Sunday, November 11, 2012

The End?

The last 3 days were in the 60's & 70's. A front moved in bringing rain as I type. Temps are suppose to drop 25 degrees and tomorrow is predicted to be in the 40's with the possibility of a killing frost Monday night. The tomatoes were done. I picked the few large green ones I had missed, tore down the tomato frames and canvassed the garden for last harvests. Looks like the last Maple leaves are coming down with the pelting rain.

I prepped the last Mustard Habanero for winter culture. I postponed it a week as a Garden Spider, which we rarely have, had taken up residence in it.

Step 1: Pull up the plant. Have a suitable pot and compost handy.

Step 2: Trim the plant WAY back. 

Step 3: Label and water. I use paint stirrers for labels.

Step 4: Harvest any fruit from the cut stems and place the pot in the basement under shop lights for the winter.
beautiful, albeit unripe, Mustard Habs

I bought 3 Peruvian Daffodil bulbs this spring. I hadn't grown them before. They made a nice, white, aromatic flower. The foliage didn't do much but sag the rest of the summer, but it was incredibly tolerant of my lack of attention to it whilst making it through the miserable summer of heat and drought. I'm bringing it in. The plan is to treat it much like an Amaryllis and ignore it for the winter. 
Peruvian Daffodil

I found that my sedum had produced clones at the nodes of the stem. I snipped the stems off and cut it in segments, separating 2 or 3 nodes. I placed each segment on top of soil and sprinkled some sand around it. Most of them had small roots already emerging. I'm hoping to have a lot more sedum from this technique next year. I placed them in the cold frame on the back porch.
New sedum propagation method

Who knows how this winter will go, but if it is anything like last year the cannas should make it. I'm taking a risk by protecting them in pots outdoors this year. Experimentation. The chickens promptly found my little tent of plants alluring and Rosa laid an egg in one of the pots.
Overwintering Cannas in pots under plastic outdoors. 

Last of the scallop squash.

Casserole fixings from the garden: chard, dill, onions, peach habaneros, scallop squash

Protecting tender Black & Blue Salvia

Protecting Salvia leucantha- Mexican Bush Sage
Not sure if this is going to work

Last of the Eggplant

Last of the maters
about 12lbs

Pickled 6 1/2 Quarts of Peach Habaneros
from my brother's garden

The chard is doing very well.

le jardin in November

Pears, hazelnuts & lettuce from the garden

Rest well Garden 2012.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Fall Bulb Planting

The bulbs were tucked in a couple of weeks ago, but I'm just now getting to documenting. This year's order was motivated by the intent to raise the driveway/parking area bed another tier. The landscaping blocks are around 4 inches high, which meant I wouldn't have to "plant" the bulbs, but rather lay them on top of the previous soil and just dump soil on top of them to raise the soil level to the needed 4 plus inches of the new height.

This is my bulb order from Van Engelen Inc:
100 Chionodoxa gigantea (about 1/2 were planted in the driveway bed)
250 Crocus- Grand Collection
10 Muscari Ambrosiacum
10 Muscari macrocarpum Golden Fragrance
100 Muscari Magical Mix (whites & blues)
50 Hyacinthoides non-scripta (English Bluebells- planted in the Woodland Garden)

First thing I did was rest the Muscari (grape hyacinth) in an undulating pattern on top of the pre-existing soil. Previously I had covered the old bed with bone meal. Next I sprinkled a layer of compost over these bulbs so I could see where my pattern was in order to lay the next bulbs (crocus & chionodoxa) around this pattern. 

The compost was pretty hot. I hope it didn't harm the bulbs.
Compost from St Louis Composting.
Here you can see the crocus bulbs planted right on top of last year's mulch. I planted everything pretty thick. I'm hoping for a nice spring display.

Topped with compost. 

This was by far the easiest bulb "planting" I have ever done. Now this just needs a topping of mulch and the final layer of landscaping blocks. 

Looking forward to the results in Spring 2013!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Patchy Frost

We saw our first patchy frost this weekend on Saturday and Sunday mornings, although my thermometer near the house read around 38 when I got up. We are definitely in Fall.
Tithonia at their peak

The Tithonia, Bright Lights Cosmos, Red Salvia and Black & Blue Salvia are in their glory. It is sad to know their brilliant colors could end in one night. I have at least 2 female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds still feeding at them and the feeder. 

Still Producing: Tomatoes (although slower now), Thai, Holy, Hairy Lemon and Italian Basils, Mexican Sour Gherkins, Onions, Peppers, Winter Squash, Pumpkin, Eggplant (slowly now).

Unknown Winter Squash variety

Frost-nipped Basil meant pesto for dinner last night

My only remaining pumpkin. The chickens discovered the other one in reach. Not sure if this one will be ripe by Halloween or before a killing frost.

My favorite tomato. White Currant. 

Mixed peppers- 2.25lbs here

This just in: Lettuces. I think we will have our first salad tonight. Hazelnuts and Grapes.
I had the most grapes produced this year than ever- harvested September 30th.

Mixed lettuces almost ready for harvest.

Stagger planting lettuces. Planted some today. Some ready for harvest and more to be planted.

About 7lbs of grapes. 

Became: 6 jars of no-added sugar jelly. 
I added a little grape juice where it called for water. 


Bowl of Hazelnuts ready for shelling. 

Things to come:
Pak Choi, Tatsoi, Arugula, Kale, onions- green & white, shallots, lettuces, spinach, parsnips, carrots, Jen Mei Fun, Collards, Corn Salad, Chard, Tronchuda cabbage

Evidence of Autumn:
Prairie Dock

Rose Hips

Red Salvia & Peppers

Tithonia, Cosmos, Milkweed, Red Salvia

Devil's Walking Stick (Bald Cypress- background)

Aronia fruit (chokeberry)

The orchard/chicken yard and future mini-high tunnel in the back.

