Friday, June 29, 2007


Overnight, the temperature plunged, and today dawned cool and clear, yee-haw!!

I got up early and weeded the carrots and poked around in the garden a bit, then Dan and I were off to pick strawberries at my favorite local spot,
Fairwinds Farm, on the shores of Merrymeeting Bay.

The berries are amazing this year. Big beautiful, shiny tart sweet jewels, more precious than rubies, and fortunately, much more affordable, as Dan and I picked 70 pounds(!) in less than 1 1/2 hours. And ate a few, too. Wow.

We saved the prettiest berries (seen above) for
delicious eating later today over champagne with our friends Karen and Bill. We'll enjoy more over the next few days, but most of the rest are already in the freezer, for a taste of Maine summer all winter long (and believe me, it is damn long).

Other scenes from the garden today:

The clematis bloomed. It came with the house, but is maybe a Jackmanii? The house is butter yellow, btw, I need to read about why my camera washes out the yellow so badly. I love the yellow house with the purple clematis.

Flaxflower I started from seed our first year in the house, with my new Gold Flame Spirea, purchased at the Bowdoinham Plant Sale. In a few years when this new bed fills out it will look marvelous!

A gorgeous clematis at my friend Karen's. She has a gorgeous woodland garden at the back of her house.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Water at last

Two years ago, driving home from somewhere, Dan and I screeched to a halt when, by the side of the road, we saw a nice, double bowl porcelain sink with a free sign on it.

Quicker than a wink, we loaded it into the car with a mental thank you to the home remodelers who
cast it aside, and later that spring, using leftover lumber from some other project, built a frame for it near the vegetable garden.

Earlier this year, we finally got around to running a water line to the back, and this morning, took the last step and added a Y connector and a separate line to the sink. The crowning touch, my old salad spinner ready to wash greens right out in the garden.

We've had our first hot spell of the season here, with temps in the high 90s and equally high humidity for the past two days, making gardening a bit unpleasant. Early this morning, I weeded the herb bed and then, after breakfast, then a brief rain shower, mulched. As we never have enough compost, I'm experimenting with a mix of compost and leaf mold this year, to see how this works for weed control. Between the lack of rain, their relative youth and the evil slugs, my poor herbs are still so tiny I covered them with yogurt containers and plastic pots to spread the mulch. Like my pal Tracy, I was too mortified by the weeds to show the before photo. I hope by next week you'll be able to see the herbs in the bed!

I finally finished up at about 12:30 and that was more than enough! Yesterday I managed to weed the lettuce bed, side dress with fertilizer, and cover with the shade cloth before
heading to cooler climes inside.

Fortunately, the forecast calls for clear and cooler weather tomorrow. Dan and I plan to pick some berries, then load the kayaks and head for the water, followed by a get together in celebration of the weekend with friends Karen and Bill for champagne and strawberries, mmmm!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's all about me...

My blogging pal Tracy over at Outside has tagged me with a meme, in which I have to share 7 pieces of information about myself, and tag seven other bloggers.

So here goes:

1. I'm a native Mainer, and although I've lived in Massachusetts and Illinois, I hope I'm now in Maine for good. As Dan and I like to say, we want to leave Henbogle feet-first.

2. My dad owned a hardware store, and I learned a lot about hardware growing up. To this day I can cut glass and thread pipe, and know more about hardware than 90% of the clerks in Home Depot --I just don't know where to find it! Part of that heritage is the love of beautiful, well made tools, like these dibbles.

3. I own my own cement mixer. It's a beautiful thing.

4. I worked at a Girl Scout camp, Camp Pondicherry, for 6 summers, and count those summers among my best ever, yet never became a girl scout.

5. I still count my first boss, the Librarian at the Norway Memorial Library, among my dearest friends.

6. All of my pets, cats Mercedes, Ocho and Paisley, and dog Fisher, were rescues. Now I need to be rescued from them. Please!

