Celeste in the Garden

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About this Blog

Celeste Longacre has been growing virtually all of her family’s vegetables for the entire year for over 30 years. She cans, she freezes, she dries, she ferments & she root cellars. She also has chickens. Celeste has also enjoyed a longtime relationship with The Old Farmer’s Almanac as their astrologer. Her new book, “Celeste’s Garden Delights,” is now available!

November 25, 2013

Mache is a small green that is very high in carotenoids, essential fatty acids and minerals. I grow it in my garden window during the late fall and winter months. It likes cold weather; it won’t even germinate if the temperatures get above 70 degrees F. So, once it gets cold (usually late October here), I sow it outside in a couple of window boxes. I take some of my home-made potting soil (compost that has been heated by the soil sterilizer) and mostly fill the window boxes. Then, I broadcast... more

November 7, 2013

It’s starting to get pretty cold where I live. Yet, there are some plants that are quite hardy and don’t mind a bit of frost. I generally cover my lettuce, spinach and kale and continue to harvest them—sometimes as late as Christmas. If you live further south, you might be able to keep these plants going all winter long with proper protection. You want the plastic to be away from the plants so this requires some kind of support. I have hoops for the spinach and lettuce, but the kale was much... more

October 19, 2013

Winter squash is a premier vegetable for easy storage for the colder months. Our ancestors grew many of these beauties for just this reason. They are also quite prolific; once established in the spring, they continue to put out blossoms and fruit into the early fall. Now is the time to purchase some winter squashes and pumpkins from your local farmers. They are usually not too expensive as you are buying them in season. Our local organic farm is selling squashes for $2 apiece and pumpkins for $... more

September 26, 2013

Kale is a super-hardy brassica (relative of broccoli, cabbage & Brussels sprouts). It is extremely nutritious even rivaling wild greens in its overall values. It should be planted like its relatives; in good, loamy soil with lots of sunshine and a few marigolds tucked in. As it grows, the leaves can be harvested and used—they will be replaced by others. When preparing kale, the ribs need to be discarded. They are too tough to eat but you can give them to your chickens if you have them. The... more

June 18, 2013

The peony that we have in our yard is one of my favorite plants. It was actually the very first thing that I planted on our property. A friend had given me some cut peonies and they lasted for a very, very long time. I have heard that there are basically two types of peonies; one that keeps well as a cut flower and the other that is heavily scented. The one I ended up planting is of the heavily scented variety. With peonies, they need the help of the ants. In the spring when the buds form, they... more

June 2, 2013

Thinning crops is one of the most important aspects of gardening. Each and every plant needs to have plenty of room to grow. I thin rather slowly as there is always the possibility that there will be some loss due to insects. The cutworm is one of the worst—this particular bug lives under the soil (where you can’t see them) and comes out at night. It then takes one bite right where the plants go into the soil thereby killing the entire plant. You can tell that a cutworm has been at work if you... more

May 10, 2013

Have you always wanted to have grapes in your backyard? Or, do you have an old grapevine that has grown completely out of control? There are several things to consider if this is the case—not every location is actually ideal for the growing of grapes: First of all, grapes need to be in the Sun all day long. They will not grow well if they are in the shade for all or a good part of the day. Wet areas are also not favored by this crop. Grapes do NOT like to have wet feet; they actually can reach... more

April 11, 2013

Broccoli is another plant that can be put in the ground before all of the frost is done. Garden centers sell the plants, but it is actually quite easy to grow from seed. I prepare my soil as usual. Then I create several “dips” or—as I call them—“water-catchers” leaving about a foot and a half free at the edges of the bed and, if it is extremely long, also in the middle. These dips will catch the rain and irrigation water and keep it right where the plants need it. I then plant six or eight... more

March 22, 2013

Another crop that can be planted early is lettuce. This is actually my husband, Bob’s, favorite so I plant it early and often. Lettuce is best when it is young and tender. As it ages, it gets bitter. So I get a mix (there are many, but I especially like Johnny’s Allstar Lettuce Mix) and I plant it every ten to fourteen days. I prepare the soil by adding my usual mix of additives (kelp meal, azomite powder and old compost or manure) then fluffing up the bed by either turning it or loosening it... more

March 14, 2013

Nobody is neutral about beets. You either hate them or you love them. I happen to be one of the people who love them…. Their rich, dark red root looks like it is loaded up with nutrients and flavor (which it is). Some even say that beets have to do with longevity. They are easy to keep in the root cellar and provide us with good eating all year long. My beet kvaas (see related blog) is something that I enjoy every day. Beets don’t mind a bit of frost so they are one of the crops that goes into... more

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