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Pretzel Scape

June 30th, 2016

Garlic scapes are a wonderful vegetable this time of year. I love that they come just about the time broccoli and sugar peas come, which means stir fry around here! Scapes are so interesting the way they twist and turn, I find their shapes fascinating. I was especially amused to see this one shaped like a pretzel yesterday.
pretzel scape
I should have the rest of the scapes harvested this coming week, some of them will end up the freezer because we just can’t eat them all when they’re in season. Luckily, they freeze well and will be just as tasty in the middle of winter.

Do you grow garlic? What’s your favorite way to eat the scapes?

The Wildlife Tax

June 29th, 2016

This year the wildlife tax has been really high for the strawberries. We have a large patch of berries, they are one of Mr Chiot’s favorite fruits. There are two, 70 foot long rows that are 3-4 four feed wide. Last year we froze around 40 quarts for winter. This year we lost the first flush of berries to waxwings. A flock of about 15-20 of them came in and gobbled up about 12 quarts of berries in one night.
cedar waxwing
We realized what was happening and covered the berries with row cover to protect them. The few nights later, the raccoons came in and ripped holes in the cover and ate the ripening strawberries. Thankfully we aren’t keeping pigs this year, so we have just enough electric fencing to surround the big garden.
homegrown strawberries 1
After building Fort Knox around the strawberries, we were finally able to harvest a few quarts. We celebrated with shortcake for dinner that night and the next night as well. Generally we love to share our bounty with friends and neighbors, but there hasn’t been enough berries for that.
homegrown strawberries 2
Overall we lost about 50% of our harvest this year to wildlife. Since there has been a drought this spring in Maine, the harvest was already reduced as well. Luckily we have a large patch and are still getting a few for the freezer and a few for eating. At least we have a large enough patch that we are still getting a few berries for the table. Next year I will definitely be covering the berries really early to protect them from the birds and the electric fence will most likely go up around the garden first thing in the spring.

What methods do you employ to protect plants from marauding wildlife? 

Bean Seed Trials

June 28th, 2016

I found some old seed for the same variety of beans that I purchased fresh seed for this year. Instead of throwing it away, I decided to plant it along with the new seed to see how the old seed compared to the new.
bean seed trials
As you can see from this photo, the old seed didn’t germinate as quickly and not as well. It’s a great illustration of the importance of starting with fresh seed and not trying to use up old seed in the garden. This is especially important if your garden is small, there’s no reason to waste space by trying to use up old seed.

Have you noticed reduced germination rates with older seed in specific varieties?

First Bouquet

June 27th, 2016

This is my first year with a dedicated cutting garden, which isn’t really all that large. I don’t generally grow flowers just for cutting, most of my time is spent growing vegetables for the table. On
Saturday, I harvested my first flowers started from seed just for bouquets.
garden bouquet 2
garden bouquet 1
I made two boquets featuring: peonies, poppies, snapdragons, foxglove, coriander flowers, bronze fennel, sage blossoms, and ninebark branches in shades of pink and purple. The second was orange and yellow, featuring tithonia torch, snapdragons, coriander flowers, alexander, and bronze fennel.
garden bouquet 3
garden bouquet 4
I have stock flowers that are just starting to bloom, along with a few other things that will make small arrangements this week. I’m particularly looking forward to the black tipped wheat I started for fall arrangements, I do currently have overwintered rye that will grace my arrangements this coming week. Right now the cutting garden is a bit of a mess, I planted everything in the fallow section of the main garden in loose rows. I definitely need to figure out a better configuration for the cutting garden next year.

What flowers are gracing your table and garden this week?

The Main Vegetable Garden

June 24th, 2016

Every year I think that the gardens are not coming along as fast as I’d like, then I look at photos from last year and the two years before that. Each year the gardens get better and better. This is exactly why I love to take lots of photos of the garden and the plants I’m growing. Some plants are grown year after year, some are new.
yellow wonder peas
Main Vegetable Garden 6
Main Vegetable Garden 7
Main Vegetable Garden 8
Right now the main garden back behind the barn is looking lovely. It’s filled with tons of flowers this year, something that I’ve never done before. One of my goals was to have a small cutting garden and lots more food for pollinators.
tall snapdragon
spring cassis
tithonia torch
The phacelia cover crop is blooming beautifully and as described, the bees and other pollinators love it. More on this lovely cover crop option in the coming weeks.
lacy phacelia
I also have a small section of the main edible garden that is dedicated to nursery stock. These are plants that I’m growing out to size or monitoring growth rate and features. Working in the main garden is starting to become much more pleasurable. After three years of pulling weeds continuously, I’m finally on top of them and I don’t have to spend much time at all on that chore. Now it’s more about enjoying what’s there and expanding borders to finalize size and layout. Soon there will be hedges, fences, and perennial borders…..stay tuned.

How had your garden changed over the coming years?

Seeds and Sundries
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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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