mini glass greenhouses


I was scrambling this morning to protect my little cabbages and collards. It was in the upper 20’s and they did well over night in their plastic water bottle greenhouses but then the wind picked up and when I checked on them mid morning they were all uncovered. After a couple hours a few of them looked a bit windblown so I searched my cupboards for glass bowls. A quick search online told me to vent them with a stick during the day. I didn’t want to cook them under glass!


It’s late afternoon and I just checked them. Looks like they survived the day. As they get shaded by the barn I’m moving the stick so they are protected from the cold air overnight. Expected low 19 degrees F. Brrrrrr!


Springtime Work

IMG_0013   Cabbage

IMG_0014  Collard

I took these photos a couple days ago. They loved the warm weather we had yesterday and now a few have three true leaves.


Working on the front beds. A couple years of neglect and the grass really took over.





Today. More to do but so much better. I plan to plant herbs in the bare spots. In a month or two there will be fewer bare spots to fill in. I know at one point these were lovely garden beds and I wish I could identify all I saw growing here last summer. Ah, last summer – despite a couple of attempts on my part to pull out the grass, these beds weren’t in their glory. It’s that awful grass that runs a few inches under ground and snaps when you pull a piece of it. Sometimes you are lucky and a large strand of it comes out but you know you didn’t get it all. We are talking about skimming the grass around these beds and applying a deep mulch.

Today I started more seeds inside – sage, lavender, anise hyssop and a lot more creeping thyme. I figure the thyme can be tucked in here and there and not tower over other things. I just read in The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch that the creeping thyme isn’t a culinary type of thyme. I’ll have to pick up a culinary type seedling at the farmers market because I’m almost out of my dried culinary thyme. How I’m looking forward to the opening of the local farmers markets!

Water Bottle Greenhouses


Yesterday, after the maple festival we planted the cabbages and collards in the barn garden. We covered them with these water bottles in the evening and they seemed fine this morning with the temperature in the mid 30’s. I hope that means we hardened them off enough before planting. Now we just need to remember to put these bottles on most evenings and take them off most days, water them, and close the gates so the animals don’t disturb them.


We planted Yukon Gold seed potatoes this evening in the trench to the right. Planting these veggies are a first for us. I hear cabbages can be tricky so we’ll see if we have any beginners luck.



Our morning company.


Highland County Maple Festival


While we had lots to do at our own place today we decided to go ahead and drive an hour west of us to the Highland County Maple Festival. I’m so glad we did. We picked up a map at The Highland Inn in downtown Monterey Virginia. A gal there told us about some of the sugar camps. We wanted to go to the small operations that used old methods. Our first stop was Laurel Fork Sap Suckers.


This was our view as we walked from the parking area to the sugar house. The sugar house was down this hill. It didn’t seem very steep until we had to climb back up it! What a work out!


Here Ronnie Moyer gives us a tour of his sugar house.


The sugar water is cooked down to make the maple syrup in these old trays. I believe he said the tray on the left is 100 years old and the one on the right is 80 years old. It takes 44 gallons of sugar water to make one gallon of syrup.


Even though the house is vented there was condensation dripping from the rafters and the house was cozy warm and smelled wonderful.


A more modern set up in the next room. I think he said this was 1950’s technology.



They were very generous with their samples. We each had a couple spoonfuls.






Next, we visited Duff’s Sugar House. Here Sheriff Duff (yes, he is the real sheriff) explains his operation.





Beautiful views at Duff’s.


I can’t resist the sheep!





Dave had a barbecue sandwich at each of the sugar camps. Sam and I shared this maple chicken and cinnamon sugar sweet potato at Duff’s. Delish!


It was interesting that Laurel Fork said it was a great year for them and Duff’s said it had been horrible and both attributed it to the cold winter. Only Laurel Fork Sapsuckers maple syrup came home with us. Duff’s wasn’t selling any. This stuff is so good. I’ll have to try basting my roasted chickens with it sometime.

Spring Starts


We planted beets, carrots, chard, parsnips, radishes and turnips in the kitchen garden today. We had a load of compost delivered earlier in the week and added a layer to each bed before planting the seeds. Now I need to remember to keep them watered along with the seedling starts inside. Directions say to keep the seedling starts moist and not soaked. I’m having a hard time discerning the difference. Along with the cabbages and collards I shared a couple posts ago, we have tomatoes, peppers and onions sprouting. I’m trying my hand at herbs, too, and the wormwood, hyssop, thyme and valerian have sprouted as well. Dave and Damian have been taking wheel barrel after wheel barrel of compost to both the kitchen and the barn garden. We are expanding the area under cultivation in the barn garden and it is really starting to shape up. We are not tilling because we’ve learned that is damaging to the soil. Basically, to make a bed we add a layer of cardboard and pine chips over the grass. Most of this was done last summer and fall. We didn’t get the whole area covered so now we are onto using a layer of newspaper instead. On top of this we put several inches of compost. This is a modified version of lasagna composting where you layer compostable material and let it sit for six months to a year before planting. We are too impatient for that! We have two compost piles but they aren’t heating up like they should so that is something we need to figure out.




Collards, cabbages and bunching onions have sprouted.

Dave planted peppers – Doe Hill Golden Bell and a hot variety from a plant given to us last year – last night.

Half Bath Progress



Dave installed the wainscoting and trim, patched and I’m sure other things I didn’t notice.


Primed all of it, painted the wainscoting (Benjamin Moore’s Simply White).


And now he is painting above the wainscoting. I took pieces of plaster from the wall with the lights (see first photo) to the paint store so they could match it. It isn’t a color I would be bold enough to choose but it was used in this room and at one time I’m sure the whole kitchen was painted in it and one of the bathrooms upstairs, too. I could be way off but I’m thinking it might be from the 1940’s. I can already tell I’m going to love the new color – Benjamin Moore’s Clearspring Green.



About 18 inches of snow has melted into this sodden ground over the past 2 weeks.

Several more inches of snow forecasted for tomorrow.