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Squirreling Away for Winter

September 5th, 2017

It’s been a busy week and weekend. My evenings are filled with harvesting and preserving. The apples, tomatoes, beans, and peppers are coming in like mad. Green beans are blanched and frozen, peppers are chopped and frozen. Both things are frozen on cookie sheets and put into freezer bags to be scooped out in quantities needed.

The tomatoes are being put up in a few different ways. ‘Principe Borghese’ are dried in the sun dried tomato fashion. Some tomatoes are canned crushed for winter cooking, others are turned into conserve. Right now I’ve only finished up a batch of crushed tomatoes. Stay tuned for various posts this week about all the other things I’m making with all the garden bounty (including recipes for a few tried and true favorites). While this season seems a bit frantic, it will all be worth it in the dead of winter. When snow is deep on the garden, we can enjoy chili made with homegrown poblanos, tomatoes, and onions. There’s nothing better (and saves more money) than shopping in your freezer and pantry!

What are you preserving from your garden?

Friday Favorite: The Back Garden

August 18th, 2017

I have two different edible garden spaces here at Chiot’s Run. One is the potager behind the house, which is filled with lots of herbs and a few edibles each year and the main vegetable garden up behind the garage or barn. This is the large garden space where the lion’s share of our vegetables are grow. It’s also filled with flowers for cutting and a nursery bed area.


It’s slowly growing, this year it’s close to the final size. We are preparing areas to surround it with hedges and fences and probably put in a shed as well. That’s beside the point, it’s one of my favorite garden spaces even though it’s not complete. It’s really starting to come into its own. I can see a HUGE difference in it over the past 5 years, the last two years have been quite remarkable.




This garden is now about twice as big as it was when we moved here. I’m guessing it’s 60×80 ft or so at the moment, it may get a bit bigger. There are areas on three sides that may be incorporated into the garden to add 30% more space, but we haven’t decided for sure.


Pictured above is not a weed, although it certainly looks like it, it is lemongrass. I’m really hoping to make my own curry paste this fall and lemongrass was an important ingredient. So far it’s growing well, now if I could only keep the cats from munching it down.



The pumpkins pictured above are growing in the //chiotsrun.com/2016/08/23/compost-pile-gardening/”>big compost piles I made on this lower end of the garden last fall. If you’ve been reading here long, you’ll know that I started using this method of composting and growing squash on them a few years ago with much success. I’m trying to build up this low spot in the garden, so naturally making my compost piles here made sense. I’m planning on using the next few years of composting to build this side up leveling out the garden a bit more. Overall, this garden is really chugging along and I’m super happy with the results. I love the slightly less than perfectness of it since I let dill, cilantro, sunflowers, and other things seed down and grow up wherever they want.

What’s your favorite part in your garden right now?

The Main Garden

May 30th, 2017

The main garden behind the garage is starting to take shape (at least in my mind). The past three summers I have been expanding the boundaries and dealing with invasive weeds. I’m finally reaching the full size and it’s time to develop main walkways, establish hedges, and redefine planting areas as well. All that will take place this fall as I need the space to grow food this summer. This garden area is roughly 60 feet wide by 80 feet deep. It is currently divided into four foot wide rows with walkways in between. There’s a nursery area and a large compost pile that extends the length of the garden that will eventually become growing space making it closer to 70 feet wide.

Here’s my garden row by row:

The first row contains garlic in the front and asparagus, strawberries, and flowers in the back. Behind the garlic there’s a nice little grove of sage, three plants that provide more than enough sage for us and all of our friends.

The second row is filled with a few perennials in the front, shallots and lettuce, followed by all the brassicas interplanted with lettuce that are being protected from cabbage butterflies by a long tunnel of agribon. Inside the tunnel I have cauliflower, three types of broccoli, and two of brussels sprouts.

The third row contains onions, both red and white, filling most of the row. In the back there’s a trellis with 6 feet of ‘Golden Pod’ peas and 9 bulb fennel plants. You’ll notice a row of garlic halfway back, these were tiny bulblets that I planted very thickly in a row last fall. They will be harvested as green garlic (like green onions) starting now. This row is still in need of a layer of compost as mulch. I’ve been waiting for the worms to quit unearthing the onions to add it.

This row contains all sorts of cutting flowers in the front, a 20 foot trellis of peas with beets and bulb fennel on either side, then a small patch of carrots, a small patch of tiny bulbing purple onions, then a few strawberries, and it’s capped off with a stand of Jerusalem artichokes in the very back. As you can see, I mulch the garden with a layer of compost when things are planted. This keeps weeding to a minimum and it helps me see quickly which space is available for planting and what space is already taken.

This side of the garden has been allowed to be fallow for the past three years. The strawberries have been encouraged to grow over this direction slowly. Every year I dig out a couple feet on one side and let them grow towards the far edge of the garden. They take up this row and half of the next as well. It’s a large patch, but that’s needed for us and for our neighbors.  In front of the strawberries there are a few flowers for summer bouquets and perennials that are waiting for a space to be cleared in the flowerbeds.

This row contains a few small trees and shrubs that are being grown out for the flowerbeds. It’s a nursery area where I like to keep things growing out. I have boxwood cuttings, tiny cherry trees, osage orange seedlings, lavender, and a host of other things I started from seed last year.

In the next row you can see lots of perennials and shrubs up front: peonies, hydrangeas, plums, grasses, willow, and other things that will be moved this fall. In the back I have two rows of tomatoes with 15 tomatoes planted 2.5 feet apart in each row. In between each tomato there are basil plants, flowers, and other smaller vegetables.

The next to the last row of the garden features rhubarb and more perennials up front and a row of peppers in the back. There will be one more row past this, but it’s not planted yet. This year it will be a row of sunflowers to block the wind that comes from that direction and other flowers for the butterflies (mostly tithonia and verbena).  At the back of the garden I’m building a trellis that will be used to grow sweet peas. It will both help keep the wild turkeys out and provide flowers for my table. Stay tuned for photo updates of the garden throughout the summer and in the coming years as the rows are reoriented the other direction. In front of these rows there’s also a 10 foot wide section that now contains the new asparagus bed. In front of that there will be a boxwood hedge or a fence, which will then have a 5-8 foot wide perennial border in front of that. That area is currently piled with compost that’s waiting to be spread on these sections of the garden. Part is also still growing in sod, which will be smothered with cardboard in preparation for the perennial border.

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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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