Eye On Education: Students Grow Fresh & Healthy Food For Cafeteria « CBS Boston

Check out this great news story about the gardening program here at our very own Salem High School! My kids have benefited time and again from Mr Marcoux’s classes and the many educational opportunities that he provides, and our district is truly supportive of garden based learning at every grade level. I’m feeling very fortunate to be part of our wonderful, creative community.

Michele

Source: Eye On Education: Students Grow Fresh & Healthy Food For Cafeteria « CBS Boston

What’s Happening in the Garden- June 2, 2016

Good morning! Happy June! We’ve made it past Memorial Day weekend and here I am AGAIN apologizing for my inability of publish anything at all here on The Salem Garden. I think about and write posts in my head all. the. time. and yet I just can’t get the hour or two needed to sit down and publish something constructive.

I think it has a lot to do with the five kids, husband, multiple animals, garden in spring and the still newish part-time job. About the job, it’s really quite good.  The work is physically hard and very good for me mentally. I love the plants, the task of finding spaces and figuring out where to put things and getting paid to work out for four or five hours, four days a week. Lord knows I wouldn’t do it any other way. My co-workers are great and I  enjoy the customers. It’s fun to listen to shoppers interact with each other and ask questions. I believe that if I blogged about the questions I’d probably have an award winning garden blog here.

I just need more time!

Here at home lots has been happening in our garden. We’ve had nice weather. It’s been warm enough, yet kind of cool. Things were getting pretty dry, but we’ve had several good rains in the last few weeks.

IMG_1492I’m very happy to report that I got the deck decorated nice and early this year so it’s already heaven on earth. I love to sit here when I have a few minutes.

IMG_1493My little fish Pepper loves the deck too because that’s where his summer house is (he spends the winters on my kitchen counter).  I put this barrel together with plants from a great nursery that specializes in ponds. If you’re a local water gardener, be sure to visit Country Gardens in Ipswich. They have everything you could ever need and it’s a fun place to look around.

IMG_1503The herb garden is filling in nicely. It looks like the foxglove that I planted last year is going to flower!

IMG_1506Iris are in bloom! I love iris.

IMG_1516Down in the kitchen garden we’re in the fence business this year because we’re sharing our space with a family of bunnies. Bunnies munch a lot.

IMG_1509In fact they munched the beejeebees out of the peas that I planted in March. Here are two of the five or six that survived. I’ve noticed that in the few days since the gates went up they’ve started to grow again. I’m not sure that we’ll have enough peas to serve a bowl on the Fourth of July, but there may some for a salad or two.

IMG_1507I planted all of my tomato plants (about 40 altogether) even though they were neglected and got kind of leggy. This is what happens when you don’t move your seedlings to a larger pot. I knew that, but repotting them just didn’t  happen. I’m going to stake these asap and hope for the best.

IMG_1510I had to share a picture of this horseradish because I think it’s going to take over the world. If you want horseradish, just let me know and I’ll dig some up for you in the fall.

IMG_1511The lettuce is finally edible, thanks to the bunny gates.

IMG_1513The swiss chard (on the right) wintered over and is picking up again. I need to learn to incorporate it into summer recipes better. The spinach (on the left) is starting to grow, but I’m worried that it’s going to bolt as soon as it gets hot.

IMG_1512Our garlic looks quite happy. It may be a big year for garlic around here.

IMG_1514Not so much for the asparagus… I should plant some new sets of roots. I’ve been wondering if we’ve over harvested it for the past couple of years because some of our plants didn’t come back this year. Any thoughts on why we’d loose asparagus plants?

IMG_1517These are kaleidoscope mix and chocolate beauty peppers. They’re on the outside of the wooden fence so I’m hoping that this metal fence is enough to keep the creatures away.

IMG_1518The onions need to be planted, like… now…

IMG_1520I grew coleus from seed this year and I’m pretty pleased with the results. I’d like to increase the number of flower/annual seedlings that I grow myself. It’s very easy and saves lots of money. Sometimes I winter coleus over in pots inside too.

