Welcome to Mistik Acres.

We hope you are able to form a connection with us, and the products we grow and produce on the land we live and work with.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy New Year!

Pat and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year.
I came across a quote the other day, which really made a lot of sense for us. Not sure whom wrote it.

"Dirt under the nails is no indication of social status or wealth of the gardener.

And in the garden, money doesn't imply knowledge or the ability to grow plants.

Gardeners share and have shared their bounty in the way of seeds for centuries.

We as a family of man have lost our way but maybe, just maybe some directions

lie in our garden."

Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Future plantings.

We received the final seed catalogue this week, so we put together our seed orders and sent them away. We should start receiving the seeds sometime in January and February. There were quite a few new flower and vegetable varieties this year again. One of the flowers I am looking forward to seeing how they do is a new Lavatera. It is called Pink Blush and T & T Seeds describes it as being a new dwarf type, with large white flowers with a pink striation. The picture they printed in the catalogue is very striking. The plants are compact, about 16" tall, great for the border or for mass plantings. Also ideal for containers. I will be starting seed and having some plants available for bedding plant sales.
We are going to try our luck with celery this year, so we will have to do some research on the seed starting process, planting and harvesting. We are also trying a new carrot called Atomic Red which is an heirloom variety. The catalogue description is: Large tapered, 11" roots with a beautiful scarlet colour that gets brighter when cooked. This variety gets it's hue from healthful Lycopene, credited for helping to prevent several types of cancer. Draw out the Atomic Red's remarkable colour and flavour by steaming, roasting or baking these crispy roots.
The pictures today are an African daisy.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and keep the visions of gardens dancing in your heads.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Rhubarb is a group of plants that belong to the genus Rheum in the family Polygonaceae. It is a good source of vitamin C and iron, and is widely used in deserts, jams and other preparations. The variety we will have available for sale this Spring is "Canada Red". Hardy to Zone 2, it produces tender, sweet and slender red stalks which hold their colour when cooked.
The ideal soil for a rhubarb patch is clay loam. Rhubarb plants respond well to moisture, although reliable yields can be obtained with minimal moisture. Do not harvest during the year of planting or during the following year. The root and crown must be allowed to grow in order to store energy reserves. Full harvest can begin the third year after planting. No more than two thirds of the large stalks should be removed at any one time.
In harvesting rhubarb, simply pull the stalks; this will usually cause them to separate from the crown. Harvesting begins in late May and continues until July. Under most conditions harvesting should cease at the end of July to allow the the food reserves to build up again in the roots and crown. The leaves of the plant are not consumed as they contain a high concentration of oxalic acid salts which can be very toxic. They are a good source of organic matter for the compost pile.
We have included a recipe for Rhubarb that is a huge favourite around our house.
Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

2-9" unbaked pie shells

1/3 cup 0f flour

4 cups rhubarb chopped

1 cup of fresh or frozen strawberries cut in half

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

In a large bowl, combine rhubarb and strawberries. In a separate bowl, mix 1/3 cup flour, sugar and yogurt. Pour over fruit. Pour fruit and sour cream mixture into pie shells.

Prepare brown sugar topping by mixing last 3 ingredients together until crumbly. Spread on top of pies. Bake at 450 degrees F. for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Can be frozen after baking.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Winter Walk

We went for a walk in the bluff of trees by our house and took a few pictures which we have included. We like to check out the various tracks of the different animals in the snow. We came across deer, mice, red squirrel and coyote tracks in the bluff. It is a very peaceful place as the the wind cannot get at you amongst the trees and the elevation drops into a ravine in the centre of the bluff. This is where the resident deer raises her fawn throughout the summer. The area is also home to many of the bird species that raise their young here. We came across lots of bird nests built in the trees throughout the yard.
Right now the only bird species we have residing here are the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers and lots of chickadees. The Magpies and Ravens hang around the yard, scavenging for morsels of food or carrion. They like to frequent the compost bin, when the compost reaches near the top of the bin. Today we watched a magpie try to figure out a way to get at the Suet feeder. We have it suspended from a tree limb and first the Magpie would stand on the limb above the feeder, and try to reach the suet and then it would jump to the branch below the feeder , but could not reach the suet that way either. Eventually it gave up, but we will keep watching as you just never know what they will come up with to access food. We provide suet, nyjer seed and black oil sunflowers for winter feed for the birds. The woodpeckers love the suet, as do the chickadee's. The woodpeckers like the sunflowers that are out in the gardens. On our walk we inspected the sunflowers that are still standing in the gardens and it looks like they have all been eaten now. We thought they would at least last till January as there were plenty of sunflowers still standing.
The final sighting of recent was a male Whitetail Deer, with a large set of antlers. It came sauntering out of the bluff, in front of the house around noon one day. Was probably visiting the resident doe.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hypertufa Part II.

