Showing Restraint

SeedsYesterday was a happy day. 🙂

I finally got to play in the dirt.

I’m not sure why it took so long to get my seeds started this year – but they are done now and sitting pretty in the sun room.

I check them every hour or so – just in case they sprouted already.

You should be proud of me – I actually showed great restraint in my planting.

Well – at least as far as tomatoes go.

I only planted thirty-six instead of my usual 50-60. But now I’m wondering if that’s enough? Maybe I should have planted more?

No worries about peppers though. I’ve planted seven different kinds. Five sweet varieties and two hot.

I guess I’m kind of obsessed with peppers right now.

And not just me! Jan ate a new variety over the weekend that he loved so much he spent a few hours researching it.

He finally found seeds in Ohio and bought me some.

He’s wonderful like that!

Now I just need to wait for them to come so I can plant them.

And for everything to grow.

And the ground to warm up.

And the Amish greenhouse to open so I can buy more plants and more seeds!

So I can plant more things!

I told you I was showing great restraint this year. 😉

PS: The seeds haven’t sprouted yet – I just checked again.

Crazy Garden Lady

kaleI think I have officially become the crazy garden lady.

This whole “let’s extend the garden season” has become a bit of an obsession.

Case in point –

One evening last week I realized while listening to the late news that the temperature could dip below freezing over night.

How had I missed this?

It was now after dark, Jan wasn’t home and my poor precious plants were ready to die a vicious death in the cold.

I had flashbacks of the poor tender seedlings I murdered in the spring.

No – I couldn’t let it end this way!

I grabbed Buddy and we headed out into the pitch black night to rescue my broccoli and cabbages.

We couldn’t find a flashlight – so Buddy grabbed the little solar lamp by the workshop. And with its feeble light we slowly ventured out to the garden and attempted to cover the plants using tarps and bricks.

In the wind.

And the dark.

And the cold.

I only ran into the electric fence once.

At one point I thought, “This is crazy!”

And it was.

You know those those plants have done nothing all week but stay alive? They haven’t grown or changed or produced huge heads. Nothing.

How’s that for gratitude?

I’m done.

There’s a deep freeze coming next week and I decided to let them go.

That’s it.

No more covering them.

No more worrying about them.

I’m finished.

End of the garden 2014.

Well… except for those few kale plants and lettuce that Buddy and I put in a cold frame we made out cinder blocks and old windows.

I read somewhere that you could keep kale alive all winter…

Yep. Crazy garden lady.

Frost Drill

I’m still gardening.

Isn’t that crazy?

Here it is the last week of October and I’m still picking green beans and peppers!

Not that we haven’t had our close calls. We had a couple of mad dashes to the garden at sunset to cover plants, pick remaining produce and once to cut back all the sweet potato vines – just in case.

Plants got nipped both times – but we’re still gardening!

The melons, squash and pumpkins are done.

IMG_1670I’d say we did pretty good!

Take that you varmint squash bugs! I won this year!

Now to try every pumpkin recipe known to mankind to use them all up.

The sweet potatoes were dug for the first time ever.

They too were numerous – and in some cases – monstrous.

Like this one…

sweet potato It almost looks like a human heart! It’s actually several grown together because our soil was too clay to give them room.

It made a massive amount of sweet potato fries!

And remember those cabbage, broccoli and kale plants I put in for a fall crop?

They’re still alive! And growing!

We had kale for several meals and fresh lettuce again. The cabbage and broccoli are making nice heads – but they need a little more time.

I’m not sure we’ll get it though – the forecast calls for a killing frost Friday night.

Grow little broccoli and cabbage – grow fast!

Maybe my amazing husband can engineer some cold frames or hoop houses?

Or maybe I should just let the season end – thankful it was the best garden we’ve had in years.

Or maybe I should make another new pumpkin recipe while I decide.

Yes,  definitely that one.

Fall Garden

Normally at this time of year I’m ready to be done with the garden.

Ready to pick the pumpkins and winter squash – then ignore it’s very existence until January when the gardening bug hits me again.

pumpkinsSometimes I even pray for a frost so it will go away.

But not this year.

This year I planted more.

Crazy, right?

I had a few empty places where a crop had finished – so I decided to try some fall plantings of cool weather crops. Things like broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.

purple cabbageIn the spring I start my cold weather crops inside and transplant them when the weather is right. For these fall crops I planted my seeds directly in the ground.

Germination was very spotty. It could have been too hot, or too much rain, or maybe Buddy and I didn’t prepare the soil quite as well as we should have for these much smaller seeds.

Whatever the reason – I figured it was worth the experiment! We already had the seeds and the ground was just sitting there. Anything that grew was a bonus.

kaleLike my first homegrown kale.

Happy, happy, happy day!

