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.

Friday, July 1, 2016

End of the Month Round Up-June

Overview of Vegetable Garden July 1, 2016

Well, I had full intentions of breaking down my notes into two posts this month, but who has time??
So---I will put up pictures of what's been going on this month and you can disregard the notes, as it's just for my records--not an attempt to induce a nap......though, really, at this time of year , who couldn't use a nap????   So---pictures first and then boring notes for ME afterward!
Have a great month, everyone.

New Asparagus beds, plus potatoes, onions , green beans and cole crops under Agribon fabric tents

An excellent year for the green beans--perfect germination
It's been a terrific year for the Foxglove and of course, Stachys

New Asparagus bed--Jersey Knight from Nourse Farms

Pumpkins and Sweet Corn

Zinnia Border in the Vegetable Garden

Taters and Onions Doing Well so Far

Delphinium in West Border opened on the last day of June!

Foxglove and Feverfew

Sidewalk Border from Back Door

All right--That's all.
It's time for MY notes to self.
Have a great July everyone
: )

June had 22  days of sun.  We got a total of   2.6 inches of Rain.  Our warmest day:June 19, it                                  reached 86 degrees.   Our coldest night was June 8--it was 36 degrees.
NO frost this month. That's the first time in 9 years of living here.  It got close, but didn't. Weird.

June 1--Locked unplanted flowers in the garage so we could have a day "off". No one can hear their                 muffled cries for water in there.  So good to have a day free from the constant watering.

June 2  Planted East border of the house
           Sowed third row Mokum Carrots
           Watered and Fertilized Barrels out by road
           Green Beans popping up

June 3--Planted:  Five Dahlias
                         Pumpkins (2)
                         Crookneck Squash (2)

           Zinnia Zahara Starlight Rose along sidewalk started to bloom :  Supposed to look like this--

           Instead--it looks like THIS:
No offense against burgandy, but my ENTIRE color scheme is PINK, blue, yellow and white.  It looks "pink-ISH in the picture. In real life --dark burgandy. --a total clash.

          The alyssum along the sidewalk was supposed to be a mix of purple, lavender, and white.
             The only color appearing is white.
         I am LIVID over this. I wasted how much in SEEDS and potting mix and running my
            grow lights. ARGH!

          NOTE TO SELF:--Next year BUY flats of Zinnia Starlight Rose and Alyssum IN BLOOM

June 4--Planted Six Dahlias,  2 flats mixed annuals,  1 dozen sweet potato plants,  5 leftover Russet
              potatoes that sprouted in the pantry,  another 6 celery,  and 2  Hearts of Gold Melon
                 and a partridge in a pear tree. Not really. Just seeing if you fell asleep yet.

June 5-Planted up Cart in front of barn that hubby made for me
          The big news of the day: RAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!       1/2 inch.  
"Splurged" on the branded petunias--hopefully this will fill out to become a cascade of pink and white.

June 6-Planted one flat Giant Yellow Zinnias (thanks, Daisy!!)
                      one flat White zinnia short variety
                      one 9 pk Phlox Moody Blues
                      Last tomato-Prudens Purple (had to rip out spinach--it bolted)
                      2 bush cucumbers
                      6 pack Cosmos Sonata
           Mowed the lawn--Bah!   Reason #34,236 summer is my least favorite time of year.

June 7--High temp of 52 degrees, Low of 36  Tomatoes, Peppers, and Sweet Potatoes need sweaters!
            A 1/10 inch rain. Whoop-de-do

June 8-Asparagus (Jersey Knight) arrived from Nourse Farms. Followed their extremely clear
            directions for planting. I've never seen asparagus roots before, but these looked SO
             thick and healthy.  Also received a  Nelson Blueberry bush--a late season producer
               with (supposed) EXCELLENT flavor and freezing qualities--will hold until tomorrow

           FROST WARNINGS issued for tonight. Covered 1/2 the garden. The rest is on it's own

