Friday, April 16, 2010

Vegetable Colours

Ten Things about Vegetable Colours

1. Orange. The many varieties of orange-curd cauliflower on the market now are all descended from a sport-a chance mutation-that was found growing in a farmer's white cauliflower crop in the Holland Marsh, near Bradford, Ontario, in the 1970s. Seeds from the sport were taken to Cornell University, where stable, tasty orange hybrids were developed.

2. Red. Carrots have been popping up in many colours lately, including red, purple, yellow and white. Orange carrots, however, were not the norm until the 17th century when they became all the rage in the Netherlands. A popular myth is that orange carrots were developed by Dutch botanists to honour William I of Orange, but the story doesn't hold up under deeper digging. (If you don't believe me, check out for a good survey of evidence.)

3. Purple. 'Purple Royalty' and other varieties of purple pole beans get their colour from anthocyanin pigments, which are unstable. With certain balances of heat, oxygen and pH, they break down. When you boil your pretty purple beans, they turn green. The same can happen with carrots in the purple-red spectrum.

4. Blue. The colour of some of the dark blue and purple potatoes is not only skin deep-many have flesh ranging from pink to purple. Although this colouring comes from anthocyanins too, the colour doesn't break down when the potatoes are baked.

5. Green. Beautiful lime-green Romanesco cauliflower (sometimes called Romanesco broccoli or broccoflower) isn't a new variety at all. It's been in cultivation in Italy for centuries. The pointy spirals of the curd are entrancing and the texture of the vegetable when raw is superb, perfect for a crudités tray.

6. White. White asparagus is a delicacy in Germany. It is grown by hilling soil over the sprouts as they grow, denying them of sunlight. The spears grow quite fat and are fantastically delicate of taste and texture.

7. Fuschia. Swiss chard 'Bright Lights', an All Americas Selection for 1998, has stems with fantastic colour. It deserves full credit for reinvigorating chard in the modern mindset.

8. Pink. Pink peppercorns (okay, not really a vegetable, but a funny colour with an interesting fact) aren't properly pepper (genus Piper) at all. They come from a completely different tree, Schinus terebinthifolius , more closely related to cashews than pepper. And if you pay a fortune for them, you might be miffed to know that they are actually not hard to grow at all in hot desert climates; in fact, they're invasive.

9. Black. The chilli pepper Capsicum 'Black Pearl' is a real beauty. The leaves are a very deep purple-black, and the fruits are cherry-sized shiny black spheres that turn striking red when ripe. Generally grown as an ornamental, the peppers are extremely hot without being all that tasty.

10. Yellow. Tomatoes come in a vast variety of colours and sizes (including yellow), with a range of shapes and textures from smooth and even to slightly hairy and deeply ridged. These aren't genetically modified franken-tomatoes but tried and true heirloom varieties that fell out of favour because they didn't keep well for the commercial mass market. Many of the tomatoes have superb flavour, too.

All pictures and contect belong to Ontario Garderner/Pegasus Publications

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Skywatch Friday ~ Sunset

Sunset up against the storm clouds.  The clouds evenually won to a cold snow shower and a very windy evening, as you can see on the lake.

Skywatch Friday

A New Life is Beautiful

As most of you probably know I work on the family beef farm.  Right now is prime time for calving season, 350 + babies on the way.  We are up to 167 as of yesterday.  So yeah, its busy between the farm, the gardens and the endless dance practices for my daughter, I do not have much time for much.  Yesterday though I watched as one cow mom gave birth and for some reason I looked at her differently.  To me normally a cow calving is okay one more to write down in the book and one less to calve.  It truly is a beautiful thing, no matter human or non human and sometimes you just have to stop and sit back and enjoy. 

Okay now if any of you have a weak stomach I suggest maybe not looking at the pictures.  I did not take any of the process but right after she had her little one.

Mom was not so sure if I should get that close.  One can never tell with a mother sometimes, before birth you can pet them but right after they can give you a run.  Instinct kicking in.  She on the other hand was not cross.

Hey mom, watchya doing to me. 

Now that I have you in stand up position lets try getting up young one.

Baby had a different plan.  How about you clean the rest of me off and I'll try later when I'm dried off.  This little guy was a lazy one and never got up for another half hour.  Unfortnately as much as I would have liked to stay, I couldn't and had work to do. 

Seagull looking on, almost congratulating her.

