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A Few Days in Philly

July 30th, 2019

Last week, Mr Chiots had to be in Philadelphia for work. Since he was headed there anyways, I decided to tag along and visit gardens. The greater Philadelphia area has tons of gardens to visit. I’ve been lucky to visit a few in the past, but there are so many there are always some on the list that I don’t have time to get to. This past week I was able to visit 3 different gardens each day for three days. The final day we spent at Longwood Gardens, a favorite that I try to visit every few years. (more on the gardens I visited later this week)


I actually purchased a membership to Longwood, it’s cheaper in the long run, especially if you plan on visiting more than once in a year. Since we wanted to see the fountain show, it was well worth it. We were able to make the fountain show on Saturday night, which had a Disney theme. One of the great benefits of hitting a show in the evening, is that you are able to see the night flowering water lillies.



The following day, we headed back to the gardens in the morning and spent most of the day walking around and enjoying a leisurly lunch in the restaurant on site. Longwood is always a feast for the eyes, it doesn’t matter when you go (though I’ve never been in the winter, hopefully this year). The long flower borders are stunning in spring with the tulips and equally stunning in high summer filled with a riot of flowers that graduate from dark purple on one end to white on the other.















There are always new plants to see and old favorites to savor. I’m always inspired with their plant combinations, color selection, and new plants to discover!

Do you have a favorite public garden to visit?

Selecting for Better Berries in the Future

July 22nd, 2019

I’ve been growing strawberries for many years. After trialing many varieties, ‘Sparkle’ has emerged as a favorite around here. It’s a great berry with good flavor and it freezes well but it doesn’t last long once picked. Two years ago we noticed that a couple plants were producing exceptionally large berries (which still had great flavor) and producing a few more than other plants.

We selected those plant and allowed them to runner and reproduce while removing the plants that produced smaller berries. The following year we had a slightly larger patch of plants producing good sized berries. This summer we have a patch of about 50 plants producing the nice large berries.

As you can see in this photo, the larger berries on the left are the ones from selected plants. The smaller ones on the right are from non-selected plants.

We are once again selecting plants from this original plant to increase our stock of plants that produce the best berries. Next year our entire patch will be from these plants and all the berries should be of good size.

Do you grow strawberries? Do you have a favorite variety?

Here Come the Harvests

July 15th, 2019

If you follow me on Instagram you’ve been seeing the various things I’m harvesting from the edible garden. This spring was very slow to get going, in fact we’re still having nighttime temperatures in the 50’s. The result has been that things have been growing much more slowly than usual, the season is most likely going to be compressed in the middle. Typically, I’ve been harvesting broccoli, peas, lettuce, beets, radishes, and other cool temperatur vegetables right now. While I have been able to harvest lettuce last month, most of the cool season vegetable are just coming on as the warm season vegetables are starting to come on as well.




This past week I have harvested: bulb fennel, lettuce, onions, broccoli, peas (both shelling & sugar snap), zucchini, peppers, strawberries, and garlic. It’s certainly lovely to be able to enjoy home grown vegetable for every meal. Today we had zucchini, onions, and peppers for breakfast with eggs. For lunch I made broccoli salad with homegrown broccoli, onions, peas, and garlic. For dinner we will enjoy a lettuce salad.

What are you harvesting this week?

Friday Favorite: Peony Poppies

July 12th, 2019

Once you grow poppies once in the garden they seem to spring up here and there around the garden. I haven’t seeded a poppy in 6 years and yet I have a mass of blooms each July. I’m especially fond of the peony types, they’re extravagant blooms are quite stunning.




This patch came up in the vegetable garden, they’ll be allowed to grow and bloom, then I’ll pull them and replace them with fall vegetables.

Do you have any beloved self seeders in your garden?

The Easter Cactus

July 11th, 2019

A few years ago my nieghbor gave me an Easter cactus for Easter. This year, Easter came and went with no blooms and no bud in sight. I figured since I repotted it last year, it would take a year off. However, it decided it would rather be a Fourth of July cactus and started blooming profusely about a week before the 4th and is still blooming beautifully.



Perhaps next year it will return to the original schedule and bloom on Easter. I’d like to get a Christmas cactus as well, houseplants are such a joy during the long, cold winters here in Maine.

Do you have a Christas cactus? What’s your favorite houseplant?

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Shop through these links and I get a few cents each time. It's not much, but it allows me to buy a new cookbook or new gardening book every couple months. I appreciate your support!

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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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