Say it isn’t Snow


Once it finally gets warm and things start growing and blooming outside, it feels as if it will last forever. But it snowed yesterday and last night the temperatures dipped into the 20’s. The magnolia blooms, still not quite opened are turning brown at the edges. I suspect the cold will take its toll in other ways but out in the yard everything looks fine and luckily, the snow didn’t stick.

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Daffodil Days & Seedlings

There’s lots of different types of daffodils blooming in my yard now.

The seeds planted back in March are doing well except for the Milkweed.  Not a single sprout in sight.  The growing seedlings get a boost of a tablespoon of fish emulsion  dissolved in a gallon of their water twice a week.   Kale, some herbs and cabbages are set out now, during the day.  The sprouted peas are planted in a potted trellis that held black eyed Susan vines last year.

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Meanwhile, tomatoes, peppers and tender annuals continue to grow in the basement under lights. Our last frost date is in just 5 1/2 weeks and by then, everything will be planted out in the garden

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April Showers


The rhubarb is unfurling and things are coming alive. The fritillaries I planted are looking good but seem to have had no effect on deterring moles. My front yard is a giant mole hotel. All the roses except the rugosas are ruined, the roots eaten to nubs.
It’s raining so I’ll be spending the day in the kitchen.   I have more seedlings to transplant, (they are taking over the house!),  and I want to catch up on some cooking. There’s chicken broth on the stove. We buy local, free range chickens and not a bit is wasted. Even the bones are used.. burnt in the fireplace and composted.
If I have time, I might work on some needlework later and make some berry crumble with the last of the blackberries and raspberries, in the freezer from last year’s crop.

Happy, productive days!

Daffodils, Garlic and Little Fish

The first daffodils opened today!  The garlic has poked through and is looking nice and sturdy.  Seed potatoes are coming in tomorrow.

I lost all the fish in the pond this winter. Talking to the girl at the pet store, I found out that many pond owners here lost their fish.  The winter was just too cold for too long.   I’ll be introducing a few fish at a time  into the pond for the next month.  These are feeder fish.  People buy them to feed other pets. They cost a dime each.  I feel sorry  for the fish that froze over the winter but living for 8 years in my pond was a better fate than what they may have met as turtle food.

Edible Landscape

I’ve been really inspired by the Grow Food not Lawns movement. The past few years I’ve been transitioning my massive perennial borders and front flower beds into mixed gardens, integrating my existing plants with vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruit. This combination can be beautiful and practical. Rhubarb, zucchini and most vegetables are so attractive and look great among the flowers and shrubs. Lots of flowers are edible and pretty… Bee balm, calendula, violets, nasturtiums, roses and lavender, to name just a few. Strawberries and creeping thyme are great ground covers and borders. Currant and blueberry bushes are easy to grow, attractive when they come into flower and even prettier when they set berries. Columnar fruit trees are another great option. Cabbage and kale are great fill ins. Lancinato kale has a lot of visual interest but it gets eaten up by little green worms here so I grow the Green Scottish Curled instead. Herbs offer so much in the way of flowers and color..echinacea, catnip, lemon balm, variegated mints, borage..The list goes on and this post is getting long. As the season progresses, all the little plants filling my tables under lights crowding the sunny windowsills will hopefully be big and strong and make their way into the gardens. Ideas are percolating for artful/ edible combinations and integrations. I’m hoping this gardening season is productive and beautiful for all of us!

Seed sprouting, Jojoba, Lyme

Easter was great.  Easter Monday was a beautiful day.  It’s been cold and rainy since then but the  indoor seedlings are thriving, sending out their true leaves.  Thanks to the good advice of my blogger friends, the Friariello di Napoli pepper seeds sprouted right up after placing the tray on the radiator for a few days.

The power company took down a big maple in my front yard.  It’s a sad sight.

This morning, I made some bug repellant.  Having had Lyme disease and living in a state where it has reached endemic proportions, I have to admit it scares me a bit.  I take precautions.  I don’t want to douse myself or my dogs with pesticides so I’ve been using something home made instead.  I add 25 drops of rose geranium essential oil to 4 ounces of Jojoba and keep it in a dark, glass jar.  I  apply the mixture all over myself before getting into my gardening clothes. Other essential oils can be added but  rose geranium is reputed to repel tics.  Jojoba is a good carrier.  It lasts longer than a water based carrier.  It’s light, easily absorbed by the skin and has the benefits of being antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and  offers nutritive benefits as well.  It never goes rancid because technically it’s a wax, not an oil.   After gardening, all my clothes go right into the washing machine.  I immediately take a shower.  It’s an annoying routine but better than getting Lyme disease again.   So far so good!