June 9--No frost--thank goodness. Low only hit 36, thanks to some late cloud cover.
           Replanted all the Zinnia Starlight Rose along the sidewalk.  I was lucky to find a flat leftover
             at the local (47 miles away!) nursery.
          Planted Nelson Blueberry bush from Nourse Farms--mulched heavily with Pine needles
          Planted 2 more flats of flowers.
          Still cutting lettuce every other day---enough for two HUGE salads. Still not tired of it!  : )

June 11--Starting to Bloom:  Clematis, Columbine, Wisteria, Peach poppies, and Nepeta
Clematis this year was amazing

Wisteria by the Blueberry patch

June 11-- 1/2 inch rain last night---much needed. I was just about to drag out the hose (my arch                        nemesis!)   Saved again!  The hose continues to gather dust!
             Planted Second patch of Ambrosia Sweet Corn
             Planted 4th row of Mokum Carrots
             And with that I am  FINISHED PLANTING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Which means:

June 12-15 Trip to Dubuque, IA to rest up from a very busy month!        
Relaxing after a tough few weeks of planting---Kent, Illinois
June 15--
Arrived home to find the deer had breached my ugly fence barricade. Mowed down all my phlox,
sunflowers, daisies, asters and rudbeckia.  Will spend my first full day home trying to figure out
a new plan.  It may involve a shotgun.

          Also---BEETLES INVADE--every kind you can imagine. Japanese, Colorado Potato, etc etc.

          RAIN!!  1/2 inch , and while appreciated---PLEASE SEND MORE!

June 16-21  Clean-up of my stall--washed about 58,000 pots and flats to put back in storage

June 21--Sowed 5th row Mokum carrots.
              Finding lots of Colorado potato beetle eggs on uncovered potatoes--I check every other day

              Salads continue--a huge bowl cut every other day.  Spinach has bolted.  Radishes are
              beautiful now, thanks to advice from blogger Margaret about keeping them from being
              shaded.  Thanks, Margaret!


June 22--Secured the west border from the deer--so they went to the barn and ate all the
               outrageously expensive branded petunias in the grape cart.  Getting harder not to curse!

June 23--The hose makes an appearance. My least favorite thing in the world---watering---but
                  we are so dry that I simply must .  Drats. And I'm actually "thinking" much worse.
                   I try to be a lady just in case Mama Pea is actually READING THIS.  She does
                     that sometimes.  I wouldn't want to offend her delicate nature.

June 24-FIRST OF THE SUGAR SNAP PEAS .  Crisp, delicious. They don't make it to the house.
             Hubby doesn't eat them. I snack on them while I'm in the garden-one big handful every day.

June 26,--RAIN!!!!!   9/10 inch rain---so  badly needed. Most if it just ran off, as the soil is so dry
                it's actually repelling water.  The weeds in the aisles sure took off though!

June 28--Continuing fight with Potato Beetles--but I do seem to be keeping up with it.
             Salads continue--still getting LARGE bowl full every other day--but I miss the spinach

Jun 30--Garden has hit it's "boring" stage, with just slight maintenance daily--plucking the
            occasional weed or bug while having my morning coffee. Nice!  I have my days back.
            Celebrated with not only our usual 3 mile walk, but also a 10 mile bike ride. I'm
            going to sleep pretty good tonight, I think!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

End of the Month Round Up--May

Vegetable Garden June 1st, 2016

Crazy Crazy weather this month. We spent half of it 15 degrees below normal and the other half of it
 was 15 degrees ABOVE normal. Let's just call it interesting.  We had SNOW on May 15--that beats our old record of late snow May 12.  Not a record I wished to beat.

That said, however, this is the EARLIEST I have ever been able to plant my vegetables--normally
we still have frost until June 4.  This year--I planted May 26-28 after checking the forecast and finding no lows lower than 40 degrees. Sweet!

We had little rain this month---1.6 inches---a full inch of that coming May 3.It is  dry dry dry!!!
Most days were sunny. We had a lot of wind-which is unusual here.