Again, because I want to enjoy them while they last.

I'm determined to be a 4-season gardener. I planted another bed of greens today where the unproductive squashes were in the orchard. It was hard to pull out those gorgeous and succulent plants, but there were no blooms on them. Had to make room for winter crops. I also started more pac choi and bought some collard seeds from Dintelmann's this weekend. 
Happy Autumn.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Mini High Tunnel Hoophouse Project

If it weren't for the damn mosquitoes everything would be perfect to be working on outside projects. They aren't going to stop me however. I'm the perfect candidate for West Nile. While I make cold frames from the same concept each winter I thought I would expand up on the idea after seeing a youtube video on how to raise the hoop concept so that you can get inside of it. The only additional materials I needed to get to the end of the project today was rebar.

Step 1:
This is the site of a former raised bed. I had to enclosed the garden with chicken wire to keep the chickens out since this is being installed in the Orchard, aka Chicken Yard, and because I am not going to enclose this in plastic until the nights get near freezing.  Hoe, weed a bit, remove large sticks and created a very narrow path down the middle.

Step 2:
Placed narrow (6 inch) strip of cardboard down to mark the path. I'll be lucky if I don't fall on my arse with this path. Notice it doesn't go all the way to the end of the bed to maximize planting space. This is a very small hoop house and I'm planting intensively. 

Step 3:
I harvested 2, 5 gallon buckets of compost from the floor of the chicken coop and spread around the planting space. This is all the soil amendment I am adding since the soil was in good organic condition already. 

Step 4:
I hammered in 10, 4 ft pieces of rebar about half way into the ground. These will support the conduit hoops. The rebar cost just under $3 a piece and has been my only cost since I had the other items around. 
Next I bent the conduit and stuck it over the rebar on both sides of the bed. 

Some people have a centered length of conduit connecting all of the hoops, but my bed is longer than the length of the conduit and the hoops seem strong enough to not collapse (famous last words?).

Step 5:
Plant! I planted mache, 3 varieties of kale, spinach, arugula and several lettuces and marked their perimeter with sticks. 

How do I get in there to eat that yummy seed?

What I have left to do is cover the high tunnel in plastic and create an entryway. I haven't decided if I want a door or a zipper. I saw that you can buy a tarp zipper and attach it to plastic to act as a door way w/o needing to build a door. I'll probably build a door though. It will go on the east end to limit cold NW winds from entering. I will cover it when it gets colder. Right now I need it to rain on these seeds so I don't have to water in the meantime. 

Dimensions: 11 feet long and 4.5 ft wide. 

It's an experiment. If it works I may even try erecting a propagation bench inside where I can start some seeds next spring. We shall see. I'm kind of excited to have an almost greenhouse. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Happy Fall

We finally are seeing rain and cooler temps. Today is sunny and upper 60's and we recently received around 5 inches of rain within a week. The mushrooms popped and plants started growing again. Revival.

I get pretty excited about disgusting fungi and the Elegant Stinkhorn has graced us with its radiant odor. After about a week of smelling it I'd had enough, but it is still pretty cool to look at. Many of these popped up around the fountain at the backdoor, which insured I could smell them in the kitchen. This gem was in the front bed.
The Elegant Stinkhorn

A coworker shares an interest in fungi and has been bringing me samples of things she finds to taste. Here are the last 3: Cauliflower, Purple-Gilled Laccaria and Ceasar's Amanita mushrooms.

A few native flowers from seed I collected from a hill prairie last fall actually bloomed. I had transplanted them, after stratifying in a flat of potting soil last winter, in a wrecked wheel barrow. This goldenrod has been shown a lot of love by the bumbles (*note: plant lots more!).
Solidago nemoralis- Old Field Goldenrod

Brickellia eupatorioides- False Boneset

Schtuff in the garden:

Yellow Morning Glory- Ipomea

Deformed 4 O'Clock

Lettuce Mix transplants

Holy basil (foreground), lettuce transplants, Zucchini under tulle

Black and Blue Salvia (overwinters in the basement)

Mexican Sour Gherkin (volunteer)

Carrot seedlings

Asian greens ready for transplanting

Winter is coming. I started cutting back some annuals to overwinter in the basement and took cuttings of others. The cuttings include:
Tradescantia, begonias, dark and lime sweet potato vines, coleus: Alabama Sunset and Dipped in Wine, Lime Geranium, two other plants I always forget the name of that are great for purple and hot pink foliage (in the back of the photo). 

Got my bulb order in through Van Engelen. Planted 9 Allium- Sensation in the back porch bed I bought at Lowes. I've added some new plants & shrubs there as well including Twist and Shout Hydranga, an Oakleaf Hydranga, 3 white obedient plant, 1 Clethra, 1 varigated Phlox, 1 lime perennial Cornflower, and a multicolored False Sunflower. 

Another project: got some free bricks so I encircled my water fountain near the back porch, mulched and planted some natives I had started from seed in the nursery this spring. 

In this bed: 
along the brick path: liriope
on the right side: Horsemint & Bradbury's Monarda
on the left side: Itea Henry's Garnet, Short's Aster, heliotrope and Anise Hyssop

Bad news: Our Sugar Maple is slowly dying. Husband cut half of it down last weekend. 
Good news: We have a lot more sun in the northern end of the woodland garden, which means MORE PLANTS!!!

And that's what's growing on.