7. I had my first vegetable garden when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. Among other things, I grew potatoes which I cooked in my Easy Bake Oven, (only later using the oven to melt my Barbies and create burn victims) and was I hooked. I've been gardening ever since. Who needs dolls when you can grow things!

Now on to the fun of learning interesting bits about my blogging cronies
1. Chris at the Gorham Garden
2. Portia at In the Garden with Gentle Palm
3. "I am a violet" at the Garden Ho
4. Mary at Big World...Small Garden
5. Meresy at Edge Effect
6. Carelton Gardener at Skippy's Vegetable Garden
7. Petunia's Gardener at Petunias Garden

Now summer begins

Sunday was Dan's last day of class --he's been taking an intensive 3 credit graduate class in technology education, so summer really began for us when he arrived home on Sunday after his last class. My new rose, ordered from from Fedco in December, Morden Sunrise, bloomed in recognition of the event.

We celebrated by making a late day trip to Popham Beach (one of the world's most beautiful beaches as seen in the dreadful movie Message in a Bottle). My best friend Holly has been visiting, and it was a fitting way to end her visit, too, burying our toes in the sand and inhaling the good salt air. We did not, however, dip our toes in the water, as it is still only slightly warmer than liquid nitrogen and won't warm up much until August. Holly headed home via Portland Monday morning (boo), and Dan and I visited the dentist. No cavities, yay :-)

Today we worked on mulching the Holly bed. Whew, it was a big job and a hot day, but we finished, and it looks great. We gave it a good drenching before the mulch, as we have still had little rain, and it is getting pretty dry.

The gardens are chugging along, with buds forming on many plants. I think we'll be approaching peak bloom time in early July, just in time for Dan's and Michelle's big birthday party (Together We're 100) on Saturday, July 7, and visits from Dan's Mom, Dad and Aunt Sue, then later sister Kathy and kids. I hope we have good weather for the party and their visits!

Here's how things are looking.

Morden Sunrise, day 2 of bloom.

The Holly bed, freshly weeded, watered, and mulched.

The overgrown pear tree has pears.

The valerian is in full, hyper-scented bloom. Behind, the asiatic lilies are in good shape thanks to rigorous hand picking of the evil red lily bug with more handpicking and a few applications of Safer's Soap to what few larvae did hatch.

The Mountain Bluet and Lady's Mantle on the left end are blooming like crazy, and the weigela in the center is just fading, but there are buds on just about everything else in this bed.

This selection of hosta is just gorgeous right now.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Solstice happiness

It was another gorgeous day in the garden yesterday. I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate the solstice than by working in the sun and fresh air in the garden.

As soon as Dan left for his class,
I hit the vegetable garden, and I accomplished a lot.

I removed the floating row covers on the squash/pumpkins, which were outgrowing the existing setup, weeded, fertilized with fish emulsion, and redesigned the row cover setup to give them more room.

I thinned the broccoli and Brussels sprouts, transplanting some of the seedlings to better spots. I weeded in the pepper bed, and although it hurt, discarded several volunteer tomato seedlings.

I weeded in the cutting flowers and the herb bed, which is finally beginning to look like it will live, and gave everything a good watering. The plants are stilly tiny, but are finally growing. Again I wish I'd been using Neptune's Harvest fish emulsion fertilizer (2-4-1), which has higher phosphorus for better root development. I think the seedling's root develoment was better last year, and therefore the transplant shock was much less last year. Live and learn!

Then on to the Russian Sage hedge along the driveway. When we planted the hedge 3 years ago, we put down weed block fabric mostly in an attempt to keep the creeping Charlie out. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I won't be using this stuff again. Inspired by Mary, who claims to be obsessed with keeping her lawn edges neat, I edged this bed sharply, and mulched with shredded bark mulch.

I finished up by giving the flowers in the Holly and Grape Arbor beds a drench of fertilizer, and it was time to clean up and pick up the chicks! Time flies when you are having fun in the garden!

