7.15.20 Garden Tour


Welcome to the July garden.  Sunlight, warmth and water are what the plants have been craving and they are thriving.  Jacqui-cat is looking for some petting as she gingerly steps between the marigolds and the King Richard leeks.

The cucurbits have pulled through the initial onslaught of striped cucumber beetles. After a number of years of not having enough cucumbers to make pickles, I’ve planted a number of patches through out the garden. Butternut winter squash is our old standby. The seeds are easy to save. It’s in moschata family and doesn’t cross with other squash varieties. The Sugar Baby watermelon is the surprise of the season. I’ve never grown  a watermelon. HB randomly mentioned that he would like to grow one because he likes the shape of the leaves and my dear friend Linda gave him this beautiful seedling. It even has a teeny tiny watermelon.

Tomatoes are my annual challenge. I have the hardest time getting them staked up.  I know they need to be pruned, but I’m not really sure how to do it properly.  The hornworms are expected any day!  Thank goodness, they have been so forgiving to me over the years.  My garden buddy and sister goddess Andi shared the most magnificent tomato seedlings with me this spring. I’m looking forward to having heirloom Green Zebra’s this fall.


Top Hat open pollinated corn is a seed crop this year.  I am concerned about seed availability next spring and want to have as many seeds as I can produce for next years food crops. If you are interested in how to “de-hybridize” an F1 crop, here is an interesting story of how Top Hat was selected from Tuxedo corn.

Alliums are a constant weeding challenge! The grasses are disguised to look just like garlic or onions and require vigilance, sharp eyes and lots of mulching to prevent them from overtaking my treasured bulbs of flavor.  The garlic tips are beginning to turn brown. When half to two thirds of the leaves are brown, it’s time to harvest. Usually the last week of July for me. The braiding garlic is ready first followed by the Music Pink hardneck.


Greens, beans and ganja.  We eat a lot of greens. I try plant rolling patches to keep us in ready supply, moving from spinach to chard to bok choy and back to spinach again in the fall. This year I am planting an overwintering greens garden. I have often had unintentional early spring goodness from the newly emerging garden and believe it will work well to plant on the other side of the calendar.

Diablo Brussels sprouts and  Covina organic broccoli are thriving. I plant brassica as a fall crop. Brocolli loves the cooler weather and keeps growing and producing through September and October.  I ordered the broccoli before the pandemic was known. It strikes me somewhat ironic to be tending a Covina broccoli….

Flowers everywhere. Tucked away in sweet little corners, massed in beds, pampered and treasured, they delight me during my morning garden inspection. You can see Lizzy’s orange frilly zinnia, the echinacha is ready to burst into bloom, the poppies are forming tseed heads while the last lingering purple petals feed the bees in the morning. The little Canadian Shield rose is my prize this year. I thought the rose bush was dead, but one little spring came to life followed by a sweet red rose bud.  The Campfire rose is also a first year transplant. There have been many flowers on this vigorous bush. Tricolor salvia is an old reliable for my flower vases. It is an annual that self seeds throughout the garden, but I always plant a few extra so I can place them in strategic locations. Feed my soul.


The garden tour ends in the Prelude raspberry row. We have been rewarded with a bumper crop to graze on. They haven’t made it to the jam pot or freezer yet!  I need to find a place outside of the vegetable garden so they have enough room to spread into a true raspberry patch. I would love to see your mid July garden photos!  What delights you in your garden?



Life Springs Forth

I left off blogging last summer when I got the call that my dad was dying. Now the long Maine winter is over, spring has officially arrived and the garden calls me back. St. Francis is peeking out from under the snow and the solar lights that stayed out all winter get enough light to shine at night again.

I’m growing tomato seedlings to sell this spring. Grandma Mary’s paste tomato is a reliable and meaty favorite. It cooks down to a rich sauce and make an outstanding dried tomato. Cosmonaut Volkov tomato is hands down my favorite red eating tomato. It ripens in mid to late August and keeps pumping out juicy good sized fruit until frost.

Alyssum seedling are happy and thriving. They are a lovely frothy white flower I use to accent in potted flower containers. In the garden they make a sweet border.

In the cellar window, the onions and seed lettuce are doing well. The onions are second year seed and germinated much better than I had expected. I’m growing open pollinated Ailsa Craig and Borretana Cipolini and a hybrid variety called Talon. We are still eating our fresh stored Talon onions.

I’m growing out a lettuce seed crop this year. This red leaf lettuce is from my saved seed. The 25 most vigorous seedling will be selected and grown for seed. I worked on Will Bonsall’s seed farm in Industry for a couple of seasons and learned how to grow out plants specifically for seed saving. The lettuce plants are started early to give them enough time to fully mature and develop fully ripened seeds.

Here is the view of the snow covered garden in September before the frost. Soothe my soul with color and abundance.

