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Hello Hostas

August 2nd, 2016

I’ve always loved hostas, they’re workhorses in the garden. They outcompete and shade out weeds, they can take dry shade, some can take sun. I especially love that they make a nice mow edge in the garden. In my Ohio garden I had hundreds of hostas, I’m working my way up here in this garden. I’ve purchased a few and received a few from friends & family. Most of them are planted in the nursery area in the garden to grow out.
Heavenly hostas 1
Heavenly hostas 5
A few were transplanted this summer, since they had grown out to a nice size after being moved as starts three years ago, including this beauty that flowers in the most wonderful way.
Heavenly hostas 2
Heavenly hostas 3
My ‘Sum & Substance’ hosta that I planted last year has doubled in size, I’m happy to see that it’s thriving in its location under the big apple tree out front.
Heavenly hostas 4
This year, I’ve added 6-7 new varieties of hosta to the garden, a few of them came from Cady Falls nursery in VT, a few came from my mom’s garden. In a few years they will hopefully fill in the areas under the big apple trees and start to create a nice mow edge along the woods bordering the house. Hostas are such a fantastic, easy addition to the garden. It’s also nice that they are easily divided so you can get free plants for your garden and to share with friends.

Do you have hostas growing in your garden? Do you have a favorite?

Friday Favorite: Sunny Volunteers

July 29th, 2016

I’ve never really had to grow sunflowers in my garden, they always spring up here and there because I have fed sunflower seeds to my chickens and wild birds. They are not always where you want them, but it beats having to plant them. I bought packets for a few different kinds of sunflowers this spring, those are coming along well, but they’re not even close to blooming.
volunteer sunflowers 1
volunteer sunflowers 3
volunteer sunflowers 2
I’m always happy to have them, I let them set seed and then throw them to the chickens. There’s nothing better than free flowers and free bird food without any work on my part!

What’s your favorite garden volunteer?

Unusual Cutting Garden Options

July 28th, 2016

While flipping through the Johnny’s Seeds catalog this spring, I noticed ‘Black Tip’ wheat and thought it looked interesting. Definitely an unusual item for the cutting garden, which is something I’m always looking for.
black tipped wheat
I’m hoping I will have enough from one seed packet to make a wreath for the house. So far it’s growing nicely and fattening up well. I’m really interested to see the color in the final seed heads. If I don’t have enough for a wreath, I think they will look lovely in a vase. Overall, this is a winner for a cutting garden in my book.

Have you grown any unusual cutting garden items?

The Cutting Garden

July 26th, 2016

This is my first year with an area of the garden dedicated to cut flowers. Even with them being specifically planted for this reason, I still have a hard time cutting them. The truth is, I enjoy flowers much more in their garden setting than inside the house. I have been cutting a few bouquets here and there, but for the most part I enjoy them in the flowers. The pollinators are loving them as well!
cutting garden flowers 1
cutting garden flowers 2
cutting garden flowers 3
cutting garden flowers 4
cutting garden flowers 5
cutting garden flowers 6
cutting garden flowers 7
cutting garden flowers 8
cutting garden flowers
Adding flowers to the vegetable garden is definitely a wonderful thing to do. Not only does it make the space more colorful, they really attract a wide variety of insects and pollinators. I’ll definitely continue having a cutting garden space, even if I never cut flowers from it.

What’s your favorite cut flower for indoor bouquets?

A Beet, is a Beet, is Not a Beet

July 25th, 2016

I’ve grown a wide variety of beets in the past, for the most part they all taste very similar. They vary in color, but the earthiness in their flavor is fairly consistent. After trying a wide variety of beets, I usually grow ‘Red Ace. This year, I decided to try ‘Crosby’s Egyptian’ beet (sources from Baker Creek). Germination was spotty, which was pretty common with the drought this year. The beets that did germinate, grew quickly and sized up before I realized it. When I harvested them, most of them were softball size – EEEK. I figured they’d be a total loss because they’d be woody, but I cooked them anyways.
crosbys egyptian beet
When I cut the first one, I was amazed at how tender it was. At first bite, I was amazed by the texture, sweetness, and flavor of these beets! They are very smoothly texture, none of the woodiness or fibrousness that can sometimes be common with beets. The flavor is very sweet, very beetlike, with none of the earthiness that the major of beets have. These would be perfect for those family members who are against the “dirt” flavor in beets. I don’t mind the earthiness at all, but this beet has a place in the kitchen for sure. We’ve been enjoying them on salads with sheep milk feta, pickled red onions, walnuts, and a maple mustard vinaigrette. I’ll definitely be adding these to my must grow list from here on out. I highly recommend giving this variety a go.

Have you discovered any flavorful new varieties of favorite vegetables?

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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.