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Monday, February 08, 2016
Wednesday, February 03, 2016 2:37 PM
When two e-mail correspondents mention microgreens just days apart, it inspires me to look into the subject, and also to wonder why I’m not growing them. . . .
  • Super Bowl Sunday draws near, that holy day when most of the country gathers together to drink beer, eat lots, and cheer for their favorite team. . . .
  • “We have a lady cardinal and her husband, purple finches, blue jays — a blaze of color!” My daughter is writing about the pleasures of watching the . . .
  • The day we haul the Christmas tree and greens out the door is always a mournful time for me. No more balsam scent, no twinkling lights, no green stuff . . .
  • If there were such a thing as a super food, the humble chickpea is on its way to being nominated Super Food of 2016. The emergence into the foodie . . .
  • New Year’s resolutions are made to be broken, at least those of the “lose 10 pounds, stop eating sugar, work out daily” variety. But one that may be a . . .
  • The short dark days of December demand a light-filled celebration, whatever the festival. From the earliest pagan times people have rejoiced during the . . .
  • While looking for stocking stuffers at a local discount store I came across seeds, packed for 2016, that were marked down. I chose some bright . . .
  • We’ve been a bit slow to jump into Christmas holiday mode this year. A wreath on the door, yes, but no candles in the window, no tree waiting on the . . .
  • In the pre-dawn hours of half-sleep this morning I had a vivid and wonderful dream. A friend of my son’s had, unbeknownst to me, installed an exotic . . .
  • For many years making Christmas wreaths was a part of our Thanksgiving holiday tradition. My family lived on Cape Cod, where the weather was . . .
  • My partner and I have many mutual interests, but we diverge widely on magazine subscriptions. His include Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, and . . .
  • The gift of a very warm, lingering autumn has given midcoast gardeners more time for cleanup in the garden, but colder temperatures are finally on the . . .
  • The sun rises late here on the western fringe of the Central Time Zone in South Dakota, with the horizon just turning pink at 8 a.m. It’s hard to get up . . .
  • We’re in sunny and warm South Dakota this week, where it’s very dry and 80 degrees at midday. The Laura Ingalls Wilder homestead is just down the . . .
  • Our prolonged warm fall has been an unexpected gift, but even so, mornings and evenings grow chilly and most nights we’ve had a small fire in the . . .
  • The MOFGA fall bulletin shares tips sent in long ago by Camden resident Beedy Parker on drying apples in a year such as this one where, even after . . .
  • For most of my life, autumn has not been my favorite season. The advantages of wearing a scarf and heavy sweater, viewing fall foliage, and sitting in . . .
  • Pots and beds filled with annuals bring color and life to the summer, but as the season winds down and flowers wither and fade, the realization soon . . .
  • Our garlic was harvested weeks ago and it was a good crop. Despite the vagaries of a New England growing season, through cold, wet springs and . . .
  • We’ve had an excellent crop of garlic and onions this year, fewer potatoes than in years past, and lots fewer ripe tomatoes. But we are rich in one crop . . .
  • Many gardeners feel that spring planting time is the busiest season, but fall gets my vote. While harvesting and bed cleanup are going full tilt, it’s also . . .
  • Today I feel extremely virtuous. I finally forced myself down into the dark recesses of the basement and sorted out the freezer. I’d been dreading the . . .
  • I never thought I’d have to address a zucchini excess this summer. We planted one lone bush-type zucchini that stubbornly refused to push out any . . .
  • There are those who feel all gardening in the Northeast could be called “adventure” gardening: whatever you plant, you never can predict when and . . .
  • The early morning light has an autumnal cast today, igniting a touch of panic in me. Do we opt for cramming in more summer fun — more kayaking . . .
  • July in Maine has reached its over-the-top perfection. Wildflowers - black-eyed Susans, sky-blue chicory, orange daylilies, magenta fireweeed, golden tansy, creamy Queen Anne's lace, dusty mauve Joe Pye weed, red and white clovers and deep-blue vetch - spill over banks lining back roads. Squashes, peppers, peas . . .
  • These few short weeks are the time when all of summer's berries come available at the same time, the strawberry crop tailing off as raspberries and blueberries take their place. Berries are, in my mind, the easiest fruit to preserve and freeze. No peeling or chopping, no blanching is required. Just remove any stems . . .
  • Those halcyon days of dips in the pond, sailing, hiking and bonfires for roasting hot dogs and s'mores are upon us at last, after a very prolonged cool and rainy spell. Gardens are yielding the first summer squashes and peas, strawberries and greens, and flower borders and beds are in full bloom. It's hard to remember . . .
