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!
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:
I planted a bunch of tulip bulbs in the fall, all along our front porch. They’ve been blooming nicely. Here on the right, we seem to have some color changing ones! They started yellow, as you see here.
Here they are yellow. Oh wait, there is an orange one next to them (but the same kind)
Here they are again.
A few days later they were all orange.
Then a day or so later, they turned red. Then the petals all fell off. I’m not sure what kind they are. I bought a mixture of tulips. I like that these ones changed color.
Here is a salamander that we found one day. These guys are so cool.
Here is the ONE morel that I found. I have not found any for a few years. I was out picking mint in a spot where I have mint growing, and I came across this. There were no others there. I’ll have to check that spot next year. It was colder than I thought it would need to be for Morels, so I need to remember that for next year.
I have my Nepenthes pitcher plant hung up in the greenhouse. Our greenhouse has been really helpful this year. I put this guy hanging from the ceiling. It gets lots of humidity and there are a bunch of bugs flying around in there. The bugs fly in and can’t seem to figure out how to get out of the greenhouse. But then they get drawn to the Nepenthes’ pitchers.
I have lemongrass growing this year. I replanted them into this box the other day, since they are getting big. I originally planted them in an old mushroom container. I have tried to grow lemongrass before but they like humidity, so they are going to stay in the greenhouse. I’ve never actually had them get this far before, probably due to lack of heat/humidity.
Here are some of my greenhouse plants. I mostly have things that are waiting to go in the regular garden – a few herbs and flowers that will be put in the cottage garden. I also have some tomato seedlings. (I was trying to start more because we had some issues with tomatoes this year – more on that below).
Here are more greenhouse plants. I have peppers in the front. I may leave them in the greenhouse. I also have extra tomato plants in here.
Here is the ginger I’m growing this year. I started some last year, it really didn’t do a lot – due to lack of heat, I believe. From what I planted I got two little nubs of ginger, which I left in the soil and kept in a mini-greenhouse in my house all winter. This spring they started sprouting. So they are now in the regular greenhouse. Hopefully I’ll get to eat some fresh ginger this year.
Here are some tomatoes. I had some issues with my tomato seedlings this year. I started with 10 varieties, and a few did great, but 7 kinds stunted for some reason (after research I think I overwatered and they were suffering from nutrient deficiencies due to that). I put some of the stunted seedlings in the garden, some in the greenhouse. Some of the garden ones did ok and recovered, but some didn’t. I ended up buying a few heirloom plants from a local greenhouse to make up for the lost time of my stunted plants. Here you can see the purchased plant at the back, and one of my stunted (but recovering) seedlings. I hope we get lots of tomatoes.
Here is a butterfly that we saw in the yard.
I planted some Comfrey several years ago, and they are going strong and spreading a little here. The bees love them and they are pretty, even though their flowers are small.
Here you can see some hollyhock plants. This part of the yard is kind of a bee garden – there are hollyhocks, peonies, comfrey, goldenrod (I just leave for the bees) and some mugwort.
I bought a foxglove plant, and the flowers are coming in. The flower stalk is getting too heavy, I guess, since it had fallen over. I picked it up to get this photo.
Here are the garlic and shallots that I planted in fall. They are all growing in well. I have 4 kinds of garlic, and 2 kinds of shallots here.
The Cottage Garden. (My new name for the old chicken yard). It’s a bit of a mess – we are still cleaning stuff up, and the things I’ve planted are still tiny. But it’s coming together.
Here is my herb and flower spiral. I lined it with rocks, it’s actually a labyrinth path (so you can walk it to the center). I’m slowly adding rocks and plants. I have a lot of things waiting to go in – they are getting bigger in the greenhouse. I have found that transplanting tiny seedlings is too much trouble, so I’ll wait till they are bigger. Next year if I need to, I will direct seed instead of transplanting herbs and things.
Here is another view of the Cottage Garden.
Here is a picture of my cauliflower, these are growing well. I made a cabbage-moth spray with garlic and citrus that I have been spraying on all the brassicas to keep cabbage moths off. So far it’s been mostly successful.
My beans are finally coming up – these are in the cottage garden as well.
Here is a sign that my dear friend Ellen got me a few years ago. She passed away this February. I’m glad I finally have somewhere to put it. It has different sayings so you can change what it says – there’s another one “Lettuce Turnip the Beet” and some other silly ones.
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:
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.
Here is Nova enjoying the sunshine and some petting.
We lost our wonderful dog Nova this past Monday. She started coughing in late June, and our vet at first thought it was bronchitis. A week or so later she started coughing blood – they did an x-ray and she had a massive tumor in her lung. The nearest vets that do any kind of biopsy are way down in Wisconsin, or way down in the Lower Peninsula; the tumor was pressing on her trachea (actually bending it) so we figured the best thing to do was to keep her comfortable for whatever time we had left. I hoped it would have been longer, but it was only about a month.
We had her for almost 4 years. Nova was a yellow lab mix. She came to live with us in November of 2015; Her story as we know it starts when she was roughly 2 years old, she was a stray dog down in Georgia, found with a dog that they figured was her daughter. She was adopted from a shelter by my former coworker’s son, who was in the Air Force down there at the time. She was with him for a couple of years until they moved back up here. Nova lived with my coworker for a little while, since her son could not keep Nova at his new apartment, but she seemed lonely there. I had two other dogs so my coworker let us take her so she would always have someone around. She was a very good dog, she loved to eat (too much – we had to buy her a “slow down” bowl). She loved to eat apples off the ground when they fell off of our tree. She loved cuddling with us on the couch. She loved to play with her dog brothers, Downey and Atat, and she loved to sit in the sunshine. Her favorite thing was to get petted by people. She didn’t care who it was, or what else they were doing (cutting her nails, etc) as long as she was being petted.
Our hearts are broken but at least she is not hurting anymore. We will miss our sweet little dog.
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.