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The Pollinator Bed

September 9th, 2020

Last year I started a pollinator bed in an awkward spot by the driveway. It looked OK last year, but it was mostly weeding and watching the space for sun. This year I moved a ton of mature perennials to the bed from the nursery area and it has really filled out. Here are photos of the bed from earlier this summer in June and from a week or two ago.

A friend made this lovely sculpture for me, we ended up turning it the other way after this (as you can see in the following image).

I neglected to get a photo from this angle in June. I was just telling Mr Chiots the other day that I need to put a few pavers in the lawn around the garden so I can use them to stand on and get shots of the garden from the same spots each month to watch growth.

How’s your garden maturing? Have you added any new plants/borders this year?

Using Kale as an Ornamental

August 28th, 2020

I’ve always grown kale and I love it, not only is it edible, but it’s also beautiful. This is the first year I’ve grown kale specifically as an ornamental plant and included it throughout the borders. A new one for me this year is ‘Purple Moon’ from Renee’s Garden Seeds and it’s a true showstopper!

I’m also growing a green curly kale that was given to me by a friend and lacinato kale throughout the garden.

The dark kale is a perfect pair with the echinacea! The dark bluish black of the kale really sets off the dark pink of the echinacea.

I’m especially fond of the green curly kale above with the anise hyssop and the Japanese golden hakone grass. I’ll definitely continue adding kale to the ornamental gardens from now on.

Do you grow kale? What’s your favorite variety?

The Edible Garden

August 24th, 2020

This is my 8th summer gardening here in Maine, the edible garden is the best it’s ever been. That’s to be expected, all the additions of compost are really improving the soil structure, and the garden is almost expanded to the full size that we have been planning.

I still need to add fruit trees, berry bushes, grape vines, and a few other items, but overall it’s really starting to settle into place and look fantastic. It no longer looks like a new garden. It’s filled with tons of self seeded flower: anise hyssop, verbena bonariensis, echinacea, dill, coriander, and rose campion.

This year I added a tithonia hedge on both sides. Not only do these help with wind, they provide lots of food for pollinators, especially monarchs. Now that I have 120 feet of them, I notice the hummingbirds are loving them as well. It’s a constant buzz of activity and it is proving to be a great add for reducing the wind in the garden.

The vegetables are all producing well, some things I have cut down on this year, some I have increased. At this moment, the tomatoes are the stars of the show. Here in Maine, we have a short window to enjoy tomatoes fresh off the vine and we savor each and every one. The ‘Sungold’ tomatoes are especially stunning right now, I enjoy watching them ripen downward.

Overall, it’s been a great year for the edible garden. No doubt all of our years of improving the soil are finally paying off. We look forward to layering in more and more seasonal foods as we finalize the plans for this lovely space.

What are you harvesting and loving at the peak of ripeness right now?

Burgundy F1 Broccolini

August 17th, 2020

Every year I select a few new varieties of things to grow. Typically, they’re something I already grow and love. While I have favorites of many vegetables, there are times when something new is much better than the old favorite. Such is the case with Burgundy F1 broccolini!

I really like growing broccolini, it is ready to harvest quite early compared to heading broccoli, it’s easier to harvest small amounts for meals for two, and it provides harvest throughout the season if not allowed to flower. When I saw purple broccolini in the Johnny’s Selected Seed catalog I decided to give it a try.

I’m certainly glad that I did. It’s proving to be a very productive variety. Not only is it tasty and super nutritious, it’s beautiful as well. When a vegetable can look good and taste great that makes it a favorite in my book! It’s also a heavy cropper. I started 8 plants and have been harvesting them over the past month. This big bowl was the second flush of sprouts that came on, it’s almost 6 pounds. We’ve been eating it often and freezing it in meal sized portions. Another great benefit is that broccolini fits in freezer bags much more efficiently than regular heading broccoli.

Homegrown Flowers

July 30th, 2020

I mostly focus on growing vegetable with a lot of perennials mixed in. While I sometimes cut perennials and bring them indoors, I haven’t done that as much as I’d like in previous years. It seems the chores of gardening just take up lots of time. This year, I’ve been trying to take the time to cut flowers from the garden at least once a week.

This year, I’m especially loving the roses, most of which were planted over the past couple years. They’re all David Austin roses, with the exception of one heritage rose.

I’ve also been cutting clematis flowers to add to them, which I’m really liking. They last for a really long time and even when they drop the petals the little whirly interior stays and looks great. Many of mine have lasted for two or three weeks (I keep adding new roses to the bouquet)

As time goes on, I may incorporate more cutting flowers into the ornamental borders. I don’t usually grow flowers just for cutting, but this year I’m cutting most of the roses to bring indoors as I find I get to see them more often when I have them on the table than when they are in the garden.

Do you grow flowers specifically for cutting or just cut from your perennial borders.

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About

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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