Monthly Archives: May 2013

When I first put the young chickens out in their coop,  I would lock them in for most of the time for a week.  This was so they would learn that the coop was safe and that it was where you go at night to sleep.  They learned this lesson with very little problems.  But, now that the weather is getting nice, they have decided to sleep in the run on the high roost.  OK, by me, the run is secure, chain-link dog run with chicken wire buried 18 inches in the ground.  I say they are camping out.  They did sleep in the coop the night we had a very close and severe thunder storm.

Chickens roosting for the night in the run.  5/22/13

Chickens roosting for the night in the run. 5/22/13

One of my favorite movies is “Julie and Julia”, part of the reason I blog.  For Christmas last year my mother-in-law gave me a new copy of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Childs.  I should add that it is now a two volume set.  I’m not going to “cook my way through it” like in the movie but I will cook from it.  So last Monday I had a lot of fresh asparagus that was to be supper.  I made (I’ll use the english name) an Asparagus Mold from Julia Childs famous cook book.  It was great, fresh asparagus and backyard fresh eggs.  I didn’t follow the recipe exactly, but, close enough.  My wife says I never follow any recipe exactly.  She liked it too. Sorry the picture isn’t great and I should have taken a picture before I served some of it.  The whole mold looked very impressive.  Just my opinion.

Asparagus mold from "Mastering the Art of French Cooking"

Asparagus mold from “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”




I set my leeks into my garden using a newly made dibble, close to the size and shape of the seedlings  from the multi-pack.  The dibble certainly made the transplanting much easier, push it into the ground and you have a perfectly shaped hole to place the young seedling in.

Dibble and leek seedlings

Dibble and leek seedlings

This dibble is the first single one that I have tried .  I have a couple of multi-dibbles that I have used for years.

I set my leek seedlings in a dug out boxed area or place an open bottomed box over them.  The sides are about 6 inches high.  As the leeks grow I add compost around them till the compost is level with the top of the box.  This will give me a 6- 8 inch white leek at harvest time.

Leek seedlings planted in bottomless box

Leek seedlings planted in bottomless box

Mother nature sometimes helps with the plant selection for the garden.  I planted New Zealand spinach 4 years ago and have not planted it since. But, every year since then I have New Zealand spinach growing in my garden.  I just have to find where the small seedlings are growing and transplant them to where I want them .  I thought this year I wasn’t getting any but I found some seedlings growing in with the garlic.  When they get a little bigger, I will move 3 or 4 to their rightful spot.

Also this year Mother nature selected 6 Russian Red Kale plants and 4 dill plants to be part of the garden.  The kale was a surprise, mostly because I had decided not to plant any of the Russian this year.  Not wanting to piss-off Mother nature, I found them a spot, well 6 spots.  The dill was gratefully received since the dill I planted didn’t grow at all.

My rhubarb is very happy this year.  Bigger, taller, thicker, fuller and just lush.

Happy Rhubarb,  with fencing to keep out the chickens.

Happy Rhubarb, with fencing to keep out the chickens.

Garlic 5/22/13

Garlic 5/22/13

Peas  5/22/13

Peas 5/22/13

One last item in the garden. Actually there are 2 of them, I only got a picture of the smaller one.

Garter snake  5/25/13

Garter snake 5/25/13


A simple way to propagate new plants is a method called layering.  Forsythia plants do this every time a branch touches the ground, within an hour roots are starting to grow and a new forsythia plant is started.  I may be off on the amount of time it takes but an unattended forsythia bush soon becomes a jungle.

My pink rhododendrons are also very good at rooting new plants.  My white rhody is a little slower and my red rhody is very hard to get to root.  So my yard has a lot of pink rhodies, a fair number of white ones and just a few reds.

I have bent lower branches of dogwoods and rose of sharon down to the ground, staked them down and cover the stake with compost to propagate new plants.  The dogwoods generally root in a year and can be dug up and planted in a new location the next spring.  The rose of sharon needs more time to root.  I have done it in a year only once, failed on a couple of tries and succeeded with a year and a half to two year time frame.

I’m trying the rose of sharon again this year and my magnolia tree.  I’m not staking them this time, I think the stress of the bending is part of my failure rate.  I’m threading the branch into the side of a plastic  pot for the rose of sharon and into the side of a wooden bottomless box for the magnolias. Time will tell if this will work.

