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.

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!






       
     







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
                      shallots

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!!
:D

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!