Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Dried Mangoes

My wonderful husband gave me a dehydrator this week for my birthday!! How spoiled am I!?! We had talked about it months ago, when we wondered how much cheaper it would be to dry our own mangoes, as we both LOVE them as a snack.

So you can imagine that I was very excited to try my new toy, and since it came with a few mangoes (hehehe... cute touch), those were the first to get cut and put in the machine.

My new dehydrator
The first batch dried a lot faster than I had anticipated (according to google), but I had cut the pieces too thin. So I pretty much made mango paper! It tasted good, but it looked pretty weird.

So I tried again and this time cut the pieces thicker. I also added a row of apples, just out of curiosity.

ready to dry

This batch took many hours to dry, but the result was divine! Dried mangoes are like fruit candy, but there's absolutely nothing added to them. It's just the natural sugars that become more concentrated. They really are difficult to resist, and it's definitely a case of can't-eat-just-one!

Yummy and healthy "candy". Best snack ever!
Out of my two mangoes, I got at least 3 times the amount I would get in a small bag from the store. It also cost a fraction of the price.

My husband calculated that the required energy / electricity (3.5kWh) for this batch cost about 8 DKK (Danish Crowns). We paid 5 DKK each for the mangoes. That gave a total of 18 DKK.
Divided by 3 would be 6 DKK for about the same amount I would get in a store for 20 DKK or more.
(click here for currency converter)

Plus, I know that nothing has been added - especially if the mangoes are ecologic of course, which I can't say mine were. Shame we can't grow them in Denmark!

There are so many possibilities with the dehydrator. One can dry fruit, veggies, herbs, berries, mushrooms, etc. From what I gathered, dried goods retain most of their nutritional value and can be stored for many months. I think it could be a great way to save surplus harvest. Dried fruit and berries can be used as snacks, in cereals, porridge or in desserts. Dried veggies, mushrooms and herbs can be used in cooking of course. It seems like a good way to use one's own harvest even in the cold season. The device came with 3 trays, but I can stack up to 10 trays! Only issue is storing the thing when not in use! ;)

Huge thanks to my husband. *muuaahh!* This is a very nice addition to my gardening hobbies! (please don't eat all the mangoes... ) ;)

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Fall harvest

September came and went nearly without me noticing! I have been on "back to school" mode after a fantastic summer in the garden. The program I am taking (bachelor degree in social education) is very interesting. It is also challenging and demanding, but I still manage to spend a few hours outside every now and then. It's really good for the head after reading pages of theory. ;)

Fall is so beautiful and cosy in its own special way. Some trees and plants take on beautiful vibrant colours. Other plants just fade and wilt away. Many will sprout again next year with the next warm season.
The air is becoming cool and brisk, and warm blankets are just cosier and cosier. The land is getting ready for the cold season, but that doesn't mean that nothing is happening in the garden. Here's a few examples of what's been going on...

My chili plants gave a LOT of chilies (and still do!) so I made some chili oil (not shown on picture) and chose to hang some chilies to dry. (I also have a basket full apart from those shown here)

Chilies hanging to dry

One of my favorite part about Fall is winter squash harvest! They are just so pretty, delicious and healthy! My pumpkin plant gave 7 pumpkins and my hokkaido plant gave 3. I have been turning some of them into delicious Fall cream soup. There is a recipe *here*. I would also like to make one or two pumpkin pies, using my grandmother's recipe, which I was so lucky to have sent to me a couple of weeks ago!! :)

Pepo pumpkins (what I call "Halloween" pumpkin),  and small Hokkaido squash (also called Red Kuri squash)

Our apple tree was not very productive this year, but I was allowed to pick apples at my friends garden and came home with 7 kilos of huge delicious ones!

7 kilos of apples. A huge thanks to my friends :)

So on a nice Saturday afternoon, I set out to work peeling all this lot. 