Experiment in layering a magnolia tree 5/13

Experiment in layering a magnolia tree 5/13

Rose of Sharon layering experiment 5/5/13

Rose of Sharon layering experiment 5/5/13

5/22/13  Rose of Sharon

5/22/13 Rose of Sharon


Three years ago I bought a bag of dahlia bulbs at a chain department store.  They grew very large and bright flowers all summer long.  Here in New England the winters are too cold for the bulbs to be left in the garden so they have to be dug up and stored for the next season.  I thought my cellar was too damp and warm for a successful winter storage so I did something else.  Beside my garage foundation I dug a hole in the soft back-fill about 18 inches deep, buried the bulbs and covered the dirt with a small pile of fall leaves.  When I dug them up in the spring most of them were fine.  I still bury them beside the garage foundation but I put them in a 5-gallon pail with the wire handle standing straight up, so the top of the handle is just above the top of the dirt.  This is a much easier way to find the bulbs in the spring and to retrieve them without damaging them with your shovel.  I dug them up this weekend, split the large ones into two bulbs and planted them.

5-gallon pail with dahlia bulbs  5/12/13

5-gallon pail with dahlia bulbs 5/12/13

dahlia bulbs 5/12/13

dahlia bulbs 5/12/13

My original spading fork after digging in New England soil, ROCKY soil, for many years and bending one tine back too many times, broke.  A three tined fork just didn’t work as well.  I didn’t throw it out, it might be useful somehow, someday.  Well 2 years ago when my back was screaming at me for too much digging and spading in the garden I thought about one of those T-handled digging tools that turned your garden by twisting the T-handle.  Being a “frugal yankee”  I took my old spading fork, put a broom handle through the fork handle and gave it a try.  It worked rather well, had to be wired into place but it worked.  Well, it did until the fork handle twisted off of the fork.  No problem, I bolted a heavier T-handle to the old wooden fork.  This worked all through last year and a little of this season.     Then the old wooden fork handle split with all of the twisting.  I needed something stronger.  An old piece of 3/4 pipe, some bending and a new T-handle and we are good to go.  This reused spading fork works great.  It has long tines so it loosens the soil to a nice depth and is very easy on my back.

old spading fork with a twist

old spading fork with a twist

Now the mushroom.  Three or four years ago I bought 3 types of mushroom plug spawn from Fungi Perfecti;  Maitake, Shiitake and Pearl Oyster.  The Shiitake and Pearl Oyster produced mushrooms for a couple of years and then slowed to a stop.  Or so I thought.  I found this Shiitake growing on one of my larger logs this weekend.  It’s going on the grill this week .

Shiitake mushroom 5/12/13

Shiitake mushroom 5/12/13

Shiitake mushroom, gill side 5/12/13

Shiitake mushroom, gill side 5/12/13

I grilled this shiitake mushroom for supper tonight.  Marinated it briefly in vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Ten minutes gill side down , flipped and added slices of mozzarella cheese. Removed from grill when cheese started to melt, cut in half and made 2 sandwiches. A very nice evening supper.


There will be a Plant Swap in Walpole, Massachusetts on June 1, 2013.  I have never heard of these and have gotten plants over the years at plant sale put on by local garden clubs.  This is a swap, you bring extra plants that you need to thin out and come home with plants (hopefully) that you want.  I’m hoping to get some june fruiting strawberry plants.  From a “frugal yankee” point of view this sounds great.  I’ll let you know how this works out.


Plant Swap link


This post is not about my garden or my chickens but since it is my blog, I sometimes post other things.

I want to start with labels,titles, descriptions and the ways we are addressed in our lives.  I’ve had many and still have many.  One of my absolute favorites is “grampa”.   I have 8 grandkids, they are all smart, talented, obedient, good looking, polite and many more things.  OK! I’m biased, just a little.

When my first granddaughter was in kindergarten, I contacted her teacher to see if I could come to her class and do a “wood-sculpture” with the class. And so it started, last Friday I went to my grandson’s kindergarten class (he is number 6) and the class of twenty made their own “wood-sculpture”.  His teacher was very happy to have me come and knew what to expect since she had my granddaughter (number 5) three years before.

“Wood-sculpture” is what I call it.  Each kindergartner is given a 7 inch square piece of plywood and scrap wood pieces that they glue together to form what ever they want.  I love watching and helping in this project.  Watching their little minds, their imaginations and the skills they have now, to build, create and wonder is just fascinating.

Grayson and Grampa 5/10/13

Grayson and Grampa 5/10/13

Wood Sculpture 5/10/13

Wood Sculpture 5/10/13

I’m a cabinetmaker and a frugal yankee (more labels) using scrap plywood for this is a great form of recycling.  I can organize and deal with these twenty kids for an hour quite successfully, how teachers do it day after day  i do not know.  They have my admiration and respect for what they do.

I had a wonderful time.  Thank you for letting me visit your class.

Grayson’s Grampa



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If these were hard to grow they would be prized by gardeners around the globe.

They are not, they are a weed.


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