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Garden Thoughts

September 30, 2011

Fall chores abound in September


If you're awaiting the first frosts, there's a long list of tasks to transition the garden safely. Now is the time to stop pruning and fertilizing and it's a good idea to bring houseplants that have been happily outside back into the house. If there are any tender plants that you want to save through the first freezes, nows the time to cover them. I've saved tomaotes all the way to Thanksgiving this way. And if you're ready to give up the outdoor plants, you can pick the green tomatoes and bring them indoors. If you wrap them in newspaper and pack them carefully, you can then bring them out to ripen as you need them.

If you have tender bulbs that won't take a cold winter, you should dig them up--that includes dahlias, caladiums, cannas and tuberous begonias. And spring flowering bulbs can be put out in their place.

It really a great time of year. There is the satisfaction of the harvest and the ease of preparing for winter. Take your time and enjoy sitting in the waning sun, taking in the beauty of the late blooming flowers and be grateful for what you have created.

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September 28, 2011

Now is the time to put in some grass seed


Spread seed of cool-season grasses (rye and fescue) to fill in areas where grass has died in your lawn. Thick grass won't allow weeds a foothold like bare soil would during the spring. To prepare the lawn, cut grass short. Spread seeds and keep moist during dry periods. The cool-season grasses will be strong in the spring, thus not allowing weed seeds a place to germinate.

You can redo a whole lawn or just over seed the lawn grass you have if it's not think enough. It should sprout now and in the spring and surprise you with new growth.

At Quick Lawn Turf

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August 11, 2011

Simple and quick--a great pickled cucumber recipe


This recipe is so simple and it produces pickled cucumbers in a couple of days! I friend gave to me with a quart jar of the pickled cucumbers. So delicious.

Put 1/4 cup of white vinegar and one teaspoon of salt in a quart jar. Add one teaspoon dill or celery seed and one tablespoon of powerdered garlic and a few cut garlic cloves. Fill jar half full with water. Add as many cucumbers as will fill the jar and fill to the top with water. Let set in the fridge for two days and open and eat. No heating, no sealing--it couldn't be more simple and they are very fresh crisp and delicious. They don't keep as long as processed pickles, but then they won't last long once you taste them.

For more pickle ideas, this book might help:

At Pickles and Relishes

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August 8, 2011

The August garden cruise


So the garden is thriving, the warm weather crops ripening, and the fall lettuce and greens are planted. The weeds are not so critical right except around the new plantings. Most of the vegetables and high and mighty and in control, so weed control begins to lessen. This is time to enjoy the abundance, to give away, to sell or barter the excess!

But if you can't stand to be idle and not try to can, preserve, dry or freeze whatever you can for the winter, then it's time to stock up on some dual purpose canning jars. A pint size jar that you are able to use for canning and/or for freezing is always a good buy and I use canning jars and their lids to store dried herbs, nuts and spices. These jars have an embossed fruit design. There are convenient measurement marks on the side of the jars to help you out with how much to fill.

At Can-or-Freeze Canning Jar 1 Pt

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July 26, 2011

Pac Choi is a perfect winter vegetable


This chinese cabbage will grow well planted in July or August and allowed to over winter in mild areas. It grows to about 10 inches and the leaves are mild and thick making them excellent for stir frys or salads while the stalk is thick and a good substitute for celery. The slight mustardy flavor of Pak Choi makes it a delightful addition to stir-fries, soups, noodle and meat dishes, and salads, if the young leaves are used

Pac Choi, sometimes spelled Bok Choy has spread throughout the world after being brought to Korea and Japan. It has been used in Chinese cooking since before the Ming dynasty. Pac Choi contains a high amount of Vitamin A and also some Vitamin C. It is easy to grow and will take a light freeze.

