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Quote of the Day: P.S. du Pont

June 13th, 2015

“…I have set myself and guests to work planting flower seeds whenever I have opportunity.”

– P.S. du Pont, 1907 (The Heritage of Longwood Gardens: Pierre S. Du Pont and His Legacy

This week I am in the Philadelphia area with my mom visiting gardens. We went to Longwood Gardens yesterday, today we go to Chanticleer, tomorrow Winterthur. Every time I visit Longwood I’m particularly impressed with their copper beech trees.
I did bring my camera and have been taking photos, but I haven’t been downloading them in the evenings. So you’ll have to be happy with a few cell phone photos while I’m here. As always, Longwood did not disappoint. I was particularly happy to see their vegetable gardens lush with growth, I’ve always visited in the spring when they’ve been pretty bare.

Do you have any great gardens you love to visit over and over again?

Friday Favorite: This Knife

June 12th, 2015

I used to used my kitchen knives to harvest in the garden, then I heard someone recommend this Victorinox Serrated Harvest Knife and I decided to buy one. It quickly became one of my favorite tools. The red handle makes it easy to spot if you drop it, even in thick plants. The $9.95 price makes it very inexpensive compared to my kitchen knife, when I bought mine, many years ago, it was only $4, but now it comes with a nice sheath.
This little knife is also super sharp, it will cut through the toughest rhubarb stalks and it harvests asparagus like a dream. I’ve had mine for years and it’s just as sharp as when I got it. Overall, I’m super happy with this knife and highly recommend it!

Do you have a special knife you use for harvesting?

Trial and Error

June 11th, 2015

If you’ve read here long, you know that I love to grow different varieties of each vegetable. One of the main reasons for that is to discover which varieties do best in my climate and with my soil. Each garden has a different microclimate and the soils can be slightly different, even from your neighbor’s garden. Sometimes, one variety of a vegetable won’t do as well as another. Take my 5×5 Challenge garden this year:
bolting Spinach 2
It was planted with two different varieties of spinach on April 13. As you can clearly see, one is going to seed while the other isn’t. The ‘Catalina’ spinach from Renee’s Garden on the right is still going strong, even though they were both seeded at the same time. “Catalina’ has been a favorite spinach of mine for many years, it’s been very successful in my Ohio garden and in my garden here in Maine as well. Because of this I grow it every year, but I also trial other varieties as well.
catalina spinach
The other variety I planted was ‘Bloomsdale’ an old variety, that actually does quite well in the garden. Spinach is a little like carrots in that it can be slightly picky about being planted too closely.
bolting Spinach 1
It used to be that we had regional varieties of vegetables that were particularly suited to microclimates and geographic areas. Much of those varieties have been lost throughout the years, with a more mobile society and fewer people growing their own food and saving their own seed. We can start developing this knowledge once again, by trying different varieties, talking to local gardeners, and saving seed from open pollinated varieties that do particularly well in our area.

Do you trial different varieties of the same vegetables to find the perfect one for your garden?

Lighting up the Night

June 10th, 2015

I’ve been thinking about getting a set of solar string lights to try out for quite a while. There are no outlets on the outside of this house and living rurally it can be quite dark sometimes. It would be nice to have a little light around the front door when get home after dark. I thought a set of these Starry Solar String Lights that charge with the sun during the day and come on automatically at night might just be the perfect option. I especially like that they’re warm white, because I can’t stand the piercing blue of most LED lights. These don’t pulse either, which I was worried about. Overall, they’re great for being LEDs, normally I can’t have them around because they bother my eyes.
solar fairy lights 1
They’re pretty bright, especially since it’s so dark up here on the hill. I’m going to give them a try for a few months, if they last I’ll be getting a few more sets for the garden.
solar fairy lights 2
I’d really love to use them here and there to add a little nighttime interest and highlight a few features in the garden, like the rounded trellis in the middle of the potager. I have old fashioned lights in our apple tree and it’s one of my favorite things in the garden at night. Everyone that visits at night also loves there. There’s just something about the warm glow of lights in the garden.

I’m also considering getting a set to put at the bottom of the driveway by the road, it would be the perfect way for people to find our driveway after dark.

Do you use light in the garden at night?

Countdown to Turkeys

June 9th, 2015

Our turkey hen has been sitting on turkey eggs for almost four weeks now. Of course she’s supposed to be hatching them out while I’m supposed to be gone.
turkey eggs
Mr Chiots has strict instructions to monitor closely and take pictures if necessary. Of course it could end up being nothing, turkeys are notorious for not being good at fertilizing eggs.

Are you eagerly anticipating anything at the moment?


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.