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:
The main garden is getting ready for planting, although we have a while before our last frost date. We put in newspaper and cardboard covered with old chicken bedding as mulch, to try to keep weeds down this year. Next I’ll be turning the actual beds for planting.
Here are the onions, I am starting to harden them off so I can put them in the garden soon. This picture was just before I took them out to the porch to harden off.
Some seedlings – these are mostly cauliflower I think.
More seedlings. I am growing 10 types of tomatoes this year!
Here are the asparagus. I’m growing two kinds, and planning out their permanent bed – we’ll be putting that in soon.
I planted some Honeyberries, or Haskap. They are a cold-hardy oblong blue berry, that is supposed to taste something like a cross between strawberry and raspberry.
Here is another Haskap. I put in 4 bushes. I got these from Honeyberry USA, out of Northern Minnesota.
Here is our Gooseberry bush, I got it a few years ago, but planted it next to the house. It really didn’t thrive there, because it was always crowded by weeds and wildflowers, but it lived. So I just transplanted it into our front yard so it will hopefully do better there. We do tend to get gooseberries from it, but only like 4 or 5 per year so far. Maybe it will get more this year since it has more room. I also fenced it against deer in case they decide that it looks tasty.
Here is one of the elderberries – I just put in two trees in our front yard, and circled them both with fencing to keep the deer from eating them. I have attempted to plant them before but had deer destroy them. This time they are protected.
We got some Emerald Green Arborvitae to make a privacy hedge in our front yard – here they are – they are all just under a foot tall right now – they should grow 12-15 feet tall and 3-4 feet wide, so they’ll make a nice hedge.
Here is another view of the arborvitae. We put in 10 in a little haphazard row to make the hedge. We fenced this also, to keep the deer from wrecking them. Luckily this part of the yard doesn’t grow grass very quickly so it won’t really need mowing while they grow in.
Here is our greenhouse! My uncle gave it to me in the fall. He had had it sitting in his garage (had been given it by our other uncle) and neither uncle wanted to use it anymore so they gave it to us. We put it up yesterday, and then extended our dog fence around it (so it will be easier to access from the backyard where the garden is). It’s approximately 10×10 feet. It’s pretty nice, we are happy with how it went up.
My cat, Wizard was investigating the greenhouse and decided to pose for some pictures.
Here is another picture of Wizard. He is excited to be able to explore outside without dealing with snow. We are all happy it is spring.
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:
Here is the old chicken yard. I have a plan to take this whole space over with plants this year.
Here is an existing garden – the snow is right over where I planted garlic and shallots in the fall.
While taking pics, I heard meowing from the old chicken house. My cat, Wizard was inside, up in the rafters, chasing mice. He didn’t go in when the chickens were here, but he’s been spending a lot of time in there now.
Here is a back garden space, we are thinking of adding a porch where the big doors are. We’ll see if that happens this year.
Here you can see my strawberry plants are waking up.
Our yard. We still have a lot of snow, especially where there were banks around the house. I am glad to see it melting.
Our crocuses are up! Here are some purple ones.
Here you can see a bearded iris – I found them on sale in the fall and got a dozen – they are planted around our oak tree in the front – they all seem to be coming up.
Here are our spruce trees in the front. The little one looks like it still needs to recover from being completely buried by snow all winter. The largest one is about 4 feet, and that one was peeking out of the snow, but we had times where the other two were completely buried.
I started onions in February – they are doing well. I am planning on starting tomatoes and stuff today so they are nice and big for transplanting into the garden in June.
Here are some poppies, I started these in February as well. I have tried to start them in May before and they are always really small when I’ve transplanted, and they don’t seem to survive. So I thought I would try to have them larger for transplant. If this year doesn’t work I’ll throw seeds in directly in the fall so they come up next year.
It is now mid-October and our weather is taking a turn for the worse. We’ve had a month or so of way too much rain, with a few days of nice temperatures and sun thrown in, until this past weekend – I had ice on my car window yesterday morning. I knew this was coming so we pretty much pulled everything in that remained outside. I experimented a bit this year, I grew some sunchokes and some crosnes – those grew but never flowered. The deer ate most of the sunchoke plants the other day. I am leaving them where they are to see if they will come up again in the spring. I grew peanuts and ginger. Our ginger did really well in the early part of the season, with our hot weather, but then we got lots of rain in the later part of the summer and the temperatures really weren’t warm enough – I have two plants and I have pulled them both in the house to keep growing, under grow lights. My peanuts, however, did really well, despite the rainy later summer/fall. Below you will see some highlights of this year’s garden:
Carrots – I didn’t get a lot but most of them were very large.
