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Nearing the End

October 4th, 2014

Over the past few weeks I’ve been slowly gathering the last of the harvest for the season. Winter squash and pumpkins have been tucked away on a shelf in the office, green tomatoes are sitting on a table on the back porch. Giant zucchini are resting in a cool spot to be fed to the chickens when the snow flies. As the harvests grow smaller and smaller the compost pile grows larger and larger with the remnants of this year’s garden.
butternut harvest
tomatoes on the vine
The last of the tomatoes were picked yesterday, along with a few other edibles that lingered in the garden. Strawberries are being moved, fall lettuce is planted, winter hardy arugula is being sown. There’s definite comfort in the end of the season, there’s no hurry like there is in spring, chores can be done slowly and methodically instead of hurriedly. There’s a deep sense of order that comes from clearing the garden for the season, because there can only be rebirth after death.

How’s your garden season coming along? Is it winding down?

Friday Favorite: My Chariot

October 3rd, 2014

Every time I climb into my little black car I realize how much I love it. It’s cozy and cocoon like, perhaps because it’s small, perhaps because I have the windows tinted really dark, maybe it’s just because it’s a nice little car. We originally bought it because it was inexpensive and we could fit all of our equipment in the back, little did I know how much I would grow to love this car.
This car is my tractor and my farm truck. I haul hay in the trailer and thousands of pounds of grain in the back for the livestock. It works hard and never complains, well almost never.
This car has carried home our Christmas trees and carried us across the country several times. We have headed West and we have traveled South, we have driven East and back again. It has taken us over mountains (just barely when it came to Teton) and through valleys. It’s been a great little car for traveling.
key west
tiny trailer camping 2
tiny trailer camping 4
My little chariot is getting old, she’s well into the six figures when it comes to mileage. The other day as I was driving around I thought about how I have been in this car for just about ever single one of these miles, most of the time behind the wheel. While Mr Chiots and I drive this car often together, it’s my car and it’s always the one I take. Lucy and I spent countless hours in this car heading to my mom’s house each week (two hours of driving each time). I think Lucy loved this car as much as I did, it was very fitting that her final breaths were taken in the back seat. There was nothing she loved more than hearing “Wanna go to grandma’s?”, she’d hop in the back seat stick her head out the window for a while and then fall asleep in the back seat. I truly believe it was one of the things she loved most in life.
lucy in the car
lucy in the car (2)
chiots in the car
Lately I’ve had to get a few things fixed, struts, fuel line and a few others. I’m glad she’s still going strong and I hope that trent continues. I’m hoping to get 4-5 more years from this lovely little car.

Have you ever had a car you’ve loved? What kind of car was it? How long did you have it?


October 2nd, 2014

fallow [fal-oh] adjective – 1. (of farmland) plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility as part of a crop rotation
Fallow is a word we don’t often hear when it comes to gardening, especially when it comes to the home garden. Yet it’s a word we should be saying and something we should be doing. Our gardens need rest because the soil needs time to rebuild. Ideally, it should be covered with some form of organic mulch and left to rebuild for a season. Even better is planting with a cover crop, cutting, then allowing the soil to rest for a season.
Main Garden in back 2
Two years ago I planted a fall green manure on half of the main garden out back (covering a section about 20 x 70 ft). The pigs worked the cover crop into the soil and added manure last summer, in the fall I covered it with cardboard and a foot of chipped wood.
cover crops 3
The soil in this garden needed rest, it’s structure was gone from overfilling and too many years in service growing vegetables. The result was soil that doesn’t hold water very well and crops that don’t grow as well as they could. My goal is to rebuild structure and fertility.
Mulching the Main Garden 3
Now it’s like night and day when you look at the soil in the side that has been cultivates the last two summers and the side that has been allowed to rest and rebuild. The soil food web is clearly visible in the fallow side, there are worms, mycelium and other tiny microbes. There is structure, it’s no longer dry and sandy, it will hold together when I lift a shovelful. Not only does fallow apply to the garden, but also to the gardener. We often need a season away from the garden to rebuild and rest. We come back to our gardens renewed, ready to grow once again.
making mulch 1
I encourage you to let your gardens be fallow this winter, add rock powders and mineral dusts this fall, cover with a nice layer of organic mulch (grass clippings mixed with chopped leaves is my favorite), and be amazed at how a time of rest improves not only the soil, but you as well.

Do you allow sections of your garden to go fallow?

Dunn Gardens

October 1st, 2014

While in Seattle, my mom and I scheduled a tour of the Dunn Gardens. Unfortunately the timing was not right so see the rhododendron collection, so the gardens weren’t as spectacular as they are earlier in the year. Even though the gardens were waning in their bloom for the year, the containers were fantastic and made up for it. The Dunn Gardens were designed by the acclaimed Olmstead group, they are the only private garden in the Pacific Northwest open to the public for tours.
dunn garden containers (1)
What I love about the containers is that they weren’t typical. I think far too often we get stuck in a rut when it comes to container plants, we fill them withe petunias and other popular plants and don’t consider adding perennial and things that can be overwintered in a shed, garage, indoors or other sheltered place. Not only does thinking this way give you a wider variety of texture, color, and interest, it will save money as well!
dunn garden containers
dunn garden containers 1 (1)
dunn garden containers 1
dunn garden containers 2 (1)
dunn garden containers 2
dunn garden containers 3
This last container garden I’ve seen in a magazine before, I remember how much I loved the large container with the large leaves. I’d love to have a container corner like this on a patio someday.

What’s your favorite container plant? 

Delightful Dahlias

September 30th, 2014

I love dahlias, but have never grown them in my garden. Digging up tubers to overwinter seems a bit too much for me, but perhaps someday I’ll grow a few. When my mom and I were in Seattle, we went to Volunteer Park to visit the conservatory. While there we noticed that right across the street there was a dahlia exhibit maintained by the Seattle Dahlia Society.
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 9
There were dahlias of all colors, shapes, and sizes, each one nicely labeled. We really enjoyed looking at each and ever one.
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 1
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 2
Dahlias at Volunteer Park
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 3
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 4
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 6
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 5
Dahlias at Volunteer Park 7
Here in Maine we’re lucky enough to have the Endless Summer dahlia garden featuring tons of beauties, at least that’s what I hear. I didn’t get over to see them this summer, but it’s on my “must see” list for next year. A local friend was just telling me how wonderful it was. Perhaps I’ll visit next year and get a dahlia of my very own. If you’re looking for dahlias, consider ordering from Endless Summer and support a small business!

Do you grow dahlias? Do you have a favorite?

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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.