I hope no one was to disgusted, but life is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

Macro Monday - Tulips

Tulips.  The sure sign of spring.  There would be not spring without a tulip gracing your flower beds.  So this is why I chose this one for today. 

Happy Gardening!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Skywatch Friday #1

This was one of our last snowstorm of the season.  The skies parted and gave way to this glorious sight.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Buds and Blooms

Buds and blooms, a sure sign of spring and the future of a wonderful summer.  It was a great day to take pictures of buds and blooms on a overcast day.  They bring me so much hope as a new life is once again beginning.

One of my most favorite spring flowers is the Forsythia.  They are a ray of sunshine.

The Maple Tree.  Soft maple.

Lilac buds.  I can already smell their sweet aromatic fragrance.

Apple Tree bud.  Lets hope Jack Frost holds off till fall so we can have some apples this year.  Last year the trees blossomed and the frost came days after.

The tiger lilies took a little beating already.  We are having a early spring, but along with that can come the frost.  The tips are frost bitten but the growth is still good.

Sedum.  Love the look of the petit cabbages according to my daughter.

New growth on the junipter. 

Boxwood showing signs of life.

Crazy periwinkle growing like a weed once again!

Cannot forgot the grass.  What would spring summer be like without a fresh cut lawn. 

Our newest bud.  Meet Polar, our new Siberian Husky at 8 weeks old.  He is a my new baby and I just love him despite the fact that he likes to ripthe bottom of my pants. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

All about Bunnies

Ten Neat Things about Rabbits

1. Dumb bunnies. Anybody who thinks rabbits are dumb has not tried to out-smart one. As preyed-upon animals, they are extremely observant, with keen hearing and olfactory sense. They will explore any new environment cautiously and gradually and rarely enter an enclosed space with only one entrance and exit.

2. Rodents. Rabbits are not rodents, taxonomically speaking. A key differentiation is found in their teeth: rabbits have a set of peg teeth behind their upper incisors (the front teeth, the ones you can see on Bugs Bunny); this is not found on rodents. Don't go looking for it on any rabbit you get close to, though. The incisors are razor sharp and a rabbit is unlikely to take too kindly to your poking around in its mouth.

3. Rabbit relationships. While cottontails (native North American rabbits) are generally solitary animals, socializing only during mating seasons, European rabbits are highly gregarious and maintain complex social structures. Dominant males mate with multiple females, but lower-status males and females will often pair off in monogamous relationships.

4. Rabbit groups. Often called a herd now, the old-fashioned word for a group of rabbits is fluffle.

5. Anti-rabbit plants. Try a hedge of currants or a row of cotoneaster around your garden to discourage rabbits. Plant basil, oregano or tarragon amongst your flowers; mint works too, but it may just replace a rabbit problem with a mint problem since it multiplies just as rapidly!

6. Other rabbit solutions. Smells of predators may discourage rabbits. Try hair clippings, blood meal or coyote urine (which you can buy; harvesting your own is not recommended) sprinkled around your garden and refreshed after rain. Establish the area as rabbit unfriendly early in the spring. Use a multi-pronged approach.

7. Rabbit pets. Rabbits were first domesticated for food and companionship in ancient Rome. Today, rabbits are kept as pets by many people who have found that they can be trained to use a litter box and come when called. While they can be a rewarding companion, they are best suited to patient people with very high sensitivity to animals. I say this as a former and none-too-successful rabbit-owner.

8. Rabbits in Australia. In 1859, 24 rabbits were released on the estate of a fellow in Australia, where there are no native rabbits, who missed hunting in England. Within 10 years, those 24 had increased sufficiently for 2-million to be killed per year without leading to a noticeable decrease in the population. They are destructive to the environment and a key example of why it's dangerous to introduce exotic species into an ecosystem.

9. Year of the Rabbit. In the Chinese zodiac, 2011 is the Year of the Rabbit, as were 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927 and 1915. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are regarded as conservative and wise, lucky with money, talented, ambitious, virtuous and gifted with excellent taste. They are inclined to gossip, but tend to be tactful about it.

10. Day of the rabbit. The Easter Bunny originated in the Alsace region of Germany and France and was originally a hare. Children would create nests in their bonnets or caps the night before Easter Sunday. If they had been good, the Easter Hare would lay coloured eggs in the nests. Not sure what the Hare would leave behind for bad children.

Happy Easter Friends!

Thank you Ontario Garderner for yet another wonderful read.
-Shauna Dobbie

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