Meet the new chicks, same as the old chicks

I picked up the as yet un-named chicks yesterday at about 5 pm. We toyed with the idea of getting different chickens, but we like ours so much we got 6 more Golden Comets. We hope to find homes for two of them, unfortunately the woman who said she would take them has backed out. Say hello!

Ohh, corn meal, my favorite!

Feeling snoozy
Time for a nip-nap. The chick in the middle fell over the second after I clicked the shutter.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Slow and simple Wednesday

Wednesday I was moving slowly, no doubt still recovering from the efforts of the day before in the vegetable and new perennial gardens. I did not make it to Freeport Tuesday, instead, decided to press forward with more weeding and edging in the new bed which has no name yet.

Maybe it should be the holly bed? It does after all host 3 Castle Spire blue hollies and 1 lucky male, a Castle Wall, to provide pollination resources. AND my best friend, twin sister of a different mother (who is somehow distantly related to my mother I'm sure) is named Holly.
Yes, the Holly bed, I like that.

That bed is new and still very weedy, with many, many, many, common and broadleaf plantain seedlings continually sprouting, another reviled weed, creeping purple bellflower, slinking in from the rear, and of course, my old pal Creeping Charlie making a frontal assault. I weeded, and even used a teeny bit of Roundup on the bellflower, being very careful not to overspray. I then deeply edged the entire front of the bed, making a nice sharp edge to discourage weeds, especially Creeping Charlie, from moving to a better (gentrified?) neighborhood. I'm going to give it a week, then one more good weeding and then put heavy layers of cardboard over the bellflower at the back, and newspaper toward the front, then cover that with another yard of shredded bark mulch.

After that project on Tuesday, I was a bit of a slug yesterday. I finally got moving later in the morning and did some more pruning, trying to tame the rather unruly weigelas in the Holly bed. I had just finished weigela #1, which has just finished flowering, when the rain sprinkles began. So I packed up my pruners and decided to head to Freeport to return my hiking boots and look for some new shoes.

What was I thinking! I grew up in Maine, and can distinctly remember visiting LL Bean in the good old days, when the floorboards were plain oiled wood boards, and the changing rooms were unisex plywood cubicles with hook and eye latches. Not so anymore, I'm sorry to say. Progress has turned Freeport into a yuppie cash cow, and on an overcast day in the summer, it isn't pretty. The most satisfying part of the trip was parking -- after waiting for a BMW SUV try and squeeze into a smallish parking spot, giving it several unsuccessful tries, my cute Pontiac Vibe slid right in as soon as he abandoned it. That was sweet.

Bean's was crazy. I managed to return the shoes, no problem, but gave up trying any new ones on, it was just too busy to try and find a salesperson and get some actual technical assistance. Gone are the days....
Back home, I puttered some more than made a yummy dinner using some leftover rice pilaf (Basmati rice with celery, onion, dried cranberries) and chicken breast.

Chicken with Curried Orange Sauce
1 boneless chicken breast, halved, and pounded to an even thickness
1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 c freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 c chicken broth
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 T curry powder (I like Penzey's)
Red pepper flakes to taste
vegetable oil
salt and pepper

Rice Pilaf
big bunch of spinach, coarsely chopped
Chopped fresh parsley

Pound chicken and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in saute pan over medium high heat until it shimmers. Cook chicken, browning well on both sides. Remove from pan and cover to keep warm.

Add oil if necessary, and cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and stir until it begins to color. Stir in curry powder and red pepper flakes, then add juices and broth. Reduce by half.

While sauce reduces, reheat rice (or be cooking fresh). Just before serving, stir in spinach until just wilted. Add a big handful of chopped parsley, reserving enough to garnish. Serve rice under chicken breast, topping with the pan sauce and garnishing with parsley. YUM!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Treats from the garden

We are in gorgeous stretch of June weather here at Henbogle, with blue skies and temps in the high 70s- to low 80s. Much as I love the sun, I tend to get crispy so I headed for the garden as soon as Dan left for school (his last day).

