A personal record of what's going on in my Northern Michigan zone 4 gardens. I use raised beds and grow organically. Nothing fancy--just trying to garden with nature in mind.

Monday, June 30, 2014

End of the Month Round Up June 2014

Explosive growth in the vegetable garden this month despite a June 13 frost

Rains were scarce the first two weeks.......but after that--plentiful!  (I bought a hose June 15--a sure cure for a drought and I haven't used it yet at month's end)

June 1-7         .05"  (June 2)  We also did not get our yearly June 4 or so frost.  Yay!
June  8-14      .10 "   (June 11)
June  15-21   1.65"
June  22-28   1.20"
June  29/30     .25"
Total for June---3.25"

Temps for the month were average, but we had TONS of humidity--something we never have.

June 4--Planted the Fushia Dahlias (6) in the vegetable garden.

             First Picking of Lettuce and Spinach--best greens I've ever grown, Just beautiful.....
               and on THAT note:
           First sown rows of all carrots mostly gone now.  STILL cannot find the culprit--but I do
               know he/she/it/they eat A LOT!   Also, ALL cauliflower GONE, most broccoli, and
                 2 rows of kohlrabi.  IT also likes Kale.  WHAT IS IT???? And why can't I find it????
My evil plan to "distract" the culprit by interplanting the cauliflower  with lettuce failed miserably. "It" likes cauliflower better--left all the lettuce.  Well, at least I have plenty of lettuce this year.  

June 5 --Took a "Girls Day" out to go to Birch Run with Crotchety Dolores. She lived up to her name.
              : (
June 6   Sowed Green Beans (bush- Blue Lake 274) and a third row of Mokum carrots
             Planted Ravenna grass and  Fillipendula 'Venusta'    in front of big window.  Hubby won't let me                     have curtains, so this is  my sneaky way of getting the privacy and sun blockage I need while letting                  him think he won.  Ha!

June 7   Planted:   Howden and Small Sugar Pie pumpkins
                           Patty Pan, Acorn, and Butternut squash
                           Melon--Hearts of Gold and Golden Gopher muskmelon
                           Table Princess Acorn squash
                           birdhouse gourds
                           10 Mini Bell Peppers
                           Pumpkin on a Stick
                           lots of parsley, basil, rosemary, chives
                           more petunias, zahara zinnias, and Cosmos Sonata

Jun 8      Andy brought the bees today--hooray!  My bumblebees cannot keep up with all the blueberry
                  bushes in bloom

June 13   Green Beans popping up
               Lettuce and Spinach still abundant
               Corn now starting to "disappear".   Still cannot find the culprit

               And--though I don't believe in superstitions, this Friday the 13th brought bad luck---
               The phone company had to dig a new line. Right through my newly finished section of
                   the west border. What a disaster.  They were good about it--they hand-dug the trench
                    sparing me the mess of their big equipment doing it, but criminey, it's still a disaster.

            AND---  Daytime high ---52 degrees.  They're calling for frost tonight.  Friday. The 13th.  Of June.                                      Sigh.  Covering whatever I can cover and hoping for the best.

June 14 !!!!!  FROST LAST NIGHT   !!!!!!!!!!        Latest "last frost" I've seen since moving here. And I            thought  our regular average of June 4 was bad. ARGH   Lost all squash and pumpkins.  Glad I had a                           few extras in the garage-will replant this week.  A few  potatoes got hit. Tomatoes , peppers                               and beans fine.  How on earth does that happen????????

June 17  Strawerries begin--but did not get more than a handful until the following week when I got my first big panful (June 25).  Even a few Cabots are turning, though they are a "late" berry. The size of them never ceases to amaze me.
Freakishly Large (even for a Cabot!)  Strawberry--that's an apricot on the right for size comparison

June  21  Start of the invasion of the potato beetles, plus Japanese and Cucumber beetles. Ugh.

June 26  Sugar Snap Peas begin

June 29  Planted the rest of the Dahlias---in the vegetable garden.  Deer eating flowers by house. Sigh.

June 29--10:47 a.m.-  Tired of summer.  Heat.  Humidity.  Bugs.  What were the good points again?????

I  finally  got the regular Foxglove to bloom from seed.  I'm so glad I kept trying.....it's gorgeous.

