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My Maine Master Plan  RSS feed

 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Oh, this is exciting, and also sort of intimidating. Like starting the first plan of a new journal.

Forgive me for any lack of computer skills...I hope I can my pictures to load!

So, here's where I'm going to post my ongoing plans and ideas for my new property. I've been waiting for this for a long time. My husband, toddler, and I just bought 7 acres in Central Maine, with an old farmhouse and barn. My background - I grew up in suburban New Jersey, and didn't really know what "organic" even meant (outside of chem class) until post-college. But then, I gave up life in NYC and the theater world and moved to Canton, NY, to live on an organic farm and commune as their "veggie intern". There, I learned not only organic farming techniques (veggies, no animals, not permaculture-based really), but skills such as canning and drying, herbal medicine, consensus-based decision-making, and dancing around maypoles and drumming around bonfires.

After that experience, I foolishly thought I could go home again. But of course, life in suburbia just didn't work for me anymore. So, the next year, I took off to Maine to take a 3-month-long intensive wilderness skills course. After learning how to make fires by rubbing sticks together, and other such handy things, I stayed on to build my own cabin in the woods, a little round cob house that the insurance company eventually made us take down.

Then I took a left turn, bought a building in town, and opened a restaurant serving local organic foods. The recession (and other factors) killed that business, but I did meet my wonderful man during that time, so I think I came out ahead.

But, it has been almost 10 years since I've lived on the land. And now, we have this place, so I think I've got my work cut out for me. Thanks to all of you, and especially Paul, for these forums, and all the help and support you give.

Okay, on to my new obsession....

 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Property:

44 deg N, 70 deg W (Central Maine).
Zone 4/5 (though I haven't seen close to -20F in almost 10 years)
Average Precipitation: about 42 inches per year, according to the internet

7 acres, more or less, mostly open, at the top of a gentle hill about 490' above sea level .

Property is quite flat, starts sloping towards the back of the lot (west side). That slope gets quite steep behind our property, and low point is a bog stream 2000 ft or so from our back/western property line. The property is about 450 feet wide along the road, running north to south, and about 675 feet deep, east (road side and where house is) to west (back of lot).

What trees we have are mostly green ash and pine, with a smattering of poplar. Two gigantic and beautiful maples out front (the house is 222 years old, and the maples not far behind, I bet). The garden plot that has been in use is on the northeast side of the property, near the road, about 160 feet from the house (too far? It's a nice plot). There's a stretch of woods to the north of that plot, between us and our neighbor, mostly ash and other hardwoods. with a stand of spruce right along the north side of the garden that seems like it was planted, maybe for a windbreak?

Around the house (1900 square feet, 2 woodstoves, not a useable cellar, really) - there's an enclosed porch space around the west and north sides. A stone patio off the back/west with a small raised bed planted in ornamentals and herbs (butterfly bush, various mints, something that tastes like anise in the mint family, there was a big sunflower there this year, a peony, etc). The driveway loops around the house, in the "front" yard (east, facing the road, really the side yard by how the house is laid out) is some more beds, planted with herbs and ornamentals again (decorative crab apples, peonies, mints, lavender, an echinacea, etc). Each corner of the house has a giant lilac. Behind the house, to the west, there is (going from south to north, or left to right if you are looking from the road) a big barn, the septic field, four gigantic spruces (planted as a windbreak, perhaps - all in a row shielding the back yard on the west side), and then a small orchard (5 apples, 2 sad looking pears, one young peach, one beautiful black walnut, then to the east of those, a couple of highbush blueberries, a small strip of raspberries, two elderberries, a couple of plums that apparently don't produce, a small stand of asparagus. Directly to the north of the house is a two-car garage, then an open space/lawn, then the aforementioned garden plot, which has a patch of rhubarb and horseradish planted next to it, as well as some perennial scallions, chives, sage and oregano at one end.

If you continue behind the barn, septic field and orchard, towards the west, the property starts gently sloping down. It's mostly meadow, lots of native and medicinal weeds in there - goldenrod, milkweed, yarrow - grasses, and lots of encroaching wild brambles/raspberries (though I didn't find any berries this fall, just annoying prickers). There are ash trees here and there, and as you head towards the back, it gets more woodsy, with some patches of pine and some hardwoods, understory of ferns and other woodsy plants). Lots of deer activity back there - scat and trails and obvious bedding areas. We've heard coyotes at night, as well.

