2011 Garden Photo Gallery

Fresh celery in November
Growing at least two feet tall
under a row cover!

Garden Walk
Fall Garden Walk
Wild Edibles
Wild Walk

In Memorium:
Garden Fatalities

2011 Concord Grape

A record
206.5 pounds!


2011 Garden
Line Up:

Happy Rich Asian Greens, scallions, King Richard Leeks. Beedy's kale, Winterbor Kale, Italian parsley, curly parsley,
Mexican Sage, Fringed Sage, Pineapple Sage,
Thai Basil, Greek Basil,
Globe Basil, Pac Choi, Tatsoi, Bac Choi,
Hollyhocks, Burdock,
Jerusalem Artichokes,
Winter Savory, Sage,
Winter Savory, Marjoram

Sun Gold Tomatoes,
Old German Heirloom,
Amish Paste, Black Krim,
Purple Cherokee, Orange
Blossom, Jet Star

Sowed direct:
Sea Kale, Tres Fine Marchette, Arugula,
Zinnias, Summer Lettuce Mix,
White Russian Kale, Tatsoi,
Golden Detroit Beets, Bull's Blood Beet, Forono Cylindrical Beet, Touchtone Golden Beet, Raven Zucchini,
Cocozelle Zucchini, Gentry Squash, Yellow Crookneck
Squash, Marketmore Cucumbers, Summer Savory, Winter Savory



2010 in review:
Apricot trees
Plum trees
Wild Edibles

Mid-November herb harvest: Oregano, sage, lemon
balm, spearmint, and winter savory

Garden Log 2011
Notes and quotes from The Living Way
backyard farmer

Who would have thought, but out to the garden
I went today. The day was partly sunny and mild
and our recent snowfall nearly melted which encouraged
outdoor fun! On the job list today included emptying my
rainwater buckets. As usual, I brought some of the
water into the house for future use (watering plants,
etc.). I also emptied our accumulated bags of compost,
picked up some wood scraps for kindling, and last but
not least, harvested herbs! Lo and behold, a few survived
the recent snowstorm without mulch (I forgot!), so I
grabbed a basket and went to work. I harvested more
lemon balm and oregano plus the last of our thyme
and marjoram. What a thrill! Herbs are one of my
favorites in life. They make such wonderful additions
to living raw: enhancing flavor, color, texture, and
nutrition (!) all of which makes eating a special

We woke to snow today. The backyard had turned
into a typical wintry scene, though not exactly
picturesque here in semi-rural Maine. At least the
snow offered visual relief to our otherwise less-than-
orderly yard. Light snow fell most of the day, and
I must admit that I was happy to see the end of
our garden for 2011. This backyard farmer
welcomes retirement until spring!

A forecast of 8"-12" snow tomorrow sent me
scurrying to pull everything edible from the garden
and put the backyard to bed. It was no small task,
considering that I began this herculean effort in the
late afternoon. It was as good as dark when I was
ready to pick the last of our Beedy's Kale, spade
up the celery (how beautiful!), grab the parsley,
harvest the herbs (thyme, sage, oregano, winter
savory, and lemon balm), and bundle up their
respective row covers. My grand finale was
mulching the herbs with a blanket of straw and,
believe it or not, covering the last of our nettles
with blankets and tarps in order to hold them
through the snow storm. Call it 'wild expectations,'
or just a wild idea, if you will. We do like our
nettles and want to make a few more pestos
before retiring them for the season!

WOW! It was sunny and warm again today. I
took advantage of the friendly weather by
finishing up some important garden work:
fixing the compost bins, pulling up a few Golden
beets, harvesting more nettles, picking the last
of our arugula, and raking up straw mulch from
the garden so that I could cover more of our herbs.
Little by little I am putting the garden to bed. It is
a bittersweet exercise. Nevertheless, we are thankful
for the bounty of beautiful, fresh food that we have
enjoyed from our backyard.

What a beautiful day today...warm and sunny!
I mulched our strawberry plants and some of
our herbs in an effort to protect them through
the winter. May they rest well!

