Friday, July 1, 2016

A month later

Earlier this spring i bought a praying mantis ootheca and set it out near the garden to hatch. It took quite a few weeks to hatch and the tiny mantids were all out by the time i got home from work one day. There were 100's of them and we saw them around for a few days. I have not seen any since i took this picture. They may still be a number of them around but they are good hiders. I'll get more than one ootheca next spring and see how it goes.

This is the bit behind the shed that i recently reclaimed. We had a brush pile going back here and it was where i somewhat carelessly tossed my collection of PVC hoops and sockets.  I had to knock down the rhubarb plant to get the place cleaned out.  I harvested all the stalks, cleaned them up and only kept the best. Then i strung and sliced them up.  After canning 6 quarts and baking two pies i still had more than 13 cups left over and i'm not sure what to do next.

But the area has been cleared and covered with a tarp.  I'm hoping to put the Schizandra plants out here with some sort of trellis to form a large shady place where i can maybe put in some hardwood logs and grow some culinary mushrooms.

I planted the Wolf River apple tree over there too (on the right). Not sure what else i'm going to do with it. It is not grafted and will be a full size tree- possibly 30 feet tall eventually.



The strawberries began coming in slowly at first but after about a week of slightly more than this amount per day, the kids were ready for a break.

So i employed the dehydrator


I had a few days off in a row and cool weather so i went to work on this. It is starting to look neater again.

This was how the garden looked on 6-14-16

 The pine pollen was high and it rained a bit.

By 6-21-16  things began to take off

I'm trying Fava beans for the first time. I'm not sure what to expect. I guess they take a long time to grow, prefer cool to hot and won't make pods if the daylight hours aren't right.  I guess the leaves are edible so if we get no beans we still have another leafy green flavor to try.

These were taken 6-27-2016

I'm trying simple tomato stake and prune.  Usually weeding takes so much of my time i let the tomatoes get away. The plastic is preventing that this year.  I'm only worried the soil underneath may heat the ground too much-  hopefully the plants will size up and shade themselves before the heat really comes on.

I'm trying toe potato tower sort of method this time. As they grow,  i'll keep topping it up with bagged topsoil.

These are the Adirondack Blues.  I also put in German Butterball in a separate setup but only just got to it last week. Really late start on the long season potatoes.

Didn't get the Mouse Melons in until the 27th either.  They are such small plants at first and don't build strong roots quickly so its a delicate process planting them at just the right size,  at least for me.

Favas again.  "Windsor"

Doorknob sweet pepper

One of the better looking okra that day

Meatball eggplants

Inside the house,  the Hoya are flowering

After a night of particularly heavy rain,  there was a frog in one of the garden puddles.

Not sure where it got in,  hopefully it got safely out.


I think this is a Mayfly of some sort. The gigantic eyes amused me.

The cherry is looking full.

 These will need to get much darker before they are ready and i'm going to get more bird netting.

I'm hoping to get a ton of cucumbers this year. I'd like to can some up as pickles.

I have to go out and get something for the mouse melons to climb. They are beginning to quest so i need to get right on that.

I'll get more pics today.  Maybe even post more!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

drive by posting

been busy

last few weeks re-cap

fruit trees were attacked by aphids

sprayed 'em

got most veg plant in, okra, tomato, cukes

sunflowers and leonotis also

few days ago, planted beans

a few of about 5 types of bush beans

new to me: fava beans

did throw in some yard longs

the are all germinating now

today i spent all day reclaiming the back part behind the shed

what a mess!

got my Schisandra chinensis plants from Oikos Tree Crops, they look great!

potted them up for later planting

plan is to have them grow in an arch over the back behind the shed and make a nice place for culinary mushrooms and Ramps and maybe ostrich  (fiddlehead) ferns.

Why don't i take before and after pics?

To reclaim this back portion behind the shed i had to totally harvest the rhubarb.  it had at least 3 nodes. i cleaned, stringed and sliced 5 gallons of rhubarb today.  not sure what i'm going to do with it all.  if i have the time- i WILL process it into canned filling for pie.  if not,  i will foist it upon all within reasonable distance.

i'm achy

Friday, May 20, 2016

Last seeds started and planting has begun

I had the 17th off  so i got the mints, cukes, melons, sunflowers and other herbs started.

I had two days off in a row earlier last week so i got the fencing started:

Finished that today.

I planted the Okra, hot and sweet peppers and many of the tomatoes.

The larger Carmine Jewel cherry tree is doing well

It was in full bloom today with at least 5 types of bees plundering the blossoms.

It might be a bit on the early side to plant but it is rush time at my new job and i don't have another day off until the 25th. The weather forecasts claim night temperatures won't go below 45 F for the next 6 days. The black plastic heats the soil beneath a few extra degrees so i expect there to be something of a micro-climate going on.

I also got the 6 Pineberry plants installed in the empty spots in the strawberry bed that were left by the plants that didn't make it.  

I'll put down a list of which tomatoes, peppers and etc i actually put in today, in another post.

