My Meadow Garden Plans

Not quite a year ago I put up a six foot privacy fence around most of my yard.  I say most of it, because on the east side of my driveway there is a strip about thirty feet wide, and a hundred or so feet long that we decided to leave unfenced.  We did this for a couple reasons, mainly though because any kind of fence on that side makes it difficult to see oncoming traffic when pulling out of the driveway….which is kind of important.  This space, which is occupied only by two Bradford Pears and hemmed in at one end with some Arborvitaes, is really a wasted area that needs a purpose.

My ugly, wasted space of a side yard

I have a vision for it though, and it takes the form of a meadow garden.  For those who don’t know what a meadow garden is, it is a planting area that basically has been allowed to revert back to a “natural” meadow-like state.  When filled with hardy, native plants and wildflowers, these areas serve a very important role.  First, they reduce the amount of a non-native and extremely invasive plant that is found in most lawns – grass.  Second, they provide food and habitat for smaller animals like rabbits and chipmunks.  This can be critical to their survival, especially in the colder months.  Another essential service that meadow gardens provide, (and arguably the most important) is a source of food for our pollinators. The role pollinators play in agriculture cannot be understated and they must be protected.      

A representation of a meadow garden, which I am confident will pale in comparison to mine (yardyum.com)

In my situation, having a meadow garden will be mutually beneficial for both myself, and the pollinators as well.  Just on the other side of the fence that borders this area, is my vegetable garden.  Over the past few years, I’ve noticed a steady decline in bees, and I believe this has contributed to some lackluster harvests.  I’m hoping that by providing a smorgasbord of wildflowers just a few feet away, bees and other pollinators will be enticed to stick around.  If that fails, at the very minimum I’ll at least have something that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Peter Reed

4/14/19

Spring’s Invitation

As I begin this post, I would like to first welcome Spring, a season that embroiders life, growth, and vegetation in every facet of their meanings. Through this platform, I hope to both ignite and encourage growth in your own development and indulgence through reconnecting with the wonders our natural environment has provided, of course in a responsible manner. Pondering what concept my upcoming blog post might entertain, I decided that it would be appropriate to highlight my relationship with Spring. Ever since I could remember the first day of spring has always been a much anticipated day for me. In light of this year, upon waking up, I found myself gravitating towards the window, where I was greeted with the inviting sounds of chirping birds and a mild breeze that carried the air. This, I thought to myself, was another season of opportunity to work with the natural environment. Spring, A season which not only rekindles life in the physical sense, but also encourages new discoveries, and techniques that brand the labor of its title. Soon after this personal invitation of spring, I found myself in the yard glancing upon the landscape still patched with glistening white snow.

It is reflecting on the animation of Spring that I find myself as a part of the intricate system of networks deemed as our natural environment. Significantly, my earnest attempt to work with nature, rather than against it, is reverberated through my attempt at organic gardening. In light of this process, during the early days of Spring, I began to plant Organic, Non-GMO heirlooms in my strictly maintained organic compost and topsoil mix, and store them in my incubated sunroom. To that end, just the other day I woke up to several green sprouts surfacing the top of the soil. This, in its miraculous and fruitful journey, is pivotal in the attempt to creating and maintaining sustainable practices. Specifically, through diversifying and extending the life of a product/item in the effort of conservation.

To elaborate on this concern for deficiency in our ideology and social interaction that I would like to extend my evolution on the theory of sociological interaction. It is in earnest reflection of my often comprised relationship with the physical environment that I would like to echo my concern for the foreseeable future as a culture that caters to the demands of society. Regarding the present stature of our society, we should be amplifying means of prevention between the natural earth and its inhabitants. To that end, I find that as an environmental steward it is often difficult, although executed in a different capacity to interrupt the corrupt system that has been fortified through unsustainable practices deemed practical in the current social system. It is in light of this approach that I have attempted to avert the corruption of our social behavior through the act of organic gardening.

