Summer lunch

The leftovers from our midsummer supper became a good lunch. Parmesan and asparagus pie (super good and simple recipe here) and lettuce with the cream salad dressing from Camilla Plum’s book “The Scandinavian Kitchen.” It’s one of those recipes that’s so simple and perfect that once you’ve learned it you feel silly for not having known it already. I can recommend the book too, it focuses on ingredients and is a good choice if, like me, your Danish is not quite up to snuff enough for her other books!

Glad Midsommar!

(to be fair this was taken a bit before last Midsommar at Alles Stenar, but the weather on the real midsummer was so cold and rainy that I didn’t manage many pictures. Anyway, this seemed appropriate – the Vikings built Alles Stenar as a calendar and the midsummer was an important date for them).

My pepper plant, Or Another Problem with Condominiums

The yard maintenance person cut down my pepper plant with an edger today. I didn’t notice until hours later, when I went out to pick some onions for dinner. I’m actually so upset. I don’t have a photo, but it already had a good-sized pepper on it, a smaller one, and lots of blossoms that were turning into fruit. It was such a healthy plant! I know it was just one plant, I can get another, shouldn’t take it so hard, etc., but I am really upset. When I heard the mower running out back I thought of going outside and asking them to be careful around the garden plots, but then thought it probably wasn’t necessary. Lesson learned. This is not a terrible place to live, but I really will be happy to have my own garden somewhere soon, where I take care of everything and there are no nosy neighbours just a few feet away.

candy

On Saturday Ashley was in town and we went around to a number of places, including the Asian supermarked, where I stacked up on that vital item, pink Japanese candy.
The best was definitely the sushi-candy making kit, which ended up like this: It eerily resembled real sushi in texture, especially the rice and the “salmon roe.”

Översättning: Jag köpte lite japansk godis i Toronto.

Setbacks

I’ve had a bit of a disappointment this week. While I was at school on thursday a man from the condo management company showed up as a result of a complaint made by a resident and instructed my dad to remove our compost bin, claiming these are forbidden in multi-person dwellings by city by-law. I haven’t been able to find conclusive evidence of such a by-law – in fact our city website presents nothing but praise and encouragement for back yard composting. Regardless, however, of the question of legality, what really irks me is the thought that one of our neighbours has nothing better to do than to peer into others’ gardens, and upon seeing something they don’t like, to take that complaint to the management like a child who’s seen a classmate being naughty. Wouldn’t the polite and, dare I say it, adult thing to do be to first speak with your neighbour about your concerns? We live in a long row-house with gardens out the back that are fenced on two sides, with a strip of lawn running beind the open gardens. Our living room has french doors that look onto the garden. I see people walking back and forth on this strip of grass all day long and have always assumed they were simply out getting some fresh air. It makes me awfully uncomfortable to think that they might actually be taking a quick look at everybody’s garden (and perhaps inside, too), checking for the least violation of the owner’s agreement that they can then gleefully report.

I don’t understand the appeal of condominiums, I’m not sure who thought they would be a good idea in the first place and it was never a particular desire of mine to live in one. I’m here now though, and if everyone in this building was like my dad and I, unconcerned with our neighbours and what they do in the quasi-privacy of their own yards, it wouldn’t be such a bad place to live. It seems, however, that those who are most attracted to the idea of condos are those same people who find the thought of being able to police their neighbours so very appealing in the first place. My friend tells me this sentiment is not limited to condo-dwellers, that her own neighbourhood is in fact populated with busy-bodies, the difference being that here those types have, for some reason I cannot fathom, been given a lot more clout.

All I was wanted to do was to take my waste, my kitchen scraps, my potato peelings and coffee grounds and lettuce stems, and turn them into something nutritious, something that can supplement the meagre layer of dry earth and gravel that lurks beneath the grass here. I understand there is a concern about compost attracting animals, but that is only the case if one puts meat and dairy scraps in the bin, which I had no intention of doing. If the concerned party would have come to my door, I might have had the opportunity to assure them of this. I could tell my neighbour that all I’m doing is bringing some diversity and nutrition to this neglected little corner. Instead, community and conversation has been rejected in favour of authorities and rule books.

Planning a garden

I’m not an expert on vegetable gardens. As in so many areas of my life, I’ve read a lot of books on the topic but I’ve never done any real gardening myself. I do have a bit of experience from the big garden we had in our backyard when I was a child. My grandfather, who was a great gardener, put it in for us, 10×10 feet or so, surrounded by railroad ties, and filled with neat rows of warm red tomatoes and fast-multiplying zucchini. We had red currant bushes and raspberry canes, little apple and pear trees and one giant sour-cherry tree, great for pies and beloved by birds. On the other side of the yard a rhubarb patch kept us well supplied with pie fillings throughout the spring. (It was a very pie-centric childhood). Despite growing up with a bountiful garden, I never got out there much myself. This year I’m hoping that my knowledge of the delights of a vegetable garden will make up for my lack of familiarity with the mechanics of the enterprise.

It’s been somewhat easier than I imagined to start the whole thing. I used graph paper to plan out the space, brought home the seeds and seedlings from the nursery, and started digging up the grass where I wanted to plant. That was sweaty work, but didn’t take too long. The hardest part was digging all the rocks out of the ground and dealing with the sorry state of the soil. We live in a quite new condo neighbourhood and the developers of such places have a very helpful habit of carting away all the topsoil and filling in the ground with gravel and shards of brick. The earth that is there is mostly cold, hard clay. To make up for all this I had to bring in a lot of topsoil and some well-rotted manure from the nursery. I hope my plants can manage in these circumstances, but as far as I can tell they are doing quite alright.

In order to provide my garden with some nutrients in the future, I built a mulch bin out of 1x2s and chicken wire. The mulch bin (or compost pile, if you prefer) was a big part of our childhood garden. I was always amazed by how soft and green the grass was that grew in the rich, damp soil around the bin.

I’m also keeping a calendar to record important garden dates, such as planting and harvest days – like today, when I ate the first strawberry! (Although the rest of them appear to be several weeks away).

Planting seeds

Last week I ordered a few more seeds for the garden from a local (Ontario) supplier of organic and heirloom seeds, The Cottage Gardener, so I was super excited when I got home from school last night and saw that they had already arrived.Image

An article in the magazine Allt om trädgård convinced me of the beauty and nutrition to be found in red leafy vegetables, so I ordered some red leaf lettuce and a plant called amaranth, which I’d never heard of before.  You can eat the leaves young, like spinach, or let it go to seed and cook the seeds like any other grain. I love the idea of tasting an entirely new vegetable – it’s an experience you don’t have very often. I also put in some calendula, nasturtium and marigold – a golden trio of sunny, edible flowers that I’m so excited for.

New blog, new garden

Two weeks ago I dug a small vegetable garden in the backyard, something I’ve been wanting to do for quite a while. It finally occurred to me that there’s nothing to stop me – I’ve got the space and the time! Every morning I go out before breakfast to water and poke around. Things are growing quickly quickly!

Tomatoes, strawberries, peas, onions, dill, cucumbers – all of my favourite things!

Översättning:
Jag har planterat en trädgård för första gången.