As usual, summer was a whirlwind. It started at a nice pace.
May brought a sweet mix of sun and showers,
feeding a frenzy of new growth,
and nesting birds.
George focused on firewood, converting our downed trees into neatly sawed, split, and organized piles for our winter heat.
To add to his work, he had to cut quite a lot of previously split wood into shorter lengths to fit our new wood stove, so devised a jig to efficiently saw through a stack at once.
While he was working on firewood, I savored being back out in the garden, tending my seedlings, fruit trees, and planting. Everything was on track.
And then, on the last day of May, I unexpectedly came down with covid. Gardening came to a screeching halt. It was a relatively mild case and, fortunately, George did not get it. But even after I recovered, I was sapped of my usual energy for about six weeks.
As a result, I spent the rest of the summer playing catch-up. Only now, in late September, am I starting to feel as if I have time to really relax and catch my breath again.
In June, right after I recovered, we spent a week Downeast at Bear Beach, the same cabin that we rented last year.
Our daughter and grandchildren joined us for most of the week.
discovered amazing fried clams at Riverside Takeout in Machias, explored Jasper beach,
played cornhole, sat by the fire, and relaxed. To the dogs, it was absolute heaven, with short hikes and twice-daily ocean swimming.
The sunsets were stunning.
The grandkids then returned home with us for a week, while our daughter headed off on a trip of her own. We did a lot of cooking and baking with the kids,
visited some museums, and played badminton in the area George recently cleared at the top of the driveway.
At the end of the week, our daughter and son-in-law both came for a few days of good eating and relaxation.
It was wonderful to get to spend so much time with them.
After they left, I hit the garden in earnest. Earlier in the spring, with George’s help, I tried a new tactic to deal with the Bishop’s weed (aka that damned goutweed) that is trying to take over the perennial garden. I took out all plants but two hollies in the infested area, covered everything with cardboard and then six inches of heavy mulch.
I rooted out every stray plant that popped up and am hoping a similar burial next year will get the scourge under control.
Despite the fact that I did not keep up with weeding the vegetable garden, it was amazingly productive this year.
We grew enough asparagus, peas, lettuce, beets, carrots, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, corn, potatoes, onions, pumpkins, squash,
okra, chard, collards, eggplant, fennel, leeks, brussel sprouts and peppers to eat out of the garden from June through October
and to freeze, store, and dry to last us through a good portion of the winter.
The potatoes had a lot of problems and I’m going to take a break from them next year. I did that last year with corn because I was battling corn ear worms and it seemed to work—the corn was wonderful this year with very few worms.
For the first time, I tried artichokes, which were amazingly successfully, producing about two dozen artichokes off of just two plants.
We are smoking hot peppers this year and experimenting with making our own chili powders.
I continue to grow figs, ginger, and turmeric in the greenhouse. I also grew six cotton plants, which are doing magnificently.
I have grown cotton before, but this is the first year that some bolls are maturing and popping while the cotton is still in the ground. Usually, I cut off the whole plant right before frost and hang it upside down inside for the bolls to mature and open.
As always, flax is one of my favorite crops. This year, I grew two different varieties. I again planted Nathalie, which grew extremely tall this year.
I also tried a heritage variety, Stormont Gossamer, which is supposed to produce a very fine flax fiber. I am looking forward to comparing the two after retting and processing.
The fruits and berries are starting to produce really nice harvests. Blueberries and black raspberries give us more than we can eat. We had our first real crop of hazelnuts and northern kiwi.
Once again, I bagged the peaches and pears while on the tree.
It protects them from pests and gives blemish-free fruit.
I put away a good batch of peach bourbon barbeque sauce and made peach pie.
The pears are just ready to pick
and we had a grand total of two apples! Next year we should have more apples. We are still waiting on the pawpaws, but they are finally looking happy and growing well. I also planted blackberries, plums and apricots this year, so will be rich in fruit before too long.
Our flowers are flourishing and full of pollinators.
This is the second summer I did not keep bees.
I have been trying to observe whether removing the honeybees will result in an increase in other types of pollinators.
It is hard to tell at this point,
but we certainly attract a wide variety, with several types of bumble bees leading the pack.
While I focused on gardening, George worked on infrastructure.
He rented a small excavator for digging culverts, a trench for a water line to the greenhouse, and holes for fence posts and tree plantings. He also worked on drainage, built a retaining wall, and improved our trails.
Perhaps the best investment this summer was a grapple for the tractor, which makes short work of carrying logs, moving brush, and transporting rocks—all frequent and necessary tasks as George continues to clear and transform the area below the house.
His biggest project was rebuilding our back deck.
It was old, weathered, decayed, and ugly, with rusted-out screws. George did not just replace the old deck and railings,
he took the time and thought to transform the deck into a really beautiful and inviting space.
Capp helped, of course, inspecting George’s work.
In August, George turned 70. Both of our kids flew in for the weekend to celebrate and it was such a treat to have both of them here together. We went to the local Union Fair, but mostly cooked, feasted, drank, and talked. I bought George a little Ooni pizza oven for his birthday and we quickly became addicted to it.
With ingredients fresh from our gardens, it makes unbelievably tasty pizzas and it’s really fun to use.
As summer winds down, we are still doing some harvesting and food preservation,
but I am starting, slowly, to put the gardens to bed and turn to inside activities.
