Archive | June, 2013

Pallet Gardening – A Great and Versatile System

I will be adding my updates to the beginning of this post so those returning for a quick look at the weekly update pictures do not have to scroll to the bottom!  For those of you visiting for the first time, scroll down for the original post.

July 8th, 2013


It has been Monsoon Season in Vermont!  Inches of rain this week!  Need to trim the grass between the pallets!  Everything growing. Black Seeded Simpson lettuce needs to be used up and replaced. It is leggy and knocked down by heavy rains. I haven’t planted BSS lettuce for years and did so this year (along w/ other varieties) as the plants were available and we were behind after a cold & wet season. Two dark rows, bottom right pallet, didn’t germinate (old lettuce seed). Replanted this week with radishes in one and a mesclun mix in the other.  Dill, beans, Swiss chard coming along nicely.  Basil needs to be topped so it bushes out.


Tomatoes growing out of their cages!  repurposed old tent pieces to extend the cage and will tie w/ twine as needed.  Both tomato plants in the pallet garden are “Great Whites” a beautiful, large white beefsteak tomato with sweet flavor and lots of juice

July 1st, 2013


Up date pictures from Monday, July 1st. Lettuces and chard going great guns. Beans and dill up. Tomatoes growing well, though hard to see as foliage greenery melds. Two rows (front bottom right in 1st pic and top back left in 2nd pic) of salad greens did not germinate. Old seed so will replant when this rain stops.  Who would have thought Vermont would have a monsoon season!

June 19, 2013


Blessed are the geese who are protecting the poultry pens from raccoons at night!  NOT so blessed are the geese when they discovered the pallet garden!!! Fortunately they just pulled up a couple plants and dropped them. Replanted easily and then grabbed some stainless steal shelves to repurpose as a fence!

Pallet Garden Capture-1

Home Farmer magazine  picked up our blog and will be publishing a page in their next issue.  The Home Farmer Magazine (Facebook link)is the UKs fastest growing publication for the smallholder and garden farmer. It offers the widest choice of subjects written by key experts in their chosen fields. Edited and published by practicing garden farmers it is a polished and well designed magazine. The often specially commissioned contents are written with passion and integrity whilst retaining the intimate ‘over the garden fence’ feel which doesn’t preach – in fact we often take the mickey and dare to be different giving us a readership that is both loyal and passionate and a magazine that is lively, human and much loved.

The Original Post


Back in April I wrote an entry that included a segment on plans for  creating a pallet garden.  I am a strong believer in growing food NOT lawns.  Having seen the concept some where, I wanted to give it a try. I decided to install it in our front yard which is not that large. Large enough for a four pallet garden with some containers,  Public!  Visible!  Educational!  We have had three people stop, discuss and head off planning to try. We will never know how many just see it driving by and discuss else where and/or implement.

We are using it mainly for salad greens (close to the kitchen) but have also added some wax bush beans,  Swiss chard and dill.  Easy to do and so versatile!  One by the kitchen door or dozens in any artistic formation you chose.


We had the pallets already. They are readily available if you do not already have them.  With the space we had, we decided on a four pallet square.  The iron planter was intended for nasturtiums, edible flowers that are great on salads. I was so anxious for color that it was planted with pansies which are also edible!

You can see in this picture that we also dry our laundry in the front yard! Again, convenient and educational!  People need to see these activities if the wheels are to start turning.


Filling takes more dirt than you would think!  First we placed some sods we had removed from a front daylily garden upside down in the pallets.  Top soil was then added and this takes multiple applications. In between top soil additions we hosed it with a “jet” spray. This compacts the soil and distributes it. Remember you are also filling the space under the slats. We used top soil to fill the pallet up to the bottom of the slats.


Final filling was done with two applications of  a mixture of Quoddy Blend Lobster Compost & Penobscot Blend Compost & Peat from “Coast of Maine”. In between applications we used the “jet” spray to work the first application in and then just a regular “spray” for the final application.  Pallets are ready to plant!


Our cold and wet spring has delayed planting here in Vermont. We had plants started in the hoop house and purchased  some others from a small, local nursery that starts all their own plants!  NO big box, disease ridden plants for us.


Lettuces, basil, parsley and Swiss Chard

The rest of the spaces have been planted with seeds.  Bush wax beans, more lettuce and dill.  We will take pictures to record this garden’s development. Pictures will be added to this post weekly.


The five containers have been planted with pole beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. We are pleased with this system so far and look forward to our first season with a pallet garden.


My Other Special Place

My Other Special Place

Star Island, Isles of Shoals, N.H.

Those of you who know me and have followed our lives here in Vermont, know how special our small piece of property is! Prior to finding this special haven we call home, I only had one special place!  Since 1959 when I was eleven, Star Island has been in my life.  This special and magical Island has been the only constant in my life!

In 1959, we lived in Burdett, New York, just outside of Walkins Glen. We attended the Unitarian Church in Ithaca, New York. At that time, The Ithaca Unitarian Church had a large number of people going to Family Conferences on Star Island.  In 1959, Mother took me and my three brothers to Star Island for two weeks.


Star Island

Two separate family conferences, All Star I  and All Star II.  This was the beginning of a life long connection to Star and the formation of some special friendships that continue to this day.