Our corn crop hadn't germinated very well, and we had more seed potatoes so we elected to plant the potatoes in the corn patch. I carefully turned over the soil, attempting to save the few corn seedlings just for fun. I planted the taters, a mix of Carola, Rose Finn Apple, and Austrian Crescent. Then I did a little weeding in amidst the shallots, which are growing great guns, and the broccoli and Brussels sprouts. I finished off with a good dose of liquid fish emulsion fertilizer, then moved on to the salad bed.

The bed badly needed weeding and thinning, and with the promise of fresh salad for dinner tonight, I was happy to oblige. The spinach has already begun to bolt, but the Easter egg radishes, lettuce and arugula are doing great. I thinned enough for two big salads, and there will be more to thin soon. I finished off with a good watering, as the raised beds are not so good at moisture retention. I need to remember this fall to add some vermiculite to aid with that, and just give up on spinach planted in the raised beds unless it is planted in early April.

My next task was to write up plant labels. Dan gave me some nice labels for the garden, and I made up labels for as many of my plants as I could. I still need to make up the labels for the new woody shrubs, but all the herbaceous perennials are done. This makes it so much easier to weed in the spring, at least until Dan and I are familiar with the new plants. We've had more than one weed-related plant loss in the past, so I'm hoping the labels will end that tragedy.

More puttering, then lunch and blogging, and this afternoon, edging some garden beds and a quick trip to LL Bean to return some shoes. Sigh, I'm struggling still with a bad case of plantar fasciitis and am trying to find a pair of low boots for gardening and yard work. As it is now, I'm limping badly by the end of the day, and want to start my summer ritual of daily long walks. If only I could wear Birkenstocks all the time....

Monday, June 18, 2007

More titmouse tales

The intrepid tufted titmouse was back looking for more dog hair recently. You can see the bird just behind the arm of the deck chair, sizing up Fisher. Unfortunately for them, we had Fisher clipped for the summer. The titmouse was not impressed with that decision.

Their young fledge pretty quickly, so I'm wondering if they are working on a second brood for the year. I'll have to look into that more, I haven't seen anything so far. I did learn here that the females build the nest, so it must be Trudy titmouse pulling hair from the dog.

This is not a great photo, but if you look closely through the mesh of the deck chair, you can see Trudy perched on Fisher's behind.

Sunday, June 17, 2007


Saturday morning, I made a list. Dan added a few items.

Then Bill came over to do some tree surgery on the ailing sour cherry tree. Bill trimmed off the loose bark, looked for insects, and then later I sprayed it with wound cover to keep any insects out. (I crossed this task off the list right away.)

Later we loaded the lilac trimmings into the truck to take to the town brush dump, then went grocery shopping. Sunday, I got up and planted seedlings, then Dan and I attacked the Japanese knotweed. Although we both hate using the stuff, we cut the tops off and sprayed Roundup into the hollow stems, hoping to kill it.

We tried this to some knotweed last year and it was successful, so this time we tried to get as much of it as possible. See all the cut stems? This was one of three patches, ugh.

We took 2 huge truckloads of knotweed to the brush dump. I love having a truck!

Then mowing, first with lawn tractor, then mower, then weed whacker. This is why you should always wear long pants when you use the weed whacker.

We crossed a lot of tasks off the list this weekend. I love that.

Mom's Garden

Dan's mom shared these photos and commentary about her garden recently. "Welcome to my modified square foot vegetable garden. In a 5'x13' space there are 3 tomato plants, 5 eggplants, 6 bell pepers, a parsley patch, a row of radishes, a pot of spearment, a square of carrots and 6 zucchini plants. Notice the paved slate garden path reconstructed by yours truly."
Right next to the vegetable garden is my flower garden under the front window. Perennials planted last year are doing nicely. Among the annuals, are my favorite pale yellow petunias, positioned next to dark purple salvia. My friend Salley's gift of a miniature yellow rose is in full bloom. Plans are forming for changes as is customary with garden beds."
Mom is one fabulous gardener (and MIL), I hope I'm still gardening as well when I'm looking at 70 in the rearview mirror.