I have “Julia Larrabec’s linen” on the loom for fabric for a dress and skirt and lots of plans for winter spinning, weaving and wheel repairs.
I never have much time for weaving in the summer, but did finish some madder-dyed overshot fabric
and wove some hand towels.
I have several fleeces washed for winter spinning and will be processing my flax soon.
Brilliant fall sunrises have arrived.
The dogs remain happy and full of love.
We are looking forward to fall and winter.
You two are absolutely amazing. I thought we had a fairly productive year until I see your posts, and I am humbled 😂😂
I’m trying to slow down! We are reconfiguring the vegetable gardens next year for less weeding. It looks like you two had some wonderful camping trips this summer. Hope you have a good fall–with sufficient rain and no fires!
That all looks very productive. I am really impressed by your vegetable garden.
It was pretty dry this summer, but the garden production was outstanding. Not sure why! I’ve become spoiled with our tasty vegetables.
You both continue to amaze me with your productivity, Brenda. Master craftspeople excelling at your individual callings, your garden and weaving, and George his woodwork carpentry (that deck is a showpiece). Good to see your post, pats to the dogs and belated 70th birthday wishes to George.
Thanks Eliza. We are fortunate that we like to make things. Keeps life fun and interesting. I hope you had a good summer. The weather has been glorious here the past few weeks. I didn’t have enough rainy days to get a blog post written!
Always such a joy to read your posts. Thanks for reminding me to bag the peaches this year. The deck is glorious.
Thanks Peggy. I have been trying to get more backyard gardeners here to bag their fruit. It’s such a simple way to protect them. It does look a little odd, though–as if the tree is full of little wrapped presents. Nice to see your blog posts again!
Sorry you had a bout with Covid and its aftereffects. What a productive summer you two have had! I always look forward to and enjoy reading your posts. You accomplish so much more than most of us, it is inspiring. Applause to George for his birthday and his many accomplishments. The deck is beautiful to look at and use I’m sure. Your fabric is gorgeous. I’m glad your garden was so productive because mine was one of the worst ever. I’m fighting the effects of invasive worms in the soil in my raised beds. I thought I had shoveled enough out and replaced with new but not so much. One thing about gardening, it is certainly a learning adventure. I had to smile at your Bishop’s Weed adventure. I’ve been able to corral mine into one area, but it is a constant job. Thanks for posting because I always get energized reading your posts.
It was almost a relief to get covid! I’m sure the vaccinations helped to keep it fairly mild. But it sure put a wrench in my summer activities. I feel for you fighting those invasive worms. I will need to buy some compost/soil for my raised beds next spring and I’m nervous that it might import them. Bishop’s weed is bad enough! Hate the stuff. Are you heading south again this winter?
Fingers crossed – we hope to head south. It has been a ‘very’ challenging medical year for my husband so it might come right down to the wire before we can make the final decision.
Oh no. I hope your husband improves and heals from whatever is plaguing him. I’ll be thinking of both of you and keeping fingers crossed here too.
Just as Judy has said, I always enjoy your posts, you are an inspiration, and of course George too! Your vegetables have really flourished, and I agree that once you get used to home grown vegetables, it is hard to go back to bought produce. Also lovely to have family visiting during the year, I love the times that we spend with our family, nothing quite like having them in your home too. The Maine Lobsters look wonderful!
Your weaving projects could be a blog post in themselves.
Enjoy your winter weaving and belated happy birthday to George, it doesn’t look as if he will slowing down anytime soon! Lovely post as always.
Just read your post on Jindera. Wonderful!
No inspiration here! Just enjoying doing the things we love. If only everyone was so lucky. It was such a pleasure to have our kids and grandkids up this summer. It was especially fun to have the grandkids here without their parents. They are teenagers now (well, almost all), so we need to enjoy every bit of time we have with them. As for the Maine lobsters, they have been “red listed” by a California conservation nonprofit/aquarium, which has a potentially huge impact on Maine and its lobster fishery. It’s a big deal here. Happy spring and summer to you!
Brenda, Sorry to hear about your run-in with Covid. (So far, I have managed to avoid it — knock on wood!) But it seems as though you more than made up for lost time. Love both your beautiful new deck and that gorgeous fabric on the loom in the top photo. Enjoy the autumn.
I was sooooooo careful about covid, but it caught up with me, probably at an outdoor event that didn’t set off my covid alarms! Glad to hear that you’ve managed to avoid it. I will tell George that you admire the deck! As for the fabric on the loom, I’m in love with it. It was a bit of an experiment and turned out even better than I’d hoped. I will report back on how it does when sewn into clothes. Enjoy this lovely fall weather!
It’s always such a pleasure catching up with you. A wonderful post as always. I’m in awe of what you manage each year, especially loving your harvests. Each year some veg or other fails, it was tomatoes for me. Sorry to hear of the run-in with covid, I’m sure I ‘ve had it at some point. The new deck is marvellous as is thepizza oven. Good to know family and four-leggeds are thriving. All the very best to George.xxx
I’m in awe of your major garden rebuild! That’s taking vision and patience, but it’s going to be amazing. I usually have some veg that fails each year, too. This year my potatoes got hit with every possible disease and pest known to potatoes. I took the tops out early and let the spuds sit in the ground for a few weeks and actually got a decent harvest. But I’m going to skip them next year in hopes of breaking the disease cycle. It’s going to be hard, though, I love growing potatoes!