The soil, from what I can tell, is pretty decent, but there are definitely some stones in there. What little I've played with it (we moved 3 months ago, so I haven't really gardened here yet), it seems like it's got some clay in it, but definitely loamy. Nice chocolate brown color, and the old owners said that the garden has been taken care of, both by themselves and the previous owners (and these folks were on the crunchy granola end of the spectrum, so I trust that it was done relatively chemically free, with healthy soil building techniques).


 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Okay, crossing fingers. These photos are taken from google satellite maps. Our property is pretty well centered, though you can see our neighbors. There is an open field to our south along our side of the road, which we don't own. You can see the property lines as well as other stuff on the third photo (which I plan to make a better version of soon).

I like that I've got the winter satellite. It gives a great sense of where the pines are versus the hardwoods.
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S Bengi
Posts: 1359
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even distribution
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Here is a organized list of fruit and nut trees that you can browse for information, but they dont carry that much cold hardy cultivars.
http://www.onegreenworld.com//index.php?cPath=1

Here is a "regional" nursery that carries cold hardy (zone 3) fruit and not tress.
http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/2013lcataloglores2.pdf
http://www.sln.potsdam.ny.us/

 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Here's the topo, with our piece outlined...

It looks like there's some water there, smack dab in the middle of the property, right? Haven't found it yet, but maybe that's where the pond will go (if not too close to the septic field).
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Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Probably time to start talking about what I'd actually like to do, right?

Plans:
Short-term:

1: Rehabilitate Apples/Pears, and plan for expansion of orchard
I would like to get rid of the grass under the orchard by sheet mulching, add compost around the dripline of the trees, plant an understory (starting with comfrey from the neighbors, but also a good nitrogen fixer and ground cover)

2: Move/rebuild compost bins
I wouldn't bother with bins except that my dog has a taste for compost. Right now, the bins that exist are too far from the house, are falling apart, and share a space with my asparagus bed. I'd like to remove them, let the asparagus spread over what is likely wonderful soil, and build a simple 3 bin system with chicken wire and fence posts, along with a covered space for grass clippings or mulch hay

3: Build a woodpile shed off the side of the garage
It's windy here, and just covering the woodpiles isn't cutting it

4: Plant an edible hedge along the roadside
Our neighbors are right across the street, and we'd like more privacy. I'm thinking a mix of highbush cranberry (which we can get free from a neighbor), hazleberts, maybe juneberry, aronia/chokeberry...
I've already started mulching the strip along the road to prepare for planting...

5: Veggie Garden
The plot right now is an overgrown 25' by 50' space, about half of which I got mulched with newspaper, some compost and leaves and mulch hay before winter hit. It looks like I'm going to be experimenting with no-till on that side, and probably dig some on the half I didn't mulch, but overall, I want to get this space planted with lots and lots of veggies. Then, I'd like to start expanding the space, maybe end up with something closer to 50' by 100', in raised beds, with a deer fence.


Those are the big things I want to accomplish this next season (along with raising a toddler, working part-time, stacking wood, etc). I'm trying not to get too far ahead of myself, and I also want to sit with this property awhile before doing anything too permanent. I'd like to start planning paths in the back part of the property, and think about a good place for a small pond. I'd like to start planning some garden spaces closer to the house, including a labyrinth that is also an herb garden. I'd like to figure out a good place for certain perennial plantings, like sunchokes for example. I'm thinking I'll plant a couple of fruit trees in the fall, because I don't have a great way to get water to them. Just trying to be slow and steady with this...
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Here's a diagram of the front part of my property:
Colored-Satellite-Close-Up_edited-1.jpg
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Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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exciting!
im sub'd for future changes, will likely make a comment or two as i come up with them but so far i like it
comfrey is awesome stuff so kudos there
and on the property im currently working on in cheyenne, we are also near a mowed field, though its owned by the city so im less than confident that its treated well enough for me NOT to put in something to help keep the airborne chemicals away from our place

