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My Thoughts on ‘Mara des Bois’ Strawberries

August 31st, 2017

If you remember, this spring I decided to try ‘Mara des Bois’ strawberries as my overbearing variety. I’ve tried a few other everbearing or day neutral berries, but have never been super enthusiastic about the flavor. I kept hearing about this variety and how delicious it was, so I ordered 25 plants from Nourse Farms. They were carefully planted this spring, watered regularly, and started producing about 10-12 weeks later.

They’ve been producing ever since. If I remember to give them a watering with liquid kelp every 2 weeks they product big, beautiful berries. If I forget the berries are much smaller. It makes sense that they need extra feed to produce fruit continuously. Out of my 25 plants, 24 survived and they’re producing all kinds of runners now (which I should cut off to keep them producing berries). As far as the flavor is concerned, they are OK. To me, they don’t taste quite like the strawberries I like, they taste similar to the small yellow berries I grow. I think they have a slight taste of pineapple. Currently, we are debating whether dedicating garden space to them is worth it or if we’d rather dedicate that space to a different fruit (like raspberries).

Have you ever grow day neutral strawberries? Do you have a favorite variety?

Whoa, Tomato….

August 30th, 2017

Last week I picked this crazy tomato, it looks like four or five tomatoes all grew into to. Then it had one tomato growing out of it on a stem, super strange, but oh so neat.

It weighed a whopping 3 pounds. This variety is a ‘Gold Medal’ and is one of my favorite beefsteak varieties. I have found that these tomatoes ripen 10-15 days ahead of the other beefsteaks (Cherokee Purple and Brandywine) in the garden. When you have a short tomato season like we do here in Maine, that’s a lot of tomato eating time! ‘Gold Medal’ also has a wonderful flavor, in fact, whenever I take them somewhere I always get comments on how good they are. If you live in a northern climate and want more delicious beefsteak tomatoes during the short season give this variety a try. I’ll be adding this variety to my seed collection next spring.

What’s your favorite kind of beefsteak tomato?

Flush with Sweet Peas

August 28th, 2017

I have never grown sweet peas in the past, they’re just not something that has been on my list. This year, a friend and I ordered seeds together and she wanted to grow sweet peas. We split a large pack of seeds and I seeded a 40 foot long row of sweet peas along the back of the main vegetable garden. They started blooming a month or so ago and have been blooming profusely ever since. These are ‘Mammoth Choice’ sweat pea mix from Johnny’s Seeds.

I have so many that I’ve been picking bouquets and sending them to work with Mr Chiots and giving them away to friends. Will I grow them again, I’m not sure. I have yet to see any pollinators hovering around the blooms and that’s one of the reasons I grow flowers. They are nice for cutting and gifting, so maybe I’ll let a few set seed so I can save a few for next year.

What are you favorite cut flowers to grow?

Friday Favorite: Scarlet Runner Beans

August 25th, 2017

Today it really isn’t one of my favorite things but one of my mom’s favorite things. She always grew scarlet runner beans in her garden just for the hummingbirds. When I was back in Ohio for her memorial service, my dad gave my sister and I each a packet of seeds so we could grow them in our gardens.

They are scrambling up their trellis and blooming away. Hopefully all the local hummingbirds are enjoying them just as much as my mom’s always did.

Do you grow any plants in your garden because they were favorites of loved ones in your life?


August 23rd, 2017

I’ve never been great at deadheading, it just slips my mind. Annuals aren’t very common in my garden, I find myself mostly focusing on perennials, hardy annuals, and things that reseed easily but don’t become invasive. There are still deadheading chores with this kind of gardening, but it’s generally shearing off the entire plant rather than cutting off spent blossoms. This year I have more annual cutting flowers that I have ever had and I find that the deadheading part is something I haven’t quite figured out how to work into my schedule. The good thing is that when I don’t get around to deadheading I can save seed for some of my favorite varieties.

Deadheading is a great way to build the compost piles. Since I’m currently using them to build up one side of my main edible garden, I’m always looking for sources to make them grow larger and produce more compost. Earlier this week, I deadheaded my cosmos, dahlias, and a few others plants and ended up with a very large tubtrug filled with flowers. It also makes for a pretty compost pile, at least for a day or so.

The other evening, while I was in the garden cutting spent blossoms off the cosmos, I was thinking it might be a good idea to set a schedule. Maybe Sunday evenings are a good time to spend deadheading and cutting things back. This is how I work my fertilization into my system without having to keep track. Generally, I give the plants that need it a liquid kelp feed on the first and the fifteenth of each month. That way I know when it happens and don’t have to try to remember or keep track.

How do you manage your time gardening to keep up with the weekly chores? 


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.