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Friday Favorite: The Back Garden

August 18th, 2017

I have two different edible garden spaces here at Chiot’s Run. One is the potager behind the house, which is filled with lots of herbs and a few edibles each year and the main vegetable garden up behind the garage or barn. This is the large garden space where the lion’s share of our vegetables are grow. It’s also filled with flowers for cutting and a nursery bed area.

It’s slowly growing, this year it’s close to the final size. We are preparing areas to surround it with hedges and fences and probably put in a shed as well. That’s beside the point, it’s one of my favorite garden spaces even though it’s not complete. It’s really starting to come into its own. I can see a HUGE difference in it over the past 5 years, the last two years have been quite remarkable.

This garden is now about twice as big as it was when we moved here. I’m guessing it’s 60×80 ft or so at the moment, it may get a bit bigger. There are areas on three sides that may be incorporated into the garden to add 30% more space, but we haven’t decided for sure.

Pictured above is not a weed, although it certainly looks like it, it is lemongrass. I’m really hoping to make my own curry paste this fall and lemongrass was an important ingredient. So far it’s growing well, now if I could only keep the cats from munching it down.

The pumpkins pictured above are growing in the //”>big compost piles I made on this lower end of the garden last fall. If you’ve been reading here long, you’ll know that I started using this method of composting and growing squash on them a few years ago with much success. I’m trying to build up this low spot in the garden, so naturally making my compost piles here made sense. I’m planning on using the next few years of composting to build this side up leveling out the garden a bit more. Overall, this garden is really chugging along and I’m super happy with the results. I love the slightly less than perfectness of it since I let dill, cilantro, sunflowers, and other things seed down and grow up wherever they want.

What’s your favorite part in your garden right now?

Propagation Days

August 17th, 2017

This is the time of year to start propagating shrubs and other plants. I have a large garden space to fill and am wanting to propagate some of my favorite shrubs, which means I need to propagate regularly. Now that things are settling down and I have nursery space in the garden, I’m propagating in earnest. A month ago I took 80 boxwood cuttings, earlier this week I took 37 yew cuttings, along with 40 or so cuttings of three different hydrangeas.

Last this week I have a few other varieties of hydrangeas and some viburnum I plan on propagating as well. If I have time and the pots, I’ll try propagating a few clematis as well, particularly my ‘Sweet Autumn’ because I want to grow it up the front of the house. Propagating takes time, that’s for sure, but you can save a bundle and it’s so satisfying. Even though it takes much longer to get mature plants, knowing that you did it yourself and having offspring of plants in your garden is well worth the investment.

Are you propagating anything this summer?

Compost Pile Harvest

August 16th, 2017

If you grow vegetables and have a compost pile you’ve most likely harvested volunteer vegetables from it on occasion. Last week, I was weeding the potager in the area of an old compost pile and I found myself with a small harvest of vegetables.

We threw the potatoes on the grill with some pork on Sunday and the carrot is in the fridge waiting to grace a salad later this week. I always love finding free veg in compost pile.

What sorts of vegetables do you harvest from your compost pile?

Belfast Garden Tour Garden

August 15th, 2017

Luckily, I’ve been able to make most of the garden tours on the local garden club tour this summer. Our club has one open garden every Friday. On the 4th of August, three gardens were on the tour; they were the homes of neighbors. This is one of the gardens on the tour, most of the garden was in the back yard.

From the look of the front foundation garden, you wouldn’t imagine what was behind the fence in the back yard. You were greeted by a lovely dappled willow right inside the gate and pathways leading to the small back deck with lounge chairs and a small lawn.

This beautiful large leaved tree was growing beside the deck, I’m not sure what it is, but I’m definitely going to look it up. Belfast is on the coast, and thus enjoys a little more warmth than we do because of the ocean.

The back yard was a sloping garden, with steps and terracing to make the most of the space. There were rock steps, lots of evergreen plants and a big stand of heather.

This garden was small but mighty, the majority of the space was taken up with gardens. It’s always lovely to see what people do with the challenges in their spaces. The terracing of this garden gave me inspiration for some sloping garden areas I have behind the house.

Have you visited any interesting gardens lately?

Pickled Nasturtium Pods

August 14th, 2017

I’ve heard of pickled nasturtium pods (which are the seeds) before, but I’ve never had them. Since I have quite a large crop of nasturtiums this year, I decided it was the perfect time to make a batch to see if I like them.

(from The Joy of Pickling)
4 1/2 Tablespoons pickling salt
3 cups water
1 pint fresh, green, plump nasturtium pods
4 whole cloves
1 inch blade of mace (unground)
1/4 nutmeg kernel
1 slice horseradish (about 1 1/2 inches in diameter x 3/16th inch), cut into strips
1 shallot
about 1 cup white wine vinegar

Dissolve 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt in 1 cup of water, and pour this bring over the nasturtium pods. Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours.

Drain the nasturtium pods, make fresh brine the same way as before, and pour over pods again. Again, let them stand overnight and do the same on the third day.

On the fourth day, drain the pods, put them into a jar with the cloves, mace, nutmeg, horseradish, and shallot, and cover all well with vinegar. Cover jar tightly and let it stand at room temperature for at least 1 week. After opening the jar, store it in the refrigerator.

I hear they are like capers, we shall see. I’ll let you know in a few weeks when they are ready.

What interesting things are you making this week?

Reading & Watching

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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.