We did end up getting some potatoes - Hubs dug up most of the plants last week because they were in the garden next to the driveway, and when the workers poured the new concrete, they trampled most of the garden. We did fingerling potatoes this year - oh-so-good.
The green beans are done. We didn't get nearly as much as in years past; this year, the plants got a rust fungus, and died off early.
Finally, the tomatoes are ripening - the big ones! The black cherry tomatoes have been ripening for the last couple of weeks, but though the plants are loaded with tomatoes, the other varieties were still green up until this past weekend. (Some of the farmers at the Farmer's Market told us that they've had to cover their tomato plants with blankets at night to keep the day's heat in so that the tomatoes would ripen quicker, and they'd have something to sell at market.)
There's a basket of Big Boys and Brandywines on the table now. I see BLTs in our near future. Yum!
Seems kinda weird to be posting about gardening in December, but I finally finished in the gardens on Monday - or at least finished enough that I can breathe a sigh of relief! Whew!
I got all the pots emptied the Sunday before last. It's such a chore; there are more than 30 of them, some weighing at least 50 pounds, in groupings scattered throughout the gardens. They are all either glazed ceramic or terracotta, and I'd been worried about them cracking in the freeze and thaw cycles we've been having. I only lost one terracotta saucer, though. Everything else is packed in the shed neatly - it had to be neat, because I needed room for the buckets off boughs and berries I stored in there before the Holiday Market.
Monday, I finished cutting back the big butterfly bush and tall ornamental grasses next to the driveway. It's a necessity because that's where we pile the snow; last week when we got that half a foot, it was difficult to shovel because it was so wet and heavy - but even more difficult because there was nowhere to put it!
There are still a lot of perennials in the other gardens that I didn't get around to cutting back, and I really wanted to heavily prune some of the shrubs in the ravine. The yard could have used another raking too - but the leaf-sucker truck made what was probably its last round yesterday, and I didn't get to it in time; everything is snow covered again today.
Moonglum mentioned earlier this year that he built a greenhouse - I wonder if it's heated?
Here, it'd have to be heated to do anything in the winter. Crazy Cheryl built a really cool and fairly large greenhouse entirely out of discarded windows (we had the "old windows by the side of the road" hotline going for a while). It's got a nice brick floor (also made from discarded material), but it's not heated - it stays warm enough to store some of her "temperennial" (perennials that aren't quite hardy here, but close) in there over the winter, and moves her veggie seedlings from her house into the greenhouse to get a jump on spring, but it's not a winter gardening greenhouse. This past spring she was contemplating running electricity to it, but I don't know if she did.
I think it'd be fun to experiment growing things in a heated greenhouse.
She could use heat lamps in her greenhouse. We used them in the hog farrowing house to keep the sow and her piglets warm. (I had a hard time finding how to spell 'farrowing.' I pronounce it as 'fair-in.' That's the way I'd always heard it said, so ...)
I had a hard time finding how to spell 'farrowing.' I pronounce it as 'fair-in.' That's the way I'd always heard it said, so ...
And I had to look up "farrow" because I've never heard it said!
We didn't have much luck with the cucamelons. I think I probably sowed them too late, they took a long time to grow and bear fruit.
Sorry about your cucamelon luck - it's too bad; they sounded interesting. That's another reason, I'd like a greenhouse - there are some vegetables I'd like to try that require a longer growing season than we have; a greenhouse would extend the send long enough to try some new things!
It might be a good thing that you didn't have much success with the cucamelons, Moonglum. I stumbled across a gardening personal essay written by one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver ("The Bean Trees", "Pigs in Heaven", "The Poisonwood Bible"). Oh! The horrors of a too successful squash growing endeavor!
Twenty-three and counting! I've almost got all my pots done - all the big ones are finished at least!!! A major achievement in my book. Looking at all those annuals, herbs, and a few perennials I'd purchased that were still waiting for more permanent accommodations than the small pots they came in, was hanging over my head.
I was out potting last night until 10pm, when it grew too dark, with too many mosquitoes, and too little potting mix left to finish.
Now only if I can refrain from bringing any more flowers when I buy more soil. I've still got a shed full of pots that I can fill.
Congratulations on getting your potting chores nearly completed. I confess to being extra lazy, or distracted, but either way what I did was get six of the larger sized tree pots and loaded them up with Miracle-Gro garden soil. Then I started six mini pots with tomato seeds which all sprouted nicely - too nicely because now I'm going to have to thin some of them out. Even transplanted into the big pots I have too many plants. That's all I did though, tomatoes. I didn't even get to my red pepper plants and that was part of the original plan too.
