The Garden Before


I realized that I hadn’t shown any pictures of what the garden looked like in early spring of this year, BEFORE all the goodness got growing!

Here is one perspective:


The tree in the background on the right side is a crabapple.  Here is one that shows the beginnings of my little bean teepee:

IMG_20130526_122515_218You can also see some of the irrigation hoses.  Putting those in was a fun day!  Actually, for all the aggravation, it was so worth it.  I have peace of mind when it comes to watering.

Here is a shot of our “covered wagon” experiment.  It worked out well because I put some tomatoes(plus celery, etc) in about a week before Memorial Day weekend.  The temperature did drop and freeze a time or two before it got nice and hot in June.  Covering these supports with plastic sheeting(held down with bricks) protected the tomato plants.


And I just had to snap one of Farmer Joel(taken right before we built the covered wagon support)!  He was the one who pushed to have this BIG GARDEN, after all!


A “Before” and “After” comparison —





Actually, the above was more like a “During…”  Take a look now:


The sunflowers are over 8 feet tall now.  No blooms yet, but soon!

Just for fun, here is our beloved Finn with his precious Frisbee:


See how he actually smiles?  🙂

Happy Day!


Happy Friday!

Happy Friday!  I wish everyone a very happy weekend.  Looking forward to sharing more with you next week.  In the meantime, here are some photos to enjoy: DSCN4036 The above was taken by my friend, Dianne.  Roses, Daylilies, Primroses, and Thyme – these are the flowers in front of the Town Mouse House. 😉 CIMG2166 The above was taken while on a hike with one of my kids, near Country Mouse House. CIMG2200 Raspberries!!!  Oh boy!  The birds planted these, so I decided to prune them a little and give them some TLC.  We shall see what happens….(Country Mouse House)  I’d love to hear from others about how they deal with the wild berry situations in their gardens? Have a wonderful weekend! ❤ Wendy


Hi there,

I had to clear out the rhubarb recently.  Look who I met in the process:


These little guys seem to like my gardens.  They are all over the place.  Kind of cute, eh?

The rhubarb was already there when we bought the place.  It comes back every year.  I thin it and give it as gifts.  A friend took some to market one year.  It is very hardy.  I have canned it in the form of jams, jellies, and sauces and given that as gifts, too.  I’ve baked pies and cobblers until I didn’t know what else to do.    We absolutely love it.

CIMG2136 CIMG2306

Rhubarb is high in vitamin C, but is very tart.  I’ve seen people who don’t mind that and bite right into it raw.  I’m not that brave.  I usually cook it with an equal amount of sugar to the chopped up rhubarb.  Then, we just eat it up.  Joel likes to make pancakes on the weekend and rhubarb sauce tastes pretty good with those.

A local friend told us that patch of rhubarb was there for well over 60 years.  Our farmhouse is 163 years old, so who knows when the rhubarb got there?  And, even though I have cleared it out pretty well, I will have 1 – 2 bumper crops before the season is over – no kidding.

For anyone unfamiliar with rhubarb, the leaves are poisonous, so just eat the stalk.

Does anyone have a recipe or a creative way to use rhubarb?


A few helpful hints

Hello there!

Over the years I’ve received a lot of great tips about gardening.  It fascinates me that even with those tips, some things just seem to resonate better for other people.  For example, one year my cucumbers were spindly, but my neighbor was canning pickles.

There seem to be a few things, however, that really do work across the board.  The “Basics:”

-The first and foremost is the quality of your soil, or planting medium.  We use horse manure, peat moss and either Perlite or Vermiculite mixed.  We compost, too, and that is added after harvest.

-Water-gently, steadily, and often in the summer heat.

-Keep those weeds out as much as possible.

I know, that was stating the obvious.  Here are a few other things that could also help:

-Planting certain plants together can often bring good results.  I had a grapevine that looked like it was dying, only to plant some hyssop near it, and now the grapevine has lots of green leaves!  Onions or garlic are good companions for a lot of plants, like the cabbage family plants, potatoes, and beans.  They also are good companions for roses.  I plant chives near my roses and the roses thank me for it every year.  The chives produce a beautiful purple flower in early spring, followed by the glorious rose show thereafter.  For more in-depth information, read Louise Riotte’s “Carrots Love Tomatoes and Roses Love Garlic,” available here.

-I don’t use chemicals.  When we have stubborn weeds, we might pour white vinegar or boiling water on them, which makes for easier removal.  One must take care not to douse any nearby “good” plants in the process.

-Fear not!  Don’t be afraid to try planting something in your garden.  What is the worst that could happen?  It won’t grow?  “If at first you don’t succeed…..”  Just make notes about it so you can refer back the following year(s).