Another way to determine if your batch is the right consistency is take a handful of your thoroughly mixed ingredients and squeeze it in the palm of your hand. There should be a small amount of moisture that drips from your hand. At this point you are ready to start molding your container.
We use baskets, plant pots, cardboard boxes, Styrofoam containers and molds made of wood to make different shapes and sizes of containers. Your imagination is your only limit as to what your finished product will be. The next step is to line your mold with a thin plastic, an example would be dry cleaner plastic doubled. The thin plastic allows the cement mixture to go into all the corners of your mold. If you use a heavy plastic you may not get the true shape of the mold.
Now you can start building your container, one handful at a time. First you line the bottom of your mold with about 1 inch of hypertufa and then you start building the sides making sure the thickness is about 1 inch. Build the sides about 3 inches all around and then add another few inches until you have reached the top of your mold or the height you would like your container to be. You will need to smooth out and fine tune the surface trying to keep a consistent thickness of walls and base. Once you are satisfied with the container you need to let it sit in the mold for about 48 hours to allow the cement mixture to harden somewhat before you remove it from the mold. If you try to remove it too soon it will break apart when you take it out of the mold, but if you leave it too long in the mold it will be very difficult to remove as well. If you are making your containers in the summertime, cover them with plastic and do not set the container in full sun throughout the drying process as it will dry too quickly and not cure properly. You want the containers to dry slowly, which can take up to about 1 month, before they are completely dry.
Once you have taken the containers out of the mold it is time to scratch the outside of the surface with a metal brush, which takes away that smooth look created from the plastic liner and gives the pot a textured, natural look. At this point you also want to drill drainage holes in the container if you are planning on using it for a planter.
Once the container has dried completely, it is time to soak the container in water to wash away the lime residue from the cement. Most plants do not appreciate a strong concentration of lime, so we soak them for about 24 hours and then change the water and soak for another 24 hours. In this soaking we also brush the containers with a stiff brush to remove any loose particles. Now they must dry again for about 3-4 weeks. After they are dry they are ready to be planted. Plants of all types do very well in hypertufa containers as they do not heat up in the sun and they are porous which allows the roots of the plants to breath. The containers never fade, in fact the longer they are exposed to the elements the more natural the look to them. They will stand up to the heat, rain and cold.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Hypertufa Part I

Since the weather has turned cold and the ground has frozen we are turning our attention towards other tasks that we complete throughout the winter. We received a few seed catalogues this past week, so we are checking out all the new seeds available and considering what we will grow in 2011. We also check out the internet for various seed companies and take a look at their stock. Generally we order the bulk of our seeds from T&T Seeds (http://www.ttseeds.com/), Stokes (http://www.stokeseeds.com/), and William Dam Seeds (http://www.damseeds.com/).

The bulk of Pat's time is taken over with the Hypertufa production. Hypertufa is a mixture of cement, vermiculite, peat moss and a small amount of fibre mesh. The fibre mesh acts as a bonding agent. The proportions are measured into a large tub and then mixed all together in their dry state. Once they are blended water is added. At his stage it is crucial that you do not add excessive water, as your batch will be runny and you will be throwing it out. You must add your water in smaller portions and mix it with each addition. The consistency you want to achieve is that of cottage cheese. Once the consistency is satisfactory you can start molding your containers.
Check back next week for instructions on Part II of Hypertufa Production.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Squash Recipe

We came across a recipe this fall that we really enjoyed and wanted to share with you. Another way to prepare the winter squash you may have stored in your cold room or if you don't have any go to your nearest Farmers Market and purchase one before they are sold out.
We used a pumpkin called Jamboree Hybrid, that we grew, which has a blue/grey skin. They are ornamental as well as edible. carved like a pumpkin for Halloween. The flesh is very orange and firm, perfect for the recipe below.

Squash Rings with Honey Soy Glaze
3 pounds of acorn, butternut or other firm squash
vegetable oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove minced (we used several cloves)
Pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 450F. Brush a large baking sheet with oil (can also line it with foil). Peel and seed squash and cut into 1 inch thick disks.
Place disks in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Cover baking sheet with foil. Bake about 15 minutes until squash begins to soften.
Meanwhile whisk next 5 ingredients in a small bowl to blend. Remove foil from squash. Brush half of honey mixture over squash. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake uncovered 10 minutes. Brush remaining mixture over squash; continue to bake until squash is brown, tender and glazed, about 10 minutes.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Wildlife sightings.

