The spring flower blubs you planted last fall are coming into bloom!  Enjoy!
We'll Sing In The Sunshine- Gale Garnett- 1964

We'll Sing In The Sunshine

 Gale Garnett- 1964

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Now is the time to plant Asparagus



When you plan out your vegetable garden this spring, maybe this is the year for you to reserve space in your vegetable garden for permanent vegetables such as asparagus. Asparagus, horseradish, rhubarb, and all your berry plants are there for you year after year without replanting, saving you time in the early spring. And as the crops grow and mature, they are able to produce more vegetables and fruit each year. Let me tell you about asparagus first, and then you can decide if you want to invest time and space in your garden to grow this "succulent" vegetable.


Asparagus is the most expensive vegetable on the market today, in season at $3.00 a pound and out of season at $6 to $7 a pound. Asparagus is not a difficult plant to grow in your garden; it's not fussy where it grows--all you need to provide is a sunny location in the garden, a bit of water and fertilizer, and then keep out the weeds. I consider tomatoes and cucumbers a staple in my vegetable garden but asparagus is the main course. Also, when the harvesting season is over, the asparagus plant will provide you with beautiful fernlike foliage to use in your flower arrangements all summer long.


Begin by selecting a location with full sun all day long, and remember that the foliage will get tall--up to 6 feet--so the location should be in the back or end of the garden, so as not to create shade on the other vegetables. Your soil should be well drained, but the plant will tolerate water in the early spring as long as it does not sit there for long periods. If possible, keep out of heavy winds, as the plant does grow tall and you do not want the foliage to blow over. If you can't keep it out of winds, create a wire brace around the planting rows about 4 feet tall.


The soil in the garden should be neutral to sweet, never on the acidic side, so add lime, wood ash,  Turf-Turbo by Bonide or the new Lightning lime by Espoma to keep soil from getting acidic every year; a pH of 6 to 7.5 is best. In the fall, clean the bed and add chicken or cow manure over the planting bed to help feed the plants during the winter and to prepare them for spring production. Once you clean the bed of all the dead foliage in the fall you can also add a couple inches of your compost over the bed and work it into the top 3 to 5 inches of soil. This will help to germinate some of the seed that fell from the foliage during the fall and start new plants to thicken the asparagus bed for next year.


Start by digging a trench 12 inches deep and 12 inches wide. Backfill the bottom 4 inches with soil that you conditioned with compost and animal manure, and firm it in place by walking in the trench. With your conditioned soil, make small mounds of soil about 4 inches high and wide. Space these mounds of soil on 12 inch centers in the center of the trench. Your asparagus roots will look like an octopus, with a central crown that contains buds on top, and roots below it that look like spaghetti. Place the crown on the top of the mound and spread out the roots evenly cascading down the mound of soil.


Add compost between each plant and cover the roots with soil, partially filling the trench. You want 2 inches of conditioned soil on top of the roots, leaving you 2 to 3 inches of the trench not filled. As the plants begin to grow, slowly fill in the trench to the level of the garden. This makes it easier for the new shoots to develop and poke through the soil. The asparagus roots you will be planting will be dormant and dry, so soak them in Compost Tea for an half an hour before planting, and dump the left over tea in the trench when planting. For the first time you can purchase compost tea at your local garden center.


You can buy asparagus roots from one to three years old from your garden center. The older the roots are, the better for a faster producing crop. Water often when young and keep the soil moist at all times but not wet. Plants will need 1 inch of water a week all summer long for the first couple of years to help establish them in your garden. Once established, they are on their own.


If you want to keep the weeds out of the bed, cover the soil with 2 inches of compost, pine needles, shredded leaves, straw, or peat moss. Stay away from bark mulch, because of acidity. Place over established beds early in the spring before the new shoots poke through the ground. When weeding in the bed, never use tools; always use your hand, so as not to damage shoots still growing in the ground.


Male plants will have bigger and thicker stems; most people like this and that is why they purchase only male plants. I like all sizes so I go for more mature roots. Once you plant, you pick nothing the first year and the second year from the garden; just let the plants get established in the garden. Year 3, pick for 3 weeks, year 4 pick for 4 weeks, and year 5 on you can pick for 6 weeks. During the picking season, allow some of the spears that form to grow and produce foliage; this will help the plant get energy from the foliage that forms. If you wondering how many plant to plant in the garden, a rule of thumb is 5 roots per person in your family, or double that if you want to freeze them for the winter. Five people equals 25 roots.


