Whether it's the desire to reduce the chemicals in our diet or save money, or as an excuse to get outside, more than one-third of Canadians grow food at home. But not all home gardeners are experts; some of us don't know what happens, exactly, after our seeds have been planted. How do you know when your veggies are ready to eat and what's the best way to get them onto your plate? In an excerpt from his book The New Canadian Garden, Mark Cullen shares his simple guide to harvesting and storing your homegrown veggies.
How long until harvest: What the package says 54 days
What to look for harvest: When the beans are about the size of a pencil. Beans that are allowed to grow too large will become chalky and lose their flavour.
How to store: Wash only once you are ready to use them. Brush off dirt and put in the crisper. Rinse in cold water and only cut right before use.
How long until harvest: What the package says 50–70 days
What to look for: Harvest before the plant flowers to retain maximum flavour. The package should say how large that variety will grow. Dust off the soil to expose the top of the beet and estimate its diameter. Pull when it has reached the right size.
How to store: Store in refrigerator with greens left intact if planning to use within two weeks. Can be stored in dry sand in a cool (1°–4°C), dry place if planning to store for longer. Only uninjured beets should be stored this way.
How long until harvest: What the package says 45 days
What to look for: Cut off the main head before it flowers. Side shoots will likely grow; cut them off when they are a size you can use.
How to store: Can be stored two to three days in the crisper after heads have been misted and wrapped in damp paper towels.
How long until harvest: What the package says 55 days
What to look for: Ready when leaves are about 20 centimetres long. Pick continuously throughout the season. Harvest from the outside and avoid breaking off the centre leaves.
How to store: Kale tastes best fresh from the garden. For short-term storage, wash leaves, de-stem if you wish, dry, and place on a paper towel. Wrap up the lot and store in the crisper for seven to 10 days.
How Long until harvest: What the package says 40 days
What to look for: Harvest leaves the day you want them. Can be stored for a few days in the fridge. Do not allow to flower, and pick leaves from the bottom up (or inside out depending on the variety), keeping some to continue photosynthesis.
How to store: Wash leaves thoroughly with cold water. Use a spinner or paper towel to dry leaves. Put dry leaves into a sealable bag and push out excess air before sealing. Stores well for up to eight days.
How long until harvest: What the Package Says 21–45 days
What to look for: Do not allow to flower. Harvest when top of radish has reached size specified on package. Radishes are very fast-growing vegetables, some only taking three weeks. Sow a few seeds every week for a continuous harvest.
How to store: Remove leaves and stems and wash well. Rinse in cold water; do not leave out to dry. Line a sealable bag with a paper towel and drop in the wet radishes. Add more paper towel if you have more than a few radishes. Refrigerates well for at least a week.
How long until harvest: What the package says 45 days
What to look for: Pick leaves from main stem as plant grows and you want spinach. Immature leaves tend to be less bitter. Do not allow to flower.
How to store: Pick and eat right away. Spinach can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. Do not wash after picking; dry leaves with paper towel and store in an air-tight plastic bag lined with a paper towel.
For freezing: blanch, chill in ice water, drain, and package for freezing.
How long until harvest: What the package says; Cherry: 70 days; Moneymaker: 75 days; Plum: 75 days; Roma: 75 days
What to look for: Harvest when tomato is red (or has a firm but not hard texture). Some tomatoes will never turn red (they are yellow, brown, purple, or green when ripe, so it's always good to know your variety). If tomato is almost ripe and a large amount of rain is forecasted, pick the tomato to avoid it splitting from the excess water. Place not-quite-ripe tomatoes in a warm, sunny window and they will ripen.
How to store: Do not refrigerate freshly picked tomatoes. Pick and use within three days. If you have picked unripe tomatoes, let sit on windowsill. Remove dirt with a damp cloth but dry well before letting them sit on the counter.
Excerpted from The New Canadian Garden by Mark Cullen. © 2016, Mark Cullen. All rights reserved. Published by Dundurn Press.
Mark Cullen believes in giving back! All of the author royalties from the sale of this book will go to the planting of trees along Canada's Highway of Heroes.
