Archive for May 2014

05-30-2014. Journal Entry–Summer is Coming!   Leave a comment

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Well I’ve calmed down somewhat after my fiasco of traveling home from Texas.  It’s time to get back to normal and return to my quiet life without airlines, crowds of people, and over priced everything.

I climbed back on my trusty treadmill yesterday and I’ve got to say it was a real wake-up call.  I went a full week without much exercise and starting up again was a killer. I just have to keep pushing myself to reach that final weight loss goal I’ve targeted. I really thought that after the Texas trip I’d have to work double hard to regain motivation to lose whatever extra weight I’d gained on the trip. The biggest surprise I had was when I weighed in showing  a two pound loss bringing my total weight loss since last November to 38 pounds.  Hooray for me. I’m now only ten pounds from my goal.  With any luck I’ll be there by August and then I can really celebrate.  Ten months of oranges, radishes, cashews, and protein will make any celebration an improvement in my diet.

It’s back to gardening, yard work, and preparing for the better-half’s trip to Los Angeles in a few weeks.  The Spring  seems to be flying along very quickly but Summers coming.  I just wish the winter months came and went as quickly as these months seem to.  As I lay on the floor of Reagan National airport the other night trying to catch three winks I could only fantasize about getting back to gardening without the fear of traveling nightmares.  This young lady has a couple of gorgeous flowers that make her garden a sheer delight.

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I’m planning on a major overhaul of my man-cave while she’s gone and I’m beginning today to collect the materials I need.  The cave is getting a little crowded so I need to rearrange things a bit.  My winemaking area will be expanded to include a new multi-level siphoning table as well as new shelving units for my assortment of accessories. I need more storage to accommodate the ever increasing number of wine bottles.  I need that wine because it helps me relax me so I can continue my gardening fantasies.

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This is my gardening helper.  She’s in charge of all of my gardening tools and their maintenance.  She’s  a lovely young lady who is exceptionally talented.

Once my man-cave project is completed I can get down to cooking a little.  I had dinner in a Mexican restaurant while in Dallas and we feasted on the best fish taco’s I’ve ever had. Along with the tacos we thoroughly enjoyed the chips and salsa and a Verde salsa that was unbelievable.  It was citrusy and smoking hot and wonderful.  It’s time for me to create my own version of that salsa.  I’ve made a lot of salsa over the years and it should be fun to give this a try.  I honestly think that this trip and the continuing Tex-Mex influences of my Texas born better-half are turning me into a wannabe Mexican.  I know, it’s hard to believe and I’m as surprised as anyone.

The remainder of this summer should be fun and a great time to relax before Canning season starts in September.  One last gardening fantasy before I go.  Oh man do I love gardening . . . . .

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05-28-2014 – Flying the Unfriendly Skies   9 comments

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I love passing along information that will possibly help some of you travelers out there in making your vacation or long weekend trips worth doing.  I’ve just spent the Memorial Day weekend in Dallas and it was one of the best holidays ever. There always seems to be a few bothersome  issues when traveling which tend to gripe my ass and that’s the topic for today’s discussion.

I really only have one travelers tip for you based on my recent travels.  Never fly the freaking friendly skies of United because believe me they’re not that damn friendly.  United Airlines sucks and I intend to spell out the entire nightmare they put me and a few hundred of my fellow travelers through on Tuesday afternoon, Tuesday night, Wednesday’s wee hours of the morning and into Wednesday afternoon.

My trip began perfectly with a flight to O’Hare in Chicago last Friday, on time and no problems to complain about.  I was filled with holiday cheer and was having good thoughts about the entire world and everyone in it.  That lasted approximately two and a half hours until the United Airlines curse began.  I was due to land at Dallas/Fort-Worth at 11:15 pm and my ride was waiting patiently for me. Honest, he really had nothing better to do than to waste his time waiting for United to get their act together.  Finally after some typical airline BS I arrived in Dallas late.  Being the forgiving soul that I am I cursed quietly under my breath and just let it go. I really do hate to be forced into any situation being controlled by any airlines but since it’s one of those times when they have you by the cojones , you’re screwed.

