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.

Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 Garden Winners and Losers and 2016 Seed Orders


A Winter "Date Day" at the Meijer Conservatory in Grand Rapids.



Well--isn't this the latest End of the Garden post.  We were gone from mid-September to Mid October, and then I battled a bug picked up on the road that "morphed" into pneumonia.
I'm finally back on my feet after 4 weeks of that fun. So, let's look at 2015's Winners and Losers!

2015 was a terrific year in the garden despite having left for the month of June---right after planting and when weeds are at their most prolific.  Newly planted seeds and transplants relied on Mother Nature for care and we were lucky that for once she cooperated with lots of rain.

Winners this year :

It's a toss-up which is my favorite.
This year I started digging just ONE bed of potatoes PER WEEK.. Those were brought into my "shop" and spread out to dry for a week under a covering of landscape fabric.  They cleaned up beautifully and I stored them in the shop until mid October when we came home from our trip to see "The Boy".  Doing only one bed per week saved my back AND did a better job on curing the spuds.


Another top thing this year was adding a 300 gallon stock tank to my collection of water tanks.
Hubby put up a gutter on the back of the barn and that huge expanse of roof gave us a full tank from only 1/2 inch of rain.  I never ran out of water this year---which was a huge improvement. I only watered with rainwater this year. I found that watering with my icy well water seemed to cause a lot of disease problems and frankly, I think it "SHOCKS" the plants.  Must be working as this year was the best by far in the garden---no diseases whatsoever and great production (except for the Red Pontiacs!)



THIRD on the winners list actually happened last fall.  I never cut down ANY of my flowers and WOW--that was a winner on all levels.
First--I fed a LOT of birds.
Secondly--I ended up with a TON of free plants that created the best borders ever
And best of all is some of those self sowers were the prettiest plants I've ever seen. Check out this self-sown petunia:
Incredible markings on the self sown petunias

And look how full and lush the self sown alyssum along the sidewalk is:
Alyssum (self sown) along the Sidewalk


And some of the self sown sunflowers were crazy tall and beautiful--having as many as 20 heads on them.
Oh, I had some really happy bees this year
HUGE Sunflower!
Self Sown Hyssop--an amazing six feet tall!!


I didn't have time to work on the East border and let Mother Nature do her thing and the results were incredible. I've never had so much wildlife---it was alive with birds in August and September harvesting seeds from all the self sown Heliopsis, Hyssop, Cleome , and Joe Pye Weed.
East Border--A Bird and Bee Mecca


I also used Deer Fencing for the first time ever and it worked!!  Ugly, but I ended up with flowers!!!
I think Hubby will have to splurge on something decorative around the house.

Now-for the Losers!
Well, by far the most mysterious and disappointing thing this year was the Red Pontiac potatoes. What a fail!  They are usually my best performers of all the potatoes, but not this year.  Grossly misshapen , hollow, light as balsa wood with a texture to match.  I can only blame this on the seed potatoes I bought as nothing for conditions was different from years past and my Yukons and Russets turned out so well.
Mutant Red Pontiacs

There was terrible production on the blueberries this year, but that was a combo of factors---We had our usual VERY LATE frost that got the BlueRays and Patriots, which were not protected (My Fault)
The Chandlers were covered, but production was much lower due to bad pruning (my fault) .  We got roughly a pint a day....terrible when you consider we have 5 of that variety. Last year I gave away QUARTS every day besides what I froze.
Lesson learned --cover the bushes and watch those YouTube videos on proper pruning!

This also was not the year for Tomatoes.  Even the cherry tomatoes were late to the party and didn't start bearing decently until Sept 3.

It's been such an odd year. I haven't had pumpkins in 3 years because it never got hot enough and yet this year.--tons. I had a great year for peppers, corn and green beans. And yet---the tomatoes didn't produce.  I guess it's just good that when some things fail, other things pick up the slack.

Seed Orders for the year:
Fedco again got the bulk of my budget $45 out of the budgeted $100

238B - Bush Blue Lake 274 Bush Green Beans 
282A - Fortex OG Pole Beans 
582A - Ambrosia Bicolor Sweet Corn 
2087C - Mokum, Pelleted Carrots 
2224B - Easter Egg Summer Radishes 
2510B - Space Spinach 
2712B - Black Seeded Simpson OG 
2795A - Lollo di Vino OG Cutting Lettuce
2861A - Jericho OG Romaine Lettuce
3309A - Green Super Broccoli 
3339A - Gustus Brussels Sprouts 
3425A - Snowbowl Cauliflowers 
3450A - Vates Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch OG Kale 
3473A - Winner Kohlrabi
3716A - Revolution Sweet Peppers 
4049A - Prudens Purple OG Tomatoes 
4069A - German Johnson OG Tomatoes
4264A - Juliet Grape Tomatoes 


