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

 

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

What’s Happening in the Garden- June 30, 2015

Wow, where has a month gone?  Well, here at The Salem Garden it’s gone to medical emergency after medical emergency after medical emergency. After months of sickness and a very tough weekend in the hospital my youngest daughter was diagnosed with Functional Abdominal Pain Disorder. Yes, this is a real thing and it involves a lot of pain. She’s doing better but we have some work to do to get her back to her happy ten year old self. In the two and a half weeks since that happened my dear mom was also hospitalized and had surgery to remove her gall bladder, then last Friday my younger brother had a major cardiac event (while at my Mom’s house helping her recover) and was hospitalized. He tells me that he feels much better now that he has a pacemaker. Thank God!

So, the garden is a combination of the last thing I’m thinking about and my biggest outlet for stress. I have very little time to tend it, let alone blog about it, but when I do get out there it’s the most wonderful place in the world and I weed and prune my heart out. This is horticultural therapy at it’s very best!

It’s been cold here. So cold that my tomato plants are still waiting for that push of heat that puffs them up and the lettuce is as happy as can be. It’s been a very strange garden year.IMG_9016Here’s the garden looking down from the deck. Weeded and edged but pretty darn simple. That’s okay, we have a nice Farmer’s Market downtown on Thursdays.

IMG_8995 The onions have grown quite a bit in a month. They don’t mind the cool temperatures.

Here they were last month:IMG_8937

IMG_8998To say that the tomato plants have struggled is the biggest understatement ever. I had two solid flats full of seedlings that were just beautiful. They grew right on schedule and were ready for the garden at the exact moment that I planted them. Then they just sat there and looked sad and small. It was cold, very cold. Tomatoes do not grow well in cold. Their little leaves start to turn in and turn yellow. Fortunately my dear friend Betsey came to the rescue with some extra seedlings that were bigger. I added them and replenished mine with some extras that I had held back under shelter. I  fertilized with vermicompost a few days ago and I swear their starting to look better. We’ll see what happens. Maybe some mulch would help as well.
IMG_8997We do have buds and one fruit on an early girl. Thanks to Ed and Betsey for this plant!IMG_8999 Poor peppers, same story as the tomatoes. I don’t know about this.IMG_9004 We have tons of  raspberries. Maybe this will be the year that I figure out the raspberry jam.IMG_9007 The chicken coop flowers are fine.

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We integrated our four baby chicks in to the flock last week. Their still spending some time on high perches but overall their doing quite well. This is a very feisty little flock of chicks. They can defend themselves. IMG_9008 I may still start some cucumbers in this little bed. We pulled the herbs out a few weeks ago because we have plenty in the new herb garden closer to the house. It seemed silly to use this precious real estate for herbs when we can add some veggies to it. I just have to add some compost and plants, and remove some rocks… which is all the equivalent of scaling Mount Everest at the moment. Maybe some fall plants will land here?IMG_9010 Here’s a little plot of bush beans. I’ll share the variety when they produce (and I find the seed packet). IMG_9013My Harrington estate rose is blooming! No, that’s not a real variety of rose. I just call it that because it came from the Harrington property that abutted our old house on Forrester Street. I missed the spring pruning this year but I’ll try to catch up with it soon. IMG_9027My little crop of broccoli seedlings are doing well. I should really start some more for the fall. I think that would work.
IMG_9031And of course the lettuce is still thriving. We are enjoying this lettuce all day every day! I should find a spot to add some more, especially if it’s going to stay cold. We could have lettuce all summer, no bolting here!

How’s your garden growing? How are you doing? I miss all of my blogging friends and I hope your all well and having a great garden season if your in the northern hemisphere, and a good winter if your in the southern.

Enjoy everything!

Love, Michele

What’s Happening in the Garden- May 31, 2015

Hello from finally rainy Salem, Massachusetts!

I haven’t posted in quite a while. There’s been so much going on here; sick children, graduating children, coming home from college children, going to college children, dancing and soccer and proms. Big life events can be great subjects for blogging but they don’t jive so well with gardening and garden blogging, especially the sickness. I’ve been pretty consumed with the needs of my family, as I should be.

So, the garden isn’t quite where it usually is at this point in May, but that’s okay.  I can always catch up on the bean planting or substitute things or buy bigger plants that are further along. It will all work out in the end, or not, and that’s okay too.

IMG_8924These are the rainclouds that I was trying to out plant and out photograph before they burst this afternoon. I just made it and now we’re under a flash flood warning. It’s been so dry that the flood warning is welcome.

IMG_8913I post a pic of this view every year. It’s raining hard and is expected to continue through Tuesday, so I’m not sure that the iris flowers will survive. I’m glad I took this photo when I did.

IMG_8917Things are getting underway out in the herb garden. That’s parsley in the foreground. The oregano came back strongly, along with some dianthus, thyme and chives. I just put that brownish lovage in the back and added the new rosemary plants. Rosemary doesn’t winter over here unless we have an extremely mild winter, which is rare.IMG_8920 Looking from the other direction the cilantro was started from seed. IMG_8923 The blueberry bushes are loaded with berries! I need to plant more blueberry bushes. IMG_8925The Solomon’s seal is about to bloom…IMG_8926…along with my favorite yellow iris,IMG_8930 and the German iris.IMG_8931 Here’s a first for us; horseradish in bloom! It emits an odor of horseradish all around it. I don’t really love horseradish, but I’m kind of enjoying this. I hope the flowers don’t take away from root formation.IMG_8933 I planted a little bit of broccoli… so cute!IMG_8936 And the lettuce is happy. This is thriving because Michael does a good job of watering it for me with the leftover chicken water.

Here’s an interesting fact about this lettuce; the mesclun mix on the right was fertilized with vermicompost a few weeks ago and the row on the left wasn’t. Vermicompost is the way to go! I have a nice little worm bin here under my desk and all I do is feed them fruit and veggie scraps and keep an eye on the moisture content of the box. I harvest the compost once in a while and the “tea” or liquid that the worms produce every few weeks. It’s easy once you get the hang of it. I should blog about my worms more. IMG_8937I started these onions from seed in the early spring and transplanted them a few weeks ago. I need to make sure they don’t dry out and keep fertilizing them. Maybe I’ll try some vermicompost.
IMG_8941 Looking back, there’s lots of open space. IMG_8943I still have basil, tomato and foxglove seedlings,IMG_8914along with peppers.IMG_8942I dug this big pot of dill out of the front yard yesterday because we reconfigured the landscaping out there. Dill doesn’t really transplant that well, it’s better grown from seed. These are small enough that they might settle in if their handled carefully.

If any of you local friends want some dill just let me know! It will be here for a few days until the rain stops.

How’s your garden growing? I miss you and your comments and your blogs! Leave me an update so I can stop by and check in!

Love, Michele

 

Help! Help! a Lily Tree Question…

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First of all, I’d never even heard of a lily tree or tree lily depending on which web site I look at, until an hour ago. My friend posted these photos of her lily tree with these really interesting growths protruding out of the base of the trunk.

So our question is

what is this?

Are they roots or a pest or an alien life form?

I haven’t seen anything quite like this before.

What say you gardening gurus, master gardeners, people who google better than we do…

Help!!

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Here’s another photo that Denise took.

She lives just a quarter mile away so I want to be ready if I need to watch out for this thing..

and I’d like to help her too!

Share your thoughts, any at all,  in the comments section!

I know we can figure this out!

Thanks!!!

Michele and Denise