest wisp of lemon zest.

Isn’t it pretty?

Now put the whole tray in the fridge so the icing can harden. But eat one first. Because they are amazing.

In an hour, your cookies should be nice and hard. But you should try one to make sure. No? Ok, back in the fridge and check again in another hour.

 

You’re welcome.

 

 

Plants for Sale

Spring has been peeking around the corner, being the shy, coltish type, giving us glimpses of her sunshine beauty, fresh air and songbirds.  Then she tucks away for a quick nap, letting winter drop a foot of fresh, sticky snow.

snow

But planting waits for no one, and I have been very busy planting seeds.

snow4

I went a little too extreme, planting 17 varieties of tomatoes…which means I accidentally planted 932 tomatoes.

Oops.

I am listing all of the plants you can order, but be aware that although I may have many seedlings, I may not have the kind you want. So please let me know, because I might be sold out.  I am including herbs this year.

Tomatoes:

Amish paste – giant, blocky, Roma type for paste and canning

Pink Accordion – unique, large, pink fruit is ruffled like an accordion; tomato is semi-hollow, so it is excellent for stuffing; flavour is sweet and mild

Black Krim – rich, sweet; heirloom from Russia; dark red-purple, high in 

Snow Fairy – dwarf tomato from Russia; small globe-shaped fruit very early; tart; excellent for patio pots

Gypsy – (limited quantity) deepest, purplest, maroon; medium-sized fruit; perfect for soups

Yellow Pear – golden pear-shaped with mild flavour; plentiful; perfect for preserves or salads

Chocolate Pear – ‘black’ pear-shaped; high yields; rich flavour

Martino’s Roma – high yields of richly flavourful plum tomatoes; compact; 2-3 oz; few seeds

Black Cherry – large, dusky purple, rich flavour; high yields; delicious

A Grappoli D’Iverno – (limited) winter grape of old Italy; keeps on vine; little ‘Roma’s’; delicious

Bonny Best – (limited) medium-sized fruit; round, red, meaty; not your hybrid garbage; flavour!

Blue Beauty – (limited) modest beefsteak-type; 8 oz; so much flavour; keeps well; gorgeous blue colour

Chile Verde – (limited) pointed pepper shape; mellow green skin; strong earthy flavour; green paste tomato

Minibel – bite-sized fruit; sweet; tiny plants perfect for patio; excellent for container gardening

Pink Ponderosa – can reach 2lbs; pink-red beefsteak; thick and delicious; canning

Peppers

Canary Yellow – sweet; bright yellow bell-shape

Corbaci – long, 10″ fruit are twisted, slender; heirloom from Turkey; rich flavour for pickling or frying; productive

Lipstick – 4″, tapered, sweet, thick flesh

Thai red – hot heirloom from Thailand; easy to dry; bright red; pungent heat

Purple jalapeno – deep purple turning to deep red; full jalapeno flavour; great for salsa

Melons

Walthum butternut – good yields; excellent taste; keep for a long time (mine are still good!)

Blacktail watermelon – early; grows well in heat and drought; 8-12lbs; bright red and sweet

Early Fortune cucumber – slicing-type; 7-8″; 2″ in diameter; crisp white flesh; pre-1907

Boston pickling – heirloom variety pre-1880, not a hybrid type; vigorous vine; large yields; crisp and excellent for pickles

Galeus D’Eysines Squash – flattened heirloom squash; 10-15lbs fruit covered in salmon-peach skin covered with large warts; orange flesh is perfect for soups or baking; gorgeous and crazy

Jack Be Little pumpkin – 8oz; flat and ribbed; good flesh; tiny but usable

Golden Jenny melon – 2lbs; early and productive; sweet

Lemon zucchini – shape, size and colour of a lemon; fits in your palm; excellent yields; firm; pretty and delicious

Other

Purple of Sicily cauliflower – brilliant purple head; 2-3lbs; sweet flavour; cooks to bright green

