Thursday, 25 July 2013

The Harvest (round 1!) - a garden update

So I went away for a week to Manitoba for my brother-in-law's wedding, and came back to (surprise, surprise!) a garden that had turned into a giant weed bed (AGAIN).  So after extracting the unwanteds, I thought it was time to give another update on the state of affairs, seeing as we are actually at the point of being able to eat things now!

So my previously floppy pea plants are now tall enough to grip onto the bannister on the back steps, so that is good news.  No pods up as of yet, but there are quite a few nice purple flowers waiting for a bee to do them a favor...

Pea plants.  :)

Beans and lettuce plants

The bean plants are absolutely huge!   They are really taking over and getting a bit top-heavy so I might have to cage them if they get any fuller.  There were lots of beans ready to be picked when we got back, and lots more at varying stages of development.  I think I'll probably get a couple more harvests off these plants, they are very healthy.  You can also see in this picture I have three full heads of lettuce.  Despite replanting the row, there were never any more baby lettuce plants.  I'm really not sure why, it might be that by the time I got around to doing the second planting the bean plants were already generating so much shade that the lettuce couldn't get started.

First harvest of green beans, about 3.5 oz.

I decided to pull off all of the swiss chard, due largely to the fact that it was pretty much covered by the huge bean plants (guess I planted them too close together, note for next year).

All the chard.

This was not a huge crop, and as you might be able to see from this photo, there was a bit of hail damage incurred.  (Hail is also the reasons their are no photos of spinach, it was pretty trashed...).  So after this was picked over and washed, this was the results:

Ready to cook and eat.  About 1.5 oz harvested.

So not really the prettiest chard ever, or the biggest yield.  I need to rethink how I planted this crop for next year, if anyone has any chard tips, I'll gladly take them!

On to the rest of the crops...

The cherry tomato plant.

Here is the current state of the cherry tomato plant previously described as "HUGE".  It's a lot less full now, again due to hail damage.  Some branches in the middle were dying out and had to be removed.  But still looking at a pretty good yield, there are lots of tomatoes on here and some are even starting to ripen up.

Them other guys
The carrots look a little sad here because I just thinned them, they were planted waaaaay too thick.  Down in front is a strawberry plant which is giving off about 400 runner babies.  Tempted to cut and plant the new babies, I would very much like if the plant would quit making babies and go back to making fruit!  On the far right are the jalapeno and bell pepper plants, both still not doing great, I think next year I might pot them and put them under the house overhang to keep them drier.  However there is a teensy pepper on the bell plant so they aren't a total loss.  The roma tomato is very slowly coming along too.

And now for the gratutious money shot:

Out of control large-ness

My parsley plant is a total beast.  I've pulled it twice already and it's still a bushy monster.  I am seriously going to have to work on giving some away (any takers?) or figure out how to dry this stuff up and store it for later.  Might have to borrow mom's dehydrator.

No photos of the pumpkins and zucchini this time, but they are coming along fairly merrily despite being choked with weeds.

More updates as I get more stuff to eat!  :)

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

China Mieville's "Un Lun Dun" (book review)

Occasionally, I come across a book that absolutely reaffirms my love for reading and reminds me that it is not only an awesome hobby, but one that has the ability to completely transfix and commandeer my regular life while I'm in its sway.  To the dereliction of duties like keeping the house.  Or showering.  Or eating.  Or sleeping...

China Mieville's Un Lun Dun is one of those awesome books.

Creepy cover though.

I had been waiting for a while to read Un Lun Dun, which was hanging out on my "to read" list, and finally got around to it just recently.  And I am so incredibly glad I did.  This book absolutely pulled me in; it was one of those books that I quite literally had difficulty putting down. It seemed that no matter what I was doing, I was thinking of ways to solve the problems of its characters and anticipating storyline twists.

What I think is so enchanting about Un Lun Dun is that the story is based around familiar tropes, but goes a completely different route with them.  The so called "chosen one" (shwazzy!) and her best friend are pulled into an alternate world, where the chosen one is expected to save everyone from a maniacal, conscious mass of pollution known as the Smog.  But when Zanna the chosen one falls flat on her face almost immediately out of the gates, and it becomes the task of her "sidekick" and best friend Deeba to become the un-chosen hero and save the parallel world of UnLondon.  I loved this because it is so relateable for the main audience of this book, younger teens.  These teens can very much understand the position of someone who feels overshadowed by their peers, and feel powerless to change their situation.  It is really refreshing to get to enjoy this special adventure from the perspective not of that special, singled out individual (think Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, etc.), but of a very normal and ordinary girl. Many tasks and exciting adventures later, it is Deeba's brain and her quick thinking that save the day, adding yet another layer of appeal as she did not require any special supernatural powers to succeed, only her own wits.  These features add greatly to the realism of what is definitely a fantasy work.  The character of Deeba is so realistic and maintains her normalness despite keeping company with a diverse cast of oddities including half-ghosts, personified words, killer giraffes and animate milk cartons. 

The book might be perhaps a bit too scary for a younger crowd, under the age of about eight, but the length of the work (about 220 pages) might also be prohibitive for that age group.  This read is ideal for the younger teen, and for anyone who really likes a good adventure with a healthy slice of nail-biting suspense and the occasional bit of humour.  I'm really looking forward to reading some of China Mieville's other works, and hope they are as wonderful and exciting as Un Lun Dun.