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, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

October 31, 2014
Our first measurable snow and it's still coming down.
I've got the stew pot going and a fine day of painting and reading planned.
Happy Halloween!!
The View out of our "morning" room.

View out the back door

Apple tree by the road

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Year From Hell

Hubby and I have had a year---one of THOSE years that has to come around every once in awhile just to remind you of how wonderful your ordinary life is.   I have never mentioned in my blog what we've been going through simply because it was getting to the point it was starting to sound unbelievable. And yet--it kept getting worse.  We'll just summarize by saying we lost a couple family members, a long time friend, and a LOT of medical issues for hubby and myself. Yea. One of THOSE years.

So imagine my delight when we got the "All Clear" from our doctor. We could travel!  Hooray!!
Arrangements for a housesitter were made, we figured out how to tote my arsenal of pills (and a method of taking them!!) with, friends were alerted that we were coming, and off we went.

First stop--of course--was our beloved Upper Peninsula to see our friends Dot and Don. We shared a couple days of laughs--it was terrific. I miss them so much.
 The color up there was pretty terrific as well.
 And of course, it included many MANY treks through swamps ...cuz that's just my favorite place!
A U.P. swamp---my favorite thing!
After a couple days-we headed into Wisconsin stopping at Copper Falls State Park for a few hours of hiking.  We met a couple ladies from Tomahawk and enjoyed their company immensely.  There sure are a lot of fine people out in the world.
Hubby and Moi by the falls



Another "new to us" park was Interstate Park on the Wisconsin/Minnesota line.  Wow!!

If only pictures could really capture the "awesome-ness" of this view

Me--on the Summit Rock trail--Interstate Park, Wisconsin side


  And then, by the fourth day............The Year from Hell FOUND US.  Seems that, despite the fact that "hey--we're on vacation"--it doesn't mean you can play around with eating foods you were told you should NEVER EVER eat again.
And Sue Went Down.  Big time.

We are thankfully back home. Hubby did a great job breaking several sound barriers to get me home to MY doctor.  But there will be no trip. No seeing my son or grandson --the main point of this trip.
No hooking up with a certain fellow blogger that I met a couple years ago and really miss.  No careening down logging roads in search of adventure. Nothing.  And I am to say the least devasted.

So.
That's what is going on here.
I will be taking a break from blogging and trying to get back on track.
I will miss you guys and all your wonderful posts.
I will be back---when I can be the "Smiling Sue" everyone knows.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

September 2014 End of the Garden Season




Sept 1 -- 4/10" rain.

Daily harvests always include Chandler blueberries, Mokum carrot thinnings and a variety of tomatoes for fresh snacking



Sept 4 -- 2/10" rain
             

Sept 5 --7/10" rain--early morning. Lost power from 4 am until 11 am
              6/10" rain late morning/early afternoon.  Flood warnings for the area.
              Took a few hours this afternoon to just "sit" by an area lake and see what we could see.
              It's amazing what you hear when you sit long enough. At first, there appears to be nothing,
                but as the creatures forget about you driving in, they begin to appear. It was wonderful. I
                  could have sat there for hours.  It was a great break from harvesting.
             

Sept 6-9  Back to the grind. Harvest Harvest Harvest. Ugh. I'm so tired of the garden.

A few of the Danvers and my second head of cauliflower.  There's still one out there to go.
Sept 9   --Don hauled 5 loads "Donkey Doo".   

Sept  10  4/10 inch rain
Sept 11   3/10 inch rain
Sept 12   7/10 inch rain   High temp 49,  low temp 43


Sept 13--pulled rest of Danvers--prepped for the freezer. I have 11 bags of carrots....not nearly enough.  I shouldn't have wasted space trying out St Valeroy and Dragon.  Will stick with tried and true from now on,

Sept 14--  FIRST FROST last night---low of 30 degrees

Sept 15  Started tearing out garden. First to go--the tomatoes.   Emptying water tubs, pulled acorn squash ( I got 6),  harvested more carrots and blueberries.  Blueberries weathered the cold just fine but I am just about out of them.

I have one more cauliflower to harvest , lots of kale and Mokum carrots left for fresh eating, but basically, the garden is done. The freezer is filled to the top and a winter of good eating lies ahead.
The flannel sheets have been put on, the soup pot is back on the stove for the season and I have lists of books to read.  

