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You Say Potato

August 27th, 2014

I’ve been slowly harvesting my potatoes.  This year I didn’t plant as many as I did last year, only enough for us to eat throughout the winter.  There are a few varieties, most are ready to be dug.  The ‘Purple Majesty’ and ‘Mountain Rose’ are all out of the ground, both produced quite prolifically this year.  I’m very pleased with the results.
potato harvest 1
The ‘Purple Viking’ never cease to impress me with their yield. The photo below is the yield from one single seed potato – one. This variety is well known for being highly productive, in fact, it’s so productive that you have to space them close at planting time or you will end up with giant potatoes the size of footballs. I’m not kidding either, every now and then one gets planted farther away from the rest, or the ones on the ends of the rows are gigantic.
potato harvest 2
If I could only grow one variety of potato it would be ‘Purple Viking’. It’s a great potato for steaming, boiling, baking or mashing, and it fries up like a dream with a crispy exterior and a soft middle. It will store long into the spring without losing crispness. Overall it’s a winner if you only have a small space for growing spuds.

What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes?


August 26th, 2014

Last Friday I went out to feed the pigs and noticed a skunky smell, which isn’t unusual. We have lots of birds and the skunks like to come around looking for the guinea eggs. Tara has scared a skunk away twice in the past month and the skunk smell sticks around for a few days then fades. I petted Tara as I walked by and didn’t think anything of it, until I came back inside…then I realized I was still smelling skunk, because I smelled like skunk. It was then I knew that Tara had been sprayed – UGH.
I still haven’t had the time or energy to give her a bath, hopefully that will happen today. My go-to recipe is: peroxide, baking soda and dish soap all mixed up and worked into the coat. Let it sit 10-15 minutes, then rinse and repeat if necessary. Luckily, it doesn’t seem that Tara was hit too much, she doesn’t smell nearly as bad as Lucy did when she got sprayed. I feel bad for her though, no one wants to go near her and pet her with her new perfume. I can’t blame her, she was protecting a guinea nest that is behind where she sleeps.  She’s already scared the skunk away twice this month, I guess the third time is a charm.

Do you have a great skunk smell remover recipe?

Welcome Back

August 25th, 2014

Way back in the spring of 2008, Mr Chiots and I visited Longwood Gardens.  While there I spotted the most beautiful ivy growing on a rock wall.  This is the photo we snapped so I could identify it.
kenilworth ivy (1)
After being unsuccessful at identifying and finding this plant at my local garden centers, I found it in a garden we were visiting. I pinched off a tiny piece and was able to start it for my garden in Ohio.
kenilworth ivy 2
Another year or so passed and I spotted the plant at a botanical garden, lucky for me there was a label ‘Kenilworth Ivy’ (cymbalaria muralis). This is such a graceful little plant and the blooms are understated yet stunning. It will grow in the tiniest cracks of rock walls and looks lush all season long, no matter how little rain has fallen.  I also found that it wasn’t invasive as creeping plants can be at times.
kenilworth ivy
Earlier this spring I went to my local garden center and found this beauty once again. I’m happy to have it back in my garden.
kenilworth ivy 1
I do not yet have it growing on any rock walls as I’m trying to eradicate couch grass from all the existing walls. At the moment it’s planted in a spot in the potager and I’m hoping it will spread nicely. When I want to add it to my rock walls I should have a nice patch to divide.

Do you have a favorite plant that you searched high and low for after seeing it somewhere?

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year”

August 24th, 2014

“A garden is never so good as it will be next year”

- Thomas Cooper

Yes, I’m already mulling over the garden plan for next year. I find it to be of great value to do it this time of year when what you would like to change are fresh in your mind. As you walk around the garden, take a note of things that didn’t go quite as planned. One of the main things I want to bring back from previous gardens is the tripods for trellising climbing beans and cucumbers.
green beans  2
There’s a reason Thomas Jefferson used this method for his climbing plants year after year. I’ve tried many different methods of support and these have been my favorite by far.
thomas jefferson teppee
This winter I plan on heading out into the woodlot to start collecting large saplings for using as trellises. I also need to build trellises for peas and other climbers and I’ll be looking for good trees to use for tomato supports as well. Bigger, better, more natural supports is definitely the area I need to think about now and plan so I can collect my supplies while the garden is asleep. I’ve also been thinking about the quantity of each variety of vegetable that I want to grow, noticing what we eat up quickly and what seems to linger on the vine too long. The results should be better use of my garden space with less work wasted.

What things are you noticing this year that you want to change next gardening season?

Let the Harvest Begin

August 23rd, 2014

I’ve been harvesting a few small cherry tomatoes here and there, but have been waiting for my main crop of canning tomatoes to ripen.  That happened this week.  Since I’ve been feeling under the weather, I let them sit on the vine.  Thankfully, they kept very well, but were in need of harvesting.  Along with the tomatoes I picked basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, and parsley for my batches of passata. My harvest ended up being about twenty pounds yesterday, that should make four batches of passata.
Tomato Harvest (1)
I’ll also add onions and garlic to the mix along with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil.  Everything will be slow roasted in a low oven until the tomato sugar slightly caramelized and everything gets jammy.  Then I’ll put it through the food mill and can it in pints.  This type of sauce works for everything from pizza sauce to a savory tomato soup. If I have time I’ll write up the recipe next week, it’s definitely one of the few I make now.

What are you preserving from your garden 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 just recently moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine.