Gumboot Adventures

gowing and growing green

Apple Festival October 27, 2011

The kids and I recently decided to have our very own Apple Festival.  You can read all about it at Growing Up Green, my weekly series at www.thriftyandgreen.com. Here’s a little behind-the-scene look at our fun!

We don’t have apples growing yet – next year I hope – so we hit the farmer’s market for a selection of shapes colours and sizes.  Bergandy is always attracted to tiny things! So, crab apples:

Crab Apples

Crab Apples

We laid out our spread, filled bowls with toppings, and dug in! You try getting them to look up after saying go…

Our At-Home Apple Festival

Our At-Home Apple Festival

I thought the kids would gorge on the sprinkles & chocolate, but they surprised me. They always do! That’s half the fun. Bergandy liked sweet apple with sweet honey. Sweet. Asher laughed at the idea of picking a favorite. Between bites  – “Who needs a favorite with all this good stuff!”

Apple Love

Apple Love

Even Weston partook – using any and every apple slice he could get his paws on as a teether! No chocolate sauce for him, though you know he tried his hardest to get into that fun too!

Baby Weston Loves Apple

Baby Weston Loves Apple

After gorging ourselves on 10 – yes TEN – apples, we needed to burn off the honey, caramel and chocolate. What better way than to done matching monster t-shirts and dance around the living room to Monster Mash!

Monster Moves

Monster Moves

Until we collapsed. Here, Bergandy does her very best “dead pose”.

Dead Dance

Dead Dance

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Over at Thrifty And Green August 8, 2011

I’ve been busy writing at Thrifty and Green.  Here are a few highlights:

Thrifty and Green Digital Edition

Thrifty and Green Digital Edition

The very exciting inaugural digital edition of Thrifty & Green is now available for purchase. It’s packed full of premium of content – I’ve contributed a Green Back To School spread, with a Green School Supply List. We’ve also got some great Back to School Lunch Snack Recipes that are better for the earth and for the kids. Other highlights include Rooftop Gardens, Traveling the World on a Shoe String Budget and the Low Down on Wild vs Farmed Salmon. A 20-page Preview of the magazine is available, but really for $2.99, you should probably just buy it!

In Growing Up Green, we’ve gone Berry crazy!

Berries at Growing Up Green

Berries at Growing Up Green

Read about Foraging for Wild Berries, and learn how best to Freeze the Berries you collect. In a moment of bucket dumping frustration, I was inspired to make cute Berry Buckets on String with the kids. This free recycled craft was a huge hit at our house, so I shared it at Crafty Kids.

I’ve also shared our tried and tested 10 Fun Road Trip Games which will come in handy for any summer Camping Trips still on the horizon.

If you like what you read – please help spread the word. It’s a new publication and we appreciate all the support!

LIKE Thrifty & Green on Facebook, follow @thriftyandgreen on twitter and me at @tovahp. But most of all, tell you friends!

 

Seaweed for the Garden August 6, 2011

Seaweed from the Beach

Seaweed from the Beach

We spent last weekend camping near a beach covered with washed up seaweed. Seaweed is full of nutrients – reputed to be as good as fresh manure for the earth – so before leaving, we collected a rubbermaid full of seaweed for the garden. The kids collected (and returned) a bucket full of fish from the tidepools.

Chasing Fish in the Tide Pool

Chasing Fish in the Tide Pool

We live on the West Coast, so mulching with seaweed seems like a given, but the opportunity hadn’t presented itself until now.

Seaweed can be applied directly to the garden as a layer of mulch or it can be added to the compost. A tonic can also be made by filling a barrel half way with the seaweed and adding water. After sitting three months, this is similar to the commercially available seaweed fertilizer formulas.