Today we  packed the bikes up for a long ride on the White Pine Trail, followed by an afternoon of hiking at a local trail.  The weather was a perfect 65 and sunny and we took full advantage of it.
It's nice to have freedom again.  The garden no longer is top priority. Now is the time to kick back and enjoy .
The garden is mostly empty now. Just a few potatoes remain to be dug and one more tomato to pull out.
I will be doing a Winners/Losers and summary-but that's for later when the weather turns bad.

Happy Fall, everyone!



Monday, September 1, 2014

August 2014 Part Two


View from the driveway to the door  Aug 23

Aug 18--Discovered corn stalks torn down in the garden.  I'm guessing a coon--simply because the ears
   were "husked" neatly on one end, as if the devil was checking if they were done yet.  Sigh.  I guess I've
    lucked out in previous years but now that one coon knows it's there, I'm sure it's not the last I'll see.
         
              Also noticed a nice surprise---a couple of pie pumpkins were ready.  These will be my only
               pumpkins due to the cold.  They were grown in a tub.  The Howdens that were planted in
               the ground got frosted out June 13 and the replanted ones never matured.                                            
August 18  Harvested 2 small Sugar Pie pumpkins
       
Aug 19--Dug one full bed of Yukon Gems-excellent yields and despite the few I stabbed with my digging
          fork--flawless.  Gave the Trash man 5 pounds--his bad back made him give up his garden this                           year . So sad.  I hope I never reach that point. Life without a garden--unthinkable.

Aug 20--1/4 inch rain last night
              Blueberry harvests continue, though I am not freezing any more. We have plenty.
              Picking about a half pound of Mokum carrots daily for fresh eating.  Crisp and juicy!
              Getting lots of kale and chard still.
              Matt's Wild Cherry and Yellow Pear tomatoes trickling in. Not enough to get excited, though
                                                                     
Kale and Celery bed

Aug 21--Went out first thing this morning to pick, and was greeted by disaster.  The coon (I'm assuming) ripped open all the fabric covering the Patriot blueberries .  He tore a large hole at each bush and helped himself to berries.  Just yesterday , like an idiot, I thought how nicely the fabric held up this year and that I
could reuse it next year.  Jinxed myself on that one.  It's in shreds and worse yet, the bushes are fully exposed to the marauding birds now.  Guess the Patriots will be done soon.

Aug 22--CORN!   Oh yum!  Only 4 ears ready-but it's a start!
              First Slicer tomato---Jetstar (ugh)


August 23--Harvested 66 of the onions that were toppled over.  The rest were left to "mature".
                   They were huge this year--most of them baseball sized.  I let them sit out for the day, and
                     have moved them to the rack in my "shop" to dry for a few weeks.
                                     
Onion Harvest  August 23 

August 25   Received 1/2 inch rain. Humidity is awful!
                  Racoon (?) returned and destroyed most of the corn.  I found 6 large ears he missed, so
                  brought those in.

August 27--Blueberry harvests starting to slow down.  Will go to every other day picking
                  Don caught a HUGE coon in the live trap.  Hopefully that's the only one.

August 28--Spent the afternoon grinding up garden waste for composting.
                   Dug second bed of Yukon Gems--yields continue to be impressive.  No flaws or scab.
                   Harvesting celery on an 'as needed" basis---using fresh for potato soup base for freezer
                   Everbearing strawberries putting out a fresh batch of berries. Tasty!

August 29--1/4 Inch Rain
                   Mini Bell pepper harvests begin. Cute, but too seedy for me
                   First Brandywine tomato---worth the wait---so ugly and yet so delicious!!
     
1st Brandywine. Incredibly tasty!

August 30--    Rain--and even some thunder  --1/4 inch this morning, 3/10 inch this evening
                       I found four more ears of corn that the coon didn't get--Hooray.  Sure is tasty!

August 31--Surprise visit from friends  Pat and Lorna of Goshen, Indiana.
           
Pat and Lorna are celebrating 52 years together.  They are so sweet and still so in love--a true joy to be around.



End of the Month  Summary--Rain--an incredible 5.05 inches.  Everything LUSH and beautiful.
                                              Hottest day--August 10--82 degrees
                                              Coldest--the 15th and the 28th  hit lows of 37 degrees
                                              17 sunny days
                                              14 ears of corn this year (better than LAST years 12 ears)
                                              Green beans, potatoes, garlic,and onions are stored for the year
                                              Still have to do carrots and apples for storage
                                              Chandler blueberries still producing, Patriots left for birds, BlueRays
                                                 have been pruned up
                                              There's still mokum carrots,kale and chard producing like crazy
                                              2 Hearts of Gold canteloupe on vine--don't know if they will ripen in time
Cleome on the east side of the house

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mid Month Garden Update August 15, 2014


August 5--Tubs of Vista Bubblegum petunias threaten to take over the world

So much going on this month, I need to have TWO posts just to keep it all straight for my records.