Today I had fun lifting row covers and harvesting
the fresh herbs that are growing underneath! I also
picked a large basket of stinging nettles that we
use to make a pesto. Before going in the house,
I checked the rest of the garden and cheered it on,
hoping it will respond by producing at least a couple
of more weeks!

It was another balmy warm day, though 'gray' in
terms of cloud cover. Before lunch, I took a quick
trip out to the garden to snip some herbs for our
smoothies. Lemon balm, parsley, and stinging
nettles were my choices. They smiled at me when
I peeked under the row covers and were happy to
be chosen and picked for our smoothie feast today.
Later in the afternoon, I ventured out into the backyard
to see what was happening. The garden was quiet in
comparison to former months of 'peak activity.' For
the most part, our remaining greens are snugged
under frost-protective row covers. Celery, Beedy's
Kale, parsley, and other herbs are still growing well.
I picked several stems of Kale and pulled up two
struggling Celeriac plants. Only the tops were edible.
Sadly, it was not a good year for celeriac. I also
picked some Arugula and covered the rest. Since the
harvest is waning, we use our greens sparingly in
order to savor the season as long as possible.

Unusually balmy days made working in our
backyard gardening delightful. A special
treat was a basketful of Arugula, one of my
favorite greens! I also emptied our compost
and cleared more of the land.

It was a bright, sunny day as I ventured out to
check our remaining crops. All seems to have
survived our recent snow storm. As I lifted the
row covers off the herbs and kale, the plants
smiled back at me! They were happily green
and still growing well. I harvested a large basket
of Beedy's Kale and filled another basket with
assorted herbs. Our nettles are still strong and
healthy. Some of them are poking their heads
through the snow. I hope they last much longer!
It's a treat to still harvest food from the backyard
at this time of year!

Snow today!Ugh!
Two days of hard work preparing
for the event was worth the effort. Knowing that the
garden was secured for this 'unusual' weather event
was comforting. As much as possible, I like to hold
on to the garden. Thankfully we only had about three
inches of snow.

It was another day of busily preparing for our first
snow storm that is due to arrive tomorrow. There was
much to do! I started off early by going to the farm
supply store and buying some straw for mulch. I
came home, unloaded the three bales,and then
proceeded to mulch our garlic bed. The mulch must
be at least six inches deep in order to protect the
garlic bulbs during the winter. To extend the straw
supply, I raked up a goodly amount of straw mulch
from last year's bed. I piled it high and deep. By
mid afternoon, the job was done. I then tackled
other garden tasks: emptying the compost and
covering the bins. I also harvested some kale
and herbs. As a grand finale, I placed row covers
and blankets over our existing crops in order to
protect them in the coming snow storm. We are
praying for a mild storm with little snow!

I spent a long day in the garden today. I finished
planting our six rows of garlic...292 bulbs in all.
Then I mulched the rows with our antique horse
manure and some pulverized lime. I also pulled
up the last of the tomato vines and other assorted
dead brush. The tall, fall grasses (probably weeds)
that grow in our garden are favorite drieds, so I
uprooted several clumps to add to future dried
flower arrangements. I also dug up some leeks
(so beautiful!) as well as our one and only Detroit
Red Beet. Sadly, it was not a good beet year for
us. Later in the afternoon I dug up a few Golden
Beets. The greens were better than the root, the
slugs having beat (no pun intended) me to the beet!
Last but not least, I dug up some of our Jerusalem
Artichokes. They were big and succulent. I filled
a small pail and brought them in the house. With
great delight, I pre-washed several to take into
the kitchen. We will happily grate them into our
salads. As the sun began to set, I called it a day
for gardening.