-Talking to other gardeners is one of the best ways to obtain information.  You can read every book on the subject, but local neighbors will have the inside scoop for your area.  If you can get hold of your local Cooperative Extension, that is most excellent as well.

And, in the interest of frugality:

-Plant seeds as much as possible.  As you gain confidence, the seeds you plant can be seeds that you have saved from your own plants.  Venture out and exchange seeds with others.  Look online for a local seed exchange near you.

-Exchange plants.  I had to thin some lilacs, roses, and lilies.  My friend took them happily.  She is the same friend who gave me starts of  lamb’s ears and rose campion.

-Get the manure from a local farmer, or, if you raise animals, you have that covered in spades!(a little gardening humor)

-Look on Craig’s List or the local classified ads for things like hay for your compost.  Some people have old barns full of hay that they would gladly give away for free.

-Don’t give up!  I have had severe challenges with tomatoes for YEARS!  This year, FINALLY, I think I will have salsa and marinara sauce coming out of my ears!   I read A LOT about them, talked to my gardener friends who grows great tomatoes, and there you have it.  Here is how I did it this year:

-I bought plants.  Starting tomatoes from seed has turned into “Epic Failure”(as my kids would say) in the past.

-Strip away bottom leaves.

-Place cardboard tube around bottom of plant and plant at a sideways angle, deep into the soil, covering where the leaves were stripped.

-Plant carrots and basil next to the tomatoes.

-Water regularly.(Again, stating the obvious, but….)

-Sprinkle with egg shells and coffee grounds every so often. ( At the beginning of the season, I tried a little store-bought, organic fertilizer, too.)

-As the tomato plants grow, use cages, stakes, or some kind of supports.  Tie them to the supports with old nylon stockings.

-Pick ’em as they ripen!

Here is a peek at some of my cherry tomatoes.  Those little yellow and white flowers are chamomile:


Happy gardening!


Underground Varmints

We seem to have an abundance of  little creatures that dig holes and scurry underground.  I’ve seen voles and chipmunks enter these holes frequently.   I’ve read about several possible deterrents – many having to do with Castor oil or planting the Castor beans near the holes.  Much of what I have read indicates that the Castor plant is toxic, even if you touch it, so you must always wear gloves when handling.

One bit of advice I read said to douse cotton balls with Castor oil and stuff them in the holes in the ground.  I tried that, but it didn’t work.   Somewhere else it said to shove thorny branches(such as after you prune your roses) into the holes.  Still, no luck.  They just go and dig right next to it.

I planted a couple of Castor beans, and this is what they look like now:

IMG_0749See the holes in that leaf?  Apparently something doesn’t know or care about the supposed toxicity!

Here is the other one:


I think they are rather pretty.   I still see the holes in the ground, but we tried to further outwit the little guys with some hardware cloth underneath the whole darn garden – before adding soil.

I think it’s working?  So far, so good by the looks of my garden.  We are being taken over by pumpkin vines and squash vines at the present moment!  Here is a look at some of the squash, with nasturtiums entangled:


May you have a varmint-free day!


The Weather Stick

We have this item we purchased quite some time ago called a “Weather Stick”.  Supposedly, it is an ancient way of  letting us know what the weather will be like. It is made of balsam fir or birch.  I bought it just for fun several years ago in a local shop benefitting the Humane Society.  We could not believe how well it works.  The history of the Weather Stick is: Joel likes to call it the “Happy Stick.”  When it is “happy,” it points up.  This, of course, means that the sun is shining, or the weather is otherwise rather nice. CIMG2247





If  you look at the clouds in the background, you can see how quickly the “happy” stick becomes “sad.”


photo (9)                                                                    CIMG2199 Most people are skeptical, but it really works!  We don’t know how or why, but it just does.  (We placed it next to the thermometer for the full report, though)

Have a “Happy Stick” kind of day!


Best Friend

There is a certain someone who is everyone’s best friend in our house, and his name is Finn.  He will turn 3 years old in a couple of months.


Finn is a Cairn Terrier, just like “Toto” in “The Wizard of Oz”.  He loves the outdoors and he loves all living beings. He hangs out with us as much as possible.  Finn also believes that every Frisbee belongs to him, so if you just want a private, human game of  Frisbee, it could hurt his feelings.DSC02133

Sometimes, Finn is the boss.  I really wanted to wash my sheets, but in no uncertain terms, Finn told me I had to wait.


Finn also does Yoga.  Shown here in the “Downward Facing Dog” posture:


His favorite Yoga posture is “Corpse” posture, or “Shavasana”:


And, as I said, he is everyone’s best friend.  Always happy to see us, there is nothing like the love of our sweet dog!


