Our weather is still being finicky (not unusual for the Upper Peninsula, but it’s still disappointing). We had an early snow melt in March, with nice warm temps – it got us all excited for an early spring. We still are mostly snow-free, but out temps keep being kind of chilly. Too cold to really do much outside, I feel. We keep getting rain/snow mix precipitation too, so we have woken up to about an inch of snow here and there. I started to clean the garden up a bit yesterday, it was in the 50s, maybe into the 60s. But today it’s colder. We are supposed to get an inch of snow today. But the daffodils are blooming! My tulips are coming up. I planted a new variety of strawberries outside a few weeks back and they are growing now. And my garlic is all up, about 3 inches out of the soil.
I know it will get warmer (and stop raining and snowing all the time) and I’ll be able to do some stuff outside soon. But for now I am just taking comfort in my future garden – a lot of which I have already started in the house. I have tomatoes, peppers, ginger, and a lot of herbs and flowers started. They are all growing nicely.
I’ve been using old mushroom containers as grow containers for my seedlings. I used an awl and popped holes in the bottom of each container, and the mushroom containers are all on boot trays, so any extra water drains onto those. I have about 40+ mushroom trays of plants here. The last pic above is my ginger. I bought a pound of seed ginger from Fedco Seeds ( a company in Maine) this winter. It came in March and I’ve been working on sprouting them. I tried a couple years ago with about 3 roots, from a different company, and didn’t have as much success. This time the pound I bought came out to about 12 roots. All of the roots are starting to come up, or are just about to. I just had to be really sparing with watering, and super patient with them. The ginger is all planted just under the soil in an old plastic planting flat, and that is sitting on a heat mat. The directions Fedco sent said that consistent heat is needed, and to water sparingly until they come up. I give them a light spray once a day. They are prone to rotting until they come up above the soil if they get too much water. I will be putting these in my greenhouse once it’s warm enough outside and they are bigger.
Hopefully the weather will turn better here in the next week or so and I’ll be able to get back outside comfortably. Like I said, the daffodils are starting to bloom, so that is a good sign.
It’s the middle of winter here in the U.P. We have a bunch of snow, and more on the way today. Typically this time of year I am planning my garden, but I was way ahead of the game this time, and actually drew up plans in the late summer/early fall of last year. I was taking a look at what had worked, what I was tired of picking, what things we didn’t want to grow again this coming year. Because last year was such a mess trying to get seeds (with Covid lockdowns, and everyone wanting to grow a garden suddenly, seed companies were out of things – I had to order from 5 different places to get all the varieties I wanted), I just stocked up in the fall. So I really don’t need to get any new seeds this year. I might add a couple things as spring gets here. We’ll see.
Here you can see my snowy cottage garden as it looked this morning: (We are getting a bunch more snow as I type this).
I started my onions in January – they are doing pretty well. I am growing a large yellow variety called Ailsa Craig. I am on an ongoing quest to get really big onions. Last year I had some get to a decent size, like a small baseball size, but not the full size they could have gotten. We just recently used up the end of my saved onion stash, and we were down to a lot of tiny 1-inch onions at the end. I am hoping to increase the amount of large onions I grow, and hopefully get less smaller ones. Even if that means growing less onions, so be it. Besides those large onions, I’m also growing leeks, green onions, and shallots from seeds. I also started some red onions – the seeds are from year before last, so they are not as viable as I’d like, but I got some to sprout. Onion seeds only last about a year or so – a lot of other seeds are viable for longer. I have been fertilizing my onion sprouts this year – something I read about this winter. I’m hoping that I will have close to pencil-width onions ready to go into the ground by April or May (probably May but a girl can hope for an April warm-up).