At Pac Choi

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July 5, 2011

Territorial Seed fall catalog arrives on the solstice


Summer planting means winter harvest is the by line on the magazine and so we get a reminder that now is the time to plant for fall. That is very hard to believe this year because the weather only now has turned hot so it's hard to think about cool weather crops when the tomatoes and peppers are just starting to prosper.

There are several mid summer chores I'm ready to take on. I'm going to till up the strawberry beds, both of them and get new plants. I'll build up a raised bed with a lot of chicken manure put in and all new plants. They should be bearing well next year when the grandchildren come and I look forward to starting all over again with strawberries. They are one of my favorite crops and i really like to have enought to freeze for winter and to make jam and that hasn't been happening for several years.

I noticed that my garlic is starting to make flowers heads and reminded myself to cut those off to let all the energy go to the bulb. The flowers on the swiss chard can be trimmed off also and a side dressing of manure is called for on the carrots.

But the first page I turned to in the Territorial seed catalog was the spinach. They are selling an organic an heirloom seed called Galilee which is heat tolerant and very suited for summer growing. The leaves can be used for salads and also can be cooked.

I think this is worth a try.

At Galilee Spinach

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June 28, 2011

Summer solstice is forgotten

I like to mark the changing of the seasons and to take a moment or a day or two to contemplate my life and the changing times. Summer solstice often passes without noticing because the garden if keeping me so busy.
Summer solstice occurs when the earth's tilt is most inclined toward the sun providing abundant sunshine for the temperate north and making the day on which this maximum tilt occurs, the longest day of the year. Though hardly noticed at first, through the rest of the hot, hot summer sunshine, each day is getting a little shorter. Usually sometimes in August or September, I notice how it's getting dark at 7pm now.

Many cultures celebrate the solstice and I think it's worth taking some time on the 21st to celebrate our lives and to acknowledge their dependence on sunshine, soil, and water. The ingredients needed for all live and so obvious to the gardner.

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June 16, 2011

A tribute to the wild azaleas


I follow the scent
of air sagging
with sweetness.
I find them
In deep shadow
under the pine trees,
great mounds of them.

They blare color like trumpets--
pink, yellow and white merge
on fluted edge,
and furl outward,
opening to the
of pistil and stamen
tipped with green.

I gather masses of their savage beauty.

They refuse
to be arranged in vases

They cling to their wild intractability

The rain shadow that makes
their profusion possible
ends at my land.
Every spring I am blessed
with their untamed and
rash extravagance--

They who have never known shame.

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May 20, 2011

Getting the garden started in Boston


I've been here a week and we've had mostly rain, cold and dreary weather. Yesterday the sun shone and the grandkids and I got inspired and planted some lettuce and then went to the nursery and bought flowers. Most of the flowers we will put in pots in the front yard but the perinneals will go along the edge of the yard where we hope to build up a flower garden.

The nurseries were full of rainbow colors of flowers and many vegies. It's such a pleasure to walk through the rows upon rows of seedlings and six pacs and choose a variety of colors and shapes. We came home and planted them. It was supposed to be the only nice day for a week and we wanted them in the ground before the rain. We got a mix of seeds to attract butterflies and birds and some perinneals. In the six packs we bought petunias, sweet williams and snapdragons.

Such fun with the whole family out in the yard, mixing potting soil and digging rows. The grandkids were so excited it was hard to get them to slow down. This a great project for the family and it teaches kids where their food comes from and the effort it takes to grow it, and they also participate in the miracle of seeing sunlight, soil and water work their magic on seeds.

At Wildflower Butterfly Mix

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April 22, 2011

Ranunculus make a great spring holiday bouquet


I give a big spring celebration party every Easter. This year I'm using ranunculus for the centerpiece on tables. I got these from my local nursery. They come in such beautiful colors and are huge. I remember I bought these last year and planted them in the flower bed, but they are, this year, only poking their true leaves up. My nursery friend suggested using them as a living bouquet and I think this is a wonderful idea.

