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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


This year’s harvest season started a little late, thanks to the mild spring extending into a cooler-than-normal summer. Along with the regular rainfall, this led to abundant flowers that resulted in what is looking like a bumper crop for many of our fruits. Above, my first strawberry ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Even though this year’s midsummer was mostly spent inside due to it raining all day, I had a chance to nip out in the morning and snap some pictures for my mid-season garden tour. This was the year that I was FINALLY able to get some major work done in my vegetable ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Having explained how my wedding jam-making process developed in the last two posts, this third one is just taking a look at the three additional flavors I did in tiny batches. The majority of my fruit donors had blackcurrants and redcurrants, since those are the most commonly grown in ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Next up after the blackcurrants were the redcurrants. In Finland, these are usually used in desserts, while the blackcurrants are usually juiced. Both are not so often made into jam, apparently. I ended up trading some with a coworker for her apple jam and her kids were excited by the novelty...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Flashback time! This post is technically from 2011, but since I took these photos in the middle of being a one-woman wedding production team, I didn’t so much get around to writing it up back then. One month went by, then another… you know how procrastination snowballs. Then last ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


I’m pretty sure this was my very first baby smoothie, made back in February. I had actually intended to make it for myself and share it with the baby, but he ended up liking them so much that I had to keep it up after we started. Now he looks indignant if he doesn’t get offered a...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.

Blob’s first taste of tangerine. He had previously tried oranges with hilarious results. These tangerine sections were a bit sweeter, though, so he liked them better.


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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Jelly is one of those things that I rarely use, but will usually stock for the occasional irrational craving (which often leads to my using a whole jar in a week). I can’t say I’ve looked very hard for it at the supermarket these past few years, but I’m pretty sure that the ...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


Another recipe from Karen LeBillon’s “French Kids Eat Everything” book, which I had to try because I absolutely love leeks. Wasn’t as sold on adding fruit to it, but figured the baby would certainly enjoy it. He’s got a big thing for fruit and veggie combos, probably because of the s...

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle. Please leave any comments there.


So here’s something that I’m super excited about — this past week, I got my hands on not just one, but TWO, dwarf citrus plants that I have been trying to procure for years. The left is a Meyer lemon and the right is a Nagami kumquat, both already bearing fruit. The lemon has...

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The Garden

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Hey, WordPress has an integrated push-to-Twitter feature now! One less plugin to worry about, pretty cool. For all I know, this could have happened last year, but it’s new to me :-)

So yeah. We have a few mature apple trees. We knew this meant we would be getting some fruit in the fall, but I don’t think we really comprehended exactly how much that would be. Turns out, the answer is “more than one person should try to pick with a plastic grocery bag while balancing on a chair and stepstool.” Below, a pictorial timeline of last year’s apple experience.

06062012moreappleblossoms
06062012 appleblossoms
06062012 bigappletree

06062012 mediumappletree
08012012hedgie
08012012hedgie02

08012012hedgie03
08312012 appleharvest
08312012 appleharvest01

09022012 appleharvest
09022012 lotsofapples
09102012 apple harvest


I’m still trying to pin down the exact names of the varieties, since I was mostly told that they were “the typical old-fashioned Finnish ones” and that there was one for cooking and one for eating. The tree that I managed to harvest (more or less) had tart light green apples that turned yellowish as they matured. I rather liked them raw. They were mostly juiced, with some made into compote.

applejuice01

Some juice-making activity going on up there. I had a juicer attachment on my stand mixer, so decided to juice first, then cook. This helped me to avoid having to strain a boiling-hot pulpy sodden mess afterwards. Since I was going to be storing (well, freezing) the juice for a while, I figured giving it a good boil would make it keep better.

applejuice02

I also tossed in a tiny bit of citric acid to help the juice keep its color and for any incidental preservative properties. All that foam at the top of the juice is from impurities coming to the surface during the cooking. That got scooped out before bottling.

t_appjuice03

Homemade apple juice! I’ve got about 15 of these 1.5L bottles in the freezer. It’s a little bit sour, so I do mix in a splash of simple syrup before serving. This stuff is especially good served hot and spiced during the winter.