I sat in the greenhouse to peel the apples. It was so comfortable out there. 
I then turned all this into yummy pies. I used the same recipe as I did last year. If you're curious, you can find it by clicking *here*.

Last year, I managed to bake 4 pies out of the apples from our apple tree. This year, the 7 kilos of apples allowed me to bake 8 pies!

Apple pie production 2013: 8!

The tomato plants in the greenhouse are currently maturing the few last fruits of the year. Despite some issues earlier in the season, where the tomatoes would rot before having time to mature, I harvested many delicious and healthy tomatoes and enjoyed many tomatoe-basil salads. 

I have also been clearing things out from the vegetable patch. Some things unfortunately were attacked by meldew, others were just done and ready to get cleared out. I however left some of the beans on the plant with the idea to let them dry. I will then harvest and keep the beans / seeds for use next year. Some of them I simply picked up and hung in the greenhouse to dry, as I was afraid they would rot before time if they were left outside. With the empty soil space, I followed my friend's advice and put down some plants I had that were still in pots. They will be better off spending the winter with their feet in full soil, and I can move them early next year before the patch is needed again for vegetables. 

The season is coming to an end, and I am already looking forward to the next season! Thankfully, it's only a few months of waiting, as the first sowing can happen indoor in february with chili plants!

Hmm, but until then, I'll have to take up my winter hobbies! :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ambiance lighting

I love my greenhouse. This is no surprise to anyone who knows me, but what you guys may not know is that my husband has an interest for electronic projects and a ton of great ideas. I am so lucky that my greenhouse inspired him to work on one of his awesome ideas. This resulted in a greenhouse with a personality!

This ambiance lighting is a waterproof strip of LED lights mounted in the highest point of the ceiling. The strip is connected to a battery, which in turn is connected to 2 small solar panels. We can choose the intensity and colour of the light with the help of a small remote control.

Thanks to my wonderful husband for putting together and installing such an awesome lighting in my green atelier. :) Muaah!


Not everything is working out as I would like in the greenhouse and garden, but we still get to enjoy some really yummy things. Here are a few examples:

I have two kinds of chilies. The one shown on the picture is only called "capsicum annuum" on the seed envelope. From what I understand, this is the common name to many sorts of chilies, so I am not sure which one this is. It does look like jalapeno tho, and is also quite strong. I also have smaller chilies (Apache), which are even stronger. So chilies have it good in the greenhouse! Next year, I want more sorts!
Strong chili
I sowed green and yellow beans out in the garden this year as I had last year. In addition, I received from a good friend, early in the season, seeds for 3 other kinds of beans. I unfortunately don't know their names in English. (And Google is a bit confused itself, it seems).  In any case, they are growing great and we have eaten quite a few of them in the past few weeks! Beans are also staying on the plan for next year!

3 kinds of beans, which I don't know name of in English
(Pralbønner, Borlotti bønner, Lilla bønner)

My corn last year didn't give any decent crop. I only had 3 surviving plants and the conditions were not ideal. This year, I started my plants differently and had better success. These are some of the first cobs we harvested. They are not perfect looking, but they tasted good enough! :) Another one going back on the list for next year.
Green and yellow beans. Sweet corn.

I've had some issues with my tomatoes. A lot of them develop a problem known as "blossom-end rot", where the fruit rots at the bottom while still on the plant, and before it even has time to mature. This, I've now learned, is caused by a lack of nutrients. One of the problem is that I have too many plants per soil bag. I also did not feed the plants as I should have through the season. Learning comes with a cost. :(  However, since I started fertilizing my plants, I managed to save some of my crops. Lately, I enjoyed many lunch times with fresh and delicious tomatoes, mini-cucumber and basil from the greenhouse.

A few sorts of tomatoes, mini cucumber, red and green basil. 

Mmmmm now I'm hungry again!

