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Fleeting Beauty

June 25th, 2011

Last year I added 6 new peonies to the garden. They didn’t bloom last year, but this year they all provided me with at least one blossom each, some with many. Peonies are lovely flowers, you’d never know how tough the plants were by looking at the flowers. They’re wonderfully hardy plants, taking just about anything you throw at them after they’re established. The blooms on the other hand are delicate. They don’t last long in the garden, especially if the weather turns hot.

Right about the time the peonies started to bloom here in NE Ohio the the temperature climbed into the 90’s. As a result the peonies lasted only a few days. I was hoping to take a photo of the first bloom on the heirloom peony I got from my grandma’s house. I spotted it late one afternoon and by the next morning it was already past prime so I missed it. At least I got a few photos of the many of the other peonies in the garden, save a white one. Here are a few of the fleeting beauties in my garden from this spring.

A few weeks ago I added four more peonies to the garden. They were growing in an area of my mom’s garden that became shady because of the growth of other plants so she gave them to me. I can’t remember what the blooms will look like, but they’ll be beautiful whatever they turn out to be. It’s always nice to get peonies for free!

Do you grow peonies in your garden?

Friday Favorite: American Apparel

June 24th, 2011

I’m a huge fan of American Apparel t-shirts. Why? For one, they’re made in the USA – no sweat shops here. They have 100% organic cotton shirts and they use as much organic cotton as possible in their non-organic shirts. That means no GMO’s, which is a big deal to me.

Of course all the above things are fine and dandy – but if the product isn’t good quality or comfortable it doesn’t matter. The main reason I love their shirts is because they’re super comfortable. We’ve all had that perfectly comfortable shirt: it’s old, it’s soft and you find yourself wearing it whenever it’s clean (and sometimes when it’s not). That’s how American Apparel shirts feel from day one! I also appreciate that they line dry beautifully. No crispiness here, they come off the line just like they come out of the dryer, soft and ready to wear.

If you peeked in my shirt drawer, you would find the majority of shirts in my drawer with their label. The ones that don’t are older shirts that will be replaced with American Apparel shirts when the time comes. I’ll warn you though, they are cut on the small and slim side, so if you come across a site that sells their stuff order a size up. You can guarantee if I ever have Chiot’s Run shirts made the’ll have the American Apparel label!
This is my newest addition to my collection, I purchased this lovely shirt from Wire & Twine, a small design shop in SE Ohio. It’s my current favorite shirt to wear. I’ve always been the type of person that has a favorite item of clothing and I’ll wear it all the time for a spell. I can distinctly remember specific dresses and shirts from my childhood that I loved and wore so much that my mom would have to pry me out of them to wash them. I have especially fond memories of a t-shirt with a mouse on it.

Do you have a favorite article of clothing?

Starting My Espresso Mushroom Kit

June 23rd, 2011

A while ago I purchased an Espresso Oyster Mushroom kit from Grow Organic. I started saving our coffee ground until I had the three gallons needed for the kit. It took me few months to save up enough coffee ground. If you’re interested in doing this make sure you start saving coffee ground way in advance. You can store them in the freezer to keep them from getting moldy.
It’s quite easy to get the mushroom kit going. You’ll need: a 5 gallon bucket, mushroom spawn kit, three gallons of coffee grounds, and filtered or distilled water. First you want to make sure your bucket is clean, you don’t want any stray bacteria mucking up your mushrooms. You want to drill drainage holes in the bucket and maybe in the sides of the bucket depending on how full it is after mixing all the ingredients.

The next step is to mix the coffee grounds with the mushroom spawn. The directions state to pour coffee grounds into bucket and moisten them, then add spawn and mix. I added half the coffee grounds, wetting them with some filtered water, then I added half the spawn and mixed well. I proceeded to add the remaining coffee and spawn and then I mixed the top layer. Then I made sure the whole lot was damp but not soggy wet.

Needless to say mixing the all of the ingredients well in the bucket was not super easy. It would be much easier to mix it all in a shallow square storage tote first then transfer to the bucket. I’ll remember that for next time.

Then you place the plastic dome provided with the kit on the bucket and place it in a shady area that receives some light. If the amount of coffee and spawn in your bucket does not come up to within a few inches of the top of the bucket you’re supposed to drill a few holes in the sides of the bucket for ventilation. The directions say to mist with water every day and you should have mushrooms to harvest in a few weeks.

It really is that easy. I spent about 15 minutes to get the kit going, that included drilling holes in the bucket. I’ll be letting you know when I harvest the first mushrooms from this kit. It will be interesting to see how many I harvest. The directions say that you can use the spent kit a few more times my inoculating more coffee grounds. It should be an interesting experiment!

Have you ever grown mushrooms? What’s the most unconventional thing you’ve grown in your garden?

Proof for the Disbelievers

June 22nd, 2011

Ever since Mr Chiots and I mentioned that we were building a teardrop camper people keep asking for photos. We were joking the other day that no one really believes that we’re doing it, much less that we’ll have it finished next month. Here’s some proof for all you who keep wanting to know how it’s going and keep asking for photos.

Mr Chiots has been spending a few hours almost every evening out in the garage cutting, sanding, wiring, measuring, nailing and putting together the little camper. The garage is filled with formaldyhyde free plywood, aluminum for skinning and various shapes and sizes of lights and other things needed for the build.

It’s been a fun project so far. I have plans to do a blog dedicated to this build with products used, the build process, and our adventures with our tiny teardrop. I’ll let you know when that’s up and running, I’ve been a bit too busy to get it going.

Any travel plans for the summer/fall for you family?

A Blessing and a Curse

June 21st, 2011

I’m both blessed and cursed to have rocky soil. When I say that I have rocky soil, I mean it. If digging a hole to plant, say a boxwood, I usually end up with more rocks than soil. This is a curse because it makes digging any kind of hole a quite a chore (I have the biceps to prove it). It’s a blessing because I have piles of rocks, in all shapes and sizes, around the property waiting to become rock walls and garden paths. There’s nothing quite like using native stone in the garden, it looks right at home. An added bonus is that it’s free, except for the work of digging them up and moving them.

Remember that new garden area with big sweeping curves on the southeast side of the property? That is the new asparagus bed with a box hedge along the front. Since my goal is to limit soil compaction and disturbance, I decided a nice stone garden path would be a great way to harvest all those lovely asparagus spears each spring. I’ve been working on laying a narrow stone walkway through the middle of the asparagus bed, it separates the ‘Purple Passion’ from the ‘Jersey Supreme’. Down at the end of the path will be the heirloom asparagus.

I also added a nice larger walkway into the new garden area by the pond. The plan is to build a bench out of some of the branches from all those trees we took down and set it under the dogwood behind the pond. It will have a backdrop of heirloom snowball viburnum that came from my grandma.

I wanted to have some plants growing among the rocks. Luckily, I have a few patches of ‘Major Red’ Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpyllum coccineus) in the garden that need divided so that will be planted in the large main pathway. I purchased some Scotch Moss (Sagina subulata) for the narrow walkway through the asparagus.

The boxwoods are all planted now in front of the asparagus. I’ll add a few stepping stones behind them for pruning purposes and so I can use any extra space not taken up by asparagus for other annual vegetables like lettuce. Now I’ll be able to harvest asparagus and prune boxwoods without stepping on and compacting the soil.

What’s your preferred garden pathway material? native stone, cement, gravel, wood chips?


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.