Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Early October

The daytime temps finally took a turn a week ago. It had just been too hot for too long. The days are now in the 70s and nights in the 60s. We've plenty of rain, the skeeters are still abundant and the fall peepers are peeping. The almanac says we will have a warm October, perhaps a late frost, but I don't want to pretend it isn't coming. I need to start pack-ratting it all away.
Today I began taking cuttings. A few big leaf hydrangea cuttings I made this summer did very well, so I've decided to try some semi-hardwood cuttings from the native Hydrangea arborescens.
I haven't decided where I will overwinter these- indoors or in the coldframe nursery. I'll have to do some research. I can't recall how many years ago I first bought this Alabama Sunset Coleus, but I've been taking annual cuttings from it for years. It's my favorite coleus. It is such a different looking plant in full sun. 

These cuttings are just placed in plain water for the winter. 
Occasionally, I change the water, but that's it. Doesn't get easier than that.

New Bed/New attempt
I've been wanting to redo the strawberry beds and the time finally came. I didn't know there was such a thing as fall planted strawberries, but the reviews were better than spring planting so I thought I'd give it a go. Finding fall plants isn't as easy as spring ones, but they are suppose to produce more than spring planted and have better health due to less bugs and disease over winter. I ordered two varieties from Indiana Berry and they arrived in the mail THE VERY NEXT DAY! Holy cow, I wasn't ready so I had to store the bare roots a few days in the fridge while I built and compost loaded the beds. 

Every single plant has leafed out. I'm already impressed!
Below: The new beds made from Cedar fenceposts.
And planted between the rows of strawberries are another first: 
Fall blooming Crocuses including Saffron Crocus! 

Natives in Bloom
Gray Goldenrod Solidago nemoralis

 Aromatic Aster Symphtricum oblongifolium

 Hackberry berries and a Question Mark Butterfly

Went to the Native Plant Sale at Schlafly Bottleworks 
last weekend and got some more and new natives, including:
Wild Oregano, Fame Flower, Pussytoes, Sedum, P. Poppy Mallow,
Common Milkweeds (for the prairie), a Phlox and more

A new (first) Sassafras
Sean got some Paw Paws, Elderberry & Serviceberry for
his folk's place.

Do again/successes to repeat next year: Impatiens
I was happy with each of these, although we did get a lot of rain this summer and it helped that I hardly watered them. Next time use all light pink in these as it shows best in the shade.

White bread flour mixed with 7 grain hot cereal
Very good
 Roasted cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes, potatoes
and garbanzo bean pilaf
 Veg fajitas
 Chicken of the Woods in a cream sauce over polenta
and a pepper potato soup

Basement Foodstuff
The winter greens have begun. Seeded more yesterday- cilantro, frilly mustard, lettuce mix, dwarf siberian kale.

Hoophouse update: Seedlings are coming up- kales and frilly mustard. Leeks returning. 
Orchard raised beds: lots of seedlings of greens coming up in these. I've also been working on the new house for the old ladies. I think they will be safer and warmer in a new house, plus I want to work on the woodland garden and be chicken-free in that area. 

Chuy Sanchez says
The End.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

August Hate- An Annual Tradition

I've noticed a theme developing. I hate my garden come late August. I looked back to last year's August post and I have the very same thoughts today. Synopsis: the garden was fine and then we got a lot of rain and the weeds and mosquitoes took over and I don't want to be in it. (3rd wettest July in recorded history btw)

I wore long pants, a flannel shirt with collar up and clogs to do a wee bit of gardening in this morning and still got swarmed in the face. I asked the hubs if I could borrow his bee veil yesterday. He asked why- to garden in, of course. This is a note to you, dear Laura, to lower your expectations of August. In fact, have none.
All this being said, the maters, peppers and eggplant are still producing, but the smartweed is smarter than I and conquers my world.

So, when August hell comes I turn to garden indoors. I have to get excited about something and that something is going to be Fall & Winter gardening. Each year I think I become more in love with Winter gardening. There are no weeds and no bugs and a lot fewer other yard chores to distract me. It's just simple. However, everything grows at a much slower pace, but the veggies are much sweeter. Trade-offs.