  • While it's too early to think of harvesting garden staples like onions and potatoes, corn or tomatoes, the harvesting of herbs has already begun. Or should have begun. Somehow, despite the best of intentions, I let a bountiful crop of chive blossoms fade away without making chive vinegar as I had . . .
  • All over Maine these days roadside stands are posting white signs displaying a single red strawberry, signaling to passing motorists that the sweet berries are in, just in time for the Fourth of July holiday. Local fresh berries are a treat, but many gardeners dream of a bed of one's own, where a bowl of sun-warmed fruit . . .
  • Back in March of this year more than half a million people called on the government to protect the monarch butterfly
  • In the all-too-brief lilac days this spring I saw a welcome sight: dozens of yellow swallowtail butterflies darting and floating in and out of the hedge in front my friend's home in Vermont. I can't remember any time in the recent past that I've seen more than one or two butterflies at any given time, so this was a happy . . .
  • With time, avid gardeners run out of space for new additions to their perennial beds. That's when they begin to climb the walls and turn to vertical gardening. Whether it's a flowering clematis or a glossy woodbine, there's almost always room for a new vine in your life. It was a sad day when we had to enclose our . . .
  • On this day of much-needed rain I venture out between showers to check on the garden's progress. During yesterday's heat and humidity we battled gusty winds and aggressive deerflies as we raced to put down mulch on garden paths and borders. For weeks we had at the ready bundles of newspapers, ours for the . . .
  • A friend asked me if it was worth starting an asparagus bed and I tried to be objective and lay out the pros and cons. Since the asparagus bed in the garden here is now in its third year, with enough stalks to have the delectable spears in one form or another - whether chopped and scrambled with eggs for breakfast . . .
  • If you are planning a wedding or party later this summer, this is the time to think about growing your own flowers for the big event. As any prospective bride planning a wedding will tell you, the cost of flowers, for both the bridal party and the location - whether it's a country chapel, garden or function hall - can add a . . .
  • Gardening in raised beds is a well-known technique, with many benefits. In my opinion, the biggest benefit of planting in garden beds rather than rows is eliminating the need for tilling. Once beds are raised up and paths mulched, any future compost or other soil amendments are placed only on top of the areas . . .
  • Mother's Day is only three days away, which doesn't leave a lot of time for elaborate DIY gifts, but if Mom is a gardener, there are endless options for personalized gifts that go beyond the same-old bouquet or houseplant. Not that flowers or plants are ever unappreciated. But if you're giving a bouquet . . .
  • Home & Garden: Gardens Big and Small
    If this is the year you finally decide you'll grow your own vegetables, you have many different kinds of gardens with which to indulge your new passion. I say passion because whether it's a few pots on a patio or a half-acre in the back forty, love of gardening can take over your life. The garden is the place where . . .
  • If you're just starting out with your first garden or a veteran of the soil wars, a stroll through the tool section of your local garden center is always educational, if not downright overwhelming. Whether you're buying your first tools or looking to upgrade or add on to your existing batterie de jardin, there are a lot of . . .
  • April brings a blizzard of a different kind: a blizzard of yard and garden tasks that threaten to bury us. Just keep reminding yourself that it's all supposed to be fun, and take time to enjoy the warming weather. But what if it's not warming fast enough? If days are still cool, continue pruning fruit trees and shrubs. . . .
  • A late spring is frustrating to the gardener but does give a bit of time to do some last-minute planning for the upcoming season. One of the most popular topics in gardening discussions recently has been the need to attract beneficial insects and pollinators to the garden, be it vegetable or ornamental. Now's the time to . . .
  • Good old reliable holidays like Christmas and the Fourth of July always fall on the same date, but Easter slithers around from year to year, as it is celebrated on the first Sunday after (never on) the Paschal full moon - that is, the first full moon occurring on or after the spring equinox, which falls on March 21. . . .
  • The 2015 AHS Book Award winners were recently announced and, of the five books selected, one seems especially pertinent as the gardening season oh so slowly approaches. "Attracting Beneficial Bugs to Your Garden," written by Jessica Walliser and published by Portland, Oregon's Timber Press, is a fresh look at the . . .
  • Vegetable gardens often become a patchwork of the tried and true - garlic and potatoes planted from the previous year's yields, volunteer dill or sunflower plants, and perennials such as horseradish and rhubarb - mixed with some experimental new varieties to keep things interesting. Those new varieties have . . .
