Monday, December 19, 2011

No New Tulips?!

I just realized that it is now nearly the end of the year and I did not plant any new tulips! This is a first in 14 years. The fall bulb buying season just sneaked past me.

That's OK though. I still have at least a hundred bulbs in pots that I didn't get around to actually getting into the ground this spring. That will still give me lots to do in the flower garden next spring.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Strange Coincidence

For this weekend, I had on my "to do" list obtaining a piece of 4" piping to extend my downspouts since I had taken down the full length of downspout and installed shorter pieces to accommodate the rain barrels I had purchased a few years back. I usually take the short pieces off and reinstall the normal lengths, but I thought it might be easier to just get extenders.

My husband and I had made plans to go shopping on Saturday for the material.

On Friday, as I sat parked waiting for my son to come out of his dorm so I could take him home for the weekend, I noticed that the construction dumpster next to me had a piece of piping laying on top - the very diameter that I was looking for. I jumped out of the car and checked the length. It looked like it was the perfect length!

I climbed up on the dumpster in my dress clothes as my son was approaching the car. "Mom?"

"I can't believe my luck!" I shouted happily back at him. "They're just throwing this away. I'm taking it!"

He just shook his head laughing.

Turns out it was exactly the diameter and length that I needed. No waste and it freed up more time I could spend with my son this weekend. Win-win-win!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Planning Big for Next Year

And by big, I mean tall and wide. I want to increase the amount of perennial fruit that I have growing so that I can put up more preserves for the winter - and even have some to give away or sell.

I need a second pear to pollinate the Luscious that I have right now. Luscious is a very crisp, non-grainy, candy-sweet, pear with wonderful floral notes that is best eaten right off the tree. I need a good second pear. I like really sweet pears and would also like one that keeps fairly well. Any suggestions?

I also want to start growing my own apples. I love Honey Gold, Honey Crisp, Fuigi and Golden Delicious. I also had some Chestnut Crabs that were awesome. Sweet, crisp, juicy apples are my thing. I would also like my apples to be maggot resistant - but who doesn't.

My blackberries were not very good this year. Tart and not very blackberry. I'm hoping that they will be better next year as this was still only their second year. But if they don't drastically improve, I may be having a give-away on this blog!

I really couldn't ask more of my raspberries. I'm not a huge fan of raspberries, but I really like these. I had more than enough to make several pint jars of jam, as well as having plenty for fresh eating and giving away - and that is just from a 4x8 bed.

I want to build an arbor over my raspberry bed next year to help shade the area a little, and to grow kiwis! I ate some cold hardy kiwis recently and LOVE THEM! Hardy Anna and Ken's Red are supposed to be good. If any of you have experience with these plants please let me know. I have read that they can be stubborn to fruit and that under the right conditions, they can grow 25 feet a year. Not sure I know what I am getting into with that.

Of the two blueberry plants I got last year, one is still alive and doing well, and who knows, maybe I will have some berries next year. But I LOVE blueberries and a small handful off one bush will not suffice - so I need to get more bushes. I bought Friendship last time since it is a wild Wisconsin native. If they are like the wild blueberries I used to pick as a kid in the North Woods, I will be happy. They were small, but sweet, with amazing flavor! But, I'm thinking that I would like to get one or two other varieties. I like lots of flavor and sweet (sensing a pattern here?).

That's all I have planned so far. I already know where I will plant everything, which puts me way ahead of the game as I usually buy the plants and THEN try to figure out where to put them (which is why I only have one of the two Friendship blueberries that I originally purchased). If any of you have suggestions on which varieties to get, or even warnings against, let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Like the Gardening Season Never Happened

I lost nearly the whole growing season. I've been more than a bit preoccupied with other things this year. But I still managed to do some things.

My raspberries produced two batches of berries this year. And I thought planting them in November would kill them :) I have been able to make two jars of jam from them so far. The berries have a very good flavor and produce a lot. I have no idea what variety they are.

My blackberries produced one berry. So far I am not impressed with the flavor. A bit too tart. I will give them another year or two, but if their flavor does not improve, I am replacing them. I know someone who has wonderful blackberries that are in zone 3 so they should do just fine here. They aren't thornless, but neither are my raspberries.

I got a bunch more apples from a friend and have been canning applesauce when I get time. Two years ago I burned out the connections in my electric stove canning - I think the canning pot was too big for the burner and overheated that side of the stovetop. Apparently a pan can be too big! I got a smaller pot this year from the local hardware store. It has still been slow going since I am down to two working burners on my stove - I desperately need a new stove! I received a fairly new gas stove for free recently ( is awesome!), but only have electric hookup. To get a gas hookup will cost me between $280 and $360. That will have to wait for now.

