Archive for October, 2012

Garden Alert! Before The Storm…

alliums on table/movable objects

How many things can you find in this picture that ought to get put away?

Not much can be done to protect the garden itself – but a quick patrol may well uncover potential missiles.

Put inside:

Flowerpots, empty or full


Solar lights (even with spikes in the ground; heavy rains can loosen them enough for a wind gust to pick ‘em up)

Birdbath bowls not attached to strong bases (also the bases if just standing there)

Thermometers and rain gauges not securely fixed to strong supports.

Statuary, gazing balls, any ornament that weighs less than 40 lbs. (or more, if winds are expected to gust over 75 MPH).

Reduce hazards from:

Tuteurs – if possible to turn on their sides without destroying vines, do that. If the vines are annuals, consider saying goodbye and bringing the supports in.

Wheelbarrows – turn upside down

Tables, chairs and benches – if there isn’t room inside, turn tables upside down; put chairs and benches in the lee of a building with the least wind-catching side up.

Flapping doors on outbuildings – if you have a door with loose hinges or a slider, be sure it’s secured.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something, please add to the list!

Corn and Coconut Cupcakes

Four short years ago, in the course of extolling Black Mexican Corn, I strongly urged home gardeners to buy their modern sweet corn from local farmers, so they could devote their all their corn growing space to heirlooms.

Now I’m feeling that a retraction may be necessary: it’s getting more and more difficult to find farmers who sell the modern corn that’s a vegetable instead of dessert. All this chichi corn ice cream and such no longer seems like an affectation but instead an act of desperation – what else is there to do with this stuff?

corn and coconut cupcakes, with chocolate and coconut

Corn and Coconut Cupcakes, with and without Aztec Ganache.

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Eric’s Pet Plant: Daimyo Oak (Quercus dentata)

young Daimyo oak quercus dentata

Eric’s seven foot Daimyo oak, three years after its introduction to basal pruning.

There are a lot of oak trees in the woods around us in Maine, some white oaks, some reds, some still sapling size, some close to majestic. They’re nice in their way (especially when adorned with hen of the woods mushrooms), but they’re almost as much of a nuisance as Norway maples. The acorns root readily almost everywhere they land and thanks to the squrrels they land pretty much everywhere.

In other words, we are already if anything oversupplied with oaks, and until I read about Eric’s Daimyo I felt no need to plant more. But now, I dunno. He does make his tree sound very appealing, and a simple google delivers a lot of enticing images. (Many of them are for Daimyo oak bonsai, who knew?)

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Lactarius indigo – YAY!!!

Lactarius indigo, the blue milk mushroom

Highlight of the season, found in the Hudson Valley on September 28th. It’s Lactarius indigo, aka blue milk mushroom.

I’m spoiled. Simple fact. Being married to a whiz-bang mushroom hunter/expert mycologist, I get a lot of morels,  chanterelles  and porcini, to say nothing of sulfur shelf hen of the woods and other well-known wild delights. All are  deeply welcome, don’t get me wrong. But at this point in my mushroom career they aren’t thrillingly special.

Lactarius indigo, on the other hand, is an edible miracle so seldom found that when I run into them I just about fall on my knees and weep. It doesn’t seem fair that a single mushroom could be both mind-bendingly gorgeous and outstandingly delicious, but there you are. Life isn’t fair.

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