Cueillette fructueuse avec Not Far From The Tree – The perfect glean with Not Far From The Tree

A series of three photos showing women weighing bags of apples, bags of apples and man holding an apple

Weighing in: 345 pounds of apples were harvested in two ours by Not Far From The Tree volunteers.

An English message will follow

Les arbres fruitiers des Torontois sont entre de bonnes mains! Les bénévoles glaneurs de  Not Far From The Tree s’assurent de cueillir le plus de fruits possible des arbres de résidences privés de la ville. La récolte est ensuite divisée en trois: un tiers pour un organisme de bienfaisance local, un autre  pour les propriétaires et le dernier est partagé entre les bénévoles.

Closeup of apples and cake

Baking with Not Far From The Tree Bounty: caramel apple upside down cake.

J’ai récemment participé à une cueillette de pommes avec des bénévoles de Not Far From the Tree. Plus de  345 livres de pommes (156 kilogrammes) plus tard: un gâteau renversé aux pommes au caramel et une chronique. Vous pouvez l’entendre sur le site de Y a pas deux matins pareils.

continue reading


Happy birthday, Nonna !

Nonna Domenica just turned 75!

Over the weekend, we were in Montreal to celebrate our Nonna’s 75th birthday. Surrounded by her children, grand children and even her first great-grandson, it was a great moment to reflect on her journey from Campobasso, Italy to Montreal, Canada. Things have sure changed from the moment she set foot here as a teenager in 1950s. Throughout the years, Nonna worked hard to support her family and provide them the best life possible.

Her cooking brought and still brings a smile to everyone’s face. We all laugh when she insists on offering seconds although her first generous portion of pasta and meatballs is more than enough. My grandmother speaks both Italian and French. Even though we both communicate in French (I unfortunately don’t know any Italian), it always felt as though certain things were lost in translation on both ends.

Thankfully, it seems as thought the language barrier has dissipated somewhat, especially since I’ve grown increasingly curious about her culinary secrets. I visited her on my own about two summers ago. I feel as though this was the stepping-stone that has brought us closer.

“Take a look!”

On that day, Nonna had taken great pride in showing me pretty much every single herb, flower, fruit or vegetable growing the backyard of her Rivière-des-Prairies home. That yard is quite the scene. Every square foot is put to use: loads of oregano plants by the patio, chard, onion and tomato plants in the sunny spot and grapes growing on the car port. There were even beanstalks planted in a narrow space behind the shed.

The cold room is just as impressive. Inside, you’ll find some vegetables pickling, wine aging, cheese and sausage drying. My grandmother’s face lit up as she carefully showed the fruit of her and her partner’s labour. It was just great.

I must admit that I’m completely fascinated by the “art” of approximation of ingredients that she has mastered in many of her dishes. I’ve written about it in a previous post on her pasta sauce. With that being said, I now give her a call for advice, whenever I’m intrigued about something in the kitchen.

I’m looking forward to many more visits in Nonna’s garden and words of culinary wisdom.

Grazie Mille! Tanti auguri, Nonna!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Our first tomato!

Here it is! Our first tomato Black Cherry tomato of the season.

At last! After a three month wait, our first tomato was finally ripe and ready for picking! This Black Cherry tomato is the first fruit of our summer labour.

Over the course of the summer, I’ve chronicled this gardening experience from the very beginning. Putting our green thumbs to the test has made for some interesting observations midway through the process.

This is just one tomato, a first in hopefully many more in a series. At the moment, the Black Cherry and Aunt Ruby’s German Green Cherry have produced the most fruits. All they need to do now is ripen.

The Vintage wine and Yellow Pear have been struggling. Both plants haven’t grown as tall as the other two. Also, many of the flowers of both plants seem to have dried up. Hopefully, these two varieties will get back on track.

Any advice on how to salavage the two other plants?


Putting our green thumbs to the test: an update

Steady as they grow: Black Cherry tomatoes.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about our gardening experiment with heirloom tomatoes on our deck. About two months in this endeavour, the seedlings have grown; hence, it’s time for an update.

All four tomato plants have grown, but not all at the same rhythm. The Black Cherry and Aunt Ruby’s German Green Cherry have shot up quite a bit. Both are over five feet tall (a couple of inches shy of my height) and have several fruits waiting to ripen. We should be able to taste the fruits of our labour soon enough.

The situation of both the Yellow Pear and Vintage Wine is quite different. The seedlings didn’t grow nearly as much as the other two. They stand at about three and half feet tall. The Yellow Pear was quick to bloom and produced one fruit that has yet to grow or ripen. After the rain of the last few days, some of the branches have broken.

The Vintage Wine has been quite the late-bloomer, literally. Several flowers have blossomed over the last week and a half. Promising.

Thoughts on the process

We have been quite intrigued by the way our tomato plants have grown. The Black Cherry and Aunt Ruby’s German Green Cherry have grown quite high. To protect them, we used two three-foot bamboo poles per plant to support them. We were expecting the tomato plants to grow a bit more in bushes, but instead grew in height. Apparently, this isn’t unusual. Heirloom tomato plants can grow up to six feet tall.

Based on discussions with family and searching through online publications, we’ve come to the conclusion that our plants are not having enough sunlight. Ideally tomatoes need between six and eight hours of light per day.

Looking forward to finally biting into one our homegrown pomodoros!

Got any tomato growing anecdotes?

Putting our green thumbs to the test

Patiently waiting for our heirloom tomatoes to grow.

Moving into our new apartment in Little Portugal, last May, my partner and I were in absolute awe by the amount of space we’ve gained. We are quite fortunate that our new home has a spacious, sunny deck. What better way to put this this newly found outdoor space to good use than putting our green thumbs to the test by planting some tomatoes.

Neither one of us had gardened in the past (helping our mothers out doesn’t exactly cut it, but it does give some insight). So it was with great excitement that a couple of weeks after unpacking, we ventured to The Stop’s Farmer’s Market over at Wychwood Barns in search of the perfect tomato plants.

Our visit at Vicki’s Veggies’ kiosk proved to be a good one. They had several different heirloom tomato seedlings. After a brief moment of thought and conversation with their friendly staff, we chose the following varieties: Black Cherry, Yellow Pear, Vintage Wine and Aunt Ruby’s German Green Cherry. Here’s a brief description of each:

Black Cherry
This dark purple, round shaped tomato grows in clusters and is supposed to be very sweet.

Yellow Pear
This pear shaped cherry tomato is very tasty and obviously, yellow.

Vintage wine
Pink and gold striped, this variety is fruity, sweet and mild and like a good wine, taste improves with age and is ready later in season.

Aunt Ruby’s German green Cherry
Green and round, this tomato is known for its spicy flavour. It looks just like beefsteak tomato, only smaller.

For more varieties of heirloom tomatoes make sure you check out this list from Vicki’s Veggies.

Apprentice gardener’s note:

This was all about trial and error. We had initially planted two seedlings per pot, but quickly realised that our prized pomodoros needed much more space to grow. A couple of days later, we transplanted them each into their own pot. Hopefully, we will soon be able to taste the fruits of our labour.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.