I planned this year’s gardens last fall, just drawing up a plan on a couple pieces of paper. I did go through all my seeds this fall, and I made a big spreadsheet so I know what I have to work with. I then had to decide what to NOT grow this year. I tend to want to just grow it all – I am using some restraint and only using about half my seed varieties for this coming year. Below are my plans I drew up:
As you can see, I’ve changed things a little bit here and there – there are some scribbles where I made revisions, but going in I knew a few things we’d do differently this year. We had too many winter squash last year, and I have frozen a lot of them. I fed extras to the deer before they could go bad on us (and because we got really sick of squash). I won’t be growing any winter squash. I’m growing 2 plants of cucumbers (2 varieties, one plant of each). I’m only growing 12 tomato plants total! (I had over 24 last year). We still have a lot of frozen tomatoes. They are good but we were a bit overrun in the fall and I got really tired of harvesting them. The only problem with planning is you never know what the weather in the summer will be like. I hope we have a nice hot summer and those 12 tomato plants actually produce as well as they did last year.
I took the seeds that I decided to grow this year, and set up groups (all rubber-banded together) in terms of when they get started and where – so I have a big group of “start inside in March” that will get started around the first official day of spring. I have a few types of seeds in the fridge cold-stratifying, those all will get started in March – those include two types of Milkweed/butterfly weed. I’d like to get some established in my yard for the Monarch butterflies. I also have some sets of “Start outside” for as soon as the snow is gone and I can get into the soil, and “start outside May/June” for after the last frost (mid-late may, depending on who you ask). I ordered a couple of things that should be coming this spring – Ginger for sprouting (probably coming late March) and also more Strawberry plants – I think those come in April or May.
I’m excited for this year’s upcoming garden. For now I am just looking out the window at our snowy yard and dreaming of spring.
We had a great gardening season. I’ve been so busy with the harvest that I have not had time to post anything. Fall has come and almost gone – winter seems like it is coming early this year. We’ve had close to freezing temps for weeks already, which is not typical for us. I think a lot of the upper U.S. is in this weather pattern as well. I have not yet planted my garlic – I ordered from one website, and then saw that it was back-ordered, and they were not going to be shipping till late October. I typically plant the first or 2nd week, so I cancelled it. I ordered from another place that I know grows their own garlic, thinking that they would ship quicker. I ended up having to order a different kind, but it’s still a Porcelein type of garlic (they typically have 4-6 large cloves per garlic head). They have not shipped yet either, so I called this week, and they shipped it for me yesterday – I have a blanket on the garlic bed, trying to keep my ground from freezing before I can plant the garlic.
With our hot summer this year, some vegetables grew fantastically, and other plants didn’t do so well. Some things I thought did horribly but as we cooled down they surprised me – our cauliflower grew really large, but didn’t head until September after the rest of the garden was dying. We had a whole lot of squash and tomatoes. I have so much squash that I don’t think I will plant any next year, at least not winter squash.
Last year I planted 3 plants of butternut squash, and got about 1 per plant. This year, I planted three butternut and three Gete Okosomin squash plants. The butternut gave us 11 very large squashes, and the Gete Okosomin gave us 28 – the largest was 25 pounds. These things were massive. Our super-hot summer really helped.
We bought a pig for meat from a butcher / farmer this year, and our freezer has run out of room with that and all the vegetables. I have a lot of tomatoes that I just froze instead of canning, and a lot of zucchini that I froze, besides the pork. I am hoping the squash will mostly last for us through the winter since I cured them for awhile. I will check them here and there to make sure they aren’t softening.
We had too many cucumbers this year – we tried to make pickles but we just got tired of them. So that is something I won’t grow next year, or maybe a plant or two. I had at least 6 plants this year – too many. I also grew Patty pan squash but we weren’t very excited about them. I grew some Zucchini Rampicante, a curly long zucchini variety – they were really nice. The plants sprawl everywhere, so I’ll trellis them next year, but the flavor was really good and if you forget them or don’t find one until late, they turn into winter squash. They just harden up a bit on the outside and turn from green to brown (like a butternut color).
This year was pretty good for our gardens. I don’t like the cold of winter, but I do like that we get a time to slow down. I’ll start getting the mid-winter gardening itch probably in January once we’ve had snow for awhile.
