A Cold Frame from Salvaged Materials

Last fall, my husband and I replaced the old windows in our house with double-paned glass, so we had several beautiful old wooden windows lying around. They happen to make perfect covers for a cold frame. A project was born. The other essential element of a cold frame is the actual frame: the sides that support the cover. Since the…

How I Protect my Garden from Deer (and Rabbits and Groundhogs)

The area where I live is perfect habitat for deer: lush fields alternating with tracts of trees and brush. And so they thrive and multiply here, and it’s hard to begrudge them that. Who doesn’t enjoy watching a doe and her fawns pick carefully across a dew-covered lawn in the slanting morning light? Nevertheless, it…

‘Tis the season for chicks!

I guess it’s appropriate that my first post of the year is always of either chicks or newly planted seeds. This time it’s both. Our six new Ameraucana chicks arrived yesterday, a day old, and this morning proudly stood for their first portraits. Nearby sat the pots in which I just planted seeds for tomatoes (my favorite heirlooms: Large Red and…

Coons (and Charlie) in the Corn

Now I realize that the sum of my knowledge on this subject comes from watching Old Yeller (an activity that consumed roughly half my childhood), but aren’t dogs supposed to be good at keeping raccoons out of corn fields? Why then do I find my own precious Charlie, not chasing the coons away, but actively covering their…

The Importance of Fertilizer (and How to Mix Your Own)

When I first began vegetable gardening twenty years ago, I knew that I wanted to be organic. I didn’t want to hurt the earth—or myself—with synthetic chemicals. I wanted to grow plants the way nature did: with nothing but dirt, water, and sun. I dug a little composted steer manure into my beds (a 40-lb….

Freezing Strawberries

Strawberry season is in high gear, and we’re getting an abundant harvest from the patch we planted last spring: in one week, 30 lbs. from 30 plants (15 Surecrop and 15 Earligow). And in spite of giving them away right and left, we still have more than we can eat. I used to make strawberry…

Radishes: Easter Egg vs. French Breakfast

I grow a lot of radishes. My husband, who’s not keen on too many vegetables, loves them. As does his father, who regularly sits down to an entire bowl, which he eats plain except for a sprinkling of salt. So every spring I make sure to put in a healthy radish patch, just to make sure…

Spring Snapshot: Strawberries, Flowering Turnips, Winter Rye

The spring garden looks so green and vibrant that I couldn’t resist sharing the snapshot below. I took this picture around 5:30 this evening, as I was puttering about in the garden, watering seeds here, weeding a little there, checking up on the growth of my strawberries. That’s what you see in the foreground here, happily…

Rhubarb Pie

There’s no fresh fruit to be had this early in the growing season, but fortunately there’s something else in the garden that can satisfy the craving for fruity flavors: rhubarb! The stems of this bushy, tropical-looking perennial have a citrusy tang that, when baked into a sweetened pie, make a dessert that will have everyone asking for more….

Avoiding Transplant Shock

The threat of frost is past, which means it’s time for planting out tomatoes, peppers, and all manner of warm-weather crops here in Virginia. While planting out is certainly not rocket science, and plants can recover from much rough treatment, there are some ways to ease the transition for them, keeping them happier and healthier and ultimately leading…

From Pumpkin to Pie

‘Tis the season for baking pumpkin pies! Especially if, like me, you lazily store your pumpkins in the house. At room temperature, they start molding and rotting after a couple of months, so now’s a great time to cook up the August/September harvest and either bake it straight into pies or freeze the purée for later…

Sowing Winter Cover Crops

With the weather turning cool and the fall harvest beginning to come in, you may think the time for sowing seeds is past. And for most seeds, you would be right. But there is one class of seeds you could usefully plant in the next week or so if you’re here in Zone 7, and that’s winter cover crops….