My holiday weekend was terrific with barbecues, tacos, and smoked steak headlining the menus.  Unfortunately the fun had to end and as we drove to the airport for my return home I began to have premonitions of the coming disaster.  As we flew out of Dallas a storm front arrived and eventually extended all the way to Dulles in Washington making for a really bumpy ride. We landed just ahead of the front and I had only thirty minutes  to make my connection for the second leg of my journey to Maine because we arrived a little late.

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United in their indisputable logic required me to run like O.J. Simpson across the terminal, jump into a shuttle bus to  reach another terminal where I arrived out of breath and barely made the flight. All of us cattle herded ourselves into a small version of the Boeing 707 that held approximately a hundred idiots like me.  Starting out the steward had difficulty making his safety announcements because his microphone appeared to have a loose wire of some sort.  It was screeching from the feedback so loud no-one could understand him.  Then the pilot announced a fan equipment failure and a half hour delay.  That delay caused us to miss our take off window before the storms hit and we then had to sit through a wall of thunderstorms trapping us on the tarmac.  Two hot and sweaty hours later the pilot tells us the flight has been cancelled because of other maintenance issues. 

We were directed back to the terminal into the supposedly capable hands of the oxymoronic "Customer Service" crew.  They herded us into a line of almost two hundred other people and offered only three Customer Service agents to handle all of our problems.  As we waited endlessly in that line they announced we should call 1-800-UNITED1 for additional ticketing help. 

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To make a long story short the morons had me on hold for one hour before I got to talk to a human being who then told me there were no flights to Portland until Thursday with very few seats available on them. He then passed me along to another so called expert who  put me on hold again.  My phone ran out of power at that point and I was forced to stand around for another hour in that line to get help from their three overwrought agents.  I felt bad for them but unfortunately this nightmare was about me. Also during that time my luggage, a small carryon that I had been forced to bag check in Dallas, had been sent into the black hole that is the United baggage claim system and disappeared.

Their first recommendation when I reached an agent was  that I upgrade to a first-class ticket for an additional $226.00 and they could get me on a flight to Boston within the hour. Then I could rent a car and drive the rest of the way to Maine at my expense of course. I won’t repeat exactly what I said  because it was extremely rude and crude. Lets just say that agent immediately understood I wasn’t interested.

I’d like to take a moment here to thank the lovely and friendly blonde lady from Yarmouth, Maine whose name I never got. She was sweet and calm and kept me from erupting into a full blown maniacal rant while we stood in that line. As I promised her, I have nothing but nice things to say about her. I told her about this blog and she  was worried I might say something derogatory.

I strong armed that United agents into finding me a flight on another carrier, US Airways, but I had to shuttle across Washington DC  to Reagan National Airport ($30.00 for a fifteen minute ride) and arrived there at midnight.  I should also tell you that United refused any compensation to any of the travelers even though most were forced to get motel rooms that averaged $150.00 a night (I wasn’t one of them to be sure). They claimed the cancellations were totally due to the weather and never mentioned any of the maintenance issues we’d been told about by our pilot.  Maintenance issues require them to compensate travelers so I wasn’t all that surprised when they didn’t hesitate to screw us all.  A bunch of lying, uncaring, arrogant assholes to categorize them as nicely as possible.

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I have to tell you that I had a lovely night sleeping on the floor of the terminal at Reagan National airport with eighty of my now closest friends who also refused to be coerced into paying out of pocket for motel rooms.  I finally flew home to Portland today with US Airways and arrived at three o’clock this afternoon. Along with all of the other BS, I lost my Kindle Reader as I was scurrying around  trying to get  home. I hadn’t had a decent meal for thirty hours and I had the pungent aroma of a disgusting farm animal or so I was told by my better-half when she picked me up.

Thanks for nothing United Airlines.  May you and your entire operation rot in hell.  You’ll never see me again.

