Category Archives: Gardening

Fall is the time to be planting daffodils! The garden season has come to an end and most of the leaves have already fallen off our trees. The garden chores have been completed, the day lilies and hostas have all been cut back. Hoses and tomato cages have been stored for the winter along with the wheelbarrows.gardening, garden tools

It’s been a busy fall, but the ground is not frozen yet, and although I’ve usually already gotten my bulbs planted I still have a little time to plant daffodil bulbs. I love scattering the bulbs to create a natural look. flower bulbs, daffodils, gardening

Ideally you should plant your bulbs as soon as you get them. It’s nice to have a sunny day to do your planting. Often I put it off and end up planting on a cold, blustery day. This year I chose a nice sunny day to do my planting. You want to plant the bulbs when your soil can still be worked, this gives the bulbs a chance to develop roots and establish themselves before winter arrives.

The rule of thumb for planting bulbs outdoors is to set them two and a half times deeper than their diameter. For my daffodil bulbs this meant 5-6″ deep. If you want a naturalizing look to your planting, take a few bulbs in your hand, toss them gently on the ground, then plant them where they have fallen.daffodil bulbs, bulbs, spring flowers

Dig a hole in the dirt with a trowel for each individual bulb.daffodil bulbs, spring flowers, planting, garden

Special bulb-planting tools are available at garden centers; they make it easy to dig neat, circular holes. Place the bulb in the hole and cover with dirt. In the spring before growth or flowering begins spread a complete fertilizer over your flowerbeds. The spring rains will carry the fertilizer down into the soil.Daffodils

Planting bulbs requires patience because you have to wait almost six months before you can enjoy the flowers! Patience is a good virtue to practice, it involves waiting. In our society we want things immediately, which is why so many people have debt problems! If we would learn to wait and save for something we want rather than “buy now, pay later” we would be much better off financially! Even stocking your party requires patience. A pantry does not become a well-stocked pantry overnight. It takes months of careful planning and preparation, which is a good rule to live our life by!spring flowers, daffodils, Vermont

So I will be patient, the bulbs are planted and I will wait to enjoy their beauty. I will look forward to the daffodil blooms come spring. If by chance our home sells before the spring the new owners will have beautiful daffodils to enjoy!daffodil bloms, spring flowers, bulbs

A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness;

it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust.

Gertrude Jekyll

Saving Gete okosomin seeds is very simple, like any winter squash in which you plan to save the seeds the squash must be grown to full maturity, which is best determined by examining the stem of the fruit. A squash that is ready for harvest when the fruit’s stem changes from green to brown or yellow. Although mature, squash at this stage still contain large amounts of water and should be placed in a cool, dry location with good ventilation until completely dry.gete okosomin

 

I harvested the only two Gete okosomin squash I had and allowed them to sit in our cool garage. After a month I decided it was time to cut them open and access the number of seeds. I was pleasantly surprised! I did not expect to find any mature seeds in my small squash but there were about a hundred seeds that all look viable.gete okosomin

 

You may have read my post last week that my harvest was not what I expected. There were just too many gardening challenges this year, voles and chipmunks creating damage in the garden and a wide spread drought! Unfortunately my yield was only two squash, much less than I expected from three plants! Perhaps I’ll have better luck next year saving Gete okosomin seeds!gete okosomin

 

Unlike tomato and cucumber seeds, which require fermentation, the seeds of the Gete okosomin do not require fermentation. The seeds only need to be separated from the pulp and allowed to air dry.

 

Once the squash were cut open I removed the seeds and separated them from the pulp the best I could. saving Gete okosomin seedsThe seeds were then paced on a paper towel and allowed to air dry. Once the seeds are dry I will store them in a jar. I have about 100 seeds to share. Not nearly enough to fill all the hundreds of requests I’ve had but I will be contacting the folks that requested seeds and work my way down the list until I run out of seeds!saving Gete okosomin seeds

 

To read more about my Gete okosomin harvest click HERE.

If you are interested in learning more about saving your own seeds I highly recommend the book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth.seed saving

This summer I grew some amazing heirloom cucumbers and I was interested in saving cucumber seeds. The cucumber seeds were called Athens and they were true to their description. About 9 inches long, this uniformly slender slicer has smooth, deep dark green skin, dense, firm, crisp flesh and a small seed cavity. Very productive over a long season on vines that want support.

 

There was one cucumber that didn’t get picked while we were away so I let it stay on the vine. Cucumbers that are being saved for seed must be grown to full maturity and allowed to ripen past the edible stage. The cucumber will be large and beginning to soften. Depending on the variety the fruits may change from green to white or deep yellow or orange. My cucumber was soft and yellow!saving cucumber seeds

 

Carefully cut open the cucumber and scoop the seeds into a large bowl.saving cucumber seeds Each cucumber seed is encased in a gelatinous sack that is most easily removed by fermenting the seeds.saving cucumber seeds Add about as much water as seeds but not too much or fermentation will be slowed. Set the bowl away from sunlight in a protected location to ferment. Depending on the temperature, fermentation will take from one to three days. During this time the aromas coming from the bowl will be less than pleasant and some mold may form over the top of the mixture. Stir the mass twice a day. Fermentation is complete when most of the seeds have settled to the bottom of the bowl and the seedcases are floating on top of the mixture.

