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Know When to Quit

March 26th, 2014

“A gracefully executed quit is a beautiful thing, opening up more doors than it closes.”

Kio Stark – Don’t Go Back To School: A Handbook for Learning Anything

5x5challenge wide
Today’s 5×5 Garden Challenge lesson is all about quitting or giving up on plants when the time has come!  As a gardner, you have to learn how to give up on something in the garden. If your tomatoes are starting to get blighted you must pull them up and dispose of them. If your lettuce is starting to bolt away it goes. Be ruthless about pulling plants that are past their prime and plant something else in their stead.
spinach harvest 2
This can be tough, especially if they start to bolt or get diseased before you get a harvest.  Learn to recognize the signs of bolting, plants sending up vertical growth, flower buds forming, bitterness, and others depending on the plant.   If a plant becomes diseased and it looks like it won’t pull through, pull it out!  You don’t want to risk disease spreading to other plants.  If one particular plant isn’t thriving while all the other are – away it goes.  Learning to be ruthless in the garden will save you lots of heartache.
bolting cabbage 2
This is something I always stubbled with in the beginning when I only had a small garden space. I wanted to eek a little more out of everything, but instead I ended up with vegetables that weren’t great and I wasted valuable time that could have been used for another crop.

Do you ever have issues pulling plants that are past their prime?

Maple and Mush

March 25th, 2014

Last monday I finished my first batch of maple syrup and yesterday I finished my second. Both were two cups shy of a gallon, so I’m well on my way to getting a decent harvest this year. My goal is always five gallons of syrup, but I’ve only been able to get that much one year. Usually I end up with about three gallons, this year looks to be the same with the less than stellar weather.
homemade maple syrup
Usually I make pancakes when I finish the first batch of syrup, this year I decided to make my favorite – fried mush.
fried mush 1
I had some local corn meal in the freezer, so I whipped up a batch. Every time I make it I’m amazed at how much one cup of corn meal grows into! This is frugal eating at it’s finest – especially with free homemade maple syrup.
fried mush 2
People often ask me the success to cooking mush without having it stick to the pan – patience. Put a little coconut oil, lard or ghee in a cast iron skillet and then add your mush. Don’t even think about peeking until you start to notice it getting brown around the edges. You’ll know it’s ready to turn when it will move on it’s own in the pan. If you try to turn it too early it will stick and all the crunchy goodness will stick to the pan.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy maple syrup?

Maple Goodness

March 24th, 2014

Yesterday, my neighbor BJ and her twins and I all loaded up in her car and headed out for Maine Maple Sundays. We visited three sugar houses, the first one was our favorite. It was Simmons & Daughters Sugar House, awesome, usually it’s so-and-so and sons – but he had four daughters.
Maine Maple Sunday 1
Maine Maple Sunday 2
Maine Maple Sunday 3
Maine Maple Sunday 4
Maine Maple Sunday 5
Maine Maple Sunday 6
Maine Maple Sunday 7
Maine Maple Sunday 8
Maine Maple Sunday 9
Maine Maple Sunday 10
Maine Maple Sunday 11
Maine Maple Sunday 12
Maine Maple Sunday 13
We weren’t as impressed with the other two places we visited, one was maple syrup on an industrial scale and the other one was just not as quaint and friendly as this one. Of course I didn’t buy any maple syrup as I’m making my own right now. After finishing up this current batch of sap I should have about a gallon and a half. I probably won’t get the 5 gallons I was hoping for, but I may get lucky and get 3 gallons. That will provide me with all the sweetener I need this year.

What’s your favorite natural sweetener?

Quote of the Day: Linda Joan Smith

March 23rd, 2014

We connect with the garden through our feet. Toes in the new-clipped grass. Clogs crunching on gravel. Soles on brick pavers. To set our feet upon any one of these is to savor the garden’s pleasures, lured by a well mown path or lulled by a sun-blessed patio. These form the floor of our outdoor home, the foundations on which the garden–and the gardener–rests.

Linda Joan Smith (Smith & Hawken Garden Structures)
It won’t be long my friends!

Hello Sunshine

March 22nd, 2014

The days sure are brighter now that the sun in the the sky for a few more hours.  You can tell that it actually warms the house significantly, on sunny days we don’t even need a fire to warm up the house.
chickens 1
chickens 2
I’m not the only one loving it, the chickens are as well.  They’ll be much happier when the grass starts to green up, until then they’ll be happily finding bugs and other goodies under the leaf litter.

Have you noticed more light in your days?

Reading & Watching

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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.