Phew, it’s September 3rd and the garden is in full force! Corn is ready, swiss chard has been prolific, tomatoes are slowly coming along beets have been the sweetest ever and the green beans were fabulous and abundant! Not sure how to cook beets? Check out this recipe for roasted beets – d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s ! This year, Finn and I have been able to keep up with the squash bugs, so we have lots of buttercup squash growing! Yeah! And the flower beds have done well despite the japanese beetles trying their best… We’ve been enjoying swiss chard in just about everything and I’ve even found a great recipe for a home made puff pastry, so I’ve made a few of my swiss chard tarts this summer too. Recipe for pastry in a future post! Oh, I can’t forget my garlic! Wow. I can’t believe it has taken me so long to grow this simple and scrumptious bulb. Thank you Mim for giving me the garlic to plant and the encouragement! Store bought garlic pales in comparison to homegrown. Actually, there is no comparison. If you have space, at all, try planting garlic. While it’s not an expensive herb, it is a delicious and easy homegrown plant to try. Bonus, the scapes which come out in early summer… While school has begun, summer weather still abounds and there is still plenty to be harvested and enjoyed. Lettuce is growing again, spinach is planted and more beets and carrots are on their way…and some plants are also going to seed…gather, dry and save those seeds! Below are pansy seeds, which I started from store bought seeds, though this year will start from my own seeds. If you can’t or simply don’t garden, don’t forget to check out your local farmers markets – they are fabulous resources for fresh, organic fruits and veggies and they may cost a bit more than the supermaket, but not that much more and many accept food stamps too! What you may spend in dollars saves your health and supports your community. So do check them out! How does your garden grow? Anything exceptional this year? Anything troublesome? Happy gardening and eating! enjoy!
It’s time to make pesto!
What’s your favorite recipe for pesto?
Time. It keeps moving forward…and here in Maine, it’s so obvious. Obvious because of the cycle of the seasons and the flowers (or lack of) each season brings.
After being here, year round these past six years, I’ve begun to notice the pattern of the flowers on this peninsula. First it’s the snow drops, then the tulips, followed by the daffodils, the apple blossoms, the ferns…the buttercups, forget me nots… and it goes on and on until the chill of fall begins putting things back to sleep…
I’ve been wanting to post since before the daffodils
and before the apple trees began to bud.
I then I tried before their blossoms appeared, though now those beautiful flowers are long gone…
I tried to write while the lilacs were still buds
and winter jackets were still needed, though while the jackets (thankfully) are finally packed away, the lilac flowers have come and gone too.
I can say the same about when the rosa rugosa started to bud; I wanted to post, but time escaped me, again…It was so exciting when their buds finally began to open and their greenery popped out in early spring,
though now they are even more intoxicating – their sweet scent being carried on the wind, into my (now) open kitchen windows…luxury, to say the least.
The lupines are here (though they are almost gone now too)
and the iris’s are blooming, though quickly passing.
Tiger lilies are beginning to bud and other types have already blossomed.
I look forward to my peonies, nasturtiums and morning glories…though realize they too will come and go. But, I’m not rushing, nor forgetting to appreciate the here and now! While spring may be ending, summer is just beginning!
So while the flowers, whichever they may be, are here, I will enjoy them. I will pick them, eat them (nasturtiums), give them away and decorate with them.
For me, late spring and all of summer is a time of freshly picked flowers in every room, freshly harvested vegetables from the backyard, and the hope that with the heat, comes a more slow pace, if only for a few weeks…
Flowers remind me just how fleeting life can be and how beautiful it is.
And don’t even get me started on all the loveliness in the vegetable garden, time goes quickly there too! If you don’t get your seeds/plants in on time, well, you miss out…
Here’s a sneak peek at what is happening back there!
I’ve never tried starting pansy’s from seed and this year I did! I’m so pleased that they are finally blooming!!
I thought I’d end this year by talking about my favorite place – the freebie barn!
The freebie barn, swap shop, transfer station, call it what you will, it’s a fabulous resource!
Granted, not all transfer stations allow ‘shopping’, and that’s a shame. Mine does and I call it the ‘freebie barn’, though the sign on the outside calls it, the ‘swap shop’…
Why not set aside a space for residents to drop off unwanted – but good stuff – for others to use…instead of trucking it away, to be dumped into a large hole in the ground (planet earth), to only eventually leach out into everything…? Why not invest in a ‘swap shop’ area?
