Asparagus. Asparagus? Yes, Asparagus.


An aphrodisiac. Yeah, you heard me; Nicholas Culpepper, a 17th century herbalist, wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.”
In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served 3 courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinners (not absolutely necessary, I hope, but asparagus lore nonetheless) to, well, you get the picture.

Asparagus

Can you tell I’m in the mood ~ for Spring!

What is spring without asparagus?!Do you have asparagus growing in your garden? If not, it’s not hard to get started, you just have to be patient, well. for a couple years!spears

You can get asparagus crowns at most garden centers.
images-5

Dig a furrow about 10 inches deep and wide and as long as you want your row to be. Fill the trench about halfway with compost and place your asparagus crowns on top, about 10 inches apart and cover loosely with soil and water. This is best done in the springtime as soon as the danger of frost has past.
You won’t get any spears your first year, but the fern-like foliage will still be pretty. Make sure you mulch well every autumn to keep weeds down and a steady stream of nutrients coming. Asparagus is a hungry plant.
asparagus-1

Do not harvest your asparagus until it’s at least three years old. This allows the plant to have time to build a strong root system. When your’s is ready; gather the asparagus and leave at least one stalk in the ground, for good luck, so the lore goes; actually it is common sense, it leaves seeds for sowing.
Asparagus is great for permaculture because it can live 15 years or more and keep providing you with tasty spears each spring.
It grows best in sandy, alkaline soil in full sun, but it’s not picky. It can handle a bit of shade and less than perfect soil too, as long as you fertilize it well.
spears
Your plants will start sending up shoots shortly after the frost has past and may continue well into June. Cut the shoots near the base when they are about 10 inches long and about as thick as your finger. If they are thinner than a pencil, your plant isn’t ready for harvesting yet, or it’s gotten tired of being harvested and needs to be let alone. Make sure the heads of the spears are tight and haven’t started to feather out. Once they’ve started to get ferny, it’s too late to harvest them.
Asparagus Berries

Asparagus is best eaten fresh, but if you want to save some for later, put it in a glass of water like a bouquet of flowers and store it in the fridge. If you want to save some for a long time later, steam the stalks for about five minutes and then freeze them in a freezer bag.

Asparagus is a good diuretic and is full of nutrients to help build up strength. Asparagus is one of the most nutrient dense vegetables you’ll find. It is high in folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamins B6, A, C and thiamin, contain no fat or cholesterol and are low in sodium.

It is best lightly steamed so that it is tender-crisp and bright. I like to serve it with a tangy lemon butter sauce.
asparagus-

PS. It’s a good food to eat when you are doing a bodily cleansing, a great “spring tonic” kind of food.

Soup’s on…at Picasso’s: chicken noodle with kale, corn chowdah, and creamy carrot curry (vegan)
try a citrus salad on baby kale, or grilled pear and pork on mixed greens.
Turkey burger with vidalia balsamic jam!

Be well,
Jess

Bountiful..or one bunch


It’s all relative isn’t it? Bounty.

This may not look like much to you…but, alas, it is this gardener’s crowning glory. Juicy purple goodness..my first grapes from this years seedling!!! Yippee.


cabbage green, tomatoes red and purple GRAPES.


Jack’s lantern…


There comes a time when autumn asks, What have you been doing all summer?


The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows
itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many;I grow old, I grow old,’ the garden says. Thanks for the bounty, says I.

Be well,
Jess

They are wild I tell ya! Wild.


I love cottage gardens (I suppose you know that by now); I love the over flowing, I could care less, throw caution to the wind spirit they evoke.

They are beautiful because they are. A bit like life really. It can be a bit messy at times, but it is always, always beautiful. After a long sometimes stressful day…there is nothing more comforting to me than to walk through the front garden gate of our cottage farm. A spray of wild roses scramble up a an ancient barbed wire fence, as berries twist their vines along side. Our cottage is cozy and chock full of flowers, herbs, and veggies; sunshine filtering through the huge maples creating a sense of insulation from chaos. It is not grand, perfect, it is our place to restore, refresh and just breathe. A sense of calm and a slower pace than some may prefer, yet I embrace the quiet, regal beauty of our llamas as they rest in the shade of the maples and oaks, captures my attention bringing me focus and contentment. I am home.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can’t have enough love or enough flowers – so filler up!
Be well.
Jess

Some Late Spring Beauties and a “quick story”


Rural beauty and a dear friends garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But hey, now that you’ve seen my lovely photos :)

Have you seen this! How much fun could this be? I know,like we don’t have enough social media frenzy. It just looks like too much fun to ignore.

