Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I won't be gardening for awhile yet...

I have to admit I love the winter scenery. Its beautiful....

This is the view from my doorway to the driveway upper left. The sun on the snow across the lawn looks pretty.

Some of the trees never lost their brown leaves so the snow atop them is colorful.

Another view past my hosta garden beside the house.
I have to say the snow is lovely when its fresh and the day is sunny. Its cold tho, at only 20* at noon today. Brrrrr. I'm staying in today. The snowcover will be good for the garden beds. It'll keep the cold winds from damaging plants. But this is just the beginning of our Maine winter so we'll see much more of this white stuff and by February we'll be praying for anyting but snow.
I'll be posting the progress of my veggie garden as it happens.
Just a note: I think this year I'll be planting perennial herbs in pots that can go out during the spring and summer but come inside for the winter. I think that's a better plan than putting them in the raised beds. Things like Pesto Perpetuo Basil, Garlic Chives, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Spearmint, Roman Beauty Rosemary, and Stevia. I won't bother with the ones that need drying. Too much work when I can buy them in the bottle cheaper than growing them for one family.
Have a mild but good winter everyone with snow cover as the poor man's compost!

Friday, December 25, 2009


My corgi Penny and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. This is NOT a photo of my Penny, but one I got off the 'net but they look like twins so I couldn't not post this with its appropriate attire.
My little dog joins me in my gardens whether its spring, summer, fall or winter. She's always by my side. She's even beside me evenings now as I make notes going thru a couple of gardening catalogs I've already rec'd for 2010.
For all my gardening friends, I wish you good gardening next year. I hope you've been lucky enuf to get something you can use in your garden. That's always a winner in my book. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


For those of you traveling to Christmas gatherings today and tonite, be careful driving and be cautious of 'the other guys' out there.
Don't drink and drive. Be safe. Enjoy.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My garden is under a blanket of snow...

My nine raised beds are buried.We got another ten and a half inches of snow. I guess I'm not going get that fall sowing of radishes and lettuce after all. The black object covered with snow on the left in the midsection of the photo is my compost barrel. That, too, is buried. Its a good thing I don't have anything to put in there today.
Instead of gardening, now I'm sewing and cooking for Christmas.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our First Snow of the Season!

At eleven o'clock last nite , Dec 5th, my corgi and son's golden were checking out the first snowfall of the season.
At eight this morning, and five inches of the white stuff, this is the view of my flower garden.

The trees are lovely and the sky is blue today. More is expected for the next 4 days. I hope its only a scattering here and there.

These are my Black-eyed Susans (Rudbekkia) in foreground, rose bush in background and my birdbath. Behind the birdbath is a Peony.
Living in the north country we expect a lot of snow....and we get it. Last year our first snow was in Nov. so it held off a bit this year. Its great as the cheapest compost for the gardens, keeping the winds from destroying many bushes and plants and giving them a warmer blanket than no snow at all. I don't mind as long as I don't have to drive in it. Today I'm inside working on sewing projects and Christmas goodies for the freezer so its no problem.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Worms are cozy for the winter....

This is the result of worm composting. I garnered a few 28-lb buckets of this healthy, chemical-free soil enrichment for my spring garden next spring. Its all the result of keeping a worm condo.
My worm condo is set up in my bathroom for the winter. In Sept I brought them in from their shady summer residence under the trees in the backyard. There are 2 additional floors to the condo, but I'm using only one floor now and the basement.

Their home has shredded newspapers, a bit of soil so they can use the bits for chewing, and of course, kitchen scraps.

The green garden tool is handy to move the coverings aside to add their food scraps and to check on their well-being. Worms don't like light, so they scramble below in a hurry.

I managed to catch a few unawares. The pink bits are well-fed worms doing their job for my veggie garden by making healthy, clean, vermicompost. The greens are chopped up canned green beans. No, they don't smell. They don't get loose either. I secure a small piece of pantyhose over the liquid drain spout with a rubber band so no critters can get free. The drain removes excess water and the liquid compost is terrific for container/potted plants during the winter. In the summer my flower garden benefits from the liquid compost.

Monday, November 30, 2009

No pictures to show, just comments....

Its the day before December and its been rainy and cold here in Maine. Today is a gray, rainy day once again but temps in the 40s so not bad.
The bad is my gardens are all taking their winter's naps.
I've covered my radishes and red lettuce rows with clear plastic hoping for some harvest, but their growth is at a stand-still for now. I'm thinking 'no more veggies this year' at this time.
My gardens now consist of my indoor plants; the flame violet I'm trying to root in a jar of water, the African violet not in bloom, prayer plant, a couple of ivies, a grassy-type plant, two orchids also not in bloom, and an Orange tree given to me 4 years ago that's never bloomed.
I got myself a plant-grow light this spring to start my garden seeds so that's now doing double duty for the house plants.
We'll see what we shall see. I hope to get something... anything blooming in the near future. I miss my gardens.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Today brings One More Rose....