Impatience and lack of organization negate the possibility of making tonic right now. And as much as I’d love to mulch, I’m not going to for two reasons:

  1. We didn’t rinse the salt from the seaweed with freshwater.  The salt can be harmful to the garden and can kill the worms. In the rainy winter months, the effect is negligible, but during the summer months adding a lot of salt to the garden isn’t a great idea. That said, that’s way too much work for this busy mama!
  2. Apparently seaweed is rich in growth hormone and shouldn’t be applied late in the growing season.  We might mulch with seaweed in the early fall, when the winter garden is just starting and the other beds are replenishing.

So the seaweed is going into the compost. I’ll let you know how that turns out…

Collecting Seaweed

Collecting Seaweed

Collecting seaweed is as easy as anything. The variety of seaweed is inconsequential and many types varieties can be found on most beaches.  The one and only steadfast rule is respect. Seaweed is an important part of the aquaculture and removing it can be harmful to the natural balance of the environment. So,

    • NEVER take live seaweed. ONLY take seaweed from the beach.
    • RINSE the seaweed gently in the ocean to release aquatic organisms back into the water.
    • LEAVE plenty of seaweed on the beach.  Dried seaweed is a home and harbor to many creatures, if you take it all they are left without cover.
 

The Best Salad Dressing July 28, 2011

The Best Salad Dressing in the World

The Best Salad Dressing in the World

We’ve been eating a lot of greens this cool summer.  Which is fine by us, we have the yummiest salad dressing in the “whole-entire world,” courtesy of the magazine Edible Vancouver and the incredible Hollyhock Institute.

Edible printed Hollyhock’s famous dressing in their almost-spring 2011 edition, and it’s been a game changer at our house.  Here it is.  The best salad dressing in the “Whole-Entire World”

Hollyhock Yeast Dressing

As printed in Edible, from Hollyhock Cooks, with Linda Solomon and Moreka Jolar.

Makes 2 1/2 cups.

1/2 cup (125 ml) nutritional yeast flakes

1/3 cup (75 ml) water

1/3 cup (75 ml) soy sauce or tamari

1/3 cup (75 ml) apple cider vinegar

2 Tbsp crushed garlic

1 1/2 cups (375 ml) Sunflower Oil

Combine the first 5 ing unredients in a blender until they are thoroughly mixed. While still mixing on high, pour the oil in a slow, steady stream. Add  all the oil or r when a desired consistency is achieved. (Honestly, we put everything in the glass mason jar we keep the dressing in, and shake. It’s delicious). When refrigerated, this keeps for 2 weeks.

 

Foraging: Huckleberries & Pie July 22, 2011

Huckleberries

Huckleberries

We’ve spent the last couple of days foraging for huckleberries.  It’s so important to take advantage of the beautiful fruits that nature provides.  They’re there for the picking.  Pick them! PICK THEM! Admittedly, I take this to an obsessive sort of level – my poor husband has nearly had a heart attack on a number of occasions when I scream “STOP THE CAR” at the sight of a particularly good patch of blackberries.  But this early in the season, the whole family shares my unbridled enthusiasm.

Those long-awaited fruits have arrived.  In the forest near our home Salmonberries and Huckleberries are ripe.

This has been the first year that our son, now 6, has understood the benefit of putting the berries in the bucket to bring home. Like his mother, his passion for berry picking is absolute. But until this year, his impatience got the best of him every time and he ate every last berry he picked. Nothing wrong with that really. Fresh. Delicious. Healthy.  It’s what our 3-year old daughter did this year. But  neat to see our son able to exercise self-restraint – to pick berries, bring berries home, dutifully hand over the berries and patiently wait for them to turn into something even better.

And they did!

Huckleberry Pie

Huckleberry Pie

With the exception of our 3-year old daughter, who doesn’t like pie, we all agree that Huckleberry pie – with it’s  perfect combination of tart and sweet – is the true sign of summer.  Luckily, the summer heat is refusing to make an appearance this year, so baking it was not only easy, but also enjoyable! Coming up next, huckleberry jam and huckleberry muffins. Yum.