Thank you, Finn, for choosing us to be your family! 🙂

Have a wonderful day!


Vegetables Part 2

Here’s Part 2 of “I-Don’t-Know-How-Many-Parts of the Vegetable Post”.  Here is one photo of the vegetable garden in the daytime:

Vegetable Garden July 14, 2013That’s my cute little farm house in the background.  🙂  Now, in the lower left corner, you can see eggplant leaves.  Putting cayenne pepper on the leaves has helped reduce the amount being chewed by some kind of bug.  I noticed that a Japanese beetle or two might just like spice, though!  Just to the right of the eggplant is arugula, which has started to bolt.  That’s okay, the leaves are still good to eat, and I will save the seeds for next year.  On the other side of the eggplant(which is not in the picture) are pole beans with all sorts of pretty-colored flowers.  Here is one:

Purple bean flower

Still on the left in the next box is green kale, purple kale, broccoli, onions, chives and Brussels sprouts.  I just put in some beet seeds and they are coming in well.  Also in this box by the arbor is a tiny Concord grape(that will hopefully climb the arbor over time)and I planted hyssop next to it.  I read that grapes and hyssop do well together.  This is my first try with hyssop and it has tripled in size since I brought home the scrawny little plant.  I don’t know how I will use it.  Has anyone used hyssop in anything?  I read somewhere it can flavor stews real well.

Behind that box are sunflowers(also with leaves getting chewed up), my one zucchini(shhh!), and pumpkins.  I put nasturtiums in that box because they are supposed to do well with the squash family.  So far so good.  I also stuck some Swiss Chard seeds in there and they have started coming in.

The upper right corner contains yellow squash, butter crunch lettuce, cucumbers, and some radishes that I have let bolt.  The radishes are supposed to be protective of the cucumbers.  It seems to be true, because the radish leaves are all chewed up but so far the cukes seem to be okay.

The box with the covered wagon frame is the home of 5 different tomato plants, and we’ve already eaten a few of the Early Girls.  We also have celery, sugar snap peas, carrots, green peppers, one hot pepper (red peppers are not doing great), basil, spinach, chamomile, and a flower starting to climb up the arbor called “Cardinal Climber”:

Cardinal Climber 7-13

The last box contains mostly beans, potatoes and onions.  There are a couple of mint plants, nasturtiums, marigolds, and some lettuce seedlings(for when I’ve picked all the other lettuce.)

A view of the arbor, taken last month, in the evening:

photo (11)Those solar mason jar lights are just the coolest!     I have seen them in Home Depot as well as in Tractor Supply Co. 

Here is the box with the tomatoes, etc. from a different angle.  The peas are climbing on the fake windmill.


There will be more vegetable updates to come!  As well as other garden areas…..this year we got the apple trees pruned and they are COVERED with apples!  I am going to be baking and canning up a storm!  🙂

Have a delicious day!


“Tangled Up In Blue”(berries)

Today’s post has to do with blueberries.  We have 4 blueberry bushes, which are each over 6 feet tall.  I can’t really tell you how that happened, except that we did cut them way back a couple of years ago, only to have them go through a lightning-fast growth spurt.  WE LOVE BLUEBERRIES!  BUT….SO DO THE BIRDS!!!!!  In fact, those cute, innocent looking critters seem to consume every last blueberry before they even turn BLUE!  They love the GREENberries.  Well, while we don’t mind sharing, we would like to have some for ourselves this year.  Yummmmm….blueberry pancakes, pie, cobbler, jam….So, we decided to cover them with bird netting.

One word of advice, if you choose to do this, do NOT wear a button-down shirt.  My buttons kept getting stuck in the netting.  Plus, we used four rolls of 14′ X 14′ netting, and it was sometimes hard to unroll  without getting all tangled up in it, making us feel something like this:



At any rate, we got the job done, thanks to Farmer Joel(pictured here with one of the rolls of netting – no tangling yet!)


We tried to help it up and over the bushes with the cardboard tubes they were rolled on:


As you can see, the tubes were bending, it started to rain, and as I was trying to take photos the netting was still getting caught in my buttons!  But, never fear, even though we left a few access points for the birds (i.e. branches that would not fit up under the netting), I think we got the bushes pretty well covered.




If you do this at home, be sure to have your handy-dandy landscape-fabric pegs at the ready.  They help anchor the netting into the ground, making bird access very difficult:

CIMG2279I just had to take a picture of the pretty little nearby  weed wildflower 🙂


So there you have it!


When the blueberries ripen, we will pick them and let you know how they are!


“……the only thing I knew how to do was to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew, tangled up in blue.”     Bob Dylan