Mid season harvest

Today I harvested my onions.  The onion bed got away from me for a bit, so they were entrenched in a jungle of weeds.  I went to weed tonight and realized that most of them were probably not going to grow much bigger – they didnt have much of a chance this year. I planted them and then the chickens thought the onion bed was a fantastic place to dust bathe, so I put up a makeshift fence, and then the weeds tried to take over a couple times, and then the chickens found a way in again, and I just decided better to harvest now and actually get some onions.  I’ll find them a better spot next year. This is actually the first onion harvest I’ve had – I tried growing from seed last year and they didn’t really take. This year I planted sets.  Here are my onions:

onions
My onions – I got about 12-15 of them, of varying sizes.

I am growing potatoes in chicken food bags this year. I planted 9 bags with seed potatoes, but I noticed some of the bags had fallen over.  One looked really bad, the leaves on the plant were a bit yellow, so I checked to see if they were ready:

potatoes
Here are the potato bags. The remaining 8 bags are doing great.
tiny potatos
Here is the harvest from one bag (3 seed potatoes originally) – this is a very small plate.
010
Here is the largest of the harvested potatoes in my hand.

As you can see, they have some way to go before we should harvest any more.  I also have potatoes growing in the strawberry patch – I had planted some there last year and I guess we did not harvest all of them.  (Another reason I’m growing them in bags).  I may try tubs next year, it would make it easier to add more dirt as the plants grow.  The bags were a little hard to fold up higher, and if they get moved the opening can get too small to let rain in, which is what I think happened to the one bag before it fell over.

I also harvested a bunch of greens today – mustard spinach, which was a seed packet I bought for this year – it has a really mild mustard flavor; and some kale and chard.  I only have a few plants of each, but I harvest the outer leaves as they are ready, and the plant keeps producing all summer. It still gives us a lot of greens.

I also found my first bloomed sunflower of the season (growing in the onion patch, of all places – a re-seed from last year’s flowers).:

sunflower
My first bloomed sunflower of 2017. I had to take the picture from right next to the house so I could get the actual bloom – it was facing the house because the sun was over that way. The plant is about 3 feet from the wall.

We usually have a nice hollyhock patch growing next to our shed – this year I’ve let the chickens and ducks wander the yard, first because their fenced run was too wet, and then we continued because they didn’t destroy the yard like we were worried they would – we only let them when we’re home because they like to wander near the road – we need to be home to shoo them back.  Anyway, they’ve messed up the hollyhocks a little.  A few of the plants grew well before the chickens could get to them, but any that were low enough for them to munch on got munched. So we have about half of what we normally would.  Next year I’m going to put up some kind of barrier.  Here is the first bloomed hollyhock for this year:

hollyhock
Here is our first hollyhock of the year.

The garden is in full swing, and we’re starting to really see the results.

Zinnias and Garlic!

I harvested some wonderful garlic tonight.  Here are some pics of the harvest, and of the plethora of flowers in my garden.

garlic
Here is the garlic – it’s a little dirty still but it looks wonderful. I harvested 24 really nice bulbs.
garlic 2
This is the second time I’ve grown garlic – last time I just bought organic garlic at the grocery store. This time I ordered actual garlic bulbs. It made a big difference.
calendula
Some Calendula and nasturtiums. The flowers I planted in the garden really look nice this year.
melons
I’ve de-purslaned the melon area – there is still some growing in between the tomatoes, and I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of it here, but it looks a lot better.
sunflower top
Here is a sunflower head. This was just under my head level, so I’m sure it will get a lot taller before this flower finishes forming.
herbs and stuff
Some herbs and cauliflower.
marigold
Marigolds! I love these, but I’m really starting to enjoy my zinnias…
zinnias
More zinnias. I planted a big mix and they are really delivering this year. They are all different.
zinnia
Here is a close up of one.
zinnia 3
Another zinnia.
zinnia 2
A really nice yellow one.
flowrs and greens
Here is a nice shot of some of the greens and flowers on one side of the garden. I’m really happy with the flowers this year.
greens and flowers
Another shot showing more flowers.

My Garden is growing quickly!