I did get a couple of fruit roll-up accessories for my dehydrator. I haven't tried them yet, but when I do, I will let you know if I like them or not.

I still LOVE my electric mower. We have not had any problems with it at all and I think that it mows the lawn even better than the gas mowers that we have used in the past.

I also love my leaf vacuum/shredder. I saw it a couple years ago in a hardware store flyer for $20 so thought, "Why not?" I have not been disappointed. It sucks up the leaves, shreds them and collects them in an attached bag. I put the shredded leaves in my garden as mulch. The worms love it!

I have to plant garlic yet this year and harvest the rest of my kohlrabi and beets.

I got a volunteer tomato that has beautiful tomatoes and appears to be extremely cold hardy. The rest of my plants succumbed to an early frost; this plant didn't even seem to notice! I haven't tasted the tomatoes yet as they are still ripening, but I will update once I find out. If they are really good, I will be saving seeds to grow them again next year. Who couldn't use a cold hardy tomato? Most of my tomato volunteers have been weird Romas, so this is a really nice surprise.

I also put in another patio. There is a space next to my house that has been a bed of weeds forever. I tore out all the weeds and laid in a brick sitting area. It is perfect for drinking coffee and surfing the web in the morning as it is out of the wind and sun. And now that area doesn't look like an abandoned lot.

I did not buy hardly any plants this year, nor did I plant many vegetables. Next year, though, is going to be a stellar year. I can feel it!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Electric Mower

We had tried out a reel mower for nearly a whole season. I love how quiet it is and that it is always ready to go with no start-up, but if your yard is uneven, or your grass gets too tall between mowings, the reel mower can be quite difficult to use.

So we were off to the store to find an alternative. I was very skeptical about electric mowers because I never liked managing the cord with our corded weedwhacker, and I was certain that I would either be constantly re-plugging it back in, or running the cord over all the time. But my husband was leaning hard toward an electric mower.

There were some cordless ones, but you had to plug the mower in to charge and I wasn't entirely sure that you would be able to continue using it while it charged. That would be inconvenient if you had a window of opportunity blown because your mower needed several hours to fuel up. So I was leaning hard toward a gas mower. And we had one all picked out when I changed my mind and decided I really wanted to try the electric one - cord and all. I do that. He's almost used to it.

My worries about the cord were pretty much put to rest when we started using it. It wasn't hard at all to keep track of and the very movement of turning the mower allowed for a smooth repositioning of the cord. You will see me move my leg out on the turns which moves the cord enough to keep it out of the way. And even though it may look a little awkward during some turns, it wasn't. Most of that was just the awkwardness of turning a mower in general.

The mower that we got was a Task Force 12A mower. We got it on sale at Lowes for $170, and a 100' cord for $17. It came with a 2 year warranty.

Things I loved about the mower:
  • The easy start. I no longer dread having to empty the bag as I know that restarting will be a snap.
  • This did not bog down in our tall grass; it went through like a hot knife through butter.
  • I didn't get vibration arm.
  • It is quieter than a gas mower.
  • It doesn't stink like fuel and neither do you!
Things I hated? Nothing. The only thing that could make it better would be no cord and that it would mow the lawn itself. But I really don't have much of a problem with either.

I feel much better about using electricity than gasoline as our electricity is local and made via water power. Clean and homegrown!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

In the Vegetable Garden

This weekend in the vegetable garden:
  • I got all 30 of my tomato plants in the ground.
  • I got all 16 of my pepper plants in the ground.
  • I got 4 broccoli plants planted.
  • I planted last years unused shallots - about 30 all together.
  • I got most of my squash/melon seeds planted.
  • I got some bean seeds started.
  • I started 3 trays of basil.
  • I got half my carrots planted.
  • I was harvesting spinach, cilantro and arugula.
  • I was giving out stray garlic plants that missed last fall's harvest.
  • I weeded the blackberry and raspberry beds.
  • I set up a chicken wire and marigold barrier around my peppers - eat that rabbits!!

This week in the vegetable garden:
  • I will finish planting the carrots.
  • I will pot up the eggplant.
  • I will plant sunflowers.
  • I will plant dill.
  • I will pot up the fennel.
  • I will start the rest of the beans.
  • I will harvest some leeks.
  • I will finish caging the tomatoes.
  • I will discover there were 1/2 dozen other seed packets I had completely forgotten about...

