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.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

April "Doings"--so far.

The camera focused on the branches, but you can see his white back 


April 1--NO FOOL---We had an ALBINO black capped Chickadee at our feeders. It was early                          morning-- barely light. The quality of the pic is horrible, but you can see the whiteness.


April 2 --Awoke to 54 degrees.  That was all I needed to get started in the garden.  Hubby and I spent
              the morning with the chipper/shredder grinding up all the sunflower stalks and corn stalks.
              Note to self:  Next year just dump the corn stalks out back. Despite being very dry, the
                shredder kept clogging up. Corn stalks are VERY fibrous. Not worth the hassle.

April 5--Easter--Awoke to more snow. Free fertilizer. Free Fertilizer. Free Fertilizer (thanks to
               Mama Pea for that mantra. But, it is getting harder to be happy about the snow.......)
                Snapped a pic on our way out to visit friends for a week. Glad to be leaving!
Pretty, but ENOUGH ALREADY!!!
April 6--Breakfast with Dot and Don. So much fun and so many laughs.  Three hours of sheer joy.
The Four Stooges!
April 7--Headed into Wisconsin to do some "waterfalling".  Water levels were good at all the places we went. Temps were in the low to mid 30's--fine for hiking.
Amnicon Falls State Park

Big Manitou Falls--Pattison State Park, WI

Little Manitou Falls--Pattison State Park, WI

We also knocked off THREE more Rustic Roads in NW Wisconsin
 Spent the night in St.Croix Falls, WI

April 8--More waterfalls, hiking, and 2 more Rustic Roads. A very full and tiring day.
Cascade Falls, Osceola, Wi. 200 steps down, 84,326 steps back up. Or so it felt!

Willow River State Park--the waterfall made the long hike deep into a canyon well worth it.

Vermillion Falls, Hastings, MN--just a short walk. It's in town, next to a ConAgra plant.
April 9--Antiquing in Mt Vernon, IA--one of the U.S.' Top Ten Cool Towns. Well, I don't know
              about that, but they do have nice antique stores and a very nice little park made from
              an abandoned quarry. We spent some time watching the geese before heading to the
              Mississippi River. Took The Great River Road all the way up to Savanna, IL.
             Crossed back into Iowa at Sabula. Lots of fun watching the pelicans and cormorants fight.
Pelicans (My favorite!) and cormorants fighting
April 10--Tried going to hiking at White Pine Hollow but heavy rains the night before made the
                  trails a muddy nightmare.
                Next Stop--Pikes Peak State Park.  Nice walk on a boardwalk --lots of steps  and a cute
                 little waterfall-Bridal Veil falls.

Bridal Veil Falls
 Next stop was Effigy Mounds---still on the Iowa side of the Mississippi.  Incredible views after
 an exhausting hike up into the bluffs.  Well worth it, though at times, I found out what
"accelerated heartbeat" meant. Whew. It's been a LONG winter!
The views from Pikes Peak lookout

Hubby on the hike up to Effigy Mounds, waiting for me to catch my breath!

The Views were totally worth it!



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Happy Spring and March "Doings"..........

A Large Flock of Canadian Geese 

Hubby trying to spot something, anything.  We were late for the Snow Geese and too early for the Sandhill cranes.
Hubby realizes he forgot to wave. God, I LOVE Nebraska.  Why can't all people be as friendly??!!
Hubby and I ventured out to Nebraska the first part of the month.  Though the migrations were not
as spectacular as in past years, it was just good to be out and about and enjoying 70's and sunshine.
I didn't want to come home.  We met some really wonderful people and I even had a rye bread recipe
waiting in the mail when we got home. I mentioned to a very nice lady how I was still searching for
that "perfect substitute for Beef Steak Rye" and so I am anxious to try this recipe. Hubby LOVES his sandwiches!


March 20  First day of Spring--and I spent the whole morning outside. Despite being cold, it was perfect for setting up a cold frame, starting the massive job of cutting down all the flower stalks and also  organizing my work space in the garage.  What a mess. I had literally just tossed all the Christmas  decorations, etc in there willy nilly and it took a few hours to clear the work areas. I'm ready for the spring madness now.

Inside---the geranium cuttings are doing great. Many are starting to bloom and I am enjoying that
    burst of color.


March 21--Sowed Kale, 9 pk

March 24--Sowed One Flat of Salvia 'Victoria Blue'---it's one of 3 plants deer don't eat at my house

March 25--It rained today.  Rain...  Not Snow.....It's a Miracle.  Captured several buckets of rain
                    water for my houseplants
                 Sowed: Oregano, and Basils--Cinnamon, Lemon, and Sweet Basil

March 26 --SNOW.   Really?????????

March 27-- Daytime high--20 degrees.  Spring?  Where??
                   Sowed Tomatoes:  Brandywine, Jetsetter, SuperSweet 100, and Yellow Pear

March 28--Last nights'  low was MINUS 1.  Yup. Sounds like spring to me!

March 29--Sunny and 35 degrees---so I spent the morning in the garden snapping off sunflower
                  stalks and doing a bit of clean-up.  Winds started up and I lost interest.
                  Snow arrived in the evening.   Boo. Hiss.