August 2--Received  2/10 inch rain last night.

                On my morning stroll in the garden, I noticed the green beans are starting to "size up".  Perhaps
                  in few days some will be ready.

                Got a nice bowl of new potatoes from the compost pile---there was a potato vine off to the side.
                   That will be good fried up with some garlic and shallots.

                The Mokum carrots are pouring in --we eat them as fast as they come.  I'm glad I planted a lot                          this year.

August 4  First green bean harvest
August 3--Received  15/100 " rain

August 4--Green Bean harvests begin---Day 1 netted 3 panfuls--with not a single flaw on any of them.
                 Tons of blueberries
                 Got extremely sweet thank you note (scribble scribble--LOL!) from 3 year old girl I gave a quart                      of blueberries to.
                Ordered Garlic from Cook's Garden.  Finally replacing the one I've grown for 7 years

August 5--Received 2/10 " rain
                  Tons more Green beans and blueberries
                  Put most in freezer, gave a quart of berries to Darby and a quart to Carol

August 6--More beans and blueberries
                 Flowers are really filling in --the sidewalk border is a riot of color.
Sidewalk border really starting to "pop"
August 8--Took a break from the onslaught of beans to have a "girls day out" with Carol.  Just the break I needed....ready to tackle the beans again. Hopefully tomorrow's picking will be the last I need for the freezer.

August 9--Finished the Green Beans.  Five days- 26 pints and also a gallon ziplock for the freezer.
                    I also "gave away" at least 3 gallons of them.  Bountiful year.
                 Harvested the broccoli. It "got away" from me while doing beans.  I did end up with 6 pints,
                    but I'll bet I composted more than that.  It's ok, though.  Another item I can't eat anymore.
                 My friend Susan from Indiana stopped for a visit with cousin Miriam, Sent her home with a                              grocery sack full of  beans.  I'll be pulling the plants tomorrow.
                 Extra large picking of blueberries. Gave a quart to the new neighbors Tom and Val, a quart to                         the neighbor Louise I yelled at ( her dog barks for HOURS), and a quart to Carol.  Eight                                   pints  for the freezer and at least a quart for hubby to snack on.

August 11--An AMAZING (for us) 2.2 inch rainfall.  After a solid week of sunshine, we finally got some
                    needed rain this evening--though it came down so hard the yard flooded and I doubt
                       much soaked in.

August 12--Rain ALL day--but a soft and gentle soaker.Picked up an additional .65". Put 2 quarts of                                berries in the freezer and gave a quart to Larry for all the "donkey doo" he gives us.

Dug a "test" plant of the Yukon Gem---excellent yield, no scab, absolutely PERFECT
August 13---Potatoes ready to dig.  First year for these Yukon GEMS---Bigger yields, bigger size, and less
                         chance of "hollow" insides.  This is from one plant----about double what I usually got from                              the Yukon Golds..I'm VERY pleased.  Will be planting these from now on. Bought at                                       Peaceful Valley Farm Supply
       
                   Picked the last of the BlueRay blueberries.  Patriots still going strong . Chandlers giving us about
                       2 quarts a day, but we don't freeze those.  They are just for fresh eating---simply heavenly!

August 14--Coffee with the birds this morning required my HEAVY coat---42 degrees.  High today 67!
                 
                   Started making potato soup base for the freezer.  Best way I've found to be able to have my
                     Yukons in the spring. No more dealing with sprouted, wrinkled potatoes in March-Yay!

                  Sorted big freezer---the one we use for fruits/vegetables.  There is no more room, and I
                    still have to do carrots, applesauce, and Red Haven peaches.  The Meat freezer is needed
                      for a side of beef and 24 chickens due in October.  Perhaps the 3rd freezer (grains) has
                        space???  Can you store TOO much food????   Nah!

August 15--  38  Degrees this morning.  When we went to Cadillac the truck thermometer showed 36.                                      Though I don't mind that temp, that's not going to get us a ripe tomato this summer!

Onions "fell over" last night--shouldn't be long now. All bulbs are extra large this year.