I'm in for a 9 hour day tomorrow - one hour is a break,  but for home improvement centers,  this is like the second to last weekend before Christmas up here.  Memorial Day weekend is considered the traditional 3 days of "getting the garden in" since we almost never have frosty weather after that.   Though i have noticed by taking notes and referring to my blog that it is pretty darn safe about 3 weeks before that, give or take a few days.

Friday, May 13, 2016

All the good stuff, growing, budding, digging...

Blueberries, still small after so many years

Beach plum budding

Blurry picture of Carmine Jewel buds  (small child who dresses herself in the background).

Carmine Jewel cherry again. It is growing and thriving!

A few days later, blooming nicely!

I planted some English peas in here about 10 days ago. They are coming along.

My dad came over and tilled 5 days ago...  he does this for me and a few other people. There is a family who bought a house that used to belong to long time family friends , less than a quarter mile from where i grew up. They are Brethren, i think- and work to live simply. My dad drove by one day last spring and noticed they were hand-turning their garden. He let them know he had a rototiller and he could come by and till for them anytime. However,  he warned them to not offer him any money and he tilled it the next day...  This year,  they called and ever so politely asked him to stop by  -tried to offer him payment and dad repeated his "warning". So,  my dad tilled their spot and he was offered a "sampling" of fresh baked bread and a dozen eggs. Gratefully received. :)

So,  this is what i did to it today....   I got 9 rows out of it.  In past years,  i could hill up 7 rows in one whole day if hubby could help me on at least 3. Before that, (the occasionally mentioned car crash thing that almost did me in but let me buy the property after the house burned- etc) it took me a few days to get that far.  It took me about 2 hours today. Of course i took breaks and drank lots of water but it is as fast as i have ever gotten this task done. Yay!

Then,  installing the soaker hose....

It wasn't that bad. The packaging instructions were basic but straight-forward. The pieces were easy to attach.  I had bought two, 100' kits but needed an additional kit. While the first two kits were warming in the sun to straighten out,  i went out and bought the third.  After fetching the kids from school,  i got the last 2 rows assembled and tested for dead lengths or spritzes.  All of the lengths beaded and dripped evenly without trouble.

For one inch of water,  we can run the hose 200 minutes according to the packaging.

Now for the covering.  I went with 6 mil plastic.  20x 100. I officially measured the width at 27 feet. I guessed the length is 36. It took two cuts of the plastic to cover the whole, contouring the raised beds.

Our 7 year old daughter enthusiastically delivered the bricks one by one.  We got it all pinned down before the ever-present wind wreaked havoc.

 We have a seam that we overlapped from right (subducting) to left.  So that bit is finished. The sun should heat any germinating seeds,  the plastic will snuff them.

Along the way---

The male Seaberry/Seabuckthorn is standing at stud. The female, "Titan" is ready to receive but the last time i took photos, i had to use photoshop to encircle the female "blooms" so they could be noticed.

Hardening-off seedlings

 blurry pic of Stanley Prune Plum buds

Strawberry bed. Looks messy but they are thriving.  I have used Roundup on a paintbrush to remove grass that has come up through the plastic

Friday, May 6, 2016

Trees Sprayed

Had some luck a few weeks ago and picked up 4 one gallon pump sprayers at work for under $3 each-  they normally go for at least $12 each at the absolute least.  Now i have a sprayer for pretty much anything i need to use without having to thoroughly clean each before use. So, i have one (different one besides the 4 clearance deal sprayers)  for the fung-o-nil, one for the bonide fruit spray, another for the BT, then one for the organic anti-tomato blight stuff,  leaving one spare for whatever else comes up.

Therefore,  i got the apple, beach plum, prune plum, grapes and cherries sprayed with the Bonide today.
It was great weather.  We had very chilly (though above freezing) cloudy, windy, ugly weather for the last few days. It got to about 70 degrees F by 1pm today. I got to work in the outdoor garden center for about an hour and a half during the chilly part of the early day.  I love that so much it hardly feels like work.  I was hired on in a permanent position so i don't get out there as much as i'd like-  seems the company tends to concentrate on keeping the seasonal people in those spots this time of year.  Even at this time of year,  though it is too cold for most,  i'm all happy just to be outside. When it gets to be in the high 80's-90's i will suffer more than those who chill easily. But i've also lost almost 60 pounds since last year.  I have 60-80 pounds to go but i'm going to feel more comfortable than i did when i had more...creases.....  lol

So, other than the fungonil stuff,  i got the first seasonal spray done. Much easier using the fine spray nozzle  with a one gallon tank than dragging around 75 feed of hose with a drenching hose-end sprayer. We'll see if the finer spray is applying enough of the effective ingredients. It has got to be better than not getting to the task at all.

Also,  i started hardening off the seedlings. Due to the unlevel-ness of my light stand i accidentally may have murdered some of my Meatball eggplant seedlings.Nothing is square in a house over 100 years old and i need to work on getting that light stand at its own level. All the water i was pouring into the flats was not reaching those at the back end.  I did get to water thoroughly today and they all got their dose of fish emulsion fert- which is honestly the first time i have managed to fertilise seedlings before planting. I never had a liquid fert on hand that wouldn't burn the seedlings. This is a 5-1-1 fert and it smells a bit like Thai fish sauce lol.