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Painting in the greenhouse

One of the many things I was looking forward to with a greenhouse was the possibility to sit outside while still protected from the elements. The summer has been very warm and sunny here in Denmark, so I did not sit out in my greenhouse so often. It was much too warm in there! Today however, we lost some degrees on the thermometer. The sky is covered and the wind blowing. It was the perfect day to enjoy a bit of creative time out in my outdoor, bright - yet protected - workshop.

It had been a very long time since I last painted, so I took my material out, installed a little work area, put on some music and started painting.

Peaceful... inspiring... delightful. 
My singer of choice to listen to while I paint is Yves Duteil, a French singer songwriter. His texts are just so beautifully written. French is such a beautiful language. No matter how many languages I might come to learn in my life,  my mother tongue will always be the most inspiring one to me. Listening to Yves Duteil's music always brings me into a creative mood. It brings me within myself and within my heart. Time disappears as my hands get busy with colours and paintbrushes, and images gradually take shape on the canvas.

Here is what today's adventure resulted in.

Watercolours on canvas - (c) Marie-Eve Cormier

My favorite way to paint is when I start without the slightest idea of what to put on the canvas. I let the music surround my heart, I let my thoughts run free and I let the colours speak to me. I add to the creation until I look at it and decide that it's done. My paintings are often nameless, and the only story they have is what they might evoke in the heart of the one looking at them. Abstract art is so open and free that way.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Clay from my garden

In a recent post, (here) I mentioned the clay I dug up from my garden and how I started to clean it up to make it ready for use. Here is the description of the process from start to finish. 

- Dig up some clay soil. 

Clay from my own backyard

- Put some chunks of clay soil in a container up to about half. Add water to fill the container.

Chunks of clay soil + water

- With your hands, break the chunks down until a homogeneous texture is obtained.

Homogeneous texture / mixture

- Let the mixture settle for a day or two. The heavy sand / rocks will fall to the bottom, the clay will sit over the debris and the water will be on top. In the case of the clay I gathered, there were so little debris that my mixture only seperated into 2 layers.

Settled clay-water mixture
- Get rid of as much of the clear water as possible by very gently pouring it out or scooping it up. When clay starts mixing with the water being removed, stop. The mix can be set to settle another day and the process of removing water can be repeated until no more water sits on top after the settling period. 

- When as much water as possible has been removed, pour the mixture through a sieve. I used a piece of bug net mounted on top of a clean bucket. This will insure that leftoever debris such as small pieces of roots or small stones are removed.

- The filtered liquid clay is ready for the last part of the process. Choose a surface that breathes well. I chose a metal grid shelf so air could also come from under. Cover the chosen area with many layers of newspaper, and finish with a piece of cotton. (an old pillow case, for instance).

- Pour the liquid clay onto the prepared surface. Let it rest for a few days, changing the newspaper daily. The clay will be ready when it can be picked up and shaped into a ball. This step can take several days, all depending on the amount of water in the mixture and how well ventilated the area is. 

Clay "drying" after having been cleaned of debris.
- When the clay has the desired texture, it can be picked up, shaped into a ball and stored in an air-tight plastic container or plastic bag. 


Monday, July 29, 2013

Garden things

As documented on this blog, last year was my first time trying to grow a vegetable garden. Some things went well, some not so much, but I learned from my own trials and errors and from the valuable advice of experienced gardeners.

My second year with a vegetable garden is going quite well. Again, some things didn't work out as I wanted, but other things seem to be very good successes!

Vegetable garden 2013
I have green and  yellow beans which I sowed a little late, so they are lagging a bit behind. Similar issues with the peas. I sowed them in pots but took way too long to transplant them, so they didnt get very big. My romaine lettuce grew nice and big, however, and we enjoyed many fresh leaves before the last 2 heads went in bloom.
Last year, I had one kuri squash plant. It was an awesome discovery for me, as I absolutely loved the taste of this beautiful deep orange squash in soups, cream soups or just as an accompanying vegetable to a meal. This year, I planted 2 plants in stead of one, and they seem to be doing very well! If all goes well, I will harvest more than double the amount I had last year. (Well, I only had 3... )
The picture below shoes 2 of the young squashes. They will become a deep orange colour as they grow bigger. 