It Starts!!


Today was my first snow-free day out in the gardens. I spent 6 hours in the front yard and got 4 of the 7 beds cleared.  Out back is where the real work begins. I left leaves in the beds and the plants high last Fall so the birds could have the seeds. I have to laugh, I start the day running out the door to get at it and just a few hours later I’m wondering why I have so many gardens.
Poking around for signs of life, I was a little sad to see that even though the pond is dug down 3 feet, one of my fish didn’t make it through the winter. I put 12 little feeder goldfish into the pond when we dug it 8 years ago. No sign yet of any of the others. There’s lots of other things popping through though. It’s so exciting. I have a LOT of work ahead of me

Sprouting Seeds & Easter Daffodils

Seeds are sprouting all over the place. I may have been wrong, and cheerfully so! Looks like we might have daffodils for Easter after all. Does anyone out there know if Milkweed takes inordinately long to sprout indoors? (save the Monarchs!) Also, I think my seeds may have frozen in the mailbox. Not a single pepper seed has taken. If they froze, would that have ruined them? Everything else is fine.  Happy Spring!

Special Ingredients

My daughters have been calling in requests for things that they want me to cook for Easter.   I don’t  know how many generations have been making our family recipes but since my Mother died 4 years ago, it’s been my turn to keep them going.

Yesterday I made nut roll.  There’s a lot more cooking left to do and some of the ingredients aren’t available in  the regular grocery stores.  I took a little trip to a town about 40 minutes away that has a strong, Eastern European community and a good ethnic market.  There was a 45 minute wait to get into the shop.  In line, the mood was festive.  Everyone was  excited about the holiday.  We were all talking and laughing with each other.  Since many of us were making the same traditional Easter dishes, the conversation turned to recipes and cooking anecdotes.  It was fun and the time flew by!

The store was pretty big and had a lot of interesting things that aren’t in the regular grocery stores.  Many of the items had labels that weren’t written in English.  I got everything I needed, had  a good time looking around and found a few interesting things for the Easter baskets.

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Getting Ready

Baking, cleaning, finishing up a few things to go in the Easter baskets,continuing to sow seeds for the garden…today was the beginning of a busy week.  I made Laurie’s  ginger-carrot soup from Notes from the Hinterland  and it was delicious!  We’re still getting snow..flurries mostly and the temperatures are cold so chances are that we wont be having any daffodils or tulips anytime soon ouside.  Luckily, the indoor plants are doing their best to make up for it.

Cabbage Patch, Calendula & Diamataceous Earth

I may have been a little over enthusiastic in sowing the seeds for my cabbage patch.  I have over 60 little plants.  Cabbage is great for saurkraut, of course,  and if you make your own you can add all sort of good things to it…carrots, kale, onions..even oranges.  Delicious!  I like to stir fry cabbage in coconut oil. It is  sweet, a little crunchy and doesn’t smell like sulfur when cooked this way.  Onions, fresh garlic and sea salt taste great with it.   Pea pods make a great addition too.

I have a lot of calendula started too.  Fresh calendula petals added to stir fries, salads..even fruit salads make things look pretty and add extra nutrition.  Dried petals retain their shape and color when added to glycerine soaps, vinegars and oils.  In the garden, they  are workhorses and make terrific companion plants.

I notice the fruit flies beginning to hover and multiply over my seedlings.  A little food grade Diamataceous earth sprinkled on the potting bench will take care of that problem in no time.  It’s non toxic and safe for pets.  Once it gets wet it is no longer effective. In the past, I’ve had issues with ants and japanese beetles in my old house.  Last year I sprinkled Diamataceous earth in all the windowsills, along the perimeters of the cellar and on top of the beams.  It really worked .

Speaking of Cabbage Patches and little sprouts…my daughter is having a baby!  The first grandchild!  I added the last stitch to this happy little quilt last night.

Spring Flowers, Winter Thaw

The first flower has  sprung!  Most of the snow in the front yard has melted.  The back yard is still  snowy but a heat wave of 60 degrees is coming so that should be gone soon.  I was working in the front gardens today, mostly pruning and cleaning.  After just a couple of hours, I realized that  I  am out of shape.  I cooked up a batch of vegetables in some of my chicken broth and ran it through the blender when the vegetable were tender.  Vitamin packed and good for the bones!   I am excited that have a lot of work ahead of me and I want to be up for it.

Walking On Sunshine Blog Hop Party

Hugh’s Views & News is hosting a Walking On Sunshine Blog Hop Party.   I love this idea!  It’s a great way to share blogs with each other.  There are so many wonderful sites out there!  I hope he continues this so I can share and find more of you.  Thank you, Hugh.