It was a bright, sunny day with a brisk, fall wind
as I rushed to pick more of our grapes that have
grown over the fence on the school's football field.
With cart and basket in hand, I ignored the game
in progress in favor of harvesting handfulls of
purple jewels. The clusters were plump and fragrant!
There were so many that I could not pick fast enough
much less pick them all. Hence, I went for the biggest
and best. After nearly an hour 'in the vines', I came
home with thirty eight pounds. This is the largest
ever, single harvest. The grape harvest now totals

Today I went out to finish preparing next year's
garlic bed. I dug and mounded six rows in the
warm sun. I also pulled all the told tomato vines,
dug out weeds, and did general clean-up in the
garden. Earlier in the day I trimmed our lovage
plant and did compost. Weeding was extra easy
after our recent three days of torrential rains.
Gladly our grapes were still good.

Due to constraints in time, entries in this log are
sadly lacking. To be honest, it is a challenge to
keep up with everything! As of this update, our
garden is thankfully still growing well. Though
overgrown with weeds both tall and small, I
am still harvesting goodly baskets of kale, arugula,
tatsoi, and herbs not to mention wild edibles which
have taken off like weeds. Happy findings amidst
the disarray are beautiful cucumbers that hid
themselves under wilting, dried leaves, and best
of all: gorgeous grapes! Our long-awaited grape
harvest is in full swing. Total harvest to date is
74lb. and the harvest is hardly begun. Thanks to
unseasonably warm (would you believer 80+ degrees?)
the grapes are filling out better-than-ever. They
are finding themselves into the wholesale market
locally and, of course, into our mouths! What a
taste! We are juicing them and making fruit leathers.
The juice is indescribably rich!

As yet I have not harvested any of our celery. I
have purposely waited to do so, noting that it is
looking increasingly better each day. As much as
I looked forward with great anticipation to harvesting
our Golden Beets, close inspection of same several
days ago showed significant slug damage. I was
devastated. I dislike sharing our garden with slugs
(or any other pest for that matter)! As the weather
cools, I will start pulling up our Goldens and be
thankful for what remains of these yellow beauties.
They are one of my favorites. Much to my dismay,
beets did not do well for me this year. The harvest
will be slim.

On a happier note, our nettles are having a great
time spreading themselves around the entire yard
as are other wild edibles and invasive herbs/ornamentals.
Next spring I will need to thin out various plants in
order to keep some semblance of order in the garden.
I don't mind 'wild', but it can get out of hand! Locales,
if you want some cuttings next spring, let me know!

An abundant harvest has been on-going, keeping me
on my toes inside and out! Tomatoes are now coming
in by the baskets-full: beautiful yellows, reds, and
greens. What a treat! We are eating as many as
possible before freezing and dehydrating them. The
summer squashes are nearly done. It is a bittersweet
experience never the less a fact of life. Our herbs are
going strong. We are making herb pestos and drying
extra harvests for winter use. Our grape vines are
slowly ripening toward another record harvest. It will
be a full time job just to harvest them, but I'll get over

This morning I harvested squash, tomatoes,
and herbs. As I picked and looked over the garden,
I thanked YHVH for taking it safely through the
soon-coming tropical storm Irene. I talked to the
plants and told them to 'hold on tight.' All is well.
Later in the day I took care of the compost and
secured the remaining row covers. Just for the
fun of it, I pulled a couple more large scallions.
Wow. What a thrill. After many years, I have finally
grown scallions that are like those at the farmers'
market! I must be doing something right!

The harvest is coming in very quickly. I am bringing
in large baskets of greens and having fun finding
cucumbers amidst all their leaves. Hunting for them
is sometimes challenging, since they hide well!

Another surprise greeted me in the garden today:
I found another St. John's Wort growing next to one
of our tomato plants. I was delighted. We know have
a grand total of five St. John's!

Our summer squashes, zucchini, and cucumbers
are coming along well. The heat and rain has
accelerated their growth and soon we will have
good pickings. I can hardly wait! I also looked
under another row cover and happily discovered
that our Pac Choi, Bok Choy, and Tatsoi were
eady to harvest. We love these 'orientals' in raw
soups and salads!

