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Friday, May 27, 2016
Thursday, May 26, 2016 1:03 PM
You’ve heard of weekend warriors, athletes who plunge into strenuous activities on Saturday and Sunday, then limp, aching and groaning, into work on Monday. Gardeners can easily fall prey . . .
  • I got an SOS call from my gardening partner in northern Vermont recently. The unpredictably cold spring had delivered a hard frost and the tips of his onion plants were all white. . . .
  • Gardeners from Maine to Masachusetts are complaining about the cold and rainy month of May thus far, or at least the ones I know are. As if damp and cloudy weren’t bad enough . . .
  • Mother’s Day should burst forth with puffy white clouds in a blue sky and 70-degree temperatures, but April showers seem to be late this year and rain is predicted. If the weather predictions . . .
  • Home & Garden: Think Small
    Fashion, food, cars and music ­ — all have trends, and gardening is no different. Recent trends in landscaping and horticulture include less lawn and more planted beds, with beds less formal . . .
  • At the end of this week we’ll begin our slow homeward trek north after spending the last 10 weeks in tropical Florida — a period of time that’s not quite long enough to garden, but why should . . .
  • Cooking Series at FARMS Community Kitchen in Damariscotta
    Two different cooking series, both led by Tanja Kunz, will be held at the FARMS Kitchen in Damariscotta beginning in May:
  • The Exhibition Hall at Union Fair is soliciting 121⁄2-inch squares from interested quilters to make up a “Down on the Farm” quilt
  • Occasionally a reader of The Free Press asks my opinion on a gardening subject and I am happy to try and give a sound one. In this instance, a couple from Rockport who are serious gardeners . . .
  • Each morning before dawn I step out the door, leaving behind the inside air conditioning to sample the outside heat and humidity. Here in southwest Florida, where the temperature has been . . .
  • In early spring gardeners become preoccupied with seeds: buying them, starting them indoors, direct-seeding them into the garden. What better time to take a look at “Seeing Seeds . . ."
  • I’m still in southwest Florida, where it’s so hot and humid that snowbirds from Michigan, Wisconsin and as far north as Canada are packing up and returning home. Reasons for their flight . . .
  • While technically speaking it won’t be spring until March 20, the advent of Daylight Saving Time and the coming of St. Patrick’s Day and Easter all herald the end of winter. This is technically . . .
  • We’d all eat like kings if cabbage were on our preferred vegetable list more than the one day of the year it currently reigns supreme, with its boon companion corned beef. The traditional St. Patrick’s Day . . .
  • I saw my first mango and avocado orchards. Now I can die happy. There’s something about tropical fruits that fills a gardening gap in my life. While it’s true that I love northern orchards . . .
  • We headed south on a winter escape to Florida just ahead of the onset of subzero temperatures, outran a “wintry mix” turning roads to ice in North Carolina, and found clear sailing ahead until we ran smack into the Everglades Seafood Festival . . .
  • Gardeners who start onions, leeks and flowers like violas and snapdragons indoors have already ordered and received their seeds prior to planting them later this month. For the rest of us, there’s still time to sit by the fire and thumb through the pages of seed catalogs, printed on real paper, whose vivid illustrations and glowing prose fan into flame the damped embers of winter garden dreams.
  • 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 . . .