Water for everyone

I can always tell when it's the weekend/summer vacation. My eyelids snap open like sprung window shades at about 5:30 am, and after a fruitless effort to get them closed again, I give up and get up for the day. (This never happens on workdays.)

This morning, I headed out to the vegetable garden to plant the last of the tomato plants. I had 2 Black Russian tomatoes from Kyle, 2 more Orange Banana paste tomato seedlings to replace two that succumbed to some pest, and a final Lilian's Yellow also from Kyle. Since I intend to can tomatoes in my pressure canner, I decided I need to plant more tomatoes than I originally planned.

I also planted some more sunflower and zinnia seeds, and some additional peppers in the pepper hothouse. My pal Mike gave me three Lemon Drop pepper seedlings from seed I had saved and given to him, and I bought a flat of Sweet Banana peppers to go with the Orange Banana paste tomatoes (really, because I had room, so why not). I finished up with transplanting my leek seedlings. Just as I finished Dan came out to say hello and tell me the coffee was ready. As I watered in the leeks, rain began to fall, completing my watering for me, so I turned off the hose and headed in for coffee and blogging.

Last night, Dan and I stole an idea from my friend Karen, and set up a birdbath and dripper in the herb and cutting flower bed in the vegetable garden. We used the trunk of the lilac for the post, and an old dented watering can I found at a flea market near Dan's parents in the Cobleskill, NY area. It drips one drop about every 30 seconds or so, just enough to keep the birdbath full and attract the birds to the moving water. With luck, while there for a drink they will eat any unwanted bugs in the neighborhood.

The sun is now out again, and my list of projects is calling, so time to head out to the garden. More later!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mulch madness

After my sad chick news, I mourned for a few minutes, then moved on to plan B, mulching the new flower bed near the deck.

Of course, it wasn't that simple. First, I wanted to create a nice sharp edge, and I needed to weed again, as last fall, this area was full of broad leaf plantain and my weedly nemesis, ground ivy. I'm hoping the edging will help prevent weeds creeping in from the lawn. I had watered the bed the night before to facilitate weeding. Once weeding was complete, I again watered thoroughly, as the top 1 inch of soil was already quite dry. This area gets full sun, and another reason I wanted to mulch was for moisture retention. Then, along the deck where there are many persistent weeds coming in from under the deck, I laid a thick layer of newspaper, and soaked that thoroughly with water.

Finally, I was ready to mulch. It took an entire yard of shredded bark mulch, and most of the day.
It looks good, and I know mulching is an excellent weed and water control strategy, so it was worth it. The plants still look a bit sparse in the bed but it will fill in over the next couple of years as the plants mature.

I just need to be patient, or I'll have an overgrown desperately needs dividing perennial garden like this one along the NE edge of the lot.

Yep, that's on my list, too.... I'll be dividing perennials and moving some of them to the other new bed across the path from the bed by the new deck.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Poor chicks!!

Sad news. I called Paris Farmer's Union to check on our chicks. The mail truck made an extra stop, and all but 10 of the Golden Comet chicks died. I feel very sad for the poor chicks, being shipped itself must be pretty frightening, but to be in a flock of your fellow chicks slowly dying from thirst, starvation and fear, that must be awful.

Paris Farmer's Union has ordered more Golden Comet chicks, and we should have some next Thursday to pick up. We are all prepared to lavish them with love and attention, and give them a happy lifestyle here at Henbogle.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Peeps Tomorrow!!

