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.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Garden Update August 24, 2011

I awoke at my usual 3 am to the sound of rain on the roof......talk about heaven! It's been a LONG LONG time since we've had any (almost 2 weeks!)--the sun shines day after day after day.
Temps have been a GLORIOUS 70-75 degrees all week, not a stitch of humidity . Abundant sunshine. We had 2 nights that got into the low 40's. I even saw a few shots of color in some trees yesterday on the way to get ice cream. Yes---summer is almost over. And I'm glad.

Carlos the frog, who lives in my holey water trough, has been wondering if it was ever going to rain again too.

I'm telling ya--between the blue tarps and the yellow buckets under all the eaves, the neighbors are really wondering WHY we moved here. Tee hee!

I've been a good wife, I guess, so hubby got me a dandy new water trough this past week to catch the rain. Just in time, too. We have an area where two rooflines meet and the rain really comes down here. Won't take much to fill this.

Pumpkin on a Stick is beginning to turn orange. These look great for fall decorating.

Mama Pea-last year I told about a short season sunflower for seeds--well, this is it-Aztec Gold from Burpee. I kid you not, these heads weigh a TON-so loaded down with seeds and do-able in our very short summers. I have huge hands-so you can see these are quite large. The birds are going to appreciate these!

We got our first melon August 15th, and it's true that withholding water concentrates the sugars. I didn't personally withhold the water, Mother Nature did. Oh my gosh, the flavor was amazing, and so juicy you had to stand over the sink to enjoy. Fastbreak Melon-69 days.

Dug the Russet Norkotah on August 23. Got two crates full. Though russets are not my favorite, these will certainly help get us through winter as the Yukon Golds did not produce well (one crate) for the second year in a row. I'm beginning to question my supplier on them. I used to get tons of Yukons . Thoughts???

The First Brandywine-finally!! August 23....a full week later than last year. It looks like BLT's are on the menu for lunch today. Oddly enough, the Jetstar -which have a much shorter maturity time-are still not ready. Looks like I will have to share this one with Don. Rats.

Hope you all have a wonderful week. To those in the east-batten down the hatches and stay safe!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Garden Update-August 14,2011

Another busy week dig,dig, digging. The weather cooled off to what it should be--mid 70's, and that makes it time to work on expanding those borders some more.

The Morning Glories by the garage are finally starting to bloom. The middle flower is Grandpa Ott's--the other 2 are sports of it that came up by themselves this year. That's the great thing about these-you only need to plant them once.

The bed next to the driveway continues to change. The Russian Sage is getting darker by the day--it is the most beautiful shade of blue now. I tried for years to grow it in Hellinois--but it obviously didn't like it there either. Here in the dry sand it thrives.

Got another section dug on the west side of the house. I have to keep it covered in tarps so the rain doesn't wash my sand away. I'm hoping with the rain we received this week (4/10th's inch on Tuesday and 1/2 " yesterday) that I'll be able to mow the yard and get grass clippings to top this new section off for the winter. It will be planted in annuals for a year to make sure all the Bishop's Weed (aegopodium---AWFUL AWFUL INVASIVE) is completely gone.

I finally got around to digging out all those orange ditch lilies that had come right through the sheet mulching I did here. I am now behind a FULL YEAR because of that. I'll be planting with annuals in this bed next spring too. I know a LOT of folks have luck with sheet mulching. I'm sure with just grass it works well, but not with lilies and aegopodium. I knew deep down when I tried it here it was a mistake. Live and learn.

The bed on the southeast corner---The Cleome loves it here. It completely "ran over" the Artemesia 'Powis Castle' and is attempting to do that with the Heliopsis too. Love the look of them together---I'll move them further apart in the spring.

The Scummy Pond Bed is filling in nicely. I have to add a bit more grass clippings to this bed (if I ever get to mow again!)

The Winter Sown perennials are waiting to be transplanted into the veg. garden to over-winter as beds open up. I've already planted Agastache cana, Physostegia "Summer Snow', and Salvia 'Blue Cloud' and 'Vatican White'. Still to transplant-Echinops, Echinacea, Gaura,Foxglove, Verbena Pink Spires, Solidago, Heliopsis and Hollyhocks.

