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Inspired by Monticello

May 31st, 2011

Last week I was getting ready to plant my cucumbers and was contemplating what kind of supports I wanted to use. The last two years I have used bamboo stakes and they have never been quite long enough or quite sturdy enough. As I was standing in the garden thinking, I remembered my visit to Monticello last summer. I took a lot of photos of the various forms of plant supports because I loved how they used natural materials.

Since we’re clearing out that new garden, I have more than enough saplings and small trees for using at plant supports. I cut 12 small trees and made 3 structures for my cucumbers. I planted one variety of cucumber on each trellis. I planted 4 seeds at the base of each leg and I will let the 3 best ones grow.

In previous years I’ve only grown one type of pickle ‘Boston Pickling’. I’ve always been happy with it, but this year I wanted to try a few others. The varieties of cucumbers I’m growing for the 2011 season:

Solly Beiler – This cucumber makes superior pickles when harvested at about the size of your thumb. Spectacularly productive in our trials, the plants yield very uniform fruits, which at full maturity are russeted like a Poona Kheera. Stays crisp and mild even at larger sizes. Developed in the 1930’s by Solomon “Solly” Beiler, then a bishop in the Beachy Amish Mennonite Church, in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Our original seed was furnished by Martin J. Hughes, a present day member of the same church in Elmira, New York (source: Baker Creek)

Fin de Meaux – Slender, little green fruit are picked when 2 inches long and are used to make delicious cornichon pickles. A popular French variety that is hard to find. Very productive plants bear fruit that is darker green than most types. (source: Baker Creek)

Boston Pickling – Plant produces heavy yields of small 6″ long pickling type cucumbers. This variety has been grown by home gardeners for generations. Perfect for making pickles, but also good in salads. Harvest cucumbers when they are 2″ to 6″ long. (source: originally from Baker Creek but they longer carry them)

The square around the base of each trellis is probably about 4 foot by 4 foot. In the middle of each square I seeded a variety of lettuces in decorative squares. I thought the shade provided by the cucumber vines would help keep the lettuce a little cooler.

I don’t grow any eating cucumbers as neither Mr Chiots or I eat them. Cucumbers give me indigestion, even the burpless variety, so I’ve never really enjoyed eating them. I do make a variety of pickles, from sweet to fermented dill and I’m certainly looking forward to stashing lots of pickles in the pantry to winter eating!

Do you grow pickling cucumbers, regular cucumbers, or both? What varieties do you grow?

Happy Memorial Day

May 30th, 2011

I’ll be spending today in the garden, as many others will. Memorial is kind of the unofficial kick-off to the gardening season around here. Everyone uses this weekend to weed and mulch their flowerbeds. I’ll be working on that new garden area. Hopefully planting beets and carrots. I’m also liberating another large chunk of the front lawn.

I am very thankful for all of those who are currently serving and have served in our armed forces on this Memorial Day Weekend. I’ll be thinking about: my grandpa – who served in WWII, my brother – who spend a tour in Korea and two tours in Iraq and Mr Chiot’s cousin, who spent two tours in Afghanistan.

How will you be celebrating this Memorial Day weekend? Do you have any friends or family who are serving or who have served in the armed forces?

Quote of the Day: Thomas Jefferson

May 29th, 2011

“And our own dear Monticello, where has nature spread so rich a mantle under the eye? mountains, forests, rocks rivers.

With what majesty do we there ride above the storms? How sublime to look down into the workhouse of nature, to see her clouds, hail, snow, rain thunder, all fabricated at our feet?

And the glorious Sun, when rising as if out of a distant water, just gilding the tops of the mountains, and giving life to all nature?”

-Jefferson to Maria Cowsay, 1786 (Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello)

I’ve been thinking about this quote as I’ve been noticing the garden bursting forth in fresh green leaves and colorful blooms this spring. Every morning when I head out to walk around the garden something new is blooming and a new plant is emerging. Here’s the rich mantle of my garden this past week.





What a wonderful time of year indeed after the long dark dull months of winter here in the North.

The Sky is Falling

May 28th, 2011

Last week I went over to my mom’s house to plant broccoli, kale and cauliflower in the garden. I also spent some time seeding a row of beets and mulching the overwintered leeks. We expanded the size of her garden this year, doubling it once again to have more space for things like sweet corn and sunflowers.

While I was out working the sky started to get dark. Then it started thundering. I finished what I was doing, grabbed my camera and seeds and headed indoors. Right about the time I got to the house it started pouring. I had planned on planting tomatoes and peppers that day as well, but the rain came before I could get them in the ground.

It’s actually a good thing I ran out of time because the storm was really bad. It poured and poured and then it started hailing. By the time it was over there was a layer of hail on the ground.


My tomatoes were outside, luckily, I noticed the hail I ran out and put them in the garage. They lost a few leaves but bounced back, what a tragedy it would be to lose all of my tomato and pepper seedlings! If I had planted them in the garden they would have been shredded. It’s a good things that brassicas are fairly tough plants so all of them survived. We think the beet seeds got washed away since none of them have sprouted yet.

Have you ever lost crops to hail or some other form of severe weather?

Friday Favorite: Mr Chiots

May 27th, 2011

This coming week Mr Chiots and I will be celebrating 13 years of wedded bliss. I figured it was the perfect time for an ode to Mr Chiots as part of my Friday Favorite series (of course he’s my all time favorite thing coming above every other thing that’s been listed as a Friday Favorite).

Mr Chiots and I met 17 years ago in Cincinnati our freshman year of college. We were acquaintances for 2 years before he got up the courage to ask me out. After many trips to the local ice cream stand we were married two years later a few weeks after we both graduated. The few years we lived in different places before finally ending up in Northeastern Ohio at Chiot’s Run in 2002.

Even though he doesn’t write articles, he’s a large part of this blog. I take photos and write, he takes care of all the coding, domain name and hosting issues for me – he’s the geek behind this blog. Whenever something’s not working properly he gets to work trying to figure out the problem. When I decided it would be great to be able to have slideshows of photos of our most recent vacation to share with you, he researches and comes back with the best option. He’s also always ready to come out and take a photo when I need him to.

Mr Chiots is very supportive and goes along with all my crazy ideas. He’s the resident handyman and day laborer, ready and willing to jump in whenever I have something that needs done. When I brought home maple spiles and decided to tap our maple trees, he grabbed the drill and got to work. When I decided that hoop houses would be perfect on the raised beds for winter gardening, he borrowed a pipe bender and got to work. When I found 55 gallon drums and wanted to collect rain water he designed and installed a fabulous system complete with pump.


Mr Chiots is also the resident barista a Chiot’s Run. Every morning and afternoon he hands me a cup of perfectly brewed espresso mixed with some steamed raw milk, a truly wonderful gift when you love coffee as much as I do!

Life certainly wouldn’t be the same at Chiot’s Run without Mr Chiots. He’s my better half, the love of my life, my best friend and a wonderful husband (the world’s best I think). The last thirteen years have been truly great – here’s to many more.

Who are you thankful for today?

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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.

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