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:
I’ve been wanting to add Persimmons to my yard for awhile. American Persimmons SHOULD survive here, they are supposedly hardy to zone 4. (we are zone 5). I have been daunted by the prices I’ve seen around, but then a couple weeks ago I saw Musser Forests had a deal on potted ones, I got 2 for $8 each (so a good deal). You need two to get fruit. We will probably have to wait years before that happens, but that is fine.
We found some old chicken wire and made a deer guard for the Persimmon trees. They are settling in wonderfully.
I mulched the rest of the trees up front as well. Our Arborvitae were starting to be lost in the grass, since we can’t mow there anymore. So they, the lilacs, and the elder trees and gooseberry bush all were mulched too.
What a change a week makes! I took the pic on the left last week, and the right one today. With our heat, everything is just exploding out there. The squash plants and the tomatoes are loving this summer.
Here is a Gete Okosomin squash. I’m getting worried that these are going to take over but it will be an adventure training them along my fence. I’ve had to move branches of theirs and of the butternut squash plants a few times already.
Here is the start of a Gete Okosomin squash – I’m hoping this flower was pollinated, and then this fruit will keep growing.
I see a patty pan starting. I’m growing some Gelber Englischer Custard Squash – like an orange patty pan. They are supposed to be really good. I have three other types of summer squash as well, but this is the only patty pan type.
I have tomatoes fruiting all over the place. I’ve been wrangling the plants, tying them up to their trellises. I’m going to have to go in and start cutting some of the lower branches soon, to make it not such a jungle.
Here is my lemon grass. I’m just keeping it in the greenhouse. It seems to be doing pretty well.
My foxglove plant made a new flower stock, which shows that it is settling in where I put it.
My beans are finally getting flowers. These are Roma Bush beans, they are supposed to be a wider green bean. They were slow to start, and then I reseeded and the old seeds came up just after that (of course). And then the deer ate a bunch of the tops, so I was worried I wouldn’t actually get any beans. But this is promising.
Here you can see my gourd plants, trying to reach for the sun. I have now attached a couple of tall sticks to the fence here (thick trellis-like sticks) so that they can keep climbing. I’ll get some pics of those for next time. I’m growing these from a mixed pack of gourds, so I’m not sure what they are – I’m hoping they are birdhouse or this large round kind. (You can make bowls with the large round kind).
We are starting a project – a Moon Garden! I saw an article in a recent Farmer’s Almanac Magazine about moon gardens. So we cleared this wall (the old chicken house) – it had a bunch of junk sitting against it for a long time. We painted it white. Here is the before picture (I of course didn’t think to get the “before” pic before starting to paint it)
Here it is painted. The idea is to have a bunch of white and light colored flowers, mixed with green. When the moon hits the garden, everything should glow nicely and make a nice scene. That is the idea anyway. I have a few plants I want to move, and some seeds I’ve ordered for other things. Then we just have to wait for it all to grow and bloom.
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:
My strawberry plants last week.
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:
Some of my green bean plants got the tops taken off.
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.
We’ve been really busy and the garden is growing well! Here are some pictures of our plants and flowers:
Here are my acorn and spaghetti squash plants. They are doing pretty well.
Here is the cottage garden – I need to get in there and weed. I’m planning on adding some mulch to the paths too, it’s starting to get hard to figure out where to step as I wait for the flowers and other things I’ve planted to grow. At the foreground of this photo are beans and ground cherries.
Here is the garlic and shallots patch. (with a weedy path on the left).
I mulched my haskap/honeyberries the other day. It looks really nice and should keep the grass down. I have fence over them to keep deer from eating the bushes.
We actually have some honeyberries this year! Only a few, but that means our local pollinators have been busy. These bushes don’t self pollinate, they need pollen from another bush to set fruit.
I got some free plants from a friend, we thought they were baby lilacs – they were under her lilac bushes. We didn’t even think “oh, the leaves are not the same” or anything, until the next morning, I realized that I had been mistaken. I put the mystery plants in a spot in the back of the garden to wait and see what they were. I have discovered that these are Valerian bushes. They are starting to flower, and I matched the leaves up with an online search. I will keep them where they are, they should have some nice flowers once they actually finish blooming, and they’re a nice addition to the cottage garden.
Here is one of our peonies (with some comfrey growing around it).
Our lupines are doing well, this is the view standing at our mailbox. These have naturalized since I was little – they used to be at a house down the road, and have spread since then to most of the ditches up and down our street.
My cat Wizard loves to hang out in the garden with us.
I caught this bee mid flight! The bees love our comfrey.
Last year I planted sunchokes, and the deer seemed to eat them all. I didn’t even attempt to dig and see if we got any chokes, because I figured I’d wait and see if any came back this year. I put a fence in this spring to keep the deer out and these are doing well now.