IMG_1522Speaking of seeds, I still have a lot to go in.  Carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, multiple flowers… I need to get out there and get these in the ground!

IMG_1523And finally, these ladies arrived on Mother’s Day.

We have two new White Leghorns, two Buck-eyes (the first chicken breed developed by a woman), two Easter Eggers and a Black Giant…

IMG_1498The Black Giant thinks she’s all that… lol..

What’s happening in your garden? I hope that you’ve been out there planting something.

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

What’s Happening In the Garden–May 1, 2016

Happy May Day!

IMG_1404Our male mallards are on the pond while their sweeties sit on their nests.

IMG_1380Flowers are blooming, hosta has made it’s way out of the ground and it looks like I have a new maple tree growing in my tulip patch.

… all good signs of spring!

IMG_1388Michael cleaned out our perennial beds and they are bursting with new life. I have to give him all of the credit for this task because he just does it.

I’m always watching and waiting for my slithery friends at this time of the year so I tend to procrastinate and step lightly. He dives right in and finishes before I get my shoes on!

IMG_1389The rhubarb is making a nice snake shelter. As long as they stay under there we’ll be just fine.

IMG_1391We have a little row of spinach coming along..

Yes, there are rocks but that’s okay.

I keep pulling them out, one rock at a time…. for the rest of my life.

IMG_1395These peas took a few weeks to germinate and I was a little worried, but now they’re going to climb!

IMG_1393The first crop of lettuce is almost ready to eat. It’s time to plant some more.

IMG_1390And what do we have here?

NOTHING, my friends… the kale must have been plucked away by the birds because it’s gone, and the onions haven’t sprouted yet. Sometimes onions take awhile or don’t grow at all.

Most bloggers wouldn’t show you this picture, but I want you to see that it happens to everyone and it’s okay!

Half of the fun of gardening is the surprise of it all!

IMG_1398I have to admit that the asparagus kind of makes up for it. This will be dinner tonight.

IMG_1399I’ve been researching our options for replacing this wood and we’re still undecided about what to use.  The denser woods like cedar and juniper are very expensive and the softer woods like pine won’t last too long. We don’t want to use pressure treated because the chemicals from the treatment process leach into the soil. I’m reading about composite wood and alternative methods of pressure treating too. I’ll keep you posted, in fact, this topic could be a post!

IMG_1382Heading inside; the tomato seedlings are cranking away! I’ve been moving these lights up an inch every few days. You’ll notice that I keep the lights just above the plants to keep them from from getting tall and thin. A compact plant will be strong and hearty when it’s planted in the garden.

IMG_1384I’m excited about planting these hollyhocks outside. Some of them will be right outside of the chicken coop door, and some will be near the archway.

IMG_1383The peppers are ready to spend some time outside hardening off.

IMG_1385This coleus is for the deck. I’m  wondering if it’s going to grow quickly enough to be ready by the end of the month. I’ll save lots of money if I have the patience to let it grow without buying any.

IMG_1387This parsley is just for the fun of it. I’ll sow some parsley seeds right in the garden too, but it’s nice to have a little jump on it. We love our parsley.

I’m going to start cucumbers, basils and squash this week. I like to wait on those because they get too leggy if I plant them earlier.  As I move some of the earlier seedlings out from under the lights I’ll make space for new things to come.

Seedlings are so much fun!!

If you haven’t started any yet, think about planting some cucumbers or zucchini. You might even be able to sneak a few pots of tomato seeds in. It’s okay if things are a week or two behind the “recommended” time frames for planting.

As I close I’d like to thank so many of you for reading my “I Was Stuck” post last week and for your many words of love and encouragement. I’m always amazed that people read my  “all about me” posts more than the garden related ones. I need to think about ways to balance that, or put more of myself in the garden posts.

If you have any thoughts or comments, please comment in the comment section just below. I love the facebook conversations, but this community would GROW if the facebook comments were posted here, so don’t be afraid, just do it!

