Every year we have planted a garden. That first year after our wedding, we planted our first next to the old barn we had just purchased in Bar Mills.

Lettuce, tomatoes, chives, strawberries, cukes, onions, beans, squash: We learned the glory of farm-to-table eating. When we moved out to the woods or nearer the coast and finally to Chebeague Island, we planted taking cuttings from the first gardens and adding new varieties to the menu. We benefited early from friends that shared starts of favored crops.

When we built a house in Ross Corner, where the ’47 fire had burned all the topsoil, friends gave us a truckload of manure for our anniversary. When we restored the old house on Pier Road, we built raised beds from old wharf boards brought home from the Kennebunkport dump. We planted rows of rugosa gathered by the pier behind stone walls built from field stones taken from the old foundation replaced when we raised the house.

On the island we planted dozens of high bush blueberries and grapevines that provided jams and pies. The ancient Newcombe garden near the Island School provided heirloom pink climbing rose we have spread all over southern Maine. We learned to propagate from wild plants found near the beaches or cellar holes.

In every site, we learned how to amend the different local soils with local wastes. In Bar Mills, it was tons of chicken manure hauled from Blackie Dearborn’s henhouses. At Cape Porpoise and Chebeague, we trucked seaweed collected off the beaches. Now, out in Maplewood, it is tons of leaves collected each fall.

Every site has old apple trees pruned and restored and new ones planted.  We have learned to graft, layer and divide local plants. Now, on the new old farm on Mountain Road by Province Lake, we concentrate on perennials and nurture acres of sugar maples, Fox grapes and foraged fiddleheads.

We are learning to sustain big cotton, milkweed and wild irises on our wetlands. We are surrounded with a history of cuttings from our earlier gardens and adding new crops like elderberries each year. This year is our first for sun holes and llama poo: something old, something new, something shared and something blueberries.

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