Thursday, June 30, 2011

Surprise Visitors

Last night, as I was walking back up to the house from the big garden, I heard a bunch of noise coming from the large Fir Tree where our big bird feeder hangs. I didn't think too much about it because this tree is frequented by Grey Squirrels who love to run up and down the tree chasing one another. But the noise persisted and I took a closer look. I was shocked to see four or five baby raccoons come straight down the tree!

 They were all moving so much I never did get an exact count but I know I saw four at once. I was so amazed how they could walk straight down the tree with such ease. As I got a bit closer to them I wonder where their mother was because they were so small. Then I got pretty close to take the picture on the right and heard a growl. And that's when Mama raccoon popped up from the back side of the wood pile that sits next to the tree! So I backed away and continued homeward. I was really glad that I had my camera to capture those sweet babies.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

More Garden Prep

Early Tuesday morning, around 1:30 AM, it began to rain hard. It didn't let up until sunrise. When I checked the rain gauge on my way out the door to work it had 4/10 of an inch in it. Because of the wet soil, I had to take a day off from working in the big garden. I didn't want to walk in the clay soil and compress it down. By tonight though, it had dried sufficiently that I was able to get back to work. I managed to level about 1/3 more of the garden and set out 5 more rows of dahlia stakes. Now it is really starting to look like there just might be a garden down there this year.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Vegetable Garden Update

It's time for a vegetable garden update. Things are progressing here, just rather slowly. The very wet and cold month of June certainly allowed all of the plants to settle in to their new home but hasn't exactly encouraged much growth. However, we have finally seen some warmer temperatures this last week and the plants are responding!

I can finally see some major growth in the tomato plants. It seems that for the longest time they were just sitting there, moping. But now many of the plants have reached the top of the first tier of their cage and are also filling out some too. They aren't as full and robust as I would like but I think that they are on their way.

I can report the first set tomato fruit of the year. The "Azoychka" tomato has two fruits already and loads of blooms yet to open. It is not surprising that this variety, originally from Russia, is doing so well despite the cold Spring weather.

The onions are still the star of the vegetable bed. Planted in early April, these two varieties have slowly and consistently been growing and thriving. Both "Prince" & "Red Bull" are Northern Onions, meaning they are day-light sensitive. Now that we have passed the longest day of the year ( wahhh!) the onions will quickly switch gears and put most of their energy into bulb growth instead of leaf growth.

The amazing thing about this change is how quickly you can see it happening after the Summer Solstice. I bet by next week the ground around these "Red Bull" Onions will be cracking as the bulbs begin their rapid expansion.

I grew this yellow storage onion "Prince" last year and I loved it. It grew very well for me and stored amazingly. In fact I still have some in storage. I pulled one out to use for dinner within the last week and it was still in perfect condition - firm, juicy, and not a blemish anywhere.

Underneath the protective cover of its remay tent, the two "Marina di Chioggia" Winter Squash are really doing well. I think that I will take off the remay tent this weekend if the temperature rises like it is suppose to.

The two "Delicata" Winter squash are also starting to take off and go.

The lettuce has gone crazy. I absolutely have to pick it all in the next few days to make room for the two Butternut Squash hills. I will certainly miss the beauty of the "Australe" plants in the garden. This is such a pretty variety and it has done really well too.

The "Winter Density" lettuce is also a winner.

My "Gypsy" pepper, planted in its own black grow bag, seems to be settling in. With this last week's higher temperatures it has begun to put out some new growth and has opened its first bloom.

The morning glories are settling in well too. My two plants of "Heavenly Blue" that I planted next to the leaf sculpture have started grabbing onto the metal pole with their vines. It shouldn't be too long now before they begin to bloom.

And the four "Pastel Mix" Morning Glories are really happy. They are are climbing my new trellis and have produces a lot of new vines in the last week. The little birds have been doing a bit of damage to a few of the leaves but it hasn't been as bad as I feared. Soon there will be enough climbing vines and leaves that any damage will be covered up quickly. So far these plants have opened two blooms, but it has happen on a weekday while I was at work so I have missed seeing them! I need some weekend blooms please.

