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Seattle Fling 2011

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Gifts for the Gardener – still time to shop

Gifts for the Gardener begin at the garden center

Gifts for the Gardener begin at the garden center

I have never thought it very hard to find gifts for the gardener. After all, what does a gift say? I love you? I understand you? I want you to enjoy your days? I want your dreams to come true? I share your passion and I know just what you need?

No matter what your message there are garden centers and other kinds of shops that have just the gifts to convey these messages to the gardener in your life. I made the rounds of some of these stores and this is what I found. The Shelburne Farm and Garden Center has colorful Dramm long armed five liter watering cans ($30), and equally colorful one gallon Gardman watering cans ($18). A rolling Saucer Caddy ($40) holds more appeal for me as I get older. My potted plants get bigger every year and moving them a bigger chore. These gifts say ‘Lets have some fun in the garden, but let’s not strain ourselves. I want you in one piece at the end of a gardening day.”

SF&G also has a nice array of gloves. I used to pride myself on not using gloves, but after years of dirty nails and dry calluses I decided gloves are a Good Thing. Of course, gloves like Cool MUD gloves ($10) with water repellent nitrile have gotten lighter, more comfortable and breathable. One style of Women’s Work gloves is flowery and has nice long gauntlets ($20). When I got to the Greenfield Farmer’s Cooperative on High Street I found they had a whole aisle of gloves. And a lot more besides. Gloves are a consumable; they wear out and need to be replaced from time. A gift of gloves says “Don’t worry. Dig in. There is always another pair. Better the gloves get ugly than your lovely hands.”

There are fewer flowers in the winter, but SF&G has bags and bags of bird seed and a whole array of bird feeders. Attract the birds and you will be able to enjoy these flowers of the air. I met a neighbor there and she expressed her pleasure at finding that birds love safflower seeds, but squirrels don’t. Good information.

Blue Pots at the Greenfield Farmers Coop

Blue Pots at the Greenfield Farmers Coop

Greenfield Farmer’s Coop has a fabulous array of Burley Clay pots in sizes from about one cup ($7) to large handsome pots that can hold a striking flower arrangement that is a work of art or even a small tree ($60) These pots come in lovely blue, and subtle shades of green or brown. They also have an array of black metal trellises, perfect for supporting ornamental vines in the garden. Prices range from $25-$40. They say “Isn’t it fun to have plants grow up and add a new dimension to the garden?”

Grow Bags are another way to have fun and continue the vegetable garden indoors during the winter. The Farmers Coop has several Grow Bags ($7-$15) that include coconut coir instead of potting soil, but you will need your own seeds (any left from the summer?), a liquid fertilizer and good light. I think these are great for growing herbs and greens like lettuces. You know your beloved just can’t stop wanting really local food.

Christmas platter at Stillwater Porcelain

Christmas platter at Stillwater Porcelain

On the other hand, sometimes you want to stop thinking about tools and chores. Sometimes you just want to surround yourself with the images of flowers and nature while carrying on in your non-gardening life. I stopped in at Stillwater Porcelain in ShelburneFalls where Pat Pyott has a unique way of creating ornamental tiles, with realistic images of Queen Anne’s Lace, autumn leaves, herbs, an evergreen branch. There are functional pieces like a variety of plates to tiles that surround a mirror. Prices range from $15 for lovely tree ornaments to $218 for a platter that will hold the roasted holiday beast. “I know you want to be surrounded by nature in every room,” these gifts say.

J.H. Sherburne embroidered cases

J.H. Sherburne embroidered cases

Just a little further down State Street is J.H. Sherburne’s shop. Jo-Anne has garden ornaments, and lovely botanical jewelry. I could not resist the gold and silver bulb complete with leaf shoots and roots that provided a space for a sprig of leaf or flower. I am not really a jewelry person, but I found this absolutely irresistible. She also has a collection of brightly embroidered Guatemalan cases, from luggage ($187) to a change purse ($7). I don’t have a cellphone (no service in Heath) but if I did I would love a flowered cellphone case ($14). I like the juxtaposition of technology and a flower garden.

Portrait by J.H. Sherburne

Portrait by J.H. Sherburne

Jo-Anne is also a fine artist and just think what a gift a portrait of the beloved would be, set among the colors of the garden. Full information about how that process works is on her website.