 

Stir the mass while adding as much water as possible, this allows the clean seeds to settle to the bottom. The debris and hollow seeds will float and can be gently poured off with the excess water. Repeat this procedure until only clean seeds remain.saving cucumber seeds

 

Pour the clean seeds into a strainer, wipe the bottom of the strainer with a paper towel to remove as much moisture as possible and dump the seeds on a cookie sheet or other non- stick surface. Allow the seeds to dry.saving cucumber seeds Cucumber seed will remain viable for ten years when stored under ideal conditions. Saving cucumber seeds is quite easy and now I now I will have seeds to plant next year.saving cucumber seeds

Harvest failure is always a possibility when you garden. Many of you have been following along with my adventure with the Gete okosomin squash seeds I received last year in South Dakota! I was given 9 of these ancient heirloom seeds with the hopes of growing a small harvest and be able to share seeds with my readers.Gete-okosomin

Knowing our home was on the market and could sell at anytime I only planted four of the nine seeds I was given.Vermont real estate Of the four seeds only three sprouted and did extremely well at first.Gete-okosomin Unfortunately we had several things going against us this year. Our garden was overrun with chipmunks and voles. The voles were especially destructive chewing off numerous plant stems and digging tunnels everywhere.voles We also experienced a drought this summer. While normally this isn’t a problem as we have a deep well and plenty of water to keep the garden well irrigated. However we had a granddaughter arriving in August, at the height of the growing season. When I left for Seattle the garden was doing well, it was also used to getting well watered each day. During the two weeks we were gone the garden was not watered and it suffered. When I returned home there was only one squash plant alive and even that was suffering. Insects had burrowed into the stem which limited the amount of water going to the growing squash. One of the growing squash  also was suffering from some sort of end rot.Gete okosominI have never had such a dismal harvest before. Usually when I grow winter squash or pumpkins I have more than enough. Not this year. I was only able to harvest two small squash plants.Gete okosomin, harvest failure Certainly there are not enough seeds to supply the hundreds of people that have written me requesting seeds.gete okosomin

However I now have about 100 viable seeds which I am willing to share. I plan to contact the folks that wrote me first and work my way down the list sharing the seeds I have. Hopefully next year I will have a better crop and will have more seeds to share.

gete okosomin

In gardening you are never guaranteed a harvest. Perhaps next year these seeds will be available commercially by another grower. If not I do plan to try again and may have some seeds to share next fall. Hopefully my next harvest will produce mature squash with plenty of seeds and I will not experience a crop failure again.

Gete okosomin

Is autumn really the end of the gardening year?

Fall is not the end of the gardening year; it is the start of next year’s growing season.”
Thalassa Cruso

Autumn in Vermont is one of my favorite times of year. The days are clear and sunny and the nights are cold! The leaves begin to change color and you know winter is just around the corner. Is it really the end of another gardening year?The colors of fall.

My goal each year is to get all my gardens cut back and cleaned up for the winter. Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t. It all depends on how busy our fall is.fall, garden, gardening year

First step in preparing for the winter is to remove all the decaying plant material to our compost pile. This means the random tomatoes that have fallen to the ground, the old tomato vines and the dying flower stalks. I like to leave my raised beds free of any weeds. If I have time I like to plant a cover crop in my raised beds as well. This will add nutrients to the soil while at the same time keep the weeds at bay.

If our compost bin is full we will also top off the raised beds with some compost and dig it into the raised beds. By spring it will be well composted and the beds will be ready for the spring planting.

There are also my flowerbeds to be cut back. Cutting back my numerous hosta plants is always a chore, but I don’t want to leave decaying leaves on the beds.

Once the gardens are cut back and cleaned up we are ready for winter. Now the snows can come, my garden is wonderfully cleaned up and ready to face the winter.The way time goes by it won’t be long before the seed catalogs begin arriving in the mail. It will be time to sit by the wood stove and plan next year’s garden!gardening-year

Finding the Perfect Homestead

Our house is on the market and we’ve been told it could take several years for it to sell. Real estate in Vermont is not moving quickly. This gives us plenty of time to come up with our lists of “wants and needs” for our perfect homestead.homestead

If money were no issue I would want to move to a large parcel of land and employ a caretaker to help us run our homestead. However, this is not the case and it will just be my husband and me. We currently have more than ten acres and it is a lot of work. So our future homestead will be on a much smaller scale.

Ideally we would like to have enough land for a nice garden, some fruit trees and blueberry bushes and a few chickens. We are thinking of a small size homestead perhaps on only an acre of land! Just enough to be able to manage while not having to spend all our time on it, After all we are moving to be closer to our children and grandchildren so we would like to have time to spend with them!

In our last two homes I have had to start the vegetable gardens from scratch. This means years of preparing the soil year after year to get it just right. I would like to be able to find a new home where I am taking over from the previous owner. Moving into a home that had a previous garden lover would be awesome!

We don’t need a large lawn either. While a lawn is nice who wants to spend time mowing and watering just to have a nice green lawn? We don’t have plans to raise livestock other than chickens so I think an acre or so would be fine.Chickens!

One of my favorite books is The Have More Plan. They talk about setting up your ideal homestead on an acre. If we can find just the right property I plan to follow their lead.frugal living, prudent living, book review

Basic Principles of a Perfect Homestead

Every bit our land should be used advantageously.

Our vegetable gardens should run north and south for equal sunlight. The vegetable garden should be close to the kitchen. I absolutely love having an herb garden within walking distance to the kitchen.

Inside the house there should be adequate storage and closet space. I’m going to hate to leave my current pantry, but would like to have my next pantry closer to the kitchen! I definitely need a cold storage room for vegetables and canned goods.storage, pantries, home canning

There should also be space for a home freezer, laundry and fireplace wood.

Housing for our garden tools, wheelbarrows, lawnmower and a small tractor would also be nice as well as space for a home workshop.gardening, garden tools

In a way I am glad that our house is not selling as quickly as we thought it would. This gives us plenty of time to figure our what we want in our perfect homestead.

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