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, August 31, 2012

End of the Month Roundup-August

August has been a very fine month-a bit dry, but with nighttime temps cool enough to produce heavy dews, nothing suffered .  We had several weeks in the 70's, lots of nights in the 40's.
We had 1.9" rain for the month. 
We had 24 days of sun.  There were 4 days in the 90's, and 2 nights that dipped into the 30's. Can you say "roller coaster"?  The forecast today is upper 80's and sun--a warm ending to an otherwise pretty cool month..

 
There's flowers galore left, but not much else still growing.


Melons under their plastic tent,basking in the extra warmth--the nights are pretty cold now.
 
Most beds in the vegetable garden are empty now.  I do have melons , tomatoes, and the fall crop of broccoli growing. Most things have been harvested and "put up" for the winter.  I top dressed the beds with Donkey Doo as the harvests were completed. I'll put grass clippings and chopped up leaves on after we get back this fall....weather permitting.

 
Pretty much the only thing left is flowers.
 



My very first time growing Calendula---it was in with the 99 cent garden seeds--and I like them a lot!.  Speaking of the 99 cent garden--it was the most productive of all my beds.  The first green peppers, the first beans, good carrot germination.  A big success. The neighbors that got that bounty are happy!  And I learned a good lesson about hybrids versus the good old standbys....sometimes new and improved---isn't!

Another nice surprise--the Zebrina , from seed given to me by my good friend Deb Arnold a couple of years ago, magically appeared scattered around my vegetable garden this summer. It must have lain dormant all of last year. Amazing.
 
 
I'll be doing the FINAL post of the year next week--all the harvest totals, etc.  We're leaving after that and by the time we get home it will be time for some indoor hibernation.
 
Now, before you scroll any further----MAMA PEA---there are CRITTER pictures and since I know how you feel about bugs, and such---I wanted to warn you so you can skip the rest of the post!!
 
 
 



First up--a Walking Stick--which I haven't seen since moving to Michigan.....maybe because there are so many trees I don't "notice" them?
 

And hubby found this Skink climbing around the barn.  I had one last year that I found while digging around in a tub of potting soil......with my bare hands. Needless to say, the ENTIRE neighborhood heard me scream.  I'm not afraid of them, but when something crawls out of the dark unexpectadly-----eeeeeeeeeesh!
Hope you have a wonderful week!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Garden Thief and a Scummy Pond Bed Update


This has been an incredibly full week.  I finally started digging up the scummy pond---and got it removed. It was an old tank that had rusted through. I didn't know what it was-the previous owner used a lot of "cast-offs" for projects around here.

We have had the grandson up from Arizona for 8 days. They left last Sunday and I can't believe how much energy a 3 year old has. He's amazing and funny and so eager to learn.  He loved helping me in the garden--here he is harvesting lunch. He was quite amazed when these potatoes turned into Mashed Potatoes. It's funny when a little kid has that "light bulb" moment.


Here he is cruising the aisles of the blueberry patch--scoping out the last of the Chandlers.  All of the varieties of blueberries are now done.



It must be love, if I let him steal the few carrots we had this year.


All varieties of my tomato plants are fully loaded---but NOT ripe. Despite our extremely hot July, it just wasn't enough.



The melons are also huge and UNRIPE. Sigh.

Below-the blackberries are beginning to ripen, and of course, the birds have found them.



The Scummy Pond ended up being over 3 foot deep. It's a bigger job than anticipated!





The fall broccoli is coming along okay, but it's doubtful I'll get any before we leave for our final trip.


The nights have started cooling down and most mornings find us with a HEAVY dew. Within a couple weeks we'll have frost. Looks like a no tomato year. Rats. So close!


Another shot of the carrot thief. He made trip after trip out there to steal them. Brat. I miss him already.............

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Notes to Self on the Garden This Year

By August, the perennials along the borders of the vegetable garden are showing their age.... and problems. I said it last year and I 'll say it again (and hopefully NEXT YEAR I'll listen!!)--phlox hate it here. It's TOO DRY. They just burn up. Rip the darn things out this fall and quit thinking NEXT YEAR THEY'LL DO BETTER HERE.  They won't!