Wouldn’t a space such as this help a town save on expenditures for removal of said stuff? All the while allowing residents to utilize perfectly good stuff someone else simply tired of – thus, maximizing the re-use of already consumed goods, which in turn minimizes consumerism? Which, ultimately, lessens our impact on the world around us?
I realize a resource such as this improves things ever so slightly, yet, it’s a step in the right direction…how can anyone disagree with that?
Every piece of ‘junk’ removed by another resident (recycled) vs. an outsourced company, is so much better for everyone…why not have an area designated for this?
Finn and I visit our transfer station once a week (at minimum). It’s the place we take our trash and recyclables as well our time to visit the ‘Swap Trailer.’ I love this place.
I’ve picked up such cool stuff here.
And not only is everything being recycled, it’s also free. Free and recycled. What a fun combination!
I also realize not everyone shares my sentiment about re-using, and that’s ok. Everyone’s different. If you don’t want to ‘pick’, don’t. But do drop off your good stuff, versus just chucking it in the trash. Don’t have a local transfer station, why not consider donating?
I’ve shared photos of things that I’ve found over the years, though I’ve never shown the space in which I find my treasures…it’s quite the place…Here’s one of the signs viewed upon entering.
And here, is another…
The swap shop is a trailer. A tractor trailer, an 18 wheeler kind of trailer, but on the ground.
One end is open, with double doors. Each door proclaiming a sign…that’s the entrance.
Various shelving is found along the two long walls…
And things are piled in, around, and on these shelves…clothing, shoes, utensils, ice skates, skis, furniture, toys, books, candle stick holders, glassware, dishes, books, small appliances, instruments, picture frames, baskets, cameras, rugs, framed prints, tools, lamps, curtains, baking pans, gardening tools, boots, antiques, mirrors – are a few of the things one might find on any given day…the list is endless – seriously.
Granted, some things really should be trashed, like the badly chipped vase viewed in the photo above…though, that’s my opinion…I guess someone could argue it’s still usable – I wouldn’t use it, but that’s my opinion… who’s to say what’s trash and what isn’t?
One man’s trash is another’s treasure!
You just never know what you might find…
Below are a few more recent acquisitions…love ’em, especially the metal ice cube trays…and the vintage pyrex mixing bowls!
I wish I could have taken this (imagine it, cleaned, painted and with new hardware) from the outdoor covered area – too bad I had no where to store it! What a sideboard it could have made!!
Do you like to recycle and go ‘junking’? If so, I’d love to hear from you!
All the best to everyone in 2014, may it be a prosperous and peaceful year for all!
Happy New Year!
They are so well adapted for their environment – tomato plants.
Their coloring, their form…mother nature has disguised them well…good for them, bad for organic gardeners…
They are quite the creature. Soft green body, white angular stripes, little black spots lined up along the white angular lines creating another line of sorts…the long reddish thorn/horn sticking out of the top of their head, their little white tipped sticky feet…I despise them. They can wipe out a crop of tomatoes in no time.
Thankfully I found them before they devoured my beautiful, yet still very green tomatoes…they are a gardeners nightmare…
So, I disposed of them. One by one…
While clipping away all the excess leaves and stems on each of my 5+ foot tall tomato plants I also clipped them.
I felt terrible. Yet, it had to be done.
My tomatoes were under attack.
Homegrown tomatoes come once a year and the process is a long one, particularly in this region – I’m not going to let this beautiful menace of an insect eat my tomatoes. No way.
In each of them I saw the disappearance of my dreams…my dreams of slicing into a juicy ripe tomato – picked fresh from the vine (literally), grown and cared for with love, for months…those threatening horned headed creatures were not going to ruin my summer. No.
Instead, I apologized to each before snipping it in half. I felt terrible and relived all at the same time. My tomatoes are safe for the moment, though my eyes are opened now. My borage helped me last year, this year, not so much…
The squash bugs have been perpetrating my cucumbers ever since they were transplanted, poor things… though my daily retaliation (I hate squishing them – I cringe with every squish – yet one must do, what one must do) has helped and they are still thriving…sadly, my pumpkins not so much. I fear this may be my first year with no pumpkins – shame.
Oddly though, just across the garden, my gourds are going mad. I’m trying to train them to grow up the corn stalks…some have been listening, others are beginning to take over that section of the garden…either way, these beautiful ornamental gourds will most likely be gracing our trees (as bird feeders) and our home (as decoration) this fall. Or at least I hope…
The bean flowers have produced a prolific crop of green beans. I’ve already frozen one batch and enjoyed another. Simply steamed then topped with butter and salt. Yum. So fresh. More green beans on the way…
I also planted Mexican sunflowers for the first time. They are great! Super full and so colorful, very different than the traditional sunflowers I’ve planted in the past…thanks Kate for the suggestion.
