Saturday, November 19

Thanksgiving Butternut Squash Lasagna by Giada De Laurentiis

Here's a good recipe for a Thanksgiving sidedish from Giada De Laurentiis, host of Everyday Italian on Food Network. I still have some garden butternut squash so we'll be trying this one.

Saturday, November 12

Note to Michele: Moss and other things

Hi Michele,

You are right about that moss. I wish I had moss covered stones like that in my garden. I do think moss is beautiful. I know you disagree!

Garden season is pretty much over here. I'm envious of the things you have left growing in your garden. The main even here right now would be the fall leaves. This year the leaves changed later, were not as brilliant as they usual are and are dropping off the trees later. I've heard it's due to the high amount of rain and a fungus on the maples.

 Yesterday was blustery, so it was raining leaves around here. Soon, we'll have the task of raking up all these leaves. Some people rake all Autumn to keep the ground free of leaves, but I take the lazy approach and wait until they are all off the trees. I've heard it damages the lawn, but I'm not big into lawns so I don't care. My front lawn is mostly moss!

We've had some warm days this week, but today is cold and I have a fire in the fireplace to take the chill off. Here's a photo from a warm day last week. We visited a park in NH with some of our friends. I thought these trees were particularly pretty along the pond.

Do you have a lot of colorful leaves in Portland?

Monday, November 7

Note to Caroline:November Portland Community Garden Update

I went to the garden today to check on my cover crop of Rye & Clover. Nothing new to report on that subject other than the seeds have sprouted and look like tiny blades of grass. I don't have much to do now other than planning next year's garden. I can't wait for the seed catalogs to arrive.
I took a this photo of moss on a stone wall around the garden because I know how much you love it. I hate moss. It is all over the place in Portland, walls, houses, trees and even the pavement.
Here is a photo of Ivy that is invasive here and most parts of the country. It is also a good example of how everything remains green here all year.
Guess what? I have more flowers. I pulled these out a few months ago, but they self-seeded.
The Parsley still is going strong and I continue to harvest it weekly.
The Chives are still doing good too!
 Cosmos still in bloom

Thursday, November 3

An early bit of Winter

To everything there is a season…here in Maine, our seasons turned a little earlier than we’re used to and winter arrived in October.  This year, my kids went trick or treating with snow boot on! Check it out here. We’ve had flurries on Halloween before but never several inches on the ground!
I still had a few plants to remove from the community garden. I stopped by yesterday morning to take care of things. In the wee hours of the morning, everything was covered in thick frost, twinkling in the morning sunshine.
The remnants the season now gone stood frozen in time, sparkling in frost.
I think, perhaps, it was one of my favorite moments at this growing place.
Welcome back, Jack Frost.

Tuesday, November 1

Creating a Backyard Habitat

A Backyard Habitat

Creating a backyard habitat is not only good for the wildlife, but good for your children, too. Getting to know wildlife up close and personal gives children an appreciation for all living beings on this earth. When critters share the backyard with your family, a life long respect of nature is cultivated.
Teach your children which creatures should be observed from a distance...

... and which can be handled gently.

Be prepared to be delighted...

Because creating a wild habitat will bring some surprising visitors.

Even the tiniest backyard residents are a source of fascination for children.

1. Grow plants which provide a source of food for wildlife.
2. Allow wild plants a space in your garden.
3. Provide a water source.
4. Install a wildlife motion sensored camera
5. Install feeder and housing for birds, bats, butterflies, bees and other critters
6. Teach children to keep quiet and still so wildlife will feel comfortable.
7. Have children take their own photographs
8. Visit your local library to find books about your backyard friends.
9. Give your child a nature journal in which to draw pictures and write observations. This will get them up close and personal with the flora and fauna in their own backyard and create a lasting memento.
10. Use organic practices that respect all creatures in an ecosystem and allowing biodiversity.

Sunday, October 23

Note to Caroline: My Portland Community Garden is put to bed for winter

Hi Caroline, hope all is well with you and your gardens. Here is a photo of one of two pumpkins that grew in the garden this year. At least it is orange. The other one that is not pictured is just huge, but it is still green. News here is that our first frost might be here this week.
As you know I have been closing or "putting my garden to bed" as people here like to call it. Basically you can garden here all year, but like me many people want to take a break. Since winter means rain, rain and more rain, one priority here is to protect any nutrients in the soil washing away. I did leave a few plants to over-winter. The Chard and Rhubarb are still in the ground in addition to a couple of Broccoli plants.
Here is a bed that has been put to rest.
It does not look to pretty, but underneath the hay is a layer of hops, veggies and leaves. The goal is to remove the hay come spring and have rich soil underneath.

I added burlap coffee bean bags(popular here) to the pathways and put down mulch over it to try to prevent weeds. They don't seem to die here with the mild weather. I added a cover crop (Crimson Clover & Rye) to the rest of the beds, again to suppress winter weeds and to cut down soil erosion from the rain.