05-21-2014 Journal Entry-Off to Texas!   1 comment

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Well the Texas trip is finally here and I’ll be flying off to Dallas tomorrow.  I don’t intend to do any blogging until sometime next week, probably Wednesday at the latest. I’ll be taking a break from working out, blogging and everything else as well.  That’s what a vacation is supposed to be and I’m going to make the most of it.

This week I finally planted the last few plants in the garden.  I have others breaking ground as we speak and so far everything is doing fine except for the asparagus.  All of those I gently planted are doing absolutely nothing.  I purchased a bag of asparagus roots and knew at the time it was a big gamble.  I have yet to buy either flower bulbs or veggie roots packaged that way that have actually grown.  I’ve finally learned my lesson, never again. Next year I’ll try to find asparagus seeds and start my own plants.  Hopefully I’ll have more success.

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“Zucchini”

As you can see the garden has made significant progress in the last week. The plants are loving the warmer nights and are jumping out of the ground. As you can see I have more chives than I know what to do. When I return I can look forward to a day spent filling the dehydrator with chives for our use through next Winter.

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“Cherry Tomato’s”

Starting tomorrow I can kick back and relax for a few days and enjoy my trip. It will be nice to enjoy the warm and sometimes hot weather in Dallas.  It should help me shake off the effects of this last Maine Winter. My summer will officially start when I return home next week fully rested and relaxed.

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“Left Side”

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“Right Side”

I hope you all enjoy your Memorial Day weekend and that the weather cooperates.  Show the flag, cook a few burgers and dogs, and toast all of our former and current Vets.  Without their service we wouldn’t have much to celebrate.

05-19-2014 Texas Here I Come!!   2 comments

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No journal entry today because I need a bit of a break.  I thought doing something a little different, interesting and off-beat might be just the ticket.  I think I’m mentally already on vacation because I’ve started procrastinating many of my normal tasks and putting them off until I return from my Texas trip.  I’ll begin preparing for that trip today.

My better-half is also preparing me for the trip by giving me her list of things I’m supposed to bring back for her.  Since she was born in Texas and thinks she’s a real Texan, I’m being instructed to bring back a load of stuff.  I just smile and nod my head so she’ll walk away happy but come on.  Her list keeps getting longer and longer but I’ve managed to pare it down a little.  She requires between 5-10 interesting Texas post cards.  She’s something of a collector and loves sending random cards to her Mother who lives in Delaware.

She also wants me to somehow carry or ship home a few dozen tamales. She’s obsessed with Mexican food, especially the traditional style tamale.  I think it was something special from her early childhood or so she says but I honestly don’t see that request being honored.  Next on the list is a pair of cowboy boots or a western hat for the grandson.  This one I might make happen if I can get away with spending a reasonable amount of money.  The way he’s growing anything I buy will be too small within a month or two so I made no concrete promises on this request either.

Next on her list is her wish for two T-Shirts with some sort of Texas theme. I quote her as best I can, "nothing pornographic, dirty, or stupid". With that list of don’t’s the chances of pleasing her are now slim and none.  As with all of her requests, I’ll figure something out once I get there.  If I could find a small petrified chunk of horse droppings I’d buy that for her in a second because it would pretty closely reflect my feelings on this entire matter. Maybe I’ll just buy a really dirty T-Shirt for the grandson that he can wear when she comes to visit.  Any eighteen month old can get away with wearing something like that and it would absolutely make her crazy as well.  That’s called a Win-Win in any language.

Enough of that, now let me throw a short collection of useless things your way. These are things you never really never wanted to know or even cared about.

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  • The line “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” in James Joyce’s Ulysses provided the name for the subatomic particles now known as “quarks”, named by physicist Murray Gell-Mann.
  • “Transurphobia” is the fear of haircuts.
  • Dylan Thomas once unkindly pointed out that, except for one misplaced letter, T.S. Eliot’s name spelled backwards is “toilets”.
  • The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper.
  • The single dot over the lower-case letter “i” is called a “tittle”.

