Remember in Compost Surprise, I mentioned we had a surprise pumpkin that came back from the dead and was growing out of the compost pile?

Yeah, well, I jinxed it. The sonofabitch died. I just can’t win.

Welcome to sex ed. Of course, as soon as I say, “Sex Ed” in my mind, I flash back immediately to…you’ll never guess (unless we went to high school together, and, if we did, you’re thinking the same thing I am) Mr. Hummer’s sex ed class. Yup. The kids called him Hummer. I think his last name was Holmes. He looked like Terry Bradshaw, but with less hair.

He was the school wrestling coach and always wore gym clothes to class. He was a goofy guy who somehow, got the job of teaching sex ed. 

Anyhoo, back from memory lane, it is time for sex ed on the DaisyPatch. Gather ’round kids. I may require permission slips for this one, it gets a bit graphic.

These pumpkins continue to amaze me. I will measure to be sure (the PUMPKINS, I will measure the PUMPKINS, get your minds out of the gutter!), but it looks like the vines are over 10 feet long. There’s also an errant compost pile pumpkin. How did I throw one away? Keith thinks that a seed might have taken root from some of our judicious composting. I like that theory. More random surprises in the patch to marvel at. I was thinking about relocating it, but I’m unsure how to dig it up because it’s roots start at the bottom of the little hill I throw the compost down into. No muck boot tall enough is going to protect me from that gore if I were to try to scramble down and dig it up. I might leave it there for an experiment. Which does better?  The bat-shit, Tiger-Bloom, Sex-Panther-fertilized pumpkins (i.e. purchased fertilizer) OR the rotten-leftover, garden-scrap, grass-clipping-fertilized compost pumpkins. We shall see. (5 points if you caught the Anchorman reference. “60% of the time it works every time.”)

Anyway, where were we? Right, sex ed. Yeah, so, Mr. DaisyPatch has been doing some reading on what to expect from (and how to fertilize – see above) giant pumpkins. He found out there are male and female flowers. Huh? I mean, I took biology and I know that, if you don’t buy self-pollinating fruit trees, you have to make sure you get male and female (right? Ok, I just had to look that up to be sure so I didn’t sound like an idiot. Yes, some trees are just male and others are just female. Thanks to an eHow article by Danielle Hill, “Dioecious plants are those species that have male and female flowers on separate plants. By contrast, monoecious species may have male and female flowers growing off a single plant. For reproduction to occur, one dioecious plant must be growing close to another plant of the opposite sex. Read more here.) and the same with holly bushes to get the red berries, however, this surprised me. I don’t recall any other veggies having the anomaly. It might be the case, but, well, I wasn’t aware of it. (And, if I’m going to be brutally honest here, I have no f’ing desire to read about the sex life of plants. I mean, could anything be more BORING?) (Wait! I did just go and read about the sex life of plants! Shit…)

Apparently, the female flowers have, well, a bulbous sort of…ahem…thing under the flower. That is the baby pumpkin.

The male flowers (below) need to pollinate the female flowers in order for the baby pumpkin to grow.

Otherwise, after the female flower falls off and dies, that baby pumpkin on the vine will wither and die as well instead of continuing to grow into a jack-o-lantern. Here’s the fun part for the gardener. Ready?

If you don’t have honey bees to do the pollinating, you gotta get out there and do it yourself. With your hands. Smearing the male parts onto the female parts (how would Mr. Hummer have worded this? I can tell you that a similar act was described by him in sex ed class and I am STILL shuddering in horror and NOW it is happening in my pumpkin patch? I need to go to church and be washed of these thoughts. My mind is wandering now to a gritty pumpkin porn with a bad plot line and poor lighting. I am SO having nightmares tonight.)

So there it is. Pumpkin sex. Happening out in our yard, under our very noses. I am so grateful for honey bees. So grateful.

Talk about cukes! We’ve grown pickling cukes before, but not these regular ones. We have 6 plants growing up a vertical trellis. I’ve harvested 6 cukes so far and can count at least 15 more on the plants. My favorite recipe is pretty easy:

Make the dressing first. Put about 2 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup white sugar and a pinch of paprika into a sauce pan. Boil (it’ll burn your nose, trust me) until the consistency is like a thin maple syrup. Cool in the fridge where it will thicken up. It will be a nice mix of sweet and tangy with a tiny lingering heat of the paprika.

Cut cucumbers into 1 inch chunks. Cut tomatoes into one inch chunks. (You know, about the same amount of each.) When the dressing is completely cool, mix some into the tomato/cukes until just dressed (don’t drown!) Serve immediately. It isn’t really that great the next day.


I continue to be amazed by MN (Mother Nature, you know her. You cursed her in January when we got 4 feet of snow.) This single hollyhock, over six feet tall is growing amongst (does anyone else use “amongst” anymore? What about “whilst?” Go ahead. Use “whilst” in a sentence. C’mon, try. I KNOW! I can’t either.) the weeds behind our Kitchen Garden (formerly known as “Peber’s Point”).