Catskill brussel sprouts – hardy, dwarf plants; uniform sprouts; 1941

Brunswick cabbage – large, drumhead, cold-hardy; fall/winter types; stores well

Glory of Enkhuizen  – pre-1900; medium-large, hard, round heads; excellent keeper; good for kraut and fresh

Red Express cabbage – open-pollinated; compact, extra-early; 2-3lbs; split-resistant oval heads

Early Purple Sprouting broccoli – purple broccoli sprouts in spring; frost hardy

Rapini broccoli – Italian non-heading grown for flavourful asparagus-like shoots and leaves; cook or in salads

Violet de Gournay radish – 10″, deep violet-purple skin with crisp white flesh; cooking, pickling, grated raw; easy to grow; delicious bite

Lettuces – feel free to inquire about a flat of mixed lettuce seedlings as well

Amsterdam prickly spinach – 1806; hardy; pointed leaves; excellent yield; gorgeous flavour

Arugula – easy to grow; grows well after cutting; good tangy flavour

Red romaine – red and green mottled leaves; easy yields; delicious

microgreens – variety of mustard leaves; red orach; red mizuna; tatsoi; corn salad

Herbs

thyme, emily basil, lemongrass, blue hyssop, borage, catnip, blue spice basil, cilantro, rue, lemon basil, cinnamon basil, tarragon, marjoram, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, chervil

Tomatillo

Green tomatillo – gorgeous husk-covered fruit; used in salsa verde and amazing in soup; raw tastes like a cross between a tomato and an apple

Contact me if you have any questions! loveandoregano@gmail.com

 

 

 

My Girl

She died on a Wednesday.
It had been planned for a week.
The grave would be dug that morning, as we had to rent a jackhammer to break the crust of the frozen earth. The digging would be soft after that. The area chosen behind the garden already had soft, rich, dark soil.
She loved the garden, probably as much as I did. Sneaking in among the purple peas, their fat pods too tempting to not pluck and devour. The tiny tomatoes in jewel tones of ruby red, glittering gold and dusky blue could not be hidden from her. I would scold her for eating them and then laugh as she would drop her head momentarily and then look peek up at me to see if I was watching.
I could never be angry for long. I simply loved her too much.

 

She was on painkillers. We were warned that they were a temporary fix and would only allow her a few days of joy, as the strong medicine would hurt her internally. We agreed that the doctor would come out to us. Less stress that way, and we wanted her last day to be filled with love and comfort.

But a winter storm came. The roads would be treacherous. We had to make a decision. Would we take her in or would we wait a few more days. Could we prolong her leaving us just a little while longer?
The idea of waiting made me feel better. But I could see her sickness. I could see her struggling and she wouldn’t sleep. She knew something. I think.
On her last night, we cooked up her favourite treats. We played fetch for as long as she would play. She stood completely still for half an hour while I brushed her over and over and over, repeating that I loved her.
I tucked her in on our bed, as I had the past 13 years, the purple blanket surrounding her like a cocoon. I scratched her head and willed her to die in her sleep so that I wouldn’t have to bear any guilt of choosing when she was to die. But I wasn’t given that satisfaction.
The next morning she ate, let me brush her a bit more and I clipped on her bright green collar and invited her onto the passenger seat of the van. I snuggled her purple blanket around her and sniffed her black fur one last time. I told her she was a very good girl. That she did her job well, protecting us, loving us and keeping away the chipmunks and deer. I thanked her for being my best friend. I told her not to be scared. I told her that she wouldn’t miss us at all.

And I closed the door.

I went inside and I didn’t look back. I collected her chewed up dog toys, her old bone, her fuzzy bed, still slightly warm from her bony black body. I put them all into a large garbage bag and dropped it into the basement.  I hung up her red sweater on a hook at the front door, where a bright green collar and pink leash would be added two hours later. I washed out her red water bowl and put it away. I took her blankets and washed them with bleach, vacuuming out the dryer afterwards as her fur always clogged the vents. I vacuumed the carpet in the kitchen where she always lay as I made meals.

