Category Archives: Gardening

Close to where I live in Vermont is a 40-acre sanctuary, called Eshqua Bog, jointly owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy and the New England Wild Flower Society.lady's slippers The New England Wild Flower society declared Eshqua Blog, “a treasure of Vermont flora.” A place with “exceptional aesthetic, educational and scientific value.” This bog has hundred’s of Showy Lady’s Slippers that bloom in the spring.lady's slippers

 

There is a wooden boardwalk that meanders through the bog, which is fully accessible for people of all ages and abilities. The boardwalk allows people to take a closer look at the wonderful plant life in the bog while protecting the bog from trampling.lady's slippers

 

The wild orchids are merely the most acclaimed wildflowers of this rich wetland. The bog and surrounding wetlands host the annual blooming of marsh marigolds, painted trillium, great white trillium, bloodroot, starflower, white turtlehead, blue-bead lily, trout lily, mayflower, blue cohosh and many other spectacular and subtle flowers.

 

The Bog is actually a fen and was protected to permanently preserve the diverse community of wetland plants like Labrador tea, cotton grass and pitcher plants. Fens are less acidic and fed by groundwater that carries important plant nutrients like calcium and magnesium from the surrounding bedrock. True bogs are typically dominated by sphagnum mosses while fens are characterized by an abundance of sedges and non-sphagnum mosses.

 

There are a number of orchids growing in the bog including the white bog orchis, green bog orchis, and yellow lady’s slippers.lady's slippers

 

In addition, hundreds of showy lady’s slippers bloom in early summer.lady's slippers

 

I have been to this bog several times but never have I seen so many Showy Lady Slippers in bloom. They were just magnificent. Known by naturalists for more than a century Eshqua Bog attracts wildflower lovers from around the nation.lady's slippers

 

If you are ever in the Woodstock, Vermont area take the time to explore this wonderful natural area. The paths are well marked and there is a small parking lot. You can explore the bog and there are also paths to enjoy the surrounding forest. If you have never seen Lady’s Slippers in the wild you are in for an amazing treat.lady's slippers

As we continue to pack up our house in preparation for an eventual move I look at my box of seeds and wonder how long will seeds last? Should I pack them up and take them with me? Like most home gardeners I’m frugal and I hate to throw anything away, especially leftover garden seeds from one year to the next.How Long Will Seeds Last

 

For long term storage seeds should be kept in the freezer. However that is not an option when planning a move across the country. So I will keep my seeds dry and in a dark place until they are ready to be planted again. Seeds should be stored with some type of desiccant in a sealed jar. You can actually use rice as a desiccant.

 

But how long do seeds last? Some types of seeds are naturally more short lived than others. Did you know that some seeds have a higher oil content than others and that these are the seeds with the shortest shelf life. Parsnips, spinach, lettuce and onion seeds have the shortest seed life.how long will seeds last

 

Beans, beets, leeks, parsley, peppers, and Swiss chard seeds will usually be good for up to two years.how long will seeds last

 

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, and tomatoes should last for three years.how long will seeds last

 

Turnips and flower seeds are generally good for four years.how long will seeds last

 

If you keep your seeds dry and cool you may find they will last longer then the time periods I mentioned. I have heard of seed savers who have kept seeds for years and had success growing them.

 

Now that I know how long seeds will last I can now sort through my seeds and check the dates on the envelopes and decide which seeds I will be taking with us. Another thing that I will have to consider is will the seeds grow in the Pacific Northwest? I believe most of my seeds will do fine. Vermont has a very short growing season and although the PNW may have more rain and less sun I should still be able to have a vegetable garden. Any of my readers familiar with growing vegetables in the PNW?planning your vegetable garden

It has been a wet spring here in Vermont. It seemed like we had many more rainy days in May than sunny days. The benefit of so much rain is that the June flowers are bursting forth in bloom. June FlowersEven as you walk down the road the sides of the road have flowers everywhere you look. Nothing like the beauty of June flowers.June Flowers

 

My gardens are just beginning to fill out. With the house on the market we’re trying to stay on top of the weeds so that the house has a beautiful first impression as you drive in the driveway or walk around the outside. Do you see the Columbine peaking from behind the Hosta?June Flowers

 

The large pig pot which is usually full of herbs has recently been planted with flowers and annuals. It adds a nice bit of color as you approach the house.June Flowers

 