Keep the onion family of plants away from asparagus beds. Onions, leeks, garlic, and chives will hurt your plantings, but tomatoes, parsley, and basil are good companions. The main insect on asparagus is beetles and they can be easily controlled with Garden Eight from Bonide. Give the asparagus room in your garden--that means a three foot wide area for them to grow in with a walkway on each side. Finally, asparagus beds will last in your garden for about 25 years so it is worth the initial effort when planting the first year. The better you prepare the soil, the better and longer the plant will produce for you!  Enjoy!




Plant spinach this week for fresh greens



The first time I fed my children spinach, it came in a baby food jar labeled "Strained Spinach."They did not like it and I do not blame them, as I would not eat it myself in that form. It tasted like green plaster but I had to eat some, to show them that Dad liked it and it must be good. As the kids grew, they never acquired a taste for it because of this first experience. Then one day in the spring, I took the kids out into the garden to plant. We planted tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers and salad greens -- the things they liked -- except that year we also planted some spinach as a test. That first year we picked the spinach as a green for the salad and they liked it (two points for Dad). At Thanksgiving, we picked the last of the spinach from the garden and cooked it for the dinner. There were strange looks from the kids but the deal was, "Try a little bit and if you do not like it, you do not have to eat it". I think back now and remember seeing more butter, salt and pepper with a little white vinegar on the spinach than was needed, but they ate it and enjoyed it for the most part. It is still not a favorite when cooked but they love it in salads.


Spinach comes from Persia originally, then moved to China and then Spain. Spinach was a very popular crop in Colonial New England as it grew in the garden when the weather was still cold for most other vegetables and everyone was looking for fresh vegetables. Today spinach is grown all over the world, but the United States is the number one producer of this spring vegetable. When planted in April, spinach will be ready in late May and last until late June. If you plant a crop every 2 weeks, you will have fresh salad greens until the hot days of summer arrive. I always buy double the seeds required so I can plant a fall crop in mid August for September and October. When the weather get hot the plant grows very fast and "bolts" which means going to seed rather than making foliage. The leaves at that time also become bitter tasting, so pick and enjoy while the weather is cool. During July and August plant Swiss chard for fresh greens.


Plant spinach in a rich garden soil. Condition the soil with compost, animal manure or peat moss. The better the soil, the more foliage it will produce; if you can keep the plants watered regularly and fed with a vegetable fertilizer once a month, you will have enough to give away to neighbors and friends. Plant the seeds 1inch deep in rows and 2 inches apart between seeds. I like to plant a double row 12 inches apart and 3 feet long. In two weeks, plant another 3 feet until the space is filled up. The seeds will germinate in 7 to 10 days and must be kept wet during that time, so water every day for the best germination. If the garden soil gets dry, the plant will stop producing foliage and go to seed, so water regularly to keep it productive. Plant Bloomsdale or Melody Spinach for early crops and switch to New Zealand Spinach for crops that will mature when the heat arrives, as this variety is more heat tolerant.


For salad greens, pick when the leaves are small and young. The plant will keep producing as you pick the leaves as long as you feed with a liquid fertilizer like blooming and rooting by Fertilome.  For cooked spinach, cut the plant to the ground, wash, and pull off the individual leaves along with the buds for cooking. Pick, wash and store in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator to toughen the leaves for salads. No matter how you use it, fresh picked will have a much better flavor than what you purchase at the supermarket. One last thing, "Popeye the Sailor Man" was right, because spinach has over 20 minerals and vitamins in the foliage, making spinach a real power house green vegetable from your spring garden. Plant some today for yourself and your kids! Enjoy!



"Edelweiss" - André Rieu
Shallots also know as bunching onions



If you like to cook, then you must plant a row or two of shallots in the vegetable garden this spring. Shallots are a very special member of the onion family; they have the flavor of sweet onions, the zip of garlic, and are easier to grow than both. Next time you go food shopping, look for shallots where you find garlic and onions--and be prepared for a shock when you see the price of these delicacies.


These bulbs are prized by cooks, and if you have never used them when you cook, buy a few this week and use them when you make omelets, sauces, gravies and soups--just to name a few uses for this incredible onion family member. Shallots will keep very well during the winter in your basement, but mine never last long enough to store. So, this week try some when you cook--and you will see why you will need room in your garden this spring when you plant the garden; move over, squash!