  • While in the U.S. St. Patrick's Day, March 17, has been celebrated for over a century with parades, green beer and mountains of corned beef and cabbage, until recent decades the holiday honoring Ireland's patron saint was a more solemn occasion on the Emerald Isle. The man for whom St. Patrick's Day is . . .
  • With relief we turn the calendar page to March and peer ahead, looking for reassurance that spring is on the way, taking heart in the return of Daylight Saving Time on March 8 and the vernal equinox on March 20. On March 5 coastal Maine had 11 hours and 23 minutes of daylight, and by the equinox that . . .
  • While the Midwest and Northeast have been experiencing record low temperatures this winter, southwest Florida has also been hit with record lows. Oh, boo-hoo-hoo, I hear you say: it's cold enough to wear a jacket to work in the morning and pathetic Floridians are scraping frost from their windshields . . .
  • It may seem like Maine is experiencing the Longest Winter Ever, but people have been feeling this way since long before weather records were kept. Don't believe me? Here's a Paiute Indian Late Winter Song . . .
  • The Valentine roses for your loved ones are up to you, but the following recipes should cover the chocolate component. The basic recipe, which can be called simply chocolate pudding or by its fancier moniker, chocolate creme Anglaise, can be used in combinations plain or fancy, depending on whether it's for the . . .
  • In the pre-Super Bowl break between blizzards and ice storms we made a mad dash for the Everglades and arrived at the Florida border red-eyed and starving, tired of bad road food and worse road coffee. Driving a two-lane secondary road in north Florida we began to see signs for what turned out to be a serious . . .
  • It's that time again, the celebration of one of the biggest U.S. holidays, just slightly behind Christmas in popularity. This Sunday, Super Bowl 49 is expected to be viewed by nearly 185 million people, many sitting at home in front of their televisions, munching wings and chips while cheering on their favorite team. . . .
  • It's late January, the time to be looking through catalogs and deciding which seeds to order for the coming season. But perhaps we should already be thinking about starting those seeds. I can think of a couple of reasons for this, the primary one being that in the past I've wanted to start certain seeds indoors . . .
  • For Christmas dinner I made a new dessert, one I was certain would bring raves, but it was largely disregarded by family members, who went with more familiar choices. The dessert was a pillowy, creamy pudding made with almonds and barley, with a rhubarb-cranberry compote as optional topping. You'd think this . . .
  • Gardening is always a balancing act between joy and despair: fresh vegetables for the table and flowers for arrangements versus aching knees from weeding and frustration with insect predation. Gardeners worry a lot, about early frosts and heat waves, torrential rains and droughts. It's tough out there in gardening . . .
  • New Year's resolutions don't have to be of the new-diet-more-exercise-stop-smoking variety. Here are a few suggestions for gardeners' resolutions for 2015. You may remain chubby and possibly a bit flabby, but they'll make you happy. . . .
  • As lovely as a fresh tree is on Christmas Eve, lights shimmering, ornaments reflected in their glow, it's a different picture a week or so later when, stripped of its finery, it becomes a sad, twiggy shadow of its former self. Even when water is added to the tree's reservoir base, central heating and the Sahara-like lack of . . .
  • Once the drifts of wrapping paper are cleared away, the dinner leftovers consigned to the refrigerator and guests heading home, the lucky gardener who received a nice fat book - one with pages and that new-book smell - can kick back with a cup of tea and a few choice Christmas cookies and begin to enjoy . . .
  • Exchanging cookie platters is almost mandatory during the holiday season in our area. Filling a festive paper platter with as many as a dozen kinds of cookies - gooey bars with shortbread bases, bourbon balls, nut crescents, mini-brownies - and distributing them to friends and neighbors is fun to do and always . . .
  • It's getting tougher every year to find Christmas gifts, for children, that aren't (choose one) made of plastic; based on the most recent Disney animation; a junior-grade computer or smartphone; or made up of a thousand tiny pieces. Even when kids are young, by the time they reach age 5 or 6 it seems the need . . .
  • White is the color of winter: white snow, already covering the land in some areas, white ermine and snowshoe hares, white marshmallows melting on hot chocolate. White is also the color of some of the least used and most flavorful and nutritious winter vegetables, such as celeriac, fennel, purple-top turnips and . . .
  • There may be a few misguided families who will chow down on lamb with mint jelly for Thanksgiving, but for the rest of us it's inviolable tradition all the way: roast turkey with stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and weird stuff like sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, green bean casserole with funky cream of . . .