With the Lilac blooms come the Swallowtails. I have two varieties of Lilac, one is an early blooming Lilac while the other is late blooming. As a result we enjoy Lilac blooms from Memorial Day weekend well into June. When I see the Swallowtails on the lilac it is a definite sign of spring!June Flowers

 

Lupine are another sign of spring. They re-seed and come up everywhere. I have some regulars plants in the gardens around the house and then others come up that have re-seeded from elsewhere. These Lupines are coming up among the blueberries. Nice addition I think. I’ll let them stay. Lupines are one of my favorite spring flowers.June Flowers

 

I’ve have only planted half of my raised beds this year. I may do a planting of beans or lettuce. In the meantime I have baby lettuce coming up from lettuce that went to seed last year!June Flowers

 

Looks like it’s going to be a good year for Strawberries too!June Flowers

 

It won’t be long before the gardens are in full bloom, but in the meantime I’m enjoying the June flowers!June Flowers

 

First Harvest – Rhubarb

 

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know that I am a lover of rhubarb and I have a lot of rhubarb! Here in Vermont rhubarb is the first harvest from the garden. Rhubarb seems to burst from the ground in a matter of days. At first it is just peaking through the dirt and the next minute it wants to flower! There is nothing like the first harvest to get your gardening season off to a good start.first harvest, rhubarb

 

One year I put an ad in the paper to see if anyone wanted to enjoy some of my abundance. I actually ended up bartering for bread! I may have to put an ad out this year, with the house on the market I am not doing any preserving of the harvest, so I really have an abundance of rhubarb!Rhubarb Plants, first harvest, rhubarb

 

I have already made a delicious Rhubarb Cake, which we enjoyed with company.first harvest

 

Over Memorial Day weekend we also enjoyed some Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake. I often use a special pan I have called a Mary Ann Cake Pan, which is a pan designed to bake light cake shells that hold anything from fresh fruit to rich custards. When the cake is baked it has an inverted well for spooning in lightly sweetened whipped cream or lemon curd and fresh fruit. Perfect for Rhubarb Strawberry shortcake.first harvest, Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake

 

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp will also be on the menu.first harvest, Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp, enjoy!

 

Even though it is only my husband and I at home I will also be making a rhubarb pie. Nothing says spring in Vermont like a rhubarb pie!

 

If I were doing some canning this year I would definitely be making some Rhubarbeque sauce. It is perfect on grilled pork or chicken.first harvest, canning, rhubarb, prudent pantry

 

I would also be canning some Apple Rhubarb Chutney.first harvest, chutney, prudent pantry

 

Rhubarb Jam would be another item filling my pantry shelves. I love this jam, it is equally good on chicken or on a piece of toast for breakfast!Rhubarb Jam, first harvest

 

A few years ago a friend shared one wonderful Rhubarb Buckle recipe. The ginger in this recipe gives this buckle a unique taste.

 

Can’t decide how to enjoy your first harvest? Rhubarb always freezes well. Just cut the stalks into small pieces. Place in a Ziploc bag or use your FoodSaver. And freeze. Couldn’t be easier!Rhubarb for the freezer, first harvest

 

Are you are rhubarb lover? How do you enjoy the first harvest?first harvest, rhubarb, victoria sauce

Last week I was able to attend a talk given by Sylvia Davatz also known as the “Radical American Gardener”. Several years go I took a six month long class with her which discussed seeds worth saving and how to go about getting started.Vermont, seed saving,seeds worth saving

 

Sylvia is a renowned gardener and seed saver located in Hartland, Vermont. She is passionate about teaching others how to start saving seeds and why it’s an important practice to engage in. During her talk Sylvia explained terms like open-pollinated and hybrid, as well as isolation methods, spacing, plant populations, harvesting, cleaning and storing seeds. The importance of preserving the irreplaceable heritage of biodiversity contained in seeds was discussed.gardens, seed saving, seeds worth saving

 

Over 200 unique vegetable varieties are preserved in her organic Hartland gardens. She grows everything from beets to amaranth! Sylvia is part of a global community saving seeds to preserve heirloom varieties that have been passed down across generations. By planting heirlooms, gardeners are silently protesting the industrial agricultural system and also ensuring these time-tested, community grown seeds will thrive well into the future.gardening, Vermont

 

Why are there seeds worth saving? Seeds are worth saving because we have lost over 97% of all varieties that used to be available commercially. By saving your seeds you can help to maintain those seeds that have been grown by families for years. The quality of the seed is far superior to the seeds available commercially and you can harvest the seeds at the ideal time.Seeds Worth Saving