sounds like youve had a fun intro to permaculture, great story
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Thanks, Devon! Your project looks great!
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Some more pictures from the fall:
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Looking north from backyard towards orchard, big old spruces to left/west (which shade the orchard, as it's to the north of spruces, but acts as a windbreak on our very windy hilltop),
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Wild grapes that trail over the ground and up trees, I want to build some trellises for them
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Looking West-SW towards orchard
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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And more:
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Looking south, just east of orchard, asparagus patch right behind compost bin with garage in distance
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looking south to barn, just west of windbreak of spruce, with new septic drainfield in front of barn
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looking NNW across back meadow
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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And some more!
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Looking SW towards house and barn from driveway, lilac to right, small ornamental garden in front of barn, to right of back patio
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This one taken from same spot, facing the other direction (NE). Garage in foreground with 2 elderberries to right, beyond is vegetable garden space
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Looking SE across front yard, with two giant maples along road and neighbors across street
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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I can't stop...
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Looking NNW, rhubarb and horseradish patch in foreground, overgrown 25' by 50' garden plot beyond, with trees and spruce windbreak beyond that.
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Wild Turkeys foraging next to the barn
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Looking SE up the rise from the back meadow to house and barn
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Well, I've been busy this spring, and have started collecting my pictures to show you all, but here are a few of the past winter:

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Snowy Day in January
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The turkeys came through almost every day - I think they still do, but I don't notice them as close to the house anymore
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We burned 7.5 cords of wood in our two stoves this winter, but only used the furnace for hot water and for a couple of weekends when we were away to keep the pipes from freezing.
 
Miles Flansburg
steward
Posts: 3981
Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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That looks like a wonderful place!
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Thanks, Miles. It feels like it came to us, like we were meant to steward this place. And after so many years of wanting a long-term, relatively stable position to make a home and gardens in, I feel like a weight has been lifted from me.

But, onto my spring. Through a friend, I invested in a T5 fluorescent grow light to start my seedlings under. I only have a few smallish windows on the south side of my house, with a couple of giant old lilacs providing shade there for part of the day, so I'm really glad I did it, even though I'm paying for the electricity. Still...I ended up with almost 70 tomatoes (about half of which I'll give away to neighbors and friends), 20 eggplants, dozens of cabbage, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts, lots of head lettuce, about 150 onions, and a late start on some melons and basil. It got a bit crowded after potting up, and the tomatoes I put in the windows are seriously leggy.
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Here are the seedlings on St. Patrick's Day. I wish I had started a little earlier, but life got in the way this year...
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At the end of April.
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And just a couple of weeks ago (feels like a long time)
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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I've been focusing pretty much on the veggie garden this spring, both because it's what I have the most experience with and comfort with, and because having our own veggies to eat is important to me, both to save money and improve our overall health. Early this spring, I did weed the raspberries, blueberries and asparagus and give them all some composted manure. The little orchard has been neglected, all I could do there was prune the water sprouts and branches that I could reach from the ground with my lopers, because I didn't have the right tools. I did, however, find an extendable pruning saw at a yard sale today, so I have a start on next year.

I also have purchased 5 yards of beautiful compost and a bunch of mulch hay, which I'm going to use in all sorts of ways. Other than in the veggie garden, I'm also going to start creating my kitchen garden/herb garden off the south side of the house, and start mulching the orchard and planting in some comfrey and other herbs. We are blessed with an abundance of bulb flowers here, including some daffodils I'd like to transplant in the fall around the fruit trees as well.

But, veggie garden takes precedence, especially as I'd like to start making it into a space that is easy to plant into without tilling every year. Raised beds are on the long-term list, but oodles of mulching until then.


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Garden in early May
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Spinach!
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Peas were the first things to go in after I could dig in the ground. I haven't been writing stuff down as much as I'd like, so I don't remember exactly when, but here they are on Cinco de Mayo.
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Here are a few more pictures of the veggie garden - it's starting to look like something, finally! Had our first peas yesterday (sugar snaps, which is all I planted for this year), and we've been eating lettuce, spinach, and mustards for a couple of weeks now. Some flea beetle issues, but I've been making my own hot pepper spray, which seems to help. The brassicas that were transplanted in look fine, not too much munching, but the seeded stuff (especially the Chinese cabbage) has taken a beating. Mostly aesthetic, though, I'll certainly eat it!

