Michael our grandson on Earth Day planting a tomato for his classroom
just like Grandpa does

Billy Dean - A Seed
Billy Dean - A Seed

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Cucumbers and how they grow

When cucumbers are fresh picked from the garden, I don't think that there is a better tasting vegetable. I love picking cucumbers first thing in the morning while they are still cool from the evening temperatures. Did you know that they will keep better and longer if they are cool when you put them in your refrigerator for storage?

This summer, if you pick your cucumbers during the heat of the day, drop them in your sink filled with cold water before placing them in the refrigerator. The taste will be better and they will firm up, with the cold water slowing down on water loss through the skin. Cucumbers will keep well in your refrigerator for up to a week but the best taste is to eat them the same day you pick them. That why when you buy cucumbers during the winter in the supermarket they are covered with wax to help hold internal moisture in them and prevent them from getting soft and bitter.

I also love the feel of the tiny spines on them as you grab them and twist them free from the vine; no other vegetable feels that way. Can you feel them in your mind? The cucumber has no smell until you peel it; think about that. With cucmbers "bigger isn't better" because smaller cucumbers are tastier, crisper, the seeds are much smaller and there are fewer seeds in them for you to burp. Pick your cucumbers daily to prevent them from overgrowing and becoming bitter and pithy. To enjoy the best tasting cucumbers pick them while they are all green as the summer heat will make them grow fast and over ripe. Over ripe cucumbers will have a yellow underside, or yellowing on the tip where the blossom was! Over ripe cucumbers should be removed from the plant and tossed into your compost pile. If you allow the cucumber to grow large, the plant will produce seeds and less fruit will form on the vine in the future because the plant has achieved its goal, which is to make mature seeds. So pick often for more fruit per plant.

Cucumbers will grow best when you soil temperature reaches 70 to 80 degrees or warmer, so never rush to get the seed or plants in the ground early, especially when Spring weather is cool. To help warm up the soil I use a landscape fabric on the ground and cut a hole in it to plant the seeds. This fabric also keeps out weeds that steel much needed moisture and food for the plant, plus prevents the sun and wind from drying up the soil. This fabric also keeps out slugs, keeps the cucumbers clean and prevents rotting if the weather gets stormy and wet.

Cucumbers take up also of space in your garden, so last year I built a trellis with 4 by 4 timbers and galvanized wire for the vine to grow on, saving a large growing area for other vegetables to grow on. The result was fantastic because I could see all the cucumbers on the vine and I had very few that over-grew. The cucumbers were easier to pick, I never stepped on small cucumbers or hurt the vines they grow on and I had more cucumbers than ever. The cucumbers always grew straight; the flowers were more noticeable on the vine making it easier for the bees to pollinate the plant, making more cucumbers for me.

Cucumbers also love a good garden soil, so before you plant add compost, animal manure, or peat moss to help retain water and provide nutrition to the plant. I always add Soil Moist granules, a good fertilizer that contains mycorrhizae and sea kelp to the soil before planting. If you grow cucumbers and when the summer gets hot your plant produces cucumbers with a small shrunken end like a nipple on a baby bottle, you have a plant with small roots.

Water and nutrition will determine the amount and the quality of the cucumbers produce on the plant. That is why I use both Soil Moist and mycorrhizae when planting. These two ingredients will double the size of the root system, helping the plant to collect what it wants from the soil to keep it productive even when the weather gets hot and dry. When the plant begins to flower, you must water heavily and often right up until the fall or the plant will stop producing cucumbers or they will grow like baseballs, round, yellow and bitter tasting.

The one thing that will happen early-on when you grow cucumbers is that the plant will produce many male flowers on the plant to attract the bees into your garden and few female flowers. Do not panic; its natural and soon the female flowers will develop as the plant matures and grows larger. Now for a quick "Sex Education tip" The female flower has a tiny cucumber behind it and the male does not. If you want to help the bees and speed up cucumber production pick off a male flower, remove the outer yellow flower petals and rub the pollen sacs on the inside of the female flower. You are now doing the same thing the bees do to the female flower and soon you will have cucumbers, the same principle works with all squash, melons, and pumpkins.

Cucumbers will get a white film on the leaf if the weather is hot and humid or you use overhead watering in the early evening causing Powdery Mildew problems. Water early in the day, never at night and if it begins to develop treat the plant with a wonderful organic product called  Bio-Safe or Lynn-wood labs shoo mold are organic fungicide/ insecticide combination. If holes develop in the leaf it is likely to be the striped cucumber beetle, which is easily controlled with the new Organic Beetle Killer from Bonide Lawn and Garden which uses pyrethrum made from chrysanthemum flowers. Great companions in the garden are bush beans, cold weather crops like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and lettuce, stay away from potatoes!!!

