Saturday is Canada Parks Day!

 

Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park, Alberta

 

It’s July 15 and the kids have been out of school for a fortnight now. So how are you holding up? Trying to get the kids enthused about outdoor activities may be a little trying these days, but luckily there are lots of options out there for you to spend quality time with the brood, across the province, across the country and across the street. Saturday, July 16 is Canada Parks Day, so what better time to get thinking about getting in a little fresh air and fun in the great outdoors? Continue »



Unusual Petunias To Grow

A petunia that caught my eye this summer was this deep red-violet with a subtle stripe through its rays.

A petunia that caught my eye this summer was this deep red-violet with a subtle stripe through its rays.

Petunias used to be available in only a few colours, the ubiquitous red, white, hot pink and all kinds of blues and purples. Now we have way more choice in this very useful annual flower. Before I go any further, let me say that I am no flower snob and love all kinds of everyday annuals, including petunias. Some may sneer at common annual flowers, just because they have tended to be overused, but not me. A flower is a flower, and petunias are lovely in the right place. For one thing, the scent of many varieties (whites and purples, and most of the supertunias) makes them worth it alone. My soft spot for petunias began when I was a beginning gardener. I bought all kinds of plants to grow in a shady garden, and the petunias were the only ones that lived. For this novice, those sturdy petunias made me a fan for life.

Continue »



It’s A Good Year For the (Edible) Orange Daylilies

daylily-hemerocallis-fulva

Daylily, hemerocallis fulva, good enough to eat.

It’s been a gonzo year for the orange daylilies. The hot, sunny weather brought hundreds of blooms to my daylily stand. Species daylilies are one of the easiest perennial plants to grow, are great for cut flowers, but did you know you can also eat them? Don’t try to do this with the the modern hybrids. While there are many gorgeous hybrid daylilies, the species orange ones are said to be the tastiest. The tubers, which are part of their root system (and also help them get through the drought we’ve been having) can be cooked, as well as the early shoots, flower buds and flowers. Some think that daylilies are poisonous, but that is usually due to mixing up the common name, daylily, with actual true lilies, which are not edible.

The species, or common orange daylily’s real Latin name is hemerocallis fulva. Hemerocallis means “beautiful for a day”, or hēmera “day” and  kalos “beautiful.” Fulva means tawny (in colour). While each flower stays open for only a day, they still work well as cut flowers.  As each flower scape has many flower buds, just remove the finished bloom, and the others will flower in turn.

Young daylily shoots, which are the first, tender leaf tips that come up in spring are said to taste like onion-y string beans by foraging expert Steve Brill.  He suggests this cooking method : It’s too late now, but remember this one for next year!

Chop and use the young shoots raw in salads or sandwiches, or steam, sauté or stir-fry them. Add them to soups, stews or casseroles. Virtually any cooking method works with them, and their tasty, string bean/onion flavor always shines through, no matter what other ingredients or spices accompany them. They cook in 10 to 15 minutes. Use shoots under 8 inches tall.

Tubers can be dug without harming the plant. Dig some up, cut off some of the tubers, which look a little like fingerling potatoes, and then cover up the roots again. Here’s a recipe for daylily fritters,  which uses the flower buds in a light batter. It’s best to pick buds which are still green-looking. Here’s a recipe for pan-seared daylily buds. This author/cook calls them poor man’s asparagus.

The only downside to the fulva daylily is its tendency to spread wildly. The newer hybrids stay in easy-to-manage circular clumps. But if you have space for daylilies to roam, and don’t mind if they roam far, go ahead and plant. Otherwise, I’ve seen clumps of daylily planted in enclosed areas like hell strips that stop the daylily from getting out of hand.

Save

Save



The Original lemon: the Citron

 

cedrat

 

Perhaps you have seen a certain large, oblong fruit that looks like a big lemon, laying about in the shelves of our produce section. And maybe you have wondered, “What is that, a mutant lemon? What do I do with it?”

The fruit in question is called a citron, and it is indeed, the granddaddy of lemons, the original lemon from which many other, more familiar cultivars have been developed through the centuries, either through mother nature’s natural selection or through the tinkering of botanists. It’s name, the citron, may be a little confusing to us as we know that in French, citron means lemon, so this fruit is also known as the cédrat, and just to keep you on your toes, we will use both names when discussing it. Continue »



Question: “Why does the car smell like dinner?”

Tuft of rosemary on olive cutting board

What’s the best way to dry herbs? Hanging upside down on strings is the traditional way. Some people use an oven, but many modern ovens don’t have the low temperatures that herb drying needs. One of the most ingenious and unorthodox ways I’ve heard is to dry herbs using your car as a dehydrator. This tip was gleaned from the excellent edible gardening and growing food podcast called Living HomeGrown with Theresa Loe. With this unusual method you take a bunch of herbs, bundle them, and tie the stems together with a rubber band. (A rubber band works better than string because as the stems shrink the rubber band still holds them tightly.) Don’t make your bunches too big; a bunch of stems about an inch or less across is a good size. Then simply place your herbs around your car. You can use a tray to be tidy, but even placing them on a tea towel would do.

Continue »