Here is a Mullein that is growing near the sunchokes. I planted some sunflowers near here but they don’t seem to be coming up (it’s a really dry spot, far from where our hose reaches for watering). But the Mullein are loving this spot. There are 3 or 4 large plants like this there.
Here is a shot of my main garden. The plants here are doing well. I have onions, tomatoes, jalapenos, and cauliflower on the right side.
On the left side of my main garden I have more cauliflower, summer squash, cucumbers, and then more tomatoes (near the lemon balm bush at the back). Oh, and a grape vine at the far end.
Another pic of the main garden. I like taking photos through the season to see how it explodes into green once everything starts getting big.
One of my 3 cauliflower patches in the main garden. (We eat a lot of cauliflower).
The garden is doing well, I can’t wait to see how it grows through the summer!
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.
Our chickens and ducks have been enjoying this summer. We let them free range when we are home, and they love to wander around our yard, looking for yummy things to eat. We currently have 4 ducks and 29 chickens (14 adults, 15 chicks/almost adults). Here are some updated pictures of the flock:
Here are our older lady ducks. These two and the new ducks still hang out in two pairs, mostly. We can tell them apart because these ladies have dark-stained bills, the newbies have orange bills.
Here are the new ducks, they were running away when I tried to take their picture. Another way to tell the pairs apart is that the male (in back, here) quacks softly, all the time. So you always know where he is in the yard.
Here is Esky (short for Escape Artist). She is one of our oldest hens, and the only one who lays white eggs.
Here is Esky’s daughter – she has the same comb as her mom, and was born the next year (so is about 3 years old)
Here are our two Buff Brahmas, they were enjoying a dust bath. They along with Esky make up our 4 year old hens.
Here is our older (2 years old?) rooster Bertram, patrolling the yard.
Here are a bunch of chickens coming for treats. The black hen at the front is an older lady, and most of the rest are chicks from this year. You can see some of the coloring now – some of the chicks have really amazing feather patterns.
I believe this is a young rooster, and he looks like a young Bertram.
Here are more chicks – they are all different – some light, some bright orange, some black and gray. We have a lot of muff-necked chickens now.
Here is one of the really cool looking ones – orange and black with a muff neck.
Here is one of our young roosters. If you look back at our chick pics, this one was the one with little cat-eye eyeliner. He likes to come out of the coop each morning and crow before Bertram does. Bertram doesn’t seem to mind just yet.
Here is a Buff-Orpington looking hen (she seems docile like a hen, anyway) as well as the back of our older Brahma’s head.
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.
There has been a lot going on this August, and the garden is still growing well. We have tomatoes but none are ripe yet. We have had an overabundance of cucumbers and starting to have a ton of summer squash. Here are some cool pictures of our farm from this past month:
My onion crop! We got 103 yellow onions. I also planted some red onions late in the season, I am not sure if those will be ready this year or if we’ll have to wait till spring. This is my second time growing onions from sets, and the best harvest I’ve had. Last year the chickens kept dust bathing in the onion patch – this year the onions were not where the chickens could go.
I got a good garlic harvest too – I think there were a couple that didn’t grow though; I planted around 40 cloves from last year’s harvest, which grew into 36 bulbs, and these were mostly pretty large sized. I am saving a couple of bulbs for replanting, and also ordered some more garlic – a couple of Porcelain strains to try. Those have really large cloves – like 4-6 per bulb on average, so that will be exciting. I ordered my bulbs from Filaree farm. (filareefarm.com)
My tomato and squash jungle. I will be cutting the tomatoes back soon to let things ripen up. They don’t get a lot of sun in this spot except in the afternoon, so I think that is holding them back a bit – these were all early (60-65 day) strains, but they are just sitting green currently. Some large tomatoes though!
Here is another view of the squash and tomato bed. You can tell the sunnier part of the garden (toward the cars) since the plants are a bit taller there.
Here you can see the big beefsteak tomatoes sitting on the plant, in the center of this photo.
Sunflowers at the back of the house.
Here is our tallest sunflower, I’m guessing this one is about 10 feet or so – it towers at least 4 feet over my head.
A better view of the tallest sunflower plant. This is a rogue that grew in the middle of my garden. Sometimes those seem to grow better than the ones I actually planted. Although I have a few very tiny ones that grew from the birds dropping seed in my yard. Those are cute and about a foot tall.
A bee hanging out on a sunflower. We have a lot of native bees here – I used to want to get hives for honey, but I’ve been rethinking it the last year or so – I’ve been trying to do more to support the native bee species we have around here.
Here are three sunflowers, each with a bee. The bees seem to really like to hang out on these. I think they get a “sunflower coma” – like a baby would get a “milk coma” if that makes sense – like their bellies are full and they are tired so they take naps on the flowers.
Here are two bees napping on a coneflower. The bees are cute.