  • We're talking today about planting amaryllis for gifts during the upcoming holiday season, but don't panic: despite the fact that Christmas advertisements are already clogging the airways, you still have time to enjoy a few weeks of sanity, including Thanksgiving, before switching into high gear. I'm jumping on . . .
  • Given the recent snow, it's a bit late to write, as I'd originally planned, about getting bird feeders ready for winter; it's already here. But there will still be time to prepare for a long season of feeding the birds that stay in the north all year round. I missed the storm because we are still pheasant-hunting in Central . . .
  • Winds roaring across the Dakota hills are rocking our tiny camper at sunset. We're back in central South Dakota for two weeks of pheasant hunting (pheasant spotting in my case), but I consider the 1,900-mile drive a tour of bigger gardens - the cornfields of Ohio and Iowa, the sunflower, milo and sorghum . . .
  • If you want to know when to plant garlic, just monitor the fall foliage: When most of the leaves are on the ground, it's time to plant. In fact, rake those leaves, grind them up with a chipper or your mower, and you can use them for mulch on your newly planted beds. As I've said in previous columns . . .
  • It's been a long time since I've made a terrarium, but hanging around in the woods this past week while loading cut firewood brought me into contact with so many perfect woodland specimens that I wanted to bring them all home and preserve them under glass. Mosses, lichen-covered branches, weird fungus on . . .
  • After our recent protracted Indian summer with its temperatures in the high 70s, more seasonal frosty mornings and chilly evenings are a relief. Cooler temperatures also mean fall cooking can ramp up, with heartier stews and casseroles on the menu. It's appropriate that normally brisk October is officially . . .
  • When selecting fall bulbs of daffodils and tulips for spring bloom, why not try adding a few dramatic alliums to the mix? These tall lollipops, with heads that resemble chive blossoms on steroids, are, like chives, members of the garlic family. They're a perfect choice for perking up the perennial border in that . . .
  • Home & Garden: Tulip Roulette
    There's a remarkable amount of color in the landscape right now. As the foliage yellows and browns, fall blooms stand out more vividly; witness the glowing asters that populate the roadsides. The nasturtiums that are climbing throughout our vegetable garden glow like neon at dusk, as do the morning . . .
  • The deer have been sneaking under their favorite apple tree, the one with clear yellow fruit, for their pre-dawn snacks. Rising early, we can usually see two or three large does gliding in and out under the low-hanging branches, cleaning up all the drops. Because those particular apples are some of my favorites as well . . .
  • It's coming, that time many gardeners dread, when nights grow cool and frost threatens. It's hard to say goodbye to those huge frilly coleus, the peppers still sprouting dozens of blossoms and tiny fruits, all the herbs that give summer meals an extra burst of flavor. But while nighttime temperatures still hover in . . .
  • As a garden writer I am guilty of giving short shrift to one subject: lawn care. And yet, lawn care is probably the one garden activity practiced by millions of homeowners on any given week during the growing season - this despite their having very little knowledge about how lawns grow. I am one of these millions . . .
  • Home & Garden:  Putting Food By for Winter
    Among the deluge of catalogs that one outdoor outfitter sends our way is one I can't resist poring over, titled "Garden Harvest." If you want a camo-print vacuum sealer for freezing your excess garden produce or a dehydrator with 56 square feet of drying space, or a $600 digital smoker for your pork . . .
  • Yes, Christmas is coming, in just four months. Why not get a running start on the holiday season and prepare some infused vinegars using herbs from your garden? Basil, parsley, dill, thyme, rosemary and other herbs are at their peak right now, as are berries, and making flavored vinegars is a perfect way to . . .
  • Mention harvest time and images of orange pumpkins and haystacks for livestock feed come to mind, but a lot of harvesting and storing of food begins now and continues through the first killing frost. Garlic is already being lifted from the garden and set to dry, green and wax beans are flooding . . .
  • Raspberries are one of the most prized of summer's fruits, their season brief but glorious. I'm setting out this morning to do battle with the patch of unruly plants that, despite years of neglect, still produce some berries as fat as the tip of my thumb. Last fall I waded into the thicket and took out all debris . . .
  • Parading around the kitchen island one day last week in her new swim flippers, goggles and snorkel, my six-year-old granddaughter suddenly stopped and announced, "Grammie, it's fall." It was a cool and showery day, a brief and somewhat welcome change from a week of hot, humid weather . . .
  • By the time daily temperatures climb into the nineties, most of the early salad greens in the garden have bolted and/or turned bitter. Sometimes it's a bit of a relief to pull the last of them; salads are made primarily with vegetables, but the vegetables don't have to be green and l