Happy Sunday, Happy May Day, Happy SPRING!

Enjoy Everything!

Love, Michele

 

 

I was Stuck, and Now I’m Not…

And I don’t mean by a rosebush!

This post is all about me. I’m apologizing right now, because I should probably be talking about other things but I’m kind of transparent by nature so I can’t move on and get back to work here until I share this with you.

Last August I left my job as Bass River, Inc’s adaptive gardening specialist because I had a supervisor who just didn’t get gardening or my agreement with the agency about what my tasks were and how I would use my time based on the agreement.

And, he didn’t get me. At all.

So, very very sadly and abruptly, I had to go.

Then a few weeks later my mom died.

In September I found myself grieving… so much…

It was mostly for my mom, who at 82 had lived a very good life, but her illness and death happened quickly and unexpectedly.  Loosing one’s mother at any age is one of the hardest things that we go through in this life.

But I was also grieving the loss of my job. I had loved it so much. I loved the men and women whom I served. I loved the ways that they responded to gardening and gardens and the work that we were able to do together. I loved that every day there was a moment when someone enjoyed a flower that they remembered from their past, or had a blast planting some seeds when they didn’t think they would. I loved all of it.

I couldn’t go back. The bridge was burnt and I was feeling too fragile to look much further. A few job prospects came and went, but nothing really stuck.

I spent the fall and winter taking care of my family and trying to get my head on straight.

I kept folding laundry and cooking and organizing things and Komari cleaning out the closets and the kitchen. I planned this year’s garden and started seeds.

Then one day a few weeks ago it was time to buy flowers for the front porch.

As I walked into the garden center I saw a friend working there who I had made when I took the individuals from Bass River shopping for plants. She immediately asked where they were and I told her my story.  As I stood at the register paying for my purchase she was calling a regional manager to let him know that I was right there, and might be interested in working for his perennial supply company.

So, here I am with a new job. I’m working part time as a rep for a company that supplies perennials and tropical plants to a large chain store.

For the first few days I wasn’t at all sure that I’d last, but I think I might. The work is so physically hard. The more I push myself to do it, the more sure I am that it’s just what I need. I can feel some of the grief lifting. I can breathe and think more clearly. New thoughts are beginning to occupy the places where the what if’s and if only’s took over for so long.

I’m working with plants, thinking about plants and learning about plants, just what I like to do.

When things settle in and I can post more regularly I’m going to have a long list of new topics to blog about. The customer’s questions that I overhear and that are asked of me occasionally will make some great blog posts. Things like “what is the difference between a pansy and a petunia?” and  “can you recommend a small bush that I don’t have to take care of and will grow in the shade, with rocks around it so I don’t have to cut any grass?”

It’s going to be interesting, that’s for sure!

Thanks for indulging me and letting me share with you.

It’s time to plant and learn and feel good again. I truly believe that those three things go hand in hand.

Love, Michele

 

 

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day-April 2016

Hey everyone! Happy Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day!

I’m a little behind schedule today so I’m just doing a quick post to stay in the groove.

I looked back at last year’s April GBBD post and saw crocus and snowdrops.

I’m happy to report that this April 15th we’re way past crocus and snowdrops!

IMG_1337We have pulmonaria or “Bride and Groom” as my mom called it..

IMG_1338and forsythia.

IMG_1340Our forsythia are planted in a space out back, between a pine tree and the neighbor’s fence. I should put some out in the sun where I can enjoy it and it will grow better.

IMG_1347Grape hyacinth…  remind me to plant some small daffodils in this area in the fall. Wouldn’t they be pretty?

IMG_1349Greek Anemone

IMG_1346and a new pink Anemone. I hope these take off.

IMG_1350Buds on the Juneberry (Serviceberry) tree

This tree has been on the brink of bloom for the last ten days! Let’s go Juneberry tree…

IMG_1351I have a pot of daffodils, tulips and a few hyacinths on the front porch.  These bulbs have been through two snowstorms and several very cold nights.. they literally frosted over and bounced back twice.

