Thursday, July 31, 2014

Green Apples

Down along the driveway, at the bottom of the hill, grows a lone "wild' apple tree. It isn't a pretty tree, having grown thin and tall over the years as it stretched through the firs toward the sunlight. One too many snowstorms has caused its top to bend back toward the ground. But it still blooms faithfully each Spring and produces a small crop of apple each year. Currently they are a perfect "apple green". But as September arrives, and the nights turn damp and cool, they will turn transform to a lovely red.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Two New Dahlia Blooms

Another hot, hot day today. We reached a high of 96 yesterday and topped out at 95 today. Needless to say, I am having to go down to the big garden and water the dahlias every evening. This heatwave is suppose to last through the weekend, so the garden hose will become my best friend this week. I did have the pleasant surprise of finding two more dahlias blooming for the first time this year, as I watered tonight. "Irish Glow" is a red pom that certainly does glow on the bush. "Tahoma Endeavor" is a BB-sized semi cactus bloom in a pretty blend of pink and white. It is a brand new 2014 introduction.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Froggy Friends

Just inside the big garden gate, there is a small spring tucked at the edge of the brush. Decades ago, this spring helped to provide water for the garden. Now is provides a happy home to a number aquatic creatures, including frogs and salamanders.The frogs have been quite visible this year, floating lazily in the water with their heads poking out or sitting up on an exposed pipe in the sunshine. They are yet another reason that I choose to garden organically and pesticide free.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Garlic Harvest #2 Results

Today I cleaned up the "Russian Red" garlic that I harvested last weekend. It has been drying on a rack in the shop and was ready to clean and put into storage. I harvested 12 bulbs this year with a total harvest of 5 lbs. 6.7 oz. The largest bulb was 8.5 oz., the smallest was 5.3 oz., and the average bulb size was 7.23 oz.

It is interesting to note that the average bulb size for the "Russian Red" garlic harvest was bigger than last year - 7.23 oz compared to 6.77 oz in 2013. But for the "Chesnook Red" garlic it was smaller this year - 2.99 oz compared to 3.44 oz in 2013. The "Russian Red" garlic continues to create really big bulbs. Side by side they dwarf the "Chesnook Red". Now I will set aside 2 of the largest bulbs of each variety for planting this Fall. The rest will go into mesh storage bags and we can begin enjoying them.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Late July in the Dahlia Garden

As July slowly comes to an end, the dahlia garden continues to explode with growth.

 In the last week, there has been two or three new dahlias blooming for the first time each time I have visited this garden site. There is also much work to be done. Just a week ago, I was almost caught-up with my "to-do" list for this garden. After visiting it today, I realize I need to spend multiple nights down here after work. I still have five rows that need to be tied-up, at least half of the plants need dis-budding again, and the whole garden could use a good weeding. Sigh.

Here is a "new-to-me" dahlia. "NTAC Shelley" was just released this year. It's a lovely dark pink & white Orchid  with perfect form. I am really excited to watch this one and see how it performs the rest of the season.

And yet another new one to me this year. "Eclipse" arrived in one of my tuber orders as a free gift. It's a striking white and dark pink Single.

"Sean C", a purple and white Collarette.

One of my all time favorites. "Pam Howden", a waterlily in shades of orange, yellow and dark pink.

"Raeann's Peach", a Single form in orange and red.

"Kelsie Kristi" is a dark red Single. The pollinators love all of the open centered dahlias.

"Weston Spanish Dancer", a miniature size cactus form in flame colors.

Elsewhere in the garden my cut flowers rows are starting to bloom too. My "Red Metemorph" hedge marigolds are starting to live up to their name. I don't think mine will reach 3 feet in height this year but they will definitely grow together and form a dense hedge.

They too are beginning to bloom.

The first white bloom opened today in the knee-high "Sonata Mix" cosmos.

And I also have the first open bloom in the "Mixed Seashell" cosmos. They certainly are different than the tradition cosmos bloom.

The "Minnesota Midget" cantaloupe have settled in nicely after being transplanted. The new growth is a healthy dark green and they are covered in pretty little yellow blooms. But I still haven't seen a single set cantaloupe yet!

All in all I am pleased with how everything is doing down here. The rabbit damage seem to have mostly stopped and there are more blooms to enjoy each day. It won't be too long before the garden is no longer a sea of green but is instead a riot of color.