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

I Just Can't Win This Year

Things are finally starting to die down around here on the home front: some of the hubbub in the state has quieted, my son is out of school, our exchange student is going home, the graduation party is over, our dog is recovering from surgery nicely...

And now it is TOO HOT TO GARDEN!! Bleh!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

GBBD May 2011

My first Garden Blogger Bloom Day post of 2011, and things are looking pretty good out in the garden this spring.

Bastogne's Parrot are doing well. I did try to get more, but they didn't look like these at all, they were just red without much ruffling.

Bleu Amiable and Sweetheart tulips are a great combination.

These white tipped tulips in with the Prinses Irene's came in a mixed pack. They look like Private Eyes, so I'm going with that.

Sweetheart tulips are definitely one of my favorite tulips.

These are another of my favorite: Gavota. They are very hardy and multiply.

Abba are a rich red (which you can't see very well in this picture since the light is shining through the back). They look like roses.

Here are my box bulbs in full bloom. I am planning to get some of these planted later today.

Brunnera "Kings Randsom" - a non-tulip is blooming!

Another non-tulip, Mount Hood Daffodils.

Sunrise tulips give you the most bang for your buck; they are one of the first to bloom and one of the last to die back. Plus, they are just so beautiful and change their look as they age: creamy yellow with just a slight tipping of red, to fully blushed with a more distinct red tipping.

Tulip holding pen; I plant the tulips here until spring when I can have a better idea where they should go in the garden.

Tubergen's Gem is multiplying!
Weber's Parrot... not quite what I had in mind. What do you think?

Wide shot of the garden. Lots of tulips, and always more to come :)

And an overhead shot from my upstairs window. Spring is such a great time of year!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

More Tulips!

Here are some more pictures from my garden. We had some 80F weather yesterday, so some of the tulips decided they had had enough. But there were plenty more to take their place.
This is a view as passerby on the street would see it. Looking good!

I had lost my map to what was planted in each of these boxes, so I had to wait until they bloomed to see where I should plant them. Turns out that it was a good thing too as some of these were falsely advertised.

This was one of the fears that I had planting the bulbs in boxes - voles. They only got into one of the boxes though, but did eat most of the bulbs in the box.
These Sweetheart tulips are in my top three of favorite tulips along with Prinses Irene and Gavota.

Weber's Parrot didn't turn out quite as I had imagined. Too pink and too yellow. Perhaps they mellow out. If they don't, these may end up being give-aways.
Blue Gem: very touchy little guys, and expensive! But they are worth it. Love them!

Turbergen's Gem: These have finally started to multiply. They are one of my favorite species tulips (tied with Blue Gem)
Abba tulips are a very rich red.

This is the garden entry from our back door.
These Salome daffodils took years to finally bloom, but now they are blooming every year.

I prefer the Gavotas when the edges are white, but they are still one of my favorites even when the edges are yellow. Very classy looking.
From left to right: Bright Parrot, Sunrise, Purrisima, Red Emperor (far background)

Odalisque tulips are very easy to grow and they give a nice punch of color without being gaudy.
I had 12 Dillenburg but many dissappeared. For the last several years only two bloomed, but this year, four decided to make an appearance.

This is a shot of the far back garden as you come around the bend. Front to back: Prinses Irene, Private Eyes, (forgot the dark purple ones), Sweetheart, Bleu Amiable (to the right of Sweetheart), Purrisima, Sunrise.
Another view from the street.

View from the yard.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

My weekend is packed! So I will just leave you with some pics from my garden.



humilis "Odalisque"

humilis "Alba Coerlea Oculata"

The ramps I planted last year are doing great!

The front entry bed


Odalisque tulips and Thalia daffodils




Mount Hood w/Orange Emperor tulips in the background

Sunrise w/Purissima in the background

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Bulb Boxes

I love tulips. So much so that it has become harder to find places for the new tulips that I buy every year - especially since they are sold in the fall when you can not see what is already planted. I got sick of accidentally digging up established bulbs, so I started planting the bulbs in plastic planters. That has worked out really well, but I wanted to see if cardboard boxes would work too. Verdict?

They do!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gardening Begins for 2011

I did finally get out to do some gardening this last week. And I was so excited to see that things were even starting to bloom!

Crocuses are easy multipliers.

They are the earliest bloomer.
Dutch irises are great en masse.The Pickwick crocus are big and multiply well. I like the stripes.
And then last night it snowed.
But the hyacinth...

the tete-a-tete daffodills...
and the chionodoxa will be fine.