Mr. Glumpkin


(Photo of my bearded dragon Glump)

About two summers ago, me and a bunch of my friends decided to rent a nice house on a lake and stay there for a week. Once we got settled in we walked around the house and just to check out the scenery. Towards the back off the house there was a greenhouse filled with beautiful plants, flowers so bright and big. It was about the size of an our classroom. After walking through an observing something brought me back to the greenhouse, maybe it was the flowers, I am not really sure. As soon as I walk in I spot a giant lizard in the far back corner on the ground. Now this took me by surprise mainly because, IT IS A BEARDED DRAGON! I did not know what to do, the best thing I could think of was get him a cage and call the landlord. we called the and asked if he belonged to him and he did not. So, worried about him I took him home with me. The picture above is me and glump a year after first meeting. I brought him to our beach house in Ocean City Maryland.


(Me and Glump eating breakfast)

Glump and I became very close over the last year and a half. I do everything with him, that is from eating breakfast to going to the beach. He has always been a positive in my life mainly because when I think of him, I think about where I found him and how alone he was. At that point in my life I believe I was feeling the same even though I was on vacation with my friends. Meeting Glump changed my views on people how they treat this world we live in. Leaving an animal, a precious animal like him in a greenhouse for god knows how long is just wrong.

Now how does this apply to Gardening?

In reality this does not apply to much to gardening but it does speak on nature and my connection to it. I have always been the kid to run towards a snake instead of away. Always been excited to go outdoors and explore rather than stay inside. Our community should take a better stance to help those like Glump, because he changed me for the better.

– Juice Jones

4/8/19

Pops and Mangoes


  Photo of Pop and Me (Photo by Christine Ducille)

As you can see in the picture above, my family is tiny. In the center of every picture you can see in the light blue is my Pop Pop Carl, born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Every summer I made my way to Jamaica and there has always been a passion for nature in our culture mainly because of the life style we were brought up in. When it was time to prepare breakfast, lunch or dinner we and my grandfather and his tenant Sunshine would go out back, into his giant garden which is about 1 ½  acres. Full of Mangoes, Potatoes, Sugar Cane, Carrots, Greens, etc. I always loved picking mangoes with Pop, he’d pick me up and let me decide which ones were ripe and which should stay on the vine.


Ataulfo Mango; (grown throughout Jamaica)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valencia_Pride

Now mangoes are very difficult, it is hard to tell when they are ripe. Many try and tell by the color of the fruit yet, my Pop’s always taught me off of the smell. Mainly because there are three different types of mangoes grown throughout the south and all over Jamaica. All judged different in ripe season, the Ataulfo Mango Jamaica’s finest can be judged by its smell but more its color. A very tart aroma is produced by the mango when ripe, also it is very soft on the ends (that being the top and bottom on the mango), and lastly the mango is plump and juicy like a water balloon. After going through our daily evaluation on which mangoes we should pick, we pluck them and cut them up and would make so many different things. Smoothies, passion and mango fruit juice (which happens to still be my favorite drink).

What does this have to do with Gardening?

Throughout my life, I have never been one to cherish gardens but after writing this blog and looking back on the great memories I have made with my family through nature. I can proudly say, gardening is an activity I would like to take up and make an important part of my life. From our readings I have grown fond of how life with nature produce happiness and love. I believe there should be more of that in everyone’s life.

   Rest In Peace Pops

– Juice Jones

4/8/19


Puppy Problems

Ever since I could remember my mother has grown sunflowers every summer in our old front yard sandbox. I never really paid much mind to them or heard a whole lot about them until we got our newest dog who is now two. As a puppy she would constantly roll in this small space often killing some of my moms sunflowers leaving a mess for my mom to come home to. Having two dogs you would assume like siblings, the younger would learn from the old and in a way try and see the things she should not do. Well that was not the case as my dog would do laps around the house when she got excited and this small patch of sunflowers and herbs was in her direct path. She has ran through this small patch in our front yard so much that at one point the sand that was in the sandbox and buried 10-12 years ago by my dad, brother, and I was coming back to the surface. This proceeded to happen and as the summer went on the sunflowers were all dead along with my moms mint, parsley, and thyme.