Huckleberry Pie

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie
  • 4 cups huckleberries
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons soya milk or cream
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
  2. Gently coat  huckleberries in flour, then place in a pastry-lined pan. Spoon sugar evenly over berries. Sprinkle lemon rind and lemon juice over top. Dot with butter. Cover with top crust. Seal edges and cut steam vents in top. Brush surface with soya milk or cream, avoiding fluted edges of crust. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons sugar.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown.

 

Rainy Day Tea Party July 18, 2011

Rainy Day Tea Party

Rainy Day Tea Party

Rain rain go away…  We’ve been trying hard not to sing the mantra. There is no point whining about things that are completely out of our control and since we live in a veritable rain forest, we’ve spent the past six years instilling in our family an embrace-the-rain attitude. Or at least a don’t-let-it-stop-us attitude. We splash in puddles.  We make mud pies. We ride bikes in rain pants. But this summer is trying everyone’s patience – it’s mid-July, we’d really love to see the sun!

The garden is sad. And wet. And muddy. The early crops are coming along nicely.  Pig Peas. Crisp Lettuce. Sweet strawberries. But it’s mid-July! MID-JULY.

This afternoon we took a break from the wet, muddy garden and tried to enjoy the cool home.  When the kids appeared with the porcelain tea set in hand and hope written all over their faces we decided to stage a tea party. Which meant that cookies needed baking. Which meant the oven needed to be turned on. I have a rule that if the oven is heated, we use it plentifully.  So it turned into a roast making, cook and baking, garden fore-saking sort of day.

In our house tea parties are all about sweet manners and sweet treats. In true form, the kids were lovely – using their best pleases and thank yous; and always serving the other first. It’s such a fun way to practice manners – I don’t think the kids have ever had a disagreement during a tea party. The peppermint tea was store bought, but I have big plans for our own mint this year and hope to build on the herbs next year, so hopefully we’ll be making our own tea soon! The cookies were Almond Thumbprints, from Double Delicious, a recipe we’ve never tried before but will definitely repeat.

 

Raised Beds are Better May 8, 2011

Raised Beds

Raised Beds in the Making

We’re building raised beds in the vegetable garden.   Half way through the third enclosure, my husband asked me

“Why are we building these?”

“Because they are better,” I replied without missing a beat. I loved having raised beds at our last home and am eager to get them finished here.

“But why?” He persisted. I hesitated, ever so briefly, and in that moment I saw the swing of his hammer slow, the skepticism flash before his eye and the seed of doubt be planted that is ever so difficult to undo when the alternative means less work on the part of the doubter.

So here’s the lowdown on why raised beds are better:

1. First and foremost, they increase garden yields.  Raised beds accomplish this increased productivity in a number of ways, they:

  • Hold more heat – raised beds warm sooner in the season and hold the heat more efficiently. They are typically about 4C warmer than flat beds. This means an increased growing season, in more ideal conditions.
  • Facilitate easy coldframes – raised beds make it easy to install garden covers with PVC piping to keep the heat in and the elements out. With the use of a cold frame, the growing season is further expanded.
  • Prevent Soil Compression – when properly proportioned (we like 8ft x 4ft), raised beds allow for all planted space to be reached from garden paths.  This means that the gardeners (or the gardeners’ children) avoid stepping on the soil.
  • Promote dense planting – by reducing the space between crops traditionally needed for paths, raised beds favour dense planting, reducing the space for weeds.  This is a huge factor in our plot, which is completely overrun with buttercup from last year’s neglect!

2. Raised beds simplify garden planning and maintenance. Here’s how:

  • Clearly defined “plots” facilitate crop rotation,
  • Mulching pathways minimizes weeds

3. Raised beds are pretty.  I like a pretty vegetable garden and find orderly raised beds aesthetic pleasing. Especially when flowers are incorporated into the overall design – a key ingredient in attracting those very beneficial bees and butterflies.

And if those aren’t enough reasons, well, mother’s day is around the corner and I want the lovely raised beds.  So keep swinging that hammer handsome husband.

 

 
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