You'll notice in the last picture my experiment for enlarging the garden with mulch. I was running out of room, so I mulched a wide swath with hay around three sides, making larger "nests" every five feet or so as I went. I put 1/2 a wheelbarrow's worth of compost in each nest, and seeded my summer and winter squash, cukes and zukes into the compost. The melons I started from seed and transplanted in. So far, so good!

The biggest pest I think I'm going to deal with is slugs and snails. Time for some cheap beer (to drown them and my sorrows?)!
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Garden!!
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Eggplants (looking sad and munched on), Peppers (ditto), and tomatoes (doing pretty well - I've been giving them regular neem sprays to hopefully avoid some pests and maybe the blight?)
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My Squash Experiment
 
Ben Plummer
gardener
Posts: 345
Location: Midcoast Maine, Zone 5b
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Looking great! Thanks for the updates.
 
Devon Olsen
Posts: 1066
Location: SE Wyoming -zone 4
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very green, still following along here, thanks for the pictures
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Still focused on the garden. And lately, the season has started hitting that point where you are focused more on harvesting and putting up the harvest than with the actual state of the garden. I'm liking the mulch for keeping the weeds down, not so much for the slug habitat. Been handpicking cucumber beetles and squash bug eggs, and I think I've got their populations controlled. I've given up on Japanese beetles for the time being (they aren't much on my veggies, but all over my berries and I detest them), and I think I'll be adding some nematodes to the soil soon.

I went away for two weeks in the beginning of July, so my neighbors got most of the broccoli harvest - and I ran out of room, so haven't replanted anything, including greens, which I'm sorely missing. Actually, I could find room for some greens, but I've been running around freezing beans and making pesto and just haven't done it yet.

Harvesting a few pounds of green beans every few days, a lot of kale, a few zukes and summer squash with lots on the way, handfuls of nasturtiums and calendula blossoms. A large handful of sungold cherry tomatoes everyday, though I've got some early blight, particularly on the sungolds. Lots of herbs and flowers. The potatoes have flowered, there are a smattering of little eggplants and peppers. The onions are getting shaded out by the gigantic cabbages and brussels sprouts that I interplanted with them. I've been getting some sizeable carrots by thinning the patch, and I could harvest beets, but I just like to watch them get huge. The other tomatoes are setting fruit well, and some of the pastes are looking a bit yellow...

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by the amount of work I have here, but I figure I've got my whole life to get it all done.

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The whole thing
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A weedy bit...Blue Hubbard to the left, Kentucky Wonder Tipi in the distance
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From R to L: Beans, Crucifers and Onions, Beets and Carrots, and my Pea Trellis in the far background
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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In other news, I finally got myself a permies apple! I have arrived! I am feeling inordinately pleased with myself...
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Well, I haven't posted here in months and months, so now I've got some catching up to do.

I'm pretty pleased with this past growing season, overall. Next year I need to deal with slugs and japanese beetles, for sure. I wish I had done more (don't we always?). But I brought in the harvest, and the fruit of my labor is sweet.

The end of summer, the pests and diseases really set in. Slugs ate little trails on 1/2 the tomatoes, and a lot of them rotted. Also I should remind myself that 9 cherry tomatoes is overdoing it and give away more of my seedlings (or start selling them), so I can focus on the paste and slicing varieties. The summer squash and the zucchini succumbed to a fungal disease, but I had already gotten a decent harvest and froze a ton before they were too far gone to salvage. The melons mostly got eaten by other creatures, but a couple were pretty damn yummy. The crucifers (brassicas) that got past the flea beetles (so, not the chinese cabbage) did well, though the slugs and snails also feasted. My red cabbages were huge, and I had 35 of them. Lots of cabbage housegifts this season. Something mouse or rabbit-like ate most of my beets, but the carrot harvest was pretty good (I need to be a more vicious thinner, or learn the zen art of carrot seed placement). My onions I had interplanted with lots of stuff, and so got shaded out and otherwise hindered in growth. Next year I will devote a bed just for them, maybe with some clover or other green manure interplanted as weed control.

In other projects, I mulched the strip next to the road, right in front of my big maples. I'm planning to add wood (we've got plenty down now from the recent ice storm), the rest of my bought compost, and my neighbors' topsoil and make a sort of hugelbed there along the road, and then plant some edible shrubs for a privacy hedge. I decided where to start the new orchard, and mulched one big circle out there in the back field, which I'm probably going to plant with veggies as well next season. I didn't expand the garden space as much as I wanted to, but I did get a bagger for our riding mower at the end of the season, so I can start making my own mulch!

