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Friday Favorite: Gardener’s Nail Brush

August 15th, 2014

My feet are always dirty, very dirty.  I’m a barefoot & flip flop kind of person in the summer, even when I work in the garden.  My feet are happiest when free, they do not like being stuffed into shoes, it’s suffocating for them.  As a result, my feet are scrubbed nightly because they can get very dirty during the day.
gardeners nail brush 1
gardeners nail brush 3
I keep a pumice stone in the shower and use it daily on my feet. That worked well, but some days not nearly well enough. Then I discovered the Gardener’s Nail Brush and my feet have never been cleaner in the summer. I have a few other brushes from Bürstenhaus Redecker and find them to be of great quality. I’ve been using the same wooden bottle brush for 3-4 years now and I use it exclusively to wash all my dishes.
gardeners nail brush 2
Whenever possible I like to purchase items made from natural materials. Not only do I find that natural materials are less likely to mold, they last much longer as well. If you like to garden in sandals or barefoot I highly recommend one of these brushes. They also work well for getting dirt out from under your nails, something I’m constantly battling as well.

Do you have any recommendations for great products for gardeners?

Elephant Garlic

August 14th, 2014

Last week I harvested my elephant garlic. The regular garlic was harvested about a month ago and is curing in the top of the garage. This garlic is much larger and takes longer to reach maturity. Last fall I planted three cloves, which was all I received in my order from Each of these produced 7-9 cloves and now I have lots more to plant this fall.  I may eat a few, but I might forgo eating them to expand my collection.
elephant garlic 1
Elephant garlic isn’t technically garlic, at least not the same as what we think of as garlic. It’s a variety of the common leek that forms bulbs, much like the perennial leeks that I grow. It produced the most beautiful flowers, purple spheres that tower above all the other plants. I forgot to take a photo of them in the garden, so you’ll have to imagine what they look like standing 4 feet tall.
elephant garlic 2
This is a great alternative to the giant alliums that are grown for their flowers, mostly because they are much cheaper. Bulbs for giant alliums can be $25 for three bulbs and they don’t always come back each year. Elephant garlic is especially nice since it multiplies readily, making it easy to amass quite a number of them in a few short years. If you live in one of the states where decorative allium bulbs cannot be sold, you can grow these beauties in their place. While the flowers aren’t quite as big or as showy as the alliums, they give the same effect in the garden.

Do you have any edible alternatives to ornamental varieties to recommend? 

Small Celebrations

August 13th, 2014

The other day I went out to the chicken coop and found a tiny pullet egg from one of our chicks. Remember those little fur balls that hatched out way back in the spring?
broody hen and chicks 2
pullet egg
I’ve been waiting patiently, figuring it wouldn’t happen until a few weeks from now. But there it was – one small egg nestled in among the large ones. I really need to get some photos of this batch of chickens and the other brood that hatched out this year. They turned out to be stunning in color, mostly white and black with really interesting markings. Most of them were a mix of our Silver Laced Wyandotte rooster and another Wyandotte hen. This is a small celebration since this egg came from an egg laid by one of our hens that was hatched out here. They are 100% Chiot’s Run chickens!

What small things are you celebrating this week?