My original yellow Foxglove from seed are blooming nicely as well. 

The salad greens have never been better.

Corn and sunflowers

A view from the blueberries toward the veg garden

Green beans and the pathetic remains of the originally sown carrots

The carrots (Mokum)  in another bed fared better with the slugs

Major Wheeler honeysuckle in full bloom

Onions and potatoes doing very well

New tub planter picked up on our last trip to Dubuque

View of the west side of the house. Deer enjoying this immensely!

View from the back door. Loving that salvia--and so do the bees!


Monday, June 2, 2014

End of the Month Round Up May 2014

The Vegetable Garden June 1, 2014

We had plentiful rains for the first couple of weeks this month.
May 1-3        .60"
May 4-10    1.15"
May 11-17  1.35"  plus a light snow on May 16
May 18-31  NOTHING.   Everything dry as toast.

We did some travelling the first week of May---went antiquing in Ohio  for a few days, and then went to Indiana for a couple of days to see my friend Susan.  She took me to  Linton's  Enchanted Gardens. What a great time--and so many interesting things to see.  I will definately make that an annual destination.
Friend Susan in one of the many little houses at Linton's

May 8--Got busy sowing the "tenders" into coir pots.  Sowed Bottle gourds, Howden and Small Sugar Pie pumpkings, Butternut, Acorn,  and Patty Pan squash,  Golden Gopher and Hearts of Gold canteloupes and also lots of cosmos and zinnias.  They were put under grow lights.

May 9--I sowed Trellis #2  of Sugar Snap peas --and they germinated May 19--10 days.  The first trellis full had just popped up. Those were sowed April 19--it took 21 days to germinate!!  I don't think I need to "rush" to get peas in early. They take forever to come up when sown in April.  Better to wait until May.

Also planted LOTS of carrots. Four separate types--Danvers, Dragon, Mokums, and St. Valery

May 14-- I went "Greenhouse-ing" with friend Carol.   This was the first year I went with her--usually I go with cranky Dolores.  I had so much fun.  I picked up several flats of flowers and I found four new succulents to add to my collection.
New Succulents on the left.  Sweet Potato starts I grew from vine I had in water all winter, and basils on the right.
May 14 also happened to be the only NICE day that whole week.   We had rain 5 out of 7 days.

May 16-- it SNOWED.  Not much, but enough to cover most things and guarantee yet another year of no lilacs.  They had just started to form buds.  What a shame. If only it would kill dandelions like it does other flowers!

May 17-Planted Arcadia and Calabrese broccoli,  100 Copra onions, and Yukon Gold potatoes.

May 19 - Hauled "Donkey Doo" ---7 truckloads.  Used  it all to establish another row of blueberries.
Fresh "Doo" on the left, Last Years Haul on the Right
May 21-Planted second batch of all varieties of  carrots.  Only St. Valery carrots had not yet come up from the first batch I sowed.  It's been cold, so I'm not concerned....yet.

It's looking like a bad garage sale in the garden, but if it's not covered, it's bird food!
May 24  was by far the most gorgeous weather we've had yet and I spent the day planting up some tubs --they can be hauled into the garage when frost is called for.  It's hard to resist the urge to start planting, but 7 years here has taught me well.....we ALWAYS get a frost around June 4 or 5.

May 26  -- Planted corn---2 small blocks .     Also--first bed of Yukons is popping up!

May 26-29   Hell Week---all doctor/dentist/eye doctor appts so no gardening

May 30-- Plant Plant Plant Flowers.   Then Plant some more.  All tubs/barrels/windowboxes  and misc planters, the sidewalk border,  and all the south sides of the raised beds in the vegetable garden.

May 31--Planted tomatoes--Brandywine, Jetstar,  Yellow Pear , and Matt's Wild Cherry
               Also planted :  Cauliflower,  Kohlrabi, Tom Thumb lettuce, Jalapeno Pepper, Kale, and more

Potatoes are ALL coming up--both Yukon and Red Pontiacs.
Onions look really really good
Something eating the heck out of my spinach and several of my broccoli plants.  Can't find the culprit and
I know it's not the birds---these things were all covered.  Frustrating!