Botanical Interests Order was placed 11/27/15 --Arrived December 4, 2015

Amaranth -Burgandy-OG
Sunflower-Goldy Honeybear AND Vanilla Ice
Canteloupe-Hearts of Gold OG
Lettuce-Salad Bowl Blend OG
Lettuce Valentine-OG
Mache-Corn Salad-OG
Squash-Acorn Sweet Reba OG
Tomato-Sungold Cherry
Zuchinni COcozelle-OG

That's it for me for the year. Enjoy the coming peacefulness of winter.
Merry Christmas to you all!  I'll "see you" in the spring


Novermber "Date Day" --Gilmore Car Museum, Hickory Corners, Michigan



44 comments:

  1. All of your garden "successes" and even the "fails" are very interesting.

    You look so very young and thin in your picture, pretty expert flower-growing lady!

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    1. My darling hubby takes blurry pictures---hence the young look. I adore his bad picture-taking abilities-LOL!!
      Merry Christmas, dear lady

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  2. Hello Sue, I think your winners this year are all wonderful. I love the sunflowers and the petunias. Your garden images are just lovely. I am glad you are feeling better, nice shot of you and the car. Happy Tuesday and Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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    1. Hi Eileen--thanks for stopping by. Hope you have a pretty terrific Christmas too!

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  3. Ok, I'm only now going through my notes etc., to get going on my end of season reviews, so you are much more on the ball than I am. You have already ordered & received some of your seeds?? Holy Cow! It will be weird doing my reviews in the new year, but sometimes, things (i.e. life) get in the way of timely posts.

    So glad the "hideous" deer fencing worked - nothing worse than seeing all your hard work and beautiful flowers munched to the ground. I love, love, love your borders - Can't wait to have the time to put a bit more effort into ours & I'll have to remember your "leave it be" approach to fall cleanup...which should come pretty naturally to me ;)

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas and New Years!

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    1. Hi Margaret--I try and do the ordering as soon as possible. Sometimes, some of those seeds are in limited supply. I also don't try new varieties too often so I have my lists from year to year. Makes life easier when you are stuck in a rut--as I am (happily)
      A very Merry Christmas to you as well. Looking forward to your end of the year review as well.

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  4. There are always some winners and some loses every year there? At least we have some winners and they keep us going.
    Happy Christmas

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    1. Hi Sue--that's so true. I always think next year will be THE year!
      :)

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  5. I love, love, love your flower beds!! You have an amazing green thumb!!

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    1. Hi Anke--thanks so much. Hope you guys have a terrific Christmas.

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  6. Good for you to have ordered already! I waited too long this past year and ended up missing out on a few things, so I'll be ordering ASAP in January.
    That self sown alyssum is astounding! So pretty! I had great success with self-sown petunia this year too...some like the original I had last year, some in even prettier variations. Your gardens looked amazing!

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    1. Hi Elizabeth--I try and wait until January with ordering, but then I know I'll end up getting distracted so I always end up ordering right when the catalogs come in.
      Hope you have a very Merry Christmas

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  7. Your flower beds are amazing. I love the colors and the variety. De and I are rethinking what we want to do with flower beds because the free-ranging chickens tend to be a bit hard on them. We're wondering how we can "have our cake and eat it, too!"

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    1. Mark, I hate to be the bearer of bad news , but your "helpers" will destroy any flowers left unfenced. I used to have chickens and I believe the cuss words are STILL floating around the earth. I would no sooner get flowers planted, and plants would be flying as they scratched for bugs. Maddening.
      But I sure miss having the "helpers" running around. Always great entertainment.
      Merry Christmas to you and De

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  8. Glad you are feeling better. That is no good.
    You really did the potatoes well this year. OK, not both that you planted, but at least one variety payed off.
    Good for you on collecting water from the barn roof. I need more roofs. Ha!
    My mom had good luck with self sown petunias finding great places to bloom. I'm hit and miss on the petunias coming back. Not sure why.
    Your flower beds just looked great.
    Too bad on the blueberries. Maybe next year they'll be the best.
    Your pumpkins are great. Sorry about the tomatoes.
    You're way ahead of me on choosing and ordering seeds. Seems like the seed catalogs are competing with the Christmas gift ideas this year. I'm not starting until January on the seeds.
    Nice to see you in the photo from your trip.
    My growing season is sort of lingering this year, and you're waiting for snow. We might get some snow this weekend. Which is OK. We need to travel around for the holiday. Then, we can hibernate at home while it makes a mess without having to get anywhere.
    Take care and have a Merry Christmas!!!

