A Big Pot of Potatoes!

I tried to plant potatoes in a raised bed a few years ago with  no success at all. My memory of the failure is that we thought that raccoons might have dug them up.  We found the seed potatoes scattered around the garden. Since it’s been a few years it seems like time to try again. I’m hoping that if we plant them in a container and keep them outside the back door, we’ll have greater success. So in the middle of all the rain yesterday my youngest kids and I did some potato planting!

 I sliced the potatoes in half early in the day. The owner of our local Agway recommended this when I bought them. Everything that I read said that drying the potatoes out for a few hours would help prevent rot.

Before we started we gathered up our materials:

  • the cut potatoes
  •  a bag of organic potting soil
  • A great pot that my Mother-in-Law painted for me (I love this, it’s so cute!)
  • A trowel
  • A kid, ready to dig!

We filled the bottom of the pot with broken up clay pots and rocks to help with drainage. Ideally, I would have put a layer of screening on top of this but I couldn’t find any and I knew that my husband was busy at a conference this afternoon. So, we skipped that step. I think it will be okay.

The kids added soil to the pot.. of course they loved this!

When the pot was half full it was time to add the potatoes. We placed them in with the sprouts facing up.

We added another two inches of soil and moved them outside, then we watered them in with rainwater that had fallen throughout the day.

And now we’ll watch them grow! We planted them halfway up the pot with the idea that as the potatoes form we’ll keep mounding the soil over them so that more can grow. I’m looking forward to seeing how this goes. We’ll keep you posted!

I can just hear them growing in there! I think the cats can too!

What a Rainy Monday!

We are in the middle of a Nor’easter here this morning. For those who don’t live in New England, A Nor’easter is a storm that comes in off of the ocean from the northeast. Nor’easters often bring damage to homes, roads and of course, gardens. Salem is under a flood warning today as the tide is expected to be unusually high. Many of our roads here flood when this happens because water going out to the ocean through the storm drains backs up and has no place to go. There can also be damage to homes on the water when the ocean gets higher and closer than we’d like it to. Let’s hope and pray that everyone is okay and the beautiful homes on the coast and in town don’t sustain too much damage.

I’m a little bit of a  planner so here’s an overview of what  may happen this week at the The Salem Garden if all goes well. Of course we  know that in a household with this many people anything could happen but we’ll hope for the best!

Some of my  kids and I will be planting something together… look familiar? I’m excited about this project!

I hope to show you something else about Salem. It won’t be the Friendship because the ship is away for repairs.  She should be back very soon and we’ll be visiting then.

Things are growing in the garden! We’ll be sure to take a look.

I think we’ll be visiting our chickens too. Here’s one of our babies about eight weeks ago. Just like my human babies, they grow so quickly!

Sounds busy!  Let’s get going!  A little rain is nothing!

Some Clarification and Whats Growing this Week

Good Morning Everyone!!  It’s a perfect day in Salem!

I want to clarify my statement in yesterday’s post about peonies taking time and patience to grow. It’s not that peonies are a high need plant, once their settled and growing they will thrive without a lot of attention. I would love to have inherited some but I never have. I’ve only grown them from scratch in which case they can take a few years to get going… hence my comments about “time and patience”. I am very lucky these days because I can look over my fence and enjoy my neighbor’s very well established peony bed.

Here they are this morning, about to bloom!

When I asked for permission to take and post this photo  and explained what I was up to my friend  shared that she has divided these and experienced that lag time before the recently planted plants bloom again. I felt so much better hearing that. It’s not just me!!

Just to cover everything I feel obligated to emphasize that I have NO formal training in the fields of gardening or horticulture. Everything I say here is based on my personal experience, the reading I do and my general love (maybe “passion” is a better word) for gardens and gardening.  Michael, the kids and I just enjoy growing things together!  As you read remember that I’m learning right along with you!

Here’s a quick view of some things that we’re growing this week… taken yesterday (by me this time) on my daughter’s I-Pod. I want my camera back, but who would have ever thought that an I-Pod could take this many photos.. not the best quality, but I’m forging on anyway!