Young kuri squash
Zuchini, which we had way too many of last year, are not doing nearly as good this time around. I only planted 1 plant, but it's being a bit invaded by my pumpkin plant, which is totally and absolutely thriving! It is the first time that I try growing pumpkin (as in real halloween pumpkins, you know!). I'm really excited about the possible outcome!

Halloween pumpkins in the making!
Another thing being a bit invaded by the pumpkins are some special kinds of beans, which I don't know the name of in English. I have 3 different sorts cramped between the huge crawling pumpkin plant and the very tall sweet corn. Thankfully, I also have some in a huge pot somewhere else in the garden, and those are doing very well! (they taste awesome too!)

Finally, the corn! Last year, I ended up with - I think it was 3... - very pittiful corn plants, and didn't eat a single corn cob. This year is much better. I have 6 very healthy corn plants that grew tall and green and are starting to form cobs! It will be interesting to see if the cobs will be full and nicely formed. 

In the greenhouse, my tomatoes are having a bit of a hard time. They get something called "blossom-end rot", which, as far as I understand, is caused by a lack of nutrients. :( So that's a big disappointment. However, I'm working hard to try and save the tomatoes that are on the way now. I am hoping this organic fertilizer I got will help the matter.
On the other hand, my mini cucumbers are doing great. They are delicious and provide perfect little snacks when I'm working in the greenhouse. :)
Chilies "Apache" and Jalapeno are also doing great! I am very happy with my chili plants this year. They look really good. I'm thinking of trying to keep them in the house over winter. I read that this is possible! We'll see... 

Apart from plants growing and cucumbers, lettuce and beans being eaten, there are also things going on in the yard, as always... 

The compost corner has been upgraded to a paved compost-and-branch-and-such-things corner. A place where we can put non-compost garden "trash" until we can bring them away with the trailer, and of course where we still have our compost bin. 
Paved "compost corner"
The stones we used to pave the area are recycled from the terrace by the greenhouse. We are about to lay new stones, so in stead of getting rid of the old ones, we used them to pave this corner. Nothing like recycled stones to pave a compost corner, don't you agree? :) 
The plan is to have bushes an flowerbed around the area as a wall to hide the corner from view. We will also eventually build a second compost bin to make turning and things a little easier. 

Field stones are also useable in the garden. I had field stones around some of my flowerbeds, and I didn't really like the look. I wanted something more open / less framed. But I had another plan for the stones I removed. 

Field stone path
Since I removed the fence around the terrace by the house, I have been walking directly out through the flowerbed in stead of going around it. Going around was a detour when one wants to go to the garden patch or the compost corner. So I decided to make the new path "official" with stones. The flowerbed will all be rearranged anyway, so that was the first step!

And what do we do when we've enjoyed our garden during the day and made improvements and all that? Well, we sit outside during the evening and observe the night life waking up for its shift!

Mr. Hedgehog came to say hello... 
... And the bats come out for their insect hunt. 

Bat, july 2013
There's no where like home... I love my house, my greenhouse and my garden!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer days in the garden

Aaah... summer vacation. A time to reconnect with myself and my interests. A time to take it easy and follow my own rhythm. I am enjoying every minute of it!

So what exactly am I doing of this lovely sunny peaceful time? Here are a few samples of my recent activities.


First, my husband discovered a dove nest in the tree right in front of our balcony. There are 2 fuzzy chicks and a protective mommy! I discreetely take a look at them every so often. So cute! And interesting to see how long they will stay sitting in their nest. :) The mommy often leaves them but usually only sits on the rooftop of the neighbors house some 15 meters away.

