Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July Everyone!

We have had some heat in my parts of late, and things are finally starting to grow and ripen.  Cucumbers and zucchini are coming out of the garden at a steady pace this week.  Tomatoes are coming along nicely.....the anticipation of a sun-warmed garden tomato is growing by the day!

I am diggin' these Baby Persian Cukes ("Green Fingers"), growing on a small A-frame trellis, so far they are behaving and staying within their designated area.

Another new variety in the garden this year is a crinkly leaved basil.  The flavor is more mild than your standard sweet basil making it wonderful to put on just about anything, especially a grilled cheese or ham sandwich.  YUM!  (There is also Thai, Pistou, and Sweet Basil out in the garden to keep it company.)

Salad Leaf Basil from Renee's Garden

I am ready to start digging for new potatoes any day now, not sure if I will find anything worth robbing though.  Raspberries will be next harvest list, can't wait.  HAPPY GARDENING!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Whoopsy, seems as though I have been neglecting the garden blog again.  Not good for record keeping purposes!  Truthfully it has been quite rainy in these parts and until this past weekend I had not been out there much.  It has been an interesting season so far. This year the tomatoes are separated into three beds- no "tomato alley".  Asparagus beetles have been wicked this year, along with the caterpillars that de-foliated the beach plums, apples, and low-bush blueberries to the point that there will be no fruit production.  It was an abnormally bad spring for insects in my yard.  My theory is that with the warmer than normal weather we experienced early in the season the asparagus beetle larva emerged earlier than normal, so last years fronds were still in the asparagus bed (rather than in the woods) when the bugs came a  calling.  I have been cutting and bagging spears in an effort to reduce next year's population, though doing so will also decrease next year's spear production.  Small price to pay if I can stop the beetle cycle going forth.  Here is an arial view of the garden, much greener than the last time I took one back in April:

Excuse the toys and mess in the garden, I ran to take a photo before it did not happen, so stuff is everywhere.  Today I put in some peppers, eggplant, and summer squash seedlings.  My beloved Magda would not germinate for me, and something got to the stem of my Sungold plant, so I went to the nursery and picked up some Eight Ball squash and Sun Sugar tomato to try instead.  I also stocked up on herbs I did not start from seed and threw in a pimento pepper for good luck.  This year I finally got it together and tried to house *most* of the herbs in one bed:

The basil overflow is stuck amongst the tomatoes (salad leaf, sweet, pistou, and thai).  In the herb bed I have thyme, lemon thyme, orange thyme, sage, oregano, chives, garlic chives, bulbing fennel, lavender, rosemary, basil, summer savory, parcel, cilantro and alpine strawberries.  YUM- lots of great flavors to be had in there!

I did something else that has been on my wish list for years as well, which was to use wire fencing to make an A-frame trellis for the cukes:

I find cukes in my garden want to spread out more than up, so I am curious to see if this will be a good system (the trellis is taller than it appears in the photo); the variety is Persian Baby, a first-timer for us.

As an experiemnt I put strawberries on the perimeter of one bed tomatoes were going into.  So far it has worked quite well though I am curious to see if the berries become unhappy later in the season when tomatoes are shading them out.  At least fruit production will be done by then as they are june-bearing varieties:

Blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries are flowering like mad which is fabulous.  A few tomatoes and pepper plants are beginning to blossom so things will be coming along in no time.  Mostly we have been harvesting pea greens, strawberries, herbs, and asparagus (before the beetles began munching).


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Live! Red-tailed Hawk Nest at Cornell University

Live! Red-tailed Hawk Nest at Cornell University - should be two chicks by the morning if anyone is interested.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gardening Marathon

We put in a solid 18 hours in the yard this weekend.  Transplanting shrubs, mulching beds, weeding, fertilizing, and planting.  The garden is finally recognizable again now that the weeds are dwindling in numbers.

Those blue things are grow bags for peppers and eggplant.

This is the new blueberry bed, 14 lowbush and 4 low-high crosses are in there. 
 I left a few feet on one end for the musk strawberries when they arrive.  The lowbush blueberries are not the 2 year old transplants they are supposed to be, so since they are barely visible the company sent 18 instead of ten.  I was not planning on this number, and it will now be years before they supply any type of decent harvest so that was a disappointment.  I had to put sticks is so we know where their rows are in the bed- they are that small.

I decided to lay out the tomato cages, then stick a plant marker in to mark the plant's spot while fine tuning the garden layout today.
  Going to try growing strawberries as ground cover in one of the tomato beds for kicks.  At the very least it will serve as a source for new plants via runners.