There has been no sign of the ground hog(s)
since the last sighting. We pray that they either
choked to death on our stinging nettles or
decided to move to a less hostile environment.
No matter what, all appears quiet. Thank you,

Today I began lifting some of the row covers
to see what was happening inside. Much to
my delight, our Bede's Kale was back to life!
I was ecstatic! Then I checked under another
row cover to look at the arugula. Wow! It was
gorgeous: big and beautiful! It was the best
crop I have ever grown. I now see that row
covers are the only way to grow certain
crops. I am glad to learn this lesson!

Daily trips to the garden yield harvests of
herbs and other raw delights. Summer rain
showers are helping to keep the ground
moist. The rains are an anwer to prayer.
This morning I picked a small basket of
our red raspberries. The yield this year is
very lean. Our grapes are all over the place.
We have over fifty feet of dense-leafed vines
that sport an astounding number of grapes.
At present the grapes are slightly larger than
marbles, but plumping up gradually thanks to
adequate rains.

Today was not a happy day for me. I saw
the ground hog scoot across the yard as
I went out to pick herbs this afternoon.
Suffice to say, I do not like to share our
yard (much less our garden) with a four-
legged varmit.

Upon returning home, I looked over the garden
and was glad to see that everything appears to
be growing well without any visible ground hog
interference. Weeds have grown higher, but I
decided to let them continue growing in order
to hide our edibles from the hogs. Hopefully
the weeds will help deter their appetites.

For the most part, garden activity for the past few
weeks has been sparce. This fact is attributed to
two factors: 1. being somewhat dismayed at having
two resident ground hogs, and 2. being away. Before
leaving town, I secured the garden with as many row
covers as I could and left the matter with YHVH. I
had done all that I could to protect our investment.
The rest was up to Him. I know He'll do a good job.

Today I made another delightful discovery: another
St. John's Wort plant is growing along our fence!
I celebrated the discovery by harvesting the delicate
yellow flowers in order to make more massage oil.
Now we have a total of four St. John's Wort plants
in our yard. They are gifts from YHVH!

There was bad news from the garden today. The
ground hog was still there. Worse yet, there were
TWO hogs, not one. I was devastated. They have
taken up residence in a remote area of the yard, a
difficult place to access. I suspect that routing them
out will not be easy. This is not a happy day for me.
Much to my dismay, I dragged out the row covers
and began defending our plants from future attack.
I hope the tactic works.

While I was out harvesting herbs and wild edibles
this morning, I made a wonderful discovery: an
abandoned 5 gallon bucket that was perched
hap-hazardly in the backyard was sporting a good-
sized St. John's Wort plant! I was elated! We have
mourned the loss of our giant stand of St. John's
ever since it drowned in the July 2009 Maine
'Monsoon' when it rained ALL month. Since it is
an important herb in our lives and few local growers
sell seedlings/cuttings, we finally persuaded a green
house friend to part with some of hers. That she did.
Last month we purchased a fair-sized St. John's from
her and proudly planted it in the 'old spot.' I pampered
it with fresh compost, antique manure, and fertilized
it with Miracle II Agriculture Blend. I am happy to
report that it is growing well.

Much to my delight, about a week ago I discovered
a St. John's Wort growing in our upper garden near
the house. I was ecstatic. The plant is over one foot
tall and is blooming happily. A couple of days ago I
went and picked the yellow blooms, put them in a
small jar, and covered them with extra virgin olive oil,
capped the jar and then placed it on a sunny window
sill in the house. This is St. John's Wort massage oil
in the making. It is a remarkable oil with wonderful
healing qualities for aching muscles, etc. Don't tell
the FDA what I just told you.

Help came today for the ground hog debacle. A friend
tackled the job by plugging the hog holes with large
stones and now all is quiet in the backyard...no sign
of the varmits. If they are not dead in their underground
bunker, I am believing that they are sufficiently
terrorized so as to leave our yard forever.

In the meantime, I keep working the garden and doing
'damage control.' Due to wet weather, I have had to
plant some of our beets three times. Germination is
not the greatest this year even with new seeds. Suffice
to say, I am disappointed with the performance of
some crops so far. I believe the downturn is the sign
of the times: earth changes, too much rain, chemtrails,
and the radiation factor. However, I am doing my best
to work the land.

