Although stone walls are not an unusual sight in New England, the extremely long expanses of stone walls that we have here should have made us wonder where all those rocks had come from.
Doing It Ourselves
We have a very short growing season here, and if I followed the usual instructions to wait to collect seed pods until they are brown and dry, I would still be waiting when the seed pods were destroyed by the first killing frost. Luckily, many pods that are still “green” will contain mature, viable seeds, and these seed pods can be harvested and successfully dried in the house.
Reader question… “When you wrote about making compost, you mentioned making a small compost bin out of a garbage can. Could you give instructions for making one of these and how to use it? I’m a newbie both to gardening and to the idea of composting and have no idea how to proceed. Thanks for any help.” –Katie R.
This shows part of this year’s mulch pile… the entire pile is thirty feet long and four feet wide at the bottom, and after nearly three months it has settled down to being three and a half feet high. This pile will supply all the mulch we will need next year… and except for the time and labor, this huge quantity of mulch is absolutely free.
Our handmade soap has spoiled us… we like it so well, we never buy commercial soap any more. Recently our soap supply has been getting low and I have needed to make more. I finally got all the supplies together and turned out two batches of goat milk soap on Saturday afternoon. I unmolded the soap and cut it into bars this morning and have just put it on the shelves to cure. I love making soap… it always fascinates me that you can take such unappealing ingredients as oils and lye and that the soap making process transforms them into a completely different product… soap!
We lost several of our beautiful big pine trees during an ice storm when the weight of two days of freezing rain literally broke off the tops of the trees. One especially large tree (actually, three trees that had sometime grown together) at the edge of one of our gardens was totally destroyed and had to be cut down, leaving an enormous (and ugly) stump that was easily eight feet across. We have removed a lot of smaller stumps, but probably nothing larger than three or four feet in diameter. Removing a stump this large without specialized machinery seemed somewhat physically impossible, but we decided to give it a try.
We really have to work around our short growing season here. If we wait to set out seedlings until all danger of frost is past… and this can be as late as the first two weeks of June… we end up with too late a start on the garden because we can also get frosts on the other end of the growing season as early as late August. Covering plants to protect them gets old very quickly, we have found, especially when you have a lot of plants to protect, like we do. Traditional cold frames never seemed like a practical idea for us either. We needed something that offered frost protection on a large scale, could be left in place without having to be adjusted, and most important of all, something that was really inexpensive. Our solution… “cold frames” made with one-by-one supports instead of solid wood and heavy duty woven blue tarps instead of glass!