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The First Ripe Strawberry

May 26th, 2010

I’ve been watching the strawberry patch like a hawk, waiting for that first glimpse of red. We’ve had a lot of blooms this year and lots of tiny green fruit setting on. Strawberries are one of my favorite things to have in the garden. They’re so easy I don’t know why more people don’t grow them. The flavor is so much better than the ones in the grocery store and you can grow them organically without chemicals and pesticides. I’d never buy conventional strawberries at the store because they’re one of the worst offenders when it comes to chemical pollution (and they’re about to get worse, read this).

Last week I noticed the first slight blush on one of the berries when I was out weeding. If you have your own strawberry patch you know exactly how excited I was. I started thinking about strawberry shortcake, my favorite way to eat strawberries.

Yesterday when I was out picking lettuce for our lunch salad, something red caught my eye. It was the first deliciously ripe red strawberry. Mr Chiots and I split it, we each enjoyed half a strawberry on our salad. They pair perfectly with balsamic vinegar! I’ll be eagerly watching the patch waiting for enough berries to make the first strawberry shortcake of the season.

I’m considering adding a patch of ever-bearing strawberries to our garden. That way we can harvest strawberries all season long, instead of just having a flush of berries in the spring. I’ve heard that Tri-Star is a great variety so I may try some of them.

Do you grow your own strawberries? What’s your favorite way to enjoy them?

A Call to Arms

May 25th, 2010

On Friday I spotted a baby groundhog in the garden. It startled me and I startled it. It ran down into the woods and got me thinking about protecting my crops from the groundhogs. I have everything protected with floating row covers, but groundhogs are crafty creatures and they’ll gnaw through anything to get at their favorite crops, in this case my peas that are just about to bloom!

I went out later in the day and spotted FOUR baby groundhogs in the garden. They are cuties, but not cute enough to let them mow down everything in the back garden. I knew then that we’d have to do something besides hope that they wouldn’t eat all of our crops. Every hour or so for the last 2 days I went out and scared them out of the garden area. Yesterday since we were at the cabin all day I couldn’t scare them away and they gnawed through my row cover in several places and ate all of the peas. This was a call to arms.

I uploaded some photos of the groundhogs to Flickr and someone asked if I knew of any “non-chemical deterrents” for goundhogs. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you know I come from a long line of hunters, I even had my hunting license in the 7th grade. So you can guess what our “non chemical deterrent” is. Yesterday I went out in the morning and spotted one of them in the peas again, I went inside to get the “deterrent” but by the time I went back out it was gone. So Mr Chiots and I headed down into the woods to look for it’s den. We’re going to put used cat liter down in the hole, which will often drive them away. Hopefully by the end of the week the groundhogs will be gone. Too late to save the peas, but at least they’ll be a good cover crop and I’ll replace them with cucumbers and zucchini.

Do you have problems with groundhogs in your garden? How have you dealt with them?

A Day at The Cabin

May 24th, 2010

When I was a little girl my grandparents bought some land and built a cabin on it. We spent almost every weekend down there playing in the field, running through the woods, building dams in the creek and being immersed in nature. We loved the “Briar Patch” as it is called!

Yesterday we spent the day at the Briar Patch with my parents and my sister & brother-in-law and their kids. (If you remember this is the place Lucy got injured). We’re starting a whole new generation of weekends at the cabin.

The kids had a full day of archery, playing in the sand box, hiking and of course finding feathers, rocks and bones in the woods.

You can’t spend a day at the cabin without some roasting a few hot dogs over the fire (and sometimes marshmallows as well). Usually the day is finished with a batch of homemade ice cream, but yesterday we had cheesecake.

All-in-all it was a fun day. It’s always good to spend time with the family in a place that already has so many great family memories.

Did you have a place growing up where you could be immersed in nature?

Working in the Rain

May 23rd, 2010

When I visited my mom & dad on Friday, I dug up a bunch of plants from their garden. I got some miracle lilies (or naked ladies), mallow, tiger lilies, fennel and a few others. I wanted to get them planted, so I spent part of the day yesterday doing that. The weather didn’t want to cooperate, it seems like every time I’d head out to work I’d start hearing some rumblings of thunder. Pretty soon it would start raining and I’d head inside. About a half hour later the rain was gone and it was sunny again, so out I’d go again. Then more thunder and rain.

I had so many chores to get done I didn’t mind working between all the storms. This past week we liberated more lawn out front and I’ve been wanting to get some cover crop planted on it. I figured yesterday would be the perfect day since it would get nicely watered in after planting. Of course it started and stopped raining several times while I leveled the soil, sprinkled the seeds, and covered them with soil. Since I was determined to get it done I stayed out working in the rain. Since it’s warm, I don’t mind working in the rain, as long as it’s not raining too hard.

Mr Chiots snapped a few photos of my trying to finish up, it kept raining harder and harder. Of course right after he took these photos it started POURING!

I came inside, dried off and waited for the worst to be over. A good cup of coffee courtesy of Mr Chiots made the wait nice. Out I went after the rain and I finally finished up all my garden chores around 6 yesterday evening. I actually enjoy working in the rain, although digging in the soil isn’t something you want to do when it’s that wet. Pulling weeds however is a wonderful rainy day garden chores.

Do you garden in the rain?

Our Little Pond

May 22nd, 2010

The little pond in the garden is really starting to come together. We installed it a two weeks ago and last weekend we got some fish for it. We spent a day this past weekend planting some hostas, hakone grass and goat’s beard around it. I still have some rocks to place around the front edge and I need to find a few small plants around the garden to finish off the front part and then it will be done!

I was hoping to work on it yesterday but spent the entire day at my mom & dad’s house. I still worked in the garden, just not my own. I worked the edible garden over there, weeding the onions and planting a few more potatoes. I also dug up some lilies, mallow, and fennel to plant over here and I got some cuttings from their neighbor’s hydrangea vine. I’m giving my mom a few of our shrub roses in return.

Even though the pond isn’t finished, the fish seem to be really enjoying it. We thought a few of them had been eaten by coons, but we’ve counted all 10 in the past few days. We put a few big rocks in the bottom and a few smaller ones around the edges to give them a place to hide. If all ten are alive in a month or two we will move 5-6 of them to one of my parents big ponds, our tiny pond won’t support 10 fish.

We’re enjoying having the pond in the garden. We can see it from the bedroom window and from the front porch. I’m always stopping to watch the fish as I’m out and about doing chores. They’re very relaxing and soothing. I’d encourage everyone to install a small water feature in their gardens!

Have you ever thought about installing a small pond in your garden?


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.