We had several more tomato seedlings given to us, so
I placed them in the manure pile. I don't know if they'll
do well there, but it was the only option. The garden is
FULL! I am bringing in armfuls of herbs, some of which
we are dehydrating. As time permits, I use the herbs
in dehydrated crackers and treats. We especially like
the stinging nettles. I use them in quantity in soups,
crackers, and sweet treats. Lily also makes a delicious
pesto with them!

Today I picked another small basket of blackberries.
They are abundant this year and so good! We enjoy
them as a late morning snack.

Today I discovered that we had TWO ground hogs.
This development was devastating. I rallied around
for extra prayer support, believing to see an end to
this dilemma before the varmits made an end to our

After being away for a few days, we came home to
find that a ground hog had taken up residence in our
backyard and cleaned out our lettuce, beans, cucumber
seedlings, and assorted herbs (especially dill). I was
not happy. I immediately set out our Hav-a-Heart trap
and hoped for the best. In the meantime, I put row
covers on remaining crops that might be potential
meals for the critter.

At last we awoke to a beautiful, sunny day! I took
advantage of the weather by redoing our compost
bins (what a messy job!) and preparing for seedlings
that arrive tomorrow. I planted more sea kale and
direct-seeded a row of my favorite arugula, then
sealed them under a row cover to safeguard them
against voracious flea beetles. Suffice to say, this
is serious warfare: dig a trench around the planted
bed and then cover the edges well with soil. I learned
this tactic from local farmers, and it works. We also
were gifted with another load of antique manure today
which I will spread on the upper garden after its weeded.
It looks like next week I will be living in the garden,
since there is so much to do!

It was a cool but overcast morning when I went out
to work in the garden. I planted two more Cavendish
strawberries (many are now blossoming!) plus 3 small
Valerian seedlings, a Thai Basil, and a Globe Basil. We
love basil and hope to find some other varieties to plant.
I moved some of the antique manure onto parts of the
garden, broadcasted some green sand, and harvested
Egyptian onions, chives, nettles, and taragon. For a
special thrill, I rescued a tiny remaining shoot of our
St. John's Wort from one of our nettle patches and
transplanted it into a safer part of the garden. We hope
it survives, since our beautiful 5' x 4' stand of St. John's
was drowned in the July 2009 Maine 'monsoons.'

A friend gifted us with a pick-up truck load of 50-year
old horse manure. I normally do not allow animal soil
amendments in the garden, but I figured this 'antique'
manure was safe enough to use after aging for so
many years. I do use Green Sand, Phosphate Rock,
and Soya Meal regularly, but I've been searching for
more soil improvement. Hopefully this vintage manure
will work.

It was another day of weeding and harvesting between
the raindrops!

More power-weeding again today. As I was clearing
an area, I noticed that our new Happy Rich seedlings
were looking poorly: flea beetle damage plus they were
bolting! I was devastated. I clipped off the heads and
hope they survive. For safe measure, I will direct seed
a back-up supply and row cover them. Flea beetles
demand drastic action!

Today I continued my weeding marathon. The action
is suspended only for investigating wild edible candidates.
New to the list this year is Shepherd's Purse, Lettuce
Saxefrage, and Mallow. Our nettles have spread all
over the yard. Everywhere I go, I bump into them. It's
like meeting old friends! I'm now handling them with greater
confidence without being stung. I guess we really are
good friends at this point. I've been harvesting the nettles
for use in juice, raw soups, crackers, and a delicious

I also planted our new Happy Rich Asian Greens. They
look lovely! While I was putting them in the ground, our
neighbor gifted us with his fresh grass clippings. I was
quick to put the pile to work as mulch for the Happy Rich.
My last stint in the garden today was clearing a bed for
planting beet seeds and broadcasting some pulverized

After lunch I took advantage of the good weather
by working in the garden: planting our new Cavendish
strawberries. They are gorgeous...big, green, healthy!
I also tucked in several rows of King Richard Leeks
seedlings and direct seeded some sea kale. I've been
wanting to grow sea kale for many years. I hope the
seeds and weather cooperate! The rest of the afternoon
I 'power-weeded' a large part of the garden, digging up
many dandelions. After the rain, they come out so easily!
I rinsed the roots outside in some rainwater before
bringing the plants inside the house to dehydrate, so
that we can enjoy dandelions in the off season. We're
also eating our fair share fresh and 'rare (raw)!' Lastly,
I put up the poles for our pole beans.

