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Clearing out the Freezer

March 21st, 2017

One of the things I’m always working on in February, March, and April, is clearing out the freezer of all the vegetables frozen last summer and clearing out the pantry of all canned and preserved foods. Every summer, we participate in a corn bee with the neighbors. That means we end up with 30 or so pints of sweet corn in the freezer. I grow mountains of onions each year, which we enjoy all winter long. Corn isn’t really one of those things we eat as a side dish, so I developed a recipe for corn salsa that we enjoy on fajitas, tacos, burrito bowls, and salads.

Generally I have cilantro growing in a windowsill, so the only thing I need to buy for this recipe is a lime. When making anything with limes or lemons, I always include the zest. It adds a much more concentrated citrus flavor along with a hint of bitterness, which really helps round out pretty much any dish.

After zesting and juicing the lime, I mix in chopped red onion and some salt. These are allowed to sit on the counter for an hour or so. I find that this step really helps mellow out the strong onion flavor, especially when it comes to onions that have been stored for a few months.

After letting the onion mellow, I add sweet corn, a chopped pickled jalapeño (which I can in the fall), and fresh cilantro. It’s a quick and easy way to use up loads of the preserved garden goodness. This salsa is great on top of salads, carnitas, fajitas, burritos, and equally good in omelets or frittatas for breakfast!

What’s one of your favorite recipes that uses up lots of preserved garden bounty?

Getting Better with Time

March 20th, 2017

When it comes to edible gardening, one area I always felt like I struggled a bit was succession planting.  Sometimes I simply forgot to sow the additional seeds, other times my various sowings matured at the same time. Over the past few years, I noticed that it’s starting to become second nature to me and I’ve figured out a few things to make it work for me.

One of the things I learned was that it’s not always a good idea to start something “every two weeks” as the gardening books tell you. If the soil and the temperature is cooler, things grow more slowly and sometimes the later planting will catch up to the early one. Starting additional planting in flats indoors also makes them grow more quickly than those planted outside. If your first planting is just being planted in the garden, transplant shock and cooler temperatures can slow growth rate allowing the indoor seedlings catch up.

Perhaps this is only something that affect us northern gardeners, but after a few years I find that a three or four week schedule is often better than the two weeks most normally recommended. It also makes it easier to manage because I’m not doing it as often. It’s nice to be able to have fresh lettuce throughout spring/summer/fall, which is the main reason I have been trying to improve my success in this area.

Do you plant in succession to have a longer growing season? Do you have any great tips to share? Is this an area you struggle? 

Oh The Weather Outside is Frightful

March 16th, 2017

You’ve probably heard about the big blizzard we had roll through New England on Tuesday. It dropped 16-18 inches of snow outside, on the garden that was bare and thawed just last week. Snow in March isn’t uncommon, though this much snow is a bit of a surprise. That’s Ok though, I have loads of lovely plants under the grow lights.


The first batch of lettuce seedlings need thinning, that means I’ll have a homegrown salad later this week. The alyssum and violets are starting to germinate, I’m hoping they will provide some needed color very early this summer.

What’s growing under you grow lights?

A Winter Favorite

March 13th, 2017

In the winter we eat vegetable from the freezer, but I still crave lettuce and greens. My favorite winter salad combines stored root vegetables, nuts, and greens. Some of the lettuce I grow under lights, the rest I get at the store.

This is my all-time favorite winter salad consists of greens topped with radicchio, celery, dulse, beets, toasted walnuts, Bulgarian sheep milk feta, and dried cranberries topped with a mustard maple vinaigrette. I can eat this salad every day and I have to admit that sometimes I do and never tire of it. It’s even better when accompanied by a new book on my Kindle.

What’s your favorite salad combination at the moment?

Surveying the Gardens

March 9th, 2017

When the snow starts thawing, I find myself out walking around the gardens on an almost daily basis. I’m watching for areas that thaw first, where the water pools, how the wind blows across the garden, and other things. Now I’ve lived here for four years, I have a pretty good idea of the different microclimates in my garden. I know that the potager behind the house thaws out much more quickly than the main garden behind the garage. I can plant lettuces and other cold tolerant crops in there two or three weeks earlier than I can in the main garden. I’m thinking of trying to plant a few asparagus crowns in there to see if they are ready to harvest sooner than their main garden counterparts.


The difference by day can be astonishing, especially as the snow melts. I also watch closely to see which plants were nibbled by deer or look like they sustained damage from heavy snows or wind. A fence is definitely in order this summer, the wild turkeys are really enjoying all the delicious things in the garden.

Seeds and Sundries
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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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