Until this week I had herbs scattered around the entirety of the garden.  I finally dug them up and put them in one place.  This is a lousy picture, I manages to not even capture the entire bed.....there is room to put in basil, cilantro, and parsley when the time is right.  The bed currently houses lavender, rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme, fennel, chives, and garlic chives.

The chipmunk damage in all of our planting beds is extensive, they ate 80% of our hostas amongst other things.  I fear the vegetable garden may be doomed again this year as the little buggers are still everywhere, it seems the mild winter did nothing to bring their population back down to 'normal'.

  • Sowed (2) Fairytale Eggplant, and (1) Little Prince Eggplant.
  • Sowed one each of Magda and Romanesco Squash.
  • Sowed (3) Baby Cukes.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

Building track in our pajamas.....

Egg hunt time.....

The irony of a child pouting because he can not find an egg (look above his head).

All found!


Saturday, April 7, 2012


It really is beginning to look like spring- the fig is fruiting, daffodils are blooming, and asparagus spears are rising from the earth.
CLAYTONIA- almost ready for cutting.

  • Sowed Salad Leaf and Pistou Basil.
  • Sowed Lacinato and Tronchuda Beira Kale

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Live Bird Cams

These are certainly worth checking out, if you hit it right you can catch a view of the eggs and some Mom and Dad activity:

Live! Red-tailed Hawk Nest at Cornell University

Live! Great Blue Heron Nest at Cornell Lab of Ornithology  ** I should add that the Mama Heron is expected to possibly lay her 4th egg around 6 p.m. EDT this evening.  Very cool stuff!**

Saturday, March 31, 2012

March Garden Notes

  1. Transplanted Curly Vates Kale and Duo Scallions into the hoop house today.
  2. Peas are coming up nicely.
  3. Garden apple trees are budding.
  4. Potted up fennel seedlings into cow pots.
  5. Weeds are taking over the garden beds.  Thanks mild winter.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2nd post of the day....

Today's earlier post on specialty strawberries is below, the day has been all about the garden I guess.

Peppers sown:
(2) Baby Belle (for containers)
(2) Spanish Padron
(2) Corno di Toro
(2) Pizza (for containers)
Tam Jalapeño

Tomatoes thinned, potted up into Cow Pots, and given a fish feed:

We have a quite a cold snap coming tomorrow night, at least in relation to the recent day and night temperatures.  I will be plugging in the soil warmer and covering the smaller fruit trees and bushes  and garlic with burlap or row cover.  Lets hope the weather folks are wrong and we stay in the low 30's......the trees could sure use a gentler forecast!

(Edit: I decided to go out and cut some blooms before they are knocked off by the rain and cold.)


We love fruit at our house, and strawberries & blueberries are at the top of the list. My daughter and I especially love the little alpine strawberries that pump out fruit all summer long, so there were plans to expand our little patch this year.  My first seed sowing was strewn across the floor by a troublesome feline, but no worries, a replacement batch is in the works.

While waiting at the vet yesterday I read an article on alpine strawberries, and it said a family of four should have 26 plants or so if I remember correctly.  Yikes.  I only have 3 out there now, with 8 more in the seed tray.   Seems as though my plans are falling short.  Nothing that can not be fixed with a few mouse clicks though- looky what we have coming soon.....

From The Strawberry Store:

Regina (2)
Alexandria (2)
Pineapple Crush (4)
Reine des Vallees (2)
Deese des Vallees (2)

Profumata di Tortona (2)
Capron (2)
Male (2)

I have always wanted to try musk strawberries, I hope we like them as much as the alpine.  This order should put us at the recommended capacity once my seedlings are in full production next year.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

In the Garden

  • Sowed peas.
  • Pruned blackberries (should have been done after fruit ripened); 2nd year canes trimmed and tied to trellis.
  • Rosemary overwintered with minor damage under row cover.
  • Apple trees appear to be doing okay.
  • Pruned raspberries that were not done in fall.
**To do: plug in soil warming cable; sow kale and chard; prepare blueberry bed & apple tree sites.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Latest Additions...

The fella on top is Domino, but we call him "The Dom".  Turns out he has ringworm so we are now dealing with that loveliness, just what my household needed after nursing a sick kitten for 2 months, and then sanitizing from top to bottom after he was euthanized.  What next?  (Dare I ask!?!?)  He is the cat my children picked, and he is a love bug that prefers to move as little as possible.  Just below is Seamus, and he is my handsome lad.  Fresh, frisky, and attention seeking- quite a character he is!  Contagious funguses aside, we are very happy with our new additions.

Monday, March 5, 2012

This and That.