With gratitude, with love and joy.

May Garden Tour

It’s that time of year when we wake up, head outside to the garden and keep working until the day is done.  Pacing is crucial and timing is everything.  Come on along and see what is coming up and going on in the gardens.

Harry is pleased with the spring picking of parsley. His nettle patch is incredibly verdant this time of year.  Fresh baby nettle tips are tasty this time of year.  It does sting to work with them.  I started out with gloves, but ended up bare handed before I was done preparing the nettle leaves for parsnip curry.

Nettle or Urtica dioica, a prickly sort of friend, up close in glorious green. Did you know nettle is a hollow stalked plant like catnip and hemp?  It makes a nourishing tea and Harry says it has more protein pound per pound than beef steak.  Really, Mr. Brown?

Rhubarb is just about ready for a first picking. Harry’s roses look super. He has been caring for them ever since they arrived in the garden.

Catnip abounds!  Our sweet hillcats, Purrly and Jacqui, love to roll around and nibble on the catnip.  It is a healing herb too.  Catnip tea soothes little ones when they don’t feel good and helps with tummy ache. It also has a hollow stalk stem and is a smoking herb. Folks I know have smoked it to ease out of smoking tobacco.

Another one of Nana’s garden statues. I think the child is waiting for strawberries.  My garden buddy, Andy, said they look good. I’m not sure yet.  Still,  I’m dreaming of shortcake and whipped cream.

They look like bare twigs right now, but they will become Prelude raspberries by next year.  Another addition from FEDCO trees.

Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum is one of my long time favorites. It makes the BEST herb ice tea I have ever had.  It has a sweet licorice flavor and doesn’t need sweetener. A fresh sprig infused in water is so refreshing.

The early lettuce has been outside facing the elements and is fully acclimatized. It’s from the FEDCO organic mix.  I haven’t yet identified the varieties yet.

The first planting of lettuce mix and scallions from under the row cover and greenhouse plastic.  I’ll keep the row cover on to protect my salad greens from flea beetle destruction!

Buttercrunch and anuenue lettuces ready for transplanting.  Greens Mix, Afina cutting celery and celeriac root are ready to go in too.

My prairie rose started with a tiny rooted cane that came up when I was weeding out around the gravestone of my great-great-great-great grandfather Moses Patrick.  I kept it in moist paper towel and plastic bag and was amazed when the first leaf came out.  Bringing it all back home…

The pansies, crazy daisies and alyssum seedlings are used to being outside now. The boxes with marigolds and zinnia still need protection at night.

The hollyhock row behind the pansies was created by digging up hollyhocks that were coming up in other places and planting them together.  I’m sure there will be renegade hollyhocks too!

Close up of the garlic patch.  Our music pink has four giant cloves.  The seed garlic came from Amy LeBlanc’s Whitewater Farm around 2005.  We almost lost it when it was all sold at the Common Ground Country Fair, but luckily our garden buddy Andy had grown out his music pink from seed I had given him.  Most of the garlic patch is braiding garlic.  I like making the braids as gifts for friends and family.

I worked at the  Scatterseed Project for Will Bonsell for a few years. This is a rutabaga variety that Andy has been saving seed from for over 10 years.  I’m hoping to grow them myself this year. (He keeps saying it’s my turn)

Tax day peas are looking super.  This planting is Green Arrow and Topps. There is hope for peas by 4th of July, indeed. We are still waiting for the second planting to emerge.

I’m pretty sure this is St. John’s Wort.  I’m giving it extra love and care just in case.  This medicinal herb makes a lovely red colored oil, that I make into salve for Harry to heal burns, bruises and scrapes of all kinds.

The mighty comfrey growing strong and green.  I found a comfrey friend from central England in this new world of garden blogging. It is a super compost tea for plants.  My method is to fill a bucket with nettle and comfrey, fill it up with water, cover and strain out when it starts to get smelly. Powerful.

Rex is ready to romp!  Patrikyia’s wheelbarrow and the tub are cleared out and reseeded with a shade mix I picked up at Reny’s There is germination and I am hopeful.  It’s under an apple tree and has partial shade, so I  planning to fill with impatiens flowers again.

Another addition from Nana’s garden statues. A saucy faced frog sitting on the shade.

The next three pictures are spring wilflowers: violets, trout flowers and a delightful trillium.

The last hurrah of my sweet petite trumpet daffy dills.

The results of spring transplants from divisions and cutting. Shasta daisies, sedem, Harry’s roses, comfrey, rhubarb, strawberries, hollyhock and sweet William.  It’s been dandelion days on The Hill, the greens of the season on our menu, along with fresh nettles.

And look who I found backing into one of the Rose pots.  This hoppy toad wanted to stay put.  I sang a little song and let toady be.

Lots to do and a short time to get it done…..

But today I am content to be a rainy day woman