Dan and I worked on the chick brooder tonight, in preparation for picking up our new peeps tomorrow. Yes, I said new peeps -- we decided to order 6 more Hubbard's Golden Comet chicks, and they will arrive Friday. We've promised 2 to a woman Dan teaches with, Nina, and we'll keep 4 for a total of 8 hens, assuming they all live. New peeps! It should be fun... we are still thinking about names --should we continue with the flower theme, or move on?

Today I celebrated my first day of summer vacation with a class on home canning and preserving at my county's Cooperative Extension Service office. The class was good, basic but well thought out, and in one of those Maine-is-a big-small-town moments, was taught by a woman I worked with many years ago at Camp Pondicherry, where we were counselors together.

Kathy, formerly known as Alfie, checked out my pressure canner and gave it the ok, and then gave us a good overview of the process, and a stack of handouts with various recipes and dos and don'ts. We practiced our new skills by canning a batch of carrots in the pressure canner, and making and canning a batch of blueberry jam in the boiling water bath canner.

Once home, I put a few more plants in, did some weeding, watered all the recently planted seedlings, pruned the winter-scorched hollies, and puttered about. We are planning a big celebration for Dan's and Michelle's birthday celebration, "Together We're 100," early next month, and then Dan's family will be visiting, so we want the yard to be looking ever so spiffo.

Tomorrow after picking up the chicks, I'm planning on weeding the new garden beds, edging them, and finally mulching. In between, I'll ogle the peeps, catch up on some laundry and house chores, and I hope to tidy up my garden bench a bit.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yikes!! What is this on my cherry tree??

Dan noticed this horrible looking trauma to the Montmorency cherry tree. The tree otherwise looks healthy, with hardly any black aphids this year, and has its first few cherries ever!! What is it?

I need to do some research, but today I'll be finishing up for the summer at work --freedom reigns tomorrow. Yoo Hoo!! I'll do some research as soon as I can, but suggestions are welcome!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It isn't too late...

Thanks to gardener-blogger Tracey at Life in Sugar Hollow for posting this bit of info from the Johnny's Selected Seeds newsletter. I had inadvertently deleted the newsletter, and despaired of finding this list again. According to Johnny, you can still plant in June from seed the following:

HERBS - Basil, borage, calendula, chamomile, chervil, cilantro, dill, epazote, flax, marjoram, milk thistle, parsley, poppy, savory, shiso, and spilanthes.

FLOWERS - Ammi, calendula, centaurea, cleome, cosmos, grasses, hyacinth bean, marigold, morning glory, nasturtium, phlox, poppy, reseda, salpiglossis, scarlet runner bean, snow on the mountain, sunflowers, tithonia, and zinnia.

VEGETABLES - Beans, beets, carrot, corn, cucumber, endive, escarole, kohlrabi, kale, lettuce, pumpkins, radishes, spinach, squash, and Swiss chard.

Living here in lovely Maine, planting in June is a must! Now, off to Johnny's to pick up a few more flower seeds :-)

Beauty contained

Last night Dan and I planted the big ceramic pots which grace the deck. A few years ago, we used LOTS of containers on the deck to disguise it's ugliness and the fact that it needed replacement, and also to mark the edge to prevent an inadvertent step off the edge.

With our new deck, we don't need to hide the ugly peeling paint, and the edge is more clearly delineated by the trim around the deck edge and the flower bed next to the deck, so we are using fewer (high maintenance) containers this year.

We planted each container with a geranium and foliage plants, one with a silvery purple theme, and one with a bright green and white theme.

I hope in the fall to get another Meyer lemon tree. The large dark blue pot was purchased for that purpose, and we successfully grew the lemon for three years, getting 6-8 amazingly delicious lemons a year. The scent from the blossoms was incredible, and it seemed pretty content with our bright sunny window all winter.

Unfortunately, the poor lemon succumbed to drought one summer when we did a lot of traveling and our house-sitter was a bit neglectful. The drought led to a scale infestation, and aphids, and spider mites, and disease, etc. and it died an ugly, sad death.