Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Gardening Begins

A Mason Bee structure in the apple tree.

With the new greenhouse done and the cold frames full of seedlings, some planting has begun.  We found two nice lilac plants for the hill area where the pine trees were removed; and then just this week we found another lilac so now that space has seven different lilacs from white to dark purple and shades in between.  Give them a few years and the view of the neighbors swing set and play area will be gone.

I got some of the annuals planted and the planters both on the patio and out front done.  The patio funeral basket has a mix of black petunias and pink flowered strawberries which should be fun.   I was thinking about a determinate tomato in the center but that might be a bit  too much.  The front planter has marigolds and some tall peppers now and I would like some nasturtiums too but that seed is just not germinating too well.

Lettuce and dandelions (endive) have been planted in the garden and we have started on some cutting of lettuce along with sorrel and arugula.  The arugula that wintered over is really spicy by now and too much in a salad is a bit overpowering.  We also have two kinds of kale that is fine for cutting too.  I  got the tomatoes planted this week.  I think the ground is warm enough for them even though its a week earlier than I usually plant them.

I bought a mason bee structure at the garden store and we ordered paper straws to fill the hole as the bamboos that the nest was made of were a bit big for the bees.  So as you see the straws are a nice size for mason bees to fill - if we're lucky.   Mason bees used to love the old greenhouse and would, as I found out when I took it apart last summer, fill the channels of the aluminum struts with their nests.

The bad garden news is that the oldest apple tree (maybe 25 plus years) and ironically the one with the most grafts on it has a bad case of Black Rot.  Both branches and the trunk are showing the malady and growth this season will surely be affected along with apple production.  All of this after I cut down the pine trees to give the apples more sun!  I do think that all my trees have it but the oldest tree has the disease the worst - lucky us.  I am just going to wait and see how the growth goes this season before I make any decisions about further pruning or tree removal.  Its getting a bit late for me to be starting with new trees and my grafting scion stock source may soon be a thing of the past too.

The earth boxes are planted with determinate tomatoes and white cotton this year  - our experimental plants for the new greenhouse.  Plus the cucumber seedlings are sprouted and they too will be grown    in pots in this new environment too.  Out in the garden the black raspberries are growing nicely and I am still waiting for the horseradish to sprout.  We have several kinds of sage seedlings to plant and both summer and winter savory to try this year.  So all in all a few experiments to test for  2015.

Happy Gardening

Straws in the bamboo

Lettuce, Dandelions, and Endive

New lilacs in place.

Three of the four rows of tomatoes.

The Queen Sophia marigolds in place - Profusion zinnias next.

The new Harry Lauder Hazelnut in the front bed.

Black Rot on all these pictures.

Stunted, pale leaves on this branch.

Black Mamba Petunias.

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Vegetable Garden Returns...

After a long time and a number of events here in the yard I am returning to making garden postings to share what is happening in our garden space.

Last summer the old greenhouse was demolished and a new cement slab was put up.  At the time I was not sure what was going on the space other than chairs and a space for cold frames.  However, this winter I decided that I really needed another greenhouse and so the search began.  I looked at many types and a great deal of evaluations and finally settled on a Grandio Elite 8x12 polycarbonate greenhouse.  Two factors made my choice - I wanted  10mm panels in the structure and I wanted a kit that went up easily and had good personal reviews - the Grandio had all of that. 

The pictures help one see how the structure is constructed and pretty much as the plans indicate - two persons and about two days to erect.  I had help but I read the construction plans several times before I gave the copy to my handyman for him to read so we were both on the same page with construction.  I arranged all the parts by number order and as suggested taped all the panels before we put them in place.  The tape closed off the cells in the panels to prevent dirt and dust from accumulating and clouding the panels prematurely.

While waiting for the new greenhouse I started this years seeds in the basement under fluorescent lights.  My sucess with lights was OK but as soon as possible I have taken the seedlings outside and into cold frames.  I have had some problems with the heat mat and might have to purchase a new one for next season as this one gets way too hot so either the mat or the thermostat is not working correctly.

We also made some changes in the yard.  I had the three pine trees in the back of the yard cut down, allowing much more light for the apples and for the oak tree.  Last summer I planted an apricot tree, and this spring black raspberries, horseradish, and a new fig tree.  There is a possiblity that this fig might go in the ground on the south side of the house as an experiment to see if it will survive and produce in this climate.  I spoke with someone at Pinetree Seeds and she has a Chicago Hardy Fig in the gound in Maine! so only time and expreimentation will see.
Happy Gardening
The sad old greenhouse.

I removed all the glass and recycled all the metal.

Demolition of the old cement wall.

The new space last summer 2014.

One 8x12 Grandio Greenhouse delivered.

The foundation on the cement slab.

The next Saturday and up the structure goes.


The new growing space - really nice size.

New Chicago Hardy Brown Turkey Fig.

The pine trees before....

