It has been hazy, hot and humid for the last few days.  Not atypical weather for July in New England, but not my favorite weather .   But apparently zucchini loves it.  It has gotten a bit out of control.  

IMG_4460It just keeps coming and coming!  So today, since it was too hot for me to be in the gardens, I thought I would try to use at least some of it.  Luckily it is a very versatile vegetable and you can use zucchini in lots of different recipes.

What should I make?  After a search of the internet, I settled on a few things.  First I would make zucchini chocolate chip cookies.  In my experience adding chocolate chips to almost anything is a guaranteed success.

IMG_4463They certainly look good.

Next I made another batch of zucchini oat bread.  I made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious.

IMG_4469It is lovely for breakfast or with a cup o tea.

I had a bit of grated zucchini left over from the bread.


So the girls got a little treat.  

But what to do with the rest of the zucchini?  I have just acquired this lovely new kitchen tool.

IMG_4461It is a julienne peeler and it turns zucchini into a pasta like food.  Or so they say.  I decided to try it out.  The internet is filled with delicious looking recipes.  I settled on one that used things that I had in the garden.  Zucchini noodles with Pesto.  Since basil likes hot weather there was plenty of that as well.

I made the pesto.

IMG_4476There is nothing like the smell of fresh basil!

And then it was time to try out the peeler.

IMG_4472It worked beautifully and soon I had a bowl of zucchini noodles.

IMG_4473The recipe said you could use them as is or heat them a bit.  I decided to heat them.

IMG_4477Into the wok they went.  I added some pesto and a few cherry tomatoes from the garden.


IMG_4478It was starting to smell delicious!

IMG_4479A bit of cheese and it was perfect!

I had also roasted some cauliflower.  It doesn’t like the heat so I wanted to use it up.


And voila!  Dinner almost entirely from the garden.  Zucchini noodles are very interesting.  They taste a bit like pasta but have a lovely crunchy texture.  Nice.

So all in all it was a very productive day…


..but there is STILL zucchini left!  

Well tomorrow is another day……

Posted in Cooking, Eating Well, Gardens | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Harvest Continues…

We had a lovely June this year and the cool weather plants all did well.  We have been feasting on huge heads of broccoli, sweet tender lettuce, delicious peas, and bountiful kale, chard and spinach.

But July turned hot.  The spinach bolted as did the lettuce, and the peas faded.  The broccoli is still producing some and the kale and chard are fine.  But now the hot weather plants are coming.  It has been a busy time in the gardens.

The tomatoes have finally begun to ripen…


and they are HUGE!

IMG_4405 Even the tomatoes in the greenhouse, which were planted much later, are ripening.

IMG_4406The plum tomatoes are coming as well.

IMG_4419The zucchini is  prolific….we have had enough to stir fry and more to make zucchini bread.  Such a versatile plant.

IMG_4418We have plenty of cucumbers and the cherry tomatoes have begun to ripen.  That is celery and dill in the jug.  Just gorgeous.

IMG_4401The cauliflower is ready.

IMG_4398And the winter squash are getting bigger.  There are LOTS of them!

IMG_4397The arch has been a great success so far.

And remarkably..
IMG_4402….the deer have not eaten the beans yet this year.  They are just flowering now so fingers crossed the deer will stay away!

The garlic has also been harvested and is drying in the carport.

IMG_4417In case you are wondering if it really matters if you remove the garlic scapes…

IMG_4415I missed the garlic scape on the bulb on the right.  It had a lovely flower…but you can see it had less energy for the bulb.  If you remove the scapes you not only get delicious garlic scapes..you get bigger garlic bulbs!  


I have even harvested the potatoes from the potato bags.  Yum!

So you can see it HAS been a very busy time in the gardens.

And while I was busy with the veggies, the summer flowers BLOOMED!


IMG_4392 IMG_4394 IMG_4395

Brookwood Shire is BURSTING with color!  And the bees are VERY happy!


Posted in Eating Well, Gardens, Nature | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Garlic Scape Pesto

We have had severe thunderstorm warnings all day today.  It rained on and off and in-between it was hot and humid…with sudden gusts of wind and occasional thunder.   So my plans for spreading new straw in some of the beds were canceled.  Instead I decided to find some recipes for the garlic scapes I harvested yesterday.

I have used garlic scapes to make my usual pesto, but I wanted to try something new.  I also was thinking of finding a few new recipes for all the kale that is in the garden.  So I was delighted to find a recipe for Kale Basil Garlic Scape Pesto.  Since I am sure I am not the only one with overflowing gardens, I thought I would share.

The actual recipe calls for pistachios as well, and can be found here.  I didn’t have any pistachios so I used pine nuts instead.


I harvested some kale and basil and brought them in.  I would also need garlic scapes and oil.  The recipe called for garlic scape paste, so first I had to make that.


Cut up nine garlic scapes…

IMG_4344….about a cup.

These go in the food processor.  Pour in the oil as it is processing.  You will have a beautiful pale green paste.