Alium and Bleeding Heart are blooming right now

The Lilac Bush is spectacular this year
New Topiary Tree outside the back door with herbs in buckets

Looking from the door to the driveway

Looking from the driveway to the west side of the house

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

End of the Month Roundup-- April, 2014

April passed quickly and the change from last month is nothing short of miraculous.  Despite heavy snow this year (over 150 inches), the melt-off was so slow that we had the least amount of water problems in our basement than we've had in the seven years we've lived here.

We've had rain , rain, and more rain this week--and I'm not complaining.  We typically come out of our winter under "Extreme Fire Danger" warnings.  Not so this year.  Our abundant snows and plentiful rains have taken care of that problem.  The lawn has started to "green-up".  Color--what a delight when one hasn't seen it in 6 months.

The below normal temps continue---we are still running 10 degrees below normal.  I don't mind. I'd much rather have it too cool than too warm.  It's part of the reason I moved to Michigan.

The first garden task on April 9  was cutting down and grinding up the remaining corn and sunflower stalks that I left standing all winter for the birds.  I spread the mulch it produced back onto the beds.

Coldframes are .....there.  That's about all I can say.   Only one has germinated ---the one planted April 11 (which is 11 days later than normal!)  That contains radish, mesclun, spinach, kohlrabi and bunching onions.

Coldframe #1 finally starting to germinate

Coldframe 2--Sown April 18--is nothing but spinach.  Oh, and scallions--my first attempt at those.
                         I also sowed my first row of Sugar Snap Peas on that date.  No sign of them, either.

April 19 I set up the water tanks to start collecting rainwater.

It's too early to tell what did or did not make it through the winter.

I spent April 20 prepping the Blueberry patch.  Copious amounts of compost and coffee grounds added to the base of each bush and then a fresh topping of pine needles in each row.  Tidy, or as DH would say---German Tidy!!

Fifteen very happy Blueberry bushes
April 25  I sowed a third coldframe (just covered with fabric) with radish/mesclun/beets/bunching onions and another "new to me"--Swiss Chard "Bright Lights".

Also for my records and because I am intrigued by Phenology-- this final week in April is when the Maple seedlings germinate.......all 27,459,999,835 of them.   Sigh.   But, I'd rather deal with that in my flowerbeds than to miss all that glorious shade in the summer.
ALL my flowerbeds and pathways look like this---Maple seedlings---EVERYWHERE

So while it appears nothing much is going on out there, all you northern gardeners know this is the time when the real work gets done--lots of preparations with not much visual reward.  We have to be satisfied with just that fresh air, exercise,  sunshine (?? where??) and birdsong. Not a bad deal at all.

Have a wonderful week

Monday, March 31, 2014

End of the Month Roundup March 2014 PLUS Garden Plan

 Lovely, isn't it?  Ah, spring.  These photos were all taken today---March 31, 2014.
Snow depth is still pretty deep.  My One Level beds are still completely buried.

 Time to set up the cold frame!!
Sort of took a guess as to where to set it.  The bed this rests on is still buried--but I chiseled out the snow , found it, and set up the second bed and windows.

 But---the double layer boxes in some parts are showing, so it won't be long now!

 Hubby even chiseled a path to my little garden shed and unstuck the door for me so I could get the windows out for my cold frame.

 The grapevine is getting it's early spring haircut.

 The piles are dwindling.

 The skies are blue again---no more dreary gloom.

 And the bush in front of the barn has used it's southern location to even start greening up a bit.

 The snow will melt fast now that the sun has started shining again!

 It won't be long until the deck planters can get cleaned out and ready.

The true gauge of how the melt-off is going.   In the center of the left side of the photo is our yard hydrant.  It is four foot tall.  About a foot is already showing.  Yay!!!   

Now, for the plans for the vegetable garden---I did not get all fancy and draw the beds with spaces between---you'll have to "imagine" that--but this is the 24 raised beds in the main part of the garden with "hopeful" planting dates.  I've gone with our usual last frost date of June 4.  The way this winter has been though, that might be a bit enthusiastic!!

I didn't put up the Fruit Garden plans as they remain pretty much the same as last year--just rotated the corn/pumpkins/At Rest beds. 

It's supposed to get to 50 today. I hope so. This is the first year I am not planting a cold frame April 1st.   Since I just got it set up, it probably won't be for 2 weeks yet.
That's ok, though.  I have plenty of seedlings going in the house and it's still too hard to get out to the garden.

