Garlic Harvest 2015

I’m a little embarrassed to admit it, but I harvested my garlic this week. 10 days from November. I’m really lucky there isn’t snow on the ground.

Let’s talk about what an awful gardener I’ve been this year. Wait, let’s not. I think it’s obvious. The good news is that the garlic is still totally fine! The bad news is that I need to eat it all fresh – or figure out what else I can do with it soon (pickling, freezing, etc). The thing is, when you don’t harvest it at the time you’re supposed to (let’s say, August, in my case), the garlic will think that it should start to get ready for the winter. So once the weather starts to get a bit chillier, like it has been here, each clove will start to get green sprouts (similar to what happens when I plant garlic in the fall for harvesting the next year). As well, all those layers of skin that help the garlic cure, have pretty much just fallen off – some skins on my garlic are still intact, but most have come off.


Also, harvesting it at this point is more difficult. The stalks are all dried out, so you really need to dig deep and pull the bulbs by hand. No big deal, just a little extra effort. I say no big deal, but I was actually cursing quite a bit.

So the moral of the story is: harvest your garlic on time if you want to actually be able to cure it properly for long term storage. Otherwise, be prepared to have a lot of garlic that you can only use in the short term.

And as always, the best part of the garlic harvest (besides eating it) is the wonderful smell of fresh pungent garlic filling the air of my home. I love it.

Sometimes I’m not an awful gardener! Here is proof (last year’s garlic harvest)!

Delicious, Beautiful Rhubarb

It’s the most wonderful time of the year – rhubarb harvesting! Maybe a close second to the garlic harvest or the the tomato harvest. And it just happens that my rhubarb is a gigantic monster this year, so this will be the first of a few harvests!

Fresh Rhubarb

One of my very first posts on this blog last year was about rhubarb where I talked about growing it and preserving it. This year I don’t have a ton of time, so a bit of rhubarb got cut up, bagged up, and stuck in the freezer. But some of it got made in to rhubarb sauce for ice cream.

This is one of those recipes that is reminiscent of my childhood living in the country. It makes me think of the end of the school year and the beginning of summer. It’s a good thing. To make it, just cut rhubarb in to about 1 inch bits, add to a pot with a little bit of water (enough to just cover the bottom of the pot), and as much sugar or sweetener as you like. Simmer it on the stove, stirring every now and then, until it is quite thick and the rhubarb has broken down. Let it cool and store in the fridge in a jar, and when you’re ready, dump as much as you like over top of vanilla ice cream. If you happen to have quite a bit of liquid in your rhubarb sauce, you can reserve a bit of it to add to lemonade, fizzy water, or ginger ale.

Freezer Rhubarb

I’ll be thankful for this rhubarb in the dead of winter. To freeze, just wash, dry, cut and bag the rhubarb.

I still have a tonne of rhubarb to harvest! I am eying a few recipes in this book I got for my birthday, so I’m hoping to try a few of them out. Do you have any favorite rhubarb recipes? I’d love to hear about them!

Habanero Hot Pepper

I honestly thought that I would hate the Habanero pepper and that I would want to die immediately after eating it. Rated 100,000 – 350,000 on the scoville scale, I was frightened. Afterall, I could barely stand to eat the Chinese 5 Color hot pepper that I grew and it was rated far less on the scoville scale than the Habanero. But at the same time, I felt like I needed to at least try it. And I’m so glad that I did. I loved it.


The words seem surreal as I type them – I love the Habanero pepper and it was absolutely my favorite hot pepper this year. Let me explain a bit – the flavor of the habanero is truly unlike any other hot pepper that I grew this year. They have a very sweet flavor with a bit of smokiness and although the heat is fairly intense, it subsides quickly and leaves you feeling very satisfied. Instead of reaching for a glass of milk or shoving popsicles into my mouth, I didn’t need anything to relieve myself from the heat. Now maybe either I’ve burned all of the taste buds off of my tongue or my peppers weren’t actually that hot – I don’t know. I felt like I should have been clutching my stomach in the fetal position while crying. Also, I should mention that I removed all of the seeds from my peppers before eating them which would definitely lessen some of the heat in the peppers. But all in all, they were very hot and pleasantly delicious.

I should mention some of the things I wasn’t thrilled about. This pepper took the longest amount of time to grow and produce ripe peppers. My seeds were started last February in the house and were moved out to the greenhouse in May. The plant didn’t produce flowers until about a month later than all the other peppers and then it seemed to take forever for any peppers to appear. Once they did appear, they grew very slowly and in fact, I ended up having to move the entire potted plant back in to the house a few weeks ago as the peppers were just starting to ripen and the nights were below freezing temperatures – the last thing I wanted to do was to lose my precious peppers to frost. Also, the one plant only produced two peppers – one a decent size and the other quite small. Despite this, I will try growing this pepper again because the flavor was so amazing. I’ve also purchased some Mustard Habanero seeds to try out next year and I have my eye on the Chocolate Habanero pepper as well (who am I kidding, I will order those seeds in a couple of months).

And now for the best part – fish tacos with fresh mango habanero salsa. So good. I’d never made fish tacos before, even though pork tacos are a weekly staple at our house. This recipe was killer – you can find the fish tacos recipe here (I omitted the slaw in place of the salsa) and the salsa recipe here. I will absolutely be making this recipe again, and it was a perfect use for the peppers.