This past week we had a couple of wildlife sightings. A Pileated Woodpecker visited our yard. We see this bird on occasion, not regularly, and you may hear it before you see it. When it pecks on a tree or power pole the noise it creates is very loud. In the summertime with the windows open we can hear it in the house pecking away on the power poles in the yard. We hadn't seen the resident deer with her baby for a while, but last week we spotted them early one morning running through the front yard. The baby is not a baby anymore as it is just about as big as it's mother.
In October we attended a Proven Winners Road Show. It was a day long seminar sponsored by the Proven Winners organization. Throughout the day we listened to speakers providing everyone with information about the plants they have developed. There is a lot of time, effort and money invested in creating the plants that have the Proven Winner label,which include annuals, perennials and shrubs. Try a plant or two from their collection.
I wanted to pass along a website that I visit often. The address is http://www.icangarden.com/. It is a Canadian site with lots and lots of links to many gardening topics. They publish a monthly newsletter that you can subscribe to as well.
Enjoy the week.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Snowy Tuesday!!!

The moisture has now turned into snow, the wind is howling extremely hard, so spent the day indoors. Really enjoy the days indoors when the weather is cold and miserable. As soon as the weather turns nice we will head out again and tidy up a few more things. We have some tomato cages to put away for the winter that we used for the dahlia's, a couple of water barrel's to empty and pails etc to store away for the winter. Everything is progressing very nicely this fall.
We completely cleaned, and mulched a couple of the gardens. They are ready to plant in spring. We incorporated the leaves, shredded plant material and the manure into the soil.
The only things we have out in the garden are a small row of carrots. Will dig those as we have a demand for them.
Pat planted about 460 cloves of garlic last week and we would like to plant a few rows of lettuce and spinach this fall, so we have some early fresh vegetables. If you are planning on sowing a few cool weather vegetable crops this fall remember to sow them a little thicker than you would in the Spring. Some of the seeds won't survive the winter, so sowing a little thicker will compensate for this.
The picture included today is a flower called Carthamus or Safflower. Safflower oil is made from this plant.
Happy Halloween!!!!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fall cleanup.

Things are rollin along since we last posted. The weather has been beautiful, so Pat finished siding the outside of the house yesterday. Looks great. Next year we will need to do some painting on the cement foundation and then on to other projects. I made a lot of progress in the gardens. Have been chipping and shredding the dead plant material, particularly the sunflower stalks. It will all be tilled into the soil along with bags of leaves we collect from the yards of our friends and family. We had a load of straw bales delivered to the yard this week, which we will use for mulch next year. Pat emptied the water from the tanks that we had collected this summer. Did not need to use any of the collected water this year. The soil is still very wet, especially where the soil is mulched.
We finalized our plant orders and sent those off to the suppliers. We added a few new dahlia's along with all the usual colours we grow. Lots of new perennials, such as a couple of different hydrangea's, an orange Iris, a new variety of Bleeding Heart, Blue Lace Delphinium, day lily, sedums, yellow Itoh Peony, plus many more. We will also have Rhubarb plants next year for all those people whom were looking for Rhubarb. If there is ever anything that you would like to add to your plant collection, talk to us about it and we may be able to source it for you. The things I am most excited about is the succulents we have on order. Lots of new varieties we have not had before.
The picture I included today is our Sage patch.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


We have reached a milestone....50 posts on our blog. Where has the summer gone. We have enjoyed writing about the farm and all the chores that go along with it, but probably enjoy writing about all the other creatures we share our space with out here. That is really what we truly love about living in the country. We have all these "pets" but do not have to take care of them, other than try and provide an environment where there is plenty of food, water and shelter. All we do is sit back and watch them do what they do.
Have to tell you about the red squirrel in the quonset......it is gathering quite an impressive stock of sunflower heads (small ones, as he cannot carry around the large ones). One day Pat went into the quonset and was looking around for wood. He came across the squirrel's stockpiled sunflower heads. It had them all stacked neatly on a pile with a piece of newspaper laying on top of the pile. I guess it had hoped that the newspaper would hide his stash from other sunflower lovers. :-)
All of the transplanting is now complete and all of the bulbs and tubers I wanted to save are dug and drying in the garage. The few pumpkins we have left are turning orange and we are now bagging and weighing the dried herbs. They will be available to purchase at the Little Market Store in the Saskatoon Farmers Market building. Our horseradish is sold there as well.
I came across an interesting tip regarding planting spring bulbs. If the bulbs you ordered do not arrive before the ground freezes, a planting hole can be prepared ahead of time and a small pot filled with dry soil placed in the hole. When the bulbs arrive the pots can be lifted, the bulbs dropped into the holes and the soil from the pots dumped over the bulbs.
The weather has been so nice that the sweet peas have started blooming again, the Bell's of Ireland have started to grow and the dahlias are getting new growth from the bottom. The weeds are still growing with a vengeance. It's been an interesting year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Fall chores.

