Linda's List: : August sowing, fruit ripening

I had a surprise at the end of July when I found a pear lying on the ground under my tree: it hadn't been knocked off by critters--it was ready to pick! In fact I picked about half the crop of Red and Yellow Bartletts that day, which is about 3 weeks early compared to last year. That reminds me to mention that unlike other tree fruit, pears are of better quality if they ripen off the tree. When they are left on the tree until soft enough to eat they are usually brown in the centre, the flesh is grainy and beginning to spoil in places; when taken off the tree they ripen evenly from the inside out. You can tell when a pear is mature enough to pick if you gently lift it upward and sideways. If the seam where the fruit stem meets the twig pops cleanly apart, the pear is ready to pick. If it just won't pop off or if you have tugged so hard that the twig or stem breaks instead of snapping cleanly at the joint, give the crop more time. While summer pears are mostly ready this month, w…
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Linda's List: Sowing for Winter, Wonky Zuccs and Dreaded SWD

This week the cooler weather is coinciding nicely with the right timing for sowing Swiss chard, kale, collards, kohlrabi, beets, rutabagas, winter radish/daikon, radicchio and hardy endives for your winter garden. Chard or kale planted earlier in the season will continue all winter, but you might want to sow more now to account for the fact that replacement leaves don't grow in the winter. I plant about 4 times more chard for winter harvests than I use in the summer to ensure a good supply of leaves until growth starts again in March. If you can find good quality started seedlings (e.g., from Chorus Frog farm stand on Salt Spring), transplanting is an option, of course, but if your local supplier is selling sad, yellowing seedlings, skip it. You would be better off sowing seeds directly in the garden--they will quickly outgrow stressed seedlings, which may never recover. With the cooler and maybe a little damper outlook for the next few weeks it should be easier to get seed…
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Linda's List: Start Sowing for Winter

Yes, I know, it is hard to think about next winter but it is time to start seeds of overwintering broccoli and cauliflower for harvest early next year.  And from now on, every couple of weeks for the rest of the summer is another planting 'window' for various crops. I have posted my winter harvest planting chart on my home page so that you can print it out and post it to remind you what to plant. The chart shows sowing dates, which can be either directly in the garden or in seedling flats. Given the difficulty of keeping things cool and watered this summer I am opting for starting more of this year's crops in flats where I can mind them more closely. Or start them in the garden in a small nursery area that you can keep shaded and watered easily. First, broccoli and cauliflower: Start seeds any time from mid-June to the end of the month. If you want to buy seedlings later, I suggest you check with your local nursery or seedling source to find out what varieties they will have…
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Linda's List: Hot Summer Gardening Alert

Meteorologists are warning that the expected El Nino climate pattern this year is going to be a "super El Nino" comparable with the 1997-98 year. For coastal British Columbia, that brings record heat waves in the summer. With unprecedented warm Pacific water now reaching our coast, combined with a strong El Nino, which also brings warm water across the Pacific, gardeners need to be on top of managing for high temperatures. It starts this coming weekend and Environment Canada has issued a weather alert for a prolonged period of hot weather for coastal British Columbia, starting tomorrow and continuing through early next week. Predictions are for 27-31 degrees C (80-90 F), with the higher temperatures further inland. Managing for heat: Garden vegetables are most vulnerable to heat damage at this time of year because plants are still small, with shallow roots and young leaves. Shade young plants and seed bed: Cover small plants, at least for the midday heat for a few days…
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Linda's List: Dry Weather, Sweet Corn and Winter Cabbage

With the weather stable, warm (and way too dry), I think we are quite safe putting out celeriac, celery, cucumbers, even melons and sweet basil. The first 2 are easily vernalized by a late cold spell (causing them to go to seed)and the latter 3 are very finicky about the cool, damp conditions often found on the coast at this time of year. In fact, for inland coastal areas, it is forecast to be hot tomorrow so watch out for your tiny seedlings and seedbeds: they will probably need to be shaded them to get them safely through the hot part of the day. And it is time to start mulching plants that are large enough or like cooler soil (such as peas, cabbage, lettuce, onion family). With the very dry spring we have had and this long stretch of sunny, warm weather, mulches to slow water loss and cool the soil will be appreciated by plants. I covered mulches in more detail about this time last year so for more info, see my June 6, 2014 message. Sweet corn: Though we can certainly sow…
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Photos: Fall Fair Photo Roundup

