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Making Way

October 8th, 2015

I’m making way in the garden for more things next year. That means thousands of strawberry plants are coming out. There are still plenty of strawberries out there, just not the ridiculous amounts that we had this summer. I left at least half of the plants and I’m debating cutting that in half again. Strawberries do best when the exhausted plants are pulled every couple years and the young plants are allowed to get established. I also like to move them to a new spot for crop rotation purposes. The nice this about berries is that they migrate on their own.
pulling Strawberry plants
I tried to find people locally who were interested in plants, but no one seemed to want them. Oh well, I guess they’ll compost down into something lovely to feed the garden. Yesterday I was able to finish pulling the rest of the plants and get a layer of compost spread over the row. Next spring it will be ready for whatever I decide to plant, maybe something edible, maybe just a cover crop.

What chores are you finally getting done in the garden?


October 7th, 2015

When you have birds and livestock you learn quickly that predators must be controlled. We do what we can to be predator friendly, I recognize that they are valuable in the grand scheme of things and don’t have the time to be constantly watching out for them. They can become a problem when they lose fear of humans and become pests, which they sometimes do. We’ve done what we can around here to be predator friendly, we have Tara (our Anatolian Shepherd) to scare them off, we have electric fences to keep the birds contained, we have cleared areas to help keep them away from the buildings and birds. For the most part I see foxes here and there throughout the day. They don’t bother the birds unless they get out of their electric fences. I see lots of coyote tracks in the winter, but they stay away from the house & the cleared areas.
Monday, I was working in the garden and looked up to see a coyote watching me work. Tara was barking and it was unfazed. I got up and walked towards it and took this photo with my phone (my good camera was inside). It just sat down and watched me. I yelled at it and it didn’t budge. Most predators I don’t mind as they’re smaller and don’t bother the cats, coyotes can and will grab pets if they can. I know of several people who have lots pets to them. I had Dexter and the Littles out working with me in the garden right before I spotted this predator. And so begins the task of trying to figure out how to keep these guys farther away from the fields and the house. When they lose their wariness of humans and guard dogs they can become a big problem, I’m going to be doing my best to help them remember why they should stay away from humans. It looks like I might be carrying a gun while I work in the garden, just in case I need it. I’ll be contacting places about the price of a perimeter fence and maybe start looking into other methods of deterring the coyotes from getting so close. Perhaps a big fence and another Anatolian is in order, but of course that’s a pricey venture.

What predators do you deal with in your garden? 

Planting for Next Year

October 6th, 2015

I love garlic because you plant it in the fall and harvest the following summer. It’s in the ground for quite a while, but it’s nice to know it’s there in the deepest part of winter. As soon as spring arrives it pops out of the ground and gives you hope that the garden will flourish for another year.
planting garlic 1
The past couple years I’ve been able to save my own seed garlic, which can really save you a bundle! Out of the 10 or so varieties I used to grow, I’ve narrowed it down to five of my favorites. ‘Music’ is a real winner in my garden, I keep thinking of only planting that variety. It produces HUGE heads with giant cloves. I like that you only have to peel one instead of a few when you’re cooking.
planting garlic 2
Yesterday, I planted about 100 garlic cloves and a small amount of potato onions. My garlic is planted 6 inches apart in a big row with 12 inches between the individual rows. I plant four rows wide with walkways on either side. I have found this to be perfect spacing for garlic, they produce very well and I have less area to weed.

Do you grow garlic in your garden? Do you have a favorite variety?

Quote of the Day: Pantry

October 5th, 2015

“Winter was nearly here; the foraging was over, the garden harvested, the preserving done. The pantry shelves bulged with sacks of nuts, heaps of squash, rows of potatoes, jars of dried tomatoes, peaches, and apricot, bowls of dried mushrooms, wheels of cheese, and baskets of apples. Braids of onions and garlic and strings of dried fish hung from the ceiling; bags of flour and beans, barrels of salt cured beef and salt fish, ands tone jars of sauerkraut stood on the floor. I counted over my hoard like a squirrel reckoning nuts, and felt soothed by our abundance. No matter what else happened, we would neither starve nor go hungry.”

Diana Gabaldon in Drums of Autumn (Outlander)

Picking apples
Canned applesauce
I’ve been reading the ‘Outlander’ series. This weekend I happened to be reading while canning applesauce and I read this passage. I had to smile to myself, because it’s so true!
onions in the pantry
My root cellar is filled with onions and potatoes, there’s garlic in the basement, the freezer is filled with fruit, vegetables and meat, the pantry is filled with onion braids, dried apples, maple syrup, and all manner of food tucked into jars. It’s a wonderful feeling being soothed by abundance because of the hard work you put in over the summer.

Do you manage to grow enough to preserve or just enough to eat fresh in season?

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.

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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.