freezer veggies

Freeze and Thaw

The days have gotten warm enough that the ice on the edge of the pond is melting. Hurray!

Meanwhile, the freezer reveals that our supply of last year’s peppers is almost exhausted. Booo.

How did that happen?  We’re usually eating the last of the frozen tomatoes around March, but the peppers last until May. 

This is probably what comes of someone’s insistence that we don’t need to grow so many hot peppers.  It’s easy enough to eat up those sweet peppers with spaghetti dinners and liberally adding th…

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Pruning Time

Do you know how to prune an elderberry bush?  Me neither. Although I've grown elderberries for over a decade, I'm still relatively new at growing them on a large scale and managing them for production.

Despite not being certain as to the right approach,  I started pruning this week on a 50 degree February day, and I hope to finish within the next 10 days or so.

Some of our plantings are now old enough that they need to be pruned, so I’ve been looking at what the literature says and what other …

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Why Do We Grow Elderberries?

Why do we grow elderberries? 

Several people have asked this question, and it is a reasonable one.  Unlike some, I have no childhood memories of picking wild elderberries or savoring my grandmother’s sweet elderberry pie.

I only became intimate with elderberries as an adult, when I unboxed 2 small specimens of the ‘York’ variety. I had been exploring useful native plants that we might be able to integrate into our modest suburban yard. Elderberry seemed a possibility, small enough for our yard…

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Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve

Ever visit Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve? It’s about about 30 miles straight north of our home, and we managed a visit last weekend before the snow fell. Our hike began with a long, steep climb. Unlike a lot of nature preserves Fort Hill permits dogs, and Wilbur was happy to accompany us.

Beth, who had Wilbur on the lead for the start of the hike, was just as happy Wilbur was with us as he practically pulled her up the mountain in his enthusiasm. I, 20 ft below, slogged along on my o…

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Chainsaw Chatter

They say that people who express gratitude are, statistically, happier than those who don’t. So let me invest in my own joy by telling you just how profoundly grateful I am for the electric start power tool

It may seem an odd thing to be grateful for, but it came to me this past Saturday as we ably felled 9 pine trees within a span of 3 hours.

As you may recall, this clearing is being done on advice of a forester, to open up space for oak, persimmon and other trees that have wildlife benefit…

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Meet your neighbor, glyphosate

Recently, while shopping at Kroger, I noticed a new-to-me offering in the dried bean section: mayocoba beans. I grabbed a bag, excited to try a new flavor and texture, then I swung by the library to pick up a book I had requested. 

I almost hadn’t requested this book because it’s title “Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate is Destroying our Heath and the Environment” feels alarmist to me. And I really don’t need to feel more alarmed than I already do.

However, I had been seeking informa…

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Your yard and transcendence

The elderberry bushes will need to be pruned soon, but I want the cold to settle in and make sure the plants are fully dormant first. Then we'll cut them close to the ground so they grow strong canes with enough room between them for air to flow, which reduces disease and pests. 

In the meantime, I am tempted to linger in front of the wood stove reading the news.

This week I was intrigued by Cara Buckley’s article featuring Bill Jacobs, an ecologist who promotes including native plants in our …

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Musings on beans

Been thinking lately about beans. Not sure why. Does stuff like that happen to you too? One random thing showing up over and over again until you pay attention. 


Bean Thing One

First it was the giant glass jar of dried red beans I unearthed while cleaning out the pantry. 

They had been saved from the garden, at least 8 seasons ago, possibly longer. 😂  Of course, I hadn’t labelled them, but memory suggests that they were “true red cranberry beans”. And if you are a reader of seed catalogs, you…

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A visit from Ben

Ben, the county forester, visited the other day.  He was here to look at our small woodlot and make recommendations for “improving it.”  

The woods are a pretty sad lot.  Ten acres crammed with Virginia pine in the overstory and determined cedars holding ground underneath.  The occasional anemic oak is giving it a go, skinny and straight in a race for the sun that, as Ben pointed out, it will lose unless we help out. 

Why favor oaks?  Many reasons, it turns out.  Several hundred years ago, thi…

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