I got the garden in a few days ago. It looks a bit sparse yet, but it will fill in soon. So far I haven’t lost anything I’ve planted – sometimes I have to replace a plant or two. I have extra seedlings for most things though. I doubled my garden space from last year, but I ended up running out of room for some things I had planned on growing. I didn’t plant any corn, or peas. Corn doesn’t usually do too well (we get a few good ears) since we can’t grow enough to get a really decent crop – maybe that’s a project for a few years down the road – making a corn patch somewhere. I planted 4 watermelon plants, 2 cantaloupe, and 2 pumpkin plants – so those took up a lot of the room. I think it will be a good garden though. Here are some pictures:
I’m glad the garden is in. Now I just have to keep ahead of the weeds.
I’ve been planning this year’s garden for awhile, since sometime in February. Over the last few years I’ve learned some things about gardening in the U.P. We have a shorter growing season, so I can’t plant pumpkins or other things that need 110 days, because I most likely won’t get that long. Luckily there are a lot of shorter-season versions of those kind of vegetables out now. I grew some smaller, shorter-season pumpkins last year.
I’ve learned that even though our last frost is (usually) in May, it’s better to wait to put things in the ground. I used to garden in southern Michigan, and I could start my garden at the beginning of May. Here around June 10th is probably best (or after the first Full Moon in June – which is June 9th this year) – we are well past the last frost dates, but the soil also takes awhile to warm up – a couple years ago I put things into the ground mid-may, and my plants just languished there – some wilted from the cold, some died outright, and I had a lot of replanting to do. I’d rather just put the whole garden in once, than have to replace everything.
I doubled our garden space for this year – the last couple years I had a 10×30 bed, this year it is 20×30. I started my seeds in early May, and have some nice seedlings that are now hardening off on the back porch. I tilled the garden yesterday – there are some grass clumps that need to get taken out, and then I’ll re-till it again before planting, which will happen next weekend.
I have three flats of seedlings, and I am making seed tapes for small seeds like carrots, using newspaper. I cut strips of newspaper and then used a water/flour paste to glue seeds at the correct interval – I can lay the tapes down, cover with a bit of dirt, and then the seeds won’t migrate. I won’t have to thin them either. I also have a bunch of stuff that I will be seeding directly into the garden, like corn and beans.
This year’s garden is starting to wind down. Our growing season is not typically very long. I’m hoping we’ll hold off on getting a frost for another month, but a lot of plants are done producing anyway. I pulled out our yellow squash, and picked most of the tomatoes. There are a few straggler tomatoes left on the vines. My son harvested about 8 ears of corn from his 10 or so plants. We still have a few things waiting to be picked, like beets, kale, chard, eggplants, and zucchini. Take a peek at our recent harvest:
The garden is starting to really produce now. I have already harvested one tomato! An Early Girl from my grafted plant. That tomato is the only one that has ripened yet, but a lot of others are on their way. We are getting beans and squash and kale and chard – lots of it. I’ve started freezing beans and zucchini already. I have gotten some nice cucumbers already and have started some refrigerator pickles. Here are some pictures of the garden lately:
My parents planted hollyhocks several years ago, and they keep coming back every year. And each year before they bloom, I forget that they aren’t all the same color, until they bloom. They are beautiful. Here are some pictures:
We have been very busy. Last week I went camping. While I was away, it seems that my garden has exploded. (It tends to do that when you don’t see it every day). I hatched hatch# 3 of chicks a couple days ago, and we found our first duck egg today! Here are some pictures of the latest happenings:
We’ve been having some hot days lately, and last night we had a crazy thunderstorm. This morning my yard is very wet – I had plans for some yardwork jobs, but it’s just too wet. My garden is still going strong. I’ve been getting some nice corn cobs, despite the early visit from some raccoons.
I had a few tomatoes fall off the vines while I was picking suckers, and my son also decided to pick a few that were starting to ripen. I didn’t realize I grew an orange tomato, but I did grow a couple new varieties so I guess this one was orange.
I’m growing indeterminate varieties – I had been cutting off suckers and new flowers, but I got impatient. We don’t have the longest growing season, and I don’t want a repeat of last year – because of frost warnings we had to pull all the tomatoes in so they could ripen inside (none started to ripen on the vine last year). Luckily we’ve had a lot more heat this year. I went at my tomato plants last week and cut off the tops of the plants, extra leaves that were shading the fruit, and any extra branches that didn’t have fruit on them. That has seemed to help speed things along.
I also have a bunch of tomatillos – they are still small, but they are getting there. Last year I grew some but I added them really late, and they didn’t start forming fruit till mid September. These ones have been growing for about a month now.
I am attempting artichokes this year – I read that they can be grown as an annual. I haven’t seen any sign of any fruit, and really didn’t know what to expect. This morning I found this:
I looked on another plant and have at least one other one forming as well. Very exciting, even if they are very tiny.