Muddy business

When my husband and I were digging (and digging and digging and diggiiing) in preparation to installing the greenhouse, we reached a level that was composed of beautiful clay soil. I gathered some and put it aside for later use. This week, I finally took my sample up and decided to try and clean it.

Clay from my own backyard
In order to clean my clay, I first submerged it in water and broke it down with my fingers until I obtained a homogeneous texture.

I then poured the muddy liquid through a sieve to remove small stones and roots or other unwanted bodies that were mixed with the raw clay soil, and let the somewhat refined muddy soup rest and settle for a day. The clay and sand being heavier than water, it fell to the bottom, leaving a level of clear water on top. I gently removed as much of the clear water as possible without loosing any clay.

Settled clay-water mixture
I was left with a still-quite-liquid mud. I lined a big tray with a good thickness of newspaper, covered with an old piece of cloth. (an old pillowcase, to be precise). I then poured the mud on the cloth. The cloth and newspaper should take some of the water, while evaporation will also do its part.
The rest of this muddy adventure will follow in a future post, as I am still waiting on the result of the experiment!


I have a few lavander plants here and there and while I really like their look and fragrance, I decided to remove 2 of them, which I find are not very well placed. Before pulling them up, though, I decided to cut the flowers and hang them to dry.


Hanging lavander to dry.
(They are actually hanging in the house now in a dry, darkish corner)


A friend gave me some dried rods that came from a plant she grows in her garden. I don't know the name of it in English, but it makes thin bamboo-looking rods that can be used as support for plants. I've been using them especially for my tomatoes and beans. They're great because they're totally natural. I find they give more of an authentic look to the whole thing.

I don't have many flowers in my greenhouse or garden (hopefully more next year!), but I do have one which I started from seeds and is doing quite well. According to google and wiki, it is called a Rhodochiton, or purple bell vine. The young plants are growing and climbing beautifully, so I used some of the rods and made a bigger, more permanent trellis for the vines to climb up on. 


In previous years, I have tried growing basil and was never really successful. Basil is quite sensitive to cold and doesn't seem to like fresh nights and wind. So growing basil outside was always a bit of a challenge. I also only learned last year that basil likes to be cut and used! The move you cut it, the more beautiful and fulll it will grow.

Thi syear, with a bit more knowledge and with my brand new greenhouse, both red and green basil are thriving! So today, I decided to make some pesto.

Thriving basil

Beautiful, healthy basil leaves

- A good amount of fresh basil leaves
- a small amount of pine nuts
- some garlic
- olive oil
- (parmesan, unless your partner doesn't like cheese... sigh)

Finely chop the choppable stuff and add some olive oil. Tadaaah. Yummy!

Home made pesto

Aaand that's about it for now!

Happy summer!

Friday, June 28, 2013


After a busy (but successful!) final exams season, followed by one delightful week in Mallorca, I am BACK! I am on summer vacation and plan on enjoying a huge amount of time in my greenhouse, my garden and at the creativity table.

We have been so busy on the greenhouse project that all the so-called flowerbeds, as well as both the terraces are totally overgrown with weeds. So the cleanup of these is definitely high up on my to-do list. Thankfully, things are going very well now in the greenhouse. My very nice neighboor took really good care of it in our absence (and fed my cats!). I was delighted to see how much everything had grown in just one week! (the plants, not the cats)

Greenhouse is really getting green!
Some 8 varieties of tomatoes, 2 varieties of cucumbers, Apache chilies, jalapenoes, bell peppers, sweet peppers, a few different sorts of herbs (including a lot of basil, green and red) and a few more things are all doing really great! I've eaten my first mini-cucumbers, some red juicy strawberries and beautiful lettuce already.

Inuksuk found its home!
Pick-and-eat lettuce and strawberry leveled pot. 

I don't have many flowers, but can definitely see that I will be looking more into that next year.

Meanwhile, the vegetable garden is also picking up in pace. I've tried sweet corn again this year and it seems to be doing much better than last year. I started it in paper pots and carefully tranplanted them a few weeks ago, trying not to disturb the roots. 