I went outside and did some chores, the usual daily feeding of the chickens and egg collecting. As I returned to the front door I turned to call out for her to come in. But of course she wasn’t there.

In the afternoon I came down the stairs to let her outside, to go for our daily walk to the mailbox, but she wasn’t in the kitchen waiting for me, her tail thumping the floor.

At bedtime I locked up the house and went upstairs, and  I turned to call her to invite her on the bed. But of course, I’d be going to bed alone.

The house is so empty.

IMG_2014snow1snow3

Autumn….

Early Morning I can’t get enough of this view…IMG_5234 IMG_5227 IMG_5221 IMG_5187We also have chickens now…they aren’t terribly clever, and they shriek at me whenever I open the back door, but they are beginning to lay yummy eggs, so I can’t complain.

Bugs Sent to Destroy

One of the many joys of living on a farm/forest/acreage, is the pests you encounter. Mice, voles, moles, spiders (so many spiders), ladybugs, flies, larder beetle (did you know they live in cat litter???), wolves, coyotes, coywolves, muskrats, beavers, horseflies, deerflies, mosquitoes, blackflies… I will stop here.

I have a reel mower. Two of them, actually, and I love pushing it. I love plugging in my ipod and cranking the tunes while getting a sweaty workout. And it is a good workout, let me tell you. Especially going uphill.  But two days ago, while the boy and I were mowing, he started getting weirded out by all these…bugs.  Bugs don’t normally bother him. And I try to keep my screams to a minimum when I encounter bugs, so I usually scream (habit) and then call out in cheerful voice, ‘It’s ok! Just startled a little!’  So when I investigated, I found all these flying…bugs. Everywhere. I googled them. I googled, ‘tan, small beetle, farm’. Nothing. ‘Beige, beetle, Ontario’. Nothing.  Ah, they’ll go away, I said to myself.

Yesterday, they were everywhere. I looked high and low for our usual insanity of dragonflies, but they weren’t really around.  I chose to mow anyway, and after 40 minutes, I had to stop, because these disgusting things kept landing on me.  Creepy. Small beetle. Tan. Orange, prickly legs.  Still couldn’t find anything.

Today I sat down and looked up, ‘Insect Identification Ontario’. I scrolled through about 300 bugs, when I finally found it.

Behold. The rose chafer.

 

ew
ew

 

Isn’t it disgusting?

Guess where they lay their eggs? In sandy soil.

Guess what they eat?  E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

They love roses. But I don’t have any. So they love grass. I have tons. They love fruit trees. I only have two. They love all flowers, all foliage and all vegetation. And they are ridiculously destructive. And get this: they kill chickens because they are toxic.

They skeletonize leaves.  DAMAGE IS MOST SEVERE IN AREAS WITH SANDY SOIL.

Oh, how I cried.

Guess how you kill them?

1-lay out floating row covers (too late)

2- throw down some parasitic nematode stuff (I have 150 acres)

3- go out and collect by hand and kill them.

I cried some more.

Then I inspected my compound (incidentally, I need a nicer name than compound for my vegetable garden).

Oh, crap.

 

So. This is how you kill chafer beetles:

-don long jeans, long socks, long sleeves, hat and tall rubber boots. They fly, y’all.

-don long thick rubber gloves. Cause they squeeze ooze.

-large pail of super hot, super sudsy water

-psyche yourself up with loud, angry music. I recommend ‘Firestarter‘ by Prodigy. Because YOU ARE the ‘trouble starter, punking instigator, fear addicted, danger illustrated’ and YOU CAN dispose of them (I’m such a 90’s girl)

-convince boy to come out and help.

-after five minutes and capturing exactly two without vomiting, offer to pay the boy $100 if he comes out two times a day for the rest of the summer to collect all gross bugs and dispose of them.

 

you’re welcome.