Next up, the harvest.
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Oh garden, you're so weedy, but I love you.
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Sheet mulch along roadside, half-finished
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Mammoth sunflowers and giant spruces behind house
 
Cj Sloane
pollinator
Posts: 3729
Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
86
bee books chicken dog duck fungi solar trees
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Hi Jessica.
Not sure how I missed this thread before. Consider making a tag line at the bottom of your posts to link to this thread, as I have done. You get all sorts of interesting visitors that way.

I don't recall reading anything about livestock but you might want to consider getting turkeys as the wild ones seem to thrive on your land. Turkeys are fragile as chicks but very hardy after 8 weeks or so.
 
Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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Thanks, Cj! I had been planning to add that signature line, but like many things, it slipped through the cracks...

No livestock yet. Just one always hungry hound dog. We're sort of easing into this, especially with the little guy always under my feet. My neighbors across the street had turkeys this year, though, and I helped them with the harvest.

Speaking of harvest, here's a few pictures of what I brought in:

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Look, ma!
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Jessica Gorton
Posts: 274
Location: Central Maine - Zone 4b/5a
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I froze and canned quite a bit this year, but I want to do more! Unfortunately my tomatoes were pretty damaged by slugs and the blight, so I didn't get near as much sauce as I wanted to. The fruit trees however had a banner year - peaches and apples galore! Plus oodles of pears from my neighbors.

Putting a root cellar somewhere is high on my priority list...I just want to make sure I find the right spot (and have the money or energy to dig such a big hole). This fall we put a bunch of carrots, cabbage, and apples on the porch after we filled up the fridge and dehydrated 6 1/2 gallon jars of apple rings. Then our super cold December froze everything. So we've been making lots of applesauce, but I think the cabbage is compost at this point, and the carrots are pretty funky (rubbery and weird after cooking) too.

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Potatoes and Canned tomatoes, applesauce, peaches, peach salsa, pears, zucchini relish, and green tomato salsa
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Blue Hubbards, Butternuts, and some volunteers
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Freezer with 1/2 a pig (bought from a friend), some local grass-fed beef, and our own green beans, summer squash and zukes, brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, pesto, and parsley
 
Bill Ramsey
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Wow! That's nice! We lived in Maine back when Loring AFB was active and I absolutely loved it. It looks like you have a fantastic place there.
 
Cj Sloane
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Jessica Gorton wrote:We're sort of easing into this, especially with the little guy always under my feet.


I didn't get any livestock till my oldest was 13 so you've got time!

Nice looking harvest. I also need a root cellar, and greenhouse addition, and more fruit trees...

It's that time of year to be dreaming of such things, here in New England.
 
Hans Quistorff
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Curious about the barn; It looks so sturdy and in good condition. What was it used for? How cold dose it get in there? Could part of it be insulated for your root cellar?

Maybe if you raise some chicks and ducklings this spring you can train them to fallow you around the garden this summer and help keep the slug and insect populations down.
At least you have your dog. We lost our border collie to old age then we lost our chickens and ducks to predators.
 
Ken Peavey
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Well Done!
Seems like an awfully small garden for such a bountiful harvest.
It's February, gives you a couple weeks to find out what smelts are and a month or two to discover fiddleheads.
Got any maple trees on those 7 acres?
Those hubbards and butternuts look awesome.
 
Hans Quistorff
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" a month or two to discover fiddleheads."

Definitely A Maine edible. Are you familiar with them? Did you see sword ferns on the property last summer? If so watch for the curled leaf stem soon after the snow melts off, Pick and cook them like the asparagus. Also there are new dandelion greens. I liked to pull the roots and clean off any last years residue and steam the roots and leaves together but the natives thought I was strainge for eating the roots.
 
Jessica Gorton
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Hey, thanks for all the good advice (and lovely complements )!

I'm itching right now to get back into the...not even the growing season, just the season of thaw, already! To answer one of your questions, Hans, this winter was particularly cold (or normally cold, if you're talking 20 years ago), with regular, extended periods of single digits in the day and down to -15 or 20 (farenheit). We had early snow (though a late first frost) and lots of it, with an icestorm in the middle right before Christmas.


