Our apple harvest

Some of this year’s harvest.

Every other year we typically get a great apple harvest from our Gala tree. What you’re looking at is this year’s harvest, in a plastic bag in the trash can.

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Maple leaves are falling and we’re all going to die

Maple Tar Spot infected leaf. Image used with these permissions: Use:Saforrest, Black tar spot on sugar maple, CC BY-SA 3.0

I’ve received a lot of questions about the diseased Maple leaves falling early and whether they’re safe to compost.

I’m terrible at this whole “don’t give an answer right away in order to drag readers along” so here’s the short answer:

If you hot compost, you can compost them.
If not, send the leaves away.

More explanation and information after the jump. Continue reading

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We keep our harvest, but we don’t can


By this time in the season many people have pulled out their ball jars, boiled their lids and are well on their way to filling their pantry with home preserved goods.

We’re not doing any of that, and that’s by design.


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Fungus is among us. Spray your tomatoes!

NOT infected Sungold tomatoes

This summer has not been great for growing tomatoes. It was cold, then it was cold, and after it got hot, it then got cold again. Finally, as the weather seems to be warm long enough to keep the tomatoes happy, Late Blight is approaching.

Time to spray. Continue reading

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Portly cukes and the people who eat them

One of these cukes is not like the other. (Left to right: Tasty Jade, Marketmore 76, overripe Diva, ripe Diva.)


Despite best efforts, cucumbers sometimes go unharvested a bit longer than they should. By the time I find them, they’ll be a bit, well, portly. Once they’ve reached that size the seeds can be large and the flesh bitter.

All is NOT lost. Continue reading

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Easy compost turning with video

Turning compost can be difficult for people with limited upper body strength, a bad back or limited height, depending on the style compost unit you use. Plunging a pitchfork or shovel into a pile is easy, but lifting that material may not be.

What we’ve found is that a long bulb augur does the job well, at the right price. Continue reading

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Garlic: Eight good years

“You can’t always get what you want.”

For eight years I’ve been growing all my own garlic, for consumption and “seed” garlic to grow the next year’s crop. Garlic is, as I’ve said previously, one of the easiest and enjoyable crops to grow.

Unfortunately, something went wrong this year.

My garlic is usually done before others on my area, but I always chalk it up to varieties(I grow German and Music varieties) and the oddities of micro climates.

This year it was done, as exhibited by leaves browning, significantly earlier than others around me, and the results weren’t pretty.

The heads were either already splitting (typically a sign they’ve been left in the ground too long) or significantly smaller than usual.

Why? I don’t know, but even experienced farmers have crop failures, and not spending a penny on garlic for eight years seems a pretty good run, to me. A bummer for sure, but certainly not a tragedy. (Garlic I grow at several other locations seems be just fine. Still, I’m not seeing any evidence to suggest insect or disease as the cause in my home garden.)

Soon I’ll buy enough new seed garlic, enough to continue growing 180 plants, and hoping that they’ll last a good long time – at least another eight years.

(Here is how I grow garlic.)

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Saving scallion seeds

Pollinators love scallion flowers. Kids of all ages do too.

If you’ve got second year (overwintered) scallions, now is the time to save seeds. Continue reading

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Garlic scapes

That’s good eats!

I love garlic. It is one of the easiest crops to grow, it keeps all year (if you grow the right varieties) and early summer it produces a “scape,” a delicious and fleeting delicacy.

Before I go any further, there is one thing I want to make very clear: Garlic scapes are not “ramps,” no matter how insistent and sincere you may be when telling me so. They are two very different things. We good? Excellent. Let’s continue. Continue reading

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Quick and easy rabbit protection

Baby kale tucked safely away from nibbly rabbit teeth.

Cute and fluffy, rabbits can cause a lot of damage to your leafy greens, broccoli and more.

While a hinged cover on a raised bed is great, it doesn’t make sense for everybody, especially if you don’t have a raised bed. Fencing an entire garden can be costly and not necessarily effective, as rabbits can hop over low fences when they want to, and humans can have a hard time getting over tall fences.

A smaller, less cumbersome and less expensive solution can be found in chicken wire “chimneys” or cylinders. (See video below.)

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