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.

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.

Late August around the farm

We’ve been very busy this month. I had family in town for a week or so, and we just have had a lot going on.  Here are some pics of what we’ve been up to:

carrots and beets
My carrots and beets. I picked all the carrots, may plant more and see if I can get them before we freeze. (Carrots that go through a freeze are sweeter anyway). I still have some beets to pick. This is the best carrot crop I’ve ever gotten (the most I have had at once) so I’m happy.
lots of eggs
Lots of eggs! Our ducks are laying – we have 7 females, and they almost are laying better than our chickens. The eggs on the left (blue/white) are all duck eggs. The ones on the right are chicken eggs.
duck butt egg
Some of the ducks are laying like 2 eggs a day. We find the regular, hard-shelled ones, and then strange soft shelled things. We found this butt-shaped egg. It was very soft, but I still would not have wanted to be that duck, trying to get that thing out.
newt
Here is a newt my son found one day.
roma
I’m getting some ripened tomatoes now. Yum! Here are some romas.
pumpkins
Our tiny pumpkins. These are “Wee-be little” – I did not realize they would be THIS small, but they are very cute. First success I’ve had with pumpkins.
tiny olive egg
We are starting, in the last couple of days, to get eggs from some of our olive/easter egger hens that I hatched from the hatching eggs I bought. We’ve gotten a smallish olive-tinted egg each day for the last few days, and today we got 2. Here is the first one we got, next to a white egg from an older hen.
watermelon sling
I have this watermelon growing, I was worried about it falling off the vine, so I made it a sling. If they come unattached they won’t keep ripening. It’s about the size of a large grapefruit now.
daniel corn
The ears on my son’s corn plants are getting big. He only has about 6-7 plants, but he should get enough corn to make him happy.
sunflowers
My sunflowers. These are the first two to bloom.

Mid August Garden

The garden is starting to really produce now.  I have already harvested one tomato! An Early Girl from my grafted plant.  That tomato is the only one that has ripened yet, but a lot of others are on their way. We are getting beans and squash and kale and chard – lots of it. I’ve started freezing beans and zucchini already. I have gotten some nice cucumbers already and have started some refrigerator pickles.  Here are some pictures of the garden lately:

garden mid august resized
Here is the garden
garden mid august 2 resized
View from the other way. On the left the dark leafy and green leafy things in the foreground are beets.
foxglove resized
A foxglove plant.
corn resized
The corn in my son’s section of the garden is coming along nicely. It’s almost my height.
artichokes 2 resized
My artichoke plants are really doing well.
artichokes resized
Some of these artichokes are getting ready to pick, I think.
zinnia resized
Here is a zinnia in the garden.
tiny watermelon resized
A tiny watermelon. This plant is actually planted several feet away, and wound its way through the tomatoes to the fence. I knew it would wander but I didn’t know it would go that far. I’m not very experienced with watermelons.
sunflower tall resized
This sunflower is towering over my head – it’s probably a good 7 feet tall or so. It does not yet look ready to bloom. This is a giant sunflower, so it will get one very large flower head. And then it will droop way down.
nastrurtium resized
A nasturtium in the garden. My son insisted we plant these in his part of the garden because the flowers are edible. He likes to eat them.
processing vegs resized
Here you can see beans and squash chopped and ready for freezing. In the basket on the upper left is kohlrabi and cucumbers, and a test carrot (I pulled one up to test how they are doing). I’m trying to freeze and process things as they are harvested so I don’t feel overrun with too many vegetables.

 

 

 

Mid July on the farm

We have been very busy.  Last week I went camping.  While I was away, it seems that my garden has exploded. (It tends to do that when you don’t see it every day).   I hatched hatch# 3 of chicks a couple days ago, and we found our first duck egg today!  Here are some pictures of the latest happenings:

garden 7.16
Here is my garden. I get to do some weeding today.
greens
Here it is, growing away. The red bits on the right are some beets.
tiny artichoke
A tiny artichoke. It’s about an inch tall.
sunflower
A sunflower. This is only about 2 feet tall right now.
roma
Roma tomato.
pumpkin
My pumpkin plants!
kohlrabi
Kohlrabi. First time growing this – we are not sure if we like it yet. We will be trying it when it’s ready.
daniels garden
My son’s garden. His corn is doing well. There is a zinnia blooming.
early girl
Our Early Girl tomato. This was a grafted plant I bought. I somehow forgot to plant seeds of my Early Girl tomatoes.
hatch 3_2
Here are the newest chicks! We have 14, they all hatched on Thursday, and they are from my own chickens’ eggs. We now have 57 chickens all together. That total will go down once we cull the extra roosters.
hatch 3
A chick’s eye view of them.
hatch 3_3
Another chick’s eye view.
barnyard
Here is the bird yard. You can see we have Pekin ducks here.
blue duck egg
We got our first egg from the ducks today. It’s about the size of a chicken egg. Not sure why it is bluish. Pekins are supposed to lay white/cream eggs.
duck egg
Here is the egg again. Like a large chicken egg – I figure its a starter eggs for the ducks, so they should get bigger soon, and probably change to the cream/white color. Not sure if we’ll eat this one since it’s a weird color. I know it was laid this morning / last night, so it’s fresh, but it’s still not the color they are supposed to be from the ducks.

Exciting times!

Super busy day!