Gift certificates carry all sorts of messages. They can say, “I know you, and I love you and your garden, and while I have no idea what you want or need, I want you to have it.” This message is often sent to experienced gardeners who can be very particular and opinionated about tools or plants. A gift certificate is a gift of anticipation, of time for thought and the delight in picking out just the item you have been longing for. There are times when a gift certificate is the perfect gift. What about a gift certificate to OESCO where fine tools are found in Ashfield? The Greenfield Farmers Coop, the Shelburne Farm and GardenCenter, JH Sherburne and Stillwater Porcelain also have perfect gift certificates.

Between  the Rows   December 13, 2014

Good Reading Roundup for 2013 – Part One

This is my first Reading Roundup. Over the year I have ‘reviewed’ a number of books, any of which would make an excellent holiday gift. Good reading is one of my favorites gifts to give, and to receive.  Over the next couple of days I’ll be giving a note about each of them again, with a link to the original post. All but one of the books were sent to me by the publisher and you may note a very positive note in all of them. This is because I only ‘review’ books that I think are useful and engaging, and in most cases beautiful. I have neither the time, nor space, nor inclination to spend time writing about books that I cannot recommend. Not every book is for everyone, but each of these worthy books will have a substantial audience. Click on the link for each to get the full review.

Taste, Memory

I did buy Taste, Memory: Lost Foods, Forgotten Flavors and Why They Matter by David Buchanan after I heard him speak at the Conway School of Landscape Design. David is a graduate of the CSLD, and his book about his growing passion for  heritage apples is a joy. “This book, with its tales of exciting searches for heritage apples, Buchanan’s own inventiveness, and cooperation between various groups of people and organizations, presents a wonderful vision of how our food system can shift. It is possible for us to eat better, for biodiversity to be protected, and for farmers and market gardeners to make a reasonable living.” This idea is also behind the Slow Food movement and The Ark of Taste which catalogs endangered foods

Taste, Memory also introduced me to John Bunker, David’s apple mentor and a great Maine character who has his own book, Not Far From the Tree about the old apples of Maine. You will never look at an apple in quite the same way again

No Mow Yards

Beautiful No Mow Yards: 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives byEvelyn Hadden. Evelyn Hadden is a founder of Lawn Reform Coalition which aims to teach people about sustainable, healthier lawns. In Beautiful No-Mow Yards she proposes 50 alternatives to mowed grass lawns, offering solutions to cutting down on grass cutting in ways that are likely to appeal to every kind of gardener: new gardeners who are more interested in flowers or vegetables, experienced gardeners who are looking for new ways to garden, and environmentally concerned gardeners who want to cut down on the use of fossil fuels, herbicides and their own energy.

 

 

 Lawn Gone: Low Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yardby Pam Penick (Ten Speed Press)

Some of Penick’s chapter titles will tempt you to imagine a new yard of your own. For example: Ponds, pavilions, playspaces and other fun features and Designing and installing your hardscape, immediately set my mind buzzing. Other chapters indicate the sticky issues that gardeners may have to deal with like working with skeptical neighbors or homeowner’s association regulations or city codes.She also explains ways to eradicate lawn, and gives you the names of grass substitutes in the sedge and carex families.

 

Bringing Nature Home

Bringing Nature Home by Dr. Douglas Tallamy is a book I write about regularly. His argument for the use of native plants in our domestic landscape is ever more important and we think about land development. “Lately I have been talking about the benefits of reducing the size of our lawns. Tallamy said that 92% of landscape-able land is lawn, lawn which is a monoculture that does not support wildlife. He suggested that if we reduced the amount of lawn in theUnited Statesby half we would have 20 million acres that could be put to native trees and other native plants. This would certainly increase the carrying capacity of our neighborhoods and our nation.”

 

Latin for Gardeners

Latin for Gardeners: Over 3000 Plant Names Explained and Explored  by Lorraine Harrison is a beautifully illustrated book that is great fun to read even if you never took Latin in high school  and never got beyond Shakespeare’s “Et tu, Brute?” in English class. Beyond explaining the Latin words that make up proper botanical names, there are special sections of Plant Profiles, information about Plant Hunters like Sir Joseph Banks and Jane Colden and Marianne North, and Plant Themes like The Qualities of Plants. The book is also generously illustrated with colored botanical drawings of plants and their parts. This is definitely a book for browsing.

