Mountain Gardens


Summer's End

The first day of October arrives with a chill in the air, constant rain, and a bounty of new colors in the trees.  With this change in the weather comes an opportunity to sit down at the computer.

The last weeks of summer brought a flurry of activity to Mountain Gardens.  Wade and I had the opportunity to milk Goldie, the cow who lives year-round at Camp Celo.  We went with Keenan, our friend and neighbor, who gave us a yogurt culture to make our own delicious yogurt out of the 2 gallons of milk we brought back to the farm.


Tom Trout, a friend and local builder, came over to help us build a brick and cob oven to replace the one that was destroyed by a falling tulip poplar early this year.  The brickwork took a large group of people one day to complete.  The cob was added in two layers, over a period of several days.  Most significantly, we have been able to bake several loaves of bread, sweet potatoes, and pizzas in our new oven!

Amanda, a former Mountain Gardens intern, came to visit to help us harvest honey from our hives.  We only got honey from one of them–the second hive donated a “super” of honey to the third, which otherwise might not have had enough honey to make it through the winter.  What a delight to enjoy our honey on the yogurt we had made!

Our new herb dryer was completed, after much hard work from visiting friends Jenny & Frank, Joseph revised the plan and construction.

Wade and I got to visit the land that our friends Jim and Elena recently purchased, and enjoy samples of just a few of the many heirloom apples in abundance there.  Their homestead garden will soon be a treasure trove of all the many heirloom Appalachian seeds Jim has collected in his work in the area and beyond.

Finally, I was able to go on a wildcrafting hike with Joe.  Although we did not return with any ramp (wild leek) seeds, which was our initial mission, we did encounter an American chestnut tree on our hike. It was a special treat to encounter one of these rare trees!

Wishing you a bountiful fall harvest,

Mountain Gardens intern

Click on any photo below to see it larger.



Smoking the bees out of their hive



Cutting the caps off the combs to release the honey


Just turn the crank, and the honey pools in the bottom



Pouring honey and wax from the bin where we cut the combs



Mixing mortar of clay, sand, & water



Laying the fire-brick floor of the oven



The wooden form for the oven door




Ashlyn spreads mortar on a brick



Tom measures the base with the form for the oven walls



Cob mixture: clay, sand, straw


Feet mix the cob the best.



The cob is rolled up on the tarp until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed by feet and rolling





First layer complete, with indents so the second layer sticks



It’s easiest to pass and use the cob when it’s in a ball



Stephanie works on the second layer sculpture




Vinessa has almost completed her final project at Mountain Gardens

Slow-motion pizza delivery



Cooking pizzas takes careful observation to prevent burning in a hot oven–500 degrees or higher



Specialty pizza by Wade: pesto, sweet potatoes, malabar spinach, olives, & sundried tomatoes




Our new herb dryer! Thanks to Joseph, Jenny, & Frank for all their hard work


Nasturtiums make this salad extra bright!



Joseph with our lunch ingredients from our farm or nearby: tomatillos, cucuzzi caravossi squash, tomatoes, honey, apple craut, homemade yogurt, oyster mushrooms, and ginger-molasses “bug” soda



A mouse built a nest in our unfinished oven. Four people peering in at her convinced her this was not the ideal home she had imagined!


Cucuzzi caravossi, our most prolific squash, is actually a type of gourd.




Joe Hollis