I need to keep better notes on when I start seeds for fall/winter plants. I thought I wrote something down when I started the first ones for this year, but now I can't seem to find the date. I believe it was the last week in July or first week in August. Regardless, the first flats have moved outside and under bug cloth.

From R to L: Bunching Onions, Nero Kale, Bright Lights Chard, 
Frilly Mustard (my fav), a lettuce mix and more frilly mustard. 

I started another couple of flats last night and ran out of potting mix. Ran to the store. Then I decided to do some more indoor-garden greens, as I remember having success with them in year's past. I used some old containers, fresh potting mix. The three below are: 2 lettuce mixes and 1 Siberian Dwarf Kale. Want to fill this entire shelf with fresh winter indoor greens.

Indoor winter green beds started today
Outdoor Prep
The spring/summer beds in the orchard were pretty much done. The perpetual chard had gone to seed, the kale had been eaten back to nubs, the ruby orach (don't grow again-same as Lamb's Quarter) seeded, so I weeded what needed and opened the bird netting to let the chickens do the rest of the work, which they got to scratching in no time. The free garden prep is nice considering the skeeter hell. I believe I have about 48 square feet to fill in orchard beds. The Minutina/ Erba Stella (a perennial, info here) has grown well all summer and now the leaves are a bit hairy, so I've decided to not eat it until winter. I tried it this summer and it was ok. Hoping it will sweeten with lowering temps. There is also some very small Good King Henry (also a perennial green) that made it under the shade of the Ruby Orach and 4 alpine strawberries in one bed. The soil needs to be raised a bit and then I will plant transplants in all of the beds once they are ready and the bugs and heat have subsided. Ideally I would like each of these beds to hold some perennial food that the chickens and I can enjoy. 

Garden inspired food stuff
Spinach, caramelized onion, brie
and roasted tom, basil, brie pizzas

 Chinese Eggplant, Frying Pepper and Tofu stir fry.
 Tomato, Red Onion, Olive, Mint over Polenta cubes
 Left: Roasted beans over polenta cubes

Putting Up or By
I haven't canned anything yet. Only froze a couple of bags of maters. Bought a dozen ears of corn from the local farm yesterday. Froze 6 ears. Peaches in at the farm- fresh eating only.
I really need to get on canning some tomatoes and freezing eggplant before things get away from me. Oh, and clean out the freezer from last year's put ups. 

Loathing and embracing August hell. Happy Gardening, L

Sunday, July 24, 2016

New Path

Years of lusting over cottage garden gravel paths finally came to an end. Well, I'm sure I will still gawk, now I can at my own. While it isn't complete, phase 2 is done. Done for now because it is pumpkin season and they have grown large over the next area to be graveled.

With permission from the local granite countertop company I was able to score waste pieces from their dump pile to create a stepping stone effect. I flipped the granite upside down, even though it is less showy due to not being polished, but it is also less slippery.  I've seen many pictures of people who have made paths with waste granite, but kept them shiny side up and I think this is a huge mistake. That stuff is super slick. Who wants to walk gingerly staring at each step to make sure they don't fall when there is so much eye candy around to look at? So, here it is.

The path turns right onto phase 1, which borders my newest bed. This year that bed has a mix of perennials (mostly native) and annuals (mostly zinnias, salvias, tithonia).
 The rusty blue chair is one of my new coffee or beer
enjoying places. So many bugs, butterflies and hummingbirds
are enjoying this new bed. This morning it was already
so sticky to sit and enjoy hot coffee it motivated me to blog instead.
 To the left the path takes you into the gated and fenced in 
orchard/chicken and bee yard. 
The gravel is 3/8 inch chip. It was $20 per scoop (truck load)
and the entire path so far has required 3 scoops, so I feel this is
a pretty reasonable price for a mostly permanent surface. It's cheaper than
mulch. It will reduce weeding/mowing, while allowing for water to penetrate 
and bonus- the cats seem to really like laying on it. I'm happy with it. 

