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.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

2013 --Part 2--The WINNERS!!!

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.


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!)