Now for fun facts about cucumbers: if you feel tired in the afternoon put down the soft drink and peal up a cucumber because it is a great source of B vitamin and carbohydrates that can provide a quick pick-me-up and last for hours. Cucumbers contain most of the vitamins you will need every day, just one cucumber contains Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, folic acid, Vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. If you're looking to fight off afternoon or evening hunger and keep on your diet, eat a cucumber. Cucumbers were used in Europe by trappers, traders and early explorers to thwart off starvation.

Cucumber slices can be used to shine up your shoes if you have no polish, and the chemical reaction with the leather will help make it repel water. If you drank too much at that party, before going to bed eat a few slices of cucumber and wake up refreshed and headache free. Cucumbers contain enough sugar, Vitamin B and electrolytes to replenish essential nutrients the body lost, keeping everything in equilibrium, thus avoiding both hangover and headache--give it a try, and let me know.

If slugs are ruining your flower beds, place a few slices in a small aluminum pie plate in your garden. I have been told the chemical reaction of the cucumber and aluminum will produce a scent that is undetectable to humans but drives garden pest crazy...and they will leave your garden.

If you're out of WD-40 and have a squeaky hinge, rub a cucumber slice on the problem and the squeak is gone. If you have bad breath and don't have a mint or gum, place a slice of cucumber on the top of your mouth and hold it in place with your tongue for 30 seconds to kill the bacteria in your mouth.

If your children have used crayons on your walls slowly rub a cucumber slice on the decorations and watch the cucumber erase the markings. One last thing...if you like cucumbers with the skin intact or partially removed, eat them all you can this summer while they are fresh. The ones in the supermarket with the waxy covering are all you will be able to get during the cold days of winter, so enjoy the fresh picked ones while you can!!!
I love lucy-Baby Babalu
I love lucy-Baby Babalu

How to grow tomatoes in your garden

The Tomato is America's favorite plant in the vegetable garden. The reason it is the favorite is flavor! A tomato fresh picked from the garden or purchased from a local farm stand stands out among any tomatoes purchased at the supermarket. The difference in taste, freshness and ripened-on-the vine-flavor cannot be imitated on the truck traveling here on the way from Florida or even Mexico. Other vegetables do also taste different when picked fresh but no other one taste as different as the tomato. Today, garden fresh tomatoes come in all shapes, colors, sizes and flavors. Tomatoes are so versatile you can eat them at any meal, cold or hot they bring flavor to everything we eat from sauces, soups, salads and even condiments.

When you plant tomatoes, select a location with full sun all day long! Soil quality will determine your success with this vegetable, and the more organic material you mix into the soil the better the plant will grow. Black-Kow cow manure, compost is better than peat moss, and a well-drained soil is better than a clay type soil. The plant will grow anywhere but the results will be the difference. Soils should be near neutral so if moss is growing in the lawn near the garden, lime the soil every spring or use Bonide turf turbo or Espoma  lightning lime to improve the acidity problem.  Acid soil will cause a black spot called "Blossom End Rot" on the bottom of the fruit, so keep the soil limed and treat the soil--especially in planters--with an organic product developed for the tomato industry Bonide fung-onil available at your local Garden Center. Use it at the time you plant or add it around the plant now.

Plant starter seedlings when the threat of frost is over! Cold weather may not kill the plants in the garden but it will discolor the foliage to purple or red. If you see this discoloration on your plants say to yourself, "My plants are now two weeks behind because I got over-eager and planted too early!" In the Northeast, the time is still with the full moon in May! Now for the real tough part when planting tomatoes, "SPACING"! The biggest problem gardeners have is trying to grow too many tomatoes in their garden. Tomatoes will grow better, ripen earlier, have fewer disease and insect problems if spaced properly. The proper spacing is 3 feet by 3 feet in the garden, no closer. If the sun can hit the entire plant, it will grow better and the fruit will ripen sooner. If the air can circulate around the tomato plant better, you will reduce disease and insect problems. Plant fewer tomato plants and get MORE tomatoes from those plants!