Sometimes it happens. So you won't have peppers, but I hope you get lots of nice, juicy homegrown tomatoes!
We've got too many tomato plants too. Or I should say, we've got too many tomato plants for too small of a space. I picked my stash of plants out early, right when they came into the nursery because the varieties I wanted sell out fast - two Better Boy, one Sweet 100 cherry, one black cherry (sweetest cherry tomato ever!), a Kellogg's Breakfast (yellow beefsteak heirloom), Black Krim (purple beefsteak heirloom), and German Johnson (huge heirloom). It was waay to cold to put them in the ground at the time, so I put them in the sold area in the greenhouse at work for safe keeping. In the meantime, Hubs planted potatoes, and got a little overzealous doing it, taking up about half the space that should have been reserved for the tomato plants.
We've also planted cucumbers and green beans, and this year with the cold weather, the lettuce bed is gorgeous!
I got the rest of my pots planted this weekend...sort of. I needed more soil to finish - I like to mix a bagged potting soil (I prefer Baccto over a Miracle-Gro type mix) and our "barn dirt" at work, which is a specially formulated compost/soil mixture that we use to pot perennials, shrubs, and trees (we call it barn dirt because there's a gigantic pile of it in the barn, where the crews do the potting). I add Soil Moist, and a slow-release fertilizer. It just makes for a heavier soil that lasts through the season rather than something that gets that styrofoam-type texture that potting soil sometimes gets when the roots fill the pots and the nutrients drain out. Anyway....I mixed up a wheelbarrow full, and dang it, after I potted what I had left to pot, I've got about half a wheelbarrow left. Goodness knows I've got enough pots to use it up; a shed-full of them! But no plants to put in them! Hhmmm....
Ok. It is (past) time to get going in earnest. The weather doesn't look too unpromising - a possible morning shower and the mosquitoes are horrendous, but the thunderstorms are supposed to hold off until this afternoon. I've already pulled piles of weeds this morning while walking around with my morning coffee surveying the yard, but that doesn't even begin to put a dent in all there is to do.
"In a time of recent weeds, mosquitoes, and Hubs, a garden in turmoil cried out for a hero. She was Phalon, a mighty gardener forged in the heat and humidity. The trowel...the pruners...the dirty fingernails. Her determination will change the landscape."
That's what I keep telling myself anyway, especially on those days when I come home from work and find Hubs has been "helping" in the gardens, which without fail involves using a weed-eater with abandon. Grrr.
I look at my shredded plants and sabotaging his weed-eater comes to mind as being most "helpful"; like exchanging the line strong enough to reel in a Great White shark with something like crepe paper that can do little damage. Who the hell uses a weed-eater in a garden?!
Then he goes and does something sweet like picking little bouquets and even arranging them in cute little vases, waiting for me on the kitchen table when I get home from work! Of course, most of what's in the bouquets are the remnants of plants he and his Weed-Eater of Destruction have mangled, but still....it's sweet.
You're right....though HA!, it'd be nice if the thought wasn't "if I give her this pretty thing maybe she won't notice I've destroyed that pretty thing"!
The Boyfriend noticed yesterday that our asparagus fronds, which are over six feet tall now, have little wormy things all over them near the tops of the plants (which is probably why the Boyfriend saw them - he's over six feet tall; us shorties probably wouldn't have ever noticed). I've never seen them before, so I drilled - they are asparagus beetle larva, and though eating the fronds are no big deal since the spears have long been done being harvested, apparently the next generation pupates in the soil, and attacks the spears the following spring.
Never-mind all the plants Hubs and his Weedeater have destroyed - my plants. OH-MY-GOD, we now have a full-blown CRISIS (according to Hubs, who is in charge of the vegetable gardens). Pfft. I'll just mix up some soapy water and spray them.
Wishing all my gardening dilemmas were so easily handled...hopefully handled.
I dunno - I got busy with other things and forgot to go back to check if the wormies were still squirmy.
It seems to be the season for wormy things. Hubs found teeny-tiny little worms on the grape vine yesterday, eating the leaves. Not sure what they are, or if they're just leaf-eaters or if they'll move on to the grape clusters that are just starting to form.
