Thursday, May 31, 2012

Martha Stewart Arrives On The Witch's Island

So it’s spring again and we’re finally getting out of the winter doldrums. Mind you, it was a great winter here, at least weather-wise and spring came early but the temperatures have been fluctuating like crazy. We had 20 degrees C in February and snow in April, Saturday was 32 C and today it is 10. It’s been hard to figure whether to get the garden under way or to wait for a bit. Last year I started my tomatoes and peppers way too early and by the time I got them in the garden they were very tall and spindly. I ended up restarting a lot of them and I swore I wouldn’t make that mistake again this year. I held myself back as long as I could but it does seem like spring is at least a couple of weeks early so I started them anyway. Let’s all pray that there is no frost in June!

Not that frost is the only thing to worry about. Our entire tomato crop was destroyed by late blight last year and we didn’t get more than 2 or 3 tomatoes from 40-some plants. What a shame as the plants were doing very well until the blight hit. So, this year we are going to mix things up a bit. We’re going to put the tomatoes at the other end of the garden away from the infected rows and we’re going to try a new supplier for the seeds.

Our order arrived about 10 days after being placed.
The packages are plain and simple. Let’s hope that the plants are more specatular.

I found out about Heritage Harvest Seed while reading a post about seeds on the Canoe Corner blog. They specialize in “rare and endangered vegetables, flowers and herbs.” and they had dozens of different varieties of tomatoes alone! The descriptions for some were so compelling that I had to try them. As an example here is the blurb for “Sylvan Guame”:
“An old heirloom from Canada that was obtained from an elderly man in his 80s. The original seed was from Russia. This excellent variety produces gigantic red oxheart shaped fruit. My largest was 3lbs and that was during a dry year! The fruit are not only large but delicious. My absolute favorite large fruited tomato. Indeterminate, regular leaf foliage. (80 days) EXTREMELY RARE. Highly recommended!”
How could a person resist? It was very difficult to pick out only a few types to try so I just went nuts and ordered 8 and then they threw in another for free! Oh, and 3 types of beans and 2 different peppers. What am I going to do with 9 different varieties of tomato, you say? Please don’t ask such difficult questions while I’m busy planting.

Here is a list of what we got for about $54.00 including shipping:


  • Sylvan Gaume 
  • Harbinger 
  • 42 Days 
  • Forme de Coeur 
  • Fireball 
  • Silvery Fir Tree 
  • Bonny Best 
  • Bison 
  • Uncle Joe’s – free 
  • Steeves Caseknife 
  • Red Peanut 
  • Jacob’s Cattle 
  • Matchbox Chilli 
  • Black Hungarian

Look, a whole garden’s worth of peppers and pumpkins are growing on my windowsill.
It sure didn’t take long for the seeds to germinate and now I’m hoping that they don’t get to spindly before I can transplant them.

Spring is all about getting back outdoors after the long winter and to me that means in part that lobsters are back on the menu. I’m not a big steak eater but I love Surf and Turf. This little canner was just the perfect size. Hubby took it out to the back deck to break it up for me so that the juices didn’t stink up the kitchen. The body and shells all went out into the trees as a treat for the birds and foxes.

One small canner is all I need for my first taste of lobster this year.
It is also time to get out into the gazebo and see if all the effort the last two summers was worth it because blackfly season has arrived with a vengeance.

So far, so good, the little bastards are staying out but we need something to sit on. We looked all of last summer and the best furniture set we found was the “Lanfair 4 Piece Conversation Set” from Martha Stewart Living . Yes, Martha has come to visit The Witch’s Island and it looks like she might just stay awhile!

The Lanfair set came in one big box in disassembled form. It really is amazing just how tightly packed in it was. We spent one whole afternoon putting it all together and it came out all right. There were a few bent tabs and some pieces didn’t align quite right but we managed to make it work. Also, the fabric cover on the cushions was different than is shown on the box and the display set in the store. Those were a solid green but ours have a subtle striped pattern (which we actually like better).