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Seed Orders Submitted and ALL Arrived

Mid-Winter Greetings!
I'm posting my seed orders so I can easily reference it all in one spot. 
Sorry I haven't been reading anyone's posts, but I'm still immersed in my winter break-lots of skiing, snowmobiling, reading, painting and trying very hard to learn a new piece for the piano--though my arthritic fingers seem to have "other" ideas-LOL! 
Fear not, though--I will be back bothering you all in April!
Enjoy the rest and relaxation--we'll all be immersed in our gardens soon enough.  Now is the time to let our bodies heal from last years work. 

Fedco Seed Order December 25, 2013 (Arrived Jan 11, 2014)
I placed the first of the seed orders on Christmas.  It was to Fedco for $31.  I've never ordered from them before--the catalog was incredibly detailed and quite "personable".  Prices seemed reasonable as well.

Out of my $100 seed/plant budget, I have $69 remaining.

238 - Bush Blue Lake 274 Green Bean ( B=8oz) 1 x $3.80 = $3.80
582 - Ambrosia Bicolor Sweet Corn ( A=2oz) 1 x $2.50 = $2.50
925 - Golden Gopher Muskmelon OG ( A=1/16oz) 1 x $1.60 = $1.60
1751 - Howden Pumpkin ( A=1/8oz) 1 x $1.00 = $1.00
2076 - Danvers Carrot OG ( B=1/2oz) 1 x $4.00 = $4.00
2086 - Mokum Carrot ( C=6g) 1 x $7.50 = $7.50
2441 - Prisma Shallots ( A=0.5g) 1 x $2.30 = $2.30
2510 - Space Spinach ( C=1oz) 1 x $4.50 = $4.50
3036 - Bright Lights Chard ( A=1/16oz) 1 x $1.20 = $1.20
3322 - Arcadia Broccoli ( A=0.5g) 1 x $1.80 = $1.80
3616 - Afina Cutting Celery ( A=0.2g) 1 x $1.00 = $1.00
Pine Tree Seeds December 26, 2013 (ARRIVED DECEMBER 30)
I placed my second seed order for the 2014 growing season with Pinetree seeds on December 26, 2013.
The total was $19.50 including shipping.    That leaves me approx. $50 left in my annual seed budget.

AMAZING CAULIFLOWER (71 days) 80011$1.75
LOLLO ROSSA LETTUCE (53 days) W2781$1.25
LOLLO BIONDA LETTUCE (53 days) 216021$2.25
BLUE SPICE BASIL 510011$1.35
Botanical Interests Seed Order December 27, 2013 (ARRIVED 1/4/14)

Botanical Interests was my third order--~$24 remaining in seed budget
Product NameProd #Unit PriceQuantityPrice
Squash Summer Scallop (Patty Pan) Blend HEIRLOOM Seeds0163$1.891$1.89
Lettuce Mesclun Farmer's Market Blend Seeds0077$1.891$1.89
Lettuce Mesclun Valentine Organic Seeds3126$2.391$2.39
Melon Muskmelon/Cantaloupe Hearts of Gold Organic HEIRLOOM Seeds3012$1.991$1.99
Onion Bunching/Scallion Italian Red of Florence HEIRLOOM Seeds0147$1.891$1.89
Pumpkin on a Stick Ornamental Eggplant Organic HEIRLOOM Seeds2025$2.991$2.99
Zinnia Art Deco Seeds1261$1.991$1.99
Lavender French Purple Ribbon Seeds1238$1.991$1.99
Zinnia Fantasy Seeds1158$1.791$1.79
Subtotal: $18.81
Shipping Total: $6.95
Order Total: $25.76
 And my final order was also the smallest- Baker Creek.  I'm not including the price of Baker Creeks "The Whole Seed Catalog" in my seed budget.  That goes under my "Mid Winter Sanity" budget--haha.  

Baker Creek Seed Order--January 3, 2014 (Arrived Jan 11, 2014)
Item NamePriceQTYTotal

Tall Orange Sun - Sunflower
  • Item No: FL825
Blue Curled Scotch Kale
  • Item No: KA101
St. Valery Carrot
  • Item No: CR101


 I have ~$15 left for seeds this year. I'll use that for some herb seeds, which Home Depot always has in packs for around a dollar each.

