Mid-November herb harvest: Oregano,
balm, spearmint, and winter savory
Garden Log 2011
Notes and quotes from The Living Way
Who would have thought, but out to the
I went today. The day was partly sunny and mild
and our recent snowfall nearly melted which
outdoor fun! On the job list today included
rainwater buckets. As usual, I brought some of
water into the house for future use (watering
etc.). I also emptied our accumulated bags of
picked up some wood scraps for kindling, and last
not least, harvested herbs! Lo and behold, a few
the recent snowstorm without mulch (I forgot!),
grabbed a basket and went to work. I harvested
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
to living raw: enhancing flavor, color, texture,
nutrition (!) all of which makes eating a special
We woke to snow today. The backyard had
into a typical wintry scene, though not exactly
picturesque here in semi-rural Maine. At least
snow offered visual relief to our otherwise
orderly yard. Light snow fell most of the day,
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
and put the backyard to bed. It was no small
considering that I began this herculean effort in
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
with blankets and tarps in order to hold them
through the snow storm. Call it 'wild
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.
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
Little by little I am putting the garden to bed.
a bittersweet exercise. Nevertheless, we are
for the bounty of beautiful, fresh food that we
enjoyed from our backyard.
What a beautiful day today...warm and
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
the fresh herbs that are growing underneath! I
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
hoping it will respond by producing at least a
of more weeks!
It was another balmy warm day, though
terms of cloud cover. Before lunch, I took a
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
Later in the afternoon, I ventured out into the
to see what was happening. The garden was quiet
comparison to former months of 'peak activity.'
the most part, our remaining greens are snugged
under frost-protective row covers. Celery,
Kale, parsley, and other herbs are still growing
I picked several stems of Kale and pulled up two
struggling Celeriac plants. Only the tops were
Sadly, it was not a good year for celeriac. I
picked some Arugula and covered the rest. Since
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
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
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
at this time of year!
Snow today!Ugh! Two days of hard work
for the event was worth the effort. Knowing that
garden was secured for this 'unusual' weather
was comforting. As much as possible, I like to
on to the garden. Thankfully we only had about
inches of snow.
It was another day of busily preparing
for our first
snow storm that is due to arrive tomorrow. There
much to do! I started off early by going to the
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
garlic bulbs during the winter. To extend the
supply, I raked up a goodly amount of straw mulch
from last year's bed. I piled it high and deep.
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.
planting our six rows of garlic...292 bulbs in
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
dead brush. The tall, fall grasses (probably
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
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
Last but not least, I dug up some of our
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
It was a bright, sunny day with a brisk,
as I rushed to pick more of our grapes that have
grown over the fence on the school's football
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
There were so many that I could not pick fast
much less pick them all. Hence, I went for the
and best. After nearly an hour 'in the vines', I
home with thirty eight pounds. This is the
ever, single harvest. The grape harvest now
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
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,
tatsoi, and herbs not to mention wild edibles
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
74lb. and the harvest is hardly begun. Thanks to
unseasonably warm (would you believer 80+
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
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
our Golden Beets, close inspection of same
days ago showed significant slug damage. I was
devastated. I dislike sharing our garden with
(or any other pest for that matter)! As the
cools, I will start pulling up our Goldens and be
thankful for what remains of these yellow
They are one of my favorites. Much to my dismay,
beets did not do well for me this year. The
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
Next spring I will need to thin out various
order to keep some semblance of order in the
I don't mind 'wild', but it can get out of hand!
if you want some cuttings next spring, let me
An abundant harvest has been on-going,
on my toes inside and out! Tomatoes are now
in by the baskets-full: beautiful yellows, reds,
greens. What a treat! We are eating as many as
possible before freezing and dehydrating them.
summer squashes are nearly done. It is a
experience never the less a fact of life. Our
going strong. We are making herb pestos and
extra harvests for winter use. Our grape vines
slowly ripening toward another record harvest. It
be a full time job just to harvest them, but I'll
This morning I harvested squash,
and herbs. As I picked and looked over the
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
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
Wow. What a thrill. After many years, I have
grown scallions that are like those at the
market! I must be doing something right!
The harvest is coming in very quickly. I
in large baskets of greens and having fun finding
cucumbers amidst all their leaves. Hunting for
is sometimes challenging, since they hide well!
Another surprise greeted me in the
I found another St. John's Wort growing next to
of our tomato plants. I was delighted. We know
a grand total of five St. John's!
Our summer squashes, zucchini, and
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
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
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
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
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-
Upon returning home, I looked over the
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.
leaving town, I secured the garden with as many
covers as I could and left the matter with YHVH.
had done all that I could to protect our
The rest was up to Him. I know He'll do a good
Today I made another delightful
St. John's Wort plant is growing along our fence!
