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Friday Favorite: Success

July 1st, 2016

I’ve been growing bulb fennel for years, but I’ve always had trouble with bolting. It can be a picky crop, there are lots of things it doesn’t like, root disruption, cold weather, hot weather, lean soil, etc. I finally decided to try a few hybrid varieties, this year I tried ‘Preludio’ from Johnny’s Seed and it’s FANTASTIC!
Preludio Fennel 2
Preludio Fennel 1
I have eight bulbs in the garden that will be ready to harvest in the next week or two and three more succession plantings of them for the summer and fall. I’m really looking forward to fennel salad with lemon and parmesan. Fennel is an expensive vegetable to buy, I’m always looking to grow what costs me the most at the store.

What plant/vegetable took a few tries for you to achieve success with?

Pretzel Scape

June 30th, 2016

Garlic scapes are a wonderful vegetable this time of year. I love that they come just about the time broccoli and sugar peas come, which means stir fry around here! Scapes are so interesting the way they twist and turn, I find their shapes fascinating. I was especially amused to see this one shaped like a pretzel yesterday.
pretzel scape
I should have the rest of the scapes harvested this coming week, some of them will end up the freezer because we just can’t eat them all when they’re in season. Luckily, they freeze well and will be just as tasty in the middle of winter.

Do you grow garlic? What’s your favorite way to eat the scapes?

The Wildlife Tax

June 29th, 2016

This year the wildlife tax has been really high for the strawberries. We have a large patch of berries, they are one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fruits. There are two, 70 foot long rows that are 3-4 four feed wide. Last year we froze around 40 quarts for winter. This year we lost the first flush of berries to waxwings. A flock of about 15-20 of them came in and gobbled up about 12 quarts of berries in one night.
cedar waxwing
We realized what was happening and covered the berries with row cover to protect them. The few nights later, the raccoons came in and ripped holes in the cover and ate the ripening strawberries. Thankfully we aren’t keeping pigs this year, so we have just enough electric fencing to surround the big garden.
homegrown strawberries 1
After building Fort Knox around the strawberries, we were finally able to harvest a few quarts. We celebrated with shortcake for dinner that night and the next night as well. Generally we love to share our bounty with friends and neighbors, but there hasn’t been enough berries for that.
homegrown strawberries 2
Overall we lost about 50% of our harvest this year to wildlife. Since there has been a drought this spring in Maine, the harvest was already reduced as well. Luckily we have a large patch and are still getting a few for the freezer and a few for eating. At least we have a large enough patch that we are still getting a few berries for the table. Next year I will definitely be covering the berries really early to protect them from the birds and the electric fence will most likely go up around the garden first thing in the spring.

What methods do you employ to protect plants from marauding wildlife? 

Bean Seed Trials

June 28th, 2016

I found some old seed for the same variety of beans that I purchased fresh seed for this year. Instead of throwing it away, I decided to plant it along with the new seed to see how the old seed compared to the new.
bean seed trials
As you can see from this photo, the old seed didn’t germinate as quickly and not as well. It’s a great illustration of the importance of starting with fresh seed and not trying to use up old seed in the garden. This is especially important if your garden is small, there’s no reason to waste space by trying to use up old seed.

Have you noticed reduced germination rates with older seed in specific varieties?

First Bouquet

June 27th, 2016

This is my first year with a dedicated cutting garden, which isn’t really all that large. I don’t generally grow flowers just for cutting, most of my time is spent growing vegetables for the table. On
Saturday, I harvested my first flowers started from seed just for bouquets.
garden bouquet 2
garden bouquet 1
I made two boquets featuring: peonies, poppies, snapdragons, foxglove, coriander flowers, bronze fennel, sage blossoms, and ninebark branches in shades of pink and purple. The second was orange and yellow, featuring tithonia torch, snapdragons, coriander flowers, alexander, and bronze fennel.
garden bouquet 3
garden bouquet 4
I have stock flowers that are just starting to bloom, along with a few other things that will make small arrangements this week. I’m particularly looking forward to the black tipped wheat I started for fall arrangements, I do currently have overwintered rye that will grace my arrangements this coming week. Right now the cutting garden is a bit of a mess, I planted everything in the fallow section of the main garden in loose rows. I definitely need to figure out a better configuration for the cutting garden next year.

What flowers are gracing your table and garden this week?

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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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