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The Garden Pond

August 31st, 2010

If you remember we put in a small garden pond earlier this summer and stocked it with goldfish from the pet store. The gold fish all got Ich and died, which is common with pet store fish. Since my parents already have 2 ponds at their house that are stocked with goldfish that are healthy and naturalized to ponds, we decided to catch a couple of theirs for our pond. Mr Chiots got out my dad’s casting net and netted us a few little fish.

These fish are thriving now and making sure our pond stays free of mosquito larvae. The water lily we planted in the pond is doing well, it won’t bloom this year, hopefully next year we’ll see some beautiful blooms. Perhaps we’ll get some frogs to move in as well.

The garden that surrounds the pond isn’t quite finished yet. I have to decide which low growing plants to put in front of it among the rocks, I want to get this finished by the end of September.

I moved one of my favorite plants to the pond garden, it’s a Golden Variegated Hakone Grass. It’s thriving in it’s new location. I’d love to have much more of this beautifully plant in my garden! It glows beautifully in the shady corner of the pond and drapes gracefully over the rocks. I can’t wait until it had reached it’s mature size.

The garden around the pond is also filled with: goat’s beard, ‘Francis Williams’ and another smaller variegated hosta, and mint. I’m considering some wooley creeping thyme for the area in front the pond or perhaps some short golden sedum that I have in the front flowerbed.

Any great suggestions for low-growing plants? Do you have a favorite plant that in the garden?

Keeping Track of Small Garden Tools

August 30th, 2010

I used to have a bad habit of carrying trowels around with me when I was gardening and leaving them where I was working. I often forgot where they were and when I needed them again, I’d have to walk around the garden looking for them, trying to remember when I had used them last. As much as I tried to always put them back in the garage, I just couldn’t seem to remember. I love my trowels and thus never want to lose them. Not to mention a good garden trowel is not a cheap purchase.

A few months ago I decided to put a bucket by the back door to keep my trowels and my cultivator in. After doing this I’ve been able to keep track of them. I find myself carrying my trowels back to the house with me and throwing them into the bucket. This has worked well for me and I have only had to look for my trowel once or twice since I started doing this. I also like that they’re right there when I walk out the back door. I no longer have to open the garage door and head into the garage to get my tools, I simply grab the one I need from the bucket and head out into the garden.

My mom has a similar technique, she has a bucket that she keeps trowels, forks, fertilizer, a companion planting guide and a few other items for gardening. She carries this bucket around the garden with her as she works and deposits back in the garage by the door when she heads inside. This means her garden bucket is always ready to grab when she heads out. This is a great idea if you have a covered area for your bucket. Since mine sits on the back porch in the weather, I simply leave my 4 garden tools in it. They can take the weather as can the old bucket I keep them in.

If you’re in the market for good quality small garden tools I would highly recommend The Rumford Gardener large trowel, transplanting trowel, and the cultivator. I purchased them many many years ago at Target, but they are now available on Amazon. They’re solid die-cast aluminum and they’re cast in one solid piece with a rubberized handle coating. They’re tough as nails and strong as an ox yet light enough to use for a long period of time. In my rocky tough soil they keep on going where a lesser trowel would have been bent long long ago. I also find them quite comfortable to use.

What techniques have you developed to keep your garden tools easily accessible and easy to find?

Quote of the Day: Thomas Edison

August 29th, 2010

“Until man duplicates a blade of grass,
nature can laugh at his so called scientific knowledge”

~ Thomas Edison

The longer I garden and learn about the balance of nature the less I realize I know. As my gardens live organically each additional year I’m amazed at how nature balances itself out without me having to step in. When I try to step in I upset the balance and who knows what the ramifications will be, especially down the road. I’m now even content to let horn worms eat my tomatoes, and the cabbage worms eat my brassicas, I know they make tasty treats for birds, or be a host for beneficial wasps.

How has your view of nature changed throughout your gardening career?

If you’d like a copy of this quote on this photo it’s on my Flickr.

It’s Going to be a Busy Saturday

August 28th, 2010

I went to my mom’s yesterday to spend a little time working in the garden. We share a garden at her house since she has great soil and a nice full sun area. This year we doubled the size of it from last year to grow more food. Every time I go, I come home with a carload of fruits and veggies that I have to can, freeze, dry or eat.

This is what I brought home yesterday, along with small bag of seckel pears that didn’t make it into the photo. Mr Chiots picked the pears, which weren’t as abundant as they were 3 years ago, but we still got a decent amount. The peppers were all getting red, which is what I’ve been waiting for to make a batch of fire roasted peppers.

Last night I made 4 loaves of zucchini bread, a batch of squash blossom sauce, and I put three trays of tomatoes in the oven to roast overnight. Since we have today off I’ll be spending my day making: ketchup with the roasted tomatoes, canning crushed tomatoes, fire roasting and canning the red peppers, pickling the Hungarian peppers, making up a batch of pesto, cooking up the green beans and broccoli for lunch and most like getting those pears in the oven to make pearsins. Whew, just thinking about all of that while I type this after midnight at the end of a long day makes me tired. But it’s the season and I know there are tons of you out there just like me spending long hours squirreling away garden goodies in the pantry for the long winter.

What have you been squirreling away lately?

Making Peace with Hornworms

August 27th, 2010

When I first started growing tomatoes I used to pick off the tomato or tobacco hornworms and squish them with a rock. Then one year I missed one and spotted it with the tiny white eggs from a parasitic wasp on it’s back. Ever since then I’ve made peace with the hornworms in my garden. I never pick them off or do anything to get rid of them. They get to eat some tomatoes leaves and a tomato here and there in complete peace. Why the change of heart?

I don’t want to get rid of them and risk the parasitic wasp not having a host for it’s eggs. I also don’t want the birds to go hungry, as they seem to find these giant juicy worms a complete breakfast. The truth is they’re not that damaging to tomato plants. Perhaps a little defoliation is good for tomatoes this time of year and I don’t mind losing a couple tomatoes, I have plenty to go around. The truth is that often when we step in we upset the balance of nature and make our problems worse down the line. If we squish or kill all the hornworms we’ll never have the braconid wasps in our gardens. Without the wasps we’ll end up with more hornworms, aphids and other insects. We may also inadvertently kill a hornworm that has already been parasitized by a wasp since it takes a few days before the white worms appear on their backs.

I’m convinced that I’m encouraging biodiversity in my garden by making peace with hornworms and other things viewed as “pests”. I have noticed that the less I interfere with nature the more balanced things become, even in my small quarter acre garden. I encourage you to let the hornworms live and see how everything balances out in a few years!

Do you have any pests that you’ve made peace with?

Here’s an interesting article from the BBC about how plants can send out SOS signals to predatory insects when they sense they’re being attacked by caterpillars & other insects. And the specifically studies hornworms.


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.