Category Archives: Gardening

Have you noticed fewer bees in your garden recently? If so, then you’re not the only one. Bee populations of pretty much all kinds are in decline all over the world, and this could spell disaster for the long term health of our planet. This might sound a bit drastic, but when you consider just how important bees are to the pollination of so many plants, trees, fruits and vegetables, it could become an incredibly serious issue.


So what is it that’s causing our bees so much hassle? There are a few things really. Habitat destruction, disease and parasites (like the varroa mite) are three common problems, but one of the main causes of declining bee populations has been shown to be a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids, or neonics for short.


Neonics are used to treat pests on crops, plants, turf, etc, but they’re also incredibly harmful to bees. The pesticides (of which there are several types) affect every part of the plant, including pollen and nectar, so when a bee comes along to visit, it also becomes effected.


And these neonics do not agree with bees at all. They have a dramatic effect on their homing ability, breeding, memory, foraging skills, and more, eventually leading to their death. Some types of neonics have been banned in parts of Europe and the UK, but there are still some types being used, and many countries around the world have no restrictions on them at all.


The following infographic from Sun Leisure delves a bit deeper into the issue of neonics, detailing what and why they’re used, how they affect bees, and what some of the alternatives might be. It also looks at just how important bees are to us and the huge effect their extinction would have on the world.

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 long will seeds last


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


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


Turnips and flower seeds are generally good for four 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?

Never Miss a Post!

Find Me


Nancy’s Archives