This site is an archive of For the latest information about Susy and her adventrures, visit the Cultivate Simple site.
Thank you for all your support over the years!

Protecting Hydrangeas from Winter Weather

November 22nd, 2009

Hydrangeas are beautiful shrubs, I’d have to say my favorite flowering bush. I have 12 hydrangeas in my gardens, 11 different kinds. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite, I really love them all.
I have a few that have never bloomed because they’re the kind of hydrangea that only blooms on old wood. They aren’t hardy to this zone and the buds freeze out on the stems each year. I also have some hydrangeas that bloom on both old and new wood, these varieties are nice for our zone because if the buds freeze out you still get some blooms.
This was my hydrangea ‘Endless Summer’ in 2008, it’s 2nd year in the garden. This past winter was tough on the hydrangeas, we had some very cold weather. Because of all the snow on the ground, the local deer decided hydrangea buds made for delicious winter eating. My ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas didn’t bloom all summer long because the deer ate all the early summer blooms. They bloomed this fall, but they weren’t nearly as pretty as last summer.
I have “Nikko Blue’ hydrangea that has only bloomed 3 years of the 8 we’ve lived here. This one needs crated to bloom because it only blooms on old wood. I have a few other varieties like this, a variegated hydrangea, another red one (can’t remember the name) and one that gets wintered over in the garage in a big pot.
This year I finally decided to protect a few of my hydrangeas from the harsh NE Ohio winters and the nibble deer. My efforts should be rewarded with beautiful blooms all summer long!
There are several different methods for protecting hydrangeas. I’m going to use 2 of them. The first method will be used on my large mature hydrangeas. I’m wrapping them with burlap and stuffing the burlap with leaves. This should insulate the stems from the cold and keep the deer out.
I used red yarn to tie off the burlap because it’s easy to see. Next spring it will make it easy to unwrap the hydrangeas, I’ll be able to spot the ties easily. It also makes for easy spotting of your needle in case you drop it.
I put stakes around the shrub, 3 spaced in a triangular shape. I used 3 instead of 4 because I only have 6 nice wooden stakes and I have 2 very large hydrangeas that require heavy stakes. I’ll use smaller bamboo stakes around the smaller bushes.
I wrapped burlap around the stakes (it’s 4 ft tall) and filled the area inside with leaves. I finished wrapping one and I still have another large one to wrap. I’ll fill you in on the second method I’ll be using next week when I have some photos to show.
It’s not the prettiest thing, but I think in the snow it will look nice. I think it’s worth looking at burlap all winter to see beautiful hydrangeas all summer long. One hydrangea down, 11 more to go.

Do go to any great lengths to protect any specific plants in your garden?

Not Dabbling in Normal

November 21st, 2009

I’m a new writer over at Not Dabbling in Normal blog. I’m sure if you like reading about all the crazy thing I do, you’ll love reading about all the things the other writers do. I’ll be writing a few times month over there. Head on over and check out my introductory post today.
You’ll enjoy reading posts from writers such as:
Kim from the Inadvertent Gardener (she has a pet camel)
Warren from My Home Among the Hills (he’s a frequent commenter here)
Anna from Corgi Hill Farm
Sarah from It Blows Here
Alan from Roberts Roost
Tara from the Organic Sister
Cassandra from The Thinker’s Rock

Spend some time today on their blogs and read about all the interesting things they do.

Do you have a blog or someone else’s blog you’d like to recommend? Link to it in the comments below.

Behind the Scenes

November 20th, 2009

I hate to have my picture taken and I’m not a fan of seeing pictures of myself either. I’m much more comfortable being the one behind the camera. I’ve been sorting through my photos and I found some Mr Chiots has taken of me. As much as I hate to see photos of myself, I figured you might like to see a few of the person that’s usually behind the scenes here at Chiot’s Run.
Do you like having your photo taken?

Local Unpasteurized Cider

November 19th, 2009

Fresh cider is one of my favorite fall treats. We buy gallons and gallons of it throughout the months of Sept-Nov. When we first moved here 8 years ago we found a great source of unpasteurized cider from a small local mill. I’ve tried cider from many of the other small local orchards, but the Mapleton Cider Mill has the best product!
One of the things I like about this cider is that it’s unpasteurized, so it hasn’t been heated to death or treated with ultraviolet light to kill all the goodness inside. How does this affect the flavor? Well, I can’t really explain besides saying it tastes like cider and not apple juice like much of the stuff you buy in the stores.
4-5 years ago they tried to make selling unpasteurized cider illegal in Ohio. I guess there are a lot of people like us that prefer the taste because there was an uproar. Our mill sold it “under the table” that year, they didn’t put up their usually signs by the road. It didn’t hurt their business because they were always low on cider when I stopped by.
The state finally decided to let people sell it as long as they put a warning on the cider. This doesn’t deter us, we drink gallons and gallons of cider this time of year.
My favorite way to drink cider, mulled of course; with cinnamon, cranberries and other warming spices. I also boil some down to make cider syrup, which we enjoy over pancakes and drizzled over apple pie. I add some to my apple butter as well and I often make mulled cider jelly to give away. I also use several gallons to make apple cider vinegar and this year hard cider.
Another thing I love about small local places is that they use the honor system. We stop by, grab a few gallons and put our money in the box. You just can’t beat living locally!

What’s your favorite way to enjoy cider? Do you have any special cider recipes you’d like to share?

Making Preserved Lemons

November 18th, 2009

I’m a huge fan of all things lemon. If I have a choice I’ll take lemon anything: cookies, cakes, scones, etc. Sadly lemons don’t grow in NE Ohio (unless you can manage an indoor tree) so finding a local source is not going to happen. The next best thing to local, is finding a small orchard to buy them from. I searched on-line and found a small orchard in California called Lemon Ladies Orchard. I ordered a 10-lb box of Meyer lemons and they arrived several days later.
I have so many recipes for these lemons I probably will run out of lemons long before I complete them all. First on my list was making a batch of preserved lemons for the pantry.
I picked out 15 nice lemons, coarse sea salt and grabbed a nice sized jar from the pantry. While I sterilized the jar, I washed and quartered 10 of the lemons (cut the stem end off and quarter lemons lengthwise). Next I added the lemon quarters to my jar adding a scant tablespoon of salt after each row. Pack the lemons tightly but don’t crush them. You can also add spices if you’d like, cinnamon, cloves, etc.
Keep adding lemons and salt until you’re up to the top of the jar (I used a quart jar, you can use 2 pints if you’d like).
When you reach the top, take the remaining 5 lemons and roll on the counter to soften (makes them juice better). Juice the lemons into the jar, add enough juice to cover the lemons, use more lemons if needed. Remove any air bubbles and top off with the remaining salt (you want to use about a half cup total for this recipe).
Allow lemons to ferment on the counter for 2 weeks (3-4 weeks if you used regular lemons and not Meyer). Shake the jar occasionally (every couple days) to redistribute salt. Store in the fridge and enjoy in recipes, they’ll keep for about 6 months. When you want to use them you can rinse the lemons if you don’t want to add so much salt to your recipe or you can leave them salty. They may acquire some white crystals, this is OK. Here’s a recipe for Israeli Couscous with Butternut Squash & Preserved Lemons.
Not wanting to waste any part of these lovely lemons, I decided to candy the rinds of the lemons I used for juice.
These little jewels are so tasty! I also used the syrup left from the candied lemons and made some lemon ginger hard candy. *recipe for candied lemon peel

What’s your favorite flavor?


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.