Skip to main content


Showing posts from September, 2011

Collecting Seeds (Walthum Butternut Squash)

I am a huge fan of squash. I love their bizarre physical features, the way they stretch their long limbs around the garden, and of course I really enjoy their unique flavor.

When we had our first garden here on Orchard we grew Walthum Butternut Squash and it was a prolific producer, not to mention absolutely delicious! At that point I thought I had figured out how to grow squash and attempted a few different varieties over the course of a few growing seasons. I simply did not have the luck I had with the Walthum and decided it was time to go back to the old standby.

As usual we ordered our seeds from The Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. We decided this year that we were going to trellis our winter squash as well and that was a huge help in regards to space and quality of produce.

Saving seed from winter squash is actually very easy. Simply cut the vegetable in half and scoop out the seed. Remove as much of the flesh from the seed by hand as you can. Afterwards run the seeds u…

Book Review (Gardening With Herbs for Flavor and Fragrance by Helen Morgenthau Fox)

"The first European to write on plants was the Greek Theophrastus, called the father of botany, who was born in 370 B.C. He was a pupil of Plato and later of Aristotle." Page 22, Gardening With Herbs for Flavor And Fragrance by Helen Morgenthau Fox.

Recently I traveled to the small town of Franklin N.Y. to check out the annual Library's book sale. I went specifically to find some books on gardening and to get some text for our children whom we homeschool. I found a few interesting books and after being of accused of trying to steal them from the book sale by the Head Librarian I paid for them and made the short drive home. (That of course is a whole separate story)

One of the books that I purchased was the book Gardening With Herbs for Flavor And Fragrance by Helen Morgenthau Fox. Originally published in 1933 the edition I found was from 1970 with an inscription on the inside that said "For Doris, birthday 1973".

I have been thinking about how I want to appro…

100 Year Flood

As I am sitting here thinking about what to write I am watching the chickadees swiftly move amongst the branches of the lilac tree outside of our living room window. The air is crisp and the dew that covers the garden numbs your finger tips. This morning my son and I went out to the garden to gather the winter cabbage. Normally the fall harvest is one of my favorite times of year but this year it has taken on a much deeper meaning.

In 2006 our little section of the country fell victim to the "Hundred Year Flood". Recently with the back to back arrival of the tropical storms Irene and Lee our area was once again submerged by another "Hundred Year Flood", problem is it was 95 years too early. Luckily for our family we are situated on enough of a hill that the waters stopped about 30 to 40 yards from our home, so aside from a wet basement we made it out in fairly good shape. Countless farmers lost entire crops of corn and soybean to the flood. Homes were destroyed t…

Smoke Signals Popcorn

For the past few years we have been growing organic sweet corn. We decided over the winter that it may be time to try out popcorn. The decision was based on the fact that there is sweet corn for sale on every corner in this area and we eat a ton of popcorn during the course of a year so we thought it just made sense.

Popcorn is an interesting food. In tombs in Peru there were kernels so well preserved that they could still be popped. A 1,700-year-old painted funeral urn in Mexico had a corn god on it wearing a headdress of popcorn. One can see why it would be such an important food source for early civilizations since it grows so easily and stores so well. It was also one of the few crops that American farmers were able to succesfully grow and sell during the Great Depression.

We grew a beautiful decorative variety called Smoke Signals. As usual we bought our seed from the Seed Savers Exchange in Decorah, Iowa. We are getting ready to try out some kernels tonight, fingers crossed I am…

The "Perfect Pumpkin"

All three of our children love the garden. At this point in life they all play different roles which is fine by me. I prefer them to have a genuine interest rather than being part of the gardens labor force. My oldest daughter is usually very excited about taking part in prepping the garden in early spring and planting seed. Once the garden begins to bloom she is a little scientist observing the shape of leaves,flowers and stems. She kneels in the dirt watching the insects hard at work and is a constantly asking for answers to her observations. Our son loves playing with all the tools and digging in the dirt and can be found in the patch all through the year weeding and harvesting veggies. When playing in the yard he will snack on nasturtium and cherry tomatoes without hesitation. Our youngest has recently begun to realize there is an entire world deep within the foliage that is available for her to explore and is always eager to follow her father out to the garden.

I mention all of …