The red kuri squash and pumpkin plants took a while to "feel home" on the veggie patch, but also seem to be growing now. 

The romaine lettuce is beautiful, as are the onions!  Today, I finally transplanted a zuchini plant, some interesting kinds of beans I received from my good friend and some peas, which I all had started a few weeks ago and just never had time to transplant. 

Veggie garden. Corn, beans, squashes, onions, lettuce, peas. 
If you guys remember well, last year, my husband and I built a compost bin. I have been using some of the resulting compost to enrich the soil on the patch, which came from the hole we dug for the greehouse, so wasn't the very best soil for a garden. This seems to especially have made a difference with the corn. It went from a pale green to a nice healthy green, and more than doubled in size since I added compost around the plants. :D

Following advice from the experienced, I started covering the soil with cut grass to help retain some humidity. The only problem is that our lawn mower is specially made to cut grass in tiny tiny pieces so that we don't have to pick it up, and it feeds the lawn at the same time. (it is called Bio-cut). So it makes it difficult to find enough grass to cover the whole garden patch. I have to go along the bicycle trail behind our lot! 

That's it for now.... happy summer everyone!

Friday, June 07, 2013

Finished greenhouse

It is about time I post a new picture of the greenhouse! I've been so busy preparing for exams lately that I'm afraid blog time was put a little bit aside.

The floor is now finished! I can use my greenhouse and organize it and put my own colours in it now.... as soon as exam season is over! :D
We still need to connect electricity and water to the sources, but those are details we can take care of a bit later.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Greenhouse Project: Greenhouse!

We have a greenhouse!!!

The greenhouse is now complete with glass, 3 windows and double sliding doors. It is officially useable, even though we are still missing a proper floor. 

It was a long but very satisfying day!

Monday, May 06, 2013

Greenhouse Project: Getting there!

Another very busy weekend behind us (and in our every muscle!). We had beautiful weather to work outside, and work outside we did, Saturday and Sunday, from morning to evening. We also achieved a lot! 

So here's what we've done since my last entry: 

The electricy cable and the water hose are in place. They are not yet attached to the source, but that can be done later on.

Electricy and water

After much work, the deep hole for the gabion was dug. It was interesting to see the different layers of soil as I was getting deeper and deeper. I am still very impressed by the layer of beautiful clay down there. I am equally impressed by how hard the soil was in the last 20 cm or so. "Breaking the soil" would better describe the way we got through the last layer!

Hole for the gabion

Good fit! 

With the gabion pit taken care of, we were able to place the pipes. Shame I forgot to take a picture before we buried them. But anyway... We placed one pipe from the water corner (future sink on the ground kind of thing), and we placed one pipe from each of the 2 corners where the gutters come down. Each of the 3 pipes lead right over the gabion. 
We can decide, later on, to gather the rain water in stead for use in the greenhouse. But seeing as we don't have the equipment for this just now, the water needs to go somewhere. So to the gabion it is for the time being. 

Gabion wrapped in textile. 3 pipes leading to it. 

With all the underground stuff done, we started bringing in the sand/gravel mix. This will provide a stable layer under the finer sand that will serve as bed for the paving stones. 

Placing the gravel. 
After the physically demanding gravel step, we were finally there! We finally reached the "put-the-puzzle-together" step!!! 

It looks like a gigantic aquarium!

Studying the plan

Taking its shape... 
Sunday evening: It actually looks like a greenhouse!

YESSS!! It looks like a greenhouse! WAHOOO!!! We're almost there! To-do list for the next few days include finishing the puzzle (i.e.: door and windows) and placing the glass panels. 

If all goes well, I should have a useable greenhouse by next weekend! It won't be totally finished, as we will do the floor only a little later on, but I will be able to use it and work in it and grow things in it! 
What a lovely dream.... Oh wait! I'm awake!