(Pictures in this post are all courtesy of my husband, Elton Powell).
We’ve had a lot of things happening – it was really hot for the beginning of summer, so my garden was growing like crazy. We’ve cooled down a bit for the last few days, and today it got sunny again. Here are some nice pictures of our gardens and yard:
Things are growing really well around here. We’ve had really hot weather, with temps in the 80s and 90s. It’s also been super humid, but we haven’t had a lot of rain – we have been getting rain maybe once every couple weeks, it seems. We got a decent thunderstorm the other night but I’ve been having to keep up with watering everything every couple days so that plants don’t die on me. We haven’t really had to mow our grass much, weirdly. The lack of water is helping us there. Usually our lawn a bit of a jungle. Below are some updated pictures of our yard and gardens:
Our strawberries have been coming in well – I had gotten a couple cups a few days ago, and at that time there were a bunch almost ripe and ready to pick. So yesterday morning, I walked out to the strawberry patch to harvest, and came across this sight:
A deer got into my strawberry patch and eaten the tops and the berries off most of my plants. The way they were eaten and the amount taken points to deer. And we have deer in the yard a lot. Here is what the plants were SUPPOSED to look like:
Luckily they just got the tops of the plants, so the plants will live to give me strawberries next year. I have it all fenced with a makeshift gate, but the gate had been off, since I don’t have to worry about chickens getting in there. The deer must have figured out she could get in through the open door. The deer also got into the open gate of the cottage garden (which I also had left open since we don’t have chickens anymore) and tried a bunch of other things. She must have thought it was a salad bar:
The deer ate some bean plants, some chard, some lettuce, a bunch of my orach, some Borage and some broccoli. She wanted nothing to do with the huge patch of Kale or Asian greens that the chard and orach were between, for some reason. This deer just came in and had a taste of random things. A lot of herbs were untouched as well, fortunately. I have since made sure that gates are closed, and also got some fence to cover things a bit – I laid pieces of fence a little over so the plants are okay but the deer can’t get to the leaves, just in case they decide to just hop the fence to get some more salad. I was lucky that they didn’t completely devastate anything, but it was close. I only will get a few more strawberries, not the nice crop I was hoping for.
One bright spot was that my poppies are starting to bloom:
I’ve been trying to get poppies started for a few years and usually the seedlings disappear after I plant them. I put a ton in this year and they are all coming up and now this was the first bloom.
The garden is in full swing. I had it planted by mid may because we had several warm days in a row – the weather report called for a lot more to come, and mostly this has been true. We did get a frost warning on May 31st, so we had to hurry up and cover all our tomato plants, squashes, and a few other things. We didn’t actually get any frost, luckily. We’ve had a lot going on here, check out the pics below:
The garden is doing well, I can’t wait to see it all grow in.
We have had a strange spring, it’s finally warming up again. Our weather was warming when I last posted, and then we got more snow over the Easter weekend – about a foot. That melted after a week or so, so we are finally getting into actual spring here. I planted some tulips in the fall and those are emerging now, and our daffodils are getting ready to bloom soon. We’ve been adding some stuff to the yard, planning the garden, and we put up a greenhouse yesterday! Here are some pictures of our farm in early May:
Spring is finally here – it comes a little late to us here in the U.P. I am on a lot of garden groups online and have seen all sorts of people showing their gardens already, and we are just seeing the snow melting now. I’ve been a bit jealous this spring but my turn will come soon, since it’s warming up now.
We made the difficult decision this spring to get rid of our poultry – the costs for feeding them all were getting too hard for us, so we sold them to our neighbors, who were happy to get already-laying hens and ducks. I do miss them but it’s for the best. I will be using their old chicken yard for gardens for greens and herbs, and there are spots I can un-fence now – the deer don’t bother these areas but the chickens always liked to dust bathe in a few spots and would decimate plants, if there was no fence. I can take those fences out now.
I went around today and took some pictures of our yard, here is how the snow melt is going: