We Started Container Gardening!

Over the past few years, I have been reading more about homesteading and container gardening.

We have lived in our place for the past 8 years, never laying down veggie roots because we knew our stay in Kelowna wasn’t permanent.  Eight years later, I gathered up a bunch of empty containers laying around the house and started container gardening in our backyard.

Veggie Garden with celery, broccoli, beans, beets and a marigold.

I had seen the posts online about people getting a good harvest growing potatoes out of a few interesting items including tires.  The problem with that was unearthing the tires would have meant losing dirt into the gravel below where we started our garden.  Instead we planted the tomatoes with peppers in the tires against the fence.

Veggie Garden with tomatoes, peppers, beans and marigolds.

And the potatoes went into a different bin, half full with dirt, which has since been filled with dirt as the potato plants have grown larger.  I have been utterly amazed at the growth coming from the potato container!

Veggie garden with potatoes, beets and marigolds.

You can see the depth of dirt in the tub that we’ve planted the beets, carrots and a couple marigolds (for pest control).  The celery is from the roots off celery from the store.  One was soaked in water, the other went right from the cutting board, deep-sixed into the empty kitty litter container.

I have started to see some flower buds coming on the tomatoes and beans!  I honestly had no expectations of anything working so I am amazed that the only thing that hasn’t come up, was the spinach and wish there was a lot more than the 10-12 carrots that have come up.  They so far seem to have been the most susceptible to the weather.  The nice thing about the container that has the beets and carrots, is that I can put the lid on them but unfortunately, a bad rainstorm in May beat the crap out of the carrots.

Any one else been doing container gardening?  What has or hasn’t worked for you?  I have also seen some of the other people in our neighbourhood doing the same.

Grow food, not lawns!

MarketSafe – Food Safety for Farmers’ Markets

For years now people have been telling me I should be selling my Canned Peach Salsa.  This just might be the year that I do finally get around to actually selling some of my Canned Peach Salsa.

Peach Salsa

I have been wanting to do my FoodSafe just to have it and as a good refresher course.  It has been quite some time since I learned about food safety in Mrs. Morton’s Food and Nutrition classes in high school.  

When looking for a FoodSafe course online, I came across this one that is geared towards Farmers’ Markets:

MarketSafe is a food safety training program for farmers, food processors and producers who make, bake or grow products to sell at local farmers’ markets, farm gates or other types of temporary food markets.: Open School BC

 

I will look at taking it sometime over the Summer months when we get to doing our canning and preserves for the year.  We have a lot of jars to fill this year!

Bought a Master Chef E500

We finally bought a new BBQ a couple of weeks ago!

Last Spring, I priced out how much it would have cost to fix up the old BBQ.  When including the igniter (which I could care less if I had), the cost was going to be higher than what I paid for the BBQ five years earlier.  Because of the state of the burner in the BBQ, we did not use it much last year.  We were holding off on buying a new one because we were hoping to have moved last year and did not want to have to move it.

This past January, my partner and I were eager to get a new one due to the types of food we do (and don’t) eat when BBQ’ing.  During BBQ “season” (in quotes because I BBQ year round), we tend to eat a lot more vegetables and a lot less carbs.  Apparently January is not a good time of year to go BBQ shopping!

I have always bought the brand of BBQ that I grew up with.  Dad always got the Master Chef with a side burner (which I rarely use but is nice to have just in case).  A lot of the fancier BBQ’s that you see now are the same price (~$300) Dad used to pay for his which are now closer to $125.

We spent more money on a BBQ than we normally would and I stepped outside my comfort zone in choosing the one we got.  I have been wanting more cooking area because the amount of food I cook had me layering to get it all “on” the grill!  I also have always wanted a rotisserie.

I had really been resisting cast iron grates.  I cooked on one before and really did not like the way it unevenly heated up (I only had 2 of 3 burners turned on) and then the meat stuck to the grate.  

The first time I used our new BBQ, I ended up phoning Dad about the meat sticking to the grill and then again the next day on how to clean the grates after reading conflicting information online.  The manual said to use a normal BBQ brush but someone in the review of the BBQ had said they had to replace their grates at $80 a piece because the ceramic coating was peeling off from using the BBQ brush.  I bought a BBQ brush which is working well.  My Dad says to heat use the brush when the grill is hot and not to bang the grates with it because it will cause the ceramic coating to break.

IMG_20140413_172049

Cooking for the first time with marinated chicken might not have been the best choice (I hate and almost never char my food!) but the chicken tasted great!  Even the charred parts.  I had remembered from some of the cooking shows that they say if the meat is sticking to the grill, it is not ready to be turned.  When it is ready, it will lift off easily.  This is something I will have to trust because as I said, I hate charring my food and start to panic when I cannot get my meat off the grill to check that it’s not burnt.

The BBQ we bought was the Master Chef E500:

Specifications
Main BTU 48,000
Side Burner BTU 10,000 (Infrared)
Rotisserie Burner BTU 8,500
Burners Four stainless steel tube burners
Side Burner Ceramic Infrared
Total Cooking Surface 650 sq in
Primary Cooking Surface 480 sq in
Secondary Cooking Surface 170 sq in
Cooking Grates Porcelain cast iron
Heat Plates Porcelain coated
Ignition Type Electronic
Temperature Gauge Yes
Assembled Dimensions
(L x W x H)
53.5″ x 25″ x 47″
Warranty Limited 1-Year
Rotisserie Kit
(sold separately)
85-1850
Barbecue Cover
(sold separately)
85-3669

We also bought the Rotisserie Kit because it was 40% off which I am eager to try out with the Rotisserie Burner that is built into the BBQ.

So far, I am loving the new BBQ even though I feel as though I am having to start over again in learning how to use one and know it will take time for me to adjust.  The one noticeable difference is that the food is cooking faster than it did with our old BBQ which cooked at a cooler temperature.  

Even better, it is now asparagus season!  I will have to pop over to Quality Greens to buy some for the grill on my way home.  I might even have to pick up a chicken to rotisserie.