I wonder just how long we can stretch this fresh food season?

Gardening Joy

My garden makes me happy.

Seriously – when you consider that one year ago we were in the middle of a drought and massive bug infestation – this year gardening has been a joy!DSC_0231I actually have plants! And they are healthy! And best of all they are producing!

And I have rows.

In the past by this time of the year, the weeds would have taken over.

But not this year.

mulchBecause this year we actually have mulch!

Lots and lots of grass clippings thanks to the abundant rains this spring and a bagging mower that worked when it was supposed to.

And best of all – I am staying one step ahead of the dreaded squash bug, the destroyer of crops and dreams.

My weapon this year – duct tape.

DSC_0240Every day since the squash sprouted, I go into the patch and check the leaves for eggs and bugs.

When I find some – I use the tape to pick them up.

As the plants get bigger, this becomes harder and harder. I’m sure I’m missing some – but the plants are still alive, looking good and producing well.

For every egg I find, there’s one last squash bug to suck my plants dry.

squashWhich makes my plants very happy.

And they produce lots of zucchini and yellow squash.

And that makes me very happy.

This is what gardening is supposed to be.

Finally.

 

Garden Ponderings

I’ve spent much time in the garden in recent days.

One has such time to think while alone with the weeds and bugs.

One ponders deep questions in the quiet.

Questions such as –

Why does the biting fly always bite the back of my knee?

What’s with all the fuzzy caterpillars this season? Is it a sign of a hard winter? A coming invasion?

Why do some of my broccoli plants have big beautiful heads-

broccoliWhile others in the same row look pathetically small?

broccoliYes – that is the entire head.

Where do the adult squash bugs who are laying all the eggs on the squash plants hide during the day so that I never see them?

Does a hollyhock plant always have the same color blossom?

Why does the zucchini I’m watching never seem to grow – then one morning it’s too big?

Are those tomatoes ever going to turn red?

And the biggest question of them all-

What in the world should I make for supper?

Farm Fresh

DSC_0008Kinda excited today.

Not only are we packing up for our annual amazing July 4th camping trip with my family –

but I just realized that much of the food I’m bringing for my assigned meal, we grew or raised ourselves.

The broccoli in the broccoli salad – yep – I planted that one as a tiny black seed back in March.

And the bits of bacon sitting so pretty in the same salad came from our own pigs.

That container of lettuce big enough to feed an army – I grew that, too. And spent all morning washing it.

Those 2 ice cream buckets full of peas in the pod were picked fresh this morning.

We raised the ground beef and sausage in the meatballs. Oh – and the spaghetti sauce that they will float in – yep – I canned that last fall from our garden tomatoes.

I’m kind of amazed.

All that hard work.

All that fencing.

All those pig chases.

The bugs. The rain. The drought. The weeds.

And it worked!

Not gonna lie – it feels pretty good.

Yep – kinda excited today. 🙂

A Garden Search and Rescue

My garden – as our Amish neighbor’s would say – had “gotten away from us.”

T’was a mess.

I guess that’s no surprise considering a late frost – then lots of rain – and graduation – and then more rain and even some hail.

At least it’s planted – well most of it – thanks to my husband who added “help my frazzled wife plant the garden” to his endless list of projects this spring.

This week’s goal was to perform a garden search and rescue. Our mission – to find the vegetables and rescue them from the weeds.

The tomatoes and peppers were easy. They were well mulched and somewhat protected, so they are still looking good. We even have a blossom or two!

tomato

We discovered the first planting of corn and green beans – except for the last third of a row of beans that went AWOL.  Must have washed away. We replanted.

The peas were pretty entrenched in grass and weeds. When we finally freed them, they rewarded us with several blossoms.

The onions and radishes looked pretty good, when we finally found them. And we were able to salvage some of the lettuce, but the spinach was pretty beaten up by the hail.

radish

(Note – it doesn’t seem fair that the weeds right next to the spinach escaped hail damage – while the spinach plants were ripped to shreds. Just saying.)

But in all the hills of summer squash, spaghetti squash and zucchini that we planted just before graduation – there are only 4 plants.  The rest of the seeds must of washed away. They’re probably in Missouri by now.

And then there’s the 140 cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower plants.

neglected cabbage

The poor things were mired in mud, beaten by hail, and over taken by weeds. They were in definite need of rescue.

It was a massive job.

A week full of muddy “character-building” hard work that our children should someday thank us for.

But we did it.

This mission is complete.

And Even More Extreme Planting…

Since we are into extreme planting these days (remember the 500 trees) – why not extend that to the garden planting?!

DSC_0097
I guess if one buys hundreds of packets of seeds during winter snow storms, and then starts hundreds of tiny seeds in the grey days of early March, one should expect to plant many, