Category Archives: garden

#582: 30 Days of Thanks: Days 17, 18 and 19

More Nantucket fall beauty:
Day 17: Rosehips, winterberry and Bartlett’s windmill.
Food for the birds this winter,
and non-polluting energy from the wind.

Day 18: Huge golden apples in an abandoned orchard.
There aren’t many but the trees continue to bear.

Who planted these apple trees, and when?
Nantucket has so many apple trees,
and just as many locals who harvest them:
for juice, for cobblers and for hard cider.
Islanders don’t like to see anything go to waste.

Day 19: Greenhouse lettuce.
Even tho’ our outside garden bears only kale and sugar beets
this time of year,
we still have fresh greens.
What a blessing David and Tobias’ building project has been!
I am ever thankful.

572: First Egg!

Our bantams have begun to lay!
This was the first, beautiful creamy-white egg.
Laid by one of the Dominica bantams.
The thrill of a chicken’s first egg is a lot 
like the thrill of a kid getting their balance on a bike.
It’s a yahoo! moment.

Here’s two for breakfast,
along with one of Flashdrive’s eggs and
some black and white Irish sausage.

Short-tail hasn’t started laying yet but it’ll be soon,
she’s certainly eating plenty of kale.

At dusk the bantams all hide in the morning glory tangle.

Hoping not to be spotted and put in the henhouse.
We can’t let them roost outside because of the
red-tail hawks.
And because it’s a pain in the neck looking 
for hidden eggs.

They are lovely against the lowering sun, tho’.

#556: Square-foot Garden: potatoes

It’s August, our 2000 sq ft of garden
is in full production and I find this:
A 20# bag of sprouted yukon gold potatoes. Oops.
The only thing to do is plant them whole.
In a new garden space.

Voila. An 8×8 rubber sheet has been over this patch
of sod for the last month.
Everything underneath is brown and ready to turn.
Using a spade, I dig 12″ squares and turn them upside down.
It feels like I’m my Scottish ancestress digging peat.

The potatoes are laid out in a 12″ grid, 
sprouts and all.

Then watered, then the squares go back on top,
upside down. 
A wheelbarrow full of garden soil fills in the gaps.

Two weeks later:
a new potato bed.
I’ll let you know the yield when we harvest.

#546: Colorado Potato Beetles, part two

Ahh, for the good old days on Nantucket.
Not the windswept moors and Sankaty Lighthouse,

nor the patriotic monument on Main Street,

nor even the Sconset walk,
no these are the same as always.
No need for nostalgia here.
What I miss are the days before Colorado potato beetles.
This is one of two egg masses I discovered this morning.
Before last year we had never seen this, ever.

And we’e been growing potatoes for over a decade.

Not only do they attack our potatoes,
they’re on the tomato plants

See? Jabba the Hutt wannabees.

And what’s that on the eggplant?
More. The battlefield expands.
How I long for the good old days of plant potatoes,
hill up potatoes, harvest potatoes.
Eat potatoes.
And no sharing with Jabba wannabees.

#545: Gardening on Nantucket: Colorado Potato Beetles

A garden on Nantucket is a battlefield.
Oh, it looks lush and abundant:
Dozens of potato plants,
planted in last year’s chicken yard.
But close up, the Colorado potato beetle attacks:
This is the second year we’ve had them.
Only 1/4 long and only four so far but
the battle rages:
Each beetle lays at least 300 eggs,
I destroyed one egg mass but obviously missed another.
These tiny guys can defoliate a plant in a day.
We garden organically so they have to be hand-picked.

And not fed to the chickens.
See the beetle larva between the hen’s feet?
Chickens don’t eat Colorado Potato beetles.
They hide under leaves,
but I’m a relentless hunter.
Yesterday alone I squashed 105 larvae.
Including this one, inside a potato flower.
I don’t mind killing them,
they reduce yield and look like Jabba the Hutt.