Trial run with the lights, everything is in working order.

Scallions, kale, and fennel; soil blockers rock.

Tomatoes are labeled with toothpick flags, the remaining blocks are lavender.

The fig tree in the basement has decided spring is here.

The lemons are growing and blooming- I just can not get enough of that heavenly scent!

Lazy Sunday by the fire.  It's a dog's life.

New kitties coming home this week, Bob was put down 2 weeks ago.  We miss him so!

Rest in peace Bob-Cat.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Seed Sowing List

The shelf lights have gone up, and seeds are being pulled for sowing....on today's list:

  • KALE- Blue Curled Vates
  • TOMATOES- Juliet, Sun Gold, Matt's Wild Cherry, Ella's Pink Plum, Mountain Magic, Black Krim, and Chianti Rose
  • SCALLIONS- Delicious Duo
  • LAVENDER- French Perfume

Monday, February 27, 2012

Greens Update

The micro-green project has turned into a salad greens project.  I have lost count of how many times I have cut these mixes.  They just keep on growing, and growing, and growing.....just a fish feed every couple of weeks has been all that is needed.


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Late Blight Chatter

I have been reading some interesting thoughts on the coming gardening season, and many folks are thinking 2012 has the potential to be similar to 2009 in regards to late blight infection on the East Coast.  There are some varieties that show moderate to excellent resistance.  I have been keeping a short list of varieties that are reported to perform best under the blight umbrella:

  • Plum Regal
  • Magic Mountain
  • Defiant
  • Matt's Wild Cherry
  • Yellow Pear
  • Black Krim
I may be changing my tomato list based on these predictions for 2012.  I did order Mountain Magic seeds from Johnny's, as well as some liquid copper.  This application alternated with Serenade seems to offer the best protection against late blight.  As for the disease itself it is actually a water mold.  Look for brown, water soaked looking areas on stems and leaves starting on the newer growth.  Eventually the white fuzzies appear on the undersides of leaves, and the fruit can become blemished as well.  It is said the fruit appears to be rotten but will actually be firm to the touch, which is not the case with other diseases.  I have had late blight on my tomatoes on more than one occasion so I am planning on being proactive this year (the photos shown on this post are from my garden in 2009).  Anyone else have thoughts or a plan of attack for this year if blight is back in town?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Life. Love. Loss.

This is not a gardening post, but as I went to post about seed starting this morning it just felt forced.  My heart is heavy today, and this is why:

As a family that does not subscribe to a cable TV service we are always a bit behind the times.  Last night we were catching up on the Discovery series Storm Chasers and we came upon the episode that was dedicated to the passing of a chaser.  I was upset to learn of his passing and immediately jumped out of bed and ran to the internet to learn what had happened.  I am thinking car crash, freak accident, underlying medical condition.....and then my heart sunk further into sadness than it already was.  This man attempted to take his life, and ultimately it ended his life.  I was thoroughly shaken by this news.  I was up all night, my mind racing with questions and anger, and sadness for all of those in that dark place.  You see, a member of my family attempted suicide very recently, and thank God they were discovered before life was lost.  But this has changed all of us forever.  I will never stop fearing another attempt lies in tomorrow.   I will never stop being in awe that this person hated life so much that they decided to stop living it.  People with addictions, depression, and such things expend a lot of energy in deceit.  People are good at pretending.  What we see projected is often not what people are filled with on the inside, and that is what makes me sad.  Maybe if more people felt true unconditional love for themselves and from others they would have the courage to share their pain with those that surround them.  Let your loved ones know you love them no matter what, and hope they know it in their core, because in a moment of bleakness it may be the only thing that saves them when they have no love left for themselves.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Treats for Our Furry Friends

And now we wait.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The growing station is doing well.  The micro-greens have fed the bunny and found themselves on my eggs in the morning.  Aren't they just gorgeous?!?  Tonight I may even put together a micro-salad with dinner.  And speaking of salad, the lettuce mix is coming along nicely as well, a couple more weeks and it should be ready to harvest.  My sample seeds to grow and review arrived yesterday from Renee's Garden:

I am looking forward to growing these out and keeping track of their progress here on the blog.  I am most excited about the Tronchuda Beira Kale (a blog article here on using this kale for some authentic portuguese soup, and Cat Treats Gourmet Mixed Greens.  Our cat has shown some improvement over the last few days and we really hope he pulls through and gets to sample these treats!!  (I know a bunny and three dogs that will also be partaking in the treat sampling.)


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

When the snow finally flew.....

It wasn't much, but the kids did what they could.  They managed one run each on the sled, and this miniature snowman before the rain washed all the white stuff away.

