Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas to all !! Posted by Picasa

Winter Solstice

I write this in morning darkness near the lights of my tree. The garden is resting, yet we are frenzied as we prepare for warm times with family and friends. May all of us know the love and light that is created from within during this dark time of the year. And may the gardener within us celebrate the earth's faithful circle around the sun that starts the journey back to springtime.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Garden ornaments make their way to the tree

As I was decorating the tree the other night, I noticed that I have started to collect some ornaments on a garden theme. I wondered what garden ornaments are on your tree this year.

there are apples

and garlic

garden tools


and the rabbits that steal them

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

apple orchards as far as the eye can see  Posted by Picasa

Pennsylvania Markets Part III

We bid farewell to our impromptu hosts, Noel and Helen, and headed north on 94 toward Mechanicsburg. Just outside of York Springs the landscape changes dramatically into apple orchards as far as the eye can see. We stopped at Peters Orchards to explore some apples and other recent crops.

To my delight they had just harvested the remains of their Brussels sprouts. There were huge bins of them still on the stalk in the back waiting to be made market ready. There were also huge bins of cabbages.

But first the apples. Northern Spy and Honey Crisp are two varieties that are hard to come by in the city, so I stocked up on them. Then I saw a shelf of apple butter that would have rivaled Bubba’s litany of shrimp dishes for variety on a single theme. People in Pennsylvania must be pretty particular about how they like their apple butter.

When the time came to add it all up, I walked out of there with quite a deal. Given that the price on the Brussels sprouts was $3 per stalk, I expected to pay a good bit more for this market basket of goods than I did. For 3 Brussels sprouts stalks, 3 butternut squash, 1 blue Hubbard, 1 cauliflower, 1 quart of pear cider, 10 apples, and a can of peaches thrown in for good measure I paid ....................................

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$10 .00

Pennsylvania ... I'll be back

Monday, December 11, 2006

Next stop Abbottstown for the cookie walk! Posted by Picasa

Pennsylvania Markets Part II

The next stop was at the cookie walk at the UCC church in Abbottstown at 9:00 am. When you walk in the door you are issued a box and plastic gloves from the ladies of the church and after that you simply select from tray upon tray of delicious cookies. There were delicate sand tarts, meringue drops, peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies, the ubiqitous frosted pretzels and ever so delicate pecan tassies. A seemingly endless supply kept emerging from the church kitchen as volunteers filled the fast emptying trays. When it was all said and done I weighed in at $18.80 and believe me it was a bargain.

From there we were off to Peter’s Orchard by way of York Springs. We wanted to stop and look at an 18th century Episcopal church there. Christ Chapel of York Springs was built in 1736. It is a simple, meeting house style brick building. It is no longer in use, but we lucked into meeting a local named Noel and his wife Helen who let us in and shared some of the history. We had been puzzled as to why in this land of Lutherans there had been such an early Episcopal church. It turns out that the “springs” had attracted Anglicans from the Baltimore area. The hope was that if they built a church it would encourage the tourist trade.

It was a VERY cold morning and the church seemed almost colder inside than out. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

the exterior of Christ Chapel York Springs, PA Posted by Picasa

a simple 18th century interior Posted by Picasa

sunlight coming n the south window on the pedal organ Posted by Picasa

sunlight on the south window Posted by Picasa

local celery is hard to find Posted by Picasa

Pennsylvania Markets Part I

I headed north for a market tour of southern PA last weekend. Friday afternoon was spent at the (new) Eastern Market in York. The place was bustling with people picking up their meats and sauerkraut and, yes, their potato chips. Both Martin’s and Utz have market stands there and for a potato chip lover like me, it is hard to walk by a stall and not buy a bag. (though not one as big as the one pictured here.) The Brethren ladies were manning many of the fresh produce stalls, and I came home with a real treat … locally grown celery which they had graded by size. I must say the flavor of local trenched celery is superb! It is a lot of work, but the flavor can make it all worthwhile. I also picked up fresh eggs while I was there. Perhaps some of you who raise chickens can explain to me what a rooster enhanced egg is?

One thing in the York meat cases that took my breath away was a local dish called hog maw. I try to be discreet with my camera, and so I was unable to photograph one in the case, but it is basically a pig stomach stuffed with sausage and potatoes and is roasted in a 350 degree oven for about 2 hours. Any local you ask about it will roll their eyes up into the back of their head and sigh “Oh I love my hog maw.”

The next morning I was at the Hanover Market before sunrise. Just inside the door was a woman making pretzel covered hot dogs. Pretzels are a food group unto themselves, and there are all kinds of ways to embellish them. At Christmas time pretzel sticks are frosted with red and green frosting. Again the Brethren ladies were in abundance and one in particular was selling all manner of canned goods and some chocolate confections that were extraordinary. Take a look at this! It is a box made of chocolate and decorated with a white chocolate ribbon. The top comes off the box and inside are handcrafted chocolates of poinsettias, snowflakes, holly leaves. Maybe 8 handcrafted chocolates in all.

Take a guess at how much I paid for it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Mighty #4 Posted by Picasa


We had a 50 degree day on Wednesday, so I took advantage of the afternoon warmth to pot up my amaryllis bulbs. I try to bring mine back each year and have been experimenting with different ways of nourishing them in the summer. Most of the literature says they like to be pot bound, but I often will take some out of their pots and let them develop roots in the field in the summer. It wasn’t until last spring that I decided to keep a record.

So now each bulb has a number and is being carefully monitored for its growth. As you can see from the picture #4 is the biggest. This is because it is the one I purchased new this year. The others are pitifully small because they were taken as offshoots from other bulbs in years past. I am hoping to grow them into real bulbs.

Last year only #5, 8 and 9 produced flowers and then not until mid March. I wonder what this winter will bring.

In the meantime, if anyone has suggestions for successful feeding, watering and summer field growing options, I am all ears.
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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Headed South

I have closed the garden gate on another season. I carry back to my winter home bunches of carrots and lots of sweet potatoes and a year's supply of garlic. I am blessed by a wonderful harvest and a season of memories. Soon the planning will start again.

~Patience Brewster

but for now the garden is resting

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Final Garden Gifts

All of the pathways have been covered in pine needles and it's almost time to tuck the garden in for the winter ...

but it is still giving gifts of ....

potatoes and lettuce




and even some flowers

Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Happy Thanksgiving to all ! Posted by Picasa

the carrot harvest

I planted five varieties of carrots last spring. Imperator, Nantes Fancy, Atomic Red, Purple Fancy and Shin Kuruda. The Imperators have been huge ! The two colored carrots have been thin and short but tasty. All of them have benefited from the recent frosts.

I will be bringing the “orange” to Thanksgiving dinner today: carrots, rutabaga and sweet potatoes, all from the garden. The rutabaga will benefit from some maple syrup and dried cranberries, but the other two veggies will speak for themselves. They have a special sweetness all their own … no need to sugar them up.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006