Friday, July 25, 2014


As I walked down to the big garden, I noticed that the first of the wild blackberries were ripening. Most of the berries on the property are still small and green. But down where the driveway crosses the creek, the berries always ripen the fastest. It won't bee too longer before I can pick the first bucket of berries of the year.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

More New Dahlia Blooms

When I made it down to the big garden tonight, I discovered that I had two more dahlias blooming for the first time this year. I was especially excited to the see the bloom pictured above. "NTAC Eliza" is a new variety for me. It was released in 2013. I love the intense pink petals, the white petaloids, and the hint of yellow that radiates out from the center. It's a keeper for sure! And it's nice to see "Red Velvet", a red waterlily form in bloom too. I have grown it for many years

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Much Needed Rainfall

As promised, the rains returned today. I was so glad that they came as promised. The forest and fields are getting awfully dry and the threat of fire grows stronger with each passing day. Right as I left for work at 7:30 AM it began to rain. By the time I returned home at 4:30 the rain gauge was filled with 4/10" of water. While we certainly would have welcomed more, almost 1/2" should green up the grass just a bit.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

First Dahlia Blooms in the Big Garden

Tonight, as I watered the dahlias, I noticed that the first few blooms had opened in the last 24 hours. The first one to catch my eye was the pretty little lavender Pom "Willo Borealis".

"Raeann's Peach" a Single in a dark blend of orange and red.

"NTAC Brian" a dark red collarette, and below, "Alpen Chips" a dark red and purple orchid. These four are just the first of hundreds of blooms over the next few months.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Promise of Future Harvests

As we slowly approach the end of July, the kitchen garden is bursting with growth and the promise of future harvests.

I think this is one of my favorite times of the growing season. The plants are getting really large, but they are still growing and there is a lot of the season left ahead. As you can see the three varieties of Winter Squash have now grown together, but there is still room to walk between they and the onions. I know that in a few more weeks it will be nearly impossible to make that same walk. 

Here is an immature female "Queensland Blue" squash. I hand pollinated the bloom yesterday, so I am hopeful that this squash will soon begin to swell and then fully develop.

An even more immature "Butternut" squash. This bloom is still a week or more away from opening. I am excited though because this is the first female bloom that I have found on my two plants. The "Butternut" squash are the farthest behind of all of the Winter Squash that I am growing this year.

Leading the pack is my "Delicata" plant. I think it has already set 5 squash and has many, many more with blooms yet to open. It's looking to be a very good "Delicata" year.

Once again my peppers seem to be struggling. This "Creme Brulee" plant has only set one pepper so far and it is a little damaged. 

At least this "Lunchbox Yellow" sweet pepper seems to be doing a bit better. It has four small peppers set and has many flowers yet to open.

The "Frontier" onion bulbs are sizing up nicely. I have been working hard to keep them well watered during all of this hot, dry weather.

The "Camelot" shallots are ready to start pulling and eating.

The "Red Russian" Kale continues to grow well despite the heat of the last month. I am still smitten with its grey-green leaves and pink veining. 

It appears that my rookie year of growing watermelon is also going well. I have five marble sized watermelon on my  four "Early Moonbeam" plants. It looks like my hand pollination has worked and that all of the melon have taken. They even have pretty green stripes at this baby stage.

All five tomato plants have now begun to set fruit. Here is a nice tress on the "Black Plum" plant.

 The "Bumblebee" cherry tomatoes are already showing signs of "bumblebee stripes" even at this early, green stage.

A truss of "Indigo" Amethyst Jewel Cherry tomatoes.

So far the "Bloody Butcher" tomato is the only plant to have ripen any fruit. It isn't producing a ton, but it certainly is early. And pictured below, three green "Moonglow" tomatoes. I think that they are going to be the biggest tomatoes that I harvest this year.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Filling the Flower Beds

Friday a truck from Lane Forest Products delivered this lovely, large pile of compost to the house.
After waiting out some early morning heavy mist and showers, Dad and I began filling and topping off all of our flowerbeds with Nature's Best compost this afternoon. 

It was slow, but rewarding work. In some areas we were able to use the tractor and dump a whole pile of compost. But in many other areas, we used 5 gallon buckets to carry and dump the compost. This allowed us to get in between plants and other tight areas but made for much slower progress. One area that really needed some work was the back of the beds.They were sunken and really needed quite a bit of compost to get them level with the front.

We also dug up quite a few plants and bulbs and then replanted them in better locations once each area was filled. We also now have a lot of room to add new plants. We were especially glad to finally get the maple tree out of its large pot and planted properly in the ground.

We were really pleased with the site we picked for it once it was planted. It looks like it belongs there and  adds some nice height to the flowerbed. It's near the bird feeders still, so the birds can continue to use it as a safe landing. We worked for just over 2 hours and called it quits for the day. There's still lots more beds to fill - and lots more compost left in the pile. But today's works really looks nice.

As I was laying outside with the cats tonight, this cloud formation caught my eye.