VERY tedious notes ---please don't read. It's my record for the garden.  I don't expect anyone to
be able to stay awake for it all.  I will put up some nice pics FIRST, and then you can skip the rest.
Hope you have a great gardening season!!

May Date Day-Wellfield Botanic Garden, Elkhart, Indiana  May 5, 2016

Hubby surprised me with a stone frog in my birdbath

Garage Border cleaned up for Spring

Little Shed got new log edging this spring

Sidewalk Border Freshly Planted, June 1, 2016 (Note HIDEOUS fencing to deter deer. Still did not win lottery!!)
West Border June 1, 2016

North Border June 1, 2016

Potatoes doing well--will cover as soon as I'm done mulching them (2 weeks)

Crazy Bizarre New Petunias I found this year at the nursery. Like a starry sky!!
All right---that's all.  Go away now---Time for MY boring notes for my records.
Ta Ta for now!!!
I'll probably update Mid Month---Hopefully I'll have some FLOWER pictures
Hope you all have a terrific week

May 3-- Sowed Flats of Zinnias:  Lilliput
                                                 Art Deco
                                                 Giant Cactus
                                                 Golden Dawn/ Daisy's Yellow
                                                 Linaris Zinnia (short)-White and Mixed
            Put under grow lights.  Germination roughly 4 days
May 4-6  Mini Trip to Indiana to find Spring

May 7-- Sowed in Garden:  8ft row Mokum Carrots
                                        Sugar Snap Peas on Center Aisle Trellises
                                        More Salad Fixings: Lettuce, Radish, Mokums and Kale (transplants)
May 11--"THING" returns and mows down newly planted Kale transplants.  Cuts them in half like
                  a cutworm, but NO SIGN of the perpetrator. Pill bugs? Cut worms? Mice?  What?????

May 12--First Cutting of Spinach --the finest spinach EVER.
             Saw first Oriole, heard first Tree Frog, Yes-I do believe Spring is here.

May 14--I take that back about Spring being here.  Cold, blustery winds have delayed most of my
               plans in the garden.  I did plant ONE bed of Red Pontiacs .  After that I went
                in to read and do some baking. High temp of 39 degrees, low 29 degrees

May 15-SNOW--heavy at times, Lilac and Bleeding Heart NOT HAPPY.....and neither am I
               High temp 44, low 28 degrees.  Snow melted by 3 pm

May 16--Planted One Bed German Butterball potatoes (15)
             Planted One Bed Yukon Gems (15)--my saved seed
             Weeded, Fertilized, and Mulched Patriot Blueberries.
             Copra Onions arrived this afternoon-will plant tomorrow
             Andy delivered the bees today.  Set up water sources for them

May 17-Planted Copra Onions (125)   Gave extras to Darby
            Weeded.Fertilized. and  Mulched Chandler Blueberries
            Harvested first lettuce today. Plenty for two BIG salads. Yum!

May 19-Sowed into peat pots: Yellow Crookneck Squash,, Zucchini, and Reba Acorn Squash
             Weeded, Fertilized, and Mulched Blue Ray Blueberries.
             Stray Yukon Golds coming up in beds used TWO years ago. That's odd.

             Realized today that I NEVER plant enough salad greens. This occurs to me every year
               and yet by the next year, I forget yet again.  PLANT MORE SALAD FIXINGS!!!!

May 21-Planted one bed Broccoli and one Bed Cauliflower----used cut up plastic pots to
              surround each plant in hope that "IT" cannot get past it and saw off my plants.
                  UPDATE--May 28--Seems to be working-nothing disturbed!
June 1, 2016--Broccoli not decapitated by "The Thing"---Hooray! Success!! 

            Sowed second row Mokum carrots.
            Transplanted stray Yukons into THIS YEAR'S BEDS. Got a dozen.  Now I'm only
              short one bed.

May 25-10 day forecast calls for NO frost, so I'm gonna go with that---
             Planted Barrels by the road and decorative wheelbarrow with flowers.