And they are gone and the apples and oak will have more sun.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Kind of Belated Garden Update

We have been busy and much has happened since the last long ago post.  The greenhouse is gone and a new patio area is in its place. Plus the house has had new siding put up where the greenhouse was on the garage wall. The garden shed  is scheduled for a new roof in September.  Apples are starting to arrive but we have had some trouble with the trees - whole branches dying - the professional explanation is a combination of last falls drought and the very hard winter we just had - so I have had to cut whole branches off the trees including some full grafted branches.  Tomatoes are here in abundance along with pole beans. My pole beans are back as I almost lost my seed stock but have built it back up after several lean years. Because all the cucumbers are growing in the garden we have had some issues with leaf spot and poor production - cool wet weather this summer has not helped either.  The peppers in the EarthBox's are doing excellent - too bad they are almost all hot varieties.
This spring and summer I was busy with running events and a Triathlon Sprint with my sons in Door county so maybe that somewhat explains the lack of posts - hard to train, garden, remodel, and get to the camera and computer for the blog - but this should bring us up to date on most levels.
Happy Gardening

This little tree decided to bloom again. Not sure what it really is though...

Demolition of the greenhouse

The new patio space - maybe a stand alone greenhouse next spring.

Summer lettuce in a cold frame - might be helping with slugs....

One of the "Indigo" tomato varieties - will not plant these again.

The pole beans are at the top of their poles (9-10ft).

Red and green dandelions - great greens - a sure bunny favorite too.

Another variety of pole bean - Native American Black Bean.

New favorite herb - Summer Savory - ready for drying.

Peppers do so well in these EarthBox's.

Chapeau de Frade - hot and very tall plants -

Passion vine fruit.

Mayhop passion vine is all the way to the house roof!


Sunday, May 25, 2014

Saddly GONE - but the greenhouse was a great success for many years...

Just a quick post to say that today was the end of an era with the demolition of the greenhouse - sad but new construction might bring another one on site in the future... keep checking and see what grows....
Happy Gardening

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Harvesst

This year a success...

Meadow vole damage - eating machine.

Plant in a cone and the roots sometimes take full advantage.

Last year the parsnip crop failed but this year we have a harvest.  This is our favorite spring vegetable.  After a full winter in the ground these roots are just so sweet that one can eat them raw but a quick saute with a bit or oil or butter makes them even better.  I try to dig them one at at time to stretch the season but the first digging in the first picture - one never made it to the house.  Making a cone in the ground for them to grow into is always the technique I use and as you see in the pictures
one parsnip really used the cone to a great advantage.
Seeding continues; tomatoes are up and so are the nasturtiums. The parsley has a few weeks to go yet and today we started on the herbs - 10 types (thyme, woad, holy basil, summer savory, catnip, motherwort, white horehound,wormwood, coriander, burdock. We will see what grows and what we may have to buy or not have.
Outside in the cold frames I planted more spinach, lettuce, and radish.  In the small bed by the house I planted radish and arugla and they will be out by the time the white cotton seedlings are ready to go into this sunny hot bed ( planted the cotton today too).  I have grown brown, tan, green cotton but finally I am going to try the white - longest of the cottons to mature so we will hope for a crop.
A natsty meadow vole found the radish crop in the cold frame and ate some so I blocked him from getting in with some bricks and hopefully his Decon snacks did him in...I don't share well.
With some luck we should have dafodills this week and then hopefully more warm weather.
Happy Gardening

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Week One Plantings and more

Naturalized crocus in the yard. These are more than 3 yrs in place.

The plantings on the heat mat - set at 70 degrees.

This year I tried to be more neat to save work.

The shade side of this tree - Yes I know that is a large cut - but...

I guess we are on week 2 not one...

Hot water over the seed for a 60 sec. soak then...

Broadcast into a flat, lightly cover and...

Soak well before placing them on the heat mat.

The season is going to be slow, I think, this year because as I write it is snowing again.  But, we did have warm weather this weekend and that allowed me to get to the apple tree pruning.  I got all three trees done in one day - some sort of record - I think.  I did remove some rather large branches from the oldest tree because they are in the shade of three other trees and just don't produce anything but leaves and waterspouts.  I also got rid of part of another tree top that was waterspout crazy too.  I fear that my oldest and first planted tree will maybe have to come completely down in the future as shade makes for poor apple production and the huge cottonwood in my easterly neighbors yard is the biggest culprit.  Sadly, there is little I can do about that tree except make evil wishes under my breath.  The prunings will not go to waste, they will become apple chips for the grill this simmer and for a few more seasons too.

Planting has begun in the greenhouse.  Two weeks ago I got some old lettuce and radish seed planted into trays with the hopes of getting a few micro greens out of the planting.  The radishes did good; the lettuce not so good.  I guess that if I don't get lettuce seed planted I am not keeping it more than two years - the older stuff is just not good at germination no matter what you do.  Radishes are good for more multiple plantings but they need protection from root maggots and even in cold frames later in the season they just get deviated - polyester covers are just hard to keep in place till harvest time - so I don't know how the guys selling radishes at framers market keep them pets free...

I planted some marigolds and peppers earlier and this week I got parsley treated with hot water and in the ground on schedule.  I treat the seed with boiling water to help with germination in less than 21 days and for the most part it does shorten the time.  I have the seed in flats as pictured instead of cells because it is easier to broadcast the seed after the hot water treatment than plant individually in cells.

I did have one cold frame that was ready to plant so a mixture of leafy greens, spinach, radishes, and some lettuce was broadcast into that space.  My two other cold frames are still frozen into the ground out by the shed so lesson learned - they wont go there next winter.  I do have one cold frame that needs to be put together out in the shed so when I have a warm day next week I think I will get it put together - it is already cut and painted so it just needs bolts and a lid to go to work.
Happy Gardening