Shallots have a great yield; if you plant one pound of bulbs you should expect five to seven pounds of shallots in the fall--if you could only do that with your investments! Plant bulbs rather than seed in the spring. You can find loose bulbs at most garden centers or feed & grain stores right now. What I do is select the medium size bulbs for planting--less than one inch in diameter--and that will give me 25 to 30 bulbs to plant. I also pick out the big fat ones and use those for cooking now, as mine are all gone and at $4.00 a pound, it's cheaper than the supermarket.


Plant your shallots in a full sun location in the garden; they will grow just about anywhere, even in-between other vegetable plants. Shallots do not take much space. I plant them 6 inches apart in rows on the edge of the garden. The bulbs are very hardy and can be planted in your garden during mid-to-late April and will tolerate the cold. I have found that if you use compost when planting the bulbs, they will develop faster and get established before

 the heat of summer arrives. The onion family loves heat and if the roots are already developed when the heat arrives, the bulbs will grow bigger and--in the case of shallots--develop more and larger bulbs during the summer.


Prepare your soil with compost; your pH should be slightly acidic to neutral--6 to 7 is best. The soil should be well drained and on the sandy side, if possible. If your soils are heavy and you have clay, add extra compost, animal manure, or peat moss to help break up the clay. Run a string from end of the garden to the other if planting in

 rows to help dig a straight trench about one inch deep.


I add mycorrhizae and Neptune's Harvest sea kelp to the trench and blend together. Plant the bulbs 6 inches

 apart and just let the tip of each bulb stick out of the soil so you can see it. When you water, you will see the top third of the bulb sticking out of the soil and that is OK. I always plant a double row about twelve inches apart for better use of the garden. Shallots love to grow half out of the ground so do not cover the bulbs if you notice them exposed.


The onion family is vulnerable to weeds because the foliage is small and creates little shade over the garden--so weeds can be a problem. Weed often when you notice them developing or use a garden weed preventer like Miracle-gro weed preventer for the vegetable garden--and follow the directions! You can also use straw or pine needles around the plants to keep out weeds once the green shoots appear. This will also help hold moisture in the soil during the heat of summer and prevent it from drying out.


Shallots are somewhat drought tolerant but weekly watering does help produce more and bigger bulbs from the bulbs you plant this spring, if the weather gets very dry. A moist soil but never wet is the key to better plants. I fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks with compost tea that I make, or you can now purchase compost tea at your local garden center.


 You can also use Blooming and Rooting by Ferti lome every other week. If your soil is heavy, use Soil Logic's liquid gypsum soil conditioner also known as Thrive. This will break up the clay in the soil, improve drainage and help the roots to develop better.


Insect and disease problems are very few with this plant. Keep the weeds away, and add moisture to the plants when they are dry and shallots will grow almost all by themselves. Overwatering is the biggest problem I have found, so be careful or you could rot the roots. In the past, if you have had problems with soil insects called "root maggots" in your onion plantings I have great news for you. There is now a solution that will prevent them from damaging your crop. Bonide Lawn and Garden have a new product called Eight Granules, that is applied to the trench when planting; it will totally eliminate the problem. This is also effective to control wire worms in potatoes, and root maggots on radishes, beets, and all your cold crops like broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. If you have a cut worm problem it will do the job quickly but safely.


Harvesting is easy; just pull them out of the ground as soon as the top green foliage has turned brown. If you pull the shallots out of the ground before the foliage dies back, they will not keep as well during the winter months. You can pull bulbs early if you want to use them in cooking, and the green foliage will taste great in any dishes you create.


The foliage will begin to die back in late July to early August so get the bulbs in your garden early this spring to give them time to mature. Pull the whole bulb cluster as one, they will come out easily. Place them in a shady

area to dry. Don't break them apart until you're ready to use them. That way, they will keep better and the bulbs are less likely to dry out while in storage.


Store them in a cool dry place like your basement for the winter, and if some begin to sprout use those first or move them to the vegetable crisper in the refrigerator to slow down the sprouting. You can also plant those sprouting bulbs in a small container of soil and grow the bulb on your windowsill during the winter for the great tasting foliage--much better tasting than chives, when used in mashed potatoes.


This is a great tasting vegetable for you to grow in your garden this year. It's easy to grow, it's productive, it keeps well all winter, and the flavor will amaze you. All I want you to do is buy a couple bulbs this week when you food shop and try it, then decide if this bulb vegetable is for you. Just remember shallots have a reputation of elegance and their delicate flavor will make you a better cook. Enjoy!