I always try and "spread the budget" around to my favorite companies, though I have to say, Fedco-which is a "new to me" company this year - got the biggest share. I can't believe I've never even heard of them before.  The catalogs are a treasure trove of great info, so if you've ever just ordered online, do yourself a favor and get a print edition catalog......you'll be glad you did.



Saturday, November 30, 2013

Goodbye Until Spring

Greeting to all!
Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving.  We had a fine HUGE meal and a very peaceful day spent skiing. 

I'll be going "offline" for the next few months.  I tried it last winter and loved the extra time spent learning new things and want to continue that this winter as well.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a  New Year filled with peace and happiness.

I'll be back in Spring----I'll miss your blogs, but feel it's necessary to unplug and explore new things.

See you in March!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Harvest Totals for 2013

Mmmmmm--goodies from the garden
We got our first frost Saturday-Sept 14.  They called for it, so the day before was a busy day finishing up the harvesting.  I'm thrilled that we had a longer than usual growing season this year.  Last frost this spring was June 4.  That means I had OVER 3 months. That's very unusual for here.
The summer was very cool but those extra 2 weeks meant tomatoes (hooray!) and melons.  

The amounts given are what I have FOR STORAGE.  I did not weigh  anything. I only note what I have for storage----this is for my records so I know what to increase/decrease next year.  I can't give "specifics" on things like lettuce, strawberries, etc  that we eat  fresh as they come in.  It's only when I freeze/store things that I can give "amounts".   So, that said----

Apples---24 individual serve containers applesauce-freezer, PLUS 19 pints of applesauce-(freezer)

Beans---8 pints-(freezer)    Three separate sowings only yielded about 6 row feet.  Blaming cold soil this year.

Blackberries--Big Fat ZERO---Frosted out

Blueberries--72  pint bags--freezer. Oh yum!  We ate at least twice that amount. It's amazing we aren't blue!

Broccoli-- 16  pint bags-freezer

Carrots--  16  pint bags-freezer

Cauliflower--0--(something ate them!)

Celery--8 bags-chopped-freezer

Corn--2 sowings, 120 seeds, only yielded 12 stalks, Cold Soil???  BUT--15 totally delicious ears gave us enough for 3 meals--none for the freezer, though I certainly TRIED.
                                                      Bodacious Corn---it was fantastic

Garlic--40 out of 40 planted--(pantry)

Grapes--didn't think they would ripen in time, but since we've had an extra long growing season--I have plenty for fresh eating for a week or two.

Onions--128--medium sized bulbs--(crates in the basement)

Peaches---Froze Out---bought what I needed for the freezer (24 bags) from the Farmers Market.  However, on 9/30, I did see 4 peaches on my tree that I didn't see earlier---3 of which were thoroughly pecked to death by birds.  I'm ripening the fourth on the counter. We'll see how that turns out.

Pears---Hubby collected a 5 gallon bucket full--it was a really good year for them

Potatoes--   Yukon Golds--poor yield so I made potato soup base for the freezer --ended up with 14
                       pint bags puree (for 14 pots of soup)--enough for the whole winter plus a half-crate full
                         for hashbrowns and misc.

                    Red Pontiacs--12 plants---1 milk crate FULL--entry hall-(my "cool" storage)

                    Russets-Not Planted, but compost heap yielded 5 pounds (must have been peelings?)
                      and an additional stray plant yielded another 5 pounds--entry hall (my "cool" storage)
          The largest russet measured an incredible 9 inches long---plenty for hubby and I to share!

Raspberries--none--tore out patch to establish new patch--succumbed to drought....

Squash-Butternut--5 --will be used for trade. I don't eat them.

Strawberries--24 pint bags-freezer

Sweet Potatoes--an experiment--1/2 dozen small tubers. Oh well, this was expected. I tried......


We arrived home from our anniversary trip to Nebraska just in time for fall foliage.  Looks like it's going to be a good year for it.  Since the garden is done and put to "rest" for the winter, there is plenty of time for leaf-gawking.

That's it for this blog for the season.
I'll be checking in with your blogs from time to time, but will be taking the winter off for the most part.  I'm looking forward to seeing your plans for next year.

Have a great fall!