Yukon Gem potatoes ready to dig

Acorn squash 

East border of house. Joe Pye in upper right is over 8 feet tall this year

Hubby made me an extra large window box this spring. I love it on the front porch



Friday, August 1, 2014

End of the Month Round Up July 2014





July 2  First Cutting of Bright Lights chard and, curly kale. The   Lettuce , Spinach , and Strawberries are still coming in.
Rains were plentiful (for here).  We ended up with 3.65 inches for the month.  I only  had to drag out the hose ONCE---hooray!!!!!!!!   I DESPISE watering so you can imagine how happy I am with this summer (and I don't even care for summer so miracle miracle!!)

July 1-5           3/10 inch --3 different days-1/10 inch
July  6-12        1.1   inch--one big rain
July 13-19       1.4  inches--2 separate rains
July 20-26        2/10 inch rain  1 rain
July 27-31        .65 inch rain--1 rain

We had 22 sunny days.

Temps were quite cool. We only had 2 days that hit 80. Most days were in the upper 60's and low 70's....perfect!!   Sixteen nights had lows in the 40's.  I wish EVERY year was like this. It's been heaven!
July 9 Blooms from the Garden
Foxglove, Delphinium, Roses, Dahlias, Heliopsis, Daisies, and Lavender

July 9--Last of the strawberries- it was not a bumper year due to  small, daily rains--
              that created  lots of mold.
                 For all the work involved, not sure if I want to continue dealing with it..............

July 11---War declared on deer.  Came out to see hollyhocks stripped to their stalks.  I've nurtured those
                    from seeds. They completely munched down all the flowers surrounding it.
                      Up by the house, the sedums, rudbeckia , and asters have taken daily assaults and are
                        unable to form blossums--they nip the buds off constantly
             
                  After a heavy dew, I "gently powdered" all perennials around the house
                   with cayenne pepper.  The next morning---EVERY BIRDBATH was COMPLETELY
                     drained of water.  Ahahahahhahahahhahahahahahha.
                          How do you like those flowers now, Bambi ???  
                               And no, I don't feel bad.

July 12--  8/10 inch rain

July 13--Perennials around house remain undisturbed.  Heavy rain last night, so I re-applied pepper this
                  morning. Too early to declare victory, but 2 days without plant carnage gives me hope.

July 14--   3/10 inch rain
July 15      6/10 inch rain , and a HIGH temp of 57 degrees.  I love it, but the tomatoes and corn do not.

July 18   Sunflowers are all blooming like crazy

Poppy-Laurens Grape has popped up all over the place


The Lavender is crazy beautiful this year.

July 19---HARVESTED GARLIC  and hung in garage to cure.  Good crop this year--actually some size to it!

July 23--Tons of Kale and Chard still coming in--good thing I have LOTS of neighbors to pawn it off on!
              PICKED FIRST PAN OF BLUEBERRIES---the Patriots--they are much larger than last year.

              Back to using Irish Spring on perennials.  Deer seem to like Mexican style (HOT!) food and
              cayenne no longer deterring them.

July 24--Corn starting to tassle up
              Kohlrabi harvests begin--hubby is a happy camper!

July 25 -Blueray blueberries really starting to turn. Picked a half pan of those.  Still getting roughly 2 quarts
               a day of the Patriots.  One for the freezer, one for us!

July 26  Early morning T-storm--our first rain in over a week.  Dime sized hail---didn't do much damage.
              2/10 inch rain--much needed
             Surprise visit from Don's nephew Ed ,who is working for 3 months in Michigan-he's a Wind Turbine
               technician--one of those that "dangles" 300 feet up doing maintenance on windmills across the US

July 27 Storms all day-picked up another   .65  inch rain
            Carol brought her daughter and granddaughter to see the garden. Found another "victim" to pawn
              off Kale and Swiss Chard on--tee hee!!!

July 29--Blueberry crop is especially heavy this year and we feel it's time to "share the bounty"  We decided
                from now on, Tuesday pickings will be given away.  We're getting roughly a gallon a day--plenty
                 for fresh eating AND freezing, so one day a week we'll spread some goodness to neighbors.

July 30--Getting roughly a pound a day of Mokum carrots for fresh snacking. They're so crisp and delicious
                I check the rows daily and just pull the ones whose "shoulders" have popped out of the soil

July 31--July GONE--hooray.  Hordes of  vacationers on dirt bikes and four-wheelers making life a
                miserable hell. Only one more month of summer. Thank God.
Canteloupe growing slowly in the cool weather of July


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!