At least a few welcomed wormies are in the garden. The butterfly weed (a milkweed) and the swamp milkweed have Monarch caterpillars - I found five small ones yesterday. I put one, along with plenty of milkweed, in a jar with a fine mesh rubber-banded on the top for Xena-Sis's young grandson to watch hopefully grow, turn into a chrysalis, and emerge as a butterfly. It just might be the only one that lives. There is a family of very hungry and very loud wrens in the wren house; the other day I watched the continuous feeding of the babies as both parents flew back and forth through the gardens getting insects for them. I spotted a huge Monarch caterpillar on the milkweed last week; it was the size they normally start changing into a chrysalis. Not five minutes after finding it, the wren found it. It happens every year - I have Monarch caterpillars, I have a family of wrens, and then I have no caterpillars.
Seventeen Monarch caterpillars this morning on my small milkweed patch - and that's only the ones up near the top of the plants; I didn't do much searching. Surely, the wrens can't eat that many!
Over-haul of the gardens has pretty much come to a screeching halt. Since it got hot and with the lack of rain, it's pretty much been a cycle of watering just enough to cool things down enough that all the moisture in leaves doesn't transpire in this heat.
There is actually a sort of "shelter" for Monarch caterpillars around here. There's a woman who's been monitoring our milkweed patch at the nursery; this is her third (and last) year doing it (three years gives the entomologists studying the Monarch a representation of the health of the species in a particular area). She takes a number of caterpillars each week in sterile jars, usually those in their last stage before turning into a chrysalis, to another woman who studies the species in West Michigan, and apparently has 100s of such jars lining shelves at any given time. She keeps track of how many have the OE virus and how many are parasitized (both are fatal to Monarchs, and in recent years have contributed greatly to the Monarch population decline). I could, if I chose, take my caterpillars to give to the woman who comes to the nursery.
Or raise them myself in jars.
It's not something I want to do. I'm not an entomologist, and the little garden is so busy with spiders, praying mantis, bees, the wrens, and other birds that feed off the Monarchs, that I feel like I'd be interrupting nature by doing so.
Unfortunately, there are also tachnid flies out there - they are the ones that parasitize the caterpillars by laying their eggs in the caterpillar, and then the larva eats the caterpillar from the inside. I found two caterpillars deflated within the last week, and both chrysalis I saw had white threads coming from them - the telltale sign the larva has left the developing Monarch. But it is the cycle of life.
... most of what's in the bouquets are the remnants of plants he and his Weed-Eater of Destruction...
Who? Well, if what I saw in the garden was kale, I would use man tools to help you out with maintenance. Especially if you picked out the man tool for me as a present at some point in time. (That shows appreciation for your thoughtfulness!) And yes I'd make a pretty table decoration out of the remains if it was possible. The man message is quite clear - I love you lots, but not the crud I weed whacked. I was careful with what I like - just not so careful with stuff I don't really like and wish you'd plant more of what I do actually like. Just saying.
My tomatoes are tall enough to thin out. I don't really want to do this but I know it's necessary. Unfortunately, they're all too small and delicate for the Weed-Eater of Destruction so I'll have to do this by hand, or scissors. I prefer power tools when possible, ya know?
We've been doing some gardening, but it's really been too hot, 26C today. It's supposed to be up in the 30's next week. I've delegated the gardening to youngest daughter and partner (they are younger and stronger). I've had 'important things' to do in the workshop!!
Well, if what I saw in the garden was kale, I would use man tools to help you out with maintenance. Especially if you picked out the man tool for me as a present at some point in time. (That shows appreciation for your thoughtfulness!) And yes I'd make a pretty table decoration out of the remains if it was possible. The man message is quite clear - I love you lots, but not the crud I weed whacked. I was careful with what I like - just not so careful with stuff I don't really like and wish you'd plant more of what I do actually like. Just saying.
Pfft, pfft, pfft! I could almost understand that, if it was kale he was whacking - he likes it well enough, but it's not his favorite. The vegetable gardens though, are his babies, and he fawns over them like a parent would a helpless newborn. It's my gardens that get the Weed Whacker of Destruction treatment! It drives me nuts.
We are starting to get our first tomatoes - some 'Sweet 100s' and some black cherries, and a couple of big beefy 'Better Boys' - the latter of which, I bought some bacon, and good bread to accompany at the dinner table. The lettuce bed is still kicking @ss, and BLTs are on order this week!