Soon the gladiolas, crocosmia's and calla lilies will have to be lifted. Wait until the frost has killed them before you dig them up. Cut the stalks, leaving about an inch with the bulb. Then allow them to sit in an open area like a garage, shed or basement for 2-3 weeks to dry. You can then remove the old corm from the glads and crocosmia's and store them in a mesh bag (I use an onion bag) Hang the bag in a cold room or garage that stays above freezing for the winter. The calla lilies need to be placed in a box with dampened vermiculite or peat moss and stored in a cool but not freezing environment.
Another fresh batch of horseradish was prepared this week. It will be available at the market this Saturday. I had another phone call today for an order, so I do not think it will last too long. The jars of horseradish can be stored in your freezer and will keep for about 6 months, so stock up while it is available.
Would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone whom supported us this season. It was a lot of fun and we are looking forward to next year's growing season. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


We are enjoying the spectacular weather we have been having the last couple of weeks. The air into the nights has been warm and the mosquito's seem to have disappeared the last couple of days.
Busy digging and planting and weeding in the gardens. Takes it's toll on our backs so we must have regular exercise sessions. Our backs let us know when we have not taken the time to exercise. But we are progressing....the monkshoods are almost all moved to their new location. Will then move a patch of lily bulbs out to the field garden. They are planted beside a hedge of cotoneaster's and the hedge is starting to crowd the lilies. This summer the lilies did not perform like they should have, due to the competition from the cotoneasters. There is still plenty of time to plant bulbs, but the perennials should be planted as soon as you can, so they have time to get their roots established before the ground freezes.
We have a huge crop of Jalapenos available so we are sharing a recipe. Jalapeno peppers can be frozen for later use in your favourite recipes. We always throw a half dozen or so in our soup stock. Provides a real nice flavour. Will also have copies of this recipe at the farmers market.

Stuffed Jalapenos

8 whole, fresh Jalapenos
1/2 block cream cheese softened
fresh basil chopped or 1 tsp dried
chopped garlic or 1-2 tsp garlic powder
bacon strips cut in half
Combine cream cheese with basil, add garlic. Wearing gloves, slice each pepper lengthwise and remove seeds and membrane. Spread cream cheese mixture into jalapeno halves and wrap each with a 1/2 slice of bacon. Secure with toothpick that you have soaked in water.
Put under broiler until bacon is crisp, about 5-10 minutes.
These are approximate measurements....adjust to your particular taste. Fresh chives are tasty as well. You can grill them on the barbecue instead of broiling.

This Saturday will be our last day at the Farmer's Market for the 2010 season. We will be having a couple of good deals this Saturday. One is Jalapenos 10 for $1.00, regular price is 3 for $1.00 and also all our 3.5" succulents are buy one get one free. Stock up and freeze those jalapenos to add flavour to all your favourite dishes throughout the winter.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spectacular Colours

Fall, it is our favourite time of year, especially this year. The colours of the leaves are brilliant in various hues of yellow, orange and brown. The wind picked up yesterday and took all the leaves off some of the trees with it. We were in an urban area today and the trees were spectacular, so enjoy wherever you may be.

The birds are still busy enjoying the sunflowers, seeds and berries. There are a few robins still around, feasting in the gardens, as well as American Goldfinches, Sparrows and Chickadees. The geese are flying around in the area in large groupings. Lots of food around for them to eat as the farmers are only starting to harvest this week. The Red Squirrels, three of them in total, are busy harvesting for their winter diet. They enjoy the sunflowers the most, but also like the wheat. I have the wheat hanging in the greenhouse to ripen and any seeds they can reach, they help themselves. One has set up his winter nest in the quonset, but have not yet found the other's nest's. You often hear them scolding each other when they cross the territory lines.
Today we dug three tubs full of horseradish root, so we will begin cleaning, peeling and grinding tomorrow. Our first batch of horseradish sold out in one day. Will have more available for market on Saturday.

I have been cleaning out the gardens and moving perennials while Pat has been feverishly siding the house. The house project was started in Spring, but the busy season always put it on the back burner. He is making great progress and should be completed before the snow flies.

