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Friday Favorite: Gherkins

July 21st, 2017

I’ve always loved little gherkin pickles, both the sweet and the dill ones. Many years ago, I was given an old Farm Journal Cookbook that had a wonderful recipe that made crunchy sweet pickles. I always thought it would be perfect for gherkins. I tried growing an heirloom gherkin pickle, it didn’t do well. When I saw ‘Adam’ gherkins in the Johnny’s catalog I decided to give them another go.

Unfortunately, the cut worms got a few of my seedlings, so only two are producing cucumbers at the moment. I seeded two more to fill in a bit, but I definitely need to grow way more vines if I want to have enough for a couple batches of pickles. The problem with the tiny cucumbers is that you need loads of them to get the 3 lbs needed for a half batch of pickles. I’m thinking next year I may grow a row of 15, make one large batch of pickles, then rip out the vines and plant fall peas or broccoli.

The recipe I’m using is very involved (10 days it takes to make a batch of pickles). At least I have four vines of ‘Boston Pickling’ cucumbers for making regular pickles, so I’m harvesting those very small to increase my yields. I may also use the recipe in ‘The Joy of Pickling’, all the ones I’ve tried from that book have been fantastic.

What’s your favorite type of pickle?

Picking Peas

July 12th, 2017

I always grow garden peas, they’re a wonderful thing to have in the freezer in the middle of winter. This year I planted a 25 foot row of shelling peas. We’re on our second harvest so far, there will be one more before the plants are done.


The peas are blanched and layered on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Then I freeze them and put them into gallon freezer bags. I like being able to scoop out a cup or two as needed. One of our favorite ways to enjoy these frozen peas is pureed and eaten as a side with seared scallops. The recipe is from River Cottage Every Day, it has become a favorite.

We don’t eat a ton of garden peas in the summer, mostly we stick to the vegetables that can’t be frozen and that are best fresh, like fennel. My two favorite varieties of garden peas are ‘Green Arrow’ and ‘Little Marvel’.

Do you grow garden peas? Do you have a favorite variety?

A Yearly Favorite

June 26th, 2017

Mr Chiots is a happy camper, it’s strawberry season. We grow ‘Sparkle’, along with a few everbearing plants. This variety is our favorite, we’ve grown others in the past, but this on reigns supreme for flavor.


We’ve been making crepes, strawberry shortcake, and just eating them out of hand. It’s a short, sweet season, one that we look forward to every year. Of all the soft fruits, strawberries are probably my favorite. I would definitely choose it over all the others if I had to make a choice.

What’s your favorite seasonal fruit?

The Best Lettuce

June 15th, 2017

This year I’ve managed to grow the best looking lettuce I’ve ever grown. Every time I look at it in the garden I’m happy as can be. Perhaps its the varieties I chose, most of them came from Johnny’s Seeds and are selected for specific traits. The butterhead lettuces are amazing, the Salanovas are sizing up slowly, which is nice because they will hold in the garden while I harvest the other types. Here are the lovely mature lettuces in my garden. Butterheads are my favorite types to eat and to grow. I find them to be stunning both in the garden and in a salad. If I had to choose one variety to grow it would definitely be butterheads. Luckily I don’t have to choose, so I grow all different kinds.








They’re so pretty I almost don’t want to harvest them, luckily I love salad more than I love the look in the garden. My second planting of lettuce will be mature as this batch is eaten up. I should have seeded another flat a week or two ago, but I was traveling and then sick so I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Luckily in the summer there is a bounty of veg from the garden and lettuce takes a back seat to all the heat loving crops.

What’s your favorite type of lettuce?

Long Lived, but not Immortal

May 24th, 2017

There are many perennial vegetables, but that doesn’t mean that they are immortal. Often, long lived perennial vegetables exhaust themselves or slowly decline after reaching a certain age. There are many factors that contribute to this. My asparagus patch here has been on the decline, it’s pretty old. I noticed that it produces much later than my friend’s and the harvest is much smaller. This is after adding compost and amending the soil well. The plants have probably just exhausted their productivity.

Last year I started two varieties of asparagus from seed (Precoce D’Argenteuil & Mary Washington), they overwintered well and are growing nicely. I also ordered 25 crowns of each ‘Jersey Supreme’ and ‘Purple Passion’ asparagus from Nourse Farms this year. Both of these varieties grew in my Ohio garden and I was very happy with them.

It looks like I will end up with 75-100 asparagus crowns including the ones I started from seed, which will be more than we need, but neighbors never complain about it when you give them asparagus so I don’t think I will have any issue using it all up. One of the varieties I have is supposed to produce quite early, so I’m thinking about trying to maximize this by planting it in a space where I can cover it with a low tunnel for the winter and try to force an extra early harvest. I may also plant some early strawberries with it for an extra early strawberry harvest as well.

I’m always happy to add perennial vegetables to the garden, it’s nice to know that each spring I will have a lovely harvest of asparagus with not much input on my part. With a little maintenance each year, an asparagus patch will produce for many, many years. However, if your patch is on the decline, it may be time to cut your losses and start over.

Do you grow asparagus in the garden? Do you have a favorite variety?

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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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