And lastly, I am not sure how my two Sweet Potato plant are performing. I am sure that they have hated the cold weather, but I do think that they have put out some new growth in the last week. Fingers crossed that July will be much warmer than June.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Morning Glories

I spent much of today away from home but was finally able to make it down to the garden in the late afternoon. It was a glorious sunny day in the high 70's. I didn't have enough time to do any actual gardening but I did have my camera with me and was able to capture these two pictures. The Morning Glories that I planted last week down here are already beginning to bloom. I am afraid that I can't identify the variety pictured above. The tag in the plant said it was "Blue Star" but I grew that one last year and know it has a pretty pale blue flower with a white star. I looked on the Log House Plants web-site and can't identify what this one is. In any case, it is a beautiful blue shade with a violet star and i think it is quite stunning. I am glad to have this mystery guest. And pictured below is "Split Personality". It is an early bloomer and I always enjoy its unique shaped blooms. It reminds me of something tropical, like bogenvia.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It's a Start

Well, today I was able to finally start laying out the rows for the big garden. I didn't get a whole lot of work done, but I was able to lay out the string rows for the bush beans, the two varieties of Marigolds, and the four varieties of Zinnias. Now it's some hard work ahead . I need to rake the hilly dirt level and lay out the fourteen rows for my dahlia stakes. Then I need to put up the name tags on the dahlia stakes and then I can start planting! This part always takes longer then I remember.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Looks What's Blooming Now

While we human gardeners are busily trying to grow and create beautiful landscapes, Mother Nature quietly goes about her business. As we enter the last week of June, here is what I have found blooming on my latest walks around the property. We start with our Native Columbine. I am thrilled with the number of columbine plants that I have discovered this year. It is one of my all-time favorite wildflowers and I have found plants growing on five different sections of our property. Hopefully they will all set seed and continue to multiply.

The Hairy Vetch is growing and blooming in all of the fields right now.

The wild roses are finally blooming too. They are a few weeks later than normal.

The Pink Mallow is just finishing up now. It to is found in open, sunny meadows.

The Cat's Ears are also just about done. They tried to put on a good show for us this year, but had a difficult time with all of the rain weighing down their heads.

While so many natives are wrapping up their annual show, the daisies are just beginning. For the next two+ weeks our meadows will be a sea of happy, white & yellow blooms. And another recent bloomer in the group is the Blue Dick, a member of the Lily family. It is another meadow grower and we have it nicely sprinkled all over our property. The plant, pictured below, is just beginning to open.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Dorothy's Rose

Like everything else this year, Dorothy's rose by the garden gate is late blooming. It has had a particularly hard time with this Spring's cold, wet weather. I don't know what old variety it is, but a rosarian looked at a bloom of it last year for me and said with its very round shaped leaves, she could be sure it came from the strain of the old yellow rose. Everything from this lineage is VERY prone to black-spot. In a wet year, this poor rose just about drops every leaf it puts out. As you can tell in the above photo, it had dropped 4/5 of its leaves. It looks like it is just canes and blooms right now; not exactly the best look. The good news is now that the warm weather seems to have arrived, the rose will put out a second set of leaves and look pretty good again by Fall. It is also growing a lot of new lateral canes off its main canes, which is also good. I do think the hot pink/fuchsia color of the blooms looks terrific against the blue/purple of the gate.A happy accident, but I will take it!

After this first big  flush , it will continue to have a few new blooms for the next six weeks or so.When the temperature is warm outside, this rose releases a very soft, floral, "girlie" scent into the air. A sweet, feminine rose just like the lady who originally planted it here.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Last Tilling

Tonight after work we headed down to the garden and did the 4th and final tilling for the year. In most areas of the garden the soil has dried out nicely. I will let it dry for a few more days and hopefully will begin the process of laying out the stakes and poles this weekend. There just might be a garden here yet!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy First Day of Summer!

