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

Monday, March 17, 2014

Next Step Towards Harvest

Here are the seed packets that have been arranged in the order that they will need to be started to get the optimum out of the greenhouse before its demise.  Week one will be about March 29th and every week afterwords a new batch of seeds will have to be started.  So as I get them going I will list them - they are all from the seed list for this year.  Some of the garden veggies that go into the ground after frost will not be in the indoor schedule.  Those will be sown directly and some of the squashes, beans, radish, and spinach will get added as they go into the garden.  Will see how this works this year....
Happy Gardening

Offical Start of 2014 Season

Mexico Feb. 28th Mayan Pyramids and surrounding jungle.

Greenhouse winter storage?

The paper bags hold the saved bean seeds.

4 ml plastic double sheets plus bubble sheets.

This Reznor heater has been our heat always.

Curved eves are tough to insulate - wood lath helps.

March 15th - the back yard - SPRING.

The greenhouse has been cleaned up, insulated with 4ml plastic and the furnace successfully started.  That all done, we are now ready to start the season.  Sadly, this old greenhouse, which has been around since the late 70's and remodeled in the 90's is soon to be no more.  The glass is ancient and brittle and the curved eves would make that glass replacement a real challenge.  So sometime in May I will start of dismantle the whole thing.  I plan to recycle all the aluminum, to help defray the cost of the demolition and I will have to haul all the glass to the county dump because the city has a new collection plan and this construction waste is not permissible.  Once that is done the cement guys will come in, knock down the foundation and put a new slab on the site and then we will see what happen in this new space.  So officially  this is the last spring growing season in this space.  I sure hope we have one more good one.
Happy Gardening and Happy St. Patrick's...

Thursday, January 23, 2014

First Seed Order HERE!!!

The first Seed Order has arrived and its Johnny"s Selected seeds of Winslow Maine!  These guys get out the order super fast and so now all we need is that white stuff in the background to get GONE!!!
Happy Gardening

And an Addition to the Seed Order

Just as I posted the 2014 Seed Order my favorite heirloom seed company catalog arrived in the mail so I made an order and sent it off.  Here are the additions...
Happy Gardening


Takinogawa burdock
Red Russian kale
Catalogna Long Green chicory
Giant Winter spinach
Nobel spinach
Champion radish
Cherry Belle radish
Sparkler radish
Chapeau de Frade pepper (plants supposed to get 6ft tall!)
Zinnia large mix
Snow White cotton - could not get this one last year
Lemon Basil
Ghanat coriander

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

2014 Seed Order

The 2014 Seed order has been made and soon the selections will arrive.  I always like to see which one gets here first as I order from companies that are on both the East and West coast.  The Wisconsin company is the slowest and will take almost 2 weeks to get here?!  Below are the selections for this season.  I did go through the old seeds in the garden box and disposed of anything that was more than 4 years old - except for a mini-white zinnias that (are I forget how old ) still seem to germinate - no not a 80% but I do get plants.  
I think we are looking at experimenting with herbs this year as demolition of the greenhouse is in the plan and so seed germination might be tricky if I have to grow and demolish in the same place - time will tell on that one.  But even if the seed list seems extensive - we will have less of many things this coming season - tomatoes for one, and cucumbers for another.  So take a look and post a questions as to reason for selection and I will try to explain.
Happy Gardening

2014 Seed Order

PINETREE Garden Seeds

Bianca Borage (white)
Common Thyme
Holy Basil
Summer Savory
Crackerjack marigold
Purple Cayenne pepper
Hungarian Yellow pepper
Cherry Belle radish
Radish mix
Starbor kale
Redbor kale
Mibuna mustard
Sbanach spinach
Tyee spinach
Spinach mix
Soloist Napa cabbage
Tom Thumb bibb lettuce
Tomatoberry grape tomato


Merlin beet
Manny greenhouse cucumber
Purple Glazer garlic –fall delivery
Deerfield garlic – fall delivery
Wild Garden kale
Winterbor kale
Flashy Trout Back Romaine lettuce
Victoria Butterhead lettuce
Relic leaf lettuce
Speedy arugula
Roquette arugula
Dragons Tongue arugula
Perfection fennel
Italiko red stemmed dandelion
Spicy Green mustard
Sugar Pot watermelon (compact grower)
Gladiator parsnip
Piccolo summer squash
Red Kuri winter squash
Gold Nugget winter squash
Olympia spinach
Indigo Rose tomato
Mammoth Sweet basil
Ducat dill
Empress of India nasturtium
Teddy Bear sunflower
Golden Cheer sunflower
Starlight Rose Zahars series zinnia
Double Strawberry Zahara series zinnia