I’ll continue the roundup tomorrow. These books make great gifts for any holiday – or birthday.

 

More Christmas Gifts for the Gardener

 

Red pots at Shelburne Farm and Garden

I’m not saying gardeners are greedy, but it is true that it is easy to choose Christimas gifts for gardeners. When I wander through Shelburne Farm and Garden or Greenfield Farmers Coop I have all I can do hold myself in check. There are so many bright and sturdy items that will please and be useful to both novice and expert gardeners.

The Shelburne Farm and Garden Center has a wonderful collection of pots. So many of us are growing flowers and other plants in pots that a handsome pot is almost always a good choice. Two matching Christmas red pots, different sizes, really caught my eye, priced at $20 and $30.

The glove rack is a temptation. Gloves are always wearing out. MUD gloves are a particular favorite, some made with the wonderfully flexible nitrile, while others are heavier for jobs that require greater protection. Both types cost $10.

There are so many great gift choices from an array of bird baths, ceramic and metal, in the $70 t0 $90 range as well as a great collection of bird feeders and sacks of bird seed from $22 to $60. I was particularly struck by the  Bird Nester ($19), a wire cage filled with cottony fibers that is available for birds when they are building their nests. It made me think of Patricia Machlachlan’s tender children’s book, Sarah, Plain and Tall, where older sister Anna is cutting young Caleb’s hair, and sets out his curls for the birds to use in their nests.

On my way out of the store I couldn’t help picking up a few bulbs that were on sale and will be used for forcing. The Greenfield Farmers Coop also has bags of bulbs for sale right as you talk into the store. It might be too late to get bulbs in the ground, but there is plenty of time to force them. A great gift would be bulbs for forcing along with a bag of soil mix and a handsome pot. You could plant the bulbs yourself, or pass it on as a DIY project.

The Coop has a large array of tools. Good quality pruners like the Corona bypass pruner for $30 and the Corona needle nose thinning shears at $24 would make any gardener happy – though I hope that experienced gardeners long ago learned the benefits of quality tools and already have their own favorites. Although, if they had a second good tool they might be able to work with a companion.

I was particularly taken with the small, bright red, fixed tine shrub rake at $13. I have seen the Flower Brigade ladies using similar little rakes as they tended to their clean up chores on the Bridge of Flowers and saw how efficiently and gently they worked in the borders.

Tubtrugs at Farmers Cooperative in Greenfield

I loved the display of colorful Tubtrugs in sizes of three and a half to ten gallons. These light, strong flexible containers will hold a lot of weeds, or compost, or what you will, in the garden and around the house. I can imagine a wonderful gift of a bright Tubtrug filled with bags of Espoma fertilizer, seed starting mix, twine, Bag Balm and other small necessary and consumable garden items. Prices range from $9-$27 depending on size.

Compost makings are the result of every meal preparation. A bowl by the sink will serve, but not as handsomely as the lidded one, or one and a half gallon Compost Keepers ($27-$39), in stainless steel or ceramic.

As useful as these practical items are and as welcome as they will be, one could take a different tack to gift buying for the gardener. Luxury!

J.H. Sherburne has a new wing to her portraiture and frame shop in Shelburne Falls called Serious Whimsies for the Garden and Home. I do buy my own tools and consumables when necessary, but I never buy luxurious gifts for my garden like the stone rabbit and hedgehog sculptures for $80 and $30.  There is a wonderful big dancing angel planter for $90, but many more modestly priced planters like the stone bowl ($29) with a frog sitting on the edge. This could be planted with a bit of sedum or succulents for a really carefree bit of elegant whimsy.

Birch Bark Baskets at J H Sherburne’s Serious Whimsies

I also liked the birchbark baskets and containers that are perfect for holding holiday greens and decorations. The large flat basket ($30) would work as a handsome wreath substitute on the front door filled with greens. Smaller baskets, round and square, cost $9-$19. You can even buy silk flowers and greenery to fill them if you wish.

