Cultivate Simple Podcast in iTunes Chiot's Run on Facebook Chiot's Run on Twitter Chiot's Run on Pinterest Chiot's Run on Flickr RSS Feed StumbleUpon

Friday Favorite: Preserving the Harvest

October 2nd, 2015

Our apple trees are loaded with fruit this year, there are so many we could never eat/use/preserve them all. Luckily, we have friends that can use some and they have been. We’ve been eating them out of hand and I’ve been making applesauce and dried apple slices. We’re hoping to make cider next weekend as well.
Dried apples 2
Dried apples 1
One of the things I love about dried apples is that they store in the pantry, there’s not much work involved in prepping them. I simply core and slice each apple into 8 sections, yes I leave the peels on. They are layered onto racks in my oven and set to dry at 150 degrees until dry and leather, usually 6-8 hours depending on how full the oven is.
Dried apples 3
I love using my oven as to dry things because it fits so much more than a dehydrator. A few years ago, I purchased extra racks so I could fill it completely. This batch produced 3 half gallon jars filled with dried apple slices. Mr Chiots will certainly appreciate them for delicious and healthy treats during the winter. I’m not a huge fan of dried apples, well of apples in general. I do love dried pears however, which reminds me I need to read up on pears this winter because I’ll be planting pear trees in the spring.

Do you dehydrate any fruit? What’s your favorite.

Good Morning

October 1st, 2015

Our front door isn’t very becoming, in fact, I’m always trying to think of ways to kind of hide it or cover it up. This year, I decided a climbing vine would be perfect. I had a pack of morning glory seeds and they were perfect, though they are a heat loving vine so they took a LONG time to get going. Perhaps something that can take the cold would be a better option. Something perennial would be even better, but I don’t want to make that much of a commitment yet.
morning glory 2
morning glory 1
I quite like having something scrambling up over the door and providing some color and distraction. I’m thinking that next year I’m going to try the Firecracker vine (Ipomoea lobata), I even picked up seed recently. There’s a native wisteria in a pot that I got earlier this summer that I’ve also been contemplating planting there. It’s definitely something I want to do now that I’ve tried.

What’s your favorite flowering vine?

Beating the Rain

September 30th, 2015

We have rain in the forecast, lots of rain. Today we’re supposed to get 3-4 inches and then it’s supposed to rain every day for the next 10 days at least. That’s good, we really need the rain because it’s a super dry summer/fall so far. That means however that I spent yesterday madly harvesting everything from the garden. Ten days of rain is not good for crops right before harvest, especially things like popcorn!
harvesting early popcorn
The popcorn wasn’t really ready, technically you should wait until the husks have dried. With all the rain coming, I knew the risk of mold was high. As a result, it’s all laid out on shelves in the top of the garage with a fan on it. Along with the popcorn, I have loads of sunflowers drying in the top of the garage as well. These are grown for the flock.
sunflower harvest
I also grow loads of pumpkins and squash for both us and the birds. Not only do we eat lots of pumpkin and butternut squash, the birds love them. It’s nice to be able to give the birds healthy treats in the middle of winter. This year I grew ‘Connecticut Field Pumpkin’ for the flock. They produced very well, I’m very pleased with this variety. They are a carving and decorative pumpkin, pretty much your typical pumpkin.
heirloom pumpkin harvest 1
This is about 2/3 of the pumpkin harvest. It looks like I have 30 pumpkins for the birds and 8 large ‘Rouge Vif D’ Etampes’ pumpkins for us. This variety is my all-time favorite pumpkin because it makes the most wonderful pumpkin puree for pies and other goodies.
heirloom pumpkin harvest 2
The tomatoes also came in, anything that was ripe or slightly blushed was put in my basket. The photo below is about a fourth of what I harvested, I’m guessing I got about 2 bushels of tomatoes. I have plans to make another batch of soup and probably a batch or two of canned crushed tomatoes. The harvest was very good this year and that makes me very thankful. Last year I got the late blight and didn’t have much of a harvest to speak of. I like tucking as much as I can into the pantry during the good years. That way we can still enjoy tomato soup during the years of blight.
tomato harvest
This has probably been my most productive garden ever. I still have loads of things coming on, more on those tomorrow.

Do you grow pumpkins in your garden? What’s your favorite variety?

Bring Them Inside

September 29th, 2015

It’s starting to get cold in the evenings here in Maine, the lower areas were said to be 32 the other morning. The benefit of living on a south facing slope is that it was 45 up here on the hill. That’s a considerable difference! Event though it’s not getting that cold here, it’s still time to bring in all the tropicals. Usually I take this time to repot and prune them all, cleaning them up a bit to make them look nicer indoors. For more on where I got these plants and what varieties they are see this blog post.
tropical houseplants 2
I have a lot of edible tropical plants: avocados, bananas, guava, mango, papaya, citrus, etc. They all live outside in the hottest part of the garden in the summer and they live in the warmest spot in the house during the winter. Most of them are only a year old, but they’re all dwarf varieties that should start producing fruit next year or the year after. I have a few citrus trees that are older and are currently loaded with fruit.
tropical houseplants 1
The banana plant had a few pups that needed to be cut off and repotted. I gave one to a friend, I haven’t decided if I want to keep the rest or find them new homes. I’m pretty excited about this plant, I think it might produce bananas soon. We had a banana plant in our front yard when I was young (we lived in Colombia, S.A.) and watching it produce bananas was such an amazing thing. I can’t wait to see it happen again!

Do you have any edible houseplants?

For more info on growing edible houseplants I highly recommend the book: Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere

Bushels of Beans

September 28th, 2015

Remember that second batch of green beans I seeded back in mid July? They all came ripe. I harvested a nice batch before we left for our trip at the beginning on Sept, when I returned they were flush with beans!
green bean harvest 1
I harvested half a bushel on Friday night and half bushel on Saturday night. Then I blanched them and put them in the freezer. I like to freeze them on cookie sheets then dump them into zipper bags so I can scoop out what I need for a meal. It’s a convenient way to preserve them. These are ‘Maxibel Haricort Vert’ from High Mowing Seeds.
green bean harvest 2
I also like them blanched so I can make this cold green bean salad with them. It’s a great way to taste summer in the middle of winter when you have the need for it.

What are you preserving from you garden before winter comes?

Also Find Me At
Reading & Watching

Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.