And finally for all you nerds out there:

  • The letters of the word SHAZAM, which was shouted to conjure up comic-book hero Captain Marvel, stood for Solomon’s wisdom, Hercules’s strength, Atlas’s stamina, Zeus’s power, Achilles’s courage, and Mercury’s speed.

How’s that for a really useless tidbit?

05-17-2014 Journal Entry-Dandelion Wine Day!   Leave a comment

My goal today is to give all of you a tip.  After you get to a certain age never, I repeat never, make dandelion wine. I know that sounds stupid but let me explain.  Over the years I’ve made dandelion wine a few times and it always tastes so incredibly good you might wonder why I’ve only made it a few times. The main reason is the amount of work that goes into making it.  It’s a labor intensive project that becomes more difficult as you age.

Yesterday I was out in the garden just walking around and happy to see that everything I’ve planted has broken ground and looking healthy.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts the garden is well underway and my batch of red wine is bubbling happily along. I knew I wanted to make a second batch of wine but really hadn’t decided what it would be.  As I was thinking and walking the mail lady pulled into my drive way with a package for me.  It was a small order of winemaking materials I recently ordered to replace what had been used on the red wine.  It must have been a sign from the wine drinking gods.

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As I opened the box to check the order I glanced out the window and noticed that my yard was covered with freshly blooming dandelions.  I decided at that moment to make a batch of dandelion wine out of those blossoms found in my yard.  I should have had my head examined but foolishly prepared for the project anyway.

I dragged a plastic bag, a pair of latex gloves, and an already sore back into the yard and got to it.  Over the next hour I harvested a few thousand dandelion flowers and filled the bag to the top.  I started out just bending over to get the blossoms but the sorer my back became the more I thought about calling it a day. It wasn’t long before I was forced to my hands and knees to complete the collection process.  One of my latex gloves had torn and that hand was now a bright yellow that took some serious scrubbing to remove.  I now had the hands of a thirty-year smoker.

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I finished up and returned to the house to try and work out the kinks in my back and neck.  Unfortunately the worst was yet to come. I wanted to make at least three gallon of this wine which requires five full cups of petals per gallon. The next step was to sit on the deck for another two hours with with a fresh set of gloves and a huge glass of icy cold Sangria.  I sat there and slowly and meticulously began removing the petals from the stems.  With my hands painfully cramping I finally reached my goal of fifteen cups of dandelion petals.

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“Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab”

To make a long story short, I returned to my man-cave, gathered the remainder of the required ingredients and finally had the batch prepared.  I placed the blossoms into  two gallons of filtered water and boiled them for twenty minutes making a beautiful golden yellow liquid.  I added the other ingredients as well plus seven pounds of granulated sugar and allowed the mixture to cool.  That took a few hours and it wasn’t until after dark that I was able to finally able to add the yeast. 

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If I’m lucking and barring any unforeseen catastrophes,  I should get at least 15-17 bottles of a gorgeous golden wine in approximately three and a half months.  Was it worth the effort? I’ll let you know as soon as I can use my hands again and I can bend over without screaming.

This had better be the best damn wine ever made.

05-15-2014 Journal Entry–Back to Work!   Leave a comment

After thoroughly enjoying my day-off and cruising around the area with my better-half it was once again back to work.  It seems that we’re finally free of the frost for this year so we I began planting the next group of plants which included black beans, green beans, wax beans and snap peas.  Any or all of these are delicious to eat fresh from the garden but they also can be canned without losing their flavor.  Normally we use them as part of the vegetable mixes we make for use through the Winter in stir-fry’s.

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The vegetable mixes are usually the last thing we do before closing down the garden.  The mix can contain any number of veggies that are left over at summers end. We try to make a number of different assortments as you can see by the photo’s.

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The better-half has been trying unsuccessfully for years to grow gourds.  She gives them a great start in the house under glass as you can see. Then they are moved to the cold frames before final planting. We decided this year to move some of the gourds out of the garden to a spot closer to the house where they can get sun and be better protected from the weather.  We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best one more time.  In my opinion it’ll take a minor miracle to get them to grow large enough to produce anything useful. She’s forever the optimistic and is certain it’ll work this year. Half full is her manta in all things.