New Red Fire leaf lettuce (pellets)
Winter Density bibb lettuce (pellets)
Nevada crisp head lettuce (pellets)
Tropicana leaf lettuce (pellets)
Rover radish
Crunchy Royale radish
Alpine Daikon radish
Nova grape tomato
Giant of Italy parsley
Moss Curled parsley
Princess Calendula mix
Kaleidoscope nasturtium mix

TOTALLY TOMATOES ( a subsidiary of Jung Seeds)

Apple Indigo series tomato
Sugary Hybrid tomato
Tomatoberry Garden Hybrid tomato
Temptation strawberry

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - A New Garden Year

The first flowers of 2014

Reflecting on the posts for 2013 there have been less of them this year but I hope they were still informative, helpful and fun to read. 
We had some successes in 2013 and a few flops - the quinoa was a big flop for sure.  It always pays to check out the genus and species name and take a quick look at the Family that a new plant belong to because that gives important clues about the plant in general.... and in the quinoa - looking like "Lambs Quarters" is a big clue...
The tomato crop was OK, but the grape varieties did a wonderful job in both quantity and quality.  TomatoBerry is going to be planted again for sure, even though the size of next seasons garden will be smaller because I am really thinking about letting the soil go fallow for a season and just plant cover crops and rototill them in several times during the season - still in the planning but could be a reality.
The blueberry plants in the EarthBoxes are covered with snow and awaiting spring for the final test to see just how they manage the winter - but they too might be on the way out because of the constant care issue for the results we might get.
Sadly the figs were missed this summer but in this climate and with my shoulder issues this year - huge planters just don't do it any more, and with the very cold weather we have had so far this season I am sure new fig trees would not have made the cold again - so sadly they are off the list too.  I did protect the stems of my currents with plastic pots to keep the meadow voles off them.  With all the snow we have I am sure the lawn is riddled with vole trails already.  Dogs of the past helped take care of this problem.  I will put out the rest of the traps this month and hope to curb the population.  My successful trapping in the fall for a month, I thought would help; but I have already seen snow tunnels early in the season that assures me the critter are out there still.
My shoulder surgery in September brought an instant end to all garden work so the garden and lawn did not really get a good clean up this fall, all that awaits me in the spring. That is partly why I am thinking about letting the garden go fallow for a year - just so I can have a breather and see just what I want to do and how much I can do.
 Plus, after many years, almost 30, the greenhouse and its brittle glass are scheduled for demolition in spring of 2014.  I might get one more seed crop grown in the space in April but even that is not for sure.  I will take the glass and aluminum down, recycle all the aluminum when the price is good, and the contractor will demolish the walls and give us a new cerement slab in the space. We will even tear up all the BRICK WORK in front of the greenhouse (and that was sooooo much work).  The new space will be fine for a few rain barrels and a small plastic greenhouse that I can start plants in and not have to brush off after every snow fall all winter long, and just MAYBE a nice hot tub.
I hope to keep posting, at least monthly, as this new garden season begins and one can always look back to see ideas and suggestion in the past but most of all -

Looking Back at  2013...

I remember falling into this cold frame - reason for NO GLASS.

March crocus...

April snow.

Compost for the EarthBoxes.

Using the brown cotton I grew for the birds.
Quinoa, amaranth and other seedlings for 2013.

Dwarf blueberries.

Cucumbers and lettuce.

Lettuce marking parsnips - Inter-plant to save space.  
Lambs Quarter - NO - Quinoa.

I will miss the greenhouse for growing cukes.

2013 Alpine strawberry crop! one picking!!


One of the only perennials left in the yard.

A blue ribbon fair entry - wish they were mine.

TomatoBerry - great grape tomato.

Zinnia friend.

Passionflower - Mayhop.

The chickens we almost had - Black Austrolorp .

We like zinnias - red, pink, and yellow.

A true marrow squash - great zucchini.

The fountain friend.
September and recovery until MARCH.

Red Okra - only good for decoration.

Next years beans.

Vole traps - PVC and poison baits.

Bloodgood Japanese Maple

Vole proof red currant stems.

A sad (post surgery) September garden.