Image result for sunflowers
https://jennifersoap.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/landscape-challenge-field-of-sunflowers/

As a temporary solution my dad put chicken wire around the little plot to keep it from being further damaged but we should have assumed the outcome. The fence it did not work at all, not even a little bit as the first thing we see her doing is digging so she can wedge her whole body under the fence. Of course, we got their to late and she slipped from our fingers and we all watched her dig up the new soil and roll around. It seemed as if the fence gave her more of an incentive to try and get herself in that dirt by any means possible and she was not stopped. Unfortunately, my mom is now forced to grow these herbs and flowers in pots located on our deck, and my dog has made the old plot her own.

My dogs

Generations of Rhubarb

Ben Morrill

My Family have had rhubarb plants on our property for as long as we have lived there, and long before. My great Grandmother who lived until 100 years old planted them over 20 years ago. Rhubarb is a vegetable similar to celery that is used with fruit to create deserts like rhubarb pie. The plant can be harvested from anywhere between  8-10 weeks after it has grown for three years. The growth conditions for the vegetable is colder conditions. How thin the rhubarb is can show if the plant needs more nutrients.

(https://www.almanac.com/plant/rhubarb)

The thing that I didn’t realize about the rhubarb plant that is still in my backyard is that many people in my community actually benefit off of the plant in my backyard. Many people in my town know we have the plants and will get rhubarb from my mother to make pie and cakes. With the readings that we have in Garden Memoir class I have a new eye for noticing this community aspect that the plants bring. Our plant allows others to receive a fresh vegetable that you can’t buy at all grocery stores. My parents told me that even my great Grandmother use to let people pick rhubarb from her plants when she was raising my father’s parents.

(https://www.chatelaine.com/recipe/pies/vanilla-rhubarb-pie-recipe/)

Community gardening is an amazing thing, just a few plants can allow many people to enjoy fresh vegetables and fruits strait from the garden. It cost my Mom and Great Grandmother almost nothing to have this plant. I am not the biggest fan of rhubarb but my family loves it. I am glad that my Great Grandmother chose to be apart of community gardening and that my parents deiced to keep it going.

Image result for rhubarb
http://www.gettystewart.com/how-and-when-to-harvest-rhubarb/

Gardens and Quahogs

By Sam Boyden

From a very young age I remember driving roughly an hour from Pembroke MA to Yarmouth MA where my grandparents lived. I would go almost every weekend until high school and help out around the property. My aunt and grandmother would tend to the flowers near the front of the house while my grandfather and I dug for quahogs in the river behind the house. In the backyard next to the house my grandparents cultivated a glorious garden. It was full of tomatoes, cucumbers, abnormally large squash, zucchini, lettuce, the whole 9 yards. I was tasked with picking the fully grown produce and washing it off from the rain collector barrel attached to the garden. It was a large blue barrel that all the gutters from the roof led to so the produce could grow while also being cost efficient.

Times not spent in the garden were spent downriver in knee deep water and mud hunting for quahogs. My dad, grandfather and I would hop in the metal boat and race downriver to our spot for catching quahogs. We would rake through the mud looking for the most XL quahogs the river had to offer. If any seemed too small we had a tool to measure the size of the shell to see if it was the legal size to take. My grandfather, Dad and I would see who could scoop up the biggest quahogs as well as the most. The cooking of the quohogs was left to my mother and grandmother who had genuine experience with the shellfish. My time spent down the cape was always surrounded by nature whether it was on the beach or in the river which I will always remember.

(Not my picture but it’s a picture of the hotel down the rover from my grandparent’s house)