A few years ago, I threw some random, old seeds into the scrub. And forgot about them. Until now. Have you seen the seed pod of a hollyhock? There are, like, 8 seeds per pod. That is all. So, it seems that one took hold and decided to grace us with its presence after taking a vacation for a couple of years.

Should I lapse into squeals like the Double Rainbow Guy, (“WHAT DOES IT MEAN?”) or just recognize that the world works in mysterious ways. For examples, my sweet husband somehow picked me (Sucker!), flour and water on our windowsill gets “infected” with airborne bacteria to make our sourdough starter, and fairly old seeds thrown into the scrub yield a surprise beauty like this stately specimen.

I kind of like that. It sort of keeps a little homesteader on her toes. There are no guarantees. Each time is going to be different than the next. Forrest, please come over here and tell everyone Mama’s theory on life…

Hm, I wonder what Mama Gump would say about my garden.

We are freshly back from vacation and, just like last year, have blight on our tomato leaves. Keith’s comment that will stick with me for a while is, “Spots scare me.”

Me too. We got in a 2:30 in the morning, woke up around 9 and proceeded to pick off all the spotty leaves and spray with Bonide (organic) fungicide spray. We already have tomatoes setting and so we hope to save the crop. 49 plants this year. Fingers crossed.

Here’s what’s happened to the rest of the crops:

Beans: dead

Basil: chewed

Edamame: Looks like crap. I promised this was the last year. It will be.

Acorn Squash: Looks good

Pumpkins: Look good

Cukes: Good

Peas: Holy crap, they shot right up

Lettuce: Mostly bolted, I pulled all but a few heads and will put in a summer crop of carrots

Shallots: Great

Cilantro: Can’t find it

Husk Cherries: Taking over my pansies like a weed. Hooray.

Hot peppers: Not bad, not good. Just sort of there.

Potatoes: WOWSY. I went and purchased more Coast of Maine Compost and Peat to hill them up. The greens are over the tops of the bins. Pics to come (I know posts without pictures are boring, but hey, I was busy, did you see the part about the blight?)

Weeds: Lookin’ real good. Our best crop, actually.

My potato haiku…ahem…

I love potatoes

Mashed, Roasted or as Salad

Ideal comfort food

On January 2, I ordered the Rare Potato Mix through Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.  They arrived 2 weeks ago and smiled at me through their pretty, colorful bags. The potatoes were from Wood Prarie Farm in Bridgewater, ME.

2.5 pounds of Cranberry Red, 2.5 pounds of Carola, 1 pound of Russian Banana Fingerling and 1 pound of Rose Finn Apple Fingerling – all ready to take their place in the DaisyPatch. Then it rained. All weekend. I know, I know, what’s a little rain? I didn’t feel like dealing with it in the rain.

So they waited. This was the weekend of the potato. A few years ago, we made “bins” of chicken wire and filled them with soil, using them as planters for the potatoes. We got potatoes and a lot of slugs who made their way through the chicken wire. Last year, we tried 5 gallon buckets with drainage holes drilled in the bottom. We got potatoes, but not very many. The containers were just too small. So, finally, I got to it this past weekend.

Step 1. Move plants and weed.

Step 2. Lay down landscape fabric.

Step 3. Bring out the chicken wire fencing and grab the wire cutters.

Step 4. Make bins. Step 5. Fill with compost.

Step 6. Plant seed potatoes. Cover with more compost. Label.

I didn’t count the steps where I went inside to get bandaids because the chicken wire snagged my leg. Or the 4 bandaids – one for each blister on my right hand from the wire cutters.  Those are extra steps I hope to skip next year.
Now, we water, watch, “hill” by adding more compost as the greens emerge. And wait. Mmm. They came with a recipe for Buttermilk Potato Soup. Doesn’t that just sound delish?

My “Yay it’s Spring” haiku… Ahem…

Yay. It is Springtime.
The sun warms up the garden
And I play in dirt

It rained one day last weekend. It was chilly the weekend before. This was the first weekend since our gardens woke up that we have been able to be outside both days. And we were. Outside. Both days. All day.

Being the weekend warriors that we are, we had a lot on the agenda. First, finish weeding all the front gardens and the kitchen garden. I got a lot done on the one sunny day last weekend, while Keith edged the beds, but I didn’t finish.

Next, spreading the bark mulch. All 10 yards of it. There was a lot. A whole lot. The size of a car, lot. It took up Keith’s parking space, that’s how lot.

Next, pretty. We wanted to add more color.

We got it all done this weekend. Edging, check. Weeding, check. Bark mulch, wow, but check. Pretty, yup, check. We bought blue pansies and yellow pansies and a heather plant (pink) and planted them in key spots that needed a splash. We even picked up after ourselves and put the equipment away (which is the last thing you want to do when you just want to go in and take a shower).

Ah, that feeling of satisfaction. That stand back, fold your arms and survey what you’ve accomplished kind of feeling. That, holy crap, I haven’t moved my muscles like this since last Fall, I can’t move, can you? feeling. (We are a little sore to say the least.)