In the vegetable garden, things are starting to really look tired. A lot of beds are opening up as things get harvested and stored for the long winter.

The Yukon golds got dug this week (August 12), four days earlier than last year. Size was bigger than last years', but the quantity was LOW. Only about 25 pounds. I'm hopeful the others will produce more. Looks like the Russet Norkotahs are next in line to dig. I noticed they are starting to die back now. Red Pontiacs still going strong.

The Brandywine tomato still is not even thinking of giving me a nice ripe one yet. Still waiting.

I covered the Fastbreak Melons with a blue tarp to prevent the rain from rotting them. I have at least 2 melons that are REALLY CLOSE to ripening. It's best to withhold water close to harvest as it concentrates the sugars (or so I've read............)

The daily harvests are small and nothing to write home about. I get about 1 cuke and 1 zuchinni a day. A handful of berries. A handful of cherry tomatoes. Here a kohlrabi, there a cabbage. A fistful of carrots. Nothing spectacular, just enough. I guess I feel like I don't have much compared to others, but then I realize---that's how I want it. Just enough. I grow ALL the green beans, onions, potatoes, garlic, herbs, and salad fixings we use for the year. So one plant of each is enough. One zuchinni plant, one cucumber plant, one each of the different tomatoes. I guess I'm in trouble if I ever have a failure on them, but I'm not that concerned. I've lived without before, I probably will again.


Have a wonderful week!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garden Update August 7,2011 The Vegetable Garden

Another week of endless sunshine. I know that sounds terrible, but we need rain. We did get 4/10 of an inch Tuesday night, but with temps in the mid 80's and humidity at desert levels, that rain was gone practically the next day.

I picked the final Contender Green Beans on Tuesday and pulled those plants. I am DONE with the green beans. Final tally--42 pint bags in the freezer, a huge vat of green bean and potato soup in the refrigerator and some very happy neighbors too.

I dug the 3 "volunteer" potato plants that had come up in two separate beds. The one Yukon gold plant only had 2 large and one tiny potato and had a good case of scab on them. . The 2 Red Pontiacs yielded over 5 pounds.

The onions look to be next up on the harvest. The tops are starting to fall over. I have stolen 4 out of the garden, as my Copra's from last year ran out early this year. I think that was due to the smaller size of them. I've never ran out early before. I'm just glad I didn't have to BUY one.

A quick trip to the garden was all that was necessary.

This represents our total haul from FIFTEEN BLUEBERRY BUSHES. Yep. Mrs. Robin sure has been busy. It's my own fault for not covering them. How in the heck does anyone get any? I thought for sure I'd have plenty. Wrong!

I think the Yukon Golds are telling me they're ready! This little tent "collapsed" in the past few days.

The Matt's Wild Cherry are starting to come in now. I get a small handful every day. And yes, I've been sharing with Don.

The Brandywines are getting quite large now. Enough growing----Ripen!!! I have bacon to fry!

The Butternut have started to form this past week. I don't eat them--I grow them for my neighbor with the donkeys. Small price to pay for great fertilizer!

The Fastbreak Melon has gone crazy. There must be 20 melons total. I'm really looking forward to these-they're delicious and just the right size for two people.

This is my big screw up...............see those itty bitty seedlings. That's my fall broccoli crop. Yea. I've got less than 30 days until my first frost. Don't think they'll make it in time. Rats!

This is the cauliflower I planted when I was supposed to. Why didn't I plant the broccoli then?????? Well, at least I have this. It's been a terrible year for me for broccoli. I only have 5 bags in the freezer for this winter. Looks like I'll have to buy some this winter.

Hope you're all having a great week. Happy Gardening to all!

Monday, August 1, 2011

End of the Month Roundup--July

July gone? Really? Cripes.
Boring Boring Boring post ahead---for my reference. Go read someone else's blog!

This month we had:
29 Sunny Days--I am so sick of sunshine I could scream
2 Cloudy days
1.75" rain for the month....not nearly enough for even a week with our sand!--It is sooooooooooo dry out there. The only time it rained was AT NIGHT. Every day---day after day---SUNNY. ACK!
The grass is completely dead. It is a sea of brown. We seriously need some rain.
Temps have been average. We had one really awful night that only got down to 83. It's summer.