"Too make a great garden, one must have a great idea or a great opportunity."
Sir George Sitwell
 Spring Time  - Yiruma
Spring Time - Yiruma

Lettuce is a great cool weather crop



When my Aunt Ruth was alive, she loved to work in the vegetable garden--and my garden became hers. That was OK, because I never had to weed or water that garden and, most of the time, I could just stand there and enjoy watching her enjoy what she was doing. She loved to grow leaf lettuce because it grew so fast, tasted so good and because you could cut it down to a couple of inches of the ground and it came back without replanting. She loved the different shapes, colors, textures and tastes of the foliage; most nights she would pick lettuce for us and make a wonderful salad. Her favorite was a salad of just mixed lettuce greens with basic oil and vinegar dressing. She would say to us, "I have made a honeymoon salad--lettuce alone." I do miss her a lot, and when I am in the vegetable garden working, I know she is right there next to me, working alongside me.


Did you know that there are 4 main groups of lettuce that you can grow in your garden? The crispheads, loose heads, Cos or Romaine types, and leaf lettuce. The crispheads will form a solid and more rounded head of foliage--the 'Iceberg' is the most popular type found at the supermarket. This family is great for the spring and fall only, as it does not do well in the heat of summer. Cool weather is the key for this family of lettuce. It takes about 85 days to grow in the spring and 95 days in the fall for this family to mature, so plan ahead.


The loose head types--commonly known as the Bibb lettuce family--do not produce a firm central head. The foliage is loosely packed, more tender, much darker in color, and forms many outer leaves around the head. Some of these types of lettuce will tolerate the summer heat, but all will grow in the spring and fall.


Cos or Romaine types of lettuce will form upright growing heads with longer leaves and a thicker central midribs for support. This family will take longer to grow and mature, so plan ahead. The flavor is best when planted as a spring or fall crop in your garden. Summer heat will spoil the flavor and the plants will bolt easily in the hot weather, making them bitter tasting.


Aunt Ruth's favorite was the loose leaf; this family does not make a head at all. It resembles an arrangement of beautifully arranged leaves growing from a central point with foliage of different sizes and colors. This family will mature very quickly--in just 40 days in the spring or fall. During the summer, it's even faster because all you have to do is cut it back to within 2 inches of the ground and in just a couple of weeks the plant will replace all the foliage you ate earlier in the season. This plant has the ability to re-grow new foliage 2 to 3 times a season, if you fertilize with a water solvable fertilizer every 2 weeks. Use Blooming and Rooting for the best response.


All lettuce plants do best with cooler temperatures and you might think of planting some of your favorite varieties in the shade during the summer. To me lettuce can also be used in the landscape as a foliage plant grown for color. Much like what dusty miller, vinca vines, coleus, and sweet potato vines are grown for. Best of all, when lettuce is grown in containers you can eat the foliage as it matures as a bonus. Lettuce will also make a wonderful container plant for those of you with limited growing space--so consider growing mixed colored and foliage types of loose leaf lettuce instead of flowers in your container this summer.


If you would like early lettuce for your garden, now is the time to start the seeds indoor to transplant seedlings into the garden during mid to late April. Use a seed-starting soil like  Espoma Organic Soil with mycorrhizae bacteria added to it. When the plants are 1 to 2 inches tall, transplant them into the garden and space them according to the type recommendations. You can direct seed into the garden in late April, as soon as the ground has warmed up. If you're planting loose leaf lettuce types and want fresh lettuce all year long, plant 2 to 3 feet of new seed row every 2 weeks. This will give you fresh succulent plants developing all season long.


When you plan your garden, just remember to rotate your crops, as lettuce should be rotated every year to a new location, so as not to deplete the soil of nutrients that the crop needs to grow. I plant lettuce at the base of tall-growing plants like tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts (just for example) in the summer and use the shade they produce to cool the lettuce plants. The main thing to remember is that lettuce MUST have a lot of water during the hot days of summer or the plant will "bolt," which means it stops making leaves, and makes seed instead--and the foliage will get very bitter tasting.


Lettuce will grow in most soils and the better you prepare it, the faster the plant will mature--especially during the heat of summer. If you direct seed in the garden and seedlings come in thick in areas and spare in others thin thick area--just dig out a few seedling and transplant them. If plants are grown too close together, they will be less productive for you. Plant seed just about 1/4 inch deep and keep wet until they germinate; they will take about 10 to 14 days to germinate.