Siver jewelry at J H Sherburne’s Serious Whimsies

Of course, some of us might like to luxuriate in our gardens by wearing beautiful garden inspired jewelry. Sherburne has a small curated collection of delicate silver pins, a dragonfly ($50), a fern frond ($36) and a gold and silver sunflower bracelet ($100).

Though small, the shop is a treasure trove of whimsical delights. A fancy soap is shaped like a heavily frosted cupcake and the scented candles come in little milkbottles.

There are many ways to shop for gifts. Sometimes you know just what that special person in your life wants or needs. Sometimes you just want to surprise and delight which can take thought. Sometimes you have no clue. All these shops can provide you with a gift certificate – and gift certificates always make my eyes light up.

A final note – J H Sherburne is also noted for her portraiture including portraits of pets, or of pets with their owners.

Portrait by J H Sherburne

Between the Rows     December 8, 2012

Gifts for the Gardener

 

In the ‘olden days’ garden catalogs did not arrive until after the new year, the first sign that spring will eventually return. Now my mailbox is already full of garden catalogs describing all kinds of plants, books and tools, every company hoping for some of those holiday dollars that are so important to business in these difficult days. The catalogs are really tempting because many gardeners are like me, greedy for a new plant, or a new book and new information. The trick is to find the right plant, book or information.

Sometimes you know a gardener has a particular passion. I have one friend who always welcomes a handsome pot for her container plantings. However, unless you know that a gardener has a particular enthusiasm a gift certificate is a great way to make sure the gardener in your life gets exactly what she, or he, really wants. Over the years I have gotten a few lovely plants as gifts, and enjoyed them for a while, but chosen as they were by non-gardeners, they were not as hardy as they needed to be for the gardens at the end of the road. I have gotten tools as gifts, but again, non-gardeners are not always able to assess the quality or utility of a given tool. In the case of plants and tools, gift certificates make the perfect gift. And think of the pleasure the recipient will have considering the possibilities before it is actually time to acquire the item itself.

New information can come in a variety of ways. Books, of course. Our local book shops have a good supply of dependable and beautiful garden books. I have written in this column over the past year about many excellent books I have found from “Holy Shit: Managing Manure to Save Mankind” by Gene Logsdon and “50 Beautiful Deer Resistant Plants: The Prettiest Annuals, Perennials, Bulbs and Shrubs that Deer Don’t Eat” by Ruth Rogers Clausen to the “Encyclopedia of Container Plants: 500 Outstanding Choices for Gardeners” by Ray Rogers. I might even mention my own book, “The Roses at the End of the Road.”

Some of us will think of magazine subscriptions that bring us loads of new information and inspiration every month. I have long been a subscriber to Organic Gardening, Horticulture Magazine and Fine Gardening. Over the years it has been nice to see how mainstream magazines have been paying more attention to organic methods. I have a new subscription myself to Green Prints: The Weeder’s Digest, a quarterly magazine that is a family operation with Pat Stone at the helm and wife Becky handling circulation. You can log on to www.greenprints.com for sample articles, and the monthly electronic newsletter.

Another way to gain new information, support important garden and educational activities, and gain a variety of benefits is by giving a membership to a horticultural or plant society. The Massachusetts Horticultural Society (www.masshort.org) membership will give a free ticket to the Blooms! Garden show in Boston in March, free or discounted tickets to many botanic gardens across the country, free subscriptions to magazines, discounted workshops and programs at the Elm Bank Gardens in Wellesley.  They also have a research and circulating library at Elm Bank which is a wonderful resource.

Right in our own backyard we have Nasami Farm which belongs to the New England Wildflower Society (www.newfs.org). Nasami’s many greenhouses propagate thousands of native plants for sale in spring and fall. NEWFS members get discounts on plants, programs and free admission to the beautiful Garden in the Woods and a subscription to the Society’s publications.

I also belong to the American Horticultural Society (www.ahs.org) because it means I get their excellent magazine The American Gardener, but there are other benefits like discounted admission fees to many botanic and public gardens across the country, seed swap, and discounted publications and programs. Their extensive website contains information for members only, but even non-members will find a great deal of useful advice on this site. All these organizations provide education for children and adult gardeners, helping us all to be better stewards of our land.