What an amazing Salt Spring Island Fall Fair this year. Thank you to all the organizers, participants, volunteers, locals and off island visitors who made the event what it is. Great weather and great people! We’re excited to share some photos from the event from Salt Spring Island’s very own Derrick Lundy. Derrick is a long-time islander known for his years and years of work capturing the fun and people of this amazing island. Thank you Derrick for sharing your photos with us this year! Photos courtesy of Derrick Lundy Photography.
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Wonderful Salt Spring Seeds Video

hello friends. It is my great delight to present to you a video of great beauty and power. For Salt Springers, I believe it goes a long way to express the more beautifull world our hearts tell us is possible. If ever there was a sacred duty that is not only within our power, but also one that has the capacity to nourish our children, help us become resilient to a changing climate and economy, educate us to the beauty and sacredness of the natural world and bring us together in health and community, it is the saving of seeds. Few people bring home this message and walk the talk more powerfully than our very own Dan Jason. Please enjoy this video and share it widely in your networks... as it is a part of a contest, please give it your vote on the viewing pane and help spread the message of seed saving. START THE VIDEO AND THEN CLICK "VOTE" BUTTON ON VIEWING PANE: http://vimeo.com/51854254 in gratitude r
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CRD Provides Permanent Site for Bring Your Branches and Fall Leaf Exchange

 Media Release - September 25, 2012 The Capital Regional District (CRD) and PARC Parks and Recreation has partnered with Transition Salt Spring and the Salt Spring Island Agricultural Alliance to provide a permanent home for the popular Bring Your Branches service and the new Fall Leaf Exchange program. “This partnership is another demonstration of how the CRD can provide new services to residents using a combination of existing resources and community volunteers, at no additional cost to taxpayers,” said CRD Director Wayne McIntyre. The last Saturday of every month from October through April, with the exception of December, will see the return of Bring Your Branches. From October to March, Salt Spring Island residents are invited to bring branches and other woody yard waste to Rainbow Road Park behind the swimming pool between 10 am and 2 pm. Access is from Rainbow Road and material must be clean and suitable for chipping, with no invasive species, stumps, stones,…
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Free for Organic Farmers Always!

Its no secret that Salt Spring Island is one of the most progressive local food communities in Canada. The island is home to many of those lovers of life radical enough to labour planting seeds and raising animals to feed and nurture us. Lovers of food and life who grow and labour year after year to feed our today, and our tomorrow and work to help us all appreciate the craft of food grown in relationship with the land. To you these lovers of the seed and the land, we have a special message: The Salt Spring Exchange supports you if you're a local organic grower who wants and needs a market to sell your goods. We support you because local, organic food is at the root of sharing and community building and decoupling our reliance on increasingly complex financial and market systems that routinely fail to serve the needs of our communities. We support you because local, organic food is at the heart of stable local economies. We support you because local, organic food is fu…
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Jana's Pumpkin Chiffon Cake

PUMPKIN CHIFFON CAKE Recipe just in time for Thanksgiving, by Jana of Jana's Bake Shop, excerpted from her out-of-this-world delicious book Flour Power. "Imagine that Cinderella ate this cake on her wedding day." 2¼  cups (10oz/285gr) all-purpose flour 1 cup (7oz/200gr) sugar 2 tsp. baking powder ½ tsp. ground ginger ½ tsp. allspice ½ tsp. nutmeg ½ cup (4oz/125ml) vegetable oil 5 eggs, separated ¾ cup (6oz/170gr) pumpkin puree 1 Tbs. orange zest 1/3 cup (3oz/100ml) orange juice 6 egg whites ½ cup (3½oz/100gr) sugar Directions:  Pre-heat oven 325.  1, ungreased 10” tube pan. In medium sized bowl whisk together dry ingredients. In a smaller bowl, whisk oil, yolks, pumpkin puree, zest and juice. Stir wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined set aside. Pour egg whites into a clean, deep, mixing bowl. By hand:  Using a balloon whisk, begin beating egg whites until soft peaks form.  At this stage start adding your sugar, just a little at a time and…
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Win a "Chicken Palace" at the Fall Fair!

A fundraiser for the Salt Spring Abattoir. Did you know that between 2004 and 2008 meat production on Salt Spring Island declined by half? Recent changes in government regulations have meant that producers had to transport all livestock off-island for processing if they wish to sell the meat, adding expense and causing stress to livestock. Salt Springers get busy! A committee of 12 dedicated locals, representing meat and poultry producers and the organic sector, have been working hard as a task force of the Agricultural Alliance to raise funds, develop the plans and find a location for our own abattoir. This is a community-instigated project and many hundreds of volunteer hours have gone into its development. The total budget required is $350,000 - and less than $30,000 is now needed! How can you support? Well, how would you like an awesome hand-crafted Chicken Tractor for just $10? We're having a draw by donation at the Fall Fair - to raise funds for your local abatto…
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What is this bug?

This brilliant looking bug has been hanging out around one of our out buildings for the last few days. We've haven't seen anything like it before. The colour contrasts are remarkable. Does anyone know what this is?
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