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Black Pussy Willow

February 29th, 2016

My black pussy willow is finally starting to get big enough to notice. This plant came to me through a plant swap at the library when we lived in Ohio. It was only a few inches all. After having been moved three times in the past five years, it took it a while to bounce back. This plant will be a stunner when it’s mature, a show stopper in the garden for sure. It does not reside in its final resting place, I have it in a nursery bed at the moment. I’m trying to decide exactly where to put it, perhaps this summer it will finally find a place where it can settle in.
Black pussy willow
Last year I noticed one tiny branch with a few little blooms, his year there are around twenty. It’s still small, only three feet tall or so, but I’m going to prune it back and root the cuttings. It will need pruned so that it develops better shape and I’d like to root cuttings for my garden and to give to friends.  I love plants with history, I love that gardeners swap plants, I love taking starts of plants given to me to give to others, I love that gardeners share a love of sharing plants.  Gift on gardening friends, I challenge you to take starts of at least one plant this spring to pass along to other gardeners, both new and old.

Friday Favorite: Edible Gardening

February 26th, 2016

I was thinking about my edible gardening history last night, then I looked up my first edible garden. Sure, I always had pots of herbs on our apartment balconies, but my first ever real edible garden was started in 2008. It’s hard to believe that it’s only been that long, it seems like much longer.
raised beds 1
raised beds
I built four 4 foot x 10 foot raised beds behind our garage in Ohio. Two were filled with vegetable and two were filled with strawberries. I purchased most of the little seedlings from a local greenhouse.
raised beds 2
Here I am, 9 years later with a HUGE area devoted to edibles and growing ornamental gardens as well. When I look back at what I accomplished in my Ohio garden in a few years, I’m amazed. I don’t have quite as much energy now that I’m a little older, but I have a better sense of what I like and what mistakes to avoid. Gardening is a growth process, we continually narrow down what we truly love, we broaden our gardening our skills, and we begin to enjoy some of the finer aspects of it.

How long have you been growing edibles? 

Onions, Onions, Onions

February 25th, 2016

I love growing onions, of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I love starting my onions from seed. I love, love, love eating onions.
starting onion seeds 5
onion braids 1
Onion Harvest 2
onions (1)
planning for onions all year long 2
Each year I grow loads of onions, loads. Generally I harvest around 200 lbs of onions to eat throughout the year. That number doesn’t include green onions and leeks. We eat an AMAZING amount of onions. Many years ago, I decided to start growing them from seed myself, both because it saved me money and because you can find so many interesting varieties. In my experience, starting them from seeds makes them store longer. This past week I started 3 flats of onion seeds, I still have 3 more to get going this week. Onions are probably one of my most favorite crops to grow.

Do you grow onions? Have you started them from seed?

Homegrown Goodness

February 23rd, 2016

Even though the garden is still sleeping, I’m harvesting greens for my salad. It’s not a huge amount, maybe 25% of the greens we currently eat, but it’s something. All these little leafs come from a few containers I have under grow lights and the thinnings from a few seedlings of greens.
lettuce
It’s especially nice that the greens I’m adding to store bought lettuce are radicchio leaves, so the little bitterness they carry helps round out the sweeter leaves.

What is your typical first harvest from the garden?

Seeding Poppies

February 22nd, 2016

Poppies need a bit of a cold spell to germinate, they can be planted in fall, or they can be spread in the spring when you will still have some cold weather. I’ve even read that some people recommend sprinkling the seed on top of the snow so that they get a good dose of cold. I can’t wait to see these beauties bloom!
poppy seeds
Yesterday was a lovely day, sunny with a high of almost 50. I wanted to do a few garden chores, but the soil is still mostly frozen and where it is thawed it’s a sticky mess. So, I cleaned up a few things here and there and broadcast a few types of seeds that don’t mind a dose of cold or things that won’t suffer from it. Arugula, cilantro, beets, spinach, lettuce, etc. are all seeds that can be sown as soon as the top layer of soil is thawed. They won’t germinate right away, but they will germinate when the soil temperature is right for them. It’s a great task to do when the soil isn’t workable yet, but you want to get out and get something done.

What did you plant this weekend?

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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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