summer 2013

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Welcome to Georgia!  71 countries.

Big news from Thurmont!   My daughter and her husband have bought a house in another part of the county.  We are so  happy for them, but  we now have to find a renter for our farmhouse.  Our plan is to rent the house for a year or two and then we will probably move up to the farm permanently.  My stipulation is:  I want a master suite addition on the back of the house with a walk in closet and a mudroom.  My plan is to grow old in this house and I want everything on one level.

Inside, the house has a new bathroom and kitchen and oak staircase to the second floor.  A new heating and air system will be installed this month so there will be no need for window units.

If you are interested in renting, email me at lizzygold100@yahoo.com   I'll even include one of the garden beds for your use:)

Last fall I planted garlic in my raised beds.  The year before I plant a soft neck variety.  I guess it wasn't ideal for our area.  I did get garlic bulbs.  Small.  Not worth saving in my opinion.

I did some research and found that a hard neck garlic does best in our area.  I put my order into Territorial Seeds and followed the instructions.  It is amazing what happens when you actually follow directions.  I am sooo pleased with my garlic crop!

Soft neck varieties do better in milder regions and are supposed to store better than hard neck.  I think that my garden is in a harsh micro climate.  We are a few miles south of the Mason Dixon Line, so we are technically in the South.  I plant later in this garden than my home garden 10  miles south because I have been hit with late frosts in the farm garden in Thurmont, and not in my home garden.

Cloves from territorial Planted in the fall

garlic scape

after scapes were cut

You need to remove the scapes - the flower heads that emerge to produce seeds.   You want all the plant's energy to go to bulb production, not flower and seed production.

The scapes can be used for cooking.  They look a little like scallions, but taste just like garlic.  They can be sauteed whole or cut up and added to your food. Just like garlic.

I still have a bag in my fridge - they are holding up nicely.

Everything I have read states you can harvest your garlic when the bottom 2 leaves start to die.  I came to the garden and the whole plant was dried and brown.  oh well.  It still looks great.

pulled from bed

I gently used a pitch fork to remove the bulbs from the dirt.  I did not want to injure the plants.

I have read instructions to just gently brush extra dirt from the bulbs, and other instructions to remove a layer or 2 to have cleaner garlic bulbs.  All the the instructions tell us to cure the bulbs so they store better,  about 3 weeks in a cool, protected, well ventilated, dry area.   My barn is full of hay, my shed doesn't have moving air, and I don't want my house to smell strongly of garlic for the summer.  So,  I found a protected area under my deck.  Unless we have a deluge of rain, I can't imagine they will get soaking wet.  There is excellent air circulation under there also.

getting ready to clean - used a soft brush to remove excess dirt.

pulled off a layer

Half have layer removed, other half left on

curing under deck

I will see which way lasts longer.  After garlic is cured it should keep  6 to 8 months.  The only problem I may have is that we are in the middle of a horrific heat wave.  100 degrees every day for over a week now.  We shall see!

Hazy day (month) in Northern Maryland

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Welcome to Cambodia, Moldova, Slovenia, Mexico, Switzerland, Brunei and Saudi Arabia!

70 countries, 6 continents!

Well!   I came home from work one day last week and noticed that the outside of my house was sparkling clean.   Looked great!

My husband informed me that he called "a guy"  to come and pressure wash the house.  Really, it was beautiful.  Before the guy came, the north and east sides of the house were a tad green and full of cobwebs and God knows what else.

A few days later I noticed that the white impatiens I planted out front were a little pale and peaked looking. I mean the leaves were turning yellow and falling off and the stems were withering. It then occurred to ask Mike, "Hey Mike,  did 'the guy' use any chemicals on the house?"  He answered " a very mild soap, and a small amount of bleach."   Hmmmm.

Well, I didn't have high hopes, but I gave the plants a chance to try to recover before I yanked them.  Another concern was, will anything I grow there survive?    The dusty miller and allysum  look fine, the well established shrubs look great too.

No dice.  Went to my favorite nursery  Dutch Plant Farm  in Frederick to find replacements.  Late June - very slim pickins.   Wal Mart had white impatiens  but they are not a nursery so great care is not taken with plants late in the planting season.  What they had for sale didn't look much better than my dying plants.    Found some mixed coleus in very good shape at Dutch Plant Farm and they were deeply discounted.  They were already in flower, but I took care of that.  I clipped the tops off to a node lower down.

I am leaving the impatiens, but I cut them back quite a bit.   If they don't survive, the coleus will cover the skeletons.

Sister plant in another part of yard

Damaged plant

Signs of new growth

Coleus added to bed to fill in and hide

A lot of things can harm plants:  Chemicals, String trimmers, pollution, heat, cold, ice, animals, drought - just to name a few.

Using a spray herbicide can do a lot of damage on a windy day.  The spray can drift and you may not be aware if it.   I have done delicate weed removal in one the the penstemon beds at the demonstration garden.  Bermuda grass cannot be pulled up, one piece of rhizome will turn into a whole plant very quickly.   I took a sponge paint brush and applied the Round Up to the bermuda grass very carefully, by placing the grass on a piece of newspaper and "painting" the grass.  Worked great, tedious, but effective.

String trimmers on  shrubs and trees can damage the vascular system and harm the plant's ability to transfer water and nutrients.

Pollution can be very hard on trees and plants.  In the 1970's  I went to the USDA building in Beltsville, MD.  My father was taking a botany class and he invited me - I was about 14 or so.  I have vivid memories of the instructor telling us about the damage done to trees from the exhaust of our cars.  On the way home, I could see with my own eyes the yellowed and sickly trees along RT 495 - the Washington DC beltway.  Keep in mind, this was before leaded gasoline was banned.

On a much happier note:  here are pictures from that last 4 weeks or so.



Huge strawberry crop

Future gardener - check out the shovel

4 generations hanging out on father's day

New addition to the farm - 1 day old

Utica bridge.  We have 3 covered bridges in Frederick County

Dirty face again.  One of my garden pests

Boy do I love summer :)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Went on a nature walk in the  Catoctin Mountains this morning.  This walk had been scheduled for many months, but happened to coincide with the G8 Summit that had been rescheduled from Chicago to our own small town. Our community had just 8 weeks to prepare for any contingency that may have occurred.  There were actually PROTESTERS in Thurmont.   Thurmont!

A few roads were closed because this area is very close to the Camp David retreat used by our Presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhour. No problem, we found back roads. This was private land so we had little concern of the police or military being worried about us.

I love doing walks like these because I always see things I have never seen before and always learn so much.
Part of the group

Started out in a fenced garden that used to be a vegetable garden many decades ago.  It is fenced to prevent deer and rabbits from invading.  Over the years, the owners have added many beautiful flowers and trees.  Some native, some from other continents.



Pink Poppies

Tulip Poplar Blossoms

We then moved into the woods.  Since this is private, the woodlands are pristine.  Trails are maintained, but there is an abundance of moss on the paths that surely would have been worn away in the public park.

Cinnamon Ferns

Close up of moss


Meadow Rue

Skunk cabbage

Small Fern

Squaw root - a parasitic plant that doesn't produce chlorophyll

Holes from Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker

Whole tree is affected

Evidence of Witch Hazel Leaf Roller

There are many springs, ponds and streams in these mountains:

Old Log Home

Willow trees