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I wanted to plant the jalapeños and cayenne peppers but stopped myself.  As a rule peppers do best when they have warm nights so I decided to wait another week or two. I’ll be able then to put the cucumbers, zucchini, and squash in and finally be done with the garden planting. So for now they remain in the cold frame.

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My winemaking efforts continue and that red wine I mentioned in an earlier post has completed it’s hard fermentation and moved into glass jugs and sealed with air locks.  It’s now just a wait of a few months for the jugs to clear.  Eventually gravity will cause all of the yeast to drop to the bottom of the jugs and I can siphon off the clear and finished wine.  I have to say I love the smell of yeast and wine when it’s fermenting.  I wish some company could bottle that smell because I’d make sure my man-cave was always filled with that fragrance.

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While I was cleaning and organizing my man-cave I was pleasantly surprised to find this bottle of wine.

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This is a bottle of blackberry wine that I made back in 1986.  I’ve recorked it a few times over the years and each time I’ve taken a small taste.  It’s pretty potent after all those years but I think I’ll put it back in storage for a few more years before I try it again.

05-12-2014 Journal Entry-A No Garden Day!   Leave a comment

A day-off was really becoming necessary after the last few hectic weeks of gardening and lawn clean-up.  Today was the day.  The better-half was also on a day-off so we slept in a little, loaded up on coffee and breakfast, and then jumped into the car and took off.  It was a semi-beautiful day but the cloudiness was going to make taking pictures a challenge.

We drove east towards the shore and the traffic was light.  In two more weeks the tourists will arrive in force and make traveling a little more interesting in these beach areas.  We drove up the coast for a few miles and stopped briefly in a small cove used primarily by local lobstermen.  I snapped of a few photo’s of them  at work and a few of the birds covering the nearby rocks.  Neither seemed too happy about my picture taking but I persevered.

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It was breezy as hell and the temperature had dropped just low enough to require a hoodie if you planned on walking around.  We returned to the car, turned on the heater, and warmed up a little.  As we proceeded north it was great to see everything struggling to become green again and the sun finally decided to make an appearance.  We stopped briefly at the Portland Head Light which is one of the most visited and photographed lighthouses in Maine. It guards the entrance to Portland harbor.

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As you can see it’s just a place made for photographers.  It’s almost impossible to take a bad picture there.  Normally this place is mobbed with tourists but we were lucky to get here before the Memorial Day madness. 

Our trip continued north as we entered the city of Portland.  If you you’ve never visited Portland your missing something special.  It’s a small city with a small town feel.  It has a colorful waterfront as you can see and if you like the ocean the aroma of low tide here will enchant you.

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My better-half has a overwhelming desire for beer at almost any time so I decided to make a quick stop at Three Dollar Dewey’s, a local ale house and restaurant.  It’s located on Commercial Street in Portland, adjacent to the harbor.  It’s a charming area with fish markets, micro breweries, and some serious parking issues if you visit in season.  We try to stop at Dewey’s whenever we’re in the area for a quick cold one and a large order of fries.  They are just what the doctor ordered.

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We finished our fries and drinks and then walked around town for a few minutes of people watching.  Everyone was out in large numbers enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Check out this little project someone created along the street. Snap a padlock of some sort on the fence and write your name on it.  I though it was pretty cool so take a look.

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It was mid-afternoon and time for us to depart.  We enjoyed this relaxing break from our normal lives and were ready to head home.  Tomorrow is another day.

05-11-2014 Journal Entry–Red Wine and Smelly Compost   Leave a comment

I really seem to be getting readjusted to this warm Spring weather.  Yesterday was in the low seventies for the first time in almost seven months and I was loving it.  I actually wore a pair shorts for the first time and got a little tan on my legs and they were loving that. I’m still working on the garden but the yard work took precedence this week.  Being the dedicated and well trained slave that I am, I was able to make short work of the grass cutting.

