June 22, 2009

First Harvest of the Year!

Several weeks ago I planted seeds and seedlings at my allotment garden. This weekend, I enjoyed my first harvest of leafy greens! They've grown so quickly. I picked an assortment of leaves and left the plants which I will visit again in a couple of weeks for a second harvest.

The greens include Rouge De Hiver lettuce and Early Wonder Tall Top beet greens for a little colour, Southern Curled Green mustard and arugula for a little pep, basil for aroma and taste, and Bloomsdale spinach to round it out.

Also in my plot are Ruby Red Swiss Chard, Broccoli Raab Rapini, Sugar Snap Peas, Early Girl and Beefsteak tomatoes; and zucchini, eggplant, peppers, and mini tomatoes, whose names elude me at the moment.

Most of my seeds come from Urban Harvest of Toronto, a great resource for organic seeds and many heirloom and rare vegetable varieties. I picked up some of their Carbonitite and Green Wisdom Herbal Plant Food too. I sprinkled the Carbonitite all over the plot before planting (only one application needed). It provides slow release of essentials minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, potassium, iron, etc. The Green Wisdom comes in little tea bags which I boil in a pot of water and let sit over night, then mix in with a couple of watering cans-full of water.

My eggplant and peppers aren't looking too hot though and I'm not sure what sort of amendments or special treatment they might need. Any tips?

Here is the mixed salad (pre-dressing) I made this weekend with my very first harvest of the year. It fed 9 people! And tasted so good, there is really nothing like eating veggies you grew yourself!

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June 11, 2009

I've been spinning.......

I think I've caught the spinning bug. Using my Phat Fiber samples, I've spun up some mini skeins. I've spun in front of the TV, I've spun in the car (as a passenger of course), heck, I've spun sitting in front of a campfire (and my yarn is infused with the smell of wood smoke).

I'm seeing some improvement in my end result. I was generally trying to spin really fine yarn in order to get more out of the samples, but I think I should abandon that tactic now and work on spinning thicker yarns well in order to get the hang of it. I think I'm making it harder for myself by trying to make the yarn thin. Anyone have any advice on that one?

Fibre sample from Polyartgirl Designs

I did spin the sample above a bit thicker than the others, and it turned out nicely. This minty skein is 100% bamboo, which has been my favourite fibre to work with so far. For some reason I get much more consistent results with this than I do with other fibre types. Although I haven't really wrapped my head around trying to achieve a yarn that works to a particular gauge, this would be the fibre I'd use to experiment with that. I'm able to produce a yarn of a uniform thickness. And I love bamboo for its delicious sheen.

The skein below is 50% bamboo, 50% merino. Again, it has a great sheen. I think it's a good combination because you also get the springiness of wool.

Fibre sample from Zebisis Designs

Fibre sample from Abstract Fiber

I totally love the fiery colours of the fibre above. It's 70% alpaca and 30% silk. The little blue skein below is 100% merino and so nice and squishy.

Fibre sample from We Love Thor

And here's a little leafy green organic wool skein.......

Fiber sample from Extreme Spinning

Finally, the fibre I gave up on. It's milk. Don't ask me but somehow it started as milk and ended up as fibre....blows my mind. Anyways, I found it impossible to spin. As you can see in the photo (below), the fibres come out in very short bits (short staple length). This made it very difficult to spin without the strand of yarn breaking at the top and the spindle falling to the floor. The fibre is lovely and soft and probably spins wonderfully with a skilled hand. And Serendipity Fiber Arts has some fabulous colourways in milk fibre. I'd love to know if anyone has any tips for spinning milk.

Fibre sample from Serendipity Fiber Arts

I think I'm going to have to try to score another Phat Fiber box to keep my habit going, they'll be going on sale very soon. Go here to find out when!

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