There are also special plant societies from the African Violet Society of America to the American Hosta Society and American Rhododendron Society. There are even more specialized groups like the Historic Iris Preservation Society. What plant is your gardener passionate about? There is bound to be an appropriate plant society.

Consumables make great gifts. We gardeners can use up fertilizers and potting soil at a great pace. I think my container loving friend would be thrilled to find a pot filled with potting soil, perlite, organic fertilizers like Neptune’s Harvest or Espoma Rose Tone under her Christmas tree. So would I. This may not seem glamorous, but it is such a useful gift, acknowledging all the gardener’s needs and desires.

One of the best garden gifts I ever received was a load of rotted horse manure for my first garden. I was so grateful. Nowadays we don’t need to count on a friend with a farm. We can order, or get a gift certificate for a load of rich compost from Bear Path Farm or Martin’s Farm. The need for compost never ends.

This bag of gifts may not contain much glamour but it sure contains the promise of many pleasures all year long.###

Between the Rows  December 10, 2011

Mary McClintock’s Gift

Many of us know Mary McClintock as a writer who delights in good local food, celebrates the farmers who raise it, and brings us advice from the cooks who really know what to do with it. I know I have enjoyed her Wednesday food column, Savoring the Seasons, ever since it began  nearly four years ago. I’ve learned a lot about vegetables unknown to me including the gilfeather turnip.

During her California youth McClintock probably didn’t spend any more time thinking about vegetables than any other child in her neighborhood, although she enjoyed working with her mother in their garden and attending farmer’s markets where they could buy fresh local food – before that was a catch phrase. Her mother also taught her about preserving food. Together the two of them would pick apricots and peaches and then turn them into golden apricot jam and peach chutney.

Playing on the Hawaiian beach where the family lived for a couple of years, and learning the names of plants in the California woods from her mother instilled a deep love of the outdoors in McClintock.

McClintock’s life has been filled with many jobs and many academic adventures. “Important people in my life showed up at the right moment to steer me into my next educational institution or path. . . .  Two high school teachers spent two years talking to me about the wonders of Mt. Holyoke, including that I could ride horses, canoe and be part of the Outing Club. I thank them every day of my life for getting me to Mt. Holyoke,” she said.

Joan Rising, a teacher at Greenfield Community College “steered me to GCC’s Outdoor Leadership Program when I was wanting to pursue work as an outdoor leader and didn’t know how to get there.”

The work McClintock did in Springfield with very difficult teenage boys in an outdoor program made her realize she didn’t have the knowledge of education and psychology that would make her more effective. One of her colleagues in that program was a student at the University of Massachusetts School of Education and led McClintock to attend and study Organizational Development for a Master’s Degree.  She said the important thing about this program for her was that it could be applied to any field, not only outdoor leadership, but to the issues of social justice that were so important to her.

Over the years, but especially during and since her years at UMass she has worked both as a professional and as a volunteer on issues elated to women, disability rights, and lesbian/gay/bi rights.

McClintock explained that these two professional threads in her life are vitally connected. “The oppression of people is completely and totally parallel to and comes from the same impulse as the oppression of the natural world/earth/environment. Reading a book called Woman and Nature by Susan Griffin in the late 70s or early 80s was the first time I understood the connection between the oppression of people and the oppression of the earth. It has been a foundation of my understanding of the world and my activism ever since. All of my social justice work relates to my environmental work and vice versa, “ she said.

Always interested in good food, she became really involved with local food. in 2001. She was inspired by Gary Paul Nabhan’s book, Coming Home to Eat, about the wisdom and pleasure of eating local food, and a workshop led by John Hoffman who farms at the Wilder Brook Farm CSA. Soon she started a local food group who enjoyed potlucks together. As word spread she joined the group organizing the first Free Harvest Supper in 2005.

When Juanita Nelson came up with the idea of a winter farmers market, “we all thought she was crazy,” McClintock said. To promote this crazy project Nelson and McClintock decided to write monthly articles for the Recorder. “Along the way I thought there were so many topics to write about that I could probably write something every week,” she said.  That was the birth of Savoring the Season which debuted in the Recorder in July 2007.

