Showing posts with label gardening
When you live in Minnesota there's that moment when you say to yourself that yes, spring is officially here.  Today is that day.

Here is what's coming up in the backyard today.

Chives

Mint

Lavender

Lemon Balm

Bee Balm

Yarrow

The garden is doing pretty good this year... in some areas.  Not sure what is up with the shallots and onions, I'm thinking it is poor soil quality, but everything else is doing great.  Since the backyard was regraded we've been spreading wildflower seed and planting a few things here and there and things are starting to really grow.  This is what it looks like right now:


The Joe Pye Weed is taking over and as much as I like JPW I need to get that sucker under control.

The great part about our backyard, with all the beautiful things growing, is that wildlife is loving it. Every day I can go outside and not only see deer like we usually do but daily we have rabbits, birds, squirrels, chipmunks, snakes, frogs, turtles, dragonflies, butterflies, bees, wasps, and a whole host of other things. The rabbits like hiding in the growth so each day we run into about 4 or 5 back there.  

So onto what else I am having success with.

German Chamomile


One of my favorite herbs. In the past I'd always keep a pot of chamomile inside but last year I planted some and forgot about it.  I was delighted to see it return this year so I planted some more. It is a zone 4 herb but our last harsh winter killed off things I thought were meant for this zone so I was pleasantly surprised when the chamomile popped up. 

Dill


Dill is hardier than I thought. Not only does it appear in odd random places around the garden, after planting a whole new bunch this year we let the Black Swallowtail caterpillar devour it all and yet from the nubs that were left it regrew.  Great, because I need it for canning :-)

Tomatoes

Someone please explain to me what is up with the tomatoes?  I purchased two heirloom tomato plants at the Friends Plant Sale this year and they've grown into these monstrous things (5 feet tall) but the fruits are all still green.  I've never had that experience with tomatoes before.  I'm not surprised about the growth as much as the fact they aren't red or turning red yet.  I am worried with the way the weather has been that the frost is going to appear before the tomatoes ripen :( 

Sweet Potato


Omgosh! Last years sweet potatoes didn't grow but this year they are doing great.  I am more of a "learn by trial and error" and not so much by reading so I have no idea when to harvest the potatoes or how long they take to grow but I have learned one thing and that is not to plant them in a garden box again.  They want to spread far and wide and the box is just too small for them.

Asparagus


Now this I don't want to do the trial and error thing with.  I am going to have to watch a few YouTube videos and read up on this delicious plant. I have been trying to grow asparagus for a few years and each time I'd plant the root something would come along and take it or eat it. I was at the Farmer's Market this spring and a vendor was selling itty bitty plants so I put 3 in the ground and they are growing great! Not sure what the next step is but I'll be staying on top of this one since this yummy plant is a perennial  :-)

That's it.  Anyone else have success or failures in the garden this year? Luckily we've not had any pests but the onions and shallots aren't coming along like expected, they are both itty bitty and so I think I need to do some type of crop rotation next year and amend the soil much better than I did this year.  If you have any thoughts on why the shallots are the size of marbles, please let me know.
I can't help but be envious of my friends who have a bumper crop of strawberries this year.  I planted strawberries 5 years ago and it seems, once again, that I made an error.

My friend Teresa (domestic goddess, writing genius, homesteader extraordinaire) over at Homestead Notes is my go-to person when I struggle with gardening (and pretty much everything in life) and I've learned from her hubby that my crop of strawberries are just too old to give me the bounty that I really crave *sigh.  So, it seems I may have to start all over.



This year I was so pleased with myself for actually getting my butt to the garden store to pick up some hay.  It took me 5 yrs to learn that hay needs to be spread below the patch of berries (if they are as sparse as mine are) to keep the berries clean and to help avoid rotting.   In years passed we'd get an ok amount of berries but either the birds would eat them or they'd rot immediately.  Well... the hay is in place but I highly doubt we'll get any strawberries since my patch is too old.  Just look at them, 90% of these were planted 5 years ago... they should have multiplied by now.




I did have them in raised garden boxes which I don't think helped very much since the runners had nowhere to go, so I did remove those this year.

If anyone has any advice on how you started up your patch and made them flourish, please let me know.

I've also planted a variety of strawberry plants together and wonder now if that was a mistake :(



That my creative energy would return and I wouldn't even realize it.  Since August I've felt like a new person.  After turning 40 last year I fell into this nasty little funk and had no energy to write, craft, or even spend that much time in nature.  My summer began pretty poorly but before I knew it I was busy making cards, knitting, baking; all of a sudden I feel good again.  All I want to do is spin fiber, knit, poke around the garden - is it some kind of weird rebirth?  Who knows and who cares right?  As long as I am being productive and enjoying myself.
I haven't found much time to blog lately but I hate just leaving the place to gather dust so I thought I'd post a quick one. I've been pondering the idea of deleting the blog again. The reason being, I think if I have to struggle to organize time so that I can get on here and write something then maybe it just isn't something I'm passionate about anymore. The only thing that keeps me coming back to the blogs is other people's writing. I like reading what others are up to on their blogs plus the connections I've made and honestly, right now, that is the only thing that has kept me from closing the blog. Blogging for almost 5 yrs has made for some great friendships :)

With that said... I'm just not sure, so...

