Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Autumn Olive Juice

Autumn olive makes very good juice- it looks strange as it is milky and slightly pink. Instead of waiting for birds to eat them all and spread this invasive plant even more, I made 4 quarts of juice. Supposedly this fruit contains high amounts of lycopine which makes it very good especially for aging men (it is helping our prostate glands). We also made several gallons of excellent, quite tart apple cider from wild trees.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Grape Juice and Apple Cider

I made all my grapes into juice and the West Newbury Congregational Church is now using my juice for communion. One batch bgurned a tiny bit so I decided to call that "smokey grape juice" and I'm not sharing that with other people. My homemade juice is not so sweet as commercial grape juice. Now, I am on to making apple cider which I freeze rather than can. When I have heated it enough to successfully can it, that ruins the flavor and it tastes like apple juice instead of apple cider. I have read that it is best to use at least three kinds of apples for cider so that is what I do and I have found that it is best to use more tart apples instead of sweeter ones. I'm planning to make dider again this weekend with wild apples which seem to make the very best cider.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Elderberry Juice

I've used all my elderberries to make juice and I only trapped one adolescent robin in the process (it was fine once I untangled it from the net protecting my berries). Besides robins, sparrows were eating my elderberries. I don't care for elderberry juice by itself: one batch was mixed with crabapple, one with several other sour berries and the best batch which I made the most recently was mixed with grape. I'm still planning to make grape juice- there are not quite ripe yet even though we've already had a frost.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I have two batches of juice ready and waiting for me to finish off tonight. I made 2 gallons of Aronia (black chokeberry), Prinsepia, Schizandra (Magnolia Vine or 5-Flavor Berry), and Elderberry juice and 3 gallons of Elderberry Dolgo Crabapple juice. I find that elderberries need something tart to hide the elderberry taste. Both of these juices should be very health loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. I still have the grapes to deal with later and I have some apples although it's not a good apple year. Right now my hardy kiwi are ripening: we have Actinidia kolomicta 'Arctic Beauty' and 'September Sun'- only a few seem to ripen at a time so you have to squeeze them all to find the ripe ones. Possibly, if I harvested them all and put them on a plate they would ripen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I'm still picking blackberries and making pies, jam and juice. Actually, blackberries alone don't make the best juice but it mixes well with other fruit. I just made some with chokecherries and I'm planning blackberry crabapple juice tonight.... I netted most of my elderberries so the stupidest birds may not get them. Hopefully the other fruit won't get eaten.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I'm now picking my last berries- well maybe not quite as I still should have elderberries, magnolia vine berries and aronia. However, I have quite alot of blackberries to pick that are waiting to be plucked even as I write this. It has been raining much of the day which is not what one wants with dead ripe berries: they tend to mush and rot. Dana and I made several batches of jam combining blackberries with gooseberries and black currants, also we made some sauce or jam combining red currants, gooseberries and black currants which is excellent on ice cream and meet. I've gotten behind in my weeding.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Juicing and Jamming

I am now picking berries and making them into juice or jam full tilt. I've have hired two different people to help me pick black currants and gooseberries and I invited friends of mine to come on three occasions to pick black currants for their yogurt operation. I still have some more black currants to pick and the blackberries are now coming in. It looks like we are going to have a very poor apple year.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Berries are Ripe

I'm planning to start harvesting my black currants this weekend. I've already picked alot of honeyberries (Lonicera caerulea var. edulis) and the only bush lest to go has bad tasting fruit which, I guess, could be OK cooked and I lost all my goumis to birds because I didn't net them enough. Also I picked some red and white currants, gooseberries and black currants which I used to make a very good preserves. My red currants and gooseberries are not very good this year which I believe is because they were defoliated earlier by the currant worms. My blue berries are too poor to worry about protecting.

Monday, June 30, 2014


This is my last 6-day week of the year. Starting next week I can start to try to get my garden in shape- I do have two different people who help me weed but things are still out of hand. Hopefully, I can take advantage of the long weekend we are going to have by trying to get my blueberries, currants, gooseberries in shape and also start to weed everything else. Witch grass is my worst weed although I also have one patch of chrysanthemum weed and a big patch of goutweed(which I call evilweed). Deer are also becoming a problem as the Dana's two remaining dogs are now quite ole and are no longer doing their thing.