Home Run

My Famous Home Run!  The ball field is still in the same spot and the stairs to the Oceanic Hotel Porch still provide the background.

These were very special weeks away from the world.  A group of people who, once on Star, were all equal. No titles, no knowledge, nor care about social position or socioeconomic status.  We were all “shoalers”  together for a week and then back to our lives in the “world” until we came together again the next year.

I loved these weeks, the formalized activities for kids and the random explorations that parents never knew about until we were adults as we searched for the treasure in places I would shudder to think a child was going today!

We cried when the day came that we had to leave!

I am not sure just when I came to understand the significance of Star Island’s energy in the connection of my Energy to the Universe. I just know that my awareness and understanding evolved and it was here on Star that I was the most connected to the Universe. It was the Chapel during Candlelight that was the most direct and strongest connection.  It was the place, NOT the speaker or service… The place that has the energy that combined with mine for this powerful Universal connection.


Candlelight Service in Gosport Chapel

My time on Star sustained me in the world the rest of the year. I could, and did, connect at times from afar.  I will not get in to the Metaphysical aspects of this connection as they make many uncomfortable.  I always say, I was born in to a family who had been Unitarians for many generations and moved on to the Metaphysical.  Star Island accommodated and supported that personal growth and knowledge of how the Universe works and the connectedness of all.

It was to Star that I brought Sharon and the children.  Family conferences at first and when the Children moved on with summer jobs ( Ellen was a Pelican – summer employee – one summer) Sharon and I moved to the Natural History Conference in 1988.  We were very active in NHC and Chaired the NHC Conference in 1992.  We had served on the Committee prior to Chairing.

I Co-Chaired in 1997 with friend since 1959, Jack Lightfoot. I was alone this year and it was post Sharon and pre Tom.  I came out to the Star Island Community in The Opening Candlelight Service that  Jack and I did jointly. That service is still remembered.

In 1998 I introduced Tom to Star and NHC.  I served as registrar for several years and continued to be active in the conference and Tom developed a website to promote NHC. That promotion created the largest Natural History Conference ever.

Life and work and acquiring our Vermont Home created a break for several years.


While Tom and I could not be Married on Star (New Hampshire didn’t recognize same gender marriages at this time) we did take a day in August, before we were married in September to go out to Star and perform a private ring exchange in the Chapel.


We did our ceremony at noon when the Island was having lunch and we could be alone and then wore our rings until the boat docked back at the mainland. We took them off and boxed them until the wedding in Concord, MA.

With life as we now live it, it has become impossible for us to both get away for a week.  Tom has been generous and covers the home front while I get my “Star Time”.  These days my Star Island involvement is as a Volunteer for the Shops on Star.  Tom once again built the webpage.

Star Island continues in my life  and as I said at the beginning, Star Island has been the one thread of consistency that has run through my life. It has remained a special and VERY significant place.

I have always said everyone needs a special place in their lives, where ever that may be, like Star has been in mine.  Now I am doubly blessed as our home in Vermont has the same powerful energy and connection to the Universe.  I get to live year round in a connected place as I am either at Home or at Star.


My Spirit Has Two Homes


“Peggy” The Chantecler Chick !

PeggyJune2013 053


On June 4th a local woman contacted me and asked for one fertile egg. They had placed a supposedly fertile egg under their hen and their small children were waiting eagerly for the egg to hatch …….. egg was a week over due…… so not going to hatch.

I candled the eggs in the incubator and sold her one egg as she requested… She picked it up, wrapped it in her sweater, and took it home to slip under the hen. Hatched on schedule last Sunday (6/9) and her update follows!!:):):) :

“Hi Jim ~
Just writing w/ an update for you. Our new little fluffy addition to our family arrived on Sunday afternoon, just as you predicted. Mom (Maple) is very proud indeed! My children are sure that she is a girl and have named her “Peggy”. Maple sat on her for Sun and Mon but today she is out exploring her world ~ acting quite healthy and spry. My children have enjoyed lots of quiet time observing and loving her. Maple has been very trusting of us since she too, has been given lots of affection since she was newly hatched. It’s been just perfect. She will be very loved here… thank you so much!!
~ Ruth”

Events like this make life special!

Update on “Peggy” The Chantecler Chick!  –  August 17, 2013

So many of you enjoyed hearing about Peggy that I thought I would bring you up to date!  Peggy is doing well and growing in to a beautiful white Chantecler hen!  Word and pitures from her family today.

“Peggy is great and we’re assuming she’s still a she!  She has become friends w/ our two other little ones which are about her same age (I had purchased two female chicks from Agway since the kids wanted a barred rock to replace our lost one). The flock accepted them all quickly and that was a relief.  She still hangs out w/ her Mom, Maple, but is definitely independent.  She’s become quite friendly to us too! Here are a few pictures taken yesterday.  Thanks for checking in on her ~ I’ll tell her you were asking!
~ Ruth”

peggy 1 Summer 2013 346

Peggy with her Mother, Maple

Peggy 2 Summer 2013 311

Peggy !  Isn’t she Beautiful?

Peggy 3 Summer 2013 307

Peggy with a Barred Rock Friend


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