Finally the actual totals for the 2012 apple harvest:

8/31/2012 – 2730g + 3660g + 2620g + 3840g + 4900g
9/01/2012 – 6.4kg
9/02/2012 – 6.4kg + 4.4kg + 6.1kg + 8.1kg + 5.7kg + 7.4kg + 5.4kg
9/03/2012 – 5.2kg + 6.1kg + 7.9kg + 3.5kg

For a total of 90.35 kg or 199.188 pounds of apples. That’s about 4.15 bushels. Furthermore, consider that I only picked about 2/3 of total apples on one tree, and threw out/discarded at least 1/3 of what was picked. Yeah, that’s a lot of apples.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Because it’s July and suddenly I can’t keep up with all the stuff there is to do out there! With prime berry picking season just around the corner, it’s about to get really crazy here at Casa Kerfuffle.

07022012 chickweed
07022012 spinach
07032012 chickweed

07032012 lettuce and spinach
07032012 strawberries
07032012 wild strawberries

07042012 chickweed
07042012 cilantro
07062012 strawberries

07072012 mixed greens
07082012 strawberries

The actual numbers:

07/02
210g chickweed Stellaria media (frozen)
160g spinach Spinacia oleracea “Campania F1″(frozen)

07/03
400g chickweed (frozen)
150g lettuce Lactuca sativa “Salad Bowl” and “American Brown” & spinach (frozen)
1400g garden strawberries (eaten)
10g wild strawberries Fragaria vesca(frozen)

07/04
540g chickweed (frozen)
60g cilantro Coriandrum sativum(frozen)

07/06
2080g garden strawberries (half frozen, half eaten)
30g wild strawberries (eaten)

07/07
540g mixed greens (spinach, 2 lettuces, chickweed, purple deadnettle Lamium purpureum) (frozen)

07/08
2000g strawberries (half eaten, half frozen)

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

For the past several years, I’ve sighed wistfully upon seeing various gardening blogs put up their weekly harvest tallies. I’d sadly poke at the few pots next to the kitchen window and make mental lists of all the things I’d grow if I actually had a decent piece of land. Well, guess what? This is the first year I’ve actually had the space to do a proper garden and I’m going for it! The timing’s been a little off, since we just moved in a few weeks ago and I’ve barely had time to do anything but throw some salad seeds into the soil between unpacking boxes. Still, there’s a healthy population of already established perennials scattered around our property and my veg patch has taken off since the weather warmed up recently. So I’m looking forward to increasingly frequent weigh-ins as the season progresses.

Just two for this first week, though:

This was technically from last weekend, but I didn’t feel like posting with just one picture. I cleaned up our rhubarb patch, which was threatening to engulf my greenhouse wall. I took probably half of the stalks, chopped them into bite-sized pieces, bagged them into recipe-sized portions and popped them into the freezer. The final haul was 15 1-liter bags of chopped rhubarb. Didn’t weigh it since the scale wasn’t unpacked yet at that point :-P

This afternoon, I did a much-needed plucking of the spinach row in my salad patch. Finnish summers are ideal for spinach, I suppose — moist, never too warm, and mildly sunny. It’s like a never-ending spring, from my Californian perspective. And with an average of 20 hours of daylight in the summer, you can bet the plants are in overdrive. According to the seed packet (thank goodness I dumped my pictures here even if I’ve been too busy to update Folia lately), the variety I’m growing is Campania, a particularly fast-growing and disease-resistant hybrid. I’m going to have to sow three rows of this stuff next spring, because I definitely go through a lot of spinach in a year and this is just so much more attractive looking than the frozen lumps we’ve been getting at the supermarket. Slightly cheaper, too, I’m willing to bet — we’ll know for sure when I do the end-of-season tallies.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Bought another aloe at Plantagen last weekend. Can’t have enough of these guys, I think.
I will definitely have to invest in more fall bulbs if they all do so well here.
Did I mention some tulips made a guest appearance? I suppose we do have the sort of weather they enjoy.
View of my cleaned-up greenhouse interior. Still looks pretty tame.

White dicentra, which will go where there pink one goes.
Pink dicentra I got on sale last week. Don’t know where it’s going yet.
Repotted peony. Still don’t know where it’s going yet.
My 2 year old calamondin has once again been repotted and is enjoying its new greenhouse home.

The clivia T’s granny gave us has been repotted and is now also in the greenhouse.


The droopy lavender I seeded last spring is now looking much happier in the greenhouse.
I put in 9 rows of “cold weather crops” the first weekend of May. We’ll see when they sprout.