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    1. Hi GonSS
      Hope you have safe travels for the holiday.
      And don't you just love the hibernating phase of winter?! I just wish we'd get some snow. Lack of it makes me antsy to get out and do a bit of travel myself.
      Merry Christmas to you! And Happy New year in the garden!
      :)

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  9. It sounds like more successes than failures especially since you were relying on Mother Nature while you were gone. Sorry you were ill for so long but very happy to hear you are better. A very Merry Christmas to you both and a happy and healthy year ahead.

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    1. Thanks so very much for your kind words, Karen and Merry Christmas to you and hubby in your lovely new home!

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  10. Your flower beds are gorgeous, Sue! I am so sorry that you were in ill health. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a wonder filled 2016 filled with love, peace, joy and good health.

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    1. Hi Linda
      Thanks so much! And I am certainly looking forward to another year of your wonderful and inspiring posts. Merry Christmas to you
      :)

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  11. I really appreciate your Good/Bad posts - it gives me ideas (and makes me feel less bad about my own fails.) I might even steal some of your seed choices! Have a wonderful, restful holiday and winter. Here's hoping for the best gardening season in years! We deserve it!!!

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    1. Hi Susan
      I love reading blogs because of all the great ideas out there. I also find folks like you that are doing so much so well---it's inspiring.
      Have a very Merry Christmas. Looking forward to your adventures in the New Year.

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  12. Merry Christmas dear lady! and to a blessed, joyful and healthy New Year. I am so pleased to know you are feeling better... what a bummer. But now with the shortest day behind, I'm ordering my seeds too. :) Most now come from Baker Creek but will give Fedco a look.
    PS: that garden of yours is stunning!

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    1. Diana-isn't it so nice to know the days are getting longer!
      I'm sure you will find the Fedco catalog worth getting just for the reading alone. Great seeds, but the info included is priceless. Enjoy!

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  13. It always looks so beautiful! Yes, deer fences have become a must. Your record keeping is such an inspiration.

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    1. Thanks, len! Wishing you a Happy New Year and the best garden ever.

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  14. Oh wow, didn't know the 'comment' function was active. I got used to it not being so. Because if I HAD known this was open, you could've bet your sweet bippy I would have chimed in, voiced an opion, rattled the cage, started a discussion, chewed up the bandwidth, taken up good space and time just to make sure you knew I was out here and that I'M WATCHING YOU! Happy New Year.... :-D

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    1. Kris-you make me laugh!
      Happy New Year to you too. Looking forward to more hilarious battles with our four hooved friends. What?--you don't want to play with them????
      Snicker!....

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  15. Actually I think it was trying to dig my potatoes out of the concrete like soil that finally persuaded me and my aching back to give up vegetable gardening after some fifty years....:)

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    1. TB-- I think you and the Mrs are out having too much fun to garden!!
      Happy Birding in the coming New Year and best wishes for health and happiness!

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  16. Hi Sue, just stopping back to say enjoy your day! I wish you all the best in 2016, a very happy, healthy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, Eileen--I hope you guys have a great New Year as well. Happy Birding and good luck on the search for "the perfect spot"

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  17. I really enjoy year end lists, especially if they're about gardening, so obviously I love this post! :) Glad to see that you had more winners than losers. I like your point that when something fails, it seems that something else steps up to make up the difference. We had some similar results this year. Also enjoyed seeing your seed orders. We'll be doing ours soon. Already looking forward to next years gardens! Happy New Year.

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    1. Hi Bill
      Yea-I think all gardeners look forward to the next year---it's the year that EVERYTHING turns out. Ha. Haha. Hahahhahahahaha.
      Happy New Year to you both

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  18. Your flowerbeds are so beautiful! You have quite a green thumb. I'm glad the deer fencing worked. The mutant potatoes are so strange, but also kind of neat.

    Happy New Year!

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    1. Thanks, Jim---I appreciate the visit!
      Hope your travels in the New Year are amazing.......cuz we get to see it too!! Be careful out there.

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  19. What a nice garden you had - wish I had that much room.

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    1. Hi John--I've been working on an addition to it--gotta have MORE blueberries.
      Happy Hiking to you and Kelley

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  20. Hi Sue..my first visit here and really enjoying your garden. That self-sown Petunia is so lovely..

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I appreciate the visit!

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  21. What a beautiful yard, flowers and garden you have! I didn't even know that hyssop would grow that tall. Lovely! Nancy

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    1. Hi Nancy
      Thanks so much. I've grown hyssop for years and never had anything nearly as tall as that one. Must have liked that spot!
      Have a great week

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  22. Hi Sue, It looks like a number of us are not posting as often as we used to. I hope you are good and healthy by now. I enjoyed your season review. Even though the red potatoes were not good, it looks like you had a good crop of the others.

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    1. Hi Sue-thanks so much for your visit. I was happy to see your post last week--I'm so glad the garden season is almost upon us. Happy Spring

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