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Lonicera aerulea var. edulis is very hardy and they taste pretty good. They look sort of like elongated blueberries- when they turn blue you need to wait a few days till you eat them- otherwise they have an unpleasant bitterness. The shrub itself is neat, dense and compact- my tallest one is now six feet tall. Apparently you need two different cultivars to cross pollinate to get fruit. Birds love them as they are my first fruit so this year is the first year I netted them and the first year I got lots of fruit. They are so loaded with berries that the blue is noticable.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Lilac Tea Over

I still haven't completely recovered from our "Lilac Tea"--it went very well and now that it's over, the orange poppies are now in bloom every where in my gardens : the purple of the lilacs goes well with the orange. My Iris is at its peak now-- all my old fashioned varieties which I have been saving for the last 20 years. I have most of my vegetables planted-- all I need to do now is mow (the grass is growing very fast this year) and weed (the weeds, as always, are doing very well.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Lilac Tea

Our annual Lilac Tea is coming right up- it's this Sunday at 4:00. Right now I'm concentrating my gardening efforts on cutting down all dead lilacs and cutting out all the dead twigs. Also, I have to mow everything again before Sunday: tonight and tomorrow night. I have to do some more cooking- I'm planning to make gooseberry squares tonight and tomorrow night and make ice tea and cook the rhubarb for our rhubarb punch. We have the music lined up- Sue Cole playing Irish tunes on the flute and at 5:00, we're having a demonstration of Scottish Country Dancing. The lilacs look like they will be at their peak this weekend.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Garden Party Over

Our annual Daffodil garden party was this past Sunday: it was cold, rainy and about a dozen varieties of daffodils were blooming. However, the Galathus was still in bloom in spots, Chionodoxa and Scilla were in full bloom and some conventional Hyacinths were blooming. The Forsythia were starting to bloom and the Merrill Magnolias also. More people took hot tea than ice tea. Now we're gearing up for the "Lilac Tea"

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Garden Open Tomorrow

My annual daffodil walk is tomorrow at 4:00 pm no matter how bad it is. I do have 8 varieties in blossom (barely): Unsurpassable, Gigantic Star, telemonius 'Plena' or Van Sion, Serola, February Gold, Peeping Tom and Rapture and 1 other but I don't remember which. My three varieties of Galanthus are still in bloom, if a little tired. Scilla and Chionodoxa and bloodroot are going strong. The 'Merrill' magnolias and Forsythia are just coming into bloom (I wish they were in full bloom: at their peak but you can't have everything.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Daffodil Walk

I finally have one daffodil blooming- it's one of the cyclamineus group- either 'Peeping Tom' or 'February Gold'- these are the daffodils which look like they are in wind tunnel with the perianth segments pointing backwards. Hopefully more will soon be in bloom. It is too late to change the date or cancel the event. I hope it is successful.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Snowdrops and Daffodils

My annual daffodil walk is in just over a week: May 4th, which is a week from Sunday and I have no daffodils in bloom yet. I'm trying not to worry. I have a great number of Galanthus (snowdrops) which I love and spread them around every year- I think maybe this year for the first time ever they will still be in bloom for my walk. My Scilla and Chionodoxa are starting to bloom and I have Johnny-Jump-Ups left over from last year. Also, one Primula is blooming. I'm still hoping for the daffodils- they have never failed me yet. 3 or 4 years ago, we had 12 inches of snow completely flatten them and cover them all but by Sunday they were fine. Last year a freak 5 inch snow storm bent over most of my lilacs (and snapped alot of the Canadians) the night before my lilac tea- I haven't picked a date yet for the Lilacs- I'll wait and see if the daffodils are on time first.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring is Really Here

My snowdrops are now in full glorious bloom (in the one spot with no snow- as most of my yard has a foot of snow still).  It is sure nice to see those flowers- I think they are one of my favorite because they are so early- also very rugged and fragrant.  It doesn't bother me that they are white which is a color I've seen alot of lately.

I started my pruning this weekend and I have cleaned out the chicken house.

At farm, we've been making syrup everyday after going the month of March with not much activity.  At this time of year, I don't have time to help them very much.  Gathering sap this weekend, we heard and saw killdeer.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Back to Work Every Day at the Nursery

Kevin and I are busy bagging bare root trees and shrubs  This year we are using new technology and planting mostly fruit trees in biodegradable pouches with handles.We have quite some snow and our soil mix is quite cool but we are there 5 days a week working.

Back at the farm (Maple Grove Farm in West Newbury where I live),  we're not having a very good syrup year.  We made 20 gallons in Feb and another 20 yesterday and today it's rainy and sap is not running.