Monday, August 16, 2010

The Knitty Gritty "Orchard"

The birds enjoyed every single one of last year's grapes, just before they were ready to be picked.

Rural Ontario presents many opportunities to eat seasonally and locally, at least in our relatively short growing season. Thanks to The Ottawa Valley Food Co-op, we now order our meat locally, and pick it up nearby. Their website offers many local products, and we have enjoyed pork, beef, tomatoes, baby food, and body-care products all created in the Ottawa Valley. We are increasingly less dependent on the grocery store, which makes us happy!

I think most Valleyites would agree, though, that eating seasonally can be more challenging in the wintertime. Most of us do some canning, and are working towards preserving a majority of our summer produce to keep us going through the winter. The old crabapple trees that dot our property tell tales of former farmers, who would have stuffed them in jars, covered them with syrup, and enjoyed them through the winter as a sweet treat, as well as a good source of Vitamin C.

While I do make lots of jelly from our crabapples, and thank the person who planted them decades ago, I can see my children choosing scurvey over crabapples for dessert for 6 months of the year.

We do have a small "orchard" (I'm using that grand term very generously), and we hope to cultivate and expand it as the years go by. For now, we get a few items for fresh eating (it's hard to keep those apples on the trees when they're the perfect height for 3-5 year olds' hands...):

These guys look about ready to be harvested.

This year we got 1 warped, homely lovely pear, no blueberries (hens or wild birds beat us to them), and the grapes are ripening. We may need to put some netting over the grapes to discourage the birds this year. The apples get picked when the kids feel peckish during an outside play. Our favourite Ontario fruit is the blessed peach, ordered by the bushel from the Niagara region, and quickly turned into peach conserve and peach tomorrow's post for my favourite peach recipes.


  1. Looks like we all have peach fever!

    Stephanie :)

  2. I love me a juicy messy peach! Yum. And I was exhilarated to learn that our straggly grape vine, hastily planted about 4 years ago, is producing its very first bunch of grapes ever! Our few apples never seem to survive the kids or horses either, but this year is looking promising too. We may get to harvest all 7 of them ;-)

  3. We will be keeping our scurvy at bay this winter thanks to our prolific rhubarb plant! Not as lovely as an orchard, but for now it will do.
    How do you order bushels of it a family secret? If not, I would love to know.

  4. oh yum...... I tried growing rhubarb in the south.... it literally melted in the heat. It grows everywhere in the north.... but not here. We've got three fruit trees in our backyard... fig, satsuma & lemon..... but I cannot wait to get back north for apples... we used to have deer stand on their hind legs in our yard to eat the apples off the trees when we lived in Wisconsin.... just loved it!

  5. Althought we live in town and are far from being homesteaders, my husband loves to climb our one apple tree that grows crab apples of the darkest shade of burgundy to harvest these tiny little gems. He then spends the afternoon making crabapple jelly. Each year I am amazed at the glorious shade of red that fills the little mason jars to be enjoyed all winter. And I am always joyful to receive a jar of peach conserve from my sister which is by far my favourite preserve.

  6. I've been on a peach binge myself..every week we pick up another bushel from the farmers market. mmmmmmmmm Can't wait to see your recipes :)


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