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Icestorm Sunflowers
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All the birches in my yard popped back up eventually...even the one practically lying across the driveway!
 
Jessica Gorton
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The barn is in great shape, our house inspector told us we could live in it! But instead, we're building a studio on one side for my husband, who paints and makes assemblages with found objects. Another corner is going to be a place for meditation and yoga, but there's still plenty of barn left! We won't be housing animals in it, but I'm not sure that a root cellar would work above ground in our climate...
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North side of barn, pre-studio project
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looking from north to south
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North side again, in midst of project
 
Jessica Gorton
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We've got two giant grandmother maples in front of our house and several along parts of the edges, and a few younger ones down in the back of the property on the southwest side. The two big ones are silver maples, I believe, but I think the ones out back might be red. I'm going to keep my eyes open in the woods for tappable trees, but my front yard ones are elders - I would never stick a tap into one of them.

I don't know that the fiddleheads we get on our property are the edibles ones, but I love the ones from my local food store (not a health food store - a local orchard and bakery that has an amazing assortment of locally sourced products, from wheat flour to butter. I'm so lucky). I have to get better at my fern identification before I'll try them, but that's on the list! Dandelion greens are a favorite wild edible of mine, though I haven't cooked the roots before, just used them for medicine, in tincture or decoction. I have eaten burdock root, though, and I enjoyed it. And smelts are another one that I've eaten but never caught. I'm getting to have a pretty long list of stuff to learn .

A bit of a walk out back:

The first picture is from directly behind the barn, looking west/nw along the southern edge of the property. The rock cairn is an old dug well, a little too close to the septic mound for my comfort, but in a pinch we could use that water for trees, etc. Beyond that is a depression/drainage area that I'm thinking about for a pond.

The next pic continues down the southern side of the property, into the woods (the few maples are back here, but mostly green ash).

The last pic is turned around, looking east back up the hill, from the center of our western edge, past the menorah tree to the barn above.
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Cj Sloane
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Jessica Gorton wrote:
I don't know that the fiddleheads we get on our property are the edibles ones,..


Not hard to tell apart. The fiddleheads sometimes have something that looks like brown paper or old leaves in the fiddlehead area. Smooth and shiny.

The one you don't want are brackenfern which are lighter green and sort of fuzzy.

You could always find a local to help you out.
 
Tristan Vitali
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Cj Verde wrote:
Jessica Gorton wrote:
I don't know that the fiddleheads we get on our property are the edibles ones,..


Not hard to tell apart. The fiddleheads sometimes have something that looks like brown paper or old leaves in the fiddlehead area. Smooth and shiny.

The one you don't want are brackenfern which are lighter green and sort of fuzzy.

You could always find a local to help you out.


Very much so - most of the ferns around these parts are "ok" to eat but bracken has a compound that eats up the vitamin B1 in your system and leaves you feeling pretty cruddy the next day. Could kill if you eat a lot of it I'm told, but it hasn't bothered me much in the past. Ostrich fern is what you're after for decent taste and completely safe though. Google that and you should see thousands of pictures at various stages to help you identify it

And hello neighbor! I'm up the road from you a ways it looks like, about 45 minutes north of bangor off 95. I have to say, I envy your already established garden beds/trees/etc and your ability to pace yourself...I'm starting fresh with a piece of clayey, swampy, eroded stump land and can't seem to quite get my plans for the upcoming not-frozen months under that "there aren't that many hours in the day" mark! Having trouble with that "there aren't that many dollars in the account" mark too I have to admit

Have you done any of your perennials buying through fedco by any chance? Considering it's sort of the local go-to, I was surprised to find most of my neighbors buying through gurneys and the like - makes me wonder about quality.
 
Julia Franke
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Thank you for taking the time to post all of this. Your pictures are gorgeous and inspirational.
 
Jessica Gorton
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Well, another growing season come and gone, and here I am planting next season's seeds already. So here are a couple of highlights from 2014:

My husband painted a mural on our son's bedroom wall, a scene of our land including the big maple tree, peter rabbit, and a visitor I need to pay attention to if we are to have chickens at some point.

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Jessica Gorton
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I organized the CSA Fair at my husband's church, involving a dozen local farmers, a couple of local musicians, and some local curiosity seekers to round it out. This event is coming up again! at the end of the month...

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