 

In order for you to be able to harvest your own seeds you must be growing an open pollinated variety, not a hybrid. The easiest seeds to start saving are those plants which are self-pollinating such as peas and beans. You don’t have to worry about cross-pollination and the seeds are easy to harvest. Just wait until the pod is dry.saving cucumber seeds

 

Saving tomato seeds is also easy, but they do best if the seeds are allowed to go through a fermentation stage. By allowing the seeds to go through the fermentation process the seed borne diseases are killed. The seeds of tomatoes are ready when the fruit is eaten.tomato seeds

 

For other plants like zucchini and cucumber, you must allow the fruit to go beyond the eating stage. Let the fruit ripen well beyond the green stage.saving cucumber seeds

 

What ever seeds you decide to save make sure they have plenty of time to dry before storing, and store them in a cool, dark and dry place. There are many seeds worth saving. Have you started saving seeds in your garden yet?

There are many ways to protect your crops, and one of the best ways to do this is by utilizing sprayers. Commonly known as garden sprayers, these tools are basically containers filled with various kinds of liquid, granules, or powder. Some garden sprayers have fungicides to combat disease while others act as fertilizers. Additionally, garden sprayers can make use of either man-made or organic liquid products.

 

Here, we’ll be talking about backpack sprayers and how to properly use them for crop protection. Combined with the best backpack sprayer, the information here should help you keep your garden as healthy and beautiful as possible.

 

Functions and Benefits of a Backpack Sprayer

 

Different backpack sprayers have different purposes. Some gardeners use them to deal with pesky bugs while others are great for weed removal. Likewise, there are sprayers with the sole purpose of either mildew control or fertilizer application. But why should one use this to maintain one’s crops?garden sprayers

One of the amazing things about a backpack sprayer is that lessens the stress and overall fatigue you experience whenever you take care of your garden. Back pain is essentially removed because your back manages it and you keep a proper posture throughout the activity. Moreover, carrying a backpack sprayer means you no longer have to carry heavy canisters, which often lead to shoulder strains. Of course, a backpack sprayer can still be relatively heavy. In particular, individuals often use sprayers with a motorized pump if the garden is quite huge. As your garden becomes bigger in size, your sprayer can also become heavier and require more maintenance.

 

Properly Using a Backpack Sprayer

 

While the usual backpack sprayer only has a pressure going from 15 to 95 psi, there are variants that have high pressure. Also, there are sprayers that decrease in pressure with each spray. This might not seem like such a big deal, but it is essential to maintain the same pressure throughout the spraying process if you are applying chemicals. Thankfully, many of these already contain pressure regulators. In case your backpack sprayer does not contain one, you can always order a pressure valve.garden sprayers

Speaking of pressure, you’ll notice that many sprayers contain a piston-style pump, which effectively produces high-pressure sprays and is ideal for non-abrasive chemicals. If you are going to use herbicidal products, you should definitely go for a backpack sprayer with a diaphragm pump, which excels in durability. Additionally, don’t forget to get a decent spray wand – one that doesn’t lead to spray leaks and is capable of precise applications.

 

Common Spraying Methods

 

There are two common ways to spray a garden using a backpack sprayer. However, both techniques require uniform pressure and speed, so remember what we talked about pressure earlier. The first method requires you to carefully hold the tip of the nozzle above where you want the spray to be applied. Specifically, it should be at least 15 inches from the target location. On the other hand, the second method requires more motion while spraying. Instead of simply standing still, you walk and appropriately move the wand from left to right as you spray.garden sprayers

Maintenance of Garden Sprayers

 

Keeping your backpack garden sprayer working well does not have to be time-consuming. If you pay great attention to cleaning them, you shouldn’t have to constantly check for issues. All you really have to do is to rinse the backpack sprayer with clean water. Doing this alone should reduce the number of repairs needed in the long run. If you are a little picky about the cleaning process, you can even use a tank cleaner instead of water to rinse the equipment. In relation to rinsing the tanks, you have to make sure that no herbicidal formulation remains inside. Just to be safe, you should also read up on proper disposal of these products.

 

The changing of the seasons can also mean disaster for your garden sprayers, so watch out for them. If you know that winter is about to arrive, you should apply automotive antifreeze to stop your equipment from freezing during storage throughout winter.

 

Overall, using a backpack sprayer isn’t that difficult if you know what its functions are in relation to crop protection.

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