Monday, January 16, 2012

2012 Seed List & Garden Changes

I am a 'variety is the spice the life' kind of gal, so that being said there are some new things coming our way this year in the garden.  Mainly we will be adding 10 more lowbush blueberries since they are just divine, and 3 more smaller highbush varieties that won't get much past three or four feet tall to our yard.  The berry bushes will be planted along the outside border of the garden now that the dogs are no longer roaming that area.

The strawberry line-up will be updated as well with an everbearing variety (Seascape) being grown.   I am curious to compare flavor to that of my favorite Honeoyes.

Seed List:  (sourced from Renee's Garden unless otherwise noted)

Greens mixes, too many to list; 
some are cut-n-come, some for braising or stir-fying; some sweet, and some spicy!
Caesar Duo
Portuguese Kale
Lacinato Kale
Russian Kale (Johnny's)
Bright Lights Chard (Johnny's)
Baby Pixie Cabbage
Claytonia (Fedco)

Pontaic Red Potato,
LaRatte Fingerling Potato,
& Purple Viking Potato (ME Potato Lady)
Baby Belle Peppers
Pizza My Heart Pepper
Corno di Toro Pepper
Spanish Padron Pepper
Tam Jalapeno Pepper (Baker Creek)
Carmen Pepper (Johnny's)
Fairytale Eggplant (Johnny's)
Little Prince Eggplant
Chianti Rose Tomato
Amish Paste Tomato (SSE)
Sungold Cherry (Johnny's)
Black Krim Tomato (Mariania's)
Ella's Pink Plum Tomato (Diane's)

Green Fingers Baby Persian Cukes
Spanish Musica Beans
Dragon's Tongue Beans (Baker Creek)
Magda Summer Squash (Johnny's)
Trieste Bulbing Fennel

That about covers it.  I have been immersing myself in garden planning to distract my weary heart from the new diagnosis of our precious kitty-cat Bob.  He is not well, and it looks as though he has FIP, which is a fatal disease for which there is no treatment.  He is fading on us a little bit each day and it is so hard to watch.  He and my kids had such a special bond from the beginning, I just hate that this is happening.  It was not that long ago we watched our dog Travis fall ill, I am not ready to again make the decision of when to take another animals life and stop their suffering.  So in the midst of my grief I obsess over seeds and bed composition, and do lots of yoga.  Lots.  (I even was out changing the configuration of a bed the other day,  laying down burlap where the blueberries will go, shifting cobblestones to their new place in twenty degree weather).  Physical work clears the mind I guess.

I will leave you with a picture that sums up how much we will miss this creature that has been with us for such a short time, sweet Bob laying on Ella's legs while they watch a show on the iPad.  This was taken last week, before we knew he was so ill.

Happy Gardening.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Growing Greens

Grow light system arrived today, and it was perfect timing.....the seeds have sprouted and are reaching for the sky.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Garden Plans

Though the garden does not look like this now, I have found a photo of the beds when planted- but not in full swing- to be the most helpful when planning for the next season's layout.  This photo was taken in May of last year before things became unruly, and I can tell for the most part what is growing where, and how much space it was allowed.  This is my mock up for this year's plotting:

Some changes are happening this year.  First, we invested in a CSA (full share).  Second, due to this share we are adding more fruit to the garden since that will be the one thing that won't be included in our weekly bounty.  The devastation caused by hungry rodents late last summer and through the fall is the main reason for the CSA.  I want back-up if my garden gets mowed again.  The other reason is that my kids and I just plain love the produce this farm puts out, and we certainly could use more veggies in our lives.  The farmer is very focused on nutrient density, and you can taste the difference.  This takes some pressure off my garden, and we can have fun trying some new veggie varieties and focus on increasing fruit production.......coming our way are 10 more lowbush blueberries, seascape strawberries, and another Liberty Apple on Bud 9 in the event we lose the tree that was just damaged by rodents.  I really hope our poor tree makes it.   It has a few years under it's belt, and starting from scratch would mean we lose fruit from it, and likely from it's apple buddy E. Spitzenburg as they bloom together for pollination.

I fell in love with the greens mixes from Renee's Garden last year, and so I went a bit overboard and decided to try doing just about the whole garden from her seed catalog.  I am hanging on to a few favorites from the past like Sungold & Ella's Pink Plum Tomatoes, Carmen Peppers, and Bright Lights Chard.  But other than that the garden will be full of new and unusual varieties of peppers, squash, greens, and cukes.  Fun, right?

Seed list and micro-green set-up coming soon.  :)