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, 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.