My two pumpkin / hubbard squashes – seeds for these were from the same “Heirloom” pumpkin I bought last year at Walmart. These were on separate plants, as best I can tell, but the seeds were from the one pumpkin. I’d be interested to see what other variations come from these seeds. I suspect they weren’t actually heirloom or were cross pollinated somehow when they grew them.
A nicer photo of my carrots, all cleaned up so you can see the colors.
Fort Portal Jade beans. I have not tasted these yet because I am waiting for the rest of the pods to dry. I brought all the bean pods in to dry inside because of the wet weather.
My beets. I got a lot of plants but not very big (I failed to thin them at all so they didn’t have a lot of room to get big). These were mostly about 1-2 inch diameter beets.
Here are the peanuts! We got one pound of peanuts out of a small packet of seeds (5 shells total that I planted). I was worried these were going to rot in the ground because of the rain this fall, so I pulled them; when I did I found that they were already ready to harvest.
Peanuts cleaned up and ready for roasting. They were pretty good tasting. We plan on growing these again.
Some of my other bean pods (a cranberry type bean) and the last of my scallions from the garden.
A teeny tiny cauliflower. I did get one decent sized head, but most were this size. This is the first year I got them to actually create heads, so I feel that this was a successful year for these, for me.
I still have a few things in the ground that may be ok till the ground freezes – kale, brocolli, and some brussel sprouts. I planted my garlic and some shallots last week and covered them with some straw. All in all, I feel 2019 was a pretty good gardening year. I do wish the rain would spread itself out over the whole season instead of walloping us either early or late – this year we got nothing in the spring and way too much in the later part of the season. I am already thinking of what to plan for next year’s garden.
We’ve been busy in the garden. I am starting to get carrots now – I had planted seed tapes this spring, with tons of carrots. My double dug beds are supposed to allow you to cram things in, so I had seed tapes next to each other and carrot seeds spaced about 3 inches between (so I wouldn’t have to thin.) Because of our lack of early summer rain, the seed tapes didn’t do so well. I got several carrots, but they are spaced way far between – I planted about 140 with the seed tapes and I think there are maybe 20 or so that have done anything – but they are HUGE. I had a couple that were popping out of the ground, so I picked them – they were mostly dark purple and 11-12 inches long. I had planted a mixed blend (old seeds I had on hand), plus these dark purple carrots called Black Nebula, and some yellow and orange carrots.
Some of our first carrots. The purple ones are Black Nebula (I got from Baker Creek Seeds) – they are purple all the way through. I grew a different purple kind last year but only the outside was purple – with an orange center. These are nice, they just taste like normal carrots. (I couldn’t tell a difference, anyway.)
Here you can see these purple ones have a lot of hairy little roots – those washed right off luckily.
I was making mashed potatoes and decided to see if one of the Black Nebula carrots could color them. I cut one carrot up and boiled it with the potatoes in a pot – the water turned all black, and when mashed, we got purple mashed potatoes!
I have a ton of sunflowers and was thinking it would be nice if I had some other colors besides yellow. I forgot I had planted a mixed seed bag – we had a couple of red ones open this weekend. Here is one (with the yellows).
Here is another one – this one is more orange colored.
More yellow – these sunflowers are all about 7-8 feet, I am estimating.
The garden is doing well, but we are getting into fall and the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting some yucky weather later this month. (They talked about a snow/rain mix at the end of September. Yuck. I hope they are wrong). Hopefully I’ll get all my vegetables to ripen before we have to worry about frost or snow.
Everyone is very busy around here – the garden is giving us a lot of vegetables, and showing us a lot more to come. New pictures below:
Here is some bee balm (bergamot) I didn’t know I had – I planted it last year but it didn’t actually show up / bloom till now. In the spring I had what I thought was Moldavian balm coming back, but then it bloomed into these. It is really pretty and the bees love it.
Here is a bee enjoying the bee balm.
Our dogs, Downey at Atat (Atat is in front) playing outside. They miss Nova but they seem to be taking her loss ok.
Here is some goldenrod that is in my hollyhock bed / weed garden. The bees really like this as well.