I celebrated the discovery by harvesting the
yellow flowers in order to make more massage oil.
Now we have a total of four St. John's Wort
in our yard. They are gifts from YHVH!
There was bad news from the garden
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,
difficult place to access. I suspect that routing
out will not be easy. This is not a happy day for
Much to my dismay, I dragged out the row covers
and began defending our plants from future
I hope the tactic works.
While I was out harvesting herbs and
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
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
sell seedlings/cuttings, we finally persuaded a
house friend to part with some of hers. That she
Last month we purchased a fair-sized St. John's
her and proudly planted it in the 'old spot.' I
it with fresh compost, antique manure, and
it with Miracle II Agriculture Blend. I am happy
report that it is growing well.
Much to my delight, about a week ago
a St. John's Wort growing in our upper garden
the house. I was ecstatic. The plant is over one
tall and is blooming happily. A couple of days
went and picked the yellow blooms, put them in a
small jar, and covered them with extra virgin
capped the jar and then placed it on a sunny
sill in the house. This is St. John's Wort
in the making. It is a remarkable oil with
healing qualities for aching muscles, etc. Don't
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
stones and now all is quiet in the backyard...no
of the varmits. If they are not dead in their
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
plant some of our beets three times. Germination
not the greatest this year even with new seeds.
to say, I am disappointed with the performance of
some crops so far. I believe the downturn is the
of the times: earth changes, too much rain,
and the radiation factor. However, I am doing my
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
do well there, but it was the only option. The
FULL! I am bringing in armfuls of herbs, some of
we are dehydrating. As time permits, I use the
in dehydrated crackers and treats. We especially
the stinging nettles. I use them in quantity in
crackers, and sweet treats. Lily also makes a
pesto with them!
Today I picked another small basket
They are abundant this year and so good! We enjoy
them as a late morning snack.
Today I discovered that we had TWO
This development was devastating. I rallied
for extra prayer support, believing to see an end
this dilemma before the varmits made an end to
After being away for a few days, we came
find that a ground hog had taken up residence in
backyard and cleaned out our lettuce, beans,
seedlings, and assorted herbs (especially dill).
not happy. I immediately set out our Hav-a-Heart
and hoped for the best. In the meantime, I put
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
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,
is serious warfare: dig a trench around the
bed and then cover the edges well with
soil. I learned
this tactic from local farmers, and it works. We
were gifted with another load of antique manure
which I will spread on the upper garden after its
It looks like next week I will be living in the
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
strawberries (many are now blossoming!) plus 3
Valerian seedlings, a Thai Basil, and a Globe
love basil and hope to find some other varieties
I moved some of the antique manure onto parts of
garden, broadcasted some green sand, and
Egyptian onions, chives, nettles, and taragon.
special thrill, I rescued a tiny remaining shoot
St. John's Wort from one of our nettle patches
transplanted it into a safer part of the garden.
it survives, since our beautiful 5' x 4' stand of
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
amendments in the garden, but I figured this
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
more soil improvement. Hopefully this vintage
It was another day of weeding and
More power-weeding again today. As I was
an area, I noticed that our new Happy Rich
were looking poorly: flea beetle damage plus they
bolting! I was devastated. I clipped off the
hope they survive. For safe measure, I will
a back-up supply and row cover them. Flea beetles
demand drastic action!
Today I continued my weeding marathon.
is suspended only for investigating wild edible
New to the list this year is Shepherd's Purse,
Saxefrage, and Mallow. Our nettles have spread
over the yard. Everywhere I go, I bump into them.
like meeting old friends! I'm now handling them
confidence without being stung. I guess we really
good friends at this point. I've been harvesting
for use in juice, raw soups, crackers, and a
I also planted our new Happy Rich
Asian Greens. They
look lovely! While I was putting them in the
neighbor gifted us with his fresh grass
clippings. I was
quick to put the pile to work as mulch for the
My last stint in the garden today was clearing a
planting beet seeds and broadcasting some
After lunch I took advantage of the good
by working in the garden: planting our new
strawberries. They are gorgeous...big, green,
I also tucked in several rows of King Richard
seedlings and direct seeded some sea kale. I've
wanting to grow sea kale for many years. I hope
seeds and weather cooperate! The rest of the
I 'power-weeded' a large part of the garden,
many dandelions. After the rain, they come out so
I rinsed the roots outside in some rainwater
bringing the plants inside the house to
that we can enjoy dandelions in the off season.
also eating our fair share fresh and 'rare
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
What a thrill! It was a joyous adventure, filled
many fabulous finds.
Daily I am harvesting beautiful greens
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
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.