Harvesting Pigs

My uncle Shawn lives about 5 miles from my house in the same town. Being my dad’s twin brother they are very close and as a child I spent a ton of time on their ten acres with chickens, horses, pigs, rabbits and at one point ducks. I wouldn’t describe what they have as a farm considering the neighboring dairy farms have hundreds of cows but they certainly had their hands full with a few of each species. My cousin Ellie she loved the horses and they were more or less her horses so my brother and cousin Josh had to hav your own favorites. Mine was always the pigs cause I thought they were funny to watch and for the most part were really easy for me to help take care of. These things basically had a huge section of mud/field to themselves and when they were little they were super fun to roam around with. As I got older my responsibilities to the pigs increased a little but the one responsibility that really taught me something was the harvesting of the pigs. My uncle asked me to be a part of it first when I was approximately 10 years old. It wasn’t necessarily a job I wanted to be a part of but as a young boy I definitely didn’t want to be considered a wimp. So I went along to be met by a group of guys I had never met before. I can’t recall exactly where they came from but there was three of them all speaking Spanish. Small town Vermont I hadn’t ever met people that were so different from me. As it turns out my uncle had these guys come every year to help him kill and butcher the pigs. Without going into the details these guys amazed me, they took home every part of the pig my uncle didn’t want. Of course he gave them some of the traditional meat but they took every thing but bones. They took the head of the pig which I guess makes head cheese which fun fact is nothing like regular cheese. They took intestines and organs that are never eaten or used in typical American culture but they used it all and they were beyond happy to do so. As a kid it impressed me that these guys left absolutely nothing to waste whatsoever. Its always stayed with me to not waste things especially when harvesting animals. I am no vegetarian but it taught me to respect the value of life and not to waste what someone worked hard to produce. After a couple harvests of the pigs I will always remember to understand that even if you don’t want something from your farm or garden to give it to those who do.

White Birch Trees

This subject may not at first seem like it connects to gardens, or farming, but give me five minutes and I’ll be able to connect it to both, I promise.

Birch Trees in North Andover, MA 3/31/19 (photo Danny Lovell)

Growing up, I was a Boy Scout. I even made it to the rank of Eagle. Along the way, I was able to pick up some information firsthand about the outdoors. What kind of water is safe to drink, how to filet a fish with a sharpened stick, and how to start a fire in pouring rain with nothing but the damp woods around you. The key to that last thing is birch wood, in particular, the bark.

My roommate Shamus holding up a piece of birch bark. 3/31/19 (Danny Lovell)

Birch bark contains oils that make fire starting easy, and since oils and water don’t mix, it won’t matter if the birch log is wet. I remember one time I was at the base of Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire at a scouting jamboree. I was in a tent by myself, and the early June rain made sleeping that night miserable. I had a cold can of soup my mother stuck in the bottom of my backpack, you know, just in case. (Side note, my mother will provide me with a can of soup, no matter what. I could be heading to my friends house for the night, going on a week long boating expedition, hell, even take the dog for a long walk and she say,”Here, take this in case you get hungry.” Anyway, I find a few pieces of birch wood, and after finding a piece of flint near the bed of a river, started a small fire that, as it grew, the group of adolescent boys also did. We shared stories, dried our socks, and heated our collective cans of over-protective-mother soup and had a pretty nice evening.

A semi-rotten birch log, still flammable though 3/31/19 (Danny Lovell)

How does this relate to gardening? Or farming?

We were trying to clear our garden plot and our backyard of old growth from last year. We decided that a controlled burn was necessary. Only problem was, it was the last day our town allowed for burning, and it was a downpour. Luckily, by using some birch logs in the woods behind my house, I was able to get a blaze going, heightened by a couple old Christmas trees we had in the backyard. Thanks to the birch bark, we got what we need to get done, and we ended up with the best garden we’d had in years.

-Danny Lovell

4/1/2019

GrandFather’s Backyard

As long as I can remember my grandfather has had an obnoxious backyard. Let me explain. He lives on the edge of woods in Easton, Massachusetts. When you enter his property all you can see is trees and bird feeders. You think it is just a few but if I could say a number, I would put it up in the thirties. I don’t know why he keeps buying more, but it makes him happy looking out his porch and seeing all the birds and squirrels. It doesn’t just end with squirrels and bird, he has his residential turkeys and deer that make their rounds. Last time I remember there were eight turkeys and all their names were Tom. Even if he is out there replenishing their feed, all the animals watch from the distance ready to pounce once he leaves. It’s very interesting to watch.

Example of the turkeys that come through his backyard : Flickr.com

Feeding the birds and other New England wildlife is just half of his wild backyard. His garden is something else. Once the new year pasts he fills his pots with seeds and turns his basement into a greenhouse. I believe one year he planted 50 pots with seeds. Something in his head kept telling him to buy more and more that one trip to Home Depot. Once it gets warm enough, it takes him a whole three days to plant them all. He has been doing this ever since my mom was young and still does it till this day. It makes him so happy to see his backyard in full bloom with the plants and animals. I think he likes seeing all the creatures walking or sprouting.

One of the planters that my Grandfather does