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Garden Reading

May 16th, 2017

I’m always thankful that Amazon has a wide variety of used books for sale. In fact, I appreciate that it gives used bookstores a great outlet to sell their books across the country. It also saves me searching high and low for books I want, especially those that are out of print. Most recenlty, I purchased ‘The Intimate Garden’ by Gordon & Mary Hayward. I have all of Gordon’s books, since he’s a Northeast gardener, I find his books to be extremely useful for me.

This book was of special interest to me, because it chronicles their personal gardens throughout the 20 years or so they have been gardening there (in 2005 when the book was published). I’m always interested to see gardens as they grow and mature and throughout the seasons as well. I’ve always thought more gardening magazines should have gardens that are featured each month as they grow and develop. I’m always happy to purchase books that chronicle the development of a garden as well. Way too often we see gardens at their peak, both seasonally and in maturity. But in reality, gardening is the process, not the final product. Way too often we see the final product and not the process, which is what matters most to many of us.

While I don’t especially want to incorporate his garden design ideas into my gardens, I can appreciate his principles and advice. I can glean planting ideas and recommendations for specific plants as well. Most notably in this book, he used Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) for a hedge around his herb garden. As I’m planning a hedge around my main edible garden, this was of interest to me. Originally, I planned on using beech, but now I’m thinking this is a much better option, especially since it’s native (and it will be about half the price of a beech hedge).

What are you gleaning from gardening books this week?

Too Early

May 15th, 2017

My peppers are blooming, they’re still indoors under the grow lights. This year I followed the MOFGA seed starting guide, it recommends seeding peppers on March 21st. That’s a little too early. I’ll be pinching off these blooms, so the plant can put energy towards growth.

Peppers, tomatoes, zinnias, and other heat loving flowering and vegetables don’t do well with cooler temperatures. Most won’t even set fruit at lower temperatures, thus there’s not reason to seed them or try to get them to flower extra early. I’m making a note in my seed starting guide to start peppers when I start tomatoes (April 15th).

Did you start anything too early this year?

Friday Favorite: A Canvas Hat

May 12th, 2017

I’ve been wearing canvas hats for years. My first ones were purchased at Target 17 or so years ago. These have all worn out or gotten lost of the years, thus new hats were in order. I took the plunge and gave the Scala Wide Brimmed Hat a try. As soon as I put it on I knew it was going to be a winner!!!! The brim can be folded up partway, halfway, fully, or flipped all the way down for lots of coverage on a really sunny day. It shades my neck and part of my shoulders as well. I got these hats on Tuesday and wore them all day Wednesday and Thursday while working in the garden. They get 10 thumbs up from me! I didn’t have time to get Mr Chiots to snap a few pics, so you’ll have to do with a quick selfie.

These hats are perfect because they can be packed and don’t take up much space. In fact, I always have one in each car during the summer months, that way I’m never without a hat should I end up out in the sun. My skin does not tolerate sunscreen, so a hat is a necessity for me. When I find a hat I can wear comfortably all day, I’m super happy. Here in Maine, being able to hold up a head net during black fly season is also a necessity, this hat is perfect for that as well. I’m definitely buying a few more of these beauties and I’ll be buying some for gifts as well, now I just need to decide while color I want!

Do you wear a hat while working outside?

Transplanting Brassicas

May 10th, 2017

This year I’m trying to keep better track of how long things need under the grow lights. Brassicas are one of those things that germinates and grows very quickly, that means they are very efficient when it comes to grow light usage. Since they can take cold temperatures, they can be put outside very early on, sometimes they never need grow light space. These brassicas (cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts), were ready in four weeks.

In fact, I could have transplanted them a week or two ago but I didn’t have the fence up around the garden (and those wild turkeys LOVE brassica seedlings). I’m hoping to build myself a cold frame this summer, which will allow me to not have to put any brassicas under the grow lights. I’m always looking to maximize the light real estate I have, any plants that can take the cold are moved to make way for tomatoes and flowers, which aren’t able to take any amount of frost.

What are you transplanting this week?

My Favorite Season

May 9th, 2017

Salads are one of my favorite meals, I can eat them every single day and never tire of them. I love that you can top lettuce with a wide variety of protein, fruit, and vegetables to have a different meal every day. In the spring, I plant enough seedlings so that I can harvest a leaf or two from each plant and have enough for at least a side salad for each of us at dinner.

That makes for a lot of lettuce plants, but they grow when nothing else needs garden space. As soon as the plants are growing more quickly and producing more leaves, some of the lettuce plants are removed to make way for other crops.

What’s your favorite vegetable to grow yourself?

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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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