#541: Russell Morash’s Garden

Our go-to reference book
for gardening has always been
Russell Morash’s Victory Garden.
Who knew we’d get to visit his home version
on Nantucket?
Of course, it helps that Marian Morash buys
her fish from us, Glidden’s Island Seafood.
We headed over on a rainy day.
The Morash garden began with Nantucket’s typical 1/4″ topsoil,
in other words, none. It’s all sand.
The Morashes bring in loads of free compost from the dump,
I mean, Environmental Park.

David had some ideas,

About which Mr. Morash was, um, skeptical.

The man knows what he’s doing–look at this butter lettuce!
We don’t even try bibb, the slugs always get them.
(he gave us this one, bless him–it served 3 meals…)
It starts in the ‘Victory Garden’ greenhouse.
One plant per cell or a bunch in a row planter.

Then to 4″ pots, all in starter soil.
Garden soil would bring bugs and fungus into the greenhouse.
Everything goes into raised beds

in perfect rows.

The bean seedlings are covered to keep the doves and crows
from pulling them up.
We’re going to try these Hakurei turnips next year,
planted May 2nd and ready to harvest already!
They were an inch across and so sweet.

The indeterminate tomatoes are pruned and trained
to two main stems.

Escarole is blanched by a pot on top.
This was an experiment,
worked ok but some has bolted.
It perversely made me happy
that even Russell Morash’s lettuces
get away from him.
The fruit of it all,
summer feasting with anonymous family 
and friends.
Very funny, guys.

#528: Chicken Spring

It’s a grey day today but still Spring with a capital S.
Here’s some joy of spring, from above:
Yellow tulip, safe from the deer
due to extensive 6′ fencing.
First egg, from one of the Americanas.
The first egg of any hen is cause for celebration.

Chicken run–they’ve been scratching in the grape arbor
all winter but now I need to plant popcorn there.

So we built them a run to their new yard.

It took a while for them to figure it out.
Our chickens are sweet, timid and not very bright.

Becky’s Bantam’s are a bit feistier.
And super cute.

They love the feeder she made them
 from a piece of bamboo.
I love hearing them peep all day, and night.
So much about Spring is delightful,
even on grey days.

#512: Nantucket greenhouse

It’s winter, 
not pretty, snowy winter
but windy, gray, drizzly winter.
This is when I focus in on God’s renewing work
all around.
so much looks lifeless and empty–
but it isn’t.
The ground may have been snow-covered
in February,
but there’s growth in the greenhouse.
Tiny onions 

Bigger ones planted February 18th.

Mesclun lettuces,
these are replanted all winter,
one 3’x6′ tray for harvesting, another for growing. 

Outside it looks like this.
No boats for three days, no planes for two.

But the tulips don’t know that.

#507: Looking forward to Nantucket spring

 The forsythia bloom indoors

And if you look close
So do the rosemary

The geranium dependably provides

A splash of color.

But the only garden I’m growing so far

is celery in a pint tub,
so the cat won’t drink its water.
Oh boy, I can’t wait for spring.

#465: Thankful for whelks etc

30 days of thanks: Day 25, 26, 27, 28:
Day 25: These here are whelks, otherwise known 
as Scalloper’s Bane. Ok, I just made that up.
Whelks eat quahogs, oysters and scallops.
We can eat whelks but I prefer not to–too chewy.
I am thankful for whelks when they are artfully arranged
on snow-fencing at Dionis Beach.

Day 26: It being officially past Thanksgiving,
I am now prepared to be thankful for Christmas.
A reminder of Jesus’ birth (in a window on Orange Street).
The reflecting glass highlights the mystery.
 Day 27: Thankful for the enchanting scent of rosemary.
Rose de mer: Rose of the sea.
I named one of my kids after this fragrant herb.

Day 28: I am thankful for Lydia,
named after the character in Pride and Prejudice,
(they have similar personalities).
She shows me God’s joy in His creation.
Blue legs! And those silly head feathers!
And when I get too caught up in myself,
I can go out to the henhouse and listen
to the ‘girls’ murmur to each other.
They remind that God is God and I’m, um, not.
Thanks, Lydia.