May Day 2016

life_in_maine_may_day_2016While the blossoms of our plum trees are still tightly closed, these opened today because of the microclimate created by their proximity to the ground. May 1st was warm, but overcast. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Aaaaggh…

life_in_maine_snowYesterday was April 26th (not March 26th, although it looked like it). It snowed all day. This is a bit disheartening. Naomi and I hope the cold has not harmed the budding plants. We are supposed to go below freezing for the next few nights. The daytime temperatures should be in the 50s, which will help. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Red Trillium

life_in_maine_spring_2016We have been having a stretch of warm weather, at least in the low 60°F. The warmth has felt really good, especially since the last two winters have been really long. And with this warm spell, we are seeing a return of life. One of the plants that has just returned to our forest floor is the red trillium or trillium erectum. Like the robin, it is a herald of spring, which gives it its common name—wake-robin. But it is a spring ephemeral, a short-lived plant, surviving long enough to complete its reproduction cycle. By the time the fern return, this plant will be gone. Two things about this herbaceous perennial: it is toxic and the bloom smells like rotting meat (flies are its primary pollinator). Click on the image for a larger view.

Thanksgiving Dinner

life_in_maine_thanksgiving_dinnerNaomi and I don’t eat meat. For Thanksgivings we made a stuffed kabocha. Kabocha is a well known squash in Japan. You can eat the cooked flesh by itself or stuff the entire fruit. For the stuffing, we used ingredients from our garden: plantain, spiderwort, day lilies, goutweed, and bush beans. We added some vegetarian sausage, mushrooms, croutons, and cheese. (This would be good for other holidays, feasts, or an everyday meal.) Click on the image for a larger view.

Lost Varieties—Apples of Maine

apples_field_appleThroughout Maine are lost varieties of apples growing in old fields. While our supermarkets limit our choice, usually red, yellow, and green, thousands of apple varieties have been cultivated. Some have been saved in seed banks and specialty orchards, but many have been lost to time and memory—it can be hard to identify an apple by appearance.

We have one lost variety on our land. It fruits biennially and produces large, round apples. The flesh is white and very light; despite the size, they do not weight that much. It is not a sweet apple, but neither does it have a sharpness of a Granny Smith. Lemony would be a good description. If you cook it, it takes on a pleasant sweetness, but it does not retain its shape. We eat this raw or make apple sauce for itself or as pie filler. Click on the image for a larger view.

End of the Blackberry Harvest

life_in_maine_wild_gardenOur blackberry harvest is drawing to a close. We had a great crop, which we mostly froze to use over the winter. We kept some fresh for our breakfast, though. The blackberry canes in our field are starting to turn color. They tend to be the first signals of the ending summer, even while our golden rod remain in bloom. Click on the image for a larger view.

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Queen Anne’s Lace—Edible Weeds

edible_weeds_queen_annes_lace_1Queen Anne’s Lace, Daucus carota, was once cultivated in Europe as a vegetable and is a biennial plant. Like carrots, the roots and leaves of the first-year plant are edible. Flowers can be used raw in salads or fried. Seeds can be used for seasoning.

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Blackberries in July

life_in_maine_july_blackberryThe blackberries are fruiting. It is far too early to harvest, but it looks like this year’s crop will be bountiful, unlike last year. Click on the image for a larger view.