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More Pets – Well, Sort Of

July 16th, 2014

Last week I received a package from Robin from Robin’s Outdoors.  She’s a fellow Maine blogger and writer and was kind enough to send me a few worms from her worm bin. I set them up in a container with shredded paper and some of the bolted lettuce from the garden. The method I’m using came from this post from Cornell.
worm bin 2
I’m hoping to have a few worms throughout the winter to feed to the chickens. I’m interested to see how they compare to my meal worm farm, which is producing a nice bounty that the turkey poults are enjoying.
worm bin 1
It seems like it should be quite easy – we shall see. I’d like to get a more permanent worm bin set up, but for the moment this plastic tote will do. It will be nice to have the worms converting winter compost into valuable worm casting and extra worms to feed the the chickens. Here in Maine the outdoor compost pile seems to slow way down in winter, this should help m produce more compost all year long.

Have you ever had a worm bin for composting or have you grown any other kind of insect?

Hello Hollyhocks

July 15th, 2014

Last year I started seeds for a few different types of hollyhocks.  Since they are a biennial, they didn’t bloom last year.  These kinds of plants definitely take patience.  It’s well worth the wait, they are stunning.
hollyhocks 2
When I was little, my favorite flowers were hollyhocks. There was a garden on a road we traveled frequently and they always planted hollyhocks against their simple cinderblock garage. They were stunning every year. I loved their height and simplicity, such a classic cottage garden flower.  When I first started to garden they were one of the first seeds I sowed.  I’ve been growing them for about 15 years now.
hollyhocks 3
In my Ohio garden I had double hollyhocks, I haven’t planted any of those yet. The flowers on the double hollyhocks are definitely more pronounced since they are so ruffled.  The flowers on the single hollyhocks seem to by shy and like to hide beneath the big heard shaped leaves.  I love both the single and the double flowers, though if I had to choose just one I’d probably choose the singles.
hollyhock_in_rain
One of the lovely things about the double hollyhocks is the buds they produce. They are simple amazing to watch as they slowly open up revealing the ruffles of color beneath the green buds.
hollyhock-beginning-to-open
hollyhock-1
hollyhock-4
I planted three different kinds in shades of black, pink and purple.  The funny thing that I started these in a flat and the chickens overturned it.  As a result, I have hollyhocks blooming in what was the edging in front of the rock wall that holds back the foundation garden by the front door.  Who said all the tall flowers have to be in the back of the border?  They actually look quite nice here.  As you can see I have surrounded them with cardboard and mulch because they area they are in will become a perennial border.  I think they will fit right in with a few other plants at their feet.  Behind them I’m thinking of planting a climbing rose to scramble up the porch wall and an ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea to add big blooms of white.
hollyhocks
‘The Watchman’ is one of my favorite colors when it comes to hollyhocks, it’s a deep purple that looks black. This year they are really dark black, the ones I had back in Ohio were more purple.  I’ve grown them for many year and yet each summer I’m stunned by their velvety black blossoms.  You really can’t walk by the plant without stopping to admire it’s blooms.
hollyhocks 1
Growing hollyhocks from seed is so easy, here’s my post on the easy way to start them. It does require patient since you have to wait two years before being rewarded with beautiful flowers.  Unfortunately not many people seem to grow them any more, perhaps it’s because leaf miners and Japanese beetles love their leaves.  Even in their tattered eaten state they are just as beautiful.  I highly recommend adding a few to your garden, you definitely won’t regret it.

Do you have any flowers you remember noticing when you were a kid? Do you grow them in your garden? 

Edible Houseplants

July 14th, 2014

A year or so ago I read Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere: (like lemons, limes, citrons, grapefruit, kumquats, sunquats, tahitian oranges, barbados … black pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, and more…) and I loved it. I’ve had lemon trees for quite a while, but after reading this book I wanted to grow a few other things. Thanks to this book I found Logee’s Greenhouse, they specialize in edible houseplants, these are dwarf varieties of plants that do well in pots and produce fruit at a much smaller size than their normal counterparts.
tropical houseplants 1
tropical houseplants 2
What did I get? A black fig, dwarf avocado, dwarf banana, dwarf mango, meyer lemon and a dwarf guava.
tropical houseplants 3
tropical houseplants 4
I potted up most of them already, the banana I might plant in the back garden and dig it up this fall. Hopefully I’m on my way to producing delicious tropical fruit in my windowsills. I’ll keep you posted on how they do.

Do you grow any edible houseplants?

Quote of the Day: Voltaire

July 13th, 2014

“Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”

~Voltaire
salt water farm menu
Mr Chiots and are enjoying the restaurant food in Maine. Back in Ohio there were a few restaurants we went to, but they were all over an hour away, which isn’t very convenient. Here we have a host of local food restaurants with delicious food. Earlier this week we went to Salt Water Farm in Rockport and it was delicious. Mr Chiots enjoyed their burger and I got clams. We also enjoyed a nice appetizer along with dessert and coffee. We feel extremely lucky to have so many delicious places within a half hour, of course that means the eating out portion of our budget has grown.

Do you have a favorite non-chain restaurant in your area?

So Long Lettuce

July 12th, 2014

It’s been warm here in Maine, in the 80′s most days. I like the warmth, so do the peppers and tomatoes, the lettuce however does not. When it gets hot the lettuce bolts into tall spires that are quite stunning. I always leave a few to set seed for next year, fresh lettuce seed sprouts so quickly and it’s so easy to save your own see.
lettuce 2
This year I grew a variety called ‘Ruby Gem’ that was AMAZING. By far my favorite lettuce ever. This variety is also packed with antioxidants because it’s a very deep red.
lettuce 2
For now we will say goodbye to spring salads and we welcome zucchini, peas, beans, and other warm weather vegetables in their place. It’s also time to plant more lettuce for fall and winter crops. For me lettuce is one of my favorite things to grow, I love fresh salads and will eat as many as I can in spring, summer, fall and winter. I don’t buy lettuce at the store though, so it’s always bittersweet when the lettuce fades until the next harvest.

Do you have any vegetables that are nearing their end in the garden? What will you miss the most?

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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.

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