It’s very easy to join in and there is not much involved. All you have to do is choose a fellow blogger and do what I am about to do below.

I am excited  to share a wonderful blog...Whispering Pines Farm. Carole has been blogging for 4 years and her site is filled with a wealth of information and lovely anecdotes about gardening, spinning, soapmaking, cooking, jellymaking, handcrafts, her animals (very dear to her heart) and more. One of my favorite of her recent posts is Owen.. it’s about Carole and the beautiful senior cat that she adopted.  Carole  is so knowledgeable and gracious.  Her blog and her lifestyle have become a real inspiration for me.

  1. Choose a fellow blogger who you think spreads blog love.

  2. Write a short post about them.

  3. Entitle your post Walking On Sunshine Blog Hop Party (so others can find your post).

  4. Create a pingback to this post, so that the link appears in the comments section, so that other participants can read your post. Click here for details on how to create a pingback..

You can mention as many bloggers as you want in your post and write as much about them as you want, but try to not make your post too long.

Enjoy the party everyone and keep spreading the blog love.

Saint Patrick’s Day

My house smells like cooked cabbage today but I like it because it reminds me of my Grandparents.  I still have the cup my Grandfather used for his supper tea.  His parents came to the States from the county of Donegal.  They raised their children in the tenements of Boston where she was a midwife and he was a policeman.   Happy Saint Patrick’s Day everyone!

Away from the Snow

Aside from getting a flat tire on the highway in Washington DC at midnight, (watch those potholes!), it was lovely to get away from the snow for a few days.  My husband had some business in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Their spring seems to be slow starting too but it was definitely in the air.  Doesn’t this macaroni and cheese look delicious? It was!

Hyssop , Cactus Sprouts & Roof Rakes

This is what a roof rake looks like.   It has come in very handy.  I’m getting a lot of needlework and painting done in these long, cold nights.  My cactus seeds sprouted into 7 little cacti so far.  Still holding back on the major seed starting but I can’t resist starting a few early trays.  I planted some blue hyssop.  The bees love it but really I’ve planted it for my friend Arthur. When I had my shop, he would cycle in a mile or so every day to visit me .  On his 80th birthday, he brought in a cassette player and some big band music and asked me to have a birthday dance with him.  He loved Blue Hyssop.  It will bring happy memories and good energy to my garden.

Snowed In

We were snowed in again yesterday.  At this point, it really doesn’t matter.  I think I ‘ve gotten used to it.  I spread my projects out on the dining room table and spent the day meandering through them all.  It’s too early to plant up the seeds but a few pots here and there give me something to look forward to.  It’s exciting to see the little sprouts coming through and to check them each morning.  March 1 st came in like a lion so you know what that means!

My Old House


My house was built in 1848. I fell in love with it the minute I saw it and it has suited me perfectly. My youngest started college this year and the other 2 have moved out on their own. Raising a family of 5 here, a lot of stuff accumulated. A year ago January, I set a goal to clear things out and replace them with things that I made or refurbished myself. Big radiators, exposed pipes, tiny closets, funny little doors and odd little rooms add loads of quirky character and good opportunities to be creative and flexible. Every week I fill a box of things to be donated and another of things to bring to the recycling center. Progress has been slow but sure, eventually I will have everything simple and clean and homemade. We won’t talk about the dreaded cellar now.. I haven’t made my way down there yet, lol.

Winter Cheer

Crazy as it may seem with temperatures in the negative digits and 3 feet of snow on the ground, Spring is in the air! The days are getting longer  …it doesn’t get dark until 6 pm now and  seeds are starting to sprout.  My leeks are coming up!   I saw a notice posted in a coffee shop, offering coffee grounds to gardeners.  My husband checked in with a local coffee shop near to where he works and if we provide a bucket, they are willing to fill it with used grounds.  I finished painting another one of my masonite boards.  I got a little carried away with this one but at this point in my life it’s all about the process, not the product.  I had a bit of a laugh to myself when it was done because the cherub at the top came out looking like my Mom, totally unplanned.   Lol!  Art therapy, longer days and spring seeds work wonders to keep high spirits and hopeful thoughts for the coming days, even in the dead of winter.

Valentine’s Day

 

 

When my girls were little,  I would set the table fancy for Valentine’s Day morning and bake heart shaped muffins. Their Dad gave each of them their own little box of chocolates.   This year my youngest came home for the weekend.  I  set the kitchen table up a bit  last night and made some scones to have this morning with cream and strawberry jam.   The perfect way for me to start the day, with my baby girl…Live-Love-Laugh… and happy Valentine’s Day everyone!