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Once that was finished I took on the semi-unpleasant task of organizing my compost pile.  Some of you have little or no idea what I’m referring to so let me explain.  It’s a gigantic pile of decomposing organic material collected by me over the last few years from yard clean-ups and grass clippings.  It’s smelly and disgusting but it’s what makes the garden grow as well as it does.  Each Fall I cover the garden with it and then plow it under. That gives most of the nutrients time to leech into the soil and reinvigorate it before Spring. Each summer’s garden uses up a great deal of the existing soil nutrients and they must be replaced.

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It’s also very important to never plant the same plants in the same area two years in a row.  You’ve got to switch it up a little because individual plants requires different sets of nutrients to thrive.  In my experience that doesn’t always apply to herbs. They seem to grow well in just about any soil and require little of no fertilizer.  The only issue I’ve had with herbs is that some do poorly if planted near certain others.  Also, if you plant mints such as oregano, catnip, or spearmint too close together they cross pollinate and their specific scents become diluted.

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Once the mowing and composting was completed I decided to do something I really enjoy which is set up my first batch of wine for 2014.  I decided to make a nice semi-sweet red wine out of Concord grapes.  I mixed the grape concentrate, acid blend, yeast nutrient, yeast energizer, and four and a half pounds of sugar into three and a half gallons of filtered water and set it aside.  I then set up what’s called a yeast starter.  It’s two packets of brewers yeast dissolved in luke-warm water with one cup of sugar. I let the yeast activate for a couple of hours before mixing it into the the fermenter with the grape concentrate.

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Now it’s sit back for a week to let the yeast eat up all that good sugar and create the proper level of alcohol for the wine. Sometime in early August if all goes well I should have approximately sixteen bottles of a beautiful ruby red grape wine.

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I normally prefer making fruit wines because getting the ingredients is much easier that coming up with a quantity of grapes.  Grapes are expensive and the processing of them into a usable form is time consuming and annoying. Using a simple grape concentrate is much more affordable and makes a better quality wine (in my opinion).  This batch will end up costing me approximately $2.00 a bottle including the cost of the bottle and cork. Not too bad for a small amount of work and a month or two of monitoring and tweaking the batch.  I’m already planning a second batch for this year if I can find someone nearby with a Mountain Ash tree.  The orange berries from that tree make a smooth and tasty white wine that is to die for. I’ll keep you posted.

05-09-2014 Journal Entry–Plant Shopping Day   Leave a comment

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“Spring Has Definitely Arrived”

Yesterday was one of those days I look forward to every year.  My better-half and I both love this time of the year regardless of the work involved.  It was a day spent traveling around southern Maine visiting nurseries and buying the plants needed to complete this year’s garden. We like making a day of it and we visit as many nurseries as necessary to find the plants we’ve decided to grow.

For many years now we’ve shopped at a small nursery or what once was a small nursery along the border of Maine and New Hampshire.  In the intervening years that nurseries reputation has spread and it’s no longer considered  little.  Healthy plants should be the goal of any nurseryman or woman and these people are the best. We tend to find their plants healthier and produce better than those purchased elsewhere.  We spent at least an hour roaming through their greenhouses and making our selections. We picked up a few jalapeño and cayenne pepper plants and a selection of herbs to replace many of the ones that didn’t survive the winter.

We found some beautiful cherry tomato plants that should keep us in salad tomatoes until Fall.  Those kind of tomatoes are also added to our vegetable mixes and canned. There’s nothing like having a selection of tasty garden veggies in the middle of a cold and snow covered February.

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“The Rhubarb is Up”

We purchased a number of pickling cucumber plants that should deliver many dozens of cukes for making our Bread & Butter and Dill pickles as well as sweet and hot relishes.  If this year’s production is as good as last year we’ll be very busy come September.