We had an extremely busy day (well, evening). First I worked all day at my job. Then I drove for an hour to meet with this lady to buy some hatching eggs! For our large hatch we are using some from our own chickens, but I saw an ad on craigslist for hatching eggs of Black Copper Marans and Olive/Easter Eggers.  I went and met with her today and got a bunch of hatching eggs. She threw in some Bantam eggs. I’m not sure how that will go, since bantams are so small. Their eggs are very tiny. She said they should do fine mixed with regular sized chickens though. Here are the cool hatching eggs – you will see why I wanted them:

new eggs
See how dark brown the Maran eggs are? The larger carton is not full.  You can see the small whitish eggs are VERY small – those are the bantam eggs. She labeled the eggs- I guess the marans have two varieties. Some with feathered legs, and some without.
new eggs 2
This top carton has the olive egger and easter egger eggs.  Easter eggers (usually Auracauna chickens) can lay blue or green eggs. If you cross them with a maran, the next generation will lay dark olive eggs. You can see some of these eggs are more green than blue.

I got home after my egg-adventure, and the ducks, who are STILL in the house for tonight, needed a bath very badly.  We are planning on getting them outside tomorrow – my hubby is off so he said he’d start getting their temporary outside housing set up, and I’ll help get them in there tomorrow when I get home.  But with this bathtime, I finally got some pictures of the blow-drying ducks:

fluffy ducks
Look how massive they are – we’ve had them 3 weeks now. They are the size of full grown chickens, I swear. They are getting most of their feathers and starting to sometimes quack.
fluffy ducks 4
Ducks getting blow dried, and preening while they dry off. I keep telling them, while blow drying, that this is how we get fluffy eggs. 
fluff ducks 2
Another duck picture.

One other thing, actually kind of frustrating, that happened today – I ordered a bunch of trees and fruit plants this year (raspberries, strawberries, elderberries, etc) – I got a notice that they already shipped last week – We still have snow here, although it is supposed to warm up this week and stay warmer (fingers crossed).  My plants came today. Which means I had to figure out what to do with them/get them set up.  I’ve been saving milk jugs for most of the winter, so that I didn’t have to buy buckets or large pots.  I plan on keeping most things in pots for a year or two, so we can keep them safe from deer and the lawn mower. Some things were dormant but most said to plant right away. Here are my new plants, all dressed up and nowhere really to go yet:

trees
Larger trees in milk jugs.
more plants
Poppies (on the right) and a peony on the left – I got the peony for free. I will leave them in pots till I know it’s safe to put them outside. I got a bunch of bareroot strawberry plants too – just behind the pots in this picture. I think I will put them out this weekend and cover them with mulch to keep them safe. If the snow melts off my strawberry patch, that is.
gnarled filbert
Here is my “Henry Lauder’s Walking Stick” – also called a Gnarled Filbert. I’m very excited to have one of these. They are really cool trees, with gnarled branches.

Oh, and also – an update on my test hatch.  It turned out that of the last 4 eggs, 2 were duds (I candled last night finally, and they were completely empty).  The other two had chicks that never came out. I opened them tonight and they were dead. I gave them till tonight to start pipping but there was nothing.  So, of the actual fertile eggs, I ended up with about a 2/3 hatch success – 4 out of 6 eggs hatched. Those 4 chicks are doing very well.  I cleaned and disinfected the incubator and set it to dry. I am not sure if I will start the “real” hatch tomorrow or Friday night.  I will have to see how much work moving the ducks tomorrow night is.

Indoor Winter Gardening

In winter I would go bananas if I didn’t have green things growing, so I have a lot of houseplants.  I have a few sunny windows in my house, most get partial sun. I have two windows in my bedroom that are south facing. Unfortunately, my cat Wizard likes to lay in one. He would eat any plants I have there, so I only get to use the other window, near my dresser, for plants. But when I start garden seeds inside in spring, he gets temporarily banished from his window.  Here are some pictures of my indoor garden:

onions 1
Here is a pot of green onions. I grew them from old green onions that I had bought at the store. I just left the roots on the bottom base, popped them in some dirt, and they are growing well.
onions 2
Here’s my other pot of green onions. It’s overshadowed by my Christmas Cactus which is now blooming.
cactus
Here is my fully opened Christmas Cactus flower.  I had one years ago that had red flowers. I got this one from my boss a month or so ago, and it’s now blooming. I didn’t know they could get this pale of flowers. They are very pretty.
sink plants
Here is my kitchen sink garden, which includes the onions and the cactus above. It’s a west facing window, so it gets sun in the later part of the day. I need to get some hanging baskets for the spider plants in this picture.
art room garden
Here is my art room garden. The window is a north facing window, but the sun does seem to come in in the early and later part of the day. There is also an east facing window off to the right, not pictured, so they get some light from that side as well.  These plants have seemed to do well in here.
dresser garden
Here is my dresser garden, in the south facing window. I usually keep this dresser full so the cat doesn’t jump up and eat the plants.  The spider plant on the right had a long offshoot for awhile, it was hanging almost to the floor. The cat thought it was a toy and wrecked the baby on the end. So now I make sure the offshoots aren’t hanging off the dresser.
tall plants
This super tall plant is a Mother of Thousands.  It was not nearly this tall when I got it, about a year ago. It has grown quite tall. It will need a new pot soon, and maybe a way to put it lower so it isn’t touching the ceiling.
mother of thousands
Here is the top of the Mother of Thousands. It is touching the ceiling of my bedroom.
tomatos
These are some House Tomato seedlings – they are supposed to do well and actually set fruit in the house, in a pot in a sunny window. They are about ready to go into their gallon pots.