Parsley, purple carrots and cilantro.
Leaf lettuce, spring onion and salad dandelion.
Leaf lettuce, mixed carrots and spinach.
I also plan to plant my cucumbers directly into these bags once the weather warms a bit more.

My first (and probably temporary) raised garden bed. Made from… bed frames :-)
There’s a few different types now, but I totally will continue adding varieties starting this fall.
I love narcissi. Can’t get enough of them. Always wanted a giant bed of them in my garden and now I have some!

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

The evenings are still just a couple degrees above 0C, but daytime temps are now between 10-20C and very sunny, so it’s definitely spring. Everything is budding, flowers are starting to appear and butterflies are everywhere. I’ve started cleaning up the garden and grounds best as I can, though I’m sure it will take at least a few years before everything is under control. So far, I’ve cleaned up the dead matter from the perennial beds around the house, pruned two raspberry hedges and a grapevine. Definitely have the beginnings of a huge new compost heap in the corner of our lot as a result. Most of the seedlings I started (as well as a good portion of my houseplants) have been moved to the greenhouse and we broke ground today on a new raised bed.

Small narcissi (pretty sure they’re Tête à têtes) alongside our driveway.
Larger narcissi alongside our driveway. There are also white ones.
Another view of the daffodil bank.
Not sure what variety these big ones are other than some sort of trumpet. We’ll see next week.

Siberian squill circling one of our fruit trees.
Snowdrops ringing another small tree trunk.
My greenhouse! It will need a bit of patching up and repainting in the next few years, but it is made of window glass, so it’s pretty sturdy.
Rhubarb, starting to grow leaves. Last week, they looked like bright red dinosaur eggs.

Two days later and you can see how much they’ve grown. Soon, they will be in a pie!
The buds on the grapevine in the greenhouse are about ready to break any day now.
Some of my cucurbit seedlings.
More seedlings. I always plant double since they are prone to dying when transplanted.

First leaf on my baby pumpkin :-)
Pumpkins moved to the greenhouse.
More baby squash in the greenhouse. They look so happy!
Baby squash at my kitchen window prior to the move.

Tommi’s grandmother gave me this clivia our first year here. Finally, it has a chance of flowering again.
I seeded this lavender last spring and it hung on to dear life all winter. Now it’s starting to perk up.
I bought a new pink peony but still haven’t decided where to plant it.



There is a little pond with a bank of iris and daylily along the sides. Need to clean it up still.
Currant and gooseberry bushes all in a row, starting to break bud.
More currant bush buds. We’re going to have a LOT of fruit.
Our covered strawberry patch, in need of a bit of TLC. Plants are starting to leaf out so need to fix soon.

The left side of the raspberry thicket. Pruned down to the just the one year canes after a day’s work.
Right side of the raspberry thicket. LOVE raspberries, so am happy there are so many.
Raspberry buds.
A horsetail shoot — these have been popping up amongst the right raspberries.

Pepe, the neighbor’s cat. He hasn’t quite grasped that his family moved next door.
…so he still keeps coming to our door instead and following us around.
He’s a sweet little guy, though, and will hopefully be taking care of any rodents for us.

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

Apologies for the silence this last month — have been in the midst of wedding planning madness. I took a brief pause yesterday afternoon, however, to wander the forests with a friend and take advantage of the bounteous harvest this year’s warm, wet summer has brought.

My first batch of hand-picked wild Finnish bilberries! They were exceptionally plump and less than a ten minute walk from our apartment! Will definitely be going back in the coming weeks to get more for immediate baking and freezer storage. I’ve always been an opportunistic forager so finding a place to do it so close to home is very exciting. We also came across some nice patches of mushrooms, but I’ve never been a big fungi fan, so gladly let my friend take those all back with her.

Lessons I learned from yesterday?

1. My poor knees are obviously not used to extensive exercise — they are still a bit sore from all the crouching involved. This will happily fix itself with repeated use, however.

2. Mosquitos can still get you through thick tights. Will have to switch to jeggings next time and hope that they break their beaks on denim.

3. You can never use too much bug spray, especially when it’s warm and humid and you’re sweating buckets.

Hope everybody out there is enjoying their July as well!

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Originally published at Velvet Kerfuffle Kitchen and Garden. Please leave any comments there.

I did quite a bit of gardening last year, but didn’t get much of a crop by the end of the season because I’d started my seeds too late. Here’s a pictorial retrospective of last year’s various horticultural endeavors to hopefully encourage me to get some seeds started earlier this year.

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