We have hollyhocks again! The chickens had decimated them, and so last year I fenced the bed and planted some new hollyhocks – only a couple plants lived till this year, and now one is blooming. (The fence got knocked down a bit by snow falling from our roof, so it’s a little bent in- hence the hollyhock is actually growing through the top of the fence.)
A monster tomato waiting to ripen. I noticed my cherry tomatoes are starting to turn, so hopefully we’ll have some ripe ones soon.
Here is a cantaloupe, I have found there are at least two growing. I grew this kind last year and I don’t think we even got one melon. I changed the location this year and they seem to like it.
Our first peppers are getting big – these are a “Sugar Rush Peach Hot pepper.” They should be orange, sweet and hot.
Here is one of the pumpkins we have growing.
A couple of our young roosters. The one in the center – I really like his coloring so I think this is probably the one we’ll keep (along with Bertram). We have many contenders this year for “2nd rooster.” We are waiting to see how annoying they get with their crowing, and if any get really aggressive. Mean and annoying roosters don’t stick around long.
And here are a lot of the roosters. Most of (if not all of) the chickens in this picture are boys. The gray one on the left might not be, and the buff one on the left with her head down is most likely a hen. We had a white rooster also but he was crowing incessantly and he was not on the “keep” shortlist, so we took him out last week. We now have 28 chickens. 7 or 8 boys, we think, besides Bertram. We might list some of these guys on Craigslist, but it is hard to get rid of roosters.
Here is some of my corn. This is an “Art Verelli’s” variety. I had read that the stalks don’t get very tall, and these are about 4 feet tall – so very short for corn. They already are forming ears. My other variety is a regular sweet corn variety and that one is still just getting tall, with no ears yet.
Here is one of my grocery store pumpkins (I think a Hubbard squash, actually). They were supposed to be heirloom squash so I saved seeds, and here we are.
Our summer squash are starting to be prolific. You can see our light zucchini, the yellow squash, and our patty pan squash here. I also have one plant that produces dark green zucchini.
Our watermelon is doing good – I need to make some kind of sling for this one – I’m worried the weight will break the stem eventually.
Here is a bloom from our second sunflower to bloom – I have many blooms on our first one, but this is the 2nd plant to give us a show.
A picture of the right side of our garden. The weeds have caught up with me a bit, but my plants are not being overrun, so I’m just not worrying about it unless they are. (There is carpeting in the path, that was an old rug we cut up in an effort to keep weeds out of the main path).
A better pic of my main garden as of yesterday.
We started off this summer a little dry, but we’ve been getting more rain now, along with hot, humid weather. The garden is very happy about this – my plants are growing like crazy. Here are some photos of the garden from this weekend:
The sunset from a couple of nights ago. We looked out and the sky was yellow, so we had to take pictures.
Here is the left side of the main garden. (Taken from my porch, where I usually look out at the garden).
Here is the right side of the main garden.
I’m growing ground cherries this year for the first time. The plants are doing well, so I’m hoping they will fruit for me. I have never tasted them, but I’ve heard they are good.
Here are my peanut plants. They are now getting flowers. At some point they are supposed to get a stem of some kind that pokes into the ground and that is where the peanuts grow. These seem to be growing well so far.
My first tomato! This is one of my larger types, so this is not ready to ripen yet, but hopefully I’ll will see a few ripe ones before September. I usually have to pick them to ripen in the house.
Our first English Cucumber. I am growing these and an Iznik variety. I grew Iznik last year, they were good but not very prolific. I haven’t grown English cucumbers before.
Here you can see my jungle of summer squash plants. I planted the rest of my variety seed packet from last year, so the types I get would be a surprise.
They are all fruiting now, so I know I have a couple of Patty Pan squashes like this one here, a few yellow squash plants, a light green zucchini and a dark green zucchini. I put in 9 plants but I think only 7 survived. They are blending together now so it’s hard to tell.
Here are my watermelons. I put these and the cantaloupes in a really sunny, sandy-soiled spot. They do seem to be growing really well. I read that they prefer sandy soil so I’m trying that this year. (My foot for scale) I have two plants here and am trying to train them to grow away from each other.
Here is one of my ginger plants. They are growing in bags in the garden and are doing pretty good so far, especially now that it’s hot.
My other ginger. I started with 4 rhizomes but two died when I was trying to sprout them.