Enjoy the sound of the leaves crunching as you walk......just as much fun as walking in puddles.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Horseradish and root vegetables.

The first batch of horseradish will be available Saturday, at the Saskatoon Farmers market. We have also been digging root vegetables, such as parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, beets, and leeks, which are available as well.

Life is still very busy out here, have started planting and moving perennials. Would like to get a lot of transplanting completed before freeze up. We will also begin cleaning out the gardens with the upcoming warm weather.

The leaves are starting to turn beautiful hues of yellow, orange and brown, and soon they will be dropping. We incorporate a lot of leaves into our soil. Have read several articles recently about the importance of mulching with leaves or tilling them into the soil. You can shred them with your lawn mower or leave them as they are and rake them onto your flower beds, and gardens. They contribute to the overall health and tilth of your soil, which in turn contributes to healthy and vigorous plants.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sad day at Mistik Acres.

Yesterday was a very sad day at Mistik Acres. We returned home from a holiday weekend to find rotten tomatoes in our garage. The late blight hit the tomato harvest. The picture we posted a few days ago of the tomatoes, is now but a few tubs. We really aren't expecting these will survive either, but you never know. As the saying goes there is always next year.

Jack Frost hit pretty hard on the weekend. Pretty much everything froze. There are a few flowers that may be available to cut for Saturday's market. The root crops will be sweeter now with the touch of frost. We will be digging leeks, carrots, beets, parsnips and rutabagas for Saturday. We will also have our peppers (green and hot), onions and gourds for sale.

We have posted a picture of the hanging amaranthus or Love Lies Bleeding and a sunflower head being enjoyed by our resident chickadees.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Tomato harvest.

Today we included a picture of the tomato harvest. As you can see the tomato's liked the moisture as they outperformed last year's harvest. We will have Roma and Beefsteak tomatoes available for sale for the next few weeks.

Yesterday we dug all the potatoes, picked all the gourdes, pumpkins, squash and corn, and harvested all the decorative wheat. We will have to hang the wheat in the greenhouse to ripen as it just didn't want to ripen in the field. It sounds like tonight we will get a pretty good frost, so I am a bit sad, but yet a bit relieved as well. No more flowers to cut. It really was a fantastic year with the amount of rain we had. Our water tanks are all full and have been that way throughout the summer. Did not need to use any of the collected water. We will have to pump the water out of the tanks before it starts getting really cold.

The picture to the right is one of the gardens.
The castor beans enclosed an area where we had planted crocosmia, statice, scabiosa, cosmos, dahlia's, lilies and sunflowers. The garden reaches all the way as far as you can see green. This garden has all the perennials as well as lots of different annuals.
We are taking this weekend off and will not be attending the Saskatoon Farmer's Market. Will be back to the market Sat Sep 25.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Bountiful harvest.

We had a touch of frost the last couple of nights, but not too much damage. The tomato plants fared the worst out of everything. Luckily we had picked them all throughout the week. The plants produced above and beyond our expectations. It looks like we avoided the blight.

We finished picking the peppers today and they really produced well. Some of the green pepper plants had as many as 10 large peppers hanging on. The jalapenos went wild and the Cayenne peppers did as well. The green peppers are very juicy and sweet this year due to the abundant moisture.
Once the frost hits a little harder the dahlia's will blacken and die. If you are wanting to save the tubers for next year's planting follow these simple steps.
Cut off the blackened tops and allow the tubers to stay in the ground for about 5-7 days. This allows new eyes to develop. Loosen the soil and carefully lift out the clumps of tubers. Wash off the soil and cut off the stalk at the base close to the tubers and set the cl;umps upside down on sheets of cardboard in the basement, or garage. You want them to dry but not shrivel. It could take 3 hours or 3 days depending on conditions. You want to keep the tubers dry (but not too dry), in the dark, at between 4 and 8 C. We store ours in peat moss in a cardboard box in our cold room. We check them midway throughout winter to make sure they are not too dry. If they are dry you can mist the peat moss. You can also use saw dust or vermiculite for packing. If you see any signs of rot remove those tubers from the storage boxes.
Mid April you can bring your tubers out of storage and plant into pots and you should be able to enjoy blooms by mid July.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Brrrrrrrr feels like you know what.....

The plants are enduring the cold and wet temperatures the last few days. It doesn't seem to have an effect on the Dahlia's. They are producing lots of flowers right now and the colours are so intense and vibrant.