I’ve noticed a lot of explosive growth of many things in the garden this last week. My tomatoes seem to have doubled in size – I have tomato cages around them but I need to tie up some of the branches.  I have a bunch of cool flowers starting to bloom. I planted a mix of different kinds of zinnias all over, and some calendula and cosmos – they are starting to bloom.  I love the different colors mixed in with the huge amount of lush green in the garden.  My carrots and beets are sprouting now.  And my weeds are getting large – this week my chores will include getting rid of a lot of them in the spaces I haven’t weeded yet. I have a ton of purslane still, even after picking some and making pickles.  I bough some ranch dressing and some cucumbers and tomatoes (since my plants aren’t producing yet) and am planning on some purslane salads this week.  It’s actually pretty good – we had it on tacos instead of lettuce the other day, and that was quite delicious.  Some updated pictures of my growing garden are below.  Enjoy!

escaping nasturtium
Right next to the entrance to my garden I planted a nasturtium. It is now escaping the fence. It’s about 2-3 feet away from the fence.
nasturtium flowers
This one has bright red/orange flowers.
nasturtium on the run
Here is the same plant. It has tendrils going out in all directions – here it is crossing the pathway.
zinnia
Here is one of the zinnias I planted. There are some reds and mixed colors too. I’m excited to see them all.
pumpkin plant
Here is one of my pumpkin plants – it too is escaping and climbing the fence. I planted it near the fence for that reason – it can climb the fence and save me space in the garden a little.
cosmo
Here is one of the cosmos I planted. I haven’t grown these in years.
calendula
A calendula.
cantaloupe
Here (in the middle of the bag, with some yellow flowers) is one of my cantaloupe plants. They seem to be doing better than my watermelon. They are surrounded by our new vegetable/weed purslane. There is another nasturium behind it.
mass of tomatos
My mess of tomato plants. I have both determinate and indeterminate varieties – the indeterminate are already branching a bunch, so I need to get in there and start tying stuff up.
tomatoes and greens
The greens area. Chard, spinach and kale. These are all getting large now too.
back of the garden
A view of the back of the garden. The sunflowers are getting bigger. I have a bunch along the back (north side) of the garden.
garden getting big
A view down the middle pathway. I like to take pictures from here to see the change through the summer.

 

 

The garden in Mid July

We had a very rainy June – most of the things I had direct sowed into the garden must have drowned. They did not sprout. So I had to replant a lot of seeds – beans, carrots, beets. Since the beginning of July we’ve dried up a little bit – we are getting more sun than rain anyway, so that is helping. The garden is finally taking off.  Here are some pictures:

nasturtium
Here is a nasturtium – it’s been flowering already and is starting to try to climb the fence.
peas
Here are my pea seedlings. I hadn’t planted peas originally, but my 4 rows of beans didn’t sprout in June, so when I replanted I put in some peas as well.
beans
Here are the new bean seedlings. I had originally planted yellow, green and purple. I ran out of purple at the original seeding, so these are just green and yellow. They’ll do.
beets and carrot
Here are the two beets and one carrot that managed to sprout out of all the rows I put in in June. I replanted seeds today. At least these three plants helped me figure out where some of the rows should be. Now I’ll have to thin everything when it sprouts.
garden long view
Here is the long view down the center of the garden. I have various flowers along the path – zinnias, calendula, and a marigold or two.
artichoke
My artichoke! I only had one come back this year, and it already has an artichoke. I haven’t decided if I’ll pick it – it’s not very big. Artichokes grow here but I haven’t had luck with them being very large. I only had one plant make it through the winter this year. (I had 3 last year).
lemon balm
My giant lemon balm plant. I actually split it, so this is half of the original plant. The other half is in my front yard. This half is about 2.5-3 feet wide. I keep finding babies in the garden where I had moved it from. I absolutely love it. It smells so good and makes really good tea.
tomato weeds
I have tomato “weeds” sprouting all over – they must have reseeded from last year – I don’t know what variety they’ll be. I did pick out some but there were a lot. I’m guessing they’ll be cherry – those were hard to get to (in the corn/sunflower jungle) and I lost a lot of them into the garden last year. So they are the most likely candidate.
purslane patch
My melon-turned-purslane patch. I have cantaloupes and watermelons in the middle of the bags, and then purslane have exploded between the bags. I found a recipe for purslane pickles, so I’m going to eat them. This is the part of the garden I reclaimed from the yard, so that is my guess as to why I have so much purslane. I have not had an issue with it in this garden before. Luckily it’s edible and tasty.
sunflower
I have a re-seeded sunflower (or two) growing in my onion patch. I have sunflowers all over the place! Very exciting! To the left you can see my potato bags. They are doing pretty well.
ducks
Here are the ducks. We recently sold three of them, so we only have three left. We were overrun with duck eggs. We are planning on cutting down on our chicken flock as well, to help with food costs through the winter.
backyard
Here are the chickens. We’ve let them run around the back yard a lot this year. Their run is still really muddy in spots from the rain, and they have been keeping the grass down but not completely killing the lawn, so it’s been ok. They enjoy foraging a lot.

