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Quote of the Day: Tamar Adler

September 17th, 2017

“Eggs should be laid by chickens that have as much say in it as any of us about our egg laying does. Their yolks should, depending on the time of year, range from buttercup yellow to marigold. They should come from as nearby as possible. WE don’t all live near cattle ranches, but most of us live surprisingly close to someone raising chickens for eggs. If you find lively eggs from local chickens, buy them. They will be a good deal more than edible.”

Tamar Adler in An Everlasting Meal


Before we had our own chickens, we purchased chicken from a local farm. Eggs from happy chickens are really much more flavorful than those from the factory farms.

We now have our own flock, which range quite happily on a fairly large plot behind a few hundred feet of electric net fencing (not technically “free” ranging, as the foxes nab them if they do, but close enough). There are between 15-30 of them laying between half to two dozen eggs a day, depending on the time of year and the age of the flock. Eggs are on the breakfast menu daily, usually with a side of some sort of vegetable from the garden or a piece of bread from the oven. Sometimes they’re made into omelets to use up small bits of leftover dinner that aren’t enough to make another entire meal in itself. Pot roast with vegetables makes a surprisingly good omelet, especially with some fresh parsley on top.

In the summer, when we are flush with eggs, I sell them to a few friends. These friends claim they are “the best eggs they’ve ever had” and some won’t even give my name out to their friends in fear that they won’t be able to get eggs if they do. My belief is that the eggs are good because the chickens are happy and enjoying very chickeny lives (the homemade fermented feed is also a big part of it as well). I’m happy that my little flock produces enough eggs for us and for a few friends. Good eggs are worth sourcing wherever you live.

Do you have your own egg layers or do you have a good source for good eggs?

Quote of the Day: Rosemary Verey

July 2nd, 2017

“Although I arrived here more than fifty years ago, I constantly try to see the garden with new eyes. This is the wonderful thing about gardening; trees are ever growing taller, shrubs developing, ground cover taking over. Then scene changes and every year has its own character, influenced by frost, rainfall, and sunshine – elements over which we have no control; but we can aim to pan so that each season has its moments of interest, with winter scent, spring blossoms and bulbs, summer exuberance and autumn color.”

Rosemary Verey in Making of a Garden

I’ve read this book several times and had it in my shopping cart at Amazon. This past weekend I was lucky enough to score it (and a few other gems) at the local library sale. Amazingly, I paid only $1 for it.

Gardening books are something I read over and over again, they never collect dust around here. I’m always happy to add a few new volumes to my library, especially when I can get them at such a great price. I especially love books like this one that document the making of a garden and follow that garden throughout the years. Too often we see gardens at their height and their best, and not during the seasons, when young, as they grow and change.

What’s your favorite gardening book at the moment?

Quote of the Day: Joy Larkcom

June 18th, 2017

“There will be disappointments (when gardening). The glorious visions that are conjured up when sowing or planting don’t always materialize and the painful memories of failures lurk in my written records: ‘chamomile path engulfed by chickweed; cat scratched up lettuce seedlings; first cabbage lost to pigeons; drought causing slow pumpkin growth; ‘Treviso’ chicory disappeared. There are bound to be highs and lows: no garden can be beautiful all the time.”

Joy Larkcom in Creative Vegetable Gardening

For two years I have had a vision of what I wanted to create in the garden area below the living room windows. A mass planting of ‘Walkers Low’ catmint with lovely purple allium globes towering above it. I had seen a photo at one time of this and found it stunning.


Clearly my alliums are not towering above the catmint, in fact one is being smothered by it. The flowers are also the same color, which wasn’t the plan either. Perhaps the photo I saw used a lower catmint, the version that grows only a foot tall or so. Or perhaps the alliums grew to their normal height. My ‘Globemaster’ alliums are definitely not as tall as others I have seen, in fast they’re a full 8-12 inches shorter than the others I have seen. All-in-all, this ended up being a gardening disappointment.

The one on the edge is pretty tall, this is more what I was going for, but the other two aren’t even close to being tall enough. The one closer in is being swallowed up by the catmint (as you can see in the first photo of the post). In my opinion this is a waste of alliums. Alliums should be showstoppers in the garden, they’re so graphic and bold.

I’m certainly glad I didn’t buy a lot of alliums, I purchased only 3 bulbs to give it a try first. I may try a different type of allium in, one that has smaller flowers and one that is a different color of purple. These alliums won’t be lost, I love them, just not here. The bulbs will be fed, dug up, and then moved to a new spot in the garden where they can shine and be the showstopper they should be.

What gardening fails have you had this year? 

Quote of the Day: Joy Larkom

May 21st, 2017

“Potagers, ornamental vegetable gardens, call them what you will, are seductive masters. Create one of your own, and it draws you to it like a magnet. There’s a deep satisfaction in a beautiful, purposeful garden. Beware though, if you are serious about producing vegetables, of forfeiting productivity to the easy charms of herbs, self-seeding flowers and topiary shrubs. ‘There’s nowhere left to plant’ is not an uncommon cry, and ironically, the larger the garden, the worse that problem can be.”

Joy Larkcom in Creative Vegetable Gardening

It’s no secret that growing vegetables is my passion, but I also love a beautiful garden. Even though the tidy, neat rows of a classic food plot in the back yard is quite lovely, I much prefer the potager type look, where vegetables and flowers are mixed together in creative ways.

I’m finally at the point in my garden here in Maine, that I’m starting to add the hardscape features and plan the layouts of the gardens. Hedges are being planned, walkways are being set out, edges are being defined. Funny enough, the above quote is true, the larger my gardens are the less space I feel I have left for the vegetables.

The best way I have found to combat this is to grow a bit less, since I almost always end up with way more vegetables than I need, scaling back the amount is the best way to find space for everything I want to grow. I’d rather have artichokes and green beans instead of just green beans. I’d rather have onions and carrots than just onions. It’s like a puzzle to plan a garden, a little time spent defining edges and planning in the beginning help make everything fit in the end.

Do you find your vegetable garden always too small?

Quote of the Day: Andrew Wyeth

February 16th, 2017

“I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the garden…”

Andrew Wyeth




Of course I’m not sure how much of the garden’s structure you can see when it’s buried below 6 feet of snow, but at least you get to see it for part of the winter.

What’s your favorite season to notice structure?

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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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