If you have a chance, check out my instagram account  for pics of the freezing and defrosting process .  While you’re there, follow me and I’ll follow you back! I’m starting to really have fun with instagram. I’ve been posting some seed starting photos and connecting with lots of gardeners and great websites.

IMG_1355Just below the bulbs are a few cute little pots of pansies. These guys are also a bit weather worn, but they’re hanging in there!

Be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens to see the other GBBD posts. I had fun looking at them this morning.  April is a month when all subtle changes in temperature create a wide array of bloom stages as you travel around to different time zones and climates!

Be well, be happy,

and remember on this third anniversary of the Boston Bombing that Boston is strong!

Love, Michele

 

Early Spring Veggies That You Can Plant from Seed Today!

There’s lots of potential for the garden season to start much earlier than Memorial Day!

Everyone is used to planting vegetables in late May, but you can direct sow many seeds right now if you’d like to!

You only have a dollar or two to loose, and so much to gain! All it takes is a packet of seeds, some well nourished soil (add organic compost), sunlight and water.

It isn’t too early for lettuce, and with the warm weather forecast for New England over the next few weeks, I believe that we’re going to see a nice early lettuce harvest this year.IMG_8936

 

Peas are another early favorite.  They can be sown directly in an area where a fence or trellis is ready to support them as they grow.

IMG_5760Here’s the peas a few years ago just starting their climb.

Radishes will germinate now, and they grow so quickly. You could be eating home grown radishes in just three weeks if you plunk a short row of seeds into some well nourished soil!
IMG_2694As I looked at this photo from a few years ago I noticed the rocks… I’m always removing rocks.. but small rocks are okay, as long as you add lots of compost. It’s really all about the compost.

 

Kale and Swiss Chard are also very hardy. When we say that a plant is “hardy”, we usually mean that it will withstand cold well.

IMG_9478

This is swiss chard from last summer. Some of it actually wintered over a little bit (photos of that are  here ). I added more seed over the weekend to fluff it up and fill in the spaces between plants.

Spinach is another good early spring choice. It loves cool weather and will bolt as soon as it gets hot, so plant it now!

Here’s a quick list of spring vegetables that you can plant outside from seed right now:

-Lettuce

-Peas

-Radishes

-Kale

-Swiss Chard

-Spinach

-Scallions

Most of these will be ready by Memorial Day, or the 4th of July!

Our weather changes so quickly at this time of year, but don’t be afraid, give it a go!

Have you planted anything yet?

Leave me your questions, concerns, successes, anything that’s on your mind…

Happy Planting! Happy Spring!

Love, Michele

 

 

 

Help Needed! A Raccoon Control Question

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My dear Uncle Ossie needs our help!

Uncle Ossie gardens in Pennsylvania, and when I say gardens, I mean that he gardens!

I grew up watching him and my late Aunt Josie grow and preserve their harvest. I wish I’d gardened years ago the way I do now. It would have been fun to share the love with Aunt Josie.

Uncle Ossie seems to ebb and flow with things that happen in the garden. Sometimes the weather doesn’t cooperate or a neighbor’s tree might block the sun a little bit, but this problem has him stumped.

The raccoons are eating his corn!

I mean decimating it… every year for the past few years.

He’s trapped them, sprayed concoctions on the corn (last year it was made with ghost peppers), and tried other humane ways to move them along, but they keep coming back!

Any ideas out there?

I told him I’d ask you.  I know that there are some amazing gardeners who stop in every now and then. One of you must have the raccoon elimination from the corn patch secret!

People still eat corn, don’t they?

Feel free to share my post widely with anyone who might be able to help.

Love and thanks,

Michele and Uncle Ossie

7433899056

 

What’s Happening in the Garden-3/26/16

Good morning and Happy Easter to those who celebrate! Yesterday’s rain held me back from taking photos for my garden update, so I’m sliding it in before I begin my Easter baking and cleaning. I have help, but no one around here does it quite the way I do ;).

