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A Tough Winter for Herbs

June 17th, 2019

This past winter was a tough one for herbs and plants that don’t like wet feet. While it wasn’t a particularly cold winter, it was a wet winter. The biggest issue was that we has a spring thaw and then a ton of rain, then it got cold. As a result, many of my herbs didn’t survive the winter. About half of my catmint didn’t survive, lots of the oregano and thyme, tarragon, lavender, the list goes on. Only the perennial dry loving herbs were affected. Luckily, most of them are easy to propagate or start from seed once again. The catmint is one I was most dissapointed by, I had a mass planting of it in the foundation garden under the living room windows. About half of the plants didn’t make it through winter.



Other than looking a little sparce this spring, it’s not a huge issue. This is ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint and can be easily propagated by cuttings. In fact, I’ve already started 10 new plants that will be transplanted in a week or to fill in the gaps and expand the patch.

One reason I grow this variety of catmint is that it doesn’t set seed. Catmint can be a prolific seeder in the garden, given the right conditions. Since these root so easily from cuttings, I expand my patch this way. In fact, my entire patch came from one plant that I brought with me from my Ohio garden. In the future, I plan on keeping a few extra plants growing out in the nursery bed to replace any that don’t make it through the winter. It is pretty rare to have any issue with this plant, it’s typically tough as nails and can live through just about anything, too much water in the winter proved to be too much for some of these beauties.

Did you lose any perennials this winter?

Woodland Anemone

June 11th, 2019

I’ve been looking for good groundcovers for shady areas. As I tour local gardens, I’ve been noticing things that look like they will be perfect, but not take over the garden and be difficult to manage. Last year I spotted a lovely woodland anemone (called Snowdrop Windflower) with white blooms. It was covering a very large woodland edge area in a garden I visited.

I posted a photo of it on my Instagram stories a week or two ago when I cut some of the blossoms to bring indoors. The blooms are still hanging on in a vase, which is quite amazing. After 10 days they’re just starting to droop a bit.

So far this plant is proving to be a worthwhile companion in the shady garden border. It came through winter with lots of grace (hardy to zone 2), started growing early in spring, and have been blooming profusely for a while. It doesn’t get scraggly later in the summer, which is a bonus for an early blooming plant. I think this is going to be a great partner in the garden in years to come. I’ll keep watching it to make sure it doesn’t spread too vigorously, though I doubt it will.

Do you have any great shady border ground covers to recommend?

After the Rain

June 4th, 2019

Ten days ago we had a rain storm move through during the afternoon. When the rainm moved through the sun came out, meaning there was a rainbow somewhere to be seen….



It was right in front the house. This was probalby one of the brightest rainbows I’ve seen, with a very faint second one above it.

Here Come the Apples

June 3rd, 2019

This past week the apple trees started blooming. Our long……wet……spring seems to have been just what the flowering trees needed, especially the apples. Last year there were no apples, none, not a one. That’s not uncomming for apple trees, many produce every other year. These trees will produce each year if the conditions are good, usually one year is a great harvest the second slightly smaller. It’s hard to say what made them not produce last year, most likely three years of drought and windy days during bloom window.


The good thing is that we made lots of cider the year before, so we still had some in the freezer. For the most part, these old (over 100 years old) trees produce cider apples. There are a few varieties that are good for making sauce, drying, and eating, but we typically make lots of cider and freeze it in gallong jugs to enjoy all winter long.

Do you grow fruit? How are the trees doing this year?

Oil Preserved Asparagus

May 30th, 2019

Last fall I purchased the book ‘Preserving Italy’ and spotted the recipe for asparagus preserved in oil. Fast forward to last week when the asparagus was coming on strong and I finally had enough to give the recipe a try. The asparagus is lightly pickled by being blanched in vinegar/water for 2 minutes. Then it’s dried, put in a jar, then topped up with olive oil.


It’s still mellowing in the fridge, but I’m looking forward to trying it. There’s a similar recipe in ‘River Cottage Preserves’ only the asparagus is roasted first. I may give that recipe a try this weekend to compare which one is best. I like that both of these recipes aren’t the traditionally fully pickled asparagus like so many are.

Are you an asparagus fan? Do you preserve any for the off season?

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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 moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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