We got our first "usable" snow November 23. Though it wasn't our first snow (that was November the 11th and I missed it because I was in Minnesota!) it was the first one I was able to enjoy. We got almost 6 inches and spent yesterday morning out skiing. It was wonderful. I'm so glad winter finally decided to show up.
Mid November and we headed across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, bound for Minnesota.
We headed towards Winona, MN for a couple days of birding. The weather was frigid, but sunny. The area is gorgeous! The Mississippi River is surrounded by tall bluffs.
We stopped in Great River Bluffs State Park, intending to have a nice hike. It was 13 degrees--too cold for much of a hike, but we did manage to enjoy the views and watch a barge meandering down the river.
I was unable to get any "good" shots of the birds, but it was an amazing sight--despite they're being far out into the river. The noise from the birds was quite loud. It was so nice to just sit and watch them feed and interact with each other. I could have spent hours listening to them. Nature is amazing!
On the way home, hubby braved the madness of Green Bay, WI to take me to this---the holy grail of kitchen wares---Cooks Corner---which bills itself as the Nation's Largest Kitchen Store. I don't know about that--but it was impressive. And sadly, I came out of there with nothing more than some new rolling pin covers and a coffee carafe. Though I LOVE to cook, my tiny kitchen is full and I cook simple meals that don't need many fancy gadgets. But, it was fun to look! And I gotta say, I was more impressed with Lehman's in Ohio.
While we were gone, we got our first snowfall--4 inches.....but when we got home after 4 days, it was mostly gone and 45 degrees.
Well, hubby and I hit the road for Ohio---bound for Lehman's. For those of you unfamiliar (is there such a thing!!), Lehman's is a HUGE store in Dalton, Ohio that caters primarily to the Amish and others looking for those hard to find non electric items. They have an online presence and also mail a catalog. Here is the website: Lehmans
It was worth the drive. Oh my---all my favorite things (besides Don!) crammed into one place.
Cooking tools and supplies
Just about anything you could EVER need for the kitchen
Just look at all those different kinds of rolling pins!! Heavenly!!
They had a room full of gardening things.
All sorts of laundry needs---from clothes drying racks to soaps to wringer washers!
All the lamps and wicks and accessories you can I imagine for lighting without power.
And for a collector of great glass jars---wow!!
And the main reason I came---made in the USA hand thrown pottery. I am now the PROUD owner of the LARGE bowl in the bottom left shelf. It holds 44 cups of flour. Finally a bowl big enough for
some of my recipes!!
WALL O' Cookie cutters.
Darn near any kind of cooking/baking gadget.
They also had PLENTY to keep Don occupied---tools, gadgets, you name it. You'll need at LEAST a couple hours to go through it. A great trip indeed.
All set in the most gorgeous countryside with Amish farms.
1. More than a few. 2. A quantity in excess of what is actually practical; an exorbitant amount. 3. Lots. 4. Tons.
I love that word. I've waited a lifetime to use it and our rains of the past FOUR days has allowed me to use that word with confidence. I have a PLETHORA of fungi.
I would have liked to use that word in reference to money or good looks, but hey-that's the cards I've been dealt. I'm not complaining. They are beautiful in their own right. So--- I have a plethora of fungi and I wanted to share some of Nature's artwork with you.
Pretty, aren't they? Always a surprise if you learn to look around you.
I'll leave you with this:
A mushroom walks into a bar and orders a drink. The bartender says "Hey, we don't serve your kind around here!"
To which the mushroom replied:
"Why not? I'm a FUN-GI!" ((fun guy--get it??))
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!)
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.
It's hard to imagine a year starting out as badly as this one did, and yet, things turned out okay.
The TOP PRODUCER in the garden---BLUEBERRIES. We literally were drowning in them for a solid EIGHT WEEKS. They started July 12. I picked my last 2 pints on September 11.
I averaged over a quart of berries a day. It was crazy and wonderful. I ended up with 72 (one cup) bags in the freezer for winter. Joy!!
Tenting them with fabric kept all birds away from them. I will definitely do this from now on. I laid old boards on top of the Agribon on the ground and clipped the tops on to conduit my dear hubby ran from one end of the row to the other. It was a simple matter of "unclipping" a section each day to pick. Easy and effective.
I didn't change much as far as vegetable varieties go. We still rate Brandywine as the best tasting tomato. We tried a new variety-Lakeside- this year. It was NASTY . It's a "local" strain, bred for our very short season. They can keep it. We hated it.
I also tried an Early Girl--not by choice, but since most of the seedlings I grew succumbed to the cold spring weather, I had no choice. It was too late to start seeds, and so I picked it up at the nursery .We didn't like those either. We're sticking with the best, but will keep trying shorter season ones because a lot of years we don't have enough time to get the Brandywines.
I also tried 4 varieties of carrots---the Mokums still taste best, but germination was terrible again this year. Prodigy was our next favorite, followed by SugarSnax , and dead last--Danvers Half Long. That said, however--the Danvers produced really well, and despite their "rooty" nature, they freeze well.
The corn--Bodacious--was excellent. I wish more than 12 stalks would have germinated. Durn cold spring! We will be repeating this variety next year. Loved it!!
As for FLOWERS--
The BEST NEW FLOWER this year was one I bought specifically for "the critters".
Joe Pye Weed -Eupatorium maculatum- is a prairie native growing 4-6 feet tall-- though mine hit heights of over 7 feet. I planted it under the drip line of my roof and the moisture from the sweating metal helped this baby thrive despite our lack of rain.
It was the first year for it and it got HUGE. The bees and butterflies swarmed all over this one. It also blocked the summer sun from coming in my picture window--a real benefit when hubby will not allow curtains. The birds loved using it as a perch and I got a real close-up of them. An all-around winner! I do have to remember to run a cattle panel in front of them--the flower heads, running upwards of 10 inches around, tended to "flop" in the rain. I bought seeds for a white version this summer and will be adding that into the area next spring.
OTHER THINGS THAT WORKED THIS YEAR:
GERANIUMS IN THE "FLOWERS" TUB-- I loved the geraniums in the "Flowers" tub--a mix of peach and white. Gorgeous!!
I also try different ways of doing things around here---always trying to make things go smoother.
Some things that worked really well---
SCREENS FOR WATER TANKS-- Keeps bugs/critters out and is easy to lift to get out water. I used to clip some of the Agribon fabric over them but it's far easier to remove a screen.
SCREENS OVER CARROT AND SALAD BEDS-- Screens over the beds containing lettuce, spinach, radish, kohlrabi and carrots cut problems down to near nothing. Birds pull the carrot seedlings out. Screens eliminated that problem completely.
MOSS ON TOP OF PLANTERS--Topping pots with moss worked wonders at holding moisture levels in the containers. Despite endless weeks without a drop of rain, the planters thrived with
only watering on Wednesdays and Saturdays. That saved a lot of time (and water!)