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A Winter Favorite

March 13th, 2017

In the winter we eat vegetable from the freezer, but I still crave lettuce and greens. My favorite winter salad combines stored root vegetables, nuts, and greens. Some of the lettuce I grow under lights, the rest I get at the store.

This is my all-time favorite winter salad consists of greens topped with radicchio, celery, dulse, beets, toasted walnuts, Bulgarian sheep milk feta, and dried cranberries topped with a mustard maple vinaigrette. I can eat this salad every day and I have to admit that sometimes I do and never tire of it. It’s even better when accompanied by a new book on my Kindle.

What’s your favorite salad combination at the moment?

Surveying the Gardens

March 9th, 2017

When the snow starts thawing, I find myself out walking around the gardens on an almost daily basis. I’m watching for areas that thaw first, where the water pools, how the wind blows across the garden, and other things. Now I’ve lived here for four years, I have a pretty good idea of the different microclimates in my garden. I know that the potager behind the house thaws out much more quickly than the main garden behind the garage. I can plant lettuces and other cold tolerant crops in there two or three weeks earlier than I can in the main garden. I’m thinking of trying to plant a few asparagus crowns in there to see if they are ready to harvest sooner than their main garden counterparts.

The difference by day can be astonishing, especially as the snow melts. I also watch closely to see which plants were nibbled by deer or look like they sustained damage from heavy snows or wind. A fence is definitely in order this summer, the wild turkeys are really enjoying all the delicious things in the garden.

Germination Notes

March 8th, 2017

Every year I watch closely as I start seeds, taking note of germination rates for new seed and old seed. Lettuce is one of those things that I started buying fresh each year after noticing reduced germination from even year old seed. This year, I purchased a few new varieties to try.

I noticed that one variety in particular has not germinated at all – zero seeds have germinated. With other varieties I have around 95% germination rate. Instead of writing them off (or writing the company), I decided to give them another go. Yesterday I seeded three more soil blocks of ‘Alkindus’ lettuce. I’ll keep my eye on them, if I don’t get any germination this time around I’ll definitely write the company and see if they’ve had similar complaints. Since I had such great germination of all other varieties in the flat, I know it’s not the conditions.

Do you have certain seed you buy fresh each year? Have you noticed decreased germination rates in old seed?

Clearing Space

March 7th, 2017

Well, I’m still having some computer problems. I took all sorts of photos this weekend for posts this week and I can’t get my photo program to even open on my desktop. That means you’ll have to make do with cell phone images until I can get the problem figured out.

This weekend marked the official goodbye to the red maple that was overshadowing the potager. It was a nice tree, though it was planted in the wrong spot. It wasn’t filling out properly because it was being crowded by a few large white pine trees and it was sucking up nutrients and water from the lettuce and other things growing in the potager. The good thing is, the tree will be used to keep us warm next winter. It also makes way for me to finally get the potager hedges, walls, and other things finished.

Are there any projects you’re finally getting around to completing after years of having them on your list?

A Few Good Books

March 1st, 2017

This winter I’ve been reading a ton of books, partly it’s because I’ve been flying back and forth to Ohio quite a bit. I’m also making a concerted effort to read a lot of the books on my must read list.

Most recently, I read ‘The Sounds of Gravel‘, a memoir by a woman who escaped a polygamist group in Mexico when she was a teenager. It was heartbreaking, and so captivating I read it in two sittings. I’ll definitely be loaning it out to friends, in fact I already have a few people on the borrowing list. I’ve moved on to ‘Come, Tell Me How You Live: An Archeological Memoir‘ by Agatha Christie, which I decided to read after finishing ‘The Woman on the Orient Express‘, a historical fiction based on Agatha Christie’s life after her divorce from her first husband.

Have you read any good books recently?

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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.