A COLLABORATIVE STORY WRITING EXPERIENCE: http://www.qwikstory.com/

How Qwikstory.com Works
Qwikstory.com is a new social media site where people come together to create and write a story about a particular topic (or no topic at all). Here’s the catch – once you start a story, you have only 1,000 characters to tell your part of the story and you can’t continue the story…Cool right?
My children and I do this with songs sometimes…always silly, sometimes funny!

Let me know what you think! Please.

warm fuzzies…


I find beauty in imperfections; I like things that tell a story, old barns, linens…and I like to share. Blogging is the perfect way to share the excitement of the ~ best ~ flea market, tag sale, decorating idea, series of photographs, or farm story ever. I am loving having a place to express so much of my creativity, share my love of animals, our little cottage farm, and writings. The post previous to this was my 100th; I can’t believe it…I expect the warm fuzzies I get every time I read a comment left by lovely readers will continue for the next hundred; I hope my exuberance,delight, and appreciation for each comment will continue well into the 1000s of posts. Each comment, or e-mail ~ to me ~ is an act of kindness, a reassurance to the ~ a once reluctant blogger.

One of my favorite things is a beautifully disheveled cottage garden, not a perfectly manicured garden,… a running a muck with color and variety…herbs, flowers, and veggies all growing together in a wonderful, colorful mass kind of garden. A cozy, peaceful, pretty as a picture, place to exhale a sigh of relief or relaxation kind of garden. Some day, I will visit the cottage gardens in Devon, Herefordshire, Norfolk, the Cotswalds,and perhaps Brittany, alas for the time being; I will content myself with my cottage gardens. Here I plant roses ’round the fences, raspberries by the gates, bushes and bushes of hydrangeas; where the sleepy dogs can lie.

Down my quiet narrow lane; I will line my walk with hosta, and marigolds, with babies breath…and Coralbells. I will drape my porch in Wisteria, the front garden, packed with flowers of all sorts, daisies, foxglove, peony, cosmos, snapdragon, pansy, bachelor’s button, columbine, bleeding heart, and hollyhock, oh and bell flowers with their lovely lavender hue.

Perhaps, just perhaps, I should put the seed catalogs down. I just wanted to order grapes!

a gaggle of garden goodies:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Be well,
Jess

A month of thanksgiving ~ Day 16 ( a re-post)


Last year I was able to write what I was grateful for and why, every day of November, I thought I would re-post this one.
November 16, 2011

Spring and summer flowers and my camera

I am always so grateful, excited, and completely awestruck by the beauty of flowers; So, when they are in full bloom, I take endless photos. Flowers always help me feel happy, relaxed, and refreshed. Through poetry, music and stories, people have been writing about the magnificence and meaning of flowers for centuries. Flowers and prose, how could it get any better?

“In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
with many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle – and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.”
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 1865

“To pick a flower is so much more satisfying than just observing it, or photographing it … So in later years, I have grown in my garden as many flowers as possible for children to pick.”
- Anne Scott-James

“He who is born with a silver spoon in his mouth is generally considered a fortunate person, but his good fortune is small compared to that of the happy mortal who enters this world with a passion for flowers in his soul.”
- Celia Thaxter

Be Well,
Jess

talking to the GPS…or, Good Times with Good Friends


Emily called…ROAD TRIP, GPS Adventure, call it what you will…A beautiful blue skied morning; animals are fed and watered,sufficient amounts of caffeine ingested, time to hit the road!