That brings my pepper posts to an end for this growing season. I’m so excited that I finally had some good success with growing peppers (thank you greenhouse!) and I can’t wait until the next season. I’ve already started a few peppers in the house (really, really hot ones!) and I have a list of other peppers I’d like to try – so basically my entire greenhouse will be just peppers next year – I can’t wait!

Habanero hot pepper seeds purchased from Botanical Interests.

2014 Tomatoes Part Three

Looking back on the tomato season, I would say that this year was weird. It could have been better but it also could have been much worse. Several young tomato plants met a terrible demise early in the season due to savage squirrels and some tomatoes didn’t perform as well as I’d hoped (a few plants producing only one or two tomatoes!). An early morning wind storm in July knocked a few pots of tomatoes from my deck on to the ground, surprisingly not breaking the pots but doing some damage to the plants inside of them. Aside from that, the plants did not suffer from any blight or insect infestations. Then almost all of the tomatoes had to be harvested several weeks early and brought into the house to ripen due to a freak summer snowstorm. But some plants did perform quite well – Black Cherry, Green Zebra, Indigo Rose, and Tumbler. My overall tomato harvest was big enough to last a couple of months and I was also able to roast and freeze a lot of tomatoes for use over the winter. Even though I’ve been growing tomatoes for as long as I’ve been gardening, each year brings new surprises and I learn new things – no two growing seasons are ever the same, especially in Calgary (or insert your location). I’ve made lots of notes for next year and I’m constantly exploring new methods to try (next year I will be experimenting with the disgusting fish head method). On a positive note, I did discover quite a few new-to-me varieties that I will be absolutely growing again, so even though the season was weird, I think it was successful.

And now on to the last tomatoes of the season!


Doesn’t that cat bowl make you squeal in delight?!


Chocolate Cherry

This was my first year growing Chocolate Cherry and you may confuse it with Black Cherry that I featured in an earlier tomato post because they look quite similar except Chocolate Cherry is quite a bit smaller in size. The harvest was just okay – it really could have been better, especially for an indeterminate plant. I got maybe a small bowl full of tomatoes, but this may have been the result of me trying to jam as many plants into a small space as I could – I’m blaming me, not the plant. Regardless of the small harvest, this tomato is really tasty – very sweet with very little acidity. The flavor is very pleasant and the texture is ideal for me – I will absolutely plant these again.



Say that one three times. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what this plant was – I had to dig through my seeds to figure it out because the label got lost somewhere but once I figured it out I loudly said “Oh, of course!”. And I definitely won’t forget this one because although the tomatoes are teeny tiny, they taste amazing! They almost remind me of a currant tomato, size-wise. These little tomatoes are unlike any other yellow tomato I’ve had – they are very flavorful and have a really nice texture. They have a great balance between sweetness and acidity. These have also gone on my “must plant again” list. And I’m so pleased that I finally found a yellow tomato that I love.



I grew several small red tomatoes this year but only chose to feature Riesentraube because it was by far the worst. Riesentraube is larger than a cherry tomato and smaller than a paste tomato but the name actually translates to “giant bunch of grapes” in German. My harvest was not a “giant bunch” of grape-sized tomatoes, it was more like a “small bunch” of elephant grapes (if that’s a real thing), and the tomatoes themselves were nothing exciting. I was not a fan of the texture, they were not very sweet and fairly acidity which left me very disappointed. I juggled whether or not I wanted to include Riesentraube in my post but decided that maybe someone was considering it and I should warn that person to not bother.

That brings my 2014 tomato posts to an end. Read Part One here and Part Two here. Now to start planning for next year! I have my eye on another blue variety and several dwarf varieties and I’m always up for suggestions.

Chocolate Cherry tomatoes seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, Blondkopfchen seeds from Urban Harvest (no longer available) but also sold at Seed Savers Exchange, Riesentraube from Urban Harvest (no longer available) but also sold at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Anaheim NuMex Joe E. Parker “Hot” Pepper

You may have noticed that the title contains the word hot which has quotations surrounding it: “hot”. That’s because although this pepper is classified as a hot pepper, I do not believe it is such (it is rated 800-1000 on the scoville scale). I think I need to come up with a new pepper classification to categorize peppers that are in between sweet and hot peppers. I guess that when I first started eating and growing peppers I was a bit naive because I didn’t realize that the pepper spectrum is so vast. I do enjoy the more mild hot peppers quite a bit, but I sometimes find myself disappointed when I taste them because I’m expecting to burn my face off. From now on I am going to ensure that my expectations are clear when choosing peppers to grow – I need a good variety of sweet, mild hot and face-burning hot peppers. But I can’t be too hard on myself – this is my first year of successfully growing hot peppers from seed!


For some reason I ended up with three plants of this variety in my greenhouse – I can’t remember why (goldfish brain). All of the plants were fairly compact – about a foot or so tall and each plant produced 2-3 peppers. Not an amazing amount, but enough to flavor a few small dishes (fresh salsa & thrown in with some banana peppers I was canning to add more colors). The peppers themselves were a good size – a couple of inches wide and about 6 inches long (except for a few runts). I know I complained above about feeling disappointment towards the lack of heat in these, but the taste is really good for a mild pepper – slightly sweet but with a peppery taste without the heat (if that makes sense). I think that if I had a better yield of these I would have stuffed them and roasted them because that would have really brought out the flavor.

I have one more hot pepper left for this year and that is the Habanero which are yet to ripen in my greenhouse (these ones have been so slow!), but I’m confident that I will not be disappointed with these ones.

Anaheim NuMex Joe E. Parker pepper seeds from Botanical Interests.