I walked out the back door this morning and turned the corner to enjoy my little herb garden. Two years ago this area was planted with big juniper bushes and I haven’t had one second of remorse about removing them. I love this garden because I can enjoy it from my dining room window and I can flip laundry and scoot outside to pick herbs for whatever’s cooking.

Everyone should have an herb garden outside of their back door!

IMG_1146

 

Looking in a little closer the parsley wintered over. I’ll need to plant more, but it’s nice to see some green.IMG_1143That’s chocolate mint snaking it’s way in. I’ll need to keep up with the mint or it will completely overtake everything.

 

IMG_1144The chives are coming back as well. I’m pretty sure that these are just common chives but now that I’m looking at them I’m wondering if their garlic chives. It’s tough to get old. I wish I could remember things like this.

IMG_1145I grew this foxglove from seed last year so I’m hoping to see a nice big bloom this year.
IMG_1147Down in the garden, we have lettuce coming up! I planted it a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been covering it with the plexiglass on the really cold days. This may be the earliest lettuce crop we’ve ever had.

IMG_1152The garlic is very green and vibrant. I didn’t mulch with those pine chips, my dear husband did because I kept meaning to get some straw to mulch with and it didn’t quite happen. I think it’s okay, but I’m going to remove it asap because I’m not sure that the acid from the pine is good for garlic. Winnie is wondering about that too…

IMG_1153… and the girls are keeping an eye on him from a nice safe place.

IMG_1155We have our first little hint of rhubarb. My brother-in-law sent us a photo of their rhubarb a few days ago. It’s much further along in New Jersey.

 

IMG_1159The delphiniums that I planted last summer came back! I wasn’t sure that that would happen, but they must like this spot in front of the fence. I’ve read that they prefer shelter from the afternoon sun.

IMG_1161Today was my first peek of primrose from Mom’s yard. I love these plants.

IMG_1186And inside, the peppers were planted yesterday. They’re on a heat mat and covered with saran wrap until they germinate to create a little greenhouse. Fingers crossed for good seedlings!

IMG_1187And here are the onions. As you can see I had a good germination rate with the candy and Spanish onions, but not so with the Southport Red Globe. If five seeds hadn’t germinated I would be thinking that maybe they just take longer, but this looks like a lost effort. It’s getting late, so I’ll probably buy sets of red onions for this year.

It happens…

IMG_1170

I spent a few hours organizing all of my supplies this week. I’ve been into the Konmari method of letting go of things that don’t bring me joy. I’m enjoying my newly decluttered gardening area!

It’s going to be a great gardening year!

What have you started? What’s growing in your garden? Are you decluttering too?

So many questions!

Enjoy everything and Easter blessings to all!

Michele

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day- March 2016

Happy Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day! I don’t think I’ve published a GBBD post in March in a very long time. Last March looked like the photo just below and I was blogging about our Salem snow farm.

IMG_8217

This has been a very different kind of winter!

With the exception of two days of minus ten degrees, our temperatures have been unusually high. No one is complaining, expect for the skiers. It hasn’t been their best winter, but here in the city I think I can safely say that we’re all quite happy that we didn’t get last winter’s four plus feet of snow.

We have blooms in the garden this March that we didn’t see until well into April last year.

Image 3-15-16 at 8.50 AM (3)The scilla is about to open up.

Image 3-15-16 at 8.50 AM (1)And my first anemone bud is also almost ready to pop!

Image 3-15-16 at 8.50 AM (2)The crocuses are surviving the basketballs somehow.

IMG_1109And the snowdrops have been beautiful for a few weeks.

Image 3-15-16 at 8.50 AMInside, the Christmas Cactus is in it’s second bloom. My very large Christmas Cactus was my mom’s and it’s been a joy all winter.

What’s bringing you joy today? I hope it’s a spring bloom or some seedlings that are sprouting.

More on the seedlings soon!

Be sure to check out all of the garden blogger’s blooms at May Dreams Gardens!

Love you all,

Michele