Archive for May, 2009

Come and See My Garden

Through artists’ eyes, at the Caldbeck Gallery, 12 Elm St. Rockland, Maine.


How To Make Your Tulips Rebloom

Today we have a question from Leigh Ann:

“My husband gave me a pot of tulips for Mother’s Day, “ she wrote,” how can I save the bulbs to plant next fall? “

 Over my years at the Times, most questioners just wanted to know how to get the damn things to come back in the garden, but as the answers are similar and Leigh Ann was first this spring, potted tulips will be addressed in

Parrot tulip Estella Rijnveld, in Maine, in its 6th or 7th year

Parrot tulip Estella Rijnveld, in Maine, in its 6th or 7th year

 How to Make Your Tulips Rebloom

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FGFP – Tips for Success with Vegetable Seeds

Figfip? That would be Food Gardeners’ Fine Points, a new occasional series inspired by my friends Matt and Shannon.

Shannon's drawing of the garden from when Matt first wrote to say

Shannon’s drawing of the garden from when Matt first wrote to say

“ We have some very exciting news.  After nearly three years on the waiting list, Shannon and I now have a plot in the community garden next to our apartment building!!!…. Naturally, I have mile-long list of vegetables I’d like to grow….”

He meant it; it is a mile long, ending with:  “ Are there any realistic choices for two newbies from that list? We’re prepared for failures and setbacks.  But we’re also giddy with enthusiasm. ”

Who could resist an appeal like that?

 M&S may be newbies but they’re certainly not dummies ( a title from Hell, imho). They already the have usual gardening manuals and an unusually large ability to conduct web searches. They even have a resident sage at the community garden.

But a lot of “how to” leaves out choice tidbits. Some information does get dated. And I don’t always agree with the sage, even though he’s right with them in Washington,  DC and I am in New England. 

 So from now on, when I’m doing something in the garden and it makes me think “I ought to tell Matt and Shannon about this,” I will. And as I have just been planting vegetable seeds, that’s where we’re going to start.

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How to Grow ( Delicious) Mushrooms in Your Garden

In a lot of ways it’s no different from growing some of the easier vegetables: plant in a good place. Wait, being patient and hoping for rain. Harvest crop.

But of course there are a few fine points, elucidated here in a guest post by our resident mushroom expert.

Growing Mushrooms in Your Garden

By Bill Bakaitis

Consider planting Stropharia rugusoannulata in your garden this spring.

Consider planting Stropharia rugusoannulata in your garden this spring.

If you like to eat mushrooms, and would like to gather them fresh, along with your vegetables, now is the time to consider inoculating a piece of your garden. You can easily fit a patch on one of your paths or tuck it into a mulched weed barrier. Here is how.

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Fancy Plants: A Woodland Tree Peony, 3 little Anemonopsis

and a couple – well ok, three – new clematis from Brushwood Nursery  are this year’s proof that no matter how much I grouse about the proportion of antiques to rare plants at Trade Secrets, it’s still all too easy to find things you didn’t know you needed until you were standing there needing them.

 Paeonia japonica ( which will hide the empty bleeding heart space, come midsummer.)

Paeonia japonica ( which will hide the empty bleeding heart space, come midsummer.)

I blame it all on this woodland peony  from Hillside Nursery. When I bought it four years ago it was nothing but a robust little popkin with about 3 leaves. Each spring it comes up larger and larger, more and more glorious, (in)conveniently blooming abundantly right before T.S., the only retail show Hillside  attends.

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Antiques, Rare Plants, Great Local Food and The Kitchen Garden – Saturday in Garden Heaven Coming Right Up

For everyone who can get to the mid-Hudson Valley this Saturday, May 16th.

unusual ornamentals at Trade Secrets

Unusual ornamentals at Trade Secrets

Start out in Sharon, CT at Trade Secrets, purchasing ( or pining for) garden antiques, modern embellishments and rare plants brought by dealers and nurserypersons from all over New England.

Then head over to Millbrook, NY for Food for Thought, Plant a Row/Grow a Row, a celebration of local and home grown that offers everything from vegetable seedlings and master gardeners’ advice on growing them to chef’s demos, a wine and cheese tasting and book signings by Nava Atlas, Lee Reich – and me.

clockwise from top: wine cap mushrooms (Stropharia rugosa annulata, Lambs Quarters, Asparagus, rhubarb

Clockwise from top: wine cap mushrooms (Stropharia rugosa annulata), Lambs Quarters, Asparagus, Rhubarb

Some of what’s growing in my garden – and could be growing in yours – right now

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Lilac Wine

lilac wine, make it now, drink it later

Who knew?  In my experience, most home made wine is awful and the stuff that’s good is only good in an everyday sort of way. But home made lilac wine – the only kind available, far’s I know – is terrific! (if you wait long enough).

Two very dusty bottles came with Bill when we set up housekeeping together back in 1991, and somehow instead of being cleaned off and consumed they got put in the cellar. 

Until the end of January, when for reasons I no longer remember we decided to open one. Revelation. We kept looking at each other, not quite believing. Read More…

Bears, Bees, Bacon and Morels

While I’m in Maine getting the summer garden underway,  husband Bill, aka Mr. Mushroom ( see his most recent morel hunting tips here) has been holding down the Hudson Valley end: feeding cats, cutting vast quantities of asparagus, mulching peonies, tending the bees , collecting morels – and being inspired by your responses to send another  guest post:

Bears, Bees, Bacon and Morels

by Bill Bakaitis

Flash!  My neighbor just informed me that the bears are back.

A few days ago he went out in early morning to feed his horse and discovered that the large bin which stored the sweet feed and biscuit treats was missing. Well, not quite missing as there were drag marks and when followed led to one of the neighborhood bears (last year there were five) having an early morning snack of the biscuits. After a brief encounter and short stand-off the bear beat a retreat.

End of that story, but Whoops, thought I, I sure better check the electric fence around our bees and rebait the hot wires with the Rancid Bacon Bear Bait stored in the freezer for just such occasions.


A spreading patch of bloodroot is now encroaching into our small fenced-in bee yard, and over the past few rainy days had grown tall enough to be in contact with the lowest hot wire of the electric fence. 

The errant bloodroot leaves sizzled, snapped, crackled, popped and were draining the voltage of the wire. Good timing, I thought and went to the shed for a small sickle, to the freezer for the bear bait, and after disconnecting the solar charger trimmed all of the bloodroot and other vegetation under the fence. That’s when I found the morels. Read More…

How To Know Your Climate Zone

Distantly, is my advice – not very originally; just about every experienced gardener, professional and otherwise, is of the same opinion. Knowing doesn’t hurt, but it doesn’t help much either, as I have just been reminded.

Twenty years ago, when falling in love with Bill meant moving 400 miles Southwest from my beloved Midcoast Maine to the then-unknown Hudson Valley, I had a standard grumble: “ Didn’t even get a climate zone out of it.”

They’re both 5b or maybe 6, depending on how you look at the up to date zone map, but here are the garden plants that were blooming in New York when I left for Maine on April 30th. :

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) under the Magnolia x soulangiana  already dropping its fat pink petals

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) under the Magnolia x soulangiana already dropping its fat pink petals

Also,  hellebores








Creeping phlox

Fragrant viburnums

Bleeding hearts




Fritillaria imperialis (barely)

And here’s what was blooming in Maine when I arrived:


Well not quite.

Hyacinth in the nepeta carpet

Hyacinth in the nepeta carpet

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