The 3 plus hour drive to Boston went by quickly, as Em and I caught up. I was initially a bit ill at ease, you see, some people are inspired to be chatty during long car trips, some more meditative, we struck the perfect balance… Meg watched Mrs. Doubtfire (dotted with raucous laughter, not dampened by the earphones in her ears…). On the road, I have decided, that I must let go of any expectation I may have of my hair. Emily has a Mustang convertible, the wind, a bad braid, and tiny mirrors all conspired to make my hair so willful it seemed like an extra passenger at times. I had to let it go. This wasn’t about looking good, it’s about reconnecting, friendships, spontaneity, something new; all new experiences worth their salt eventually mess up your hair. It is a road trip after all, and on a road trip, it’s best to do road-trip things (we’ll never see these people again), so we interacted with strangers, ate local fare (a delicious Jewish deli), took silly pictures with statues (nevermind), and wore balloon hats; all of which require a sense of adventure and a suspension of your normal decorum.
Road-trip snacks should not be underestimated; and Emily came prepared, I on the other hand, should take notes on this girls preparation skills. After stopping by to visit Emily’s Dad in Brookline; Emily, Meg, and I headed out to see some sights. We decided to walk the Freedom Trail (much to Meg’s chagrin, you see Meg is 7yrs old…). Ok, program the GPS…and we’re off, well, sorta…we were off course…with all of the downtown construction and rapid turns needed to navigate Boston Proper, our Aussie GPS “voice guy” Braun..could not keep up…he had us going in circles, through tunnels, and over bridges, and over bridges, and through tunnels…well, you get the picture..as much as we loved Braun’s sexy Australian accent, we broke up for a while, we just could not see the relationship continuing, it was headed nowhere fast. We gave it time…(about 5 minutes), renewed our relationship with Braun, a few more “conversations” with Braun, and more than a few cases of uncontrollable laughter, we arrived at our destination.
The the two-and-a-half-mile Freedom Trail, (I am a history buff, so this was very exciting for me)…marked with bricked red line, it is easy to follow the trail with 16 markers and historic landmarks of America’s Revolution…I hope you enjoy the photos, as much as I love taking them!

Our trip to Boston reminded me of why I travel…

Traveling is: a time to build memories, best shared
an opportunity to spend time nurturing relationships
a challenge, to learn and grow
a reason to stretch limits
sharing laughter
stories to tell
an appreciation of the world around us
an appreciation of my family farm home….


..Freedom trail’s red bricks must be skipped to be enjoyed!


Old North Church, played a prominent role in the American Revolution. Two lanterns were hung in the steeple for a few moments. It was long enough for patriots in Charlestown to learn what has been immortalized by the phrase One if by land, two if by sea in Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride. The British were advancing by boat across the Charles River. These lanterns heralded the battles of Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the American Revolution.


..a peek inside the Old north Church.


One of three panels in the Apse of the church…


Statue of Paul Revere.


This wooden structure, dating back to 1680, is downtown Boston’s oldest building still in existence. Paul Revere was living at this house the night he set forth on April 18, 1775 to make his momentous ride to Lexington that would be immortalized by Longfellow’s famous poem Paul Revere’s Ride.


A garden around the side of the church…


oh, I love to open garden gates to see what’s around the corner..


heritage roses…outside of a garden planted in the 1700′s


entrance to The Saints Garden…


Patron Saint of animals, Saint Francis.


Copp’s Hill was Boston’s largest colonial burying-ground, dating from 1659….interesting vantage point between Boston old and new; the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge,named after civil rights activist Lenny Zakim and the American colonists who fought the British in the Battle of Bunker Hill.


The divine Miss M.


Boston’s North End


this photo depicts the architectural feeling of the North End…I think.


one of the war time Memorials we saw that day..


silent, yet deafening.


a plaque among many in Memorium to WWII…


stones representing children whose lives were taken in the concentration camps…made me cry.


Boston Skyline..

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowline, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain ~ even if it’s only 3 hours from home!

Be well,
Jessica

What in the world do I do with these…


I have an abundance, a plethora, a boat load, a copious profusion of zucchini, now I know this is not the first time you have ever heard anyone say this ~ I am certain, but, I really, really mean it this time! If zucchini were gold I would be rich!

Now, I had to ask myself, “Who can I pawn this off on(I mean give these blessed vegetables to)”? No one really wants these 2 foot long green monstrosities; I needed to be honest with myself. So I grated too many; I figured I would freeze bags and bags of the green goodness, I could make breads, zucchini chocolate chip cake, use some in veggie lasagna this fall and winter…but now my freezer is running out of space.

I remembered a recipe from a few years ago; Zucchini boats! This was the answer, at least for today. They were yummy, even my family thought they were yummy (a bonus). I prepared them similar to stuffed peppers, with a rice, beef, and tomato mixture ~ all topped off with melted cheese.