Here’s Martha arriving on the back of our John Deere.
The picture on the box showed a different material on the cushions.
Even the tools needed to put it together were included in the box.
Here are all the pieces spread out and ready for assembly.
The first chair is done after an hour’s work to get it square and level.
The chairs were finished just in time for a union-mandated beer break.
We’ve also been out to the nurseries again and this time we came home with a “Yellowbird” magnolia, a “Honey Crisp” apple and a hybrid apple tree which has 5 different varieties on one trunk. We were just going to put in the Honey Crisp but it needs a second different type of apple to pollinate properly. We have lots of wild apple trees around the yard but just to be sure we got the hybrid one to keep the Honey Crisp company.

Hubby is planting my Honey Crisp apple tree. We’re soon going to run out of space for trees in the back yard.
Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, Granny Smith, Gala and Red Macintosh all on one tree!
Just to finish off, here’s a really quick and easy dessert recipe that takes almost zero effort. Get yourself a package of frozen tart shells and bake them (empty) according to the directions on the box. When they are cool just fill them with some key lime flavour “Oikos” Greek yoghurt from Danone and then sprinkle the top with a bit of graham cracker crumbs. One 100ml tub of yoghurt will fill 3 shells. Key lime tarts, mmmmmm.

Oikos Greek yoghurt.
Key lime tarts. Very tasty.


its me, sam said...

Glad all is well in your neck of the woods! Your new furniture looks great. The little tarts look yummy too! Oh, and FYI, my hair is looking a little like the back lit one on your blog...

Suz said...

wow you have been busy
a good thing
love those chairs

Jane said...

Was that Martha's recipe too? Really, she is too kind:) Love your conversational seating and accompanying drinks!! I find I'm always more conversational after a few glasses of wine lol! I watched the black fly video (North Ontar-eye-oh)! So far we haven't encountered black fly season as we don't make it to PEI til the end of June. I'm not looking forward to THAT experience though I've visited the Muskoka area many times in black fly season and have lived to tell about it. How long does the season last??

megan blogs said...

Everything looks great, Witch. I grew some Jacob's cattle beans one year. They did well, but i've not grown any of the others on your list. I wonder if that Russian tomato is anything like a Moscovich (sp?). I grew those one year when a friend gave me some seeds.

My favourite eating tomatoes are Brandywines. They are indeterminates and later bloomers, but my, worth the wait!


cindy said...

the recipe looks so easy and yummy a must try for sure.
I must admit love the new lawn furniture. I've not seen any black flies yet, but then again, going to bed sooooo early I'm not out at dusk. I'm sure they are swarming close by waiting for me to go out, lol.

Marguerite said...

Thanks for the shout out! Glad to hear you liked the company too. I got 5 packets of tomatoes from them and I see we only bought one in common! (Bison) There really is a huge variety to choose from isn't there? Glad they germinated okay for you, mine were good except for a cherry Andrina which had poor viability. That gazebo must be a gem right now, I got bit the other week and my whole ankle was swollen. The only thing I like about the wind is they keep the critters at bay.

Canadian Saver said...

I love when you share the stuff that goes on on your Island :) the garden stuff is coming along so nicely, and I'm glad you'll be able to fully enjoy the gazebo this year...

I've had lobster twice this season but want it again now that I've seen your picture I'm craving it again :)

Take care!

Sara said...

Hello! I was just thinking that you hadn't done a post in awhile, but just wanted to stop by and say hello! Hope you are having a wonderful summer! :)

Gill - That British Woman said...

love your new furniture.

glad you had time to pop by my blog, I really appreciate it.


Gill - That British Woman said...

when are you going to start blogging again? Missing what you ahve to say!!


~Kim at Golden Pines~ said...

Hello Witch!! With Halloween this past week I was thinking of you, and thought I'd drop by and tell you just that! I hope you had a great summer, and I hope you are doing well!! Take care!!