Category Archives: Gardening

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 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 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.

May in Vermont tends to be a wet month. Elsewhere the sun may be shining and the flowers are in full bloom while here in Vermont we are experiencing a cool wet spring. After last year’s drought we do need the rain. However after a long cold winter I’m really looking forward to getting outside once again and working in the garden. Our May gardens may not look like much but it is wonderful to see things greening up after the winter.May Gardens in Vermont


Since the house is on the market I’ve cut way back on my vegetable gardens. However I want the rest of my flowerbeds to look their best so I do have some work to do.May gardens


The first step in clean up for the gardens is to rake all the gravel out of the lawn. Our plow guy does the most excellent job but inevitably we end up with some gravel that needs to be raked out. My husband tackled that job this year and he did an excellent job. The grass is coming in nicely and the gravel is where it belongs, in the driveway!


This year it’s taking a while for the daffodils to come along. The forsythia was beautiful this yearMay gardens and it won’t be long before the lilac is in full bloom.May gardens


Our rhubarb is also doing well. It won’t be long before I’ll be making a delicious rhubarb cake! I’m going to have an abundance of rhubarb this year and not doing any canning I’ll have to give a lot of it away. We have way more than I can ever use!May Gardens


The strawberries are coming along. I’d forgotten that I created a new strawberry bed last year! I was surprised to see them filling the garden bed. I look forward to our own fresh strawberries, a yearly treat.May Gardens


I picked up some small plants at the local nursery to fill our planters. I have a small planter that sits in front of our chicken coop and two larger plants that sit by the back entrance to the house. We haven’t had many sunny warm days but I managed to get out between showers and get the pots planted.May Gardens


The raised beds will be planted before June first. I plan to plant a few vegetables and lots of flowers! I look forward to being able to fill the house with cut flowers over the summer.May gardens


How is your garden coming along? Do you have a lot of spring clean up where you live?

Recently I wrote a post on planning for this year’s vegetable garden. Gardening has always been a big part of my life. I enjoy planning out my vegetable garden each year, what I will plant and how I will preserve the harvest. For years I have always started my own seeds, often using seeds that I saved from the year before. This year I will be planting mostly flowers. With the house going back on the market and an enthusiastic realtor who seems to be confident that the house will sell in 2017 I am not going to be planting a big vegetable garden.

Instead my time will be spent packing and de-cluttering! I will miss my garden. Now I have eight beautiful raised beds that my husband built for me and I will not completely ignore them. After all we do have to keep up a beautiful appearance for any potential buyer! So I will plant flowers and beans and a zucchini plant perhaps, just enough to provide some fresh vegetable this summer and some cut flowers for the house. I have a neighbor close by that offers beautiful heirloom tomato seedlings so I may just have to plant a couple. It wouldn’t be summer without garden ripe tomatoes!Can't wait until the tomatoes turn red!

Luckily we have a wonderful Farmer’s Market that offers a wonderful variety of locally grown fruits and vegetables. But I will be missing my garden and the wonderful harvest I used to get.vegetables, farm market

The sad reality is that the future owner may not be as into gardening as I am. Perhaps this will be a second home for them and they just won’t have the time to keep up the gardens. It makes me sad to think that way but we’ve moved in the past and each time I have left behind a beautiful garden. One of these moves I hope to move into a home where the previous owner had beautiful gardens and I can take them over. That hasn’t’ been the case yet.Vermont, seed saving

Have you experience leaving a wonderful garden behind due to a move?

As spring rolls around we start to think of being outside, enjoying the wonderful weather. Now is also the time to think about planning your vegetable garden – it’s a wonderful way to save money, get exercise, and help your family to eat healthy.planning your vegetable garden And taking care of a garden is a never-ending and rewarding learning experience.planning your vegetable garden


The most important thing to consider is where your garden will be located. Gardens need sun, the more the better. Locate your garden away from any shadows cast by large trees or buildings. Ideally, you would like to have level ground. If the garden is on too steep a slope, the soil will erode and nutrients will be washed away, unless you are able to create several terraces, which is a lot more work than most home gardeners want to do.planning your vegetable garden


If this is your first year gardening, you also want to consider the size. It is better to start small and increase your garden size year by year. A 15 x 15 foot plot would be a good size to start with.planning your vegetable garden



Once you have decided where to place your garden, the next thing to consider is the soil preparation. Well-prepared soil will help you have a successful garden. And any soil can be improved. Soil quality is determined by three characteristics: composition, pH (its acidity), and fertility.soil tests, vegetable gardening, home front


  • Composition: If the soil is too loose and sandy, or too heavy and clayish, aeration, drainage and nutrient retention will suffer.
  • pH: Vegetables require a pH range of 6.0 – 7.0, anything above or below that and optimal growth will be affected
  • Fertility: The fertility of the soil also affects plant growth; insufficient fertility cannot support healthy crops.
  • A simple soil test will help you to determine the level of major nutrients – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – each important for healthy plant growth. A soil test will also help you determine the pH of your garden soil, and to improve it if necessary.soil, testing, gardening
  • Now that your garden plot is laid out and the soil is ready, it is time to decide what vegetables you want to plant. If you want a rewarding, productive garden, do some research to find out what grows well in your area. An excellent resource is your state’s agricultural extension office. You want to make sure you know what growing zone you are living in, when your last frost date is expected in the spring, and when the first date of frost in the fall is expected. These dates will determine when you can plant outdoors, what you should try to grow (since the days to maturation will need to fit in this last frost to first frost window, and when you should be harvesting your vegetables.gardening, prudent livingSome vegetable seeds are planted directly into the garden soil while others have such a long growth period they must be either started indoors or the young seedlings purchased at a local nursery.
  • Usually I have my seeds started by now, but with our house going back on the market I will be purchasing young seedlings from a neighbor who grows a wonderful selection of heirloom vegetables.
  • Whatever you decide to do now is the time to plan for this years garden! Planning your vegetable garden now will insure that you have a successful harvest this year!

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