I’m growing Evening Primrose this year, I didn’t realize they’d take so long to bloom. They started this week:
Here are some marigolds that I planted, they are doing extremely well, but they are really easy to grow:
My sunflowers are going strong. The bees and hummingbirds are enjoying them now. They should start going to seed soon, and then we’ll have the chickadees and other birds, and chipmunks and squirrels, eating them.
I’ve gotten a lot of vegetables so far this year. I’m still waiting on my tomatoes to ripen, but they are coming along. I’ve been picking suckers and new flowers left and right, and I can see the tomatoes are starting to get a pinkish tint to them. We’ve had 80-90 degree temps this week, and it’s expected to continue – I think that will help with the ripening.
In the winter we were buying a lot of kale, so I grew a bunch of it, and we haven’t used a whole lot yet. So this weekend I decided to pick as much as I could, and freeze it. I left the plants, with new baby leaves in the centers, so I will still have fresh kale until we have snow (it supposedly can survive frost, and gets better after a frost, so we’ll see how that goes). I ended up with a giant basket of kale:
I took the leaves off the stems, blanched them for 2 minutes, and then froze them up. I ended up with about 10 cups of frozen kale.
This year I decided to grow lemon balm. I picked some to dry for tea. It smells so good!
I have had tons of zucchini and yellow squash, and I have frozen a lot of it. I read online that you can get away with not blanching it first, so I am trying that this year. Last year I blanched it, and it worked fine but it was more labor intensive; Also, since it was wet when I put it in freezer bags, I ended up with blocks of frozen zucchini. I don’t know if the slice/freeze method will still produce this result; I’ll have to wait and see.
I also grew acorn squash for the first time this year. I had four plants; most produced only one fruit – I did have two forming on one plant, but when I went out this weekend I realized that one of the fruits was rotting on the vine. The other four seemed ready to pick. The plants still have flowers so it may produce more, I will have to wait and find out.
My corn is getting close to being ready. The silks are turning brown on the cobs. Last year I read that you wait 10 days after the silks turn brown – I checked a few cobs and I think by this next weekend they may be ready. I noticed today though that I must have raccoons or something attacking the corn. It must be raccoons – they are notorious for getting into corn in this area – I found a half eaten cob in my garden on the ground. I hope they give me time to get at least a few ears before they get them all. I’m not sure how to deter them – they climbed my fence. I’ll have to figure out some kind of raccoon deterrent – maybe putting a lip on the top of the fence so they can’t come over the top of the fence.
I haven’t posted in over a week, because I went to California to meet my new niece. Before I left, this was my garden (taken on 7/23/15):
I came back less than 7 days later and my garden had exploded:
The chickens are doing well. We had planned on starting to cull some roosters when I got home. A couple on the shortlist have redeemed themselves for now. We culled two on Sunday – one was getting very aggressive and had pecked my son, and the other was picking on the rest of the big roosters. We will need to take out a couple more before winter, but the ones we still have are behaving better. One of our youngest roosters, Wonky Top:
Wonky’s comb has been straightening out. He has straightened out too – he was going to be one of the first we took out, because he didn’t get along with anyone – he was really skittish, and he fought with everyone. We had separated the roosters from the hens for awhile, and he would get picked on by the bigger guys, and then escape. Each time we caught him and put him back with the roosters, he would escape again, and then evade capture for most of the day. I finally put him in with the hens. He stayed there while I was on vacation. When I got back I thought my roosters were bored being over in their side (we had them in the grassless side because it was easier to get them in at night), so I put them with everyone again. Wonky then asserted himself, pretty much saying “you’re on MY side now!” and he wouldn’t take any flack from the big guys. Now he doesn’t seem so skittish, and he’s getting along with everyone better. So we have decided he can stay, for now. I suspect he’s a Cuckoo Maran – I really wanted some Marans (the hens can lay darker brown eggs ) so if possible we may keep him for breeding. We will see.
I was planning on keeping certain roosters based on looks, for breeding purposes, but we are starting to cull based mostly on their behavior, especially toward us. Our big Black Langshan rooster was one that we took out this weekend, since he flew up on my son and pecked him in the chest. That was the deciding factor for him. We were planning on keeping at least two – I read that if you have 3 or 4 they can get along better than having just two. We’ll just have to play it by ear with them.
The chickens are enjoying their outdoor shelter – we allow them in the coop anyway, but this shelter was already in the part of the run that I have them in right now, so we left it (it’s a little large so we’d have to disassemble it to remove it) – they have learned they can go on top of it. That puts their heads only about 6 inches from the top of the fence. They have not seemed to figure that part out yet though – I was worried they would jump out but nobody has so far.