Strawberries ended July 12. Best year ever--75 quarts. Tore up Honey-O and Jewels. Will replace with new varieties next year. Hated the Honey-O's--sour and the Jewels were a tangled mess. I am keeping my Cabots. I'm undecided about the Northeaster. They are the BEST TASTING--but don't produce much.

The new berries I planted are all doing well and I've been staying on top of the weeding and keeping them from putting out runners.

Green bean harvest began July 22. I pick every other day. Harvest started with Blue Lake (love them, but so many are CURLED), Contender started by July 24 (hate them--tough, fiber-y) and the Top Crop started July 26 (undecided--good taste, straight, but they are "sticky" and the blossums stick to them and they're hard to clean up for processing). Pulled Blue Lake already (3 pickings). I have 36 pint bags (2 cups each) in the freezer. One more picking (tomorrow) and I'll have the full years worth. I'll rip up the other two beds and prep them for winter.

Sunflowers started blooming in earnest just yesterday. This is from the Autumn Beauty mix-Botanical Interests.

From the "Flash" blend-Botanical Interests. Not my favorite--very dark, but it IS the bee's favorite! At times, there are as many as 10-15 bees PER FLOWER. So, I'll grow these again next year.

The Aztec Gold sunflower from Burpee----short season SEED PRODUCER. Nice sized heads, the stalks are reasonably sized (6') and they produce quickly (70 days) so this is a keeper for my garden!

First cucumber EVER-July 29. Though I love salads, for some odd reason I've never grown them before. Will grow again next year.

First Matt's Wild Cherry--July 29. Tiny. REALLY TINY. Lack of water??? Crazy year?????

Also, the first blueberry we managed to harvest from TWELVE BUSHES. Note for next year--stop procrastinating and COVER THE DAMN BUSHES.

July 31 Harvested 7 heads Cauliflower. Looking a bit ratty. Rotten weather. But again--the row covers worked beautifully to keep them completely pest free. And they're good enough for soup.

First cabbage-July 31

Looks terrible, but this represents a major win---first year they aren't riddled with bugs. Again--the ROW COVERS were the trick. The only thing is I MUST USE HOOPS to keep fabric OFF the cabbage. The leaves kind of "rotted" where the fabric touched. Perfect underneath though. AND NO BUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!

The garden over-all is doing okay, especially considering the HOT DAYS we're experiencing and the LACK OF WATER

Garlic harvest this year-July 21 .

The pumpkins and butternut squash--though huge and healthy, have not put out any fruit.


The Fastbreak Melon is LOADED....and I have a couple that should be ready in a week or so.

The Hearts of Gold Melon--lots of blossums but no melons.

Onions--starting to fall over. Last year I harvested on Aug 13, so about 2 weeks to go.

Potatoes look to be progressing well. The Yukons look close to harvest. Last years harvest was Aug 16.

Tomatoes: Overall-extremely healthy plants this year. No rain. Coincidence?

Did have to De-Hornworm them starting July 30. They were loaded!

Matts Wild Cherry-just starting. The fruits are TINY this year. ?

Brandywine -Loaded with fruit. Last years first one ripened Aug 19.

Jetstar-Loaded, but none turning

Yellow Pear-Lots of fruit, but none ripening

SuperSweet 100-Lots of fruit, but none ripe yet

Zuchinni-I get a couple every few days. I've just been shredding them for the freezer. Too hot to bake now.

Broccoli ---bad year. I did get SOME for the freezer, but not nearly enough....only 5 bags. Worse yet, my starts for the fall crop are not doing well. I'm going to plant them anyway--even though I won't have enough time.

Cauliflower-seven out of 9 plants produced. I did get fall starts in for them. Hope that crop looks better.

Raspberries--where the heck are they this year?????????????????

Carrots--I've gotten several really good harvests, but I did not keep up with sowing and am now running out of them. So much for my plan!!!!!!!!!!!!! If we EVER get rain again, I will try sowing more and use a cold frame on them if needed.

Lettuce/Spinach/Radishes--If we EVER get rain again, I'll start sowing them again.

Misc---first year I wasn't fanatical about keeping stuff weeded in the aisles. I have LOTS of volunteers--escpecially Portulaca. And I love them. Relax, Sue, relax. And let things go..........