My other new planting were leeks. They are looking good and I’m so excited to make potato leek soup with them! I think I’d like to try planting potatoes next year – though I’ll need to create a new garden for them…I’m always planning…aren’t all gardeners always planning or at least thinking about ‘next year’? …
I hope the corn makes it before frost arrives. I hate to even type that word (frost) but reality is reality and nights have been getting a bit chilly lately…summer is far too short here…note to self – start corn indoors and transplant. Then, perhaps I will have an abundant crop, in time…
Swiss chard is glorious and I will be posting about it soon – more specifically, swiss chard tart. It is so good, especially when paired with minestrone soup!
Radishes were fun. I had never planted radishes before but I came across a packet of free seeds (from a local store I frequent – also how I got my gourd seeds), so I planted a row – and in days (or so it seemed) I had radishes.
I will definitely plant this veggie again. Does anyone have a great recipe for radishes? If so, share in the comments section below – thanks!
Fennel is growing, slowly, but steadily…in its own bed, beside our breezeway…fingers crossed all goes well there too…I am so looking forward to some braised fennel…
All in all, for such a crazy summer (weather wise), the gardens (both the vegetable and flower) are doing surprisingly well. I’ve recently planted more lettuce and spinach seeds and am planning on planting garlic this year. A wonderful reader (thank you Mim) recently gave me three beautiful garlic heads from her garden and while I will enjoy two heads now, one will go into my garden for next year!
(I’m all covered in the photo to thwart the bites from the incessant mosquitos…)
How has your garden fared this year?
Have you tried anything ‘new’? If so, what was it and how did it work out?
Love to hear your thoughts on gardening.
Last week was my week to prepare for an upcoming art show in which we exhibited…hence, my absence here…
Michael (my partner) has been busy for the past few months designing and building new pieces to showcase. Below, the back of one club chair and the root is a table base – both of which sold (yeah!),
while I have been busy with all the other things involved with owning one’s own art based business, Designs Adrift…and planning for an off site show. Below, our booth…
The exhibition took place on Mt. Desert Island.
A very beautiful and picturesque area of Maine…to say the least…
Somes sound is absolutely incredible and Acadia National Park is not too be missed…
The tiny cottage in which we stayed was situated perfectly within Northeast Harbor.
A ten minute walk and we would be in town. And the 20 minute commute to the show grounds afforded us a luxurious drive past grand estates and then into the Somes Sound…a magical fiord…
The narrow, winding two lane road, where fog and mist intermix with brilliant azure skies and green covered mountains (East Coast mountains) on either side of it, holding boats of all types… reminded me of being on South Island, in New Zealand…
It was an incredibly beautiful commute, and one we fully appreciated…particularly after all the hours we had spent preparing for the show and all the hours we knew were ahead…
Collecting the wood. Designing and building each piece. Deciding what should be showcased and where. Laying out the space. Pricing. Wrapping each piece for travel. Loading the U-haul trailer and remembering to bring everything we would need (shame I didn’t take any packing/moving photos)…
And then there was the food.
Lunches were kept simple with salads
(garden veggies abound at the moment),
breakfasts were oatmeal with yogurt and fresh blueberries (in season here now), homemade raspberry muffins
and on our last morning we savored a delicious quiche.
Dinners were one pot meals – chili, mac + cheese (cheese sauce below)
and a side of cornbread, black bean and sweet potato tacos complete with guacomole and on our first night, haddock chowder and blueberry pie for dessert; compliments of my cousin who lives in Northeast Harbor…
she is the reason we were able to stay in this posh town, for four days in July, over a weekend…Cheryl (my cousin) has a friend who does not use her home on the weekends…hence, our incredibly affordable, beautiful and convenient accommodation…thank you Cheryl and Margaret!
Back to the food.
Everything could be made and was made days in advance (except for the oatmeal) and then frozen. Voila. Meals were served with the least amount of effort and clean-up. Love that. Granted it’s a lot of work up front, but the pay off was worth it. Plus, they were all dishes I’ve made a zillion times before, so no checking in with recipes – just prep and cook…
Appetizers were enjoyed and prepared fresh.
Olives, goat cheese, guacamole, chips, salsa, hummus and sliced tomatoes topped with fresh basil leaves and freshly sliced mozzarella, to name a few…
Doesn’t sound like we’re ‘skimping’ now does it?
Budget doesn’t have to mean scarcity.