My cantaloupe plants. These seem to be happy as well. I have three plants here.
My chickpeas seem to be growing well. I have rogue tomatoes growing among them – I may leave them since the rogues are these really good cherry tomatoes that keep coming back each year.
My cabbages. They have gotten a little cabbage-worm damage but I made an insecticidal soap/garlic oil/citrus concoction, and I’ve been spraying all my brassicas with that. So far it seems to be working, but I have to respray each time it rains. There is damage but they are not destroying the plants. I consider that a win.
Here is my Atat, outside of my garden fence. To the right you can see my Hubbard squash / heirloom pumpkin now growing outside of the fence. (I’m not sure exactly what it is, it was an Heirloom pumpkin from the grocery store).
My first sunflower bloom – this is the flower I posted the pic of last week. It has grown so the flower is almost eye level with me (I’m 5’6″). And it’s about to open.
This summer’s garden is going well. We have had a weirdly dry year, compared to the last few. I have had to water things to make sure my seeds sprout. (I’ve had seeds drown and wash away in previous years). Everything seems to be growing pretty well though. The chickens and ducks are doing well too, and seem to be happy with the summer weather. Here is a photo tour of our little farm:
The roses are blooming. My parents planted these many years ago.
Here is a better view of the roses.
Peonies. These smell really nice.
Here is the columbine I found in the roadside ditch last year and transplanted to my front flower bed. It grew back this summer and bloomed, so it must like its new spot.
Bleeding hearts (this photo is catching the end of the bloom for this year).
Some of my older hens hanging out near the shady side of the house.
Here are the chicks – they are doing well although we lost another one about a week after my last post. (I was on vacation, my husband said that he counted at night and one was missing, with no trace). We have luckily not lost any more since then. So we now have 15 chicks (29 total chickens). They are almost full sized so hopefully that will deter whatever took the two we lost. They free range in our yard, so they were behind the chicken coop here.
This is one of the chicks. Possibly a hen, we are just starting to figure out who is what. We have at least three young roosters, based on them crowing. We’ll have to decide what to do with them later this year.
My Comfrey is doing well. I put in 3 plants a few years ago and they keep coming back and spreading a bit. They are pretty and the bees like them.
Some of our strawberry harvest! My patch did really well this year, I got at least 6 cups of strawberries.
Here is a side view of my back garden – the potatoes are on the left, summer squash on the right in the middle of this picture. Strawberry patch is behind the summer squash.
My cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and lettuce on the right.
Butternut squash plants. I put in a fence trellis for them to climb – the trellis is resting on the main outside fence of the garden, with enough room for us to go in and grab fruit if it ends up hanging under the trellis.
The garlic are doing really well. I harvested some scapes the other day.
Here are some of our corn. I have two patches, two different kinds – these are a Golden Bantam variety.
Peanuts! These are growing well, as far as I can see. Our summer has become hot and humid lately, and they seem to like that.
My onions. These are doing nice.
Here is a picture of the right side of the main garden – the other corn patch is in the background. Then coming forward there are peanuts, peppers/green onions, and cucumbers/shallots.
Here you can see my tomato trellises. I set it up right this year (instead of using sticks like last year). I just used welded wire fence sections, and pounded some stakes in and attached the fence with wire. I tied the tomatoes up after I took this pic – most of my tomatoes are determinate varieties but they still get pretty big, and droopy when the fruit comes in. Some are indeterminate though. They are starting to get flowers now. I can’t wait for tomatoes!
A grape vine my uncle gave me last year. I had it in a pot until late fall and I realized “oh, I’d better get that in the ground before it snows.” – I put it in not knowing if it would come back, but it did. It’s in a good spot too, right at the fence at the northern side of the main garden, so it can grow there and not be in the way.
Here is my tallest sunflower so far – it’s about 3.5 feet tall currently. I have 14 or 15 sunflowers coming up that I’ve found so far. I planted several seeds, but I have some rogues coming up as well.
We’ve been really busy here lately. It has been mostly a colder spring with night temps in the 40s- we had our heat still going at times until last week, and we even had a frost advisory for June 1st; but then this weekend we got a warmup – we were at 90 degrees yesterday!
