Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


In 1973 Liz Christy  took balloons and filled them with fertilizer and seeds. These seed grenades were thrown over fences, in empty lots, and hard to reach or off limit places.  The idea was that they would sprout, grow and beautify the neighborhood.  This was the start of the Green Guerrillas and the Guerrilla Gardening movement. Since then the balloons have been replaced by biodegradable containers, or, the seed balls or bombs contents is now encapsulated in clay or other absorbent material.

When making your bombs, choose seeds that are ideal for your growing area or zone. You can make bombs for sunny locations, and separate bombs for shady locations.  You can choose annuals, perennials, flower or vegetable seeds.  You can mix various seeds, provided they have similar growing needs.  Also, the type of seeds will determine if your bombs should be tossed in the fall/winter or spring/summer.

Seed balls are fun, quick and easy to make.  The clay runs about $8 (500g) a bag, the seed starter mix $4, and $7 on the wildflower seeds.   You will also need water, something to measure with (or your hands) and a mixing bowl.  For mixing, I went with 5 parts clay to 1 part dirt/compost and 1 part seeds.

Gather clay, compost, potting soil, or seed starter mix, and your seeds.
Also known as potters clay.

Seed starter mix

Seeds that are good for the pollinators. 
Zoned for my growing area.  
I used a 5:1:1 ratio.  Add enough water to moisten, like mud.
Sorta looks like cookie dough.
I made about 200.
Allow to dry for about 3 days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Fall means shorter days, longer nights, cooler temperatures, falling leaves, migrating birds, and that winter is around the corner.  Once temperatures drop to about 50 degrees, I start to make and put out suet for the birds. 
For the birds that migrate to warmer climates, suet helps these birds to fuel up prior to the start of their journey.  For others that are passing through, it can provide a much needed pit stop for refueling!
 Birds have a high metabolism to begin with, requiring a lot of energy.  They get that energy from their food.  During the colder months, more energy is burned off to maintain body heat.  The harshness of winter and lack of food, results in a depletion of energy reserves and a weaken immune system.  This can lead to disease and eventually death. 
  Suet is high in protein and calories, making it a good food source and providing much needed energy for our feathered friends!



Tuesday, November 11, 2014


  The shorter day length and cooler temperatures signals an end to the summer garden.  With the exception of cool season vegetables, or the use of hoop houses and cold frames, most heat loving plants have stopped producing or died off. 
Planting garlic is the last "garden chore" of the current season and the new start of next years garden.  Garlic should be planted early enough to develop roots, before the ground freezes, but not too early that you develop excessive top growth.  In our area, garlic is planted between Columbus Day and Halloween.  However, I have planted garlic into November with good result.
This years choices.
Hardnecks and softnecks  

I added a little wood ash

Crack apart the bulbs just before planting the individual cloves.

Plant 6"-8" apart and 2"-4" deep.  (Pointy side up.)

My helper

Dibbler/Bulb Planter
Green shoots 1 week after planting cloves.

 The shoots will die back after a hard frost.  Add more mulch, covering the entire growing area.  Come spring, pull back on the mulch to expose the new shoots. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Anthelme Brillat Savarin

As my husband and I sat down to eat dinner tonight, I realized that most of the food came from the garden! 
 On the Menu:
Sauté greens with onion and garlic...(all three from the garden)
Bread and Butter Pickles
Penne Pasta with Tomato Sauce


“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.”
~ Julia Child

Monday, September 1, 2014


I first heard about freezing peppers from a elderly neighbor.  He would simply wash the pepper, pat it dry, place in a zip lock bag, and put it into the freezer.  It can not get any easier then that! 
Since then, I have come across several different versions, all just as easy.  Although freezing whole is an option,  I prefer to cut mine prior to freezing.  It is up to you on how you would like to do this.  Maybe think about how you may use the peppers in the future.  With that in mind, you could slice them into strips, chop them into little pieces, cut them into rings, or even half's. 
Wash the pepper and pat dry.

Remove the stem.

I sliced this pepper into rings.

Seeds and membrane removed.

Place on a cookie sheet in a single layer.

Place in the freezer for about an hour.

After about an hour, remove from the freezer and place into individual zip lock bags.  I like to write the type of pepper, quantity, and date on the outside of the bag with a permanent marker.  Remove as much air as possible. 

Place the smaller zip lock bag into a freezer bag.  This will help protect from freezer burn.  Burp out as much air as possible.

Use the "first in, first out" method when using frozen peppers.  These peppers are good for about a year, or before freezer burn sets in.
 A cautionary note;  be extra careful when handling hot peppers.  Wear gloves and do not touch your face, especially the eyes and mouth.  If they are small enough, you may be better off freezing them whole, or cut into halves only. 



Very exciting news!!!!