 

A walk around the farm …

I took a walk around the property yesterday to see what flowers are blooming.  I took some pictures of what I found, and of some other features on our property.  I also put in some new trees today! I hope you enjoy the photos:

purple flower
These are in our yard – My mom planted them years ago, and has told me before what they are. I can’t remember the name though. These are some of my favorite flowers that come out each year. They’re like little purple fireworks.
Daisy
Here is a daisy. These grow all over the place.
Lupines
Here are some lupines. We brought a couple over to our yard from another yard years and years ago, and it must have been that a lot of other people did too. These grow everywhere now between our house and town (about 15 miles away).
Thimble Berry Flower
Here is a Thimble Berry flower. I have seen a lot (and large) flowers this year, so I’m wondering if we’re going to have a good crop. The plants are wild and grow across the street. I’ve tried to transplant them to our yard but they have not taken. Thimble Berries are delicious.
The unused plot
Here is the back view of our Across-The-street part of our property. When I was a child, my parents had goats fenced in here, but now I call it the “fern Jungle” – I’d like to reclaim it at some point, and put some more gardens and beehives in.
The hall
Here is a better view of the “hall” – our old building. It’s just an old storage building that is starting to fall in. We are planning on someday taking it down.
the homestead
A view of our house from across the street. Our property is on both sides of the road.
044
And here are our new trees! We pulled them from across the street today. Some were growing behind the hall in the woods, and a few were growing right next to the hall.  They look a little sparse but I think with more room they may grow better.
043
There are 6 trees – a few are spruce, and there are two that I think are Eastern Hemlock.

 

 

The garden is now planted.

I got the garden in a few days ago. It looks a bit sparse yet, but it will fill in soon. So far I haven’t lost anything I’ve planted – sometimes I have to replace a plant or two. I have extra seedlings for most things though.  I doubled my garden space from last year, but I ended up running out of room for some things I had planned on growing.  I didn’t plant any corn, or peas.  Corn doesn’t usually do too well (we get a few good ears) since we can’t grow enough to get a really decent crop – maybe that’s a project for a few years down the road – making a corn patch somewhere.   I planted 4 watermelon plants, 2 cantaloupe, and 2 pumpkin plants – so those took up a lot of the room.  I think it will be a good garden though.  Here are some pictures:

garden planning
Here is the night before I planted everything. I got my pathways ready (a bunch of cardboard strips – once weighed down they make great weed-free paths and they break down over time.
seedlings
The seedlings waiting to go in.
tomatoes
Here are the tomatoes. I put 16 plants into the garden, 8 different varieties.
tomatoes 2
Here are the tomatoes the next day – a few looked a little floppy, but a nice drink of water perked them up.
watermelons
I’m trying something new this year – these are the watermelon and cantaloupe plants. We’re using animal feed bags as weed-proofing. I cut a hole in the middle and planted each seedling there. We’ll see how this works. I saw a tip about this somewhere, probably in Mother Earth News magazine.
herbs and etc
Here are rows of herbs, cauliflower, and peppers. I started to run out of room at the end so they’re a bit cramped, but I think they’ll grow ok. It may just be a bit hard to get to them all once grown.
garden 2
Here is the planted garden. I have a lot of things I put in as seeds, such as beans, zucchini, chard, and other stuff.
planted
Another pic of the garden. It will be nice to compare this pic to one taken a few weeks from now.

I’m glad the garden is in. Now I just have to keep ahead of the weeds.

Getting the garden ready

larger garden
The newly upgraded garden space.

