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Oh Celery

November 13th, 2017

I’ve been growing celery for years as it’s a main ingredient in my home canned tomato soup. Each year it gets better and better and this year was the best year yet. Most often, my celery is OK for cooking, not so great to eat raw. Celery can be a picky crop, it’s greedy to be sure. Lots of water and lots of food is what makes it thrive. If it’s not provided with the perfect conditions, it’s hollow, tough, and only fit for stock. This variety is ‘Tango’ which was sourced from Johnny’s Seeds.

I’ve been harvesting stalks from my plants for a few months now, we like them sliced on top of salads. When the weather decided to dip down below freezing every night, I decided it was time to harvest all these lovely plants (10 in total).  They will be paired with a few roosters from the coop to make a wonderfully rich chicken stock for the freezer. It’s quite exciting to finally master growing something and to find your homegrown product is leaps and bounds over what you can buy.

What crop have you struggled to grow in the past?

Pumpkins, Pumpkins Everywhere

October 23rd, 2017

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I now grow my cucurbits (specifically pumpkins) in my compost pile (more on this method here). I learned of this method from the book ‘Gardens of Plenty’ by Marylynn Abbott and gave it a try. It worked beautifully and I have been utilizing this method ever since. If you remember, I saw this method in action in the garden she wrote about in this book when I visited the gardens at the Hagley Museum. This year, my pumpkins were grown in the giant compost piles I made last fall. I planted four vines figuring I’d get a pumpkin or two from each.


They grew like champs and quickly took over the compost pile and the lawn nearby (which wasn’t really a big deal because I wanted to get rid of the lawn to expand the garden. When the vines died back I noticed how many pumpkins were there.

After cutting all the pumpkins and carting them down to the house, I counted them up. There were 30 pumpkins, the smallest are fairly large, the largest pumpkins are HUGE and very heavy.

Now we have pumpkins sitting here, there, and everywhere throughout the house. The goal is to cure them a bit, so they will store better and be sweeter for eating. There is a pile of pumpkins in the office behind me, a pile on each side of the front porch, they are piled in the kitchen under the table, and on either side of the dresser in the dining room.



Some of them are also being used as fall decor by the front door, these will be cooked and fed to the chickens. Most likely, this winter, as I cook a pumpkin for us to eat, the birds will get at least half of it. There are so many pumpkins we could never begin to eat them all. Add to their numbers the glut of butternut squash I ended up with as well and we won’t be lacking vitamin A this winter.

What did you have a glut of this year? Do you grow pumpkins?

Getting Things In Before the Frost

October 17th, 2017

It was supposed to get down to 30 last night. That means that I spent yesterday afternoon harvesting the remaining pumpkins, covering semi-tender items with frost blankets, harvesting the remaining peppers and tomatoes, and harvesting some of my lemongrass. One of the plants was dug up to be overwintered in the basement, the rest will mostly likely end up in the freezer or in jars of red curry.

I love lemongrass and I love curry, which is why I grew lemongrass. The only problem is that I need to get down to Portland to get a few ingredients for my curry paste, they aren’t readily available here in the midcoast region. I’m really looking forward to having homemade red curry paste, both for my pantry and for gifting. Thai curry is one of my favorite meals, it goes so well with all manner of vegetables, especially those from the freezer. Here’s hoping I can get to the city this week to get all the supplies I need.

What are you harvesting this week and what are you planning on doing with it?

Harvesting a LOAD of Butternuts

October 11th, 2017

I planted four butternut squash vines this summer, two of them ended up being a buttercup and not butternut variety. They were planted in an area that I mulched with chicken litter from the coop this spring. The results were vigorous vines that grew here, there, and EVERYWHERE!!! I noticed the vines were dying back, so I decided to pick up the squash to start curing them.


I was blown away by how many squash these two vines produced. There will be more than enough squash for us and all of our friends (and their friends too). Needless to day, heavy feeding squash really appreciate and make use of fresh poultry litter.

Now that they’re harvested, I need to get them curing. Then move on to harvesting pumpkins and bringing in other tender things. We haven’t had our first frost yet, but it will happen soon.

What plant produced more than you expected this summer?

Drying Herbs

September 21st, 2017

I’ve been cutting and drying herbs, mostly by hanging them on the back porch. After walking through the hot front porch many times a day, it dawned on me that this spot would be perfect for drying herbs. On sunny days, it hovers around 100 degrees, which is perfect for drying herbs.

I didn’t have an easy to hang herbs, so I put in a few nails, string a string between them, and starting clipping bouquets of herbs from it.

At the moment I have loads of catnip (more on what that will be used for later), oregano, and sage. These herbs will keep our winter meals savory and our cats happy all winter.

What herbs do you grow and dry during the summer?

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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!

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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