The garden is mostly planted; I have a few things that are waiting to go in, but I am mostly just working on maintenance and weeding now. Seeds have been slow to start because we are really dry this year as well. That is somewhat of a nice change over the last few years but I have to make sure to water everything often, and I have seeds that I haven’t seen sprout yet, like my broccoli and some of my beans (I’m growing 6 kinds of beans this year – some are up but some have not sprouted, and some have not been planted yet).
Here are some pictures of the goings-on at our tiny farm:
Our apple trees are in blossom.
Here is a big bee visiting the apple blossoms.
A lone tulip. This came up randomly in the middle of our yard. I haven’t seen any tulips here in years, although my mom used to have a lot of them. I replanted it in a safer spot.
Here is the main garden. It is mostly in – I’m waiting for the corn to emerge and then I’ll put some more beans in to grow up the corn.
Here are the two tomato beds, with some marigolds planted among them. I have 18 tomato plants this year, 7 different kinds.
Here you can see my Crosnes are coming up – they look a bit like mint; I had to look them up online to verify what the plants look like, but there are 5 or 6 of them that have emerged.
Here are some sunchokes coming up as well.
Here is the back / chicken garden (I stole it from the chickens last year). It gets less sun so I planted things that can take a lot of shade toward the back, like lettuce and herbs.
Here is my back of the house garden. I put some watermelon, cantaloupe, and summer squash in here. This bed gets a lot of sun, and is sandier soil – supposed to be really good for melons, so I figured I would try them here this year. The bags have potatoes. At the far end of the garden is my strawberry/mint patch.
Here is a close up of the strawberry patch. You can see the mint intermixed. I use mint a lot, and the strawberries are getting lots of flowers. Hopefully I’ll get a lot of berries this year.
The chicks are growing up! I put them in with the adults a couple weeks ago, so they could see each other but were separated; they are now mixed with the adults and everyone seems to be getting along well.
Here is Nova enjoying the sunshine and some petting.
Here is Atat out in the sunshine. I’m not sure where Downey (our other dog) was when we were taking pictures, but he has been enjoying the sunshine too.
This summer is shaping up to be a nice one so far.
Today was a beautiful day. We had temps in at least the 50s, and it was sunny. The snow is melting, and I planted a new bed full of perennial vegetables. Here are some pictures from this nice spring day:
Here you can see our yard is on it’s way to being snow-free. It’s taking awhile. This picture is taken from outside of our dog fence, near the garage. On the left you can kind of see my garden, which is still half covered. The garlic bed started to peak out of the snow today, and that was the deepest part of the snow in the actual garden.
Here is the house with some snow around it – we have a metal roof so the snow falls around the house and those snowbanks always take longer to melt.
Here is our chicken-coop path currently. It’s a low, muddy mess. Luckily we have muck boots to wear when we go to the chicken coop. The ducks love this area – they dabble their bills in the puddles when they pass though. (When the snow is all melted and the ground dries out, the “path” actually disappears, but it’s been a pathway for the last several months).
Here is a new bed I’m creating near the garage for some perennial flowers and vegetables – I originally planned for just sunchokes and crosnes in this area but I think I will put some milkweeds and gogi berries as well since there is enough room. This is a good spot in case the sunchokes go a little invasive, as I’ve heard they can. This area is out of the way, just grassy, and it could use some nice flowers – sunchokes are supposed to have yellow flowers and be nice and tall. I set this up last weekend, and I thought I would have a week or so for the plastic to kill the grass, but I did not; the sunchokes and crosnes arrived sooner than I thought they would.
Here are the sunchokes – they arrived the other day. I got two kinds, a red (on the left) and white fuseau, on the right. I got three tubers of each kind.
Here are Crosnes (aka Chinese Artichokes). These are pretty small but they are supposed to be delicious, and a very easy to grow perennial. I read that you should cut the plants before they flower in order to get tubers of decent size though, so I plan on doing that. I ordered 6 tubers – I think I actually received 8 but some were very small.
Here is the sunchoke and crosnes portion of the bed planted. I left the rest of the bed with the plastic on it so it can continue to cook in the sun for awhile. I laid fencing over the bed to keep chickens out – it’s very sandy and they would love to make this into a dust bath area. I will fence it soon and then will be able to take this cover off.
I went wandering the woods and yard a bit today – I found some moss that had greened up already – here is a bug’s eye view of the moss.
We have crocuses blooming! Here are some white flowers.
Here are some purple crocus. We have daffodil leaves emerging too.