I still have herbs, cukes/melons, ground cherry and sunflower seeds that must be started soon.
My dad is coming to till tomorrow morning.  After that i plan to spend the following days carving out the rows, installing the soaker hoses,  laying the 20 foot wide 6mil plastic and erecting the PVC hoop houses.

I won't plant anything out until after next week, per : and

But i don't wait for the planting glut of Memorial Weekend. It is too late for most and too much all a once for the rest

Its crunch time...a little at a time.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

This was unexpected...


About 3 inches of snow.

But it won't last long.

I was feeling pretty ill that day and had to call out from work, which i really didn't want to do.  I really didn't know it was snowing until that evening.  Two days later it is 98% melted away. Some remains in the deeper shady parts of the treeline and against the dim sided of fences and shadows of houses.


This is what Skirret seedlings look like:

And Leonotis:

And Lemongrass...  (some Stevia on the lower part).

I pulled the Henna and Santolina Tomentosa from the fridge (the seeds were wrapped in moist paper towel and zippy-bagged getting cold treatment).

I got my seed order of herbal tea mints and other interesting things that i bought from an eBay seller.  I'll post that list later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Leopard frogs are out,  they have been for a few days. The spring peepers have also been awake for about a week but we don't have any of the vernal pools they prefer close by enough to hear them from the house. Leopard frogs seem happy with the trickles in the gully across the way.  Its nice to hear them.  I've meant to try and get audio recordings of the peepers for a few years but haven't taken the time to do so.  Their singing is a deep rooted sign of spring,  like seeing the maples blooming.

I had started a post about my change in jobs but i never put it past draft. I now work in a national chain (big box) home improvement store. I am really enjoying it. My draft was full of my angst about wanting to be perfect straight away and being nervous about an almost total change of direction in career paths. I was pretty spastic but have since settled in. I think i'm going to be ok.  My favorite place to work is, of course, in Outside Lawn & Garden.  It has been cold weatherwise and it hasn't been busy out there very much. Today was my 3rd stint in that department. My first day it was sunny but very windy,  my second day it was gorgeous and there were two of us out there to cashier so it wasn't lonely. Today was chilly, breezy and a few sunny breaks.  The first 2 hours were dull. I saw almost no customers so i sat on my bucket inside the warming shed that is built around the cash register. There is an electric heater provided which is nice. If it is slow and lonely, we are permitted to sit and are allowed to have a book or other things to keep ourselves occupied- which is a luxury.  I've never had a job where sitting and doing "nothing" is not considered a severe infraction. As a cashier, i'm expected to remain within 10 feet of my station. If a customer needs help much beyond that range i have to call a floor employee to assist them. It is a strange contrast to what i am used to. Most places i have worked i tend to be a one person "show". If a task is at all feasible - even remotely- it was my responsibility.  This often meant booking it at top walking speed across the building to fetch, retrieve or locate an item, paperwork or whatever else a customer required. Not that i minded. I like a challenge. I keep thinking.... "I have never, in my life, done so little for so much hourly compensation". This is where my spastic personality comes in. I'm worried the slow season will make me a lazy worker. I've been doing my job at the pace that comes but spring and summer for home improvement stores is like Christmastime for other types of retail stores. Things WILL pick up very soon...  but i don't know what other people's definition of "crazy busy" is. I might find myself completely overwhelmed or i might wonder what the fuss was all about.  Oh,  but it is nice to have a job where i can sit outside and be warm, surrounded by plants and have time to mull my own thoughts.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Seeds of the day

Two more flats done, mostly herbs:

Zinger Hibiscus
Holy Basil
Santolina Tomentosa (in plastic baggie chilling in the fridge)
Henna herb (also chilling out in a baggie in the fridge)
Bouquet Dill
Sweet Marjoram
Curled Chervil
Winter Savory
Greek Oregano
Green Shiso
Red Shiso
Lettuce Leaf Basil
French Thyme
Flat Leaf Parsley
Garden Sage
Strawberry Spinach
Lunaria ("Money Plant, "Honesty"- obviously not a culinary herb)
Job's Tears (the seeds are apparently edible but i want more for beading)
Skirret (which is a sort of perennial carrot/parsnip-like creature with tubers that are edible)

So this is today's effort

I've been making plant markers out of the plastic covers of used spiral-bound notebooks that were destined for the trash. They take labeling with a silver Sharpie (seems more reliable a pigment than black or any other color of Sharpie) perfectly and are stiff enough to stay in the dirt but soft enough to bend if i use a clear plastic cover on the flat. The plastic will still end up in the garbage some day but it has been a useful way to prolong it.

This group somehow ended up getting leggy. I think the room might be too warm at times.

I don't think i ever posted a picture of that shelf i made last year out of PVC. I had meant to, so this is what it looks like.

If i don't do it this year, i'll do it next-  add one more level and possibly use 3 fixtures per level.
Speaking of level,  this coming paycheck i will buy something that will fix the uneven hardware cloth situation.  Tilted flats don't distribute water evenly.