May 26-Planted 3 flats zinnias (Lilliput, Giant Cactus, and Art Deco Blend)
            Planted 1 flat Cosmos Seashells
            Planted 1 flat SnapDragon--University Mix
            Filled final 3rd bed of Yukon Gems from "strays" that had popped up. DONE with taters!
            Planted 2nd bed of Broccoli-again surrounded by plastic pots with bottoms cut off

May 27-Planted Bell Peppers and German Johnson tomato
Green Peppers and German Johnson tomato-June 1, 2016

May 28-Planted: Brandywine, SunGold, Juliet, and Matt's Wild Cherry Tomatoes
                         Corn-bed 1
                         Green Beans-48 row feet (Six 8 foot rows )
                         Sowed summer lettuce-Black Seeded Simpson
                         Planted  row of Kale
                         Planted Celery
                         Planted  Peach geraniums into West Border

May 29-Planted Sidewalk Border--Alyssum (of course!), Salvia Victoria Blue, Zinnia Zahara
             Starlight Rose, Ponytail Grasses, and bright Fushia Geraniums and a Calibrachoa.
Sidewalk Border looking from Garage towards House-June 1,2016

May 30-Planted up West Border--a mix of bizarre petunias, zinnias, ponytail grasses, and
              of course--Alyssum.
            Planted 3 Dahlias --east border of the vegetable garden

May 31-Planted 8 dahlias on the south border of the vegetable garden

Salads picked every 2 days--plenty for 2 big salads each time, but wish I had planted a LOT more.
NEXT YEAR---plant eight foot rows of mesclun instead of four foot rows




Monday, May 2, 2016

End of the Month Round Up--April 2016

An Overview May 2, 2016 
 April is when my seed starting starts in earnest and this year was especially busy.
I "invested" $6 on a half dozen clear plastic shoeboxes (with CLEAR lids!) to put the seeded cells in .
I put it on the top shelf--it's the warmest--and labeled the outside of the box with the name and sow dates. It kept the soil nice and moist......and kept it extra warm as well. I had the best germination ever--most of the time 100% germination.  No more messing with plastic wrap or those FLIMSY plastic trays with the domes.
Seed Packs staying moist and toasty in Plastic Shoeboxes
Seedlings moved to trays on lower shelves to  grow on in cooler conditions

April 1-7  Snow everyday.  Totall for the week-almost 18 inches. Sanity---Short Supply.
                Temps ranged from 10 to 20 degrees BELOW normal.  Several nights we
                hit lows of just 6 and 10 degrees.

April 9-- Sunny--HIGH of 27 degrees. Fahrenheit. Not Celsius. Good Grief. Happy Spring. Ha.

April 10  Abandoned House on local Tree Farm

April 10 More snow

April 11-12  Flurries

April 14  BOOM--Spring Arrives. SUNNY!!!!!!!!  58 degrees.  Hooray.  Sanity found!

April 15--Michigan is a terrible state to live in--our governor does his damndest to make sure
              it's citizens bear the brunt of costs, allowing businesses to not pay, but one thing that
              it does do for us is leave cut trees lay for firewood and chip up branches and leave in piles.
              Hubby scored TWENTY YARDS of mulch......for FREE, off the state.  Hooray.
              So, the next 2 weeks will be spent shoveling mulch all over my various planting beds.

April 16-18 Sowed a flat each  day of alyssum .  I edge EVERYTHING with alyssum.                                         Hubby surprised I don't serve alyssum with supper!

April 19  Edged perennial beds around garage, sidewalk border and scummy pond bed.

April 20  Edged flower beds around south and west side of house.  Crisp! Beautiful!
                The only thing that would make this better is NO DEER and some spring blooms!

April 21-24  Buckets of Dahlias planted. I move them in and out of the house every day. Tiring!
                   NOTE TO SELF---win lottery. Buy greenhouse.

April 24-26  Daytime highs only in the upper 30's for most of the day. Heats up around 5 pm--when
                    I am DONE for the day.  Not much accomplished. Hard to get motivated with a
                      bitter cold wind blowing.