March 30--Light snow.  Sigh.

March 31--Awoke to more snow.  I give up. Spring is a myth.

SEEDLINGS--March 31---

BASILS--, only the Sweet Basil and Blue Spice sprouted. Cinnamon and Lemon basil seed was
   old and I should have known better.

CELERY--Doing well, but didn't plant enough....only a 4 pk---what was I thinking?

PARSLEY--Flat and Curly are doing good.

PEPPER--seedlings doing well.

TOMATOES-- starting to come up--Jetsetter seed from friend Miriam was the winner for fastest
  germination--3 days.

Well, outside it might not seem as if spring will ever arrive, but inside--the garden grows!

Hope you all are enjoying getting outside again.  Have a good month!

March 31, 2015









Sunday, March 1, 2015

February Update

Crazy crazy cold this month.
We had---19!!!!---  nights that hit below zero. It was far colder than last year's supposed FRIGID winter.
Even our daytime highs were running about 15-20 degrees below "normal".  What is normal anymore?
I like to mark the calendar in blue on days that get below zero. My blue pen was busy this month!

19 days at or below zero---the final 2 weeks were really bad!

My lavendars continue to grow. The lemon grass is being rather pokey slow. I assumed since it had the word "grass" in it's name, it would grow quickly. Wish my lawn grew this slow...............

Adorable Lavender!

SLOW growing Lemon Grass

I'll be starting the herbs and celery this week. Not much else going on around here.
Have a wonderful week and stay warm!

Friday, February 20, 2015

February Temps......and Seed Starting


February is always our coldest month.  March might have a few below zero days, but just a couple.
Yesterday's high hit ZERO.  It doesn't bother us, as long as the wind stays down.  We still manage our morning walks and DH spends most of the rest of the morning outside feeding the birds, etc.

I will be SO GLAD when it doesn't take 10 minutes to get ready for a walk.   C'mon spring!

In other news, my seedstarting has started.
Is the anything cuter than baby lavenders? And they smell so good already!

Lemon Grass starting to poke up

Sixteen geraniums rooted so far, with at least two dozen more to go.......

I'm so mad at myself for trying to use 4 year old seeds for my ornamental grasses. After 3 weeks, there is no sign of germination.  Even if I order fresh seed now, by the time it arrives and germinates, it will be too late to get the size of plants I wanted.  I could kick myself. I really sort of knew this would be the case, but I didn't want to spend the extra $30 for seeds.  Now, if I want those plants (and I do!), I'll have to spend close to $200.  IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!   And lesson learned.  FRESH SEED at least every 2 years.

Also wanted to mention that I am having a terrible time posting comments to some of your blogs---and often the posts don't "update" on my reader either.   If you know I regularly post comments , please know that I have been.  This problem is most apparent on John's Blog and Susan's blog.
Sometimes the comments appear MUCH later, and sometimes not at all.  Please let me know if you know what is doing this or what can be done.

Hope you have a terrific weekend.  Happy seeding!


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 Garden Seed Orders and Garden Plans




I started receiving catalogs well before Christmas this year. Seems to get earlier every year. I don't know if that helps or hurts the companies. I'm not "sick of winter" right when it starts!  It used to be they came in February, just about the time you needed to see those colorful catalogs, and I would go crazy ordering because I was so "starved" for color and gardening fun. Anyways--I did place my orders extra early this year, but didn't go overboard. I stuck to my list.

First seed order was to Fedco---which I used last year for the first time and LOVED them!  I had excellent germination from everything.......a far cry from my prior disasters with Burpee seeds.

Fedco Seeds   Placed on  12/21/14    $43.20 (Free Shipping)

238B - Bush Blue Lake Green Bean 274 ( B=8oz ) 1 x $4.20 = $4.20  
582A - Ambrosia Sweet Corn ( A=2oz ) 2 x $2.60 = $5.20           
893A - Sugarsnap Pea ( A=2oz ) 1 x $2.40 = $2.40
2086C - Mokum Carrot ( C=6g ) 1 x $8.00 = $8.00
2224B - Easter Egg Radish ( B=1/2oz ) 1 x $2.10 = $2.10
2510C - Space Spinach ( C=1oz ) 1 x $4.80 = $4.80
2761A - Red Sails Lettuce( A=2g ) 1 x $1.60 = $1.60
2811B - Buttercrunch Lettuce ( B=4g ) 1 x $1.50 = $1.50
2874A - Olga Romaine( A=1g ) 1 x $1.70 = $1.70
3425A - Snowbowl Cauliflower ( A=0.5g ) 1 x $2.40 = $2.40
3464A - White Russian Kale( A=2g ) 1 x $1.60 = $1.60
3634A - Tango Celery ( A=0.1g ) 1 x $2.90 = $2.90
3716A - Revolution Bell Pepper ( A=0.1g ) 1 x $2.50 = $2.50
4233A - Jet Star Tomato ( A=0.2g ) 1 x $2.30 = $2.30


I am not placing any seed orders for flowers this year. I am just picking up flats of annuals. I 
have leftover alyssum, zinnia, cosmos, and sunflower seeds for direct sowing in the garden.