A few years back  we had major disease problems with tomatoes because of the weather and a very large plant grower who supplied the box stores with plants that were grown in unsterilized soil. We all paid the price and tomatoes all over the Northeast died with "Late Blight." To prevent this from happening to your garden this year be sure to add to your garden a new organic bacterium called Monterey Agri-fos systemic fungicide was developed to control the problem organically. Late blight is also found on potatoes and was responsible for the Irish Potato Famine many years ago. If you planted potatoes last year, be sure to use the same product when planting your seed potatoes this spring. Most important is not to plant in the same area you planted last year and remove any volunteers that develop in the garden, as those plants could be infected with the same disease and create a problem again this year for you. Also "NEVER" water the garden at night or late in the day--and try to avoid using overhead sprinklers.

One last tip for you, add a fertilizer that contains Mycorrhizae Fungi when planting this spring. This new technology in gardening will help to develop plants that will out-produce anything you ever had before. The plants will require less fertilizer and water, and will also have fewer disease problems. Look for  Bio-Tone. Two years ago before the Late Blight problems, I had to use a shovel to get the tomato plants out of the ground in the fall because the roots were so big. That year 28 tomato plants gave me enough tomatoes in the fall to fill two wheelbarrows for sauce, relishes and the neighbors. Mycorrhizal Fungi like Protolizer from Natural Alternative  is the future today for all of your gardens!
57 chevrolet by country danes
57 chevrolet by country danes some of these cars we saw in Cuba

Growing sweet colorful peppers in the garden

Peppers come from all over the world, in a wide range of colors, shapes, sizes, and flavors, so why did we grow up eating green peppers only? I am guessing that we grew up with the green bell peppers in our gardens because most greenhouses in those days chose to grow just the green bell varieties and we were never exposed to the colored varieties. Also, many older gardeners like us came from large families and the colored peppers were more expensive at the supermarket. When peppers were called for in recipes green bell peppers were used to save money. Growing up in Northern New England, I was told that our growing season was too short, the peppers would not have time to change color and ripen properly, so we were eating an unripened vegetable like green tomatoes.

Today's gardener loves variety, and if we can grow more colorful vegetables in the garden, it will bring excitement to our kitchen for the cook and the dinner table. Colored peppers are ripe peppers and will taste sweeter, are more flavorful, and higher in vitamins content. Before you go crazy and plant all the unique colored peppers in your garden this spring, buy a few different colored peppers at the supermarket and use them in your recipes.

Eat peppers that are fresh and raw in your salads or with dips. Substitute colored peppers where you once used green peppers and enjoy different taste and flavors. In the garden colored peppers need the same growing conditions, just more time to ripen.

Here are a few things to know about growing peppers in your garden. First thing to know is that peppers should always be grown in blocks and never in just a single row. Pepper plants grow better if the leaves touch each other when mature. They seem to like each other's company and this block type of growing protects the fruit they will produce from the hot summer sun, preventing sunburn of the fruit.

Never put peppers out in the garden until the soil has warmed up and the air temperature stays above 70 degrees. Once chilled the pepper plant will never fully recover and the fruit production will be less on the plant. If your pepper plants have flowers on them, remove the flowers when planting so the plant can concentrate on developing a root system FIRST and get established in the soil before making fruit. Plants with flowers will become less productive in your garden, so choose plants without flowers.

Set your seedlings out in the garden and space plants 18 to 24 inches apart. Peppers must have full sun all day long to grow properly and produce many fruits. Peppers love a warm to hot soil to grow in, so if you live in Northern New England or where the growing season is short, use a black landscape fabric or black plastic mulch around the plant to help heat up the soil. This will also keep out weeds and help hold water in the soil longer when it gets hot and dry. 

Peppers love a rich soil, so prepare it properly before planting. Use compost, animal manure, peat moss or seaweed kelp to help create a better growing environment. If your soil is well prepared before planting, it will hold more moisture when the plant needs it to make better fruit. A rich soil can support the microbes in the soil needed for root production and fruit set. The soil will determine the amount of fruit the plant can produce the size of the fruit and the taste of that fruit, so don't fool yourself, do it right the first time.

When you set plants out in your garden be sure to add to the plant hole a granular fertilizer, as transplants need to make a lot of vegetative growth early on to support large production of fruit. If the plants do not grow large they cannot develop good fruit. Also if fruit forms on the plant before the plant has grown a foot tall remove it and fertilize the plant again or the plant production will be minimal. Use Vegetable -Tone or Turf trust garden food, as both products contain mycorrhizae to help stimulate this much needed early growth!

Peppers love a light sandy soil that is well drained at all times. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, be sure to add extra compost or peat moss to help break it up. If your soil is on the sandy side add a pinch of Soil Moist granules to the hole when planting as they will expand 200 times in the ground and help hold moisture around the roots. Peppers love water on a weekly basis and a deep watering is preferred, so let the sprinkler run for a good 30 minutes each time you water.