Chunky baskets Source: All About Ami
Crochet has made a comeback, with a colourful modern twist! Here's a round up of our favourite free projects on the web.
Create this simple bright bunting for your next party. The best part? It's reusable!
These colourful donuts are pretty sweet, don't you think?
This cozy striped blanket will be perfect for cuddling up with a great book.
Scrub your pots and pans in style with these patterned dishcloths.
This small bag is the perfect gift for the photography buffs in your life.
Store everything from toys to bathroom essentials in these cozy-looking baskets
String these mini houses together to create a garland for your child's room.
These cloths simple to make, they do a great job washing dishes and they're reusable.
We love this delicate crocheted necklace from All About Ami.
Colourful mini madalas are perfect for using up the yarn you have leftover from other projects.
This doily rug is totally on trend.
Bright fruit-themed potholders are the perfect addition to your kitchen.
Highlights from the royal family's tour of Canada.
Following the royal couple’s 2011 Tour, this visit is their second official tour to Canada, and their first as a family of four. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, along with their children—three-year-old George and one-year-old Charlotte, who will be making her royal visit debut—will have a jam-packed schedule and a chance to meet many Canadians along the way.
The weeklong tour runs from September 24 to October 1 and will kick-off in the west with a focus on British Columbia and Yukon. The itinerary includes stops in Victoria, Vancouver, Bella Bella, Kelowna, and Haida Gwaii in British Columbia, and Whitehorse and Carcross in the Yukon. "They are really looking forward to seeing other parts of this beautiful country," said a spokesman for Kensington Palace.
The Royals have a jam-packed schedule (with approximately 30 events planned) and will engage in a number of events, including a visit to the Great Bear rainforest, sampling British Columbia’s harvest, going fishing sailing a tall ship, along with a focus on a number of environmental and social issues. "The Royal Highnesses will highlight the many Canadians who volunteer or work in obscurity. This Tour, more than any other, features important engagements with Indigenous people," said The Honourable Melanie Joly, Minister of Canadian Heritage.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to welcome the royal family on Saturday in B. C. They will open the tour with a plaque unveiling for the veterans of the Afghanistan conflict.
We will be highlighting our favourite moments from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s visit. Stay tuned!
DAY 1 - Victoria, B.C.
The royal family arrived in Victoria, B.C. on Saturday, where they were greeted by Justin Trudeau, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and her son and B.C. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.
The family stepped off the plane wearing colour-coordinated outfits in white and blue. Kate wore a blue Jenny Packham dress, which was gorgeous, but a bit of a surprise for many who thought she might wear red. But she wasn't without any Canadian elements: she wore a maple leaf brooch on her lapel.
Thousands of Canadian fans gave the royal family a warm welcome outside the Legislative Assembly in Victoria.
"Catherine and I are delighted to be back in Canada," William told the crowd.
"We're so pleased that George and Charlotte could be with us in Canada this time around, beginning their own lifetime of friendship with this wonderful country."
Getty ImagesThe couple were officially welcomed by the Songhees First Nation and the ensuing ceremony included a performance by the Victoria Children's choir, a 21-gun salute and an official inspection of the honour guard.
Next stop? Vancouver on Sunday.
DAY 2 - Vancouver, B.C.
Will and Kate arrived in Vancouver at 11am on Sunday without George and Charlotte, who stayed in Victoria. As Prince William said yesterday during the welcoming ceremony, the royal couple is "very much looking forward to learning about how Canadians are tackling some of the biggest challenges of the day, including the environment, supporting young families, and the mental health of young people."
Their Vancouver itinerary focuses on a number of these issues, including a visit to an outreach program for pregnant women and women with young kids dealing with alcohol and drug issues in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, the welcome centre at the Immigrant Services Society of B.C., meeting young Canadian leaders who are making a difference and speaking about mental health issues that first responders face at the Kitsalano Coast Guard Station.
The couple will return to Victoria at the end of the day.
Honey-Caramel Apple Bundt Cake<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson/TC Media Credits: Honey-Caramel Apple Bundt Cake<br>Photography by Jeff Coulson/TC Media