But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Different folks need different things. (“Whatchyou talkin’ ’bout, Willis?) Some need the adrenaline rush of putting the pedal to the metal and going top speed (and if you’re one of the folks who feels the need to hit the North Road hill off Route 1 at Mach 20 in order to get maximum speed on the straight-away, nearly killing me as I plant pansies by my mailbox, I swear I will throw my trowel through your front windshield next time I hear you picking up speed on the way down the hill, comprende?)

Others need to get in a plane and travel to an island, just to sit on a beach chair with an umbrella drink and not move for 6 nights, 7 days (although that REALLY sounds good right now, except I would be under the hut because I got a teensy sunburn today). (“Hey Mon. Everyting IRE? Two No Problems and a Rum and Coke please.)

Me, I just need dirt. I love the smell of it. I love that my kitchen and yard scraps make more of it. I love that it has POSSIBILITIES. I can plant tomatoes in it that I later squish to make sauce for pasta. I love that it feeds the maple tree that gave us sap to make syrup (mmm pancakes!) I love that I can plant a little speck of a seed, and dirt with some water will yield me a fragrant and tasty basil plant, or a large butternut squash that Keith can make into the most delicious soup, or a painted daisy that make me smile with it’s cheery pinkness.

Now, if you want to give me a fast car or a vacation, I surely won’t say, “Nay,” but I have everything I need to make me happy; the man I love working right next to me, a goofy dog and three cats waiting for me inside, and a little patch of dirt where I can putter. And make things grow.

DaisyPatch Farm – Glog Post. Forgive me Father for I have sinned. It has been three weeks since my last post.

Sorry for being gone so long. Life gets in the way of writing, no matter how good my intentions or my electronic to-do list with reminder alarms. I love writing this blog, however, so resolve to spend more time here. I suppose I should be able to do that considering it is April 1 and f’ing snowing outside. Not a small amount of snow, but a good covering of the thick slushy stuff too. Grr.

Really Mother Nature? I was going to rake the hay off the garden beds this weekend. (Hahahaha, I had a typo and almost raked the “gay” off the garden beds. How does one do that? Would I use a “gake?” Ok, ok, enough of that.) Anyway, where was I? Right, hay. So, as you probably have read in prior posts, because you are a DaisyPatch devotee and have read all my musings, you know we had 4+ feet of snow on the ground for most of the winter. Snow melts, pull back the frost blankets and lo and behold, lettuce. Alive. (Yes, I said, “lo and behold.” I know no one from the last few generations uses the phrase “lo and behold,” but I stand by my choice because I am an independent thinker and am ok in my own skin (she said defiantly, hands held on her hips in a Superman pose.))

Anyway, where was I? Right, lettuce. So, we have lettuce. And it is alive. It looks like crap, but it is alive. And we all know that we must put away our preconceived notions of pretty food when growing it ourselves and be ok with better, yet uglier food. So, what did I do with said lettuce? Yeah, it is still there and now we have more snow. Whatever. Now that I know it will withstand 4 feet of snow for 3 months, it can handle a goddamn weekend covered in a bit more snow whilst I stay inside in my snuggie and and read my first issue of Urban Farm (thanks big sis!)

Gake. God that’s funny.

Actually, I can’t really pinpoint how it all started. Perhaps our dream of growing our own food was sparked when we found our first apartment in Kittery. I hadn’t even moved in yet, (I was still in Vermont, more on that later), but I started window boxes of Basil on the tiniest, yet sunniest, porch ever.

Keith, not having much gardening experience besides his mother having a vegetable garden and his bachelor plant, a dracaena tree he bought at a department store, watered them during the week. When I came over on weekends, I pinched and preened our pre-pesto dreams until I moved in full time. I was unemployed and could give them my love while I looked for a job near my new home.

There were 6 basil plants. Keith’s friends, most new to me and I to them, complimented and praised our little apartment garden. He gave me the credit, although he tended to them too. He was so proud. They were HUGE! They loved the full sun on that back porch.  If I stood on my tippy-toes, I could see the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. When big boats went through the Memorial Bridge, they filled the entire view from that little porch. It was a tiny apartment with no room for personal space, but it was right on the water and we loved that about it.

The first harvest yielded 6 cups of basil and I made some pesto. I had never made it before and made a few rookie mistakes. I made it in the blender. Not a mistake, really, but my Cuisinart, an unaffordable luxury at the time, yields better results when I make it now. The other mistake was not toasting the pine nuts. I didn’t know. The recipe (found on the internet), didn’t tell me to. I almost never stray from recipes, and had never used pine nuts before (I remember thinking those babies were expensive!)

The pesto was delish. I’m not sure if it was the seacoast air and bright sunny days or just the pride we took that we grew the Basil ourselves that made it taste so good, but we loved it.

We’ve lived in our house, only 15 minutes away from that old apartment, for close to 9 years. We grew 3 varieties of Basil this past Summer, but I still look back to those first fragrant beauties on that little porch as the beginning of it all – of us, our love for good food and the plans we now are making to grow our own.