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Beating the Rain

September 30th, 2015

We have rain in the forecast, lots of rain. Today we’re supposed to get 3-4 inches and then it’s supposed to rain every day for the next 10 days at least. That’s good, we really need the rain because it’s a super dry summer/fall so far. That means however that I spent yesterday madly harvesting everything from the garden. Ten days of rain is not good for crops right before harvest, especially things like popcorn!
harvesting early popcorn
The popcorn wasn’t really ready, technically you should wait until the husks have dried. With all the rain coming, I knew the risk of mold was high. As a result, it’s all laid out on shelves in the top of the garage with a fan on it. Along with the popcorn, I have loads of sunflowers drying in the top of the garage as well. These are grown for the flock.
sunflower harvest
I also grow loads of pumpkins and squash for both us and the birds. Not only do we eat lots of pumpkin and butternut squash, the birds love them. It’s nice to be able to give the birds healthy treats in the middle of winter. This year I grew ‘Connecticut Field Pumpkin’ for the flock. They produced very well, I’m very pleased with this variety. They are a carving and decorative pumpkin, pretty much your typical pumpkin.
heirloom pumpkin harvest 1
This is about 2/3 of the pumpkin harvest. It looks like I have 30 pumpkins for the birds and 8 large ‘Rouge Vif D’ Etampes’ pumpkins for us. This variety is my all-time favorite pumpkin because it makes the most wonderful pumpkin puree for pies and other goodies.
heirloom pumpkin harvest 2
The tomatoes also came in, anything that was ripe or slightly blushed was put in my basket. The photo below is about a fourth of what I harvested, I’m guessing I got about 2 bushels of tomatoes. I have plans to make another batch of soup and probably a batch or two of canned crushed tomatoes. The harvest was very good this year and that makes me very thankful. Last year I got the late blight and didn’t have much of a harvest to speak of. I like tucking as much as I can into the pantry during the good years. That way we can still enjoy tomato soup during the years of blight.
tomato harvest
This has probably been my most productive garden ever. I still have loads of things coming on, more on those tomorrow.

Do you grow pumpkins in your garden? What’s your favorite variety?

Bring Them Inside

September 29th, 2015

It’s starting to get cold in the evenings here in Maine, the lower areas were said to be 32 the other morning. The benefit of living on a south facing slope is that it was 45 up here on the hill. That’s a considerable difference! Event though it’s not getting that cold here, it’s still time to bring in all the tropicals. Usually I take this time to repot and prune them all, cleaning them up a bit to make them look nicer indoors. For more on where I got these plants and what varieties they are see this blog post.
tropical houseplants 2
I have a lot of edible tropical plants: avocados, bananas, guava, mango, papaya, citrus, etc. They all live outside in the hottest part of the garden in the summer and they live in the warmest spot in the house during the winter. Most of them are only a year old, but they’re all dwarf varieties that should start producing fruit next year or the year after. I have a few citrus trees that are older and are currently loaded with fruit.
tropical houseplants 1
The banana plant had a few pups that needed to be cut off and repotted. I gave one to a friend, I haven’t decided if I want to keep the rest or find them new homes. I’m pretty excited about this plant, I think it might produce bananas soon. We had a banana plant in our front yard when I was young (we lived in Colombia, S.A.) and watching it produce bananas was such an amazing thing. I can’t wait to see it happen again!

Do you have any edible houseplants?

For more info on growing edible houseplants I highly recommend the book: Growing Tasty Tropical Plants in Any Home, Anywhere

Bushels of Beans

September 28th, 2015

Remember that second batch of green beans I seeded back in mid July? They all came ripe. I harvested a nice batch before we left for our trip at the beginning on Sept, when I returned they were flush with beans!
green bean harvest 1
I harvested half a bushel on Friday night and half bushel on Saturday night. Then I blanched them and put them in the freezer. I like to freeze them on cookie sheets then dump them into zipper bags so I can scoop out what I need for a meal. It’s a convenient way to preserve them. These are ‘Maxibel Haricort Vert’ from High Mowing Seeds.
green bean harvest 2
I also like them blanched so I can make this cold green bean salad with them. It’s a great way to taste summer in the middle of winter when you have the need for it.

What are you preserving from you garden before winter comes?

Friday Favorite: Labeled Plants

September 25th, 2015

I’m sure I’ve told of my love for labeled plants before, but after visiting Longwood Gardens I’m once again going to talk about how much I LOVE this!
Winterberry Holly 1
In the parking lot there are these lovely Winterberry Holly shrubs that I admire every single time I visit, which has always been in the spring and summer. The berries on it this fall were stunning! Now that I’ve seen it in all three season I’m certain I’ll be adding some to my garden.
Winterberry Holly 2
Over the past few winters I’ve been reading about adding winter interest to the garden. I’ve also been keeping a keen eye as I’m out and about to find things that work in my area. I think this plant will be a stunning addition to the garden for fall and winter interest.
Winterberry Holly 3
Winterberry Holly 4
When it comes to plant descriptions, my favorite place to check first is the Missouri Botanical Garden database. See what they have to say about Winterberry Holly here. It’s great to bookmark this site to use as a reference guide. Now off to find a few plants!

Do you have any plants that add winter interest in the garden?

Mother Earth News Fair

September 24th, 2015

Mr Chiots and I have been traveling for the past 10 days, it was a busy trip. We logged around 3000 miles, mostly by Mr Chiots while he traveled for work. I went along for the ride since he was headed to Ohio. While he worked, I visited with my family.
You can see photos from our trip to the Secrest Arboretum here. While at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA, our internet was pretty much non-existent in our room (big bummer). I managed to get a little on-line work done, but I had to sit out in the hall to do it. Which is not that comfortable.
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I attended a few classes, mostly on winter gardening. Though I must say, all the classes I attended on the topic were taught by people in zones 7 or so, which is a whole different thing than trying to garden in winter in zone 5! There were so many great classes, I wished I could have attended more. I had at least two choices that I wanted to go to during every time slot. There was an interesting one on harvesting rain/surface water for livestock that I gleaned some great ideas from. I can’t wait to implement a few of the things I learned to collect water for the gardens and our livestock.
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Mr Chiots had a booth for The Jojoba Company, which he is the manager of. I had to help occasionally because it was pretty busy, especially after the essential oil classes let out and everyone swarmed the table to buy jojoba as their carrier.
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After we left Seven Springs, we went on to Kennet Square, PA to visit Longwood Gardens and a few other lovely spaces. More on those tomorrow.

Have you done any traveling lately?

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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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