Food Stuff
Summer veg coming in. Had my first decent harvest of tomatoes. They seem a wee late, but the plants are loaded so there is lots to come. 
 Blue cheese, parmesan, parsley, mint, white wine vinegar,
olive oil, S & P. YUM. 

Pistachio Pesto pasta- parsley, mint, romano cheese, pistachios
Very good. 

Feta pesto- basil, garlic, feta
with pan seared eggplant steaks
Oh, yum.

This past week was pretty nasty with temps in the mid to upper 90s on most days. Before that we only had one other really hot week so I'd say this has been a relatively nice summer. Next week looks like more days in the upper 80s. We had a 3 week dry spell in June, but otherwise have had adequate and periodical rain. Last Wednesday, July 13th we had a crazy wind that took the power away from a lot of the area, including my workplace. Lots of trees and branches came down, including a 40-something year old Pin Oak, planted by my uncle, at the park down the street. Sad. 

In the basement I've already started a few fall things- kale, mustard, lettuces, chard because I've felt like I was often behind on them in years past. Hopefully they will survive my vacation away. 

That's all I got. ; ) Happy Gardening. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Quiet Riot. First Day of Summer.

Quiet Riot is today's name for my garden/yard.

I'm going to start with this pic for a couple of reasons. I found that terracotta dove of peace medallion whilst thrift shopping this week and I bought it to remind me of the victims of the latest mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando where 49 were killed. It will be my reminder to be kinder. The placement is purposeful as well. It's at my front door (for viewing) and it's in a wooden box that once carried a weapon. 

 The New Native bed is essentially all planted for this season and has begun to bloom. It is still missing the Pale Purple Coneflower after being sent Purple Coneflower, but bareroots will be sent this fall and I filled in with annuals to make up for space/color while the perennials grow.
 One of the first in flower is this variety of coneflower, probably Cheyenne Spirit, which
comes in varying shades of orange and yellow. I like that I didn't
know what color I was getting and this one is a real surprise!
 Also starting to bloom is the first of 3 species of Liatris.
This is Liatris spicata.
 Just outside of the new bed is this riot of pots of annuals
in varying stages of bloom and death. 

 Orchard & Chicken yard
This coop is now a year old and holding well. The attachment to the right was built on this spring for Mattilda, the mother clucker. The black snake is a drain running from the down spout to the rain garden, which is enclosed in chicken wire (chicken proof) on the bottom right of the pic. The rain garden contains native species which I hope will bloom this year, being their second. The plum tree is loaded and the apple is dropping. The red and yellow raspberries have begun to fruit and it looks like the new Figs will even produce in their first year in the orchard. In the 3 pots below the window of the coop are a new variety of blueberry that are suppose to fruit twice, although there have been no blooms yet. It's still year one and it is in some shade.

New Pruning Technique: I just did my first summer prune based on the "Grow A Little Fruit Tree" method. You prune in late winter and again near the summer solstice. Below are 2 pics of the peach tree after solstice pruning.
 Notice the open nature of the center of the tree and
the foliage has been heavily whacked back to an outward 
facing bud. I still feel nervous when making big cuts, but
the professionals say - when in doubt, prune away.


 West gate. House Wren family with squeaky babies
in this house. 
 Still have a few things in the nursery (below).
 Black Raspberries are finishing. This was the 3rd year for this
new bed and it did very well.
 Scapes have formed on the garlic. I collected 
a couple, smashed and put in my 
first jar of the season of crock pickles.
This is a new pickle technique for me and so far
I'm really digging it. 

 More Quiet Riot

Sour gherkins at the back porch.
Rain barrel on the left. 

Back porch riot.
 Figs forming on the back porch
potted fig.

Food Stuff
Soaking Lamb's Quarter for Saag Tofu tonight.

Broccoli salad (from Scharf's), blue potato salad (from
Soulard market) and Pepper Broth. 
 Chickpea fritters, a cabbage slaw and roasted
red bell pepper salad shoved in a pita. 
Still using last year's maters. 
Going in tonight's Saag. 

Harvests Burgundy beans and cucumbers coming in. I have 1 pickable zucchini. 

Happy First Day of Summer.