I pulled out and composted the rest of the the tomato & squash plants. Here is a photo of one of the heirloom tomatoes that just did not ripen here. Hope to hear from you soon. I can't believe the Holiday Season is right around the corner, but I can hardly wait for the new seed catalogs to arrive.

Wednesday, October 19

Fall Colors in My Garden

Even though most of the summer blooms have long gone, I found some color in my garden today. A few cosmos are still in bloom.
As well as this beautiful yellow flower. It reminds me of the flowers I saw on my trip out west. I'm not sure what it is as I planted a packet of mixed wildflowers in this spot.
Just one little vinca blossom right by my doorstep.
 Remember the poke weed I showed you a while back? Well, now the berries are this gorgeous shade of purple. The berries have been used in the past for ink and dye.
And let me tell you about this pumpkin blossom. I have pumpkin vines growing all over my back garden. I wanted lots of pumpkins this year so planted a lot of plants. I have long, long vines and many blossoms like this one but not one pumpkin. I did get a small pumpkin from my community garden plot. Other than that, nothing.

I have two holly bushes on either side of my front door-one male, one female. The berries are looking wonderful and making me think ahead to the holidays. These are in need of pruning but I'll wait a while so I can use the greens and berries to decorate for the holidays.

It won't be long before the snow flies and we'll be getting ready to deck the halls.

Sunday, October 16

Autumn Evening Stroll at Mt. Auburn Cemetery

We were lucky to be able to stop by Mt.Auburn Cemetery on a recent day trip to Boston. The Autumn colors were just beginning to show.

Mt. Auburn is a wonderful place for gardeners and birdwatchers to visit. A multitude of horticultural specimens grow on this property, all labeled with informational tags.

Read more about my recent trip to Mt. Auburn here.

Wednesday, October 12

Response to Caroline's Note:What is left?

Our issue here with weather is the rain and how much rain are we going to get? I have been focused on harvested everything and sowing a green manure on any bare soil to reduce soil erosion and add needed nitrogen to the soil. I decided to use a mix of Crimson Clover and Rye.

Rosemary and Sage. I plan to dry these in my pantry.
The Rhubarb is still going strong and has produced more healthy looking stalks.
A Sunflower from another garden.
Summer flowers are still in bloom here.
Last harvest. Tons of squash and tomatoes finally. I had to harvest tons of green tomatoes.
Tomatillos are finally ripe. Found out they are ripe when they fall on the ground.
Mystery Squash or Cucumber. Does anyone know what this is?
I have decided not to winter garden although I did leave the Chard and Cabbage that I planted late summer. I think a 3 month break will be good to plan for our next season. I know I am planning to use a row cover early spring to warm up the soil and make an early start of it.

Tuesday, October 11

Note to Michele: The Last of the Harvest

Hi Michele,

The last of the produce has been gathered in. We had a frost this week, so it was time to collect anything tender. Just a few hardy greens remain in my gardens and time for clean up and preparing the beds for winter is at hand.
I harvested herbs: lemon balm, mints, sage, chives, and others...
loads of green tomatoes and peppers. I chopped, blanched and froze peppers to use in recipes this winter.
I used my dehydrator for some herbs and hot peppers...
and here is my Dad's butternut squash. His did quite well, mine didn't (I have one tiny squash not quite fit for much of anything) He said I could have one of his to make the butternut squash soup.

What's left in your garden?

Wednesday, October 5

Butternut Squash Soup from Michael Chiarello

Butternut Squash Soup is one of my favorites this time of year. It's definitely a comfort food as the cool weather moves in. Here's a great recipe from Food Network's Michael Chiarello. I think I'll try this one soon.

Monday, October 3

Pumpkins and Squash from Jamie Oliver

Loads of beautiful squash....
loads of delicious possibilities...
from Jamie Oliver at home.

"We live for the bounties of fall; but the harvest of friendship is blessed above all." ~author unknown

Beautiful Front Yard Veggie Garden

A clip from "Growing A Greener World" featuring Shawna Coronado and her sustainable garden growing in the front yard. She's created a beautiful garden that produces for for her local food pantry. 

Visit Shawna at her blog here to see more of her garden.

Sunday, October 2

Harvesting and Cooking Green Tomatoes

It's that time of year here in Maine when the tomatoes are not going to ripen on the vine so it's time to do something with them. Here's a recipe from Paula Deen.

Here's a video by Carol O'Meara about how to ripen tomatoes indoors-great information and ideas.

Mom's Fall Flowers

The impatiens have faded and have been replaced with chrysanthemums at my mother's house.
It's October...

so the Scarecrows and Jack-O-Lanterns have made an appearance among the flowers.
We've had mostly warm days and a lot of rain so far this fall but...
it won't be long before the temperature drops,

the frost comes and the Trick-or Treaters-arrive.

Happy October!

What to do when it is just too Darn hot to Garden?

It has been a very hot summer everywhere. From what I have been told it is normal to get 100 plus days from the months here from  May to Oct...