“Whatever is dreamed on this night, will come to pass.”
- William Shakespeare (From A Mid-Summernight’s Dream)

Happy Summer Solstice!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday in the Vegetable Patch

Lettuce, lettuce, we've got some lettuce! They say every cloud has a silver lining. This Spring's cold, wet weather ( 2nd wettest & 5th coldest Spring in the last 117 years that they have kept records !) lead to a very happy lettuce crop. I planted two varieties that I had never tried before and they have both done really well. Now it is time to harvest before the weather warms up. I need the space for my last two hills of squash. I see a lot of salad in my future!

The "Australe" lettuce was a bit shorter and grew a bit more free-form. The rich, green leaves have such pretty copper-red splotches all over them.

The "Winter Density" is taller and forms more of a tight head. I ordered both varieties from Johnny's Select Seeds and would recommend them to anyone wanting to harvest a large crop in a small space.

I didn't get a lot done in the garden today, but I did pull out the last of the radish. They were bolting so I threw them out in the yard. Maybe the deer will find them edible. Then I built a new raised bed in that space and planted the "Delicata " Squash. They look so little now but I know as soon as it heats up they will be taking over the world.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Wet Weather is Back

After five days of dry weather it seems we were due for some rainfall! The morning started with a strong mist and progressed to rain by the afternoon. When it finally let up we had another .25 inches in the rain gauge.

The wild roses are starting to bloom now and Dorothy's rose, pictured below, has also started blooming.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Morning Glories are In

After work tonight we headed back down to the garden. With the recent dry weather, it was time to give the garden its second tilling. While Dad drove the tractor, I got busy planting my morning glories. I have collected quite a few over the last month and it was definitely time to get them into the ground. Quite a few had started climbing and wrapping around each other in the greenhouse. It took me some time to get them all untangled before I could get around to the planting. Now I just need to keep my fingers crossed that the bunny (?) who snipped off quite a few of the vines last year has moved away!

From left to right my varieties are: Sunrise Serenade, Split Personality, (2) Pastel Star Mix, Blue Star, (?) Blue Star, Grandpa Ott, Split Personality, Milky Way, Flying Saucer, & Pearly Gate.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

2nd Radish Harvest

Tonight I made the time and harvested a bunch more radish from the vegetable garden. To be honest, the radish have gotten away from me. Some of them are now as big as turnip and the first one shot up a blossom stock this week. Still, tucked in with the big ones, there were quite a few medium radish to be pulled. And I still found a couple of small ones hidden in there too. In total I harvested 1 lb. 6 oz. Most of them were "Pink Punch" & "Plum Purple". The "Rudolf" were either too large or split.

This weekend I will pull up the last of the crop and replenish the raised bed. Then it will become the new home for two "Delicata" Winter Squash. Out with the cool-weather crops and in with the heat-lovers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First Tilling of the Year!

Today we hit a milestone in the garden...the first tilling of the year! I think June 15th is a record for the latest that we have ever had to wait to do the first tilling. But tonight after work we went down and gave it a go. As usual, there were varying "conditions" to be found. Both ends of the garden had spots that were still horribly wet, while part of the middle had dried enough that a bit of dust rose up behind the tractor. Now at least all of the weeds have been turned under and a new level of drying can begin. The 10 day forecast looks promising, with just a few chances of showers ahead and some very warm days predicted for early next week.

The air was filled with the unique smell of damp earth being turned over.

The finished garden. You can see the damp area in the grass were the tractor left tracks. The garden is quite wet directly below that area. Come on sunny weather!

When I got home I was surprised with a gift of a new metal chicken for my garden. For now he is in the vegetable bed being a good rooster!

I also was given the two "Heavenly Blue" morning glory plants that I needed for the leaf trellis in the vegetable bed. I got them planted tonight and watered in well. They are very healthy plants and should grab onto the pole in no time at all.

While I worked in the vegetable bed, Parvati found the house vent were the dryer heat was escaping, just outside of the laundry room. She cleverly curled up on the vent and took a cap nap. When I picked her up to come inside for the night, her stomach was as warm as if she had been sleeping on an electric blanket. Leave it to a cat to find the best place to stay warm on a cool Spring evening.