For me, it means to live within your means.
So why not do it as well as you can…(:
Yeah for fresh picked summertime strawberries! Picking strawberries is such a delight this time of year in Maine…even on a cloudy cool day…
Finn and I went picking last week and we had so much fun. We were the only ones there! I think the clouds and drizzle kept everyone else away – which was just fine with us…it was like having our own private strawberry field. It was lovely and so peaceful…snacking on berries, looking out at cloud shrouded hills with a gentle mist falling all around, and cows grazing nearby…it was a magic day in Maine, to say the least…
The strawberry fields were a part of a larger organic farm, Uncas Farm, in Whitefield Maine. The farm is an organic farm and they have a super sweet general store on the premises where they offer sandwiches, soup, coffee, local meats and their own produce…plus, lots of other fabulous goodies…enjoy them in their homey cafe and peruse a book or two (they have a mini library there too!) or take lunch with you…either way, it’s a great spot to go picking organic strawberries, so we did.
Now, what to do with all those strawberries…hmmm…last year we made biscuits and then topped them with strawberries and cream – this year, we’ll do the same, though we’ve also been enjoying a super simple, nutritious and quick snack – strawberry banana smoothies!
They are so easy with fresh or frozen fruit that you should try them this summer too…
Here’s what you’ll need;
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
1-1.5 cups plain yogurt
1-2 tablespoons ground flax (easy way to get all those omega benefits!)
a bit (or more) of honey
and that’s it!
Chop and place all in blender.
Blend and pour.
Other combo. possibilities;
peanut butter and yogurt
yogurt and blueberries
blueberries, rasberries and banana
What’s your favorite combo?
Try it for yourself and see how refreshing (and filling) this beverage is -especially on those sweltering summer days…
P.S. Fun fact – my blender and fun strawberry glass were picked up for free at my local ‘freebie barn’.
I’m surprised by how well my little backyard garden is doing, despite all the odds against it…
Time constraints, a precocious three year old, fluctuating temperatures, heavy rains, Maine mosquitos (bad for me, not the garden) and the constant threat of insects (particularly slugs and snails right now)… makes gardening this year a bit of a challenge, to say the least. Granted there are always variables out of our control when growing one’s own, though this year, the wet and cooler temperatures are certainly above and beyond the ‘norm’…
While Finn naps, I try to get out there – little by little more seeds are sown, weeds are pulled, additional mulch is laid and insects are picked off one by one…for me the key to having and enjoying my garden is simply getting out there, once a day, even if only for 15 minutes…to keep an eye on things and say ‘hello’. Yes, I do talk to my plants…why not?
I want to garden. I want to eat fresh organic greens. I want to pick (and then enjoy) fresh homegrown, veggies! I want super fresh, real food. My current budget won’t allow me to buy locally grown, organic tomatoes, but it does, if I grow them myself, from seed. Lucky for us, I like to garden. And I have space to garden…
Not only do I like to garden, I need to garden. For me, it’s innate. It always has been. I like to eat what I grow. Plus, the taste, is impossible to achieve with store bought vegetables. Nothing is more fresh than ‘just picked.’ Seriously.
So, I garden.
I start seeds in the late winter/early spring, I compost, I save seeds, I read about companion planting and organic gardening. I teach myself and I learn as I go. Life is all about learning – it’s never ending – and for me, this years garden is teaching (and reminding me) that plants want to grow.
Every living thing wants to grow – despite set backs and challenges, we all want to and need to grow, vegetables are no different. So if you think you don’t know enough to grow a few plants, think again, they are forgiving (to a point) and they want to please you as much as you want to enjoy them…
So why not start a seed and see how it feels…you may just get hooked.
Don’t have a lot of space? Try plating vegetables/flowers in pots. A tomato doesn’t taste any better grown organically in the ground, in the country, in Maine as one grown organically, in a pot, on a fire escape in NYC…homegrown is homegrown, and that is always better than any store bought tomato…the best part of organic homegrown? Monsanto is not involved – at all.
Happy gardening – for yourself, your family and the earth!
What a week! Finn was slowly recovering from his bought with the flu and then it took over my body…and then onto Michaels…now back to little man, though, thankfully it’s just a cold now… Hence, no posts last week…
Then it was preparing for the storm – the record breaking, two-day storm. What a storm it was – over 3 feet of snow, both doors snowed closed and drifts up to the windows (and even over some windows!)…thankfully, we never lost power and the sun did eventually shine…
So, we are all still recovering and looking forward to spring – it will inevitably come, sooner or later as will our good health…