IMG_4346This will be used in the Kale, Basil Pesto.

Blanch the kale.

IMG_4363Make sure you cut out the tough stems before you blanch it.

IMG_4364Remove the stems from the basil and you are ready to start.

IMG_4365Put three tablespoons of the garlic scape paste in the processor.

IMG_4368Add the basil leaves, the kale and the nuts.

IMG_4369Add the oil as it is processing and you are done.  How easy was that?

IMG_4370Kale Basil Pine Nut Garlic Scape Pesto.

I served it on whole wheat pasta with tomatoes and some Romano Cheese.IMG_4372It was delicious!

IMG_4328And there are plenty of garlic scapes left…..aren’t they beautiful?


Posted in Eating Well, Gardens | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Garden Update

While May was challenging with heatwaves and frost warnings, June has been lovely.  We even had a few rainy days!  It has been seasonal or even a bit cooler than normal…so I have been enjoying my time in the gardens.  Most everything is planted now…though there are a few odds and ends to find places for.  The plants are loving the weather as well and are growing like crazy!  It has been wonderful.

Today I planted the leftover tomatoes, peppers and eggplant in the greenhouse.  This is an experiment (like so much that I do here).  I have no idea if it will get too hot in the greenhouse..but these are extra plants so I thought I would see what happens.

IMG_4310I have gotten a shade cloth for the greenhouse so it is not as hot as it was.  Tomatoes, peppers and eggplant like it hot so I am hoping they will be happy and keep producing into the Fall.

didn’t have room for the extra basil, so that ended up in a pot on the front steps….it can go into the greenhouse in the Fall if it is still happy.

IMG_4322I still had plants left but found homes for most of them with neighbors.

IMG_4311I had three Roma tomatoes left over that I potted up as well.  Roma tomatoes freeze really well so I am hoping for a huge harvest.  

I also have tomatoes, peppers, eggplant and basil in raised beds.  

IMG_4238This bed has strawberries on the edges as well.  So far the deer have left them alone and Peter (my resident rabbit..I am determined NOT to turn into Farmer MacGregor) has only nibbled a few.

The peas (which the deer DID sample) have been enjoying the cooler weather and come back.

IMG_4323We have a few flowers so the peas won’t be far behind.  I LOVE peas!

The lettuce is also enjoying the cooler weather and so far no bears have been by.

IMG_4284So salads are on the menu most nights.  Yum!


The kale and chard are glorious!  That is catmint and lemon balm behind the kale….everything is just exploding with the nice weather.

The first broccoli I planted is just forming heads.


And the newer plant are coming along.

IMG_4237I am hoping for a continuous harvest.

The garlic scapes have appeared.

IMG_4320They really are beautiful.  I will remove them and we will stir fry them with something….and the garlic will be ready soon!

The sunflowers are planted.

IMG_4235There are fewer now as the deer have sampled them (!) but they will be glorious.

The spinach bolted in the heat of last month, but is happier now.  It has gotten huge and the leaves are still tasty.

IMG_4283Spinach, garlic, tomatoes and eggs is one my favorite things to cook up after a long day in the garden.  Easy, quick and tasty!

The potatoes I planted in bags have flowered.


There are more planted in straw….but they were planted much later.  They won’t be ready for awhile yet.  These will be our first potatoes of the season….perhaps a lovely potato salad….

All in all, the gardens are doing well.  All beds, veggie or flower have been tidied and mulched.  The window boxes and pots are done and doing well. And the girls big run is up!

Here is a short video of them enjoying  the big run. (I hope…my first video in a blog..so I hope it works)  

It has been a busy month at Brookwood Shire…the days are long but productive.  And the season is just beginning!


Good night for now…..and Happy Gardening!

Posted in Gardens, Hens, Nature | Tagged , | 6 Comments

Happy Birthday Fergus!

Today was Fergus’ birthday!  He turned 13.  Remarkable really.  As many of you may remember, last March (2014) Fergus was diagnosed with spleen cancer.  We were not given much hope. You can read about it here.  We were thrilled he made it to his 12th birthday last May…and then to Summer, to Fall and to Christmas.  He made it through the winter..enjoyed his first swim in the Spring and now it is his birthday again.  And he is still here!  Every day is a gift and we are absolutely thrilled that we still have him in our lives. 

So how did Fergus celebrate the day?  Well, after breakfast he went for his usual walk.

IMG_4097We go to some walking trails nearby that have become known as the “dog park.”  He has many friends there and there is a river for swimming.  Heaven for a Lab.

After seeing a friend in the parking lot as we arrived (and of course receiving a few birthday cookies) we headed for the river.

IMG_4100Fergus LOVES the water!

IMG_4101He swims many times during the walk as the path follows the river.  There are many interesting things to sniff and some tasty grass to nibble..and of course,  friends to see.  

After his walk we went home.


Fergus was ready for a nap, but there was a special birthday treat.

