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Preparing for Dark Days

October 26th, 2010

I’m a light person, I love to have lots of sunlight coming through the windows. I would love to have more and bigger windows throughout my house, but I have to make do with what I have. I enjoy the seasons and I enjoy the relaxed pace of winter here in NE Ohio, but I don’t like the darkness of it. The days are short and often gray and I do anything I can to get more of that light into the house during the winter months.

Cleaning the windows is an important part of keeping the windows bright, it always seems like so much more light comes through clean windows. I usually take advantage of the last warm days in October to give windows a good scrubbing. The insides of the windows get cleaned almost once a month (a must with 3 cats and a dog living inside). The outsides only get cleaned 2-3 times per year, once in spring and fall for sure, and occasionally a mid-winter cleaning if we have a nice warm day.

We had such nice weather this past weekend I took advantage and spent some time washing the windows. When I finished, they were so clean and sparkling, I just had to take a few photos, I knew they’d have kitty and dog nose prints on them before the day was over.

I often take down the blinds during the winter and sometimes I even remove the curtains, although they’re light and white so they don’t block much sunlight. I also make sure I remove the screens from the windows as they block a lot of light from coming in. After this weekend my windows are undressed for winter and I’m much happier!

Do you clean your windows for winter? or remove the screens? or do you live in an area with the opposite problem – too much sunlight?

The Flavors of Fall

October 15th, 2010

One of the things Mr Chiots and I love about where we live is that we have a wonderful little local cider mill. They sell unpasteurized cider that they press in a little mill behind their home. They have the best cider in the area (and we’ve tried them all). They put up a few signs on the road and you buy it with the honor system, one of the beautiful things about life in rural Ohio!

The best part of this cider is that it’s unpasteurized so it gets “zingy” as I say. It starts to ferment from the natural yeast after about a week. I prefer it when it’s slightly fermented because it’s less sweet. I don’t particularly like it cold, but I love it mulled. During cider season we enjoy mulled cider almost every evening while we read or watch TV.

We don’t just drink this cider, we buy extra for many other things. I usually make a few batches of mulled cider jelly for gifts. We also boil a gallon or two down into cider syrup, which is fantastic on french toast, pancakes or drizzled over ice cream. I also buy 5-10 gallons for making apple cider vinegar which I use for canning and cooking throughout the year. This cider makes great cider vinegar all by itself since it’s unpasteurized. I’ll post specifics on this when I make by 2010 batch in the next month or two.

Are you a cider lover? Do you have a special place to buy it? Have you ever had unpasteurized cider?

Fall is Coming

September 29th, 2010

Yesterday I came home and noticed that the leaves were collecting by the back door and it hit me that fall was here. I love fall so I’m quite excited about the changing of the leaves, raking, pumpkins, cider, camp fires, cool weather and all the other wonderful things that come along with the changing of summer to fall.

If I had to pick my favorite thing about fall, I think I’d have to pick the weather. There’s something wonderful about the crispness in the air after a long hot humid summer. It’s quite refreshing and really helps me get all my fall gardening chores finished.

Do you have fall in your climate? What’s your favorite thing about fall?

The Late Summer Garden

September 6th, 2010

It’s can be difficult to find plants that bloom and look nice this time of year. After a long hot humid NE Ohio summer, most plants are looking a little crispy and quite sad. Our lack rain, along with the dry lean soil makes plants look peaked in late August early September. There are a few things that still look stunning and a few things that are starting to come into their season to shine.

The woodland sunflower ‘Helianthus divaricatus’ is blooming along the woodland edge by my garage. It’s quite a lovely wild flower, it really brightens up this shady part of the garden. I must save seeds for this and try to propagate it along the edges of the woods along the entire property.

I’m completely in love with my fuzzy oregano, which is also referred to as the hops flowering oregano, can you see why? The blooms are quite stunning compared to my regular Greek oregano.

The ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea is in it’s top form at the moment. I love it when the blossoms turn this beautiful shade of green, one of my favorite flower colors.

The cosmos are blooming as well, they are volunteers that grew from some cosmos that went to seed last year at the end of the season. They will continue to look good until they’re killed by a heavy frost.

I’m absolutely loving the combo of my fall blooming sedum with the asparagus fern in the front foundation garden. It’s quite a beautiful combo of textures. The sedum will continue to change color and will look beautiful throughout the fall months. I must add more of this to my gardens.

Flowering kale is a wonderful addition to any garden, it will look good long after everything else has died back.

What are you loving in your garden right now?

Planning Ahead for Fall

August 26th, 2010

About a month ago I started a new round of cucumber seeds hoping for a great fall harvest to fill the pantry with all varieties of pickles. Cucumber plants don’t like the heat of summer, they prefer temperatures in the 70’s, yet they can’t take a frost. Since we have hot hot summers here in Ohio, cucumbers seem to languish once the temperatures hit the mid 80’s, which is usually right after they start producing. Since this summer has been a particularly hot one, my cucumbers quit producing about a month ago, although I did get almost 2 gallons of pickles from my five plants. This year, I decided to try to grow a fall crop of cucumbers, I’m hoping that they get through their productive season and I’ll have tons of cucumbers to pickle in late September, let’s hope we don’t get and early frost.

I started a whole flat of cucumbers back in July, hoping to get a large number of cucumbers at once so I can make a few large batches of fermented pickles. The seed packet says they take about 57 days to produce, which should be just about right. I transplanted them 2 weeks ago. I planted about 15 plants at my mom’s house and about 20 plants here in my raised beds in the back garden.

I’m once again growing ‘Boston Pickling’ Cucumbers since I really like them. I’ve actually never grown another variety, this is the first I’ve tried and I’m very happy with the pickles that I make from them. This year I’m trying to save a few seeds for them since the place I order most of my seeds from no longer carries them. Not to mention I’ll be saving myself a few dollars, I’ll make sure I post all about it and offer some free seeds.

I’ve read that a lot of gardeners grow second crops of beans and of zucchini to extends the harvests. I tried beans last year, but an early fall frost did them in right when they were starting to produce. It’s always hard to time second crops in a short growing season and with the drastic weather changes we can have here in NE Ohio, but seeds are cheap so I’ll keep trying!

Do you have any crops you grow a second round of for fall harvests?


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.