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April 26th, 2018

Last October, we had a big wind storm come through and blow down a few trees below the house. It snowed not long after they came down, so they sat entombed in snow and ice until spring arrived. Since the grass will start growing soon, cleaning up these trees is at the top of the list. I’ve been spending a few hours each day raking up the pine needles, picking up the pieces I can carry, and building a dead hedge in another spot.

Being such huge trees, they came down with a lot of force. There are so many branches and sticks jammed into the soil. Some of them I can pull out, a few of which were jammed about a foot into the ground. There are some that are so wedged in that I can’t pull them out, they’re stuck. Seems like overkill to use the tractor to get out such small pieces, but that’s going to be the easiest way to get them out.

As you can imagine, cleaning up three downed trees has added a few extra things to my spring cleanup list. It’s nice to be able to get out and finally start soaking up some sun and working in the yard. Of course, I’d much rather be working in the garden than picking up sticks, but sometimes that’s the way it goes.

What spring cleanup chores are you not loving right now?

Hello Hellebores

April 25th, 2018

In my Ohio garden, I have one hellebore and I LOVED it. Adding more to the garden has been a goal for a while, though I haven’t had a good place ready for them until now. I do have two beauties, the green one came with me from Ohio as a seedling, the dark one was acquired at the farmers market.

Hellebores (aka Lenten Rose) look delicate and lovely, but they’re really tough as nails. The leaves are super tough and the flowers aren’t as delicate as they appear. They enjoy the shade and are quite drought tolerant once established.

They will cross pollinate and produce seed, in some areas they will seed down and you’ll find tiny plants scattered around. I had them in Ohio, but haven’t found any here in my Maine garden yet. I may cross pollinate these two save the seed to see what comes out.

Now that I’ve cleared out under the old apple tree in front of the house, I’m planning on making that area a spring garden. It will be filled with things that are at their best in the spring, snowdrops, crocuses, hellebores, primroses, and other things I come across. It’s not a huge area, probably around 300 square feet, but I should be able to fit a nice selection of plants in there.

Do you have any hellebores in your garden?

Forcing Rhubarb

April 24th, 2018

If you remember, I mentioned last week that I put a big black pot over my rhubarb to try to force it. I’ve never done this before, but have heard about it and read about it a few times. Yesterday evening, I lifted the pot and was amazed by what was beneath it.

This is the rhubarb that hasn’t been covered, it’s barely popping up out of the ground. In the next photo, you can see the forced rhubarb on the left and the unforced rhubarb on the right, or maybe you can’t see that rhubarb. This variety is ‘Glaskins Perpetual’ rhubarb, it can be harvested all summer long.

I’m quite amazed by the process and will definitely add it to my list of spring garden chores. Next spring, I may try covering the rhubarb in mid March. I’m really looking forward to early rhubarb this year, now I just have to look through my cookbooks and decide what to make with it.

What fun garden experiments are you doing this spring?


April 23rd, 2018

Yesterday was a beautiful day here in Maine, it was sunny and warm (in the low 60’s). I finally was able to transplant seedling into the garden. It seems spring may finally have arrived here in the NE, we are all very happy about that.

I transplanted a flat of spinach, some fennel, radicchio, endive, and a few other greens. Fingers crossed they’ll survive any cold night we have and we’ll be eating these lovelies in a few weeks.

Are you harvesting anything from your garden yet? How’s spring coming along for you?

The Sweets

April 19th, 2018

If you remember from many years ago, a feral mama moved her kittens into our garage. A series of unfortunate events, led to most of the kittens not making it, but one did, with an amazing story.

When we moved from Ohio to Maine, we trapped her and brought her with us. We’ve been able to slightly tame her throughout the years, but she’s still pretty wild, and mostly nocturnal. There are times when she’s gone for a month, out and about in the woods I suppose, hunting and doing things cats love to do.

She’s still a great garden companion, often coming out in the late afternoons when I’m working in the main vegetable garden behind the garage. She meows at me and hangs out nearby. Every now and then I get lucky and she lets me pet her. Since she’s and outdoor cat, her coat is super thick and lush to keep her warm in the winters. This past week, she’s been out following me around as I clean up the main vegetable plot. It’s nice having her around, she’s a great hunter and a valuable member of the team here.

Do you have any great garden companions?

Seeds and Sundries
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Berkey Water Filter

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.