Here’s the view as I walked out the back door to take the photo at the top.. things are very green today.

off to my left, the Yellow and Siberian Iris are blooming, along with Soloman’s Seal.. this area needs to be weeded and the plants divided.

Down in the garden the foxglove are happy and that little eggplant in the foreground is settling in. I plant the eggplant because I think it looks cool in the garden.. I usually end up giving most of it away because we don’t love to eat it.

The zucchini looks happy too. i wonder if it will take over that  space between it and the lettuce? The lettuce will be bolting as it gets hot out, we could train something to grow in that direction..

A few cucumber and pepper plants are coming along.. I didn’t plant much cucumber because I had so much wilt last year… cucs either thrive or are frustrating. Last year was frustrating so I’m stepping back and buying them at the farmer’s market this year.

Here comes a row of bush beans. Their staggered but I may need to thin them out as they grow.

And I’m off to Agway to buy chicken food and mulch.. We’ll see what else I find to fill in a few gaps!

Thanks for visiting and enjoy your day!



There are lots of beautiful things blooming here in Salem this week and one of my very favorites is the peonies. Do I have any in my garden? No, I don’t. Why? Because they take time, space and patience.  I want to grow them. Every year I spend a good amount of time thinking about where I could plant some. I never seem to get it together and get them into the ground.  One of the great things about blogging is that I feel  accountable for what I say I’m going to do. So, here goes—  “I’m going to plant some peonies this year!!” If anyone has some that they’d like to share I’ll be by in no time to pick them up, now or in the fall… just let me know! Here are some of my inspiration peonies. My  dear friend Blaire has grown these in her Salem garden for years. Long before I knew her I used to lean over her fence every June to admire them. 

This is her first shot of this years’ blossoms… Wow! Perfection!!

Here’s a full view.. just beautiful!!

And one stem artfully arranged after a little damage from a hard rain… Leave it to Blaire to create something this pretty!

I would say that the patience and space needed is definitely worthwhile! Time to get to work! And many thanks to Blaire for allowing me to share these beautiful photos!

Enjoy Everything!


Salem 101: Where are We? On the Ocean!

I’m always surprised when friends and family really don’t know where Salem, Massachusetts is located. They often think that it’s in the western part of the state or in Boston or New Hampshire (there is a Salem in New Hampshire about an hour away).. We are actually about fifteen miles north of Boston, right on the coast. It’s a very convenient location. We can be in the city (we call Boston the city here) in about forty minutes, less in good traffic. The mountains of New Hampshire are two hours north, and Cape Cod is the same distance to the south. And we have the ocean and all that it offers. 



We love to  sit and watch the boats

Or relax on the rocks at Waikiki Beach, one of our favorite things to do! Here’s my little guy a few years ago

and more recently, he’s gets bigger and more adventurous all the time!

There are tide pools to explore!

We even have a polar bear plunge on New Years Day! (that’s snow on the beach in the background)

Salem is all about the ocean and the views here are beautiful, all year round!

There are several cities and towns called “Salem” in the United States, but this one is truly unique!

Enjoy your day!  Thanks for stopping by!  Michele

A Little Glitch

A few days ago one of my cousins asked me to share some gardening failures. There are plenty and I started thinking about where to start with that post. Then Michael came in from the garden a few hours later and asked “what’s that growing in the basil and tomato plants?”   I went out there to look and found this beautiful sight:

Seriously? what is that popping up all over the bed?  I think it’s probably some grass from bunny food that had made it’s way into  the rabbit compost that I added before I planted these last weekend. I had to laugh because before I could even take a photo Michael had started digging it all out.  I’m going to add some straw mulch today after another round of weeding. That may help to keep the weeds down, moisture in and wilt away from the tomato plants. 

It happens, it’s okay, hang in there! It can be a long road but it’s so worth it in a month or so when we’re enjoying fresh tomatoes and pesto. There’s nothing else like that!  Have a wonderful day! Enjoy everything! 