This news release is via Organic Gardening Connect Newsletter OGNews@organicgardeningnews.delivery.net
Vermont Law Goes Neonicotinoid-Free
Walking the talk as big supporters of the sustainable food and agriculture community, the Vermont Law School has become the first higher-education campus in the country to earn an official "neonicotinoid pesticide-free" designation from the Center for Food Safety's BEE Protective Campaign. Pollinators play a critical role in agricultural systems, and a growing body of evidence suggests that neonicotinoid pesticides are especially dangerous to bees. With any luck, VLS will be rapidly joined by many more schools, businesses, and individuals around the country.

Sign me officially neonicotinoid-free,

Jean Nick
Contributing Editor, Environment

Source: Vermont Law School 

Vermont Law first bee-friendly, neonicotinoid pesticide-free campus in nation

Aug. 7, 2014
SOUTH ROYALTON –– Vermont Law School has partnered with the Center for Food Safety’s BEE Protective Campaign, making it the first higher-education campus in the country to earn official neonicotinoid pesticide-free designation.
“Honey bees and other pollinators play a critical role in agricultural systems,” said Laurie Ristino, director of the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems and VLS associate professor of law. “Protecting their health and safety is a reflection of Vermont Law School’s commitment to the environment and CAFS’ mission to support sustainable food and agricultural systems. We hope more will follow our lead.”
Vermont Law School’s partnership with the BEE Protective follows an Obama administration directive, announced in June, to create a “Federal Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” The presidential memorandum reports that “pollinators contribute substantially to the economy of the United States and are vital to keeping fruits, nuts, and vegetables in our diets. Honey bee pollination alone adds more than $15 billion in value to agricultural crops each year in the United States.
“Over the past few decades, there has been a significant loss of pollinators, including honey bees, native bees, birds, bats, and butterflies, from the environment.”
BEE Protective is a national campaign established by the Center for Food Safety and Beyond Pesticides, and works with municipalities, campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect pollinators from bee-toxic pesticides. For more information about the campaign, visit http://bit.ly/1kp3gSV.
The Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School supports scholars and practitioners in producing practical, robust scholarship for use by the food and agriculture community. CAFS offers an expanding curriculum in food and agriculture for law and policy students, and training and legal tools to help build sustainable local and regional food systems. For more information about the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems, visit www.vermontlaw.edu/cafs/, call CAFS Director Laurie Ristino at (802) 831-1230, or email lristino@vermontlaw.edu.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Hard to believe that at the same time I am harvesting garlic, I am looking ahead to starting my fall garden!  The first Fall frost arrives between October 15 and October 28 in my area.  That is about 12 - 14 weeks from now. 

Planting a Fall garden allows you to extend your growing season well into December and beyond!  Of course we are not talking about Tomatoes and Peppers, or other warm weather plants that need summer's heat.  However, many veggies are cold tolerant, such as broccoli, cauliflower, root vegetables, and greens.  Throw in a cold frame or two, and you may be harvesting kale in the middle of a snow storm.

Planting a fall garden gives me a second chance to grow veggies that I was unable (due to weather) or to late (do to time) to grow in the spring.  If my summer garden was not up to my expectations, a fall garden allows me an opportunity to redeem myself!

Some veggies such as broccoli and cabbage may be better off starting indoors and then transplanting out into the garden.  Believe it or not, the soil may be to hot for seed germination!  By the time the seedlings are ready, the outdoor temperatures and soil should have cooled off a bit. 

Prior to starting my fall garden, I amend the soil with compost and/ or manure.  I also water the beds the night before I plant in them.  I find that this helps to make the soil easier to work and cools down the planting area. 

I plan to grow lettuce, carrots, beets, collards, broccoli, cauliflower, pees, spinach, radishes, kale, and turnips.  I will be adding cold frames by early October, which will allow me to "overwinter"  some veggies well into spring, giving me a head start on next years garden!

Monday, August 4, 2014

R.I.P Hive Mary

Sad day today. 
We went out to inspect our hive, only to find very little of it left. A month ago it was doing well.  Then, about 2 weeks ago we noticed that the hive was not as active.  The hive seemed smaller, and the bees were more agitated than usual. Today, about 100 bees remain.  We will have to wait to spring to try again.
The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
~ William Blake

A colony of bees consists of 20,000-60,000 honeybees and one queen.

"Unique among all God's creatures, only the honeybee improves the environment and preys not on any other species."
~ Royden Brown

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


"If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.”
Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee 
Finding your Queen can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack!  
There is only one Queen per hive, which can contain around 50,000 bees (give or take).  Her sole purpose is to reproduce, laying up to 2000 eggs per day.  She does not control the hive, but is constantly attended to by the worker bees.  The queen can live between 2-7 years, while the average bee lives for about 35 days.   


Our Queen!  Note the longer abdomen.


 "If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive." - Abraham Lincoln