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I Spy…

March 1st, 2016

On Sunday, I was checking the soil and spinach plants in the low tunnel and spotted a ‘Bowles Black’ violet blooming in there. What a wonderful sight it was!
black violet
I love having plants like Johnny’s jump ups and violets in my potager because they tell when I can do certain things. When I see them blooming I know that I can start planting and seeding spinach, arugula, cilantro, and other cold tolerant crops and they will germinate. The violets in the rest of the potager are nowhere to be seen, it will be a few weeks before they show their faces. Thanks to this beauty, I know it’s time to transplant some of the lettuce seedlings I have under grow lights into the low tunnel.

Do you have any plants that are signals for you?

A Nice Window

February 4th, 2016

It’s been a little warm here the past few days, our blanket of snow has melted and the ground can be worked. It’s the perfect time to broadcast a few seeds for cold tolerant varieties like arugula, cilantro, mustard, and a few other things. Winter will return, in fact we’re supposed to get snow tomorrow and next week it will once again be in the single digits. These seeds don’t care, they will wait and spring forth when they’re ready.
winter seeding 2
They won’t germinate as quickly as they do when the soil is warmer, but they’ll germinate when the conditions are right and I’ll have a much earlier crop that I would have if I had waited.
winter seeding 1
I’m also going to be seeding a flat of lettuce, which is something I do every year. I find that having a flat of greens ready to go into the ground in spring gives me a jump on the season and has me harvesting greens for my table at least a month if not 6 weeks before direct seeded crops. I love having things ready to plant as soon as the ground is ready. This winter has been fairly mild, which means my overwintered spinach is thriving and should start growing as soon as conditions improve in a month or so.

What are you doing in the garden this weekend?

Winter Activities for the Gardener

December 9th, 2015

I appreciate living in a climate where I have 3-4 months of winter in which gardening outdoors is pretty much impossible without a greenhouse. While I spend a lot of time reading about gardening during the winter months, I still want to get my hands in the soil and nurture plants. What is a gardener to do? Attempt to start interesting plants from seed.
This year I have a few interesting things to try, most exciting is the Cedar of Lebanon seeds along with a large leafed magnolia. I also have seeds of various plums and sour cherries in the fridge getting their prescribed dose of cold weather before putting them up to see if I can nurture a few little trees for my orchard. I’ll keep you posted on my efforts, perhaps in 100 years there will be a Cedar of Lebanon to be enjoyed by those living here at the time.

What sorts of fun gardening things do you do in the winter?

Finally Here

November 25th, 2015

We woke up Monday morning to an inch and a half of snow. It was beautiful, though I had a few chores that were more difficult because of the snow. I’m already loving how nicely the boxwood looks in the winter, the structure it adds is just what I was hoping for.
first snow 1
With the snow came the cold weather, temperatures are starting to dip down into the teens at night. The duck pond needs a heater, as does the waterer in the chicken coop.
first snow 2
This time of year, the freezing of the ground makes me move on towards other winter chores, mostly cleaning out chicken/duck coops and getting them set up for the winter. I’m always thankful for the lovely nutrient rich mulch provided by this chore. Usually it’s used on a newer area in the garden. It makes a fantastic week free bed come spring. After these chores I’m finally finished up for the year with a few weeks to spare, now it’s time to plan next year!

What end of the year chores are you finishing up?

Growing Fall Broccoli

October 20th, 2015

When I posted about my fall broccoli last week, there were lots of of questions about it. The varieties I grew for fall were the same as the ones I grew for my summer crop. I got a packet of ‘All Season’ broccoli from Renee’s Garden, it has three different types in one packet, early, mid, and late season varieties.
Renees garden broccoli
Fall broccoli produces much nicer and tastier heads than spring sown plants. I’m completely amazed by the quality of my fall broccoli vs my spring broccoli. The key to good fall broccoli is seeding at the proper time. I seeded them in flat back in July. My first sowing was gobbled up by my turkeys, luckily I had seeded another planting 10 days later just in case something happened to my first crop. I transplanted them into the garden and mulched them heavily with compost.
I watched patiently and wondered if they were actually going to produce heads, then all of a sudden they started and grew into the most beautiful broccoli I’ve ever grown. The broccoli is tasty and there is no hint of bitterness at all. Overall, it was a grand success. The key is starting them early enough to make sure they will reach maturing right around the first frost date. The heads hold for a long time in the garden, so there’s not a problem with having too many on hand. Next year I might try a shorter season ‘Arcadia’ broccoli from Johnny’s Seed, because it’s a cold tolerant variety bred for winter production.

Do you do any winter gardening? What’s your favorite crop to grow?

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.