I've been trying to focus on quite a few things recently. #1 Writing More. #2 Country Home Hunting. #3 Preparing for said life in the country (canning, knitting, gardening, etc...) and #4 reading more books.

#1 Writing
Well, I never talked about my writing so I won't start now.

#2 The House Hunting
Not going as well as I expected. My hubby and I are planning an "eventual" move north and thought now would be the perfect time to buy a home, with the market being what it is. Turns out, the people up north haven't noticed the down turn in the market yet. Actually, it isn't really the people up north, it is the people here in the cities that own the homes up north that we went to look up. I can't say I blame them though. If we had to sell our home right now I certainly wouldn't want to take a loss on it. The market is scary and after all the work we've done on our own home it would be heartbreaking just to sell if for pennies. So we are waiting for the perfect opportunity to present itself so we can have our life in the country that we always dreamed of.

#3 Preparing for the Country Life
Years ago when I told my mother I wanted to be a farmer (I was a child), she would laugh. Not a rude laugh, my mother was never rude, she would giggle and remind me that farmers would wake up at 5 a.m. and I couldn't manage to crawl out of bed before noon. Ok, not quite that late but you get my point. When I got older and managed to drag myself out of bed when the birds began to sing my mother rained on my parade once again by informing me that country life was much different than city life (she grew up like Laura Ingles so she knew what she was talking about). I knew country life was different but it took my purchasing the "Countryside Magazine" to figure out just how different it was. Canning foods for long winters was the first thing that caught my attention. I would talk about canning, read about canning, think about canning, but didn't get the courage to actually CAN until last year. The reason being, because no matter how much I learned about canning I could never shake all the horror stories I heard as a kid. My grandmother passed on a story about how a pressure cooker blew up in someones face and then of course there were the stories drifting around about getting botulism from improperly preserved foods. YIKES! So last year I canned my first batch of strawberry jam and after about a month I tossed it all out because I was too afraid to try it. How is that for neurotic.Well, I decided to try again. This year I thought I'd attempt dill pickles. I planted my garden, got a great bunch of cucumbers. The dill was ready long before the cucumbers so I ended up buying the dill at the store. Found a "how to video" online (I'm a visual learner) and gave it a shot.

My harvest:



Of course, it didn't go so well.

I THOUGHT I had the right size pan for the size jars I was using. Turned out I was wrong. Ya see, there is a label on the pan that states what size jars it fits and you'd think I would read that but nooooooo, that would have been way too easy. Instead I just guessed and my guess turned out to be wrong. After canning several jars of dill pickles I had no pan to place them in. I made a mad dash to a local store but they didn't have a large enough pan either. It was already late in the evening and everywhere else was closed. The dill pickles were trashed. So I tried again.

Got the right pan this time:

And made some pickles:


I've since learned again that I didn't do them exactly right but I'm getting closer to perfection. I will open these in 6 weeks and see how they turned out.

#4 Reading More Books

Right now I'm reading two books. Alternating back and forth, which my kids think is weird but I like it. "On Writing" by Stephen King. I read it when it was first published and here I am reading it again. The other book I'm reading was a title suggested to me. I'm actually enjoying it, which is a surprise because I'm not a big fan of fiction. (which you are now probably scratching your head at considering I'm reading ANYTHING by Stephen King). The book is called Miss Peregrines Home of Peculiar Children. It isn't even adult fiction, it came from the teen section, but when two adults suggest it, why not, right?

So that is what keeps my mind busy right now. Along with the bees, which are doing well. The bunnies, one of which is really really sick and probably won't make it. The children, getting ready to return to school next week and quite a few other things in between but I won't bore you any further with the details.

Before I sign off I want to say thank you to DixieBelle over at Eat at Dixie Belles for her generous blog award. I promise to post about that one soon. I'm compiling a list of bloggers to share it with :)
and I'm not sure what to do. I know herbs. I spent years reading about herbs and perennials, planting and experimenting, but veggies and fruits... not so much. My first attempt at gardening a little over 5 years ago turned horrible. My carrots didn't grow, my tomatos were consumed by some unknown creature, and my gourds were planted incorrectly so they turned to mush.
Hard to imagine that within hours of "fixing" our backyard water issues the yard is once again flooded. After going to bed with this:
This plant/herb is taking over my yard, choking out all the flowers and other weeds (that I actually like) but the upside to it is that my honeybees LOVE it. This is the first time I've seen hundreds of honeybees head straight over to something in my yard. They aren't the only insects in love with this plant either, there are bumble bees, wasps, and other things I can't identify. Can anyone identify this crazy plant/weed?
Some of the flowers I planted. This is butterfly weed. I thought it was so pretty growing around the lake, I decided to plant some in the yard.
© Blog of the Soap Pixie · THEME BY WATDESIGNEXPRESS