Now, let me see if I can recollect how I made them, you see, I am not good at using recipes, I have many, many cookbooks (as in maybe 50 or more) and I read them all. And, that is where our relationship ends. When it comes to soups, stews, casseroles, and such I pretty much wing it! The end result is nearly always delicious.

go ahead gather your garden goods and lets get going!

family size recipe serves 6-8 folks
3 or 4 medium to large zucchini ( halved and hollowed)
1 medium onion finely chopped (I chop mine very fine because I don’t like onions, but you needn’t bother if you like them coarsely chopped)
olive oil
1 large green pepper chopped about the same size as the onion ( so that they cook evenly)
garlic to your taste, I love it, so I load ‘er up!
for seasoning, I use Italian herbs, you could even used the pre-mixed Italian seasoning packaged dried herbs. Now here is the tricky part ( for me) because, I use enough…what ever that means to you…I would say taste the meat onion, pepper mixture after it is cooked ~ go from there.
Salt and pepper to taste
6 servings of rice- roughly 3 cups (cooked) you could use instant,jasmine, or brown rice(which I prefer)
1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or ground turkey
1 large can diced tomatoes(I use the basil, garlic type)
spaghetti sauce ( your home made or your favorite)
cheddar cheese (or your favorite) to cover

I use a very large cast iron skillet (your can make the whole wretched mess in this one pan) you should see this thing! anyway…
Have the halved (I just smiled at that…) zucchini hollowed out…just past the seeds, set aside.
warm the skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to just cover bottom (not your bottom), add chopped onion, pepper, garlic, and seasoning saute until soft, and the onion is translucent… remove from pan, set aside.
add the ground meat to the skillet that you just sauteed the veggies in, cook through..drain.
Now, add the sauteed veggies, cooked meat, and rice (cooked, remember..hard crunchies, no good) in this large skillet and mix together, add tomatoes and heat through…breath deeply…yumm, smells great right.

remove skillet contents to a large heat proof bowl,rinse the skillet, if you are using a cast iron pan like I do ( if not get out a large baking dish) big enough to hold your zucchini.

Fill the halved zucchini with the rice mixture and place them in the skillet( or baking dish) as you go..when your filling ups are complete..pour spaghetti sauce or even seasoned tomatoes sauce around them, filling the bottom of the pan, no need to cover them with sauce, just enough so they bake in it. cover each boat with cheese, cover with foil. and bake at 375 until zucchini is fork tender, don’t be afraid to uncover and check on them…then continue baking uncovered until the cheese is done just the way you like it! I didn’t put a baking time in here – it will all depend on your zucchini size and thickness :) Now make a beautiful crisp salad and enjoy!


where the zucchini roam..


maybe, just maybe I should have washed these before the picture…


fall is coming…no frost on this pumpkin yet.


I think I am loving the color orange today, so cheerful!


..and the promise of more…pumpkins that is..


I think next year’s garden should have even more zinnias, don’t you?

I love this time of year!
Be well,
Jessica

A cottage garden and bees…


Cottage type gardening seems almost accidental and somewhat carefree; none exactly alike. This is why I love them! Each cottage garden is as different as the people who create them! My vegetable garden is sprinkled with flowers,cosmos, zinnias, marigolds, daisies…hummingbirds,bees, and butterflies.
I love the way a cottage garden beckons a closer look…behind the picket fence that captured the old-fashioned charm.

Creating a garden that encourages visits from tiny workers is a priority. Every garden needs pollinators and bees and butterflies are among the best…cottage type gardens are extremely important for honey bees and bumblebees(and vice versa)because of the wide variety of flowers they provide. Bees need flowers for sustenance, and flowers need bees for pollination…stings, you ask? No worries…most bees are gentle creatures that are simply in search of food and water for themselves and their young; just don’t wear perfume-y scents lest they think you are a big flower asking for pollination.

My largest garden here at the farm is located on the edge of the woods with a secluded(think briers and vines)pond nestled there,offering birds, butterflies and other creatures protection and shelter – a big plus! Because of the mysterious decimation they are going through, I am even more concerned with having flowers in my garden to draw them in.

Here are some plants in my cottage garden:
Roses, old-fashioned and rambling; delphiniums,Gladiola- if you plant these amongst other tall plants you might not have to stake them,Peonies – the more the better..one of my favorites(ants be darned),Iris – I have many varieties;flower in the spring and so always a treat.
Dianthus,smell so sweet. Geraniums fill my antique wheel barrow,and herbs, herbs, herbs. Cosmos – has a very long flowering period, their feathery foliage a big plus! Canterbury bells with tall blue pink or white flowers, and of course sunflowers, I watch the birds feast on the seeds.Climbing beans on a tee pee like structure for an architectural interest…I could go on, but you get the picture.

Do you have a cottage garden? What do you plant?


Riley cat, a beautiful old soul.


Does any one know what type of “bee” this is..or isn’t?


Andy, loves his hay!!


Lexi loves Summer.


Tiny worker, big job!


Finnegan loves me!

Be Well, bloom where you’re planted!

PS Can you help me come up with a great name for a photography studio? Oh yes, I am!