What’s Happening in the Garden– November 24, 2015

I looked back quickly earlier this morning and realized that I missed posting a What’s Happening update in October.  The Halloween hoopla kind of overtakes everything around here, even as the kids get older.

Anyway, it’s November and we have had absolutely beautiful weather.  I hate dismantling the deck so I resisted and resisted. Michael is the primary dismantler and he prefers to do it without snow on the deck. I don’t mind a little snow if it means that we’ve enjoyed coffee or lunch (it’s too dark for dinner) one more time. But, the time has come and it’s been reduced to this:
IMG_9828A lovely pile of pots that need to be washed out as soon as possible.

It has to happen but it’s never pretty.

IMG_9829Down in the garden the chard is still beautiful. I took pictures of it covered with frost last week…

It’s amazing how some plants bounce back!

IMG_9832Same thing with the cilantro…

 

IMG_9837The sage can still be used for Thanksgiving.
IMG_9839And I don’t think the lemon balm ever really dies.

Herbs are just so darned hardy!

IMG_9833I took this little bunch of geranium plants in to soak for awhile. I think I’ll plant them in pots and winter them over in my office.

IMG_9835The asparagus fern will probably be on the table on Thanksgiving day.
IMG_9841As will the last clump of carrots that I harvested this morning.
IMG_9852This very grateful girl is wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving!

And so am I!

We are both blessed!

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

 

Beans Beans the More You….

…let them dry on the vine, the more new plants you’ll enjoy in the spring!

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These are Bountiful Beans, an heirloom variety that I ordered from Pinetree.

IMG_9230Here they were in July. These beans were delicious and prolific, just as promised, so we’re looking forward to next year’s crop. I already have the seeds on hand because I harvested the dried seeds and they’re ready to go!

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Pop open a dried bean and your likely to find bean seeds that are ready to plant next year.

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I’ll leave them in this pot for a few weeks, then move them to a marked envelope.

I’m not sure about reason for the color variation, but they may be at slightly different levels of dryness or they may just dry to different colors. I can’t remember what they looked like going in last summer. I tossed all of the discolored pods because the beans inside were shriveled and kind of moldy.

Moldy beans will only give us more moldy beans and we’re all about freshness around here.

If you have a few dried bean pods (heirloom, not hybrid, because hybrid won’t produce) hanging out in your garden, bring them in!

You’ll be one step closer to spring!

Enjoy everything!

Michele

“Mother, There Are Entirely Too Many Tomatoes in This Kitchen!”

…said my sixteen year old daughter one day last week as she was trying to get ready for school.

It was hard to argue when the counter looked like this…
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and then when she went to get some cereal she had to move this…

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I knew she had a point.

So I got busy, and started processing tomatoes.

The tomatoes in these green and orange bins came from my friend Betsey.

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Guess which opalka tomato Betsey and Ed grew?  Yes, the one on the left. Their compost must be incredible!  Ed gave me the plant that produced the puny tomato on the right that I grew, so it’s the same variety and batch of seedlings.

Anyway, I got busy and did some canning.

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Which was fun, but I’m still struggling a little.

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I did manage to can eight quarts of tomatoes, and I have plans to work on some apple butter this week.

It’s all about babysteps..
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Freezing tomatoes is definitely the easy way out so my freezer is quite full.

I just wash and dry them, put them in freezer bags and suck the extra air out with a straw before I seal the bag shut.

The skins come right off after they defrost for a few minutes. I also like to put them in the food processor, with skins, seeds and all, and puree them to  make tomato or pizza sauce. I cut them into pieces while still frozen for stir fry dishes, salsa and things like that.

Yes, that is Michael’s Dove bar to the left, clearly not mine 😉
IMG_9693On Saturday the frost forecast was looming so I picked as many green tomatoes as I could and decided to try storing some in newspaper to ripen.
IMG_9690I washed and dried them…
IMG_9699Wrapped each one in quarter sheets of newspaper.

IMG_9701And tucked them in a box, with the pinker tomatoes on top.

We’ll see how it goes.

Today’s project involves what to do with this guy…

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He weighs 2 or 3 pounds and looks just like a little pumpkin.

What do you think?

I’m going to have to force myself to cut him up later for dinner…

Or maybe I can carve a face, just like a real pumpkin.

This is Salem after all!

What did you do with your tomatoes this year?

Michele

Happy Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day! October 2015

The fifteenth of the month has become my very favorite day because even if I don’t manage to publish a post myself, I enjoy visiting all of the other garden bloggers to see what’s blooming in their gardens.

Reading GBBD posts is always an uplifting way to spend an hour (or two)!

We haven’t had a frost yet here in Salem, so while the garden is starting to wind down, it’s still producing and blooming almost as much as it did in September.
IMG_9669The morning glories are glorious, even at ground level and paired with rosemary.

