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The Edible Garden

August 24th, 2020

This is my 8th summer gardening here in Maine, the edible garden is the best it’s ever been. That’s to be expected, all the additions of compost are really improving the soil structure, and the garden is almost expanded to the full size that we have been planning.

I still need to add fruit trees, berry bushes, grape vines, and a few other items, but overall it’s really starting to settle into place and look fantastic. It no longer looks like a new garden. It’s filled with tons of self seeded flower: anise hyssop, verbena bonariensis, echinacea, dill, coriander, and rose campion.

This year I added a tithonia hedge on both sides. Not only do these help with wind, they provide lots of food for pollinators, especially monarchs. Now that I have 120 feet of them, I notice the hummingbirds are loving them as well. It’s a constant buzz of activity and it is proving to be a great add for reducing the wind in the garden.

The vegetables are all producing well, some things I have cut down on this year, some I have increased. At this moment, the tomatoes are the stars of the show. Here in Maine, we have a short window to enjoy tomatoes fresh off the vine and we savor each and every one. The ‘Sungold’ tomatoes are especially stunning right now, I enjoy watching them ripen downward.

Overall, it’s been a great year for the edible garden. No doubt all of our years of improving the soil are finally paying off. We look forward to layering in more and more seasonal foods as we finalize the plans for this lovely space.

What are you harvesting and loving at the peak of ripeness right now?

Harvesting Poppy Seeds

August 20th, 2019

I grow a lot of breadseed poppies here, they seem to spring up every summer. They bloom beautifully, so I only pull the ones that are in locations where I simply can’t allow them to grow. The rest of them get to grow wherever they germinate, which seems to be everywhere. This year I’ve had more than I’ve ever had in the garden.


Now that’s they’ll all finished blooming, the seed pods are starting to dry off. Since there are so many, I don’t want all those seeds falling on the soil and germinating next year. I’m harvesting as many seed heads as I can and saving them to use this winter.


It looks like I’ll get about 6 cups of poppy seeds for baking (I’ll save a few Tablespoons for planting). I’ve never really been a poppyseed kind of a person, for baking and such. Now that I have a lot, I plan on making a few things.

Do you have any great poppyseed recipes to recommend?

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?

Lettuce, Lettuce, Lettuce

June 20th, 2019

Lettuce is probably my favorite vegetalbe to grow and eat. We love salads here at Chiot’s Run and will eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner if we can. As a result, I try to have lettuce of various types available for the entire growing season. It has taken me a few years to figure out the best way to go about this, without having too much or not enough. I have found that having fresh transplants every 6-8 weeks is the best method for my garden and climate.


I grow mostly butterhead lettuces that need lots of time to produce their blowsy heads, but I always have romaine and leaf types growing as well to fill in any gaps between the butterheads. For the past few years we’ve been able to eat fresh lettuce from the garden from March through December.

Do you grow lettuce? Do you have a favorite type?

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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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