Saturday, October 01, 2011

2011 Garden

I didn't blog much about the garden this year, because it was pretty much a so-so season. It wasn't too bad, but most everything was a bit mediocre. We never quite recovered from the very cold rainy spring, which caused everything to be so late being planted. It was so damp, in fact, that about half of my raspberry canes died, and I'll have to replant some fresh ones next spring. The ones that survived produced some nice berries, but only enough to eat as a snack; no raspberry jam or pies this year.

The potatoes did pretty well for the most part, but some of them were attacked by some sort of underground pest. The potatoes were chewed, but underground! What could do that? Not squirrels or chipmunks, who don't bother with potatoes anyway. Raccoons will chomp on potatoes, but they usually carry them off a little distance, and then you find a half-eaten potato lying on the ground. I suspect some kind of maggot. And I noticed that it happened particularly on the patch of ground where last year I planted corn! I wonder if the corn attracted some sort of pest that hung around and attacked the potatoes this year? Next year, I'm going to plant something else where the corn went this year - maybe tomatoes.

Speaking of corn, well, the less said the better. I mentioned we were late planting. The early corn only was ready to pick in mid-Autust! And the late corn was still immature when it was struck by a plague of raccoons. They stripped the cobs in just a few days. I don't think I'm going to bother growing corn next year - it takes all that space, and then something like this happens!

The tomatoes were...okay. Slow to ripen, but they tasted nice; there just weren't that many of them. In past years Dean has had to go loaded down to the office to give them away because we had so many, but this year was just got enough to get by.

I had one notable success, though, and with a new plant that was an experiment: I tried growing Garden Huckleberries. I ordered the seeds from Dominion Seed House, even though I've never been one for starting anything from seed. But I tried it and found that they sprouted very quickly and were quite hardy, fast-growing plants. I put out a total of 8 plants in the garden and waited to see what would happen. Once the warm weather started, they grew very fast - by the end of the summer they were taller than me!

A few weeks ago, I decided the berries were looking black and shiny, so I picked a batch and followed the recipe given in the link above. It's true what they say, they have absolutely no flavor fresh at all - it's like eating hay. I also noticed that even though they'd grown through the net I'd put over them, no animals tried to eat the berries at all - the birds and the chipmunks left them completely alone (unlike our poor blueberries, which were stripped from the plant while they when they were just barely changing colour!)

The recipe is pretty easy to follow; my only problem was finding a non-reactive pan to cook them in, because of the baking soda. I don't know just what the baking soda does, but it must be some chemical reaction, because as the recipe says, as soon as I added it, the liquid turned a fantastic lime green! I think kids would really enjoy participating in a cooking project of this sort; the bright green foam is very unexpected.

Then I rinsed off the berries, added the sugar and lemon juice, and sure enough, it turned into a lovely dark purple pie filling/ dessert topping that does taste a lot like blueberries!

I'm going to try this again next year. Oh, and the plants are VERY prolific producers - I've frozen 8 pies so far, and gave away one, while the plant is still going strong in the garden. It's even producing new flowers, even though the frost is going to kill it off in a few weeks. It seems to be similar in growth habit to an indeterminate cherry tomato plant - it just goes and goes until the frost.


Blogger Priscilla said...

I tasted Huckleberries in Montana. I thought they tasted like blueberries. I didn't know you had to process them to remove the green stuff. But if the critters don't get them I'm sure it was worth the extra trouble.

9:51 am  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

There are different berries that go by the name of huckleberry, depending on the region. When I was growing up in B.C., there was a little berry we called huckleberry: it was the same shape as a blueberry, only it was red, and smaller, and it grew in the woods, out of cedar stumps. It was quite sour, but when it was cooked it tasted like rhubarb. This Garden Huckleberry apparently comes from the nightshade family, but it isn't poisonous. But as I said, if you try to eat them raw, you'll find them absolutely tasteless.

8:21 pm  

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