Through all the changes in her life whether she was sea kayaking in New Zealand or Alaska, editing and indexing books, or running an editorial and research business called BetterYou Than Me, McClintock’s mother enjoyed hearing about her adventures, “although she really liked it when I had work she could actually describe to her friends,” she said. “I sent her my own writings and she was always a great fan.”

When Elizabeth Welsh passed away last year McClintock wanted to find a way to honor her. That was not hard to do. McClintock had worked part time at the World Eye and when Welsh came to visit a lot of time was spent with McClintock’s World Eye family.

“My mother loved libraries and reading,” McClintock said. She also thought about the books that had inspired her over the years. The perfect memorial would be books purchased at the World Eye, and donated in her mother’s name to the Greenfield and Conway libraries. The books have to do with gardening, food preservation and sustainable living, topics important to mother and daughter. The books were carefully chosen with the help of the librarians to avoid duplication, and enhance their collections.

The books are on library shelves and ready to be checked out, ready to inspire and teach.

Books Donated to the Greenfield Public Library

by Mary McClintock in memory of her mother, Elizabeth Welsh

Berry Grower’s Companion by Barbara L. Bowling

Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking of Meat, Fish & Game by Eastman

Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants by Peterson

How To Make and Use Compost:  The Ultimate Guide by Nicky Scott

Museum of Early American Tools by Eric Sloane

Perennial Vegetables by Eric Toensmeier

Pruning Made Easy by Lewis Hill

Putting Food By (5th ed) by Greene, Hertzberg, & Vaughn

Secrets of Plant Propagation by Lewis Hill

Stalking The Healthful Herb by Euell Gibbons

Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience by Rob Hopkins

Wilderness Medicine, Beyond First Aid by Forgey

Compost, Vermicompost and Compost Tea, by Grace Gershuny will be published in April, 2011:

Another Chance to Win – Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer

I remember when I first learned about perennials and thought – what a great idea, I’ll never have to replant again. LOL.  Even if pernnials didn’t have to be divided, or die, most of us still have to move plants, add plants or remove plants in our attempts to have a garden that pleases the eye and the heart.  For my full review you can click here, but I can tell you briefly that The Perennial Gardener’s Design Primer: The Essential Guide to Creating Simply Sensational Gardens delivers design instruction and advice that will be useful to every gardener, novice or experienced. The authors, Stephanie Cohen and Nancy J. Ondra will be familiar to some of you, and will immediately indicate the value of this useful book.

I like Stephanie and Nan giving us a peek at their own garden designs.

Through Storey’s generosity I am Giving Away a copy of this book next Sunday, December 19. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post if you want to participate in the Giveaway. Maybe you can tell me about the thing you find most difficult about design, a success or a disaster.

Another Winner!

Chosen by a random number generator Ellen Sousa of Turkey Hill Brook Farm is the winner of Recipes from the Root Cellar!  In her comment she mentions that there is a passageway between her garage and basement that maintains a consistent temperature that allows her to store winter vegetables so she’ll be able to put this cookbook to good use. Congratulations, Ellen.  I will get Ellen’s address and send this book right out. I’m sure she will find a some recipes perfect for the holidays.

Ellen will be celebrating the publication of her own book, The New England Habitat Natural Garden, this spring. Two hoorays and congratulations to Ellen.

Don’t forget, tomorrow there will be my third Giveaway – of particular interest to those who have, or want to have, a beautiful perennial garden.

Thank you Storey Publishing for being so generous and helping me celebrate my third blogoversary.

Christmas Lists

I have barely begun my shopping, but I admit that much of my shopping is done in the bookstore.  On the other hand many gardeners like to get plants – or gift certificates for plants to be used in the spring.  I did let a comment slip about how many new roses I’d like in the spring.

Fountains and birdbaths attract the birds, but they are also a beautiful ornament in the garden.

Of course some things wear out and need to be renewed from time to time. Gloves. Clogs.  What do you need or desire?What’s on your Christmas list? Plant society memberships?  Garden magazine subscription? If you want books be sure to comment on Monday’s post, and next Monday’s post, and the Monday after that. Storey Publications we love you for helping me celebrate my third blogoversary!