We have been harvesting vegetables for the past week and not nearly finished. We have the onions drying in the greenhouse, which seems to be the only place that is dry right now and the tomatoes we picked are ripening on sheets of plywood in our garage and quonset.

We have noticed in this cold and wet weather the bees are finding refuge tucked under flower petals. They do not move around at all when the weather is cold.

There have been a couple of articles written about Mistik Acres in the last couple of weeks. One was written as a vendor profile on the Saskatoon Farmers Market Newsletter by Penny McKinlay. You can subscribe to the newsletter through the market website http://www.saskatoonfarmersmarket.com/ or request a down loadable version at sfmnews@sasktel.net.

Another article was written on Penny McKinlay's blog at

The pictures we have posted today were taken by our daughter Mandy whom is a professional photographer. Her blog is http://www.mandyphotography.blogspot.com/ and her website http://www.memoriesbymandy.ca/.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Last week we had a couple of visitors to the farm, Penny and Isobel. Penny McKinlay is a freelance writer and has been hired by the Saskatoon Farmer's Market to help out with creating a newsletter. In the newsletter she plans on writing vendor profiles, so we invited her to come out. We took a tour of the gardens, which they enjoyed very much. I do not think they were expecting the abundance and varieties of flowers and vegetables we grow. We had a lot of fun and Peggy took lots of pictures. Have included some of them today and will post others in future posts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Our daughter was visiting one day and snapped a few pictures of us harvesting flowers in early summer . Daisy, our grand puppy was tagging along.

The days are starting to get cooler and shorter (fallish) so we have been harvesting the garlic, onions and corn. We also are harvesting the herbs and starting the drying process.
We would like to share a recipe with you.
Tomato, Zucchini Stirfry
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
3 cups chopped Zucchini
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp chopped parsley
2 large tomatoes chopped
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
In a skillet, melt butter, add onions and saute until transparent.
Add zucchini, salt, basil, pepper and parsley. Stirfry until zucchini is tender.
Add the tomatoes, stir for an additional 2 minutes.
Sprinkle cheese on top. Cover briefly, until cheese is melted.
Yield 6 servings.
We make this recipe at least once per week and highly recommend it.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Castor Bean.

We have been trying to capture the size of the Castor beans in a photograph for the blog but they just never do them justice. I grew a new Castor bean this year called Zani Palm, which is to grow up to 8'. It does not get red like the regular Castor bean. The photo is a picture of one of the Zani Palm's. I use them for windbreak around a garden area. I probably have about 18-20 Castor beans around this area. The flower in the forground is a Crocosmia, that is produced from a corm that I overwinter.

We have started to harvest the vegetables this last week. We have the garlic all dug, as well as most of the onions. We are also starting to harvest the leeks and will have those available this weekend at the Saskatoon Farmer's Market. The tomatoes will be available along with green peppers, jalapeno peppers, green onions, zucchini and yellow beans.

A large selection of flowers will be on display this Saturday as well.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Farmers Market.

Wanted to share with you pictures of our tables and flower displays at the Saskatoon Farmers Market. This time of year it is very colourful at our booth.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Delivery day.

As you can see the truck is always jam packed with buckets full of flowers, on delivery day. Generally most shops preorder some of the product, but there is always something new that was not preordered. When we stop at a flower shop we pull the flowers off the truck and they pick and chose what they want.

I was picking raspberries yesterday, and I heard this small, squeak, squeak, like a baby rodent or something. So, I slowly snuck toward the sound, until I saw what it was. What I saw was a garter snake and it looked like the sound was coming from the snake. But on closer inspection, it was not the snakes mouth opening and closing...the snake had a frog in it's mouth and the frog's mouth was opening and closing and making the squeaking sound. I guess we would squeak too, if we were being eaten by a snake. Nature.... it is always fascinating.
Today we are preparing for market once again. Harvesting flowers and vegetables. We are very pleased once again with the green pepper production this year. The peppers are a great size and they are so juicy and sweet. The plants are all producing with great gusto. The varieties we grow are, Northstar and Fat n' Sassy. Highly recommend both of these varieties. They are a variety good for northern climates and the last 2 growing seasons have produced large quantities.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Garlic patch.