IMG_4102Frosty Paws.  It is like ice cream, but for dogs.  It is a favorite treat.  Sometimes he just gets a few licks, but today he had the whole thing!  Yum!

And then it was time for a nap.

IMG_4110Merlin had the living room couch already.

IMG_4108Luckily, there is another couch in the den.

IMG_4099Sweet dreams, birthday boy!  Here is hoping for many more to come!


Posted in Fergus, Merlin | 7 Comments

Frost Warning!

I have said for years that I do not know how anything survives in New England.  After the very hot weather of early May, we had a week or so of somewhat “normal” temperatures…but now tonight there is a frost warning!  I am very glad that I resisted the temptation to go ahead and plant tender plants…I have lived here too long to be tricked by an early heat wave.

My green house is overflowing with plants ready to be planted.

IMG_4057But they will have to wait a bit longer.  It is still too early for tender plants.  Our last frost date is traditionally the end of May.

While most of the plants I have planted are hardy and will be fine tonight, I have planted a few marigolds and nasturtiumso I have covered them.

IMG_4080It looks a bit spooky with the white sheets here and there.

During the week or so of “normal” weather I was able to get a lot of tidying and mulching done.  And Bill and I also built a squash arch.  We had already made this little arch.

IMG_3912This will be for zucchini.  Last year my friend, Peter Rabbit, managed to eat most of our baby zucchinis.  This year I will grow them up..out of his reach.

Then I saw this article online about building a squash arch.  I love arches and this one is tall enough to walk under.  So we decided to try it.

IMG_4046We wove pvc piping through some of the fence we had from the original pumpkin patch.  Bill made two little raised beds to grow the squash in.  The piping goes over rebar which is hammered into the ground.  Pretty simple.  The arch is over an old stump from a maple tree that was cut a few years ago.  I am thinking of stepping stones through the arch…the stump will just be a step.

I painted it black…

IMG_4054..and started filling the raised beds.  Straw and shavings from the coop is the first layer.  I will also add some compost and top it off with some soil.  It will be beautiful with the big orange squash blossoms growing over it…and I will plant a few morning glories as well.  It will be ready by the time it is safe to plant the squash.

Meanwhile, I have gotten flowers for all my window boxes…but as they are mostly tender plants, the frost warning puts planting them on hold as well.  

IMG_4083Some of the flowers are spending the night in the greenhouse.

IMG_4084The rest are tucked into these tents.  Hopefully they will be protected there.

We will have to wait a bit longer for our window boxes I am afraid..

IMG_4075Luckily we have many perennials beginning to bloom!

Posted in Gardens, New England Weather | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Spring to Summer..too fast!

It has been TOO hot this week.  It was 90F today…much too hot for early May.  The cool weather plants are mostly planted and I am busy trying to keep them watered and cool.

IMG_3994The peas are just emerging.  It was such a cold Spring that they got planted late….I hope they are ok..they don’t like heat.

IMG_3993The spinach has just started to grow…but is wilting.  I hope it doesn’t bolt before we get to harvest it.

IMG_3992And the lettuce is struggling. 

IMG_3911Some lettuce is planted under the cucumber trellis for shade..but of course the cucumbers are not there yet….as we are still a few weeks from our last frost date!

IMG_3912More is planted under this Zucchini Arch..our newest addition to the garden…but no shade yet here either.

The cucumber and zucchini plants are waiting to be planted.   They spend the nights in the greenhouse with the other baby plants.

IMG_4040But the greenhouse has been too hot during the day.  They are outside during the day.  Today even the tomatoes and basil were in the shade for part of the day.  It has been a challenge.  It seems impossible but we still could have a frost…so the tender plants are not yet planted.

I have been working on the “pumpkin patch.”  It is not a pumpkin patch this year, that is just what it is called.  It started out in life as a pumpkin patch and then it was a Three Sisters bed.  


This year it will have the green beans (a favorite of the local deer) cauliflower, carrots and spinach.  There will also be nasturtiums and summer savory..but they are not yet planted.

I have converted the Apple Tree bed to a fruit bed.  It once had two apple trees, but we lost them in freak October snowstorm a few years ago.  It has been a veggie bed for a while, but the blueberries were not happy where they were and the raspberries needed thinning as did the strawberries.

IMG_4002So I put them all in the (apples) Apple Tree bed.  There is garlic in there as well and I added some arugula and collard greens.  It is a very wide bed and hard to get a good picture.  The baby raspberries are between the poles and the strawberries are in front…the blueberries are on the sides.

IMG_3999Here is one of the blueberry bushes.  They seem to be much happier here.

So despite the heat, I have been busy with the veggie gardens.  And while I have been doing that, the woodland gardens have burst into life!  They are very lush this year as everything came at once.  Here are some pictures.

IMG_3977 IMG_3978 IMG_3979 IMG_4036 IMG_4037 IMG_4039

It is so nice to have a few gardens that take care of themselves….and I can just enjoy them!


Posted in Gardens, Nature, Spring, summer | 3 Comments