If you like variety in lettuce you can also purchase mixed blends of seed like Mesclun spicy mix, Mesclun Salad Mix, mixed color leaf types, and mixed texture leaf types. I plant several of these mixes for variety, color, texture, and flavor. This spring, be sure to plant lettuce in your garden, your containers or as an accent plant in your landscaping. As my Aunt Ruth would say: "How about a honeymoon salad tonight--lettuce alone." Enjoy!



Aunt Ruth "How about a honeymoon salad tonight--lettuce alone"





French Canadian Salmon Pie with white sauce and hard boiled eggs


Growing up in Maine, one of my favorite family dinners was Quebec Salmon pie on Fridays, especially during Lent. My Dad made the best Salmon pie ever, his White Sauce was to die for, and with 5 kids in the family we always ate 2 pies for supper, with little to no leftovers. Try it and you will fall in love with French Canadian cooking and save this recipe to impress friends and relatives who love fish. I'm making one this Friday and so should you.


Ingredients for pie:


1 can of red Salmon, not pink about 15 ounces

4 to 6 medium white potatoes to make 2 to 3 cups of boiled potatoes

½ cup of finely chopped white onions

3 tablespoons of butter

½ teaspoon of salt

¼ teaspoon of savory

A pinch of pepper

2 pie crust, homemade or Pillsbury almost as good as home made


Ingredients for White Sauce with hard boiled eggs:


¼ cup of butter, half a stick

¼ cup of all-purpose flower

¼ teaspoon of salt1/8 teaspoon of pepper

1 cup of milk

3 extra-large hard boiled eggs


1} Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Grease your 9 inch deep dish pie pan with Pam. Place your bottom pie crust and shape to pan, put to one side.


2} Drain, flake the salmon and remove the bones and any skin from can of salmon and keep only the chunks of fish, put to one side. Save the Salmon juice for later if mixture needs extra moisture.


3} Peel the potatoes and cook in water until soft for mashing. In a large skillet add the butter and melt. Add the onions, salt, savory, and pepper. Cook until onions are soft and tender. Add the chunks of Salmon to the mixture and mash with a fork until flaky and well blended with onions.


4} Nash your boiled potatoes in a medium bowl with a fork, do not add milk. Add the potatoes into the fish mixture and blend until you no longer see the potatoes and the Salmon looks nice a fluffy. If it needs more moisture add a bit at a time your Salmon juice to make it fluffy and moist.


5} Fill your pie pan with your salmon mixture, it should come right to the top of the pan lip, level but do not firm mixture and place the second pie crust over the mixture. Brush a bit of milk over the pie crust and with a fork seal the two pie crust together. Cut 3 vent holes on the top pie crust and cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.


White Sauce:

1} Cook your eggs while the pie is in the oven. Cool in cold water for a few minutes until eggs are easy to handle. Remove the shell and chop the hard boiled eggs in ½ in pieces and put to one side.


2} In a 1 ½ quart sauce pan, melt the butter over a low heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and flour. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth, thick, and bubbly.


Remove from the heat.


3} Gradually stir in milk and Wisk mixture. Return to heat and bring the White Sauce to boiling while stirring constantly with a Wisk for about 1 minute. Add your chopped eggs to white sauce, mix with a large spoon and ladle over the individual pieces of pie and serve. You can sprinkle a dusting of Paprika on the sauce covered pie for color and ENJOY!!!







Garden Journal

        Garden Journal - A garden is a friend you can visit any time. Gardens require planning and cultivation, yielding beauty and joy. This garden journal helps make planning and organizing easy. This book makes a great gift for gardeners, family, friends, birthdays, Christmas, new home or as a self purchase.

Cover holds a 5 x7 or 4x6 photo, Heavy-duty D-ring binder

1. 8 tabbed sections
2. 5 garden details sections with pockets for seeds, tags....
3. Weather records page
4. 6 three year journal pages
5. Insect & diseases page - 3 project pages
6. 3 annual checklist pages
7. Plant wish list page
8. 2 large pocket pages
9. Sheet of garden labels
10. 5 garden detail sheets
11. 5 graph paper pages for layouts
12. 5 photo pages holds - 4- 4x6 photos in landscape or portrait format

Journal, Planning, Inspirations. 

 To Order call 207-590-4887

Regular price $34.95  Special Price $31.95!  special!


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