Surprise! Surprise! Another David Austin rose is starting to blossom. This one is a pretty pink variety, Portmerion. This must surely be the last rose of the season, and I'm enjoying it.

Winter is almost upon us....

Most of my garden beds look like these, asleep for the winter.
But in one corner I have some mini red cabbages still producing.

Here you can see the clover starting to grow. I recently seeded it in the potato patch for green manure in the spring.

Here's some red lettuce growing. It's been over 3 wks since sown and until now I thought they were frozen.

Radishes are sprouting that was also reseeded about 3 wks ago. Our cold nites have been instrumental in slowing the growth a lot. I don't know if I'll get any edible radishes from this lot, but I'm trying.
We've had very cold nites, some at the freezing point. I've covered my beds nites for the really cold times shortly after sowing the seeds. We're expecting a few good days, in the 5os and 60s, so maybe I'll still get something from my garden. One can only hope.
For now I'm busy filling my compost barrel so it can overwinter and hopefully produce some nice compost come spring. That's taking priority in my garden right now....that and replanning my garden for next year. I'm already eager to get the spring catalogs.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The last of my summer gardens...

It looks like the beauty of summer is soon going to be the frost and snow of winter in my area, southwestern Maine.
This is the last rose of summer, Noble Anthony, a David Austin English rose, starting to blossom. All my other roses have finished their blooming. When Anthony opens just a bit more I'll cut it and bring it inside to enjoy for another week. If I leave it outside, it's sure to turn brown in the cold nites expected in a couple of days.
I hope everyone has had a wonderful summer of beauty from their gardens. Those with veggies, I hope you are enjoying your bounty. Tonite I'll be making fresh hash browns from my own homegrown potatoes. They seem to have a better taste. Maybe its their freshness, having not been stored in a warehouse for months.
Would you believe I'm already planning next year's raised veggie beds? This time I'll plant each of my 9 beds (4' x 4') with only one or two types of plants. I think it will be much better in their maintenance, watering needs, and better for rotating plants the following year. I'll also stick with the veggies we enjoyed best this year.
Four of the beds have been composted and I need to start another compost bin for next spring to compost the others.
I have several bags of dry leaves set aside and lots of greenery from the beds to chop up to add to the compost.
I still look forward to radishes, lettuce and Swiss chard planted recently and only the radishes are showing any growth. A few red mini cabbages are left to head up.
This has been my first year trying Square Foot Gardening, and though I love the method, I should have kept the varieties in the same beds for easier care. Unfortunately, a beginner, I put a little of this and a little of that in each bed. The watering needs differed as did the general care as to sunshine, shade, etc. Next year should find my bounty improved and my work less.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Its autumn in Maine and that means overcast skies over the mtns and color in the leaves, nites in the 40s, sometimes 30s.
The road to our house is blazing with red, orange, and gold beauty.

Its the season when our mums are prolific and beautiful.

This long view of my 9 raised beds shows a pretty bedraggled state. Most crops have been harvested. In the two left front beds I've now planted radishes, lettuce and Swiss chard hoping for a longer harvest. I have to cover both beds at night to prevent frost damage but the days are ok. In the 50s or high 40s right now. I have to pull the rest of the dead and dying plants and chop them up for the compost. I have also raked up 5 bags of dead leaves which I shall hoe into the beds and chop them in and cover them over for winter. This weekend I hope to get my grandson to help fill several more bags of leaves for this purpose. They should help feed the soil for next year.

This is the last Early Jersey Wakefield cabbages that I harvested last nite, Oct. 14th.

This is the last eggplant harvested 2 days ago.

The last zucchini was also harvested 2 days ago.

My veggie beds have lots of fall color from the marigolds I planted in the left corner of each bed to repel insects. I think it did its work, except for the Japanese beetles which attacked my sugar snap peas.

Nasturtiums in the right front corners also helped repel insects. I'll be planting them again next year.
I've enjoyed my first year of gardening. Next year I plan to allot only one or 2 veggies per raised bed. I think it will make my gardening chores easier and also better for crop rotation the following year.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I Harvested my Worm Castings Today...

Here's the 28-lb bucket of worm castings I harvested today. I started my new worm condo on March 26th this year so it took almost 6 months. I started with 500 red wigglers. I kept the condo outside in the shade of some trees all summer and today I knew I needed to get them inside again for the winter. The compost is soooo rich and wonderful.
Here is the first floor of the condo being prepared for coming inside this fall and winter. I caught most of the worms as I spread out the castings and added them to this condo. Added shredded newspaper and dampened it. Topped it with a layer of spent soil from the annual hanging baskets. I buried some coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, chopped tomato tops and potato peelings all in one small area, which I chopped up small.
This condo stays into my bathroom for the winter. There are 2 extra floors so I can add to it during the long winter. With more worms, they'll be more castings and the extra floors may be needed.
The cover you see at the top goes over it. Every few days I dig a hole and add veggie and fruit peelings, coffee grounds, etc to a new small area and cover it over with the newspaper and soil. Crushed, dried egg shells make good egg beds for new worms. I also sprinkle water over the whole thing every few days as well. The worms stay happy and well fed and do their thing. There is NO odor. The little spout at the bottom drips excess water into a covered bowl which is caught and used on both outside or inside plants. I like having less garbage to toss out and I especially love having castings to add to my raised garden beds in the spring.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Have you tried Alpine Strawberries?.