IMG_9586The mexican marigold is happy hanging out with the lovage.

Lovage is very similar to celery and I’m using it often these days in soups and stuffing.

IMG_9583I’m always posting photos of my volunteer snapdragons. I remember my mother using snapdragon in an arrangement for my first communion when I was seven years old, and I can never quite believe that it grows so easily in my garden. I’m hoping that the foxglove right behind it blooms in the spring.

IMG_9662_2Here it is up close with the macro setting…

I can never get enough of snapdragon or the macro setting.

IMG_9653_2Macro’d cilantro…
IMG_9648These yellow chrysanthemums survived last winter’s difficulty. The other chrysanthemums really did not.

IMG_9603The taller zinnias are supposed to be a giant variety, but their not too big. I planted them quite late in the season (maybe the first week in July or so) so it took them a long time to bloom, but here they are!

IMG_9604It is a very pretty bloom.
IMG_9608I’m still kind of partial to the Cut and Come Again variety of zinnia.

IMG_9639_2This single shoot of bellflower popped up on the opposite side of the fence among the pepper plants.

IMG_9617Sedum is one of my favorite fall plants. This small variety has very delicate flowers.
IMG_9599This white daisy-like chrysanthemum is being crowded out by other plants in the bed, but there’s a bit that’s still with us. I need to thin the iris, echinacea and black-eyed susan that surround it. If anyone from the area would like starts of any of those plants leave me a message in the comments and we’ll work it out.
IMG_9593And the knock-out roses are non stop. Yay for knockout roses, you just can’t hurt them!

Be sure to visit May Dreams Garden by clicking here to see what’s in bloom today in gardens all over the world!

Be well,

Love, Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden- September 26, 2015

Hi everyone,

Well, it looks like I just took another long hiatus from blogging. So much has happened and I’ve been debating about whether or not to share it all. It’s hard, life changing stuff and I guess I need some time before I do. I’m sure that I’ll find the words and ways to talk about it.  We’ve spent a lot of time away from home this summer but the garden just kept growing and growing…

What’s happening? Let’s see…
IMG_9476The herbs are thriving…

For the most part they don’t mind drought, or at best, inconsistent watering, like most plants do.
IMG_9475The parsley and snapdragon and oregano just forge on, along with the mint and thyme, chives and dill…

Herbs are so easy to grow.

IMG_9501The morning glory and moonflower are doing their September appearance. It’s hard to wait all summer for these to really get going, but it’s so worth it.
IMG_9502They are perfect…
IMG_9503and beautiful!

IMG_9495This is not the best photo, but I still wanted to show you that a few of the Cut and Come Again zinnias have finally started to shine in front of the fence.

IMG_9499The more I cut them, the more they grow. I may try to get some arranged for the “In a Vase on Monday” blog hop.
IMG_9487This guy is haunting… he just keeps coming back.
IMG_9491I’m pretty sure it’s tomatillo… but so so late in the season. Am I wrong about that?

IMG_9489This is what happens when broccoli bolts… bet you don’t get to see that too often. Just as it started to move toward getting ready to pick we had a very hot spell and that was the end of the broccoli.
IMG_9512This variety of pepper is Buran, a native of Poland. Their nice, light and tasty with rather thin skins.
IMG_9510The hot red peppers are ready to be strung up to dry, then I’ll shred them into flakes. We like hot foods but these are pretty intense when their fresh.
IMG_9482I lost the tag to this yellow tomato but I have to say that it’s delightful. It’s sweet and holds it shape in salsa or stir fry.

IMG_9486Romas, for sauce…

IMG_9506The Kellogg’s Breakfast variety are still green but should start turning any day now. These weigh at least a pound each. I’m looking forward to slicing one open to taste it.IMG_9511Little sweeties… perfect little pops for eating, cooking, anything!

IMG_9480I planted fresh cilantro in early August in anticipation of the salsa that would be coming.

IMG_9479I missed the window for planting sweet peas in the spring so here they come for the fall. Something chomped on them while we were away and they grew right back when we came home and there was more activity in our yard again… hoping for some blooms soon!
IMG_9478Swiss chard is another nice cool weather vegetable. Something is eating at it a little bit, maybe slugs?

IMG_9483The red onions are almost ready to be harvested…

IMG_9473and the white onions are curing on the bottom of a nursery tray turned over. It’s not sophisticated, but I have to say yay for nursery trays as drying racks, it’s really working.

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It’s a good thing that the peppers, onions and cilantros are ready to make salsa.

I’m going to have a busy morning. I might even can some, we’ll see!

How’s your garden growing? I have some blog reading to do!

It’s good to be back.