 

 

Lately…

It’s been busy around here.  Getting ready for the Farmers’ Market…

getting ready for the market
getting ready for the market with a plethora of tomatoes…

 

Getting the vegetable garden ready with seeding and transplanting…

square foot gardening
square foot gardening

 

 

 

 

 

 

strawberry popcorn
Planting corn in the ground to see it sprout a week later…. strawberry popcorn
growing!!!
growing!!!

My gorgeous white wheat has sprouted…

non-gmo white sonoma wheat
non-gmo white sonoma wheat

 

Collecting large rocks to create borders for vegetables…this rock wall is outlining many tomatoes

little rock wall for tomatoes
little rock wall for tomatoes

 

Using minion to build brick walls around fragile asparagus…

brick wall for asparagus
brick wall for asparagus

 

Taking walks to see the farm change seasons…

Magda
Magda
a field of daisies
a field of daisies
milkweed!
milkweed!

 

And finding strange things…such as this large asparagus on the side of our driveway…hubby thinks a deer pooped out a seed? Sadly, we didn’t notice it until it was already too late to pick…

wild asparagus?
wild asparagus?

 

So I take these few rain days to plant more vegetables into the ground and see if I can encourage my basil to grow more quickly to sell this Saturday…

Why Are We Doing This?

Hubby asked me why I am pushing so hard to get these vegetables grown and sold.

There isn’t a lot of money in it, and I’m sure considering the time, materials and effort it takes to grow these little darlings, is just not worth what I would make if I sold them all.

Because people matter, I said.

Our family has made a change in how we eat (blah blah, hasn’t every family?).  I now make my own bread with organic flour (huge change in my rashes), I try to limit processed food as much as possible, and we try to only cheat on Friday and Saturday nights with Cheezies (they should be their own food group).  We can’t really afford to buy organic, but I try to make the exception on lettuces. I’m not sure why. I’m sure apples are the worst culprit, but I do make some kind of effort in washing them hand soap.  I’ve even changed our ice cream treats to Haagen Daaz, simply because they have simple ingredients.  Triscuits are our cracker of choice because they have 4 ingredients.  I’m not psycho about it, because we can’t afford it. I’m not milking my own cow (lactose-intolerant here), I’m not growing my own wheat…yet. And we do love our bacon, although I’ve tried to cut it down to twice a week. Wow, I sound like a nutcase.  Regardless, my family has not been sick since March 2014.  Not one cold, not one flu.  I had spent all of March with pneumonia, and maybe that was the time I changed? I’m not sure. I know when we get a tickle in our throats, we rely on Jim Beam, sipped slowly (not the boy of course, I’m not a monster).  But we haven’t been sick in over a year! That says a lot to me. Especially considering the stress we’ve been under with moving to our dream home. And I know for a fact that God has something to do with this awesomeness.

Organic vegetables are expensive. Crazy expensive. And half the time, they look weird.  Buying organic vegetable plants are expensive too.  Which means that people who don’t have a pile of cash (me) can’t afford to feed their families in the best manner.  So why should these families have to suffer, just because they can’t afford organic?

So. I’m growing these heirloom, organic seeds in a organic manner (Myke’s fertilizer, Jobe’s Organic Fertilizer, Muskie Fish Emulsion organic) so that they will produce healthy plants, which I can sell, which in turn will produce organic fruit for ANYONE to eat, at the same price as regular produce.

Because that is fair.

IMG_4052

 

More Photos

early morning awesomeness
early morning awesomeness

 

night time awesomeness
night time awesomeness
lilies found in the creek
lilies found in the creek
totally safe
totally safe
Baltimore Oriole
Baltimore Oriole

I’m very excited about the oriole because I have never seen one. They seem to prefer nesting in elm trees, and we just happen to have an elm tree out front. In front of a manitoba maple (Betty) and orioles loooove their seeds! Their song is beautiful.

IMG_4127

 

The cat brought me a mouse. Er…good girl.