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!

Nitrogen Fixing Legumes

June 30th, 2014

Most likely you have heard about the nitrogen trapping ability of legumes like peas and beans when it comes to our edible gardens.  Did you know that there are also lovely perennial legumes that we can add to our ornamental beds to help harvest the nitrogen for other plants?  I just planted two false indigo plants in front of a ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ rose in an ornamental bad I’m adding up the garage.
false indigo
Not only do these plants look lovely, they will help all the plants around them, especially if I cut back some of the foliage and use it as mulch.  If you haven’t noticed the root nodules on these types of plants look at this.
root nodules on legume
There are so many nitrogen fixing perennials, shrubs and trees it pays to incorporate them into our ornamental beds. I spotted these lupines on my garden tour this past weekend and I have a few growing in my garden as well. They will pair perfectly with peonies since they bloom at the same time.
lupins on ocean
From crimson clover to locust trees you can find nitrogen fixing plants in all shapes, colors, sizes, and for all climates. If you don’t have any perennial legume family plants in your garden consider adding them.  Of course you will want to check and make sure the ones you want to use won’t become invasive in your area before adding them to your garden.
Whenever you can use plants to increase the fertility in your soil you save time, money, and resources.

What’s your favorite nitrogen fixing plant?

Quote of the Day: Cesare Pavese

June 29th, 2014

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.”

~ Cesare Pavese

My favorites moments in the garden are often those where I am enjoying the fruits of my labor and I find no better time than the golden hour of sunset.
moments 1
moments 2
moments 3
I try to make sure I get out to enjoy this moment at least once a week, usually I have my camera with me. These moments make all the hot days of seeking worth while!

What moments have you been enjoying this week?

Belfast Garden Tour #2

June 28th, 2014

Yesterday was the second week of the local garden club garden tour series.  The featured garden was right on the ocean and it was lovely.  Lots of rock walls, walkways and terraces made this sloping lot useable.  The massive oak and ash trees made for a mostly shady lot.  I must admit, taking photos of the flowers and plants when there’s a strong wind coming off the ocean was a bit of a challenge. Here’s a tour of this lovely ocean garden. One nice this about this garden was that they had maps and keys listing all the different plants.
belfast garden tour 2 6
belfast garden tour 2 1
belfast garden tour 2 4
belfast garden tour 2 2
belfast garden tour 2 5
belfast garden tour 2 3
belfast garden tour 2 7
belfast garden tour 2 8
belfast garden tour 2 9
belfast garden tour 2 11
belfast garden tour 2 14
belfast garden tour 2 12
belfast garden tour 2 13
belfast garden tour 2 16
belfast garden tour 2 17
belfast garden tour 2 18
belfast garden tour 2 15
belfast garden tour 2 19
belfast garden tour 2 20
belfast garden tour 2 26
belfast garden tour 2 22
belfast garden tour 2 23
belfast garden tour 2 24
belfast garden tour 2 25
belfast garden tour 2 27
belfast garden tour 2 28
belfast garden tour 2 29
belfast garden tour 2 30
belfast garden tour 2 10
I especially loved the rock walkways in this garden, stone always looks right at home in a woodland setting like this one.

What’s your favorite part of this garden?

Friday Favorite: Guineas

June 27th, 2014

I have a small flock of guinea fowl roaming about the garden.  The chickens went behind an electric fence a few weeks ago when they started getting into the main edible garden.  The guineas are allowed to roam free because they aren’t as destructive as chickens.  I especially love them because they eat insects and not the plants themselves. They don’t scratch much at all, unlike chickens which will make giant holes and dig up plants quite easily.
guinea fowl 1 (1)
guinea fowl 1
guinea fowl 2 (1)
guinea fowl 2
guinea fowl 3 (1)
guinea fowl 4
A few weeks ago I noticed potato beetles in the potato patch and asparagus beetles in the asparagus. Then I noticed the guineas making daily rounds through them eating up all the bugs they could find. They’ll even peck through the mulch around the asparagus looking for the beetles that try to hide there. They are also making quick work of any cabbage worms they see. I saw defoliation of my cabbage and broccoli, and then I noticed the guineas lurking nearby. When I checked for worms they were gone – perfect!
asparagus beetle
potato beetle
It’s not all peaches and cream with guineas, they can be loud and obnoxious, especially when you have a large group of them. If you want a few for your garden I’d stick to three. If you want a large group you should make sure you have a large area for them to roam. My guineas roam over about 5-7 acres around the house.  My guineas will also eat the occasional strawberry in the back garden, I could easily throw cheesecloth over it to keep them away, but they only eat a few so I don’t mind.  It’s a small price to pay for fantastic insect control in the garden!
guinea fowl 3
Overall, they are great birds to have around if you have a garden. They are also invaluable watch dogs alerting all the other birds and Tara when there are foxes and hawks nearby.

What’s your favorite pest control method?

Wild Beauties

June 26th, 2014

We have power lines that go through the front of our property. The company is down there working every now and then, most recently they put in new power lines. They made a bit of a mess down and really tear up the natural flora. As I drove by the other day I spotted color out of the corner of my eye and stopped to check it out on my way home. This is what I found:
Sheep Laurel 2
When I got home I looked up in my copy of Native Plants for Your Maine Garden and I identified it as Sheep Laurel.  What a beautiful and interesting plant, I’m so glad I stopped and identified it. I’m so glad I purchased this book!
Sheep Laurel 1
You’re not supposed to dig up wild flowers, but I’m debating rescuing this one. Since it’s on the power lines it will be sprayed with herbicide or be driven over by the atvs and trucks that like to ride up and down the lines.  If anything I’ll try to gather a few seeds when I see them to try to get them going up here on the hill.

Do you have a local plant identification book for your area?


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.