Love you all, Michele

 

Of Hydrangeas, Rose of Sharon, Arbors and Tenneball…

Last week we had a great vacation in a village on a bluff overlooking the ocean.

It’s kind of a private place, but I have to share a few glimpses.

It was all about the beach, the gardens, our family, good food and tenneball.

IMG_9275One of the best parts of the week was that the Rose of Sharon and hydrangea were in full bloom.
IMG_9276There’s something perfect about the combination of hydrangea and Cape Cod houses.  The soft colors and texture of the flowers really complement the gray shingles. I’m asked for advice about how to grow hydrangea all the time so I need some experience. I’m looking around my garden for the right spot to fully experience hydrangea propagation and care so I can share with others.
IMG_9277 I could do some great things with blooms like this.

IMG_9279I found this gorgeous clump of cleome on a corner property and I’m tucking the idea away for our front garden next year.
IMG_9293A salt marsh borders the village to the west. The colors seem to change throughout the day.
IMG_9297Turning around from the view of the marsh one finds this long Rose of Sharon hedge. I think of this as Yankee thrift at it’s best because the Rose of Sharon plants send off new plantable shoots every year. I could probably start my own Rose of Sharon Border quite easily here in my garden at home.
IMG_9299One of the gardens featured a beautiful collection of dahlias. I’ve grown them in small quantities in pots and borders, but never close to this degree.

IMG_9392Of course I was interested in how they were staked up. It looks like the gardener used simple go away green poles and ran garden twine along and through them to hold everything together.
IMG_9385Even as they faded, the dahlias were delightful!

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IMG_9390I would love to be a gardener who could name every variety of each plant, using the common and latin names…

…but I’m not.

I just enjoyed each bloom for it’s beauty.
IMG_9301I also enjoyed this beautiful house, arbor and another Rose of Sharon border. There seemed to always be an arbor in view or just around the corner in the village.

IMG_9349 In Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, and in several other communities in New England, tented church camps grew into more formal cottages which grew into fully equipped seasonal and year round homes. The village we stayed in has similar roots as a church camping ground. This house reminds me of the Oak Bluffs cottages.
IMG_9358The old Post Office building is decorated with patriotic spirit.
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One of many inviting porches in the village.

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Our young boys created a game that they named “tenneball”,  a wacky combination of tennis and badminton with very specific, unconventional rules. They held a tournament in the volleyball court to the left and I decided that I could have  watched tenneball all day as long as I was admiring those pretty blue sailboat shutters, the gardens and the arbor. I won’t be posting pics of my participation in the tenneball tournament. Let’s just say that the kids got a pretty good chuckle…
IMG_9365When not playing tenneball or admiring gardens, we were enjoying the interesting architecture.

IMG_9368and pretty tiered gardens. Yes, still in the garden… they were clearly one of my top reasons for enjoying our vacation so much!

IMG_9379Another reason was the beach that was just down the hill. The walkway to the beach involved negotiating a steep forty step staircase.

It was very easy climb up and down with such beautiful sights to enjoy on each end.

I hope you had a restorative vacation in a special place this summer too~

Thanks for stopping by!

Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden–7/31/15

Hello out there! Another short and sweet post.. so many reasons, I could go on and on, but I’m going to focus on the garden today.

Things are cooking, growing, producing, blooming… not at the usual July 31st rate, but that’s okay.

IMG_9229 My favorite border has started to come into full bloom.This is kind of a wild and crazy space…

IMG_9231We’ve been eating lots of beans.

IMG_9233The first broccoli flower is starting to appear.IMG_9236A tomatillo self-seeded from last year… IMG_9237The peppers finally found their mojo!

IMG_9246Definitely a good thing!

IMG_9239We managed to stake and cage the most precious of the tomato plants last weekend. I have many growing kind of wildly and enough that are up off of the ground and well trimmed to keep me happy.IMG_9241A blog that I follow (I’m sorry that I can’t remember which one) just talked about this year being the year of the tomato in their garden. We’re having the year of the onion here. Who would have thought?IMG_9242Sweet…

IMG_9243Early girls are starting to turn pink… we will have tomatoes this year, I know we will!IMG_9244The opal basil rebounded nicely. I had completely given up hope on this. It was so spindly and small that I could barely see it a few weeks ago. Never underestimate the magic out here folks!  IMG_9248 Dill is the same way… it’s everywhere.

I love growing dill.

IMG_9250 I do think that if it’s not eaten by critters we may have lots of eggplant soon. We’re not eggplant eaters, but we’re good sharers.IMG_9251 Black eye susan are everywhere, in all of their sunshiny glory!  IMG_9254

Here’s the view looking down.

Lots of love to all of you! Thanks so so much for stopping by!

Michele