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Gardening On The Coast of Maine

Category: Presenting "The Curious Gardener"

Cottage by the sea
The cottage by the sea

One of the things we love about our little island in Maine is that seemingly nothing ever changes. And yet things do change– in subtle, positive ways. For instance it was always difficult to purchase good produce on the island because there is only one market and they tend to bring in produce that travels well, such as iceburg lettuce.   This summer we enjoyed a floating farmers market, which motored into the boatyard every Saturday morning carrying fresh vegetables and berries, as well as seafood, meat and baked goods. It was heavenly.

Floating Farmers Market
Then there is also the Second Wind Farm, an organic farm that operates on the honor system. We picked a bunch of flowers out of their garden and dropped our money into a tin container.
Flowers picked at Second Wind Farm

Now that we have a greenhouse at home I am interested in seeds and seed collecting. The timing was right for plucking the seedheads of the lupine plants in the cottage garden in front of the house. I saved the seeds and will try propagating them this winter for planting out next spring.

My sister-in-law Monica is a gardener and wears Womanswork garden gloves and sun protection hats so well, so we organized a shoot in her front yard for the holiday catalog. She is wearing our raffia hat with brim down, and also a pair of our High Performance gloves in red  (a new color available this holiday season).                                                                    

Pruning cottage roses

For pruning the thorny cottage roses growing up the side of the house and trellises my mother put on a pair of Womanswork leather rose gauntlet gloves. They protected her hands well and they’re breathable so are not hot.

On the last day of our vacation we picked wild raspberries from bushes growing along the side of the road, and added other fruit from the fridge, such as peaches, pears and apples, and I made a fruit tart. The tart pan was purchased for $2 just days earlier at the island’s weekly flea market at the Island Grange. The tart was a delicious addition to our lobster dinner, and was a high note to leave the island on the next day.

High Performance gloves in red (a new color)
Wild Raspberries fresh picked

Here’s the recipe for my fruit tart. For the crust I found an old edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook and followed this recipe. Crust: 1 cup flour, 1/4 tspn salt, 6 tblsp cold butter cut into small pieces, 1 egg yolk, 1-1/2 tblsp sugar (optional).Mix flour, salt and sugar in bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender. Whisk egg yolk and 2 tblsp water together in another bowl. Add to flour mixture, blend until smooth. Form into ball. Wrap in foil or plastic and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes. Roll it out or press by hand into tart pan. Prick bottom and bake for 12 minutes at 425 degrees. After baking the crust I put it in the freezer for 20 minutes at my daughter Eve’s suggestion. (She is a talented baker).

For a 10-1/2" tart pan like this, I made the crust recipe twice and combined the two balls.

Filling: I put the fresh-picked raspberries in a bowl and added slices of other fruits from our fridge, including apples (thinly sliced), pears and a couple of peaches. I gently mixed in about 1/4 cup of sugar, a little salt and a tblsp of flour. I filled the prebaked tart with the fruit mixture and baked for about 35 minutes at 375 degrees (individual ovens may vary). It was delicious!

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