I wanted you to see how small are Alpine strawberries. See the penny on the paper towel with them and the baby carrot. Alpine reds are a bit tangier than regular ones but the size is perfect for adding to cereal and ice cream. The yellow ones are a bit larger and they have a taste similar to pineapple. I only have 3 plants each but will add more next spring. Alpines are perennials and don't take the care that regular ones need, like cutting back and cutting off runners and removing the mother plant, etc.
As usual, I picked more tomatoes, among them Romas, Early Girls, Big Boys, German Queen, small Red Husky and tiny Sweet 100s. I'll have to be making sauce in the next several days to preserve them.

I wanted to see how my onions are doing so I pulled up a few onions, both yellow and white and laid them in the sun to dry out. They are a medium size.
Its wonderful to have a garden of your own for fresh veggies. I'm enjoying this trip into Square Foot Gardening and hope to get some new radishes and lettuce in this weekend for the fall crops.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More of my roses are reblooming lately....

Before seeing the roses, check out these Golden Russet potatoes I dug up day before yesterday. I wanted to check them out. There was enough for my supper and that of my daughter's family. Mmmm good. I'll leave them along with the Kennebecs to grow a bit more.

This is lovely Crimson Falstaff, a deep red rose.
Here are a pair of them.
This bright pink is Portmerion.
This apricot is Teasing Georgia
This is in two shades, pink with a bit of yellow at the throat... Christopher Marlowe.
I love all my English David Austin Roses. They bloomed earlier in the summer and now they are starting their reblooming which will take them thru all of Sept and some of Oct, depending on the weather, in southwestern Maine.
My square foot garden is giving me lots of good food. Tonite we gathered cabbages and both sweet and hot peppers and more tomatoes. I'm so glad I had my son put in those 12" raised beds. They are giving us good crops.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

My roses are coming back after the heat...

My David Austin roses always take some time off in the summer heat and don't bloom. Right now one is coming back and its been hot. This is Camisole, an apricot rose and very aromatic. I love it.
We've had temps in the 80s and sometimes around 90 and the humidity has been awful on many of those days. I won't complain because the rain in July drowned many home gardens. I was lucky. With my veggies in raised beds, the water drained well so except for some mushy strawberries and some water rot, my plants made it thru July. Now we are getting the much needed sunshine we missed. I doubt, tho, that my melons will make up any ground. They look stunted so far. We've been eating tomatoes, cukes, broccoli, zucchini, eggplant and peppers lately. The lettuce is past as are the radishes. I've really enjoyed this first summer with a raised veggie garden.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

After another 2 inches of rain, things are OK...

My garden sure is green after all the rain we've had.
These are Packman Broccoli. The heads are purple and about2-3 inches across. When does one cut them? I understand that they will continue to grow on the sides after the center is cut out. One head is turning greenish. Is that one past the 'use by' date????

My 4 cuke plants on the left include Boston pickling, Burpless, and Lemon cucumbers. To their right are sweet peppers, then I have white onions with their long green stalks.

The Sugar Snap peas are growing. There weren't any 2 days ago. I guess the rain is doing wonderful things for them. I hope to harvest some in the next day or two. I think you harvest when you can feel bumps in the pods. Being 'green' at growing crops, I'm learning as I go.

Friday, July 3, 2009

My latest views on July 3rd...in Maine...

I have 5 blueberry bushes to the right of my raised beds. This is Chippewa showing berries.
This is what a broccoli looks like when it starts growing.
In front there's 3 Brussel sprouts with iceberg lettuce under netting, two sweet peppers next to the netting and the snow peas starting their climb on the trellis behind.
These are my 6 Early Jersey Wakefield cabbages, the biggies, with mini red cabbage to their right. In back, along the trellis, are more tomato plants.
This cauliflower, White Cloud, is heading up so I use clothespins to pin the long leaves over it to keep it white. This is a small-head variety so when that head is about 6" across, its time to harvest it. I'm thinking next week we'll have cauliflower for supper. Again, see the DVD disks hanging alongside to deter the deer. Its worked so far. I had some deer damage to a couple of 'Sweet 100' tomatoes over a week ago but none since I put up the disks. These are from advt that came in the mail to get AOL mostly. I saved them over 4 years. I knew they'd come in handy if I ever had a veggie garden.