Got a load of mulch from the neighbor to "top off" the old mulch in the fruit garden. I wish I had never put down mulch--the sand was so much easier to maintain-just run an iron rake through it once a month. Mulch needs to constantly be replenished. What a pain!  I often thought I should put it in the vegetable garden portion too, but I'm glad I didn't. Looks nice, but not worth it!

 What did work? The Grandpa Ott's Morning Glories and alyssum in the aisles. It is so pretty . And the hummers come in droves. I also want to grow a bigger variety of Lavender. It grows well against the heat of the raised beds.  There's so many kinds to try. Next year--LOL!

The ONE place Phlox works at my house. I don't understand WHY the Phlox 'David" isn't in full bloom yet (it is in the veg. garden)--maybe too much shade? But, no mildew. No burnt off leaves. I love the purple ones (unknown name) and if 'David' would hurry up and bloom, it would be a great combo.

The Cleome along the East side of the house is the perfect plant for the spot. I'm going to remove the Monarda and Delphiniums from the South bed and replace with more Cleome. It handles the extreme heat from the stone walls well.  Paired with Artesia 'Powis Castle'-it's stunning and TOUGH.

The Agastache cana takes FOREVER to come into bloom and it's totally worth it. It's just starting and already has overtaken the Russian Sage as the favorite plant for pollinators. So glad I planted this!
Not so sure about the sunflowers next to the house though. Maybe yellow ? Maybe not?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

July-- End of the Month Roundup


August 1st ????
July is over with and I'm glad. What a lousy month, weatherwise.

We had 12 days in the 90's---our average high is supposed to be upper 70's.
We had 5 days in the upper 80's.
Blech.

Rainfall totals look REALLY impressive for the month, until you consider how it fell. We had a bad drought all month-rain came at the very start and very end of the month. NOTHING in between. Bad news with sandy soil. 

7/3  1.35"

7/26  2.15"

7/27  .9"

7/31  .9"

Total July rainfall:  5.3" 
Lawn in many parts has still not recovered. It is a sea of brown.

Harvests for the month included
Garlic July 10
Blueberries--the whole month
Green beans started July 16
Cukes starting 7/23
Harvested all onions 7/24
Cabbage 7/30
Celery  starting 7/30
And the biggest news (and smallest harvest)
CORN!  7/30

Only one ear so far was ready. I split it with Hubby . I'm not going to say it was GREAT, but for up north, it was pretty tasty.  There's a lot out there--it's just not quite done.

Still waiting on tomatoes and peppers. The brandywine is not cranking out many. The yellow pear is loaded--they're just not ripening. The beefsteak is loaded with green tomatoes. And the Rutgers in the 99 cent garden are quite loaded with tomatoes.  They're just NOT ripening. Sigh.

 The most satisying feeling on earth--potato soup made with ALL vegetables picked fresh from the garden.

Though harvests have been spotty and small, that's expected this year because of travels.
I did get all the onions and garlic I need for the next year.
Potatoes are being harvested on an "as-needed" basis until the cellar cools down . I hope to have enough of those for the winter. You never know with taters until it's time to dig.

I'll have enough green beans, broccoli, celery, and herbs for the year also.

The carrot harvest is enough for fresh eating but not enough for storage.

There was no cauliflower this year to freeze--it bolted in the heat.

There was only enough blueberries for fresh eating--about 2 cups a day.

There are no pumpkins this year.

There will be NO peaches/apples/grapes this fall due to early warm up and hard freeze after that this crazy crazy spring.

Tomatoes and peppers LOOK like they'll be sufficient. Unless disaster hits. It's too early to tell.
I've got TONS of melons forming and also butternut squash to use as "trade" with neighbors.
And the corn, (Please Hurry!!), looks like a good batch too.

So, the weather has been atrocious for me, but okay for the garden.

The perennial beds have been a disaster this year--the deer continue their rampage. 

I miss having all my pots/tubs/and barrels of annuals, but travel in June and also coming up this fall  meant I couldn't have them.
So, it's a flower-less year.
But, drumroll please, there is always----

NEXT YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

And THAT thought keeps me going.......

Have a wonderful week................