Thursday, June 23, 2016

The garden year so far....

We had a dry and cool spring this year in North Stonington and it had several strange effects on the garden.  The most prominent of these has been a major infestation of Gypsy Moth caterpillars which are stripping all of the trees and shrubs of their leaves.  Most badly hit were the blueberries and raspberries, so our soft-fruit crops have been quite low.

We have managed to get some other things going, and to-date we have enjoyed harvests of broccoli, lettuce, bok choi, radishes, and raspberries.  We are looking forward to beans, cucumbers, potatoes, kale and Swiss chard in a few weeks.  The warm weather crops (okra and tomatillos) were planted earlier today.

We are benefitting from upgrading the raised beds last season with concrete block surrounds, and we have also switched to a drip irrigation system that is much simpler and lower maintenance than our original soaker hose system.  This has been combined with a thin back plastic mulch to keep the weeds down and some mini-polytunnels to encourage early germination.  

On balance we are doing a little better in our garden each year and slowly learning what works (and what does not) each year that we are here.  And we are having fun and enjoying lots of fresh produce along the way!

Gypsy Moth caterpillars 

Poor blueberry bushes!

Potatoes and beans in our new raised beds

More potatoes, peppers and carrots

The new mini-polytunnels to help germinate the leafy veggies 
(lettuce, Swiss chard, and kale)

Brasicca and rhubarb are on their way!

Mounts Adams and Madison

Last Sunday was a perfect day in New Hampshire and a great opportunity for us to hike on the high peaks.  We got up early and were on the Airline Trail to Mount Adams (5793') by 8am.  The trail steadily climbs up a ridge and emerges from the trees at about 4000-feet.  The last part of the hike continues up the rocky upper part of the ridge and eventually crosses a boulder field to the summit.  We were treated to great views and we were on the summit by 11.30am.

From Mt Adams we travelled down to the col with Mt Madison and enjoyed our lunch at the AMC Madison Springs hut.  The hut was full of teenagers when we arrived but it soon emptied out and we were able to have a relaxing meal with a great view and no bugs!

From the hut we ascended the ridge to Mt Madison ((5367') and then headed back northward to the trailhead via the Watson and Brookline trails.  The Watson path stays above treeline for quite a while, and then drops into a steep valley with picturesque waterfalls and pools.  We stopped by one pool to enjoy afternoon tea and a sticky bun, and then we completed our hike getting back to the car at about 4.45pm. 

On the trail again

Looking across the King Ravine 
(Can you spot the hut on the ridge?)

The ridge to Mt Adams

Looking down on the AMC Madison Springs Hut


At the summit of Mt Madison

Waterfalls on our descent

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"52 with a view" - Mount Martha

For peak baggers in New Hampshire the "52 with a view" list presents a series of modest hikes with excellent vistas.  Last Saturday with decided to tackle one of those peaks, Mount Martha in the Cherry range, so that we could give Kokee the chance to flex her legs.  The weather was perfect and the bugs weren't too bad until we stopped at the summit.  And of course the views were spectatcular and the effort quite minimal (just 3.8 miles round trip).

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Our week in Madison...

We traveled to Madison to attend the annual Land O' Lakes Conference.  This year was the 50th anniversary of this conference that was also a tribute to Professor George Zografi. We met one another while we were working with Professor Zografi at the School of Pharmacy at UW-Madison. We were honored to be invited speakers at the conference and very much enjoyed being part of the celebration.

We spent some extra time in Madison which gave us the opportunity to catch up with many friends. We started the weekend with a visit with Joann and Eric who traveled from Milwaukee so we could catch up. We had a nice breakfast that included donuts (we were in Wisconsin) followed by a very long walk. We walked the Lake Shore path to Picnic Point and back to the Capital Square where Eric and Jo have an apartment.  There we had a birthday celebration with cupcakes made by Eric.  Sheri also received a V05 (80's cover band that includes Drew, keep reading to learn more about Drew) T-shirt and a flower for our garden (made by Eric).

We had several trips to the terrace and enjoyed meeting with the members of our Zografi family on Saturday afternoon.  It was nice to catch up with those we spent time with while we were in Madison, and even some former colleagues from Pfizer.  The gathering on the terrace rolled into a dinner at the Great Dane Brew Pub where we enjoyed a nice meal in the beer garden.

Sunday was a relaxed day starting with brunch at the home of one of George's students who lives just outside of Madison. In the late afternoon we met our Brown House Family for a really nice cookout hosted by Julie and Craig.   Sheri lived with Drew, Julie and Niels in ...yes a big brown house for 3+ years while she was studying in Madison.  It was great to spend time together, see the kids growing up, and as the true tradition of the Brown House, enjoy great food, including fresh greens from Niels' garden.

The conference began on Monday which kept us very busy the rest of the week. Monday evening following the first lectures we celebrated Sheri's birthday at the "Study Pub" at the Fluno Center with friends including Jayne, Sandy, Mehran, Paul (not pictured) and Lynne (not pictured).

We did take another break on Wednesday evening to visit with Mike and Sue Capp. Mike and Sue now live on the west side in a beautiful neighborhood.  Mike is a fabulous cook and it was nice to have a home cooked meal. Sue gave us a tour of their garden, and we did a nice walk after dinner.  We also enjoyed some live music with Sue on Piano, Mike on a cigar box guitar and Sheri on a cigar box ukulele

It was great to be in Madison and enjoy all that it offers and see some really good friends. It is also nice to be home.