I’ve been planning this year’s garden for awhile, since sometime in February. Over the last few years I’ve learned some things about gardening in the U.P.  We have a shorter growing season, so I can’t plant pumpkins or other things that need 110 days, because I most likely won’t get that long.  Luckily there are a lot of shorter-season versions of those kind of vegetables out now.   I grew some smaller, shorter-season pumpkins last year.

I’ve learned that even though our last frost is (usually) in May, it’s better to wait to put things in the ground. I used to garden in southern Michigan, and I could start my garden at the beginning of May.  Here around June 10th is probably best (or after the first Full Moon in June – which is June 9th this year)  – we are well past the last frost dates, but the soil also takes awhile to warm up – a couple years ago I put things into the ground mid-may, and my plants just languished there – some wilted from the cold, some died outright, and I had a lot of replanting to do.  I’d rather just put the whole garden in once, than have to replace everything.

I doubled our garden space for this year – the last couple years I had a 10×30 bed, this year it is 20×30.  I started my seeds in early May, and have some nice seedlings that are now hardening off on the back porch. I tilled the garden yesterday – there are some grass clumps that need to get taken out, and then I’ll re-till it again before planting, which will happen next weekend.

seedlings
Some of my seedlings. I also have a bunch of tomatoes and peppers.

I have three flats of seedlings, and I am making seed tapes for small seeds like carrots, using newspaper.  I cut strips of newspaper and then used a water/flour paste to glue seeds at the correct interval – I can lay the tapes down, cover with a bit of dirt, and then the seeds won’t migrate.  I won’t have to thin them either. I also have a bunch of stuff that I will be seeding directly into the garden, like corn and beans.

I’m excited for this year’s garden.

Late April in the U.P.

We had a wonderful warm day yesterday. Our temps here got to about 67 degrees F. It was nice and sunny, so I let the chickens out of their yard for the day – we have had rain for the last week until 2 days ago, so their run is really muddy.  I wanted to give them a chance to hang out in some grass. They really enjoyed it.  So did we. We got some of our yard work completed too. Here are some pictures of our nice day yesterday.

yard chickens
Here are the chickens and ducks enjoying the sunshine.
yard ducks
The ducks sunbathing.
sunshine roos
Our rooster Big Red watching over everyone.
rasp trellis 1
My raspberry plants were a (very spiky) mess. I had some old scaffolding laying around, so I created a support system. The fencing on the ground is protecting my strawberries from dustbathing chickens – they think my garden beds are great dust baths.
rasp trellis 2
Here is a closer view of the new raspberry support system. Hopefully I’ll get some yummy berries this year.
potatos
I’m growing potatoes in old feed bags. Here they are. I’m trying this out, we’ll see how it works.
onion patch
This is my onion patch. I planted it last week when we had a break in the rain. It’s hard to tell from this picture but they’re growing pretty well so far. Again the fence is to keep the chickens off for the day. I only put it down when the chickens are out of their run.
baby bunnies
Here are two of our 3 baby bunnies, they are starting to eat their mom’s food instead of just her milk.
wild leeks
We picked wild leeks (ramps) yesterday! I made a really good omelet for dinner with them.

We had a wonderful day outside yesterday, prepping for today when the weather was  supposed to be cold and rainy.  Instead we woke up to:

 

 

 

this morning
blegh.
today 2
more blegh.
today 3
It looks pretty, but it’s April 23rd. This is the U.P. though.

It’ll melt today or tomorrow, and then we’ll wait for our next sunny day. Spring is trying to be here. It just has some days off, I guess.

A Nice Autumn Day

It was a bit chilly today, but the sun was out.  We have had colder temperatures lately, and the garden is mostly done. We had a couple of watermelons that just were not growing anymore.  My son asked if he could pick them today, so I said yes. I figured they weren’t ripe, but when we cut into the largest one (the one we’d set up a sling for, from previous posts), it actually had some pink to it. And it was surprisingly sweet tasting. So this was our first ever successful watermelon:

watermelon
Our watermelon, cut up.

