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Cultivating the Spirit

March 26th, 2011

As I was looking through my photos of last summer this past week, I came upon this image. This is my hat on the fence around the vegetable garden that my mom and I share in her yard. I really love it because it perfectly visualizes what gardening is, at least to me.

Gardening isn’t just about cultivating food or flowers, it’s more about cultivating your spirit along with a deep sense of appreciation for soil, plants, and the earth.

What is gardening to you? Have you learned anything through your gardening?

Friday Favorite: You

March 25th, 2011

I can’t list any more Friday Favorites without mentioning YOU, yep you, all my readers and commenters. I appreciate that you take the time to come here each day, read my post and leave a comment. I read through all the comments and they always brighten my day. Anyone who writes a blog knows how exciting it is to get comments and I certainly appreciate all the thoughtful and informative tips you share.

I also love that some of you send me gifts. Recently I received a box of beautiful lemons from someone’s back yard tree, a bag of Living Nutz (which were delicious), a glittery scarf from a reader in Yugoslavia, seeds from the Netherlands, and an offer for guest passes to Longwood Gardens this summer and dinner when I’m passing by when we head out west this summer.

There are evenings when I don’t feel like writing a post, but then I remember that there are thousands of you out there waiting (not to mention if I don’t post I get frantic e-mails asking if everything is all right). You certainly make it worthwhile to sit down and spend some time writing about something each and every evening.

So THANK YOU, from all of us here at Chiot’s Run.

I finally remembered to pick a winner for the collection of Cooking Light Cookbooks that I no longer needed. Our winner is Brittany P, congrats. If you dont’ get my e-mail send me your address via the contact button in the sidebar so I can get them mailed off to you.

Purple Flowering Peas

March 24th, 2011

I’ve mentioned before that I enjoy growing edibles because they’re beautiful. I think cabbage nestled in the flowerbed among other plants is really lovely as are so many other edible plants. Last fall I planted some ‘Golden Sweet Snow Peas’, but the frost hit before they could produce their bountiful crop, so I didn’t get to see or taste any of the golden pods. I did get to enjoy the beautiful purple blooms at least, I’ve never seen anything like it in an edible pea.

I got these seeds last fall from Baker Creek. They describe these lovely peas this way: more than a novelty, this variety produces flat pods that are a beautiful, bright lemon-yellow, great in stir-fries. Tall 6′ vines with purple flowers. Collected from a market in India, rare and tasty.

Since we have trouble with deer and groundhogs eating the peas from the back garden, I planted these in two large pots on the front porch. I also made a quick teepee support from bamboo by the back deck and planted some there as well and some around another teepee in the front flowerbed. The normal time for planting peas here in NE Ohio is St. Patrick’s day, I’m only a week late.

I watered them all in well and I’m hoping for a lovely harvest of golden sweet snow peas in a few months. I also planted some arugula earlier this week in one of the hoop houses. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to get over to my mom’s house to plant peas and potatoes in her garden. I’m so happy to have dirt under my nails again!

When is the “normal” pea planting time in your area?

Do You Want Fries With That?

March 23rd, 2011

This time of year for some reason I find myself making venison burgers often. I don’t know if it’s a change in the weather, the fact that we have a freezer full of fresh venison, or what. Most people like to grill their burgers, which we do sometimes. I find that a cast iron skillet makes a fabulous burger, so mine are usually cooked inside in my vintage griswold skillet. One of things I love about making burgers is that they’re quick and easy, it usually only takes 15-20 minutes to have them ready, and when the weather is this nice that makes for extra time to spend in the garden.

As you can imagine we don’t do regular normal burger toppings. Naturally we use homemade buns, which I bake up and keep in the freezer so we always have some on hand. The burgers are topped with: homemade roasted pear chutney, caramelized onions and local raw milk blue cheese. Our burgers are usually enjoyed with a few of our homegrown potatoes fried in coconut oil. It sure makes for a quick, simple, delicious and healthy meal!

What are your favorite burger toppings?

Seed Potato Sources

March 22nd, 2011


If you are able to grow good quality potatoes in your garden and don’t have trouble with disease, you can store the best potatoes from your harvest and use them for seed potatoes the following spring. Contrary to what you read in books, you don’t have to buy certified seed potatoes. I have a few varieties that I save from year to year, this is sometimes the only way to guarantee a specific kind of potato. Sometimes the same variety can be slightly different from two different sources. Saving your own seed potatoes does however open the door for possibility of problems, but if you practice good crop rotation and have healthy organic soil you should be OK. Make sure your potatoes grew well during the season and are free of disease, do not attempt to save and replant diseased potatoes or those that didn’t do well in the garden the previous season.

If you’re more comfortable buying fresh seed potatoes each year, by all means do so. You may not have the proper conditions to save your own seed potatoes from year to year. Buying fresh seed potatoes ensures the absence of disease and is a great way to try new varieties each year. It’s also a great way to go if you don’t have the garden space to grow all the potatoes you need for both eating and for seed stock for the next spring.

Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes: Eagle Creek Seed Potatoes is a family farm located near Bowden Alberta where we have growing seed potatoes for the past 23 years. Sadly for Canadian Customers only

Moose Tubers from Fedco has a great selection, but you have to buy early as they only sell potatoes through March 11, they are closed for the season. You can still check out what they have available for next year’s seed potatoes.

Johnny’s Selected Seeds also has a great selection. They have the option of having your seed potatoes shipped extra early for planting in a hoop house (read Eliot Coleman’s The Winter Harvest Handbook.

Grow Organic (aka Peaceful Valley Farm Supply) offers a nice selection of organic potatoes along with all kinds of wonderful organic gardening items from beneficial insects to great books.

Maine Potato Lady – Located in the foothills of Central Maine, the LaCourse Family Farm, home of The Maine Potato Lady™, has been in operation for 20 years. We are primarily seed growers raising garlic, shallots, and potato onions. We have produced all our own vegetables for many years. Our children are involved in the planning, the everyday work, the decisions, and the rewards. They were raised knowing and recognizing not just the types of vegetables, but even the different varieties of what we grow. They are an integral part of this farm; their participation makes it all possible, and brings joy to all we do.

New World Tubers – Specializes in rare and interesting potatoes for the home gardener and homesteader.

Seed Savers Exchange from which I purchased my potato collection last year and was very impressed with the quality. You do have to purchase early though and I notice that they’re sold out of some of their varieties.

Southern Exposure also has a great variety of heirloom seed potatoes. You can buy them individually or in three different mixes.

Territorial Seed Company has a great selection of organic seed potatoes including the option to purchase a collection of potatoes so you can try different kinds.

West Coast Seeds (only in Canada) – specialize in certified organic, non GMO, open pollinated, and heirloom seeds and seed potatoes for organic growing.

Wood Prairie Farm has a great selection of organic seed potatoes in colors, shapes and sizes. They have a collection you can purchase including red, white and blue potatoes.

Do you buy seed potatoes for your garden or do you save them from your crop? Do you have a great source not listed above if you do buy them?

Want to know more about growing your own potatoes? Head on over to the Your Day blog at Ethel to read my in depth article on growing your own potatoes.

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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