I was talking with a friend at church yesterday about our Memorial Day plans. She asked what we were doing and I shared that we’ll be visiting the cemetery.  She looked a little bit confused for a second so I went on to explain that I like to use it as a teachable moment with my kids. We don’t have family buried here in Salem and I’ll admit that we don’t take the time to visit graves when we’re in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  We really should do that more.  On Memorial Day however we take a trip to a cemetery here in Salem and just relax for a few hours. Sometimes we catch guppies in the ponds, or take a walk. My younger kids ask lots of questions about death and dying which is always an important conversation. I usually bring some carnations and the kids and I place them on Veteran’s graves that look untended and lonely. I like for them to think about the sacrifices that have been made for them.  It’s often said that “freedom isn’t free” and we need to remember that. I also use this time to tell them about their grandfathers. My Dad spent twenty years in the Army and retired as a Master Sargent. He was never far from that experience and shared much of it with us. My father-in-law didn’t serve in the military but he was a true patriot and taught us all as well. I love remembering Memorial Days long ago when my family camped together or Michael and I watched the  parade in Wharton, New Jersey with my in-laws. I wonder what my kids will remember and what they’ll share with their children.  I hope that you have a few moments to connect with the people you love today and to take some time to honor and remember those who have given so much for us.

I’m Still Blogging!! A Wrap Up from the Week

So this ends my first week as a blogger, I have to say that it’s a  really a fun project. I love having someplace for my energy and creative thoughts to live.  I’m surprised by the amount of technical knowledge that’s required.  Like  other things that I’ve taught myself,  cooking, gardening, basic computer skills, and of course parenting… I try to learn one new thing each day. It’s all about taking baby steps and staying the course a little bit at a time.  Somehow I’ve been blessed with the ability to learn well that way, in small pieces… very, very slowly.  Thank you for your patience as you follow my long learning curve!

I  want to be sure to give credit where it’s due so a few quick housekeeping points are in order. The photo that I posted yesterday of the field of greens is NOT of my garden but of a garden at Overlook Farm in central Massachusetts. It was taken by Michael last summer on a church retreat with the youth group. The morning glories were mine a year or so ago. I took the photo on Boston Common  last year.  The last photo of the nasturtium basket is mine, taken at Santa’s Village in New Hampshire. All other photos are mine or Sophie’s and are from our garden here in Salem.

I’m hoping to get out and about in the next few weeks. I’d like to capture the spirit of  this unique place. Salem is an amazing place to work, live and raise a family. It’s not all about Halloween and witches. There’s an amazing sea-faring history and it’s right on the ocean. There are cultural events and interesting things happening every day!  I’m also planning to do some garden tours in the area. There are so many, some in the city, some on the ocean and some in backyards like mine.  As we all become used to this routine I may include more posts and photos of my family. I need to do some reading and searching  about that. My children’s privacy is very important to me and I’d never want to compromise it or for one of them to be uncomfortable. There may be some posts about our chickens and other  pets on the way soon too and maybe a few recipes. I really, really  need to get my camera back from the repair shop!

I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who’s read something here and encouraged me. I have the most wonderful friends and family! I’ve been most surprised by the reaction of my immediate family. Sophie took photos for me. Joseph loves to read my posts and is sure that I’ll be the next Pioneer Woman so that he’ll be rich and famous.  Alli Rose sat in my lap and loved me as I wrote and tinkered. Holly smiled quietly and cheered.  Will has spared a few minutes from his busy teenage schedule to check in and read things, and my wonderful husband Michael has enjoyed throwing ideas for posts my way (some are usable and some are not!).

Thank you again for taking the time to stop in!

Lots of love,  

Michele at  The Salem Garden

Plant Something!

It’s Memorial Day weekend, time to get out there!!

Will you be planting a field of vegetables

or some morning-glory seeds? They’ll climb right up any fence, post or pole!


Maybe you’ll create a beautiful island like this one that we visited last summer in the Boston Public Garden

or  hang a basket that you pick up at a garden center, easy and beautiful!

It can be anything that works for you, as long as you enjoy it!  What will you be planting this weekend?