We picked 2 heads of garlic, different varieties, one which was planted in the fall and one which was planted in the spring. The large one was planted in the fall and it is a hard neck variety, whereas the small one was planted in spring and it is a soft neck variety. The picture really doesn't do it justice, as the large head is 9" in diameter. Looking forward to the garlic harvest.
We tamed the jungle in the back garden yesterday. We took the hand held rototiller in and tilled pathways through the vegetation in some areas. You don't realize how things are growing in the pathways until you can't get through with the pails of cut flowers. Feels much better to get that completed. Some varieties of tomatoes are starting to ripen, as well as the beans are going full strength. Lots of fresh vegetables available. The gophers are enjoying the ripe tomatoes as well. They always get the first ripe tomato, except they only eat half of it and leave the rest and then go on to a new tomato the next day.
Market day Saturday will be very colourful with lots of flowers and vegetables. We will have onions, beets, peppers, zucchini, beans and fresh herbs. The sunflowers will be plentiful along with zinnias, dahlias, amaranthus, bell's of ireland, gladiola's, cosmos, rudbeckia's, tansy and more. We always bring along an assortment of succulents, hypertufas, and other plant material.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Red globe!

Last night the sun was setting and it was a huge red globe...it was spectacular. Truly something we have to take the time to enjoy before it is gone. Update on the bat....it disappeared overnight, so hopefully it was able to recover from it's ordeal.

Things are progressing very well out here. All the plants are super sized from the great growing conditions, the flowers are all large and the colours vibrant. The Castor bean leaves have never been as large as they are this year. It is truly a wonderful place to hang out..and we do hang out alot, trying to control the growth of some plants and the weeds. Feel free to come out for a visit, we would be happy to give you a tour around the gardens. Contact us through the blog e-mail and we can set up a time.

We came across this info, which may be beneficial to you all, if we get some high temperatures.

Before you water a wilting plant - put your finger in the soil a few centimeters down to see if it is damp. Plants wilt because they are losing more moisture than they can pick up from their roots. If their is adequate soil moisture, adding more is not going to make it any easier for the plant to survive, in fact it is only going to make it harder. It's called soil saturation and this leads to root rot and more wilting.

If there is adequate soil moisture, the appropriate action is to take a deep breath and allow the plant to recover on it's own in the evening. A thick layer of mulch will help the soil temperature to stay cool during heat spells and this in turn will keep the plant healthier. This is also particularly true with container plants.

Enjoy the heat...if it comes. Hope it does because the tomatoes sure need a jolt.

The picture is a milk thistle.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bat rescue!

We found a bat treading water in one of our water barrel's this morning. So we scooped it out and put it on the ground. The first picture with it's wings out, is right after we took it out of the water. The second picture is after it was out of the water for a few hours and it had dried somewhat and it's wings were drawn in. It is alive, but not sure if it is hurt or not. Has not tried to fly yet. It opens it's mouth and shows it's teeth when we touch it. They have quite big fangs for a little creature. They are really cute. They have a small nose and eyes and big ears. Hopefully it will be fully recovered soon, so it can go about hunting mosquito's again.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Market vegetables.

We are busy picking and cleaning vegetables today, for the market on Saturday. Looks like we will have onions, beets, beet greens, carrots, potatoes, fresh herbs and a few raspberries.
The flowers we will have are Sunflowers, Gladiolas, Dahlias, Zinnias, Bell's of Ireland, Monkshood, Sweet Peas, Lilies, Peonies, Sea Holly, Yarrow and Heliopsis.
We will have a new display apparatus for the flowers. Stop by and check it out.
Did you know....that a Locavore is a term used to describe someone whom seeks out locally grown and produced foods. The word locavore was the New Oxford American Dictionary word of the year for 2007 and is a growing trend.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sunflowers ready for market.

The sunflowers are starting to bloom now and it will be a sea of yellow soon. We plant sunflowers as a windbreak for the delicate flowers that can be damaged from the wind. So they have a dual purpose, as we also harvest their flowers for fresh sales and there is always plenty left to go to seed for the birds in winter. Yesterday we took 2 truckloads of flowers into the city and sold to the florists. We have never had to do that before, as we usually get them all in one load. Lots of beautiful flowers. Will also take flowers in again on Wednesday for the flower shops.
This year we are noticing that a lot of the birds have left already, the yard anyway.....not sure if they are hanging out elsewhere. The tree swallows, first batch of bluebirds, and robins have left the yard. We see a few tree swallows once in a while, but we don't remember them leaving this early in previous years....but then again we have never had this many birds nesting in the yard before, so maybe we just did not notice this happening.
The vegetables are loving this warm weather lately and are looking so healthy. We are going to have start watering the dahlias today, so we could use another inch of rain soon. We do have everything mulched now, so it will stop the moisture from evaporating.
The small greenhouse is now home to a garter snake. We are now using it for storage and when ever we go into it, the snake slithers away into a hole in the ground inside the greenhouse. It must be enjoying the warm temperature inside the greenhouse.