You might check out your local nursery for such eye catching pleasures. I bought 12 plants for $24 which is much much cheaper than buying cut flowers or ordering from a florist. And the bonus is that you have flowers that come back year after year.

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April 12, 2011

Mountain weather refreshes everything


We just had one of those spring mountain storms. The weather turned cold and last night it rained and poured and this morning I awoke to about an inch of snow covering the ground. The sun was shining and soon I could hear the plop and thunk of melting snow falling off the trees and roof. There is still snow halfway up the mountain.

I went up to the garden to scout around and find greens for a salad. I'm so amazed this year that last years carrots which are ususally rotten by this time are still juicy and sweet and I found a beet that was in perfect shape. There was kale and the tender tops of brussle sprouts going to seed. Some cilantro had geminated and there was self sown endive was about a couple of inches high everywhere. So it was fun to see what the garden itself could provide and glean the new growth for a spring salad.

At Ferry-Morse 3243 Organic Seed Collection, Salad

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March 29, 2011

Spring came in unnoticed and the ground cover flourished

We've had constant rain and then snow and then rain again and today for the first time in a couple of weeks the sun came out and suddenly spring was here! Amazing! The change is dramatic and I take time to slog my way out into the garden to see if any of the plants had noticed spring's arrival.


The answer to that question is YES in all caps. Not only are the tiny spouts out with their true leaves, but the grass and the weeds have thrived. It's going to take a liot to get the lawnmower to cut through the grasses, but I'm happy because finally it seems that the warmth of the sun has made it through the clouds. And I'm also happy because the vetch I planted has grown nicely and although the grasses are high, the vetch is still going to help with nitrogen fixation when it is tilled under. I think that I'll have to weedeat the groundcover before trying to till it.

At Poulan Pro PP330 17-inch 33cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered Curved Shaft Attachment Capable String Trimmer

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February 15, 2011

Forcing wild shrubs and bushes brightens the winter day

When I was young, I used to go out into the countryside for long walks. Those were the days when I could actually walk out of town. There were lovely creeks and wooded hills and those walks set the course for the rest of my life, because I moved to the woods and have lived in them ever since.


During the course of my wanderings in February or early March, I would look for and find Pussy Willows and Redbud. I would break off branches of the these shrubs and bring them back to my mother. It always pleased her so much. Those memories are very tender and precious to me. Any of us who have access now to wild country or even farm land can probably find bushes of forsythia gone wild, pussy willow, quince, spirea, redbud, and dogwood. Any of these plants, wild or tame, can be forced for indoor bloom. It is best to make long, slanted cuts when collecting the branches and not break them like I used to. Then you place the stems in a vase of water. The water needs to be changed every four days. They should bloom in about 3 weeks and bring an early spring into the house to enliven your life.

At Forsythia

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January 17, 2011

Spring in January!


The meadow glows in the sunshine and today is one of those lovely spring days you get in January sometimes. Probably more now with global warming heating things up than 40 years ago when I came here. It's the kind of day when I would head out into the garden were the ground not totally soaked and mucky, so it's nice to walk around the land and take note of things that need to be done and make plans for the growing season. Hopefully the cold weather will come back in and provide more snow and rain and give the plants that need a real cold spell to produce their necessary freezing.

I'm going to transplant a small lilac bush which has been dwarfed by a grapevine into the sunny location near the new house. I have this whole new area to play with, creating shade, flowers, fruits and herbs that will make living here more palatable. Here is the French drain which seems to be working well, so it's a hole that is ready to use.


Its a challenge and a joy to have this place to nurture! And today it's a joy to be alive! I'm sorry I can't post the smell of fresh wet earth and warm air! Here is the artisan well very busy with frogs and water striders, reflecting the sky.


And not to forget Fatcat who refuses to leave the cabin and come down to live at the new house. He sits in the sun, licking his paws, and will not be persuaded.


But the azaleas need no persuasion to start the swelling of buds, in a few months to be fragrant flowers.


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