Peppers are also heavy feeders and will be more productive if fed each month with a tablespoon or two to each plant of your granular fertilizer. If you're using a liquid fertilizer like Neptune's harvest  fish and sea fertilize or Espoma's new organic bloom fertilizer, apply every 2 weeks.

Peppers do best in a soil slightly on the acid side to neutral, 5.5 to 7. If your soil is too acid, and you're your watering is uneven your fruit may develop blossom end rot on the underside of the fruit. If you had this brown rot on your fruit in the past add a bit of Tomato Maker plant food when planting or use it as a side dressing once planted. I always add lime or wood ash to the garden each fall to prevent this from happening. If you did not and your soil is on the acid side, you can add Lightning lime or Turf Turbo soil conditioner now as this product will do the same as lime, but change the soil acidity in just a couple of weeks.

Peppers also love magnesium, a mineral not common enough in our soil--but it can be added very easily by using Epsom salt. Just dissolve one tablespoon of Epsom salt to a gallon of water, pour over each plant to wet the foliage and soak the ground around the plant. This should be enough to keep the plant extra green all year long, and a lot more productive.

Harvest the peppers as soon as they grow to a mature size and the color you desire. If you leave ripe peppers on the plant too long, the plant will stop making new fruit and you will have few peppers for the fall season. Pick often and store extra peppers in the vegetable crisper. They will keep up to two weeks without losing their flavor or you can chop them up and freeze them for cooking later during the winter months.

Insect and disease problems are few as long as you do not water the garden after supper so the foliage remains wet during the evening hours. Wet foliage catches disease spores blowing in the air and encourages insects to visit the garden. If we should have several days of temperatures over 90 degrees, your pepper plants will drop their flowers and so will your tomatoes so don't panic, just add a bit of liquid fertilizer to the plants and new buds will quickly form on the plant.

Two last things to remember with peppers, never plant tomatoes, potatoes or eggplant in the same area the following year or plants will suffer because they use the same nutrition as peppers. Always cut the peppers from the plant and never pull them off, and leave a short stem on the plant or you could break the branch, as the pepper stem is very strong. Now plant some peppers this spring and enjoy the different flavors of the colored peppers!
"Why to explain miracles to your kids
when you can just have 
them plant a garden"
Robert Brault

Penne with Asparagus and Gorgonzola Cheese Sauce

At this time of the year the fresh Asparagus is beginning to come up in your garden and readily available at Farmers Markets and the grocery stores in your town. I love Asparagus fresh out of the garden, eaten raw or cooked. My Dad loved to make this recipe for us growing up in place of a red sauce pasta and we loved it. It's easy to make and the hardest thing to cook is the pasta, it's that easy. A great dish for vegetarian friends or something for a change in your everyday menu.

A 1-pound bunch of Asparagus tips
Extra virgin olive oil or Truffle oil
8 ounces of Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1 cup of heavy cream
10 to 12 ounces of dried penne pasta
Salt and pepper

1} Pre heat your oven to 450 degrees. Rinse your Asparagus with cold water to clean any soil from them, and snap off the bottom and keep the tender portion of the Asparagus. Cut he Asparagus in half, so you have tips and the middle of this fine vegetable. Place the Asparagus tips and middle in a shallow, oven proof dish. Sprinkle with your olive oil or Truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper and roll the Asparagus so it is all coated with the oil.

2} Roast in your heated oven for 10 to 15 minutes uncovered or until slightly brown and tender. Turn the Asparagus a couple time during the cooking process so both sides are cooked evenly. Set aside and keep warm.

3} Combine the heavy cream and crumbled cheese in a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

4} Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a bit of oil to keep the pasta from sticking together, then add the pasta. Return to a boil, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until tender but still firm to your bite. Drain well and then transfer to a warm serving dish.

5} Add your Asparagus and cheese sauce to the pasta and toss until the cheese melts a bit and coats the pasta with the sauce evenly. Serve immediately in a large soup bowl or pasta bowls.

6} Serve with a nice crusty bread, white wine, Enjoy!

7} When we had fresh peas from the garden my dad would also add a cup of fresh peas from the garden for extra flavor, O so good. My dad would cook the peas with the Asparagus. Enjoy!

Day to look forward to:

April is National Gardening Month

May 8th - MOTHER'S Day is 10 days
May 21st - Armed forces day is 23 days
May 30th - Memorial Day is 32 days

28 Garden Journals left


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!        Supplies are now limited!


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