Friday, July 23, 2010


The recent warm sunny days, (very little rain) has prompted the plants to grow with such vigor.
The flowers have all exploded into colour. All are coming into bloom with intense colour and fragrance. Yesterday afternoon we walked by the sweet pea garden and we could smell them from about 20' away. It just catches your attention and draws you to the area where they are growing.
We are busy cutting flowers and vegetables for Saturdays market. We will have available new potatoes, beets, beet greens, green onions, carrots, dill, cilantro and mint.
There will be plenty of flower choices this week, including sweet peas (of course), lilies, gladiolas (red ones), peonies (white, burgundy and pink), sunflowers, dahlias, and zinnias. Stop and enjoy the colours and smells.
The picture today was taken by our daughter, Mandy Harding, whom is a professional photographer. They started their own business, Memories by Mandy Photography, 3 years ago and have had huge success with it. They regularly post photos on their blog www.mandyphotography.blogspot.com. The website address is www.memoriesbymandy.ca. Check it out, you will enjoy the pictures.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lily delivery.

Today we are off to the city to deliver lilies. We cut over 100 lilies yesterday, reds, oranges, yellows and pinks. They are beautiful this year...long tall stems with lots of buds. Will continue cutting lilies for the next 2 weeks or so. Like to cut them when the bud is swollen and showing colour but not yet opened. They are easier to transport this way.
We started picking carrots this week and will continue harvesting potatoes, beets and onions.
It is still raining every day, not sure if this cycle will break this year. The tomato plants would like warmer temperatures, as they are not producing much fruit yet. The peppers are producing, surprisingly, as they usually like warmer weather, but the plant is not really growing very tall. The raspberries took a beating this fall and winter, weather wise, and have struggled, so we will not be harvesting too much fruit. We also took a look at the spot where we pick Saskatoon's in the bush, and there is very little fruit. Will have to resort to the tame Saskatoon's this year.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

150 Peonies!

We had the pleasure of providing a wedding this weekend with peonies. We had never seen 150 peonies all together before....WoW were they beautiful.

The flowers are all starting to produce. We will be cutting sweet peas, delphiniums, lilies, dahlias and peonies for the Farmers Market.

We will have several types of herbs, potatoes, beets, beet greens, onions and garlic scape's for market as well.

We came across an article about attracting ladybugs to your garden. Apart from aphids, ladybugs also require a source of pollen for food and are attracted to specific types of plants. The most popular ones have umbrella shaped flowers, such as fennel, dill, cilantro, caraway, angelica, tansy, wild carrot and yarrow. Other plants that also attract lady bugs are cosmos (especially the white ones), coreposis, scented geraniums and dandelions.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


The picture today is an Asiatic lily named Raspberry on Whip. I have had this particular lily for a very long time now and is one of my favourites.
The lilies are going to be spectacular this year. They are all stretching nice and tall and developing many buds on each stem. They will be available at the market soon.
We have decided that we will not be attending the weekday markets for a while, due to the huge workload out here. Although the rain is great for growing the flowers and vegetables it is also great for growing the weeds and grass. All we've been doing is cutting grass and weeding. We are accumulating a lot of grass clippings though, and they are being used as mulch so we don't have to weed as often. All is good.
Did you know....the ears of a cricket are located on the front legs, just below the knee.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Lovely morning.

Woke up to another gorgeous day. The fog was lingering for a short time, before the sun burnt it off. The birds are busy singing and going about. Saw a close up of the dove this morning for the first time. The bluebirds by the field garden (whom produced 6 young) are busy incubating more eggs. Unbelievable!!! The tree swallows are all busy feeding their young. Looks like some young ones may have left the nest, as their is quite a few flying around.

An update on the peony count is now at 1200 stems and they are pretty much finished. A very successful year for those. Everything else is growing great. The dahlias are starting to produce. The sunflowers seem to grow a couple of inches a day. The tomatoes look fantastic and there is lots of fruit on. We will be checking the potatoes today...love new potatoes.

Now market day, Saturday July 10...we will have green onions, garlic scape's, beet greens, mint, dill, and cilantro. We will have peonies and a few other flowers (dahlias, snapdragons) and the perennials and hypertufas. Another full load. What are garlic scapes you ask....they are produced on the top of the garlic where bulbils are formed, the seed of the garlic. Before the bulbils form we harvest the scapes. The scapes are a gourmet delight...steam them whole or serve with melted butter like asparagus. Add to stir fries, salads etc. They have a delicate garlic flavour.
The picture today is a delphinium.
Did you know butterflies taste with their feet