At last, what a beautiful day! I celebrated by taking
my first wild walk in our neighborhood this morning.
What a thrill! It was a joyous adventure, filled with
many fabulous finds.

Daily I am harvesting beautiful greens from our
garden: lovage, lemon balm, chives, oregano,
Egyptian onion, and comfrey plus beautiful, wild
edibles- nettles, dandelion, Queen Anne's Lace,
and grasses! They are mmmmmmmm...good!

Our strawberries are up- 13 plants total! Today
I went to Johnny's Select Seeds up the road and
purchased 25 more plants...on sale. I will plant
our new 'JEWEL' strawberry cuttings as soon as
I prepare a bed.

Our local farmer's market opened today. What a
thrill! It was great to see many of our farmer friends
again. We purchased some leek and Red Russian
Kale seedlings as well as some greens. The season
tastes great already!

As time permits, I make trips out to the backyard
to check our awakening garden. The herbs are
looking wonderful as are our wild edibles! It is a
delight to see these friends again. Our stinging
nettles are bursting their bed and drifting all over
the yard. Young shoots are everywhere! I have
started to harvest them, and we're enjoying them
in our soups and smoothies. They are an awesome
food! At last count, we have 13 Mullein plants growing
in the garden. Despite their beauty, some will need
to be moved out, hopefully to happy homes in the
area (want some..?!).

Today I picked our first harvest of the season:
a sprig of fresh oregano! With great gusto I marched
it into the house where it disappeared into a salad.
Our herbs are happily coming up quickly!

After many years of being 'master' pruner of our
mini-orchard, I gladly handed over the reigns to a
real pruner. Jamie arrived at noon on this semi-warm,
sunny day to tackle the job. The first business-at-
hand was to engage in a friendly chat whereupon
we learned of other wild edibles: mushrooms, etc.
After a brief show-and-tell and a green smoothie
(compliments of our LIVING kitchen), Jamie 'took
to the trees.' For want of watching the process
first-hand, I hastily ate my lunch and then dashed
outside to catch the action. This was a workshop
from heaven, a long-awaited lesson in pruning on
our very own trees! I relished the opportunity to
see how it happens and then lend a hand. In a
couple of hours, our golden delicious apple tree
had a great 'haircut' as did our two plum and two
apricot trees. Now they look great and are ready
to go for the season. What a difference real
pruning makes!

At long last we took a trip to Fedco Seeds in Clinton
to pick up our seed order. Going to Fedco is like
stepping into another world. As smiling, outdoor-clad
Fedco workers rushed around like busy bees in their
large, unheated warehouse to accommodate the dreams
and orders of expectant growers, I delighted myself
in being part of the flow. It was a great time to greet
fellow 'earth-workers' whose passion for working the
ground rivals mine. Excitement of the season ran high
as I talked with friends and walked the creeky, wooden
floors of the rambling warehouse. For those who have
never experienced Fedco Seeds up-close-and-personal,
this is where the action begins...at seed level! Fedco is
famous for its 'homemades' that help cut corners and
consumer costs. Being a cooperative has its advantages.
So it is that recycling is a fact of life. There are no frills
at Fedco...just the stuff that counts. Shoe boxes of seed
varieties line the long, warehouse aisles. Hand-painted
signs and markers are everywhere. It's a place of many happenings, all of which are wholesome and good...the
way life should be in Maine and elsewhere. While I had
hoped to spend more time seed shopping, we were short
of time. It is just as well, since it is always tempting to
buy more seeds than necessary. So I was content to
pick up my seed order that was proudly packed in a
former rubberband box and head home. What a thrill!