Apil 27-28  Cloudy, cold, nighttime temps in the 20's and 30's.  Doesn't warm up until FIVE PM
                 NOTE TO SELF-Trying a heater in the garage on a timer set at 2 hour intervals.
                                           Has kept plants nice during lows in the 20's.  Will do from now
                                           on to spare me from running plants in and out of the house.

Mobile Table of Seedlings

April 29--58 degrees and SUNNY---Hooray.  Shovelled 10 more yards mulch
               Set up water tank behind little garden shed

April 30 --Sowed : Sugar Snap Peas
                            Lettuce-Valentine Blend
                            Planted Shallots

Last Years "Finds"--a water cart on wheels and double washtubs for planting up in the garden!

I'm so happy May has arrived. Though I am still 5 weeks away from planting the garden, it's nice
to be able to have the cold frames going and just enjoy a lot of time outside.
Hope you all have a great month.  I'll post again  after planting (June 4-June 10)
Date Day-April--RV/Motorhome Hall of Fame, Indiana

Friday, April 1, 2016

Garden Update and Plans --April 1, 2016

Overview of Vegetable Garden April 1, 2016

Greetings All
It's been the oddest winter up here---we had no snow until January and there wasn't much of it then.
We didn't even buy trail stickers for our snowmobiles---it was that lousy.
BUT--Mother Nature has a great sense of humor---we got 8 inches of snow last weekend, and this weekend we are to get another 3-5 inches.  Free fertilizer, right Mama Pea??

As you can see from the top photo---I've made some changes in the layout of the fruit garden.
I ripped up the four beds of strawberries---we have such cold nights in July that the berries would have heavy dews and just rot.  In five years , I only had one outstanding year.  No more. I'll buy them
and use the space for other things.

So, I made 6 beds measuring 8X10 foot.  I'll use them for Pumpkins, Corn, and Tomatoes
I also am re-trying sweet potatoes--a crop notoriously hard to grow in the north.  My Amish friend
Lydia said to do it in raised beds and keep them covered .   I hope that does the job as we eat a LOT of sweet potatoes.
New Beds for Corn, Pumpkins, and Tomatoes

I got all the sunflower and corn stalks run through the chipper already and redistributed back into
the beds from which they came.  It makes a fine mulch and puts everything back into the soil.

Sunflower and misc sttalks and stems ground up and returned to the soil

I have one cold frame started already with lettuce, spinach, radish and kohlrabi.  This is the first year I did not have to wade out in deep  snow and "pre-heat" my coldframe.  When we came home mid-March, the ground was thawed. Very very unusual for here.

I have started transplanting some of the new, baby Chandler blueberry bushes into their new home.
Hubby expanded the garden for me last year so I can put in another 14 bushes. We eat GOBS of
them and would like to have plenty extra on hand as well  to give away.
The New Addition --Space for 14 more Chandler Blueberry Bushes

And finally--this is the plans for the vegetable gardens.  I do not draw in the aisles, so just "imagine" them in between the beds. An artist I am not--but you get the idea.

Vegetable Garden -- 24 beds each measuring 4 ft by 8 ft

The Newly configured beds on the left and of course the blueberry patch (original one)

I'll update at the beginning of next month. There's really nothing much going on here for the coming month but a lot of edging of borders and the misc. "grunt" work--setting up trellises, etc.

Have a Happy Spring

Sunday, March 13, 2016

For Jim Sullivan of Places That Were

I always take photos of farmhouses and barns and other buildings on our travels. I love the architecture --it's a part of our history that is fading quickly.  As farms in Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois become bigger and bigger, the old farmsteads are bulldozed and the past is being erased.  It's sad.  I can't even say I think that you could call that progress....but it does seem unstoppable.

I am putting up this temporary post of my latest photos from Nebraska last week for Jim Sullivan, who has an awesome blog Places That Were.  He explores all sorts of abandoned buildings and has some excellent posts. If old places are "your thing" too, please check out his blog.