Chiot’s Rest

August 11th, 2014

Our gardens were named after Lucy, the original chiots. “The Chiots” name was inspired by the French section of the dog food bag and the name stuck. Chiots, which we pronounce “chee-oats”, means puppy in French. There were many nicknames: Stinky Chiots, Brown Chiots, The Brown Wonder, Big Brown, The Luce, etc. She was a large part of the gardens, always being out and about with me as I weeded and worked, following me here and there. Yesterday was her final day in the garden, now instead of our garden being a place where the Chiots can run, it’s a place where the Chiots can rest.  A place where she can rest her weary, painful joints and enjoy peace.
Over twelve years ago we stopped the local dog pound on a Friday afternoon and spotted a lovely lab/hound mix with a few puppies. The puppies were born at the pound, their mama was dropped off a few days before she had them. We knew right away by the mom’s temperament that the puppies would end up being wonderful dogs.  With all the craziness that is the dog pound, barking, jumping, running, whining, she was standing quietly at the front of her kennel watching us, almost begging us to take one of her babies to give them a nice home. That day a little brown chiots came home with us, she rode in a cardboard box on my lap and she whined the entire way back to the house. She was covered in ticks and fleas, so we settled her into a kennel in the garage.
lucy (1)
At only 10 pounds and around 7 weeks old, she was a wee little thing. That night she got very, very ill with parvovirus. After reading that 95% of puppies with this virus die, we mourned the loss of our puppy and called the vet, who told us to try to keep her hydrated over the weekend and to bring her in on Monday if she survived. She managed to make it through the weekend and Monday morning found us at the vet’s office with Lucy in a box. They kept her for a few days and gave her IV fluids and we picked her up a few days later, full of spunk and energy. She only weighed 7 lbs at that point and was super skinny, but she had pulled through, we had our puppy.  We knew then she was going to be a tough dog, and she proved she was, many times throughout her life.
Lucy was a terror as a puppy, as most dogs are, digging up flowers, making a mess and generally being way too energetic for her own good. I’d be up every morning walking with her for miles trying to use up some of her boundless energy. That never really happened until a few years ago.
lucy (4)
Lucy was also a lover of cats, always enjoying when they slept and snuggled with her. She loved rubbing her nose in their soft fur.  Luckily all of our cats have always loved Lucy, except Dexter, who was leery at first but learned that she wasn’t so bad after all since she warned of visitors and other things with her barks. Every now and then you can even find Dexter sneaking in a rub on Lucy’s legs.
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lucy 6
Dressing up was also one of her favorite things, which is good because her cousins LOVED to dress her up. She had many costumes throughout the years and loved every single one.
lucy 3
lucy 9
Lucy 2008 3
lucy 12
dress up lucy 1
A Reindeer Chiots
Lucy ballerina 1
Chasing and biting at snowballs was a favorite winter activity. She really enjoyed winter and seemed to have extra energy whenever there was snow on the ground.
lucy 10
lucy 11
Snow dog
Lucy also loved hanging out with her cousins (my sister’s kids).  We got her six months after our first niece was born, they have known Lucy all of their lives and have loved playing with her. One of her most favorite things was to go trick-or-treating with them every Halloween. No doubt they will feel her loss deeply as she is woven throughout their childhood memories.
Lucy 2008 1
Lucy 2008 2
lucy and the kids
lucy at halloween 1
lucy at halloween 2
lucy at halloween 3
Lucy ballerina
Lucy’s arch nemesis was the UPS man, she’d sit in the front yard all day waiting for him to drive by. When we finally came she barked ferociously and then jumped in his truck to greet him with glee. I’m fairly certain he liked her as much as she liked him. He had dogs of his own and we even gave him homemade dog treats every year at Christmas.
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Lucy 2008 5
lucy leashed up
Lucy ballerina 2
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lucy nose
Lucy & Daffodils
Lucy ended up being a large part of our lives.  She traveled with us, walked with us and was involved in many of our adventures.  She stole everyone’s heart when they met her “She’s the best dog” everyone always said after being around her. They all loved “The Luce” and so did we.  Though we are sad she is gone, we are happy that she is no longer in pain.  The last few months have been tough for her and for us. We knew when she stopped wagging her tail constantly that the pain was getting worse, even with increased doses of her pain meds.  Last Friday she had a stroke or a seizure and it became very difficult for her to walk. We knew, and she knew. We gave her the weekend of her life, she feasted on bacon, cat food, popcorn and ice cream.  She laid in the cool grass under her favorite tree and talked to her cousins via FaceTime.
Lucy 2014 1
Lucy 2014 2
We took her on a last car ride, something she loved very much. Monday morning our vet put her to sleep, right in the back of the car. It was fitting really as it was one of her favorite spots. “Wanna go to gramma’s” was one of her favorite things to hear. She’s get excited and jump into the back seat. Though for the past couple years there has been no jumping into the back seat, she still gets very excited when she thinks it’s time for a ride. She was laid to rest in one of her favorite spots, the very spot she’d spend hours sleeping while I worked in the garden.  Next spring we will plant a tree here to always mark this special place.
So Long Lucy
Lucy 2014 3
So long old friend, we’ll miss having you in our lives. You were larger than life, woven through almost every memory we have from the last twelve and a half years.

Hello Poppy

August 11th, 2014

Yesterday I harvested seeds from my breadseed poppies. There weren’t tons, but enough for a recipe or two.
If you’d like to read a little more about growing your own poppy seeds, check out this article on the MOFGA website. I don’t usually bake with poppy seeds so I don’t know exactly what I will make.

What’s your favorite recipe for poppy seeds?

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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.