One of the items my better-half desired was a licorice herb.  It’s leaves have a heavy licorice scent when heated.  I personally like fennel or star anise for that flavor but I’m keeping an open mind for now.  It would be a nice surprise if this new plant were easier to grow than the others and tasted better.  We found the plant at our fourth nursery we visited and were very pleased.  That plant can be difficult to find but certain nurseries are known for carrying the more unusual plants and we know them all.

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“The Sprinkler’s are Installed”

It made for a really pleasant day and we returned home tired but happy to have found everything we were looking for.  We should also have an excellent selection of herbs to harvest and dry this year to fill our requirements for the winter. Another week should get us past the danger of frost for this year and all of the new plants will be planted and left on their own to flourish for a month or two.

Our last purchase next week will be a large number of really fragrant marigold plants. We’ve learned over the years to plant them in and around the gardens to keep the critters away. Apparently small animals and even deer have a real aversion to those flower and their strong odor.  If that doesn’t work then I may be forced to go the high-tech route.  I have a neighbor who installed a system last year that has a motion activated sprinkler. If visited in the middle of the night by deer or other animals the sensors detect the animal and shoot a blast of water at the trespassers to scare them off.  It sounds too good to be true but I’ll keep an open mind.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

This morning is rainy and gray but the plants need the water and I need some time to loaf.  We’ll be back at it soon enough.  A few hours on the X-Box today should clear my head nicely.

05-07-2014. Journal Entry – Garden Update!   Leave a comment

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Needless to say the Spring garden work and yard cleanup continues apace. The only part of my body that’s not sore or aching is the tip of my nose. Everything else is shot to hell and letting me know about it every time I move the least little bit. Fortunately all of the hard work is finally paying off which is rather satisfying for so early in the year.  The better-half who is in charge of the flower gardens is already seeing amazing results as you can see by these pictures.

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It occurs to me that the plants in Maine understand what a short growing season we have and make the most out of every minute with whatever rain and warmth they can find.  The grass can look like a field of dirty dead plants one day and within a week it turns into a lush green carpet that very quickly needs to be cut.  I added the first mowing of 2014 this week along with all of the other chores I had on my To-do list.

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The herb garden suffered a little more from the winter weather than I first thought.  The neighborhood cats will be highly upset when they discover the huge catnip plant has passed away. Our garden was a regular stop in their travels where they could roll around in and eat some catnip.  It was like the town’s feline opium den. I suppose I’ll be replanting it once again even though my cat  Stormy is unaffected by it’s influences.  I made enough room in the herb garden so that a larger than normal patch of parsley can be planted.  We use a great deal of parsley through the winter and we ran a little short this Spring.

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“Asparagus”

The asparagus roots have been planted and hopefully within the next two years we’ll have a thriving patch to harvest from.  I love it with my meals but it takes such a long time to establish before we can use it. It’s recommended that we don’t harvest from this planting until early in 2016. Patience for this I just don’t have.

The lettuces were planted yesterday as well.  I’ve put in three varieties this year along with spinach and two varieties of kale.  The kale is freezable and my better-half tells me that kale chips are in my future.  They don’t sound all that appetizing but I’ll withhold final judgment for now.

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“Spinach/Lettuce”

I’ll be waiting at least another week or two before putting in any plants that could be killed by a frost.  I’ve gotten ahead of myself in past years and been burned when a late frost wiped out a large number of my plants.  I guess gardening is a great way to learn patience but it’s not something I’m known for.

This garden is much smaller than most people think when they see the results each Fall.  The excellent level of production takes good planning, crop rotation, great compost, and plenty of good old sunshine and water. 

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I consider this a modern version of the old WW II Victory Garden. It takes a little hard work and investment of time but growing and eating your own crops makes sense to me. I know what I’m eating without fear of spoiled plants or diseases and it’s fresh and tasty. It hasn’t been sitting somewhere in the back of a truck or warehouse for weeks before the store displays it for sale. Enough of my preaching, it’s time for me to climb down off my soap box and go accomplish something.

Another week of this and I’ll be all out of a gardener’s best friend, Ben-gay.  I should start buying it by the case every Spring based entirely on how my butt and legs feel this morning.