a useful app for the amateur gardener, and how to make American coffee taste a little more European 😊

Hello neighbors! I haven’t been blogging in a while, which doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking or experimenting – quite the contrary actually. Just an hour ago, I was making a big batch of gluten-free tortillas. They are cooling as I type this post, waiting to go in the freezer.

So we have now been living in New England for several months and as soon as the weather got warm we bought a few basic tools and started pottering around both the front and the back yard of our new living grounds. Allow me to share my steps in this new adventure.

1. Go to the local garden center and buy – potentially rescue – a few plants, preferably some you have never seen before.

2. Make holes, add sugar water – one of my dear neighbors’ advice – , and gently set your babies in their new home, adding coffee grounds* to the soil.

3. Promptly and very lightly discard all labels that came with the plants.

4. Look through your spice rack to find the magical ingredient to fight aphids with. Make and use soapy cinnamon-infused water to spray and rub on the budding rose bush, and sprinkle dry cinnamon powder on the leaves of the tomato plants. Tell the inquisitive neighbors that cinnamon-spiced tomatoes are totally the new rage this year!

5. Enjoy the blossoms for a few weeks.

6. As the flowers start fading, scratch your head: “What happens next? Do the plants need any special care now? What are they called anyway?” Curse yourself for having been so foolish (see step 3).

7. Take a picture of the nameless plants, download a recognition app and try it. So apparently you planted strawberries in the front of the house??? Hmm… Call your son and ask him if he took any part in the app design.

8. Try another app. It works! So yes, your geum sylvaticum will appreciate some deadheading, and oops, those weeds you were trying to yank out are really part of your scabiosa columbaria. Make a mental note of sharing the name of the free collaborative app (PlantNet) on your blog for your neighbors.

9. Go round the back of the house, check on the green beans, and weep: the patch has been visited by Georgie Squirrel (“Hey, I was here first and does anybody remember where I buried my acorns?”), Willy Rabbit (“Hey, what are those tender leaves called? Anybody know a reliable app I can use?”), and Chip Chipmunk (“Hey guys, is that a party you’re having? Count me in!”).

10. Sigh and be thankful: gardening is still a blessing no matter what the mistakes and no matter where!

It could be a while before this geum sylvaticum produces strawberries!


I really thought the larger leaves at the base were weeds! (scabiosa columbaria).  Mulch is a must in this area where summer days are often scorching hot.


We are very pleased with the first two tomato plants shown in this photo, which we bought from young farmers who have turned a whole plot of land on a nearby main street into a full-size organic farm.    They are beautiful and giving lots of fruit, contrary to the hybrid plants we got from a garden center. 


Not much left of the beans that my husband originally put in the ground…  I am also disappointed with the variety I ordered from internet. They are nothing like the “haricots verts” we are used to. Unfortunately, bringing seeds over from France is strictly forbidden.

*Let me take this opportunity, before I end this post, to also share a trick on coffee making. After spending so many years in France, we had grown accustomed to a stronger brew than your average American “cup of java”. Even the home-brewed coffee didn’t taste right at first… until I had the idea of further grinding the grounds. It definitely made a difference!   Life is busy over here and there is nothing like a good cup of coffee in the morning  — along with gluten-free pancakes — to recharge our batteries!  So long, dear neighbors, I hope you are all in good health, wherever you are.  Take care!


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