Other Orders :

  • 1/2/15 Nourse Farms--20 Chandler Blueberry Bushes, 5 Lauren Raspberries for delivery May 25
  • 1/3/15 Dixondale Onions-3 bunches Copra onions for delivery May 11
The Garden plan for 2015. All beds just got rotated to keep things healthy. I get less and less fancy
sketching it out every year.  I don't even draw in the aisles anymore--so for those of you
unfamiliar with my garden--those are 24 beds , each one 4x8 feet.  The stuff in the center is 
trellises arched over the center aisle.
You'll also notice that all the vegetables are pretty much standard fare. No fancy for us--just 
good basic foods that store well.  It took me 6 years to learn we don't like fru fru. We do, 
however, eat tons of vegetables. This garden provides all of that.


Saturday, January 3, 2015

2014 Year in Review---Winners, Losers, and Misc. Notes

Mid-Winter Greetings to all.
My Year in Review is terribly late but finally ready.
I've started on seed orders and will have that list posted when I'm done. So--on to the Review!


2014 will go down as a strange and yet bountiful year.  Despite record cold temps over winter , super late last frost (June 13!), and cool summer temps,  the garden produced abundantly.

Best Surprise--the BLUEBERRIES.  I think the bushes have finally hit their stride.
  We gave away 2 quarts almost daily  for 3 weeks of the Patriots.The branches were dragging on the
    ground from the weight of the berries.  I've never seen so many. The taste was intense--my                        favorite.
      Chandler berries--while not as abundant as last year , were still plentiful and HUGE.
  The BlueRays also kept on providing--though I did not cover that row.  Birds took a lot, but I still   got  lot from them.

Despite early problems with my CARROTS--I got great harvests.  The problem was solved by sprinkling ground up eggshells between the rows.  It must have been slugs--which in a normal year wouldn't be a problem-- but we had lots rain this year.
And while I'm on the subject of carrots---Loved the Danvers again (2nd year for them) Tried Dragon and St Valery carrots and did not like either of them.

Copra onions this year were the biggest I've ever grown. Huge!  Softball size. Thank you rain!!

I tried YUKON GEM potatoes this year and they delivered on their promise of higher yields, less hollow interiors, and great taste.  I will be using them from now on instead of Yukon Gold.   I had         NO SCAB at all.  They were beautiful and productive.



It was my first year of growing shallots. I like them and will be doing those again.

I grew the Afina cutting celery for the first time. Great flavor for soups and stews. I do miss having "stalks" for salads, etc. Not sure what I'll do for next year. Maybe a combo of both.
Curly Blue Kale and Afina Cutting Celery
And my first year of growing Kale was a nice surprise. It was bountiful and delicious. I didn't think I'd like Kale at first, but neighbor Carol showed me Kale Chips and I was hooked. Despite making it almost daily, I never came close to running out of Kale.  A dozen plants was a good amount to grow.

Spinach and lettuce yields were excellent---once I got the slug problem resolved with eggshells.
Oh, they hate slithering over those sharp edges. Good!

And now on to the BAD this year.

Once again, it was the battle with the deer. Despite trying cayenne, soap, deer repellents, you name it, they continued to ravage the flower borders around the house. Like it or not, I'm going to have to fence off these areas or just remove the plants they find so delectable.
The newest area I planted this year ( lilies, hostas, astilbe and tulips) seems to have been a combo of their favorites.  They pulled up EVERYTHING!
These stalks are lilies. Yea.  Thanks, deer.

This was the Phlox this year. It never got taller than 18 inches....and it certainly never got to have blooms!


And my flower beds battling it out with the deer was not my only problems this year.



Brandywines on the loser list?  Yup.  This year was especially bad for "cracking".  I only got 3 usable tomatoes from that plant.  Don's Jetstars performed admirably, but I hate them--so 'watery" and seedy.  I will try "Jetsetter" next year. I was given some of them by friend Miriam and they were delicious and meaty.
All the cherry types I grew were productive and good. The Yellow Pear variety this year really surprised me-they usually split like crazy , but not this year. I was better at watering them--more consistent.

Cauliflower-disaster.  Of the dozen I planted, only 3 survived the onslaught of slugs.  The three that did produce were beautiful. They are  in the freezer for mid-winter soups.

Broccoli--another bust.  I didn't grow Packman this year and I regret that. I missed those huge heads. I will be going back to that variety next year.  I don't like "shoots"--no matter how plentiful!

Melons--all a bust.  Late frost on June 13 , a cold summer, and frost September 13 left me with not enough time or heat to produce a crop.  Total loss.

Pumpkins (and squash)  ---Same story--what didn't freeze in June didn't have time enough to produce.


It's definately been the year for cold-weather crops and a terrible year for the heat lovers.  Overall, I'm pleased.  I'd actually rather have it cool.  And there is always the Farmer's Market for melons, etc.

I've got plenty of good food stored and am already making plans for next year.

Enjoy the quiet beauty of winter.  I'm still waiting for consistent snows for skiing and snowmobiling, but have spent many wonderful days painting, reading, and in the kitchen cooking and baking.

                   

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