Saturday, December 22, 2012

Transplanting the Violet Fern

Moving forward through the Winter Solstice to longer days. Looking forward to a winter's rest(?), the spring garden. Planning forward for new garden beds, expansion. I continue to make and scape the Violet Fern Garden and continue to journal the making of my garden.

After observing the site, evaluating its design, I've decided I need to rethink the layout going forward. I am digging up my blog with trepidation but determination. Ripping it out by its roots from the place it sprouted. Moving ground, giving it more light. I think it will have more room to grow in a new spot. Hopefully it will transplant well. It may take a little time to adjust, but isn't a garden always in transition? Yes, my garden is about growing. It gets bigger every year – the garden, the passing of knowledge, my ideas, future plans.

Please join me in this transition. My apologies for any inconvenience. Please continue to join me in the making of my garden. The Violet Fern blog has been transplanted to

Monday, December 10, 2012

What's Growing: Brussel Sprouts

Just this morning I trekked out to the Potager and snipped a few collard leaves for lunch. I sauteed them in oil with garlic, chopped walnuts and a spiced pepper blend. Then gently folded them into some quinoa with goat cheese crumbles.

Kale and brussel sprouts in the Potager under our first snow 

I've also been enjoying brussel sprouts. I have one more delicious harvest left to savor. I harvest them from the ground up, clipping off the lower leaves as they grow, rather than pulling the whole stalk.

One of several brussel sprout harvests

I am still harvesting kale although my supply is dwindling. I found a wonderful recipe for it - Northern Spy's Kale Salad. I made it for Thanksgiving dinner and several times after. I rarely follow a recipe exactly and finished off a blend of carrots, parsnips and delicata squash with a touch of maple syrup. I am still harvesting carrots from the garden and enjoy them prepared in what I call "bistro style" which is simply pan-roasted on the stovetop.

"Bistro style" carrots, potatoes & onions

An honest confession: I am afraid to pull my parsnips. Every year I grow parsnips and they just do not seem big enough to pull by Fall so I leave them to over-winter but I never seem to find them again in the Spring. This year their leaves look large enough that there just may be a perfectly beautiful parsnip under there. I pulled one. It was pretty decent. I especially like them mashed, like potatoes, with garlic. My craving will overcome my fear and I will pull every last one next thaw. Any tips you might offer from your parsnip growing experiences would be greatly appreciated.

The cold frame is growing slowly. I have secondary leaves on most of the plants. I should have planted earlier (which I suspected when I finally did get around to planting), as I would now be able to enjoy some of the salad mixes. I could probably cut a little but I am trying to wait just a bit longer until the kales and collards that are growing openly in my garden are depleted. Maybe the Gourmet European Salad Mix (a blend of arugula, endive, radicchio) will have grown a few more inches by then. Hopefully, I will be eating from my cold frame experiment next month.


Our snow has melted. This photo shows the Potager now seamlessly connecting to the Woodland Edge (in foreground) and to a new bed that will continue along our new fence on the northwest side of the garden after a bit of reworking this summer.


By creating a little more space, I can plant an asparagus bed in the Spring – another new experiment – I hope you'll join me. For now, I will be planting sprouts - indoors.

Friday, November 30, 2012

November Observations: Bye Bye Blackbird

Wonderful, warm November - doesn't that sound odd? But it has been, was. This morning it is 12° F. The first few snowflakes swirled in our sky on November 24. By November 28 the ground is white. I found it unusual to see a Red-winged Blackbird at my feeder. They usually leave for warmer climates by now. Each year I try to record when I think they have finally migrated:

2009: Last Red-winged Blackbird sighting recorded on November 2
2010: Last Red-winged Blackbird sighting recorded on November 11
2011: Not recorded, but last Grackle sighting recorded on November 7 - the Redwings are usually not far behind
2012: Last Red-winged Blackbird sighting recorded on November 28

The first to leave are males in their prime followed by their ladies. The last to leave are usually the young males not quite matured into their full black feathers. Young males are what I have been seeing at the feeders this month.

November is typically described as drab, grey but this Fall it has been anything but.

Pin Oak Leaves Nov 2012
The red leaves of Pin Oak

Maple Seeds
Maple Seedlings

Switch Grass in Nov
Switch Grass

Purple Prince Crabapples

Winterberry 'Winter Gold'

The red Winterberries were eaten before I had a chance to photograph them! This year I've fenced in my young shrubs foregoing the chicken wire wrap. I read somewhere, and apologize for not remembering the source, that rabbits don't like to feel fenced in and a simple gate around your shrubs will deter them from dining. We'll find out if it works.

Fenced in to deter rabbits

Snow on Sumac
First snow

Again, Garden Bloggers Bloom Day has snuck past me. Aside from berries and a few fading blooms of Coral Honeysuckle and Scabiosa, not much blooms for me in November with the exception of this surprise Daisy.

November Daisy
Surprise Daisy bloom

And so "dull, grey" November fades into gleeful, glitzy December. I am thankful to take in its natural beauty before it goes.


Bye bye blackbird. I look forward to your return in Spring.


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