For some reason (maybe the sunshine), I got the bright idea to let the chickens and ducks out of their run today.  We have had so much rain, and it rains so often, that we just haven’t gotten a chance to mow our lawn in the last couple weeks.  So I thought, since they’ll eat grass, and they’re hanging around in a semi-wet / muddy run, maybe they’d like to hang out in the yard for the day.  It wasn’t that unwise, I suppose.  It was just a cluster trying to get them back in. They wanted to hang out in the woods, and they found the sand pile for some much-needed dust baths, and didn’t want to give that up so easily.  They didn’t really do much “mowing” for us, but they enjoyed themselves. We got some good pictures:

yard-birds
The slow spillage into the yard. We just left the door wide open – it didn’t take them very long to figure it out.
yard-birds-2
Here they are, wandering around. They don’t usually stray too far from their home.
chickens-everywhere
Here they are near the sand pile.
s-chickens
Basking in the sun.
dirty-ducks
The ducks had fun too. They rooted around a bit – you can see one of them has a huge mudpile on her bill. I tried to catch her to clean that off but she was not cooperative. It came off later.
general-and-the-girls
Here is the General with some of his older-hen harem. They were weeding / de-bugging the strawberry patch.

We also moved the adult rabbits to their winter home, inside our entrance shed/mud room.  We got some new cages, and my husband has been putting them together and setting them up for us.  Last winter was really hard with our old setup, so we wanted to make it easier this year. Here are photos:

rabbit-cages
Here is the setup in our shed. They are all about chest high. We had to make sure they are taller than our dogs’ noses.
wind-day
Here is wind (now “Day” – we somehow changed their names in recent weeks).
fire-night
Here is Fire (her name is now “night”)
buddy
Here is Buddy (he was Earth).

The cages are pretty nice, we got them from KW Cages. They have a slide-out tray for easy cleanup, which should make it really nice. The rabbits are getting settled in – they weren’t so sure at first but  they seem to be relaxing more tonight. We have a gate to the shed, so we can keep the nosy dogs out (Especially Atat, who is almost as tall as the cages, and very curious).  I think this will work well for winter.  We’ll get them set up outside again in spring.

Harvesting the garden…

This year’s garden is starting to wind down. Our growing season is not typically very long. I’m hoping we’ll hold off on getting a frost for another month, but a lot of plants are done producing anyway. I pulled out our yellow squash, and picked most of the tomatoes. There are a few straggler tomatoes left on the vines. My son harvested about 8 ears of corn from his 10 or so plants.  We still have a few things waiting to be picked, like beets, kale, chard, eggplants, and zucchini. Take a peek at our recent harvest:

tomatos
I grew five varieties of tomatoes this year: Early Girl, Druzba, a Blue type, Cherry (very tiny) and some Romas. We got a good crop of them this year.
canned-tomatoes
My first attempt at canning tomatoes! I think it went alright. The half pint jars were a little small, I have realized. I will do pint jars for the next batch I can.
green-tomatoes
My canning book talks about picking tomatoes green and letting them ripen on the counter, maybe so they all ripen at the same time? We picked most of what was left. I keep worrying about frost anyway, so this way I don’t have to rush out and cover anything.
yellow-squash
One of the last yellow squash we picked. We got a whole lot of these. I had three plants, which was too many for us this year. We froze a lot of this.
backyard-sunflower
One of my sunflowers from our back yard. This was several days ago, when it was still standing tall, before we got days and days of rain…
weepy-sunflower
Here it is today… looking very sad.
watermelon
The watermelon has not grown a whole lot. I think it’s supposed to have stripes as well. It’s still hanging in there. I will let it sit as long as possible and see if we get an edible melon.
tiny-pumpkins
Our tiny pumpkins. The plants are done for this year. I really like these, and will grown them again next year, along with a little bit bigger variety.
tiny-eggplant
A tiny eggplant. These plants grew wonderfully, but didn’t flower until late August. Now they have tiny fruits on them. They are not ripe yet. Hopefully they will get bigger and ripen before we get a freeze.
kale
Our Kale, still going strong. I’m going to attempt to leave these, and see if they will come back in spring. I have heard that Kale (and Chard!) will grow as perennials. We will see if they come back in spring. I have been cutting, using/freezing, and then waiting for more to grow, like cut-and-come-again style. We have a lot of kale frozen for winter.
garden-9-28
Here’s my garden today. It’s still very green but there is not much in terms of vegetables left.