Ice cream season and the first seeds in the garden

20120321-seed-leavesIt’s unseasonably warm by all accounts. The historic average for the next fourteen days is a high of 7C and a low of –2C, according to The Weather Network. Instead, we’re seeing highs of up to 25C and lows of 4C. Not that I’m complaining – I like the sunshine and the warmth.

I’ve shifted from baking season to ice cream season. This amuses Canadians, as it’s always ice cream season for many of them. Yes, even in the dead of winter, while I’m wrapped up in a fuzzy bathrobe and bright pink polyester socks, my darling husband and his daughter munch away on frozen treats. Brr.

But now that the sun is shining and the days are warm, I’m up for ice cream as well. My first one this year was a coconut raspberry ice cream from an ice cream parlour on Dundas Street West. For 75c, you can get this tiny cone with a small scoop of ice cream, which is enough to enjoy the taste of it without being overloaded with sugar.

I’ve also started gardening again. Because we’ve set our community-supported agriculture box to bi-weekly instead of weekly, I don’t feel inundated with vegetables, and I can actually contemplate planting more. I planted lettuce, peas, and a few other early-season crops two weeks ago, and they’ve just started germinating. Instead of rigging up the drip irrigation system, I’m watering the garden by hand, carefully dispensing water into the sandy soil. It takes more time, but it’s relaxing work, and it means I pay closer attention to each spot. Mrs. Wong tends a huge and highly productive front-yard garden down the street and she waters by hand. Maybe it will work for me too.

Things I’m looking forward to growing:

Bitter melon (ampalaya): W- loves this, and it rarely shows up in our neighbourhood markets. We managed to grow it the other year, and the two plants that survived gave us plenty of bitter melons for pinakbet and other dishes. Last year, our vegetable plants didn’t really get established. With this year promising to be warm and sunny, maybe we’ll have better luck.

  • Blueberries: We had an enjoyable blueberry harvest last year – a few handfuls, but much appreciated. Looking forward to seeing what they’re like this year! I might try covering some of them with a net and leaving the others unprotected.
  • Strawberries: Yum yum.
  • Basil: We love pesto. Fresh basil makes tomato sauce even more wonderful, too. In addition to Genovese basil, I’m looking forward to trying lime basil. I liked the lemon basil and Thai basil that I grew the other year, too.
  • Peas: The sugar-snap peas are always a big hit. J- sometimes goes out to graze on them.
  • Carrots: We’ll give them another try this year. We grew them three years ago and they didn’t turn out as well as we’d hoped.
  • Nasturtiums: This climbing vine might be nice near the porch and near the back fence. Edible flowers can be a peppery garnish for summer salads.
  • Lettuce and spinach: I’m going to keep giving these greens a try.
  • Edamame: We just don’t feel like boiling water sometimes, but edamame is worth it.
  • Cat grass: I usually grow a small patch of oats at the beginning of the patio-stone path. This makes an excellent cat trap. Leia(cat) likes running out and exploring the garden, but she’s usually distracted by the cat grass patch. This makes it easy for me to put down whatever it is I’m holding, get out, and scoop her up.
  • Catnip: I scattered some catnip seeds in one of the front garden boxes. If they grow, great. The catnip will be in the box with the colourful annuals, so I don’t have to worry about it taking over the rest of the garden.

How does your garden grow?