Hen House #2 – Mine

Our henhouse 12-2

When we moved into our house I was thrilled that there was also a hen house in the back yard.  The building is about 30 feet long, divided into three sections. We store the feed, kept in metal garbage cans, as well as bales of shavings, in the first section. We also brood our chicks in that section when they arrive around the first of June. There is a chicken door that allows the chicks to go outdoors into a separate fenced yard when they get old enough.

Our henhouse, second section

The second section has egg boxes, waterers and feeders for the chickens. During the winter when the waterers freeze I rotate them through our house where they can thaw.

You can see that neither the exterior, nor the interior are objects of beauty.  However, the building is functional. We have used it ever since our first spring here in 1980.  You cannot really tell, but I do use the ‘deep litter’ technique.  I only clean the henhouse out once a year, in the spring. Over the summer and fall the bedding and the chicken manure build up and begin to compost. The manure and the composting  create some heat which helps keep the chickens warm in the winter. The manue and bedding also encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria that helps keep the chickens healthy, although their access to fresh air and sun are also important to their health. Everyone always comments on the rich yellow color of our eggs.

Our chickens in their yard

I throw cracked corn to the chickens outdoors every day. You can see we have a mixed flock. I have several Araucanas; they are not especially pretty, but they are great egg layers. Blue eggs!  They lay longer for us, into their second and third year.  I also have barred rocks, and New Hampshire Reds. I love having chickens because of the eggs, and because of knowing that our eggs come from happy and healthy chickens.

In case you were wondering about the third and longest section – that is not used. It is missing the end wall which was OK when we had pigs out there. Pigs only need housing for four or five months, but the space is not suitable for our hens.

I’ll be showing more hen houses built by some thoughtful people.  Don’t forget to leave comments on yesterday’s post to have a  chance at winning a copy of Recipes from the Root Cellar by Andrea Chesman. today is my exact third blogoversary and I am celebrating the commenters who visit, and the other bloggers I have met over these past years. Please celebrate with me. This Giveaway ends Saturday at midnight, but two more books are coming through the generosity of Storey Publishing.

Three Societies for Thursday

It’s time to renew memberships!  What are you a member of?

My most local membership is in the New England Wildflower Society because their propagation operation and nursery are so close by. An individual membership is only $50, for which you get free admission to the famous Garden in the Woods in Framingham, discounts on workshops and lectures, discounts at Nasami Farm and in the Gift Shop. NEWFS also participates in a Reciprocal Admissions Program that will give you free or reduced admission to over 200 botanic gardens, arboreta and conservatories. For full information click here.  I haven’t yet gone to the Garden in the Woods, but more and more is happening at Nasami Farmb where the new LEED Gold Native Plant Center is now open. Very exciting.

My national membership is in the American Horticultural Society. My main benefit from the AHS is their magazine, The American Gardener. I mine the magazine for ideas for my garden and for my garden column.  My November/December issue just arrived with articles by Rosalind Creasy on edible landscaping for small spaces, Carole ottesen on growing moss, Rita Pelczar on outstanding conifers, Kris Wetherbee on a new view of garden cleanup, and Karen Bussolini on winter perennials. Even in cold zones. Of course there is also lots of information about all the good work that the AHS does in so many different areas.  An individual membership is only $35. The AHS website has lots of information for all gardeners, but members have a special section and special services.  Click here for more information on membership.

My third membership is the Massachusetts Horticultural Society. I do get subscriptions to Organic Gardening and Garden Design with my individual $50  membership, as well as the Leaflet newsletter and a ticket to the Boston Flower Show. Reciprocal admission benefits, too.  MHS maintains the beautiful Elm Bank Gardens bordering the towns of Wellesley and Dover. For full membership information click here.

Obviously, all of these memberships provide me with benefits, but my membership benefits each society in supporting their gardens, The Garden in the Woods, River Farm, and Elm Bank, in the work they each do in conservation, volunteer projects, and education. And that work is a support to me as well. Hard to tell where the benefits begin and end.  If you haven’t joined a plant society before, consider it now. There are many state horticultural societies, and individual plant societies. These societies are a great fund of information and put us in touch with other gardeners and plant enthusiasts.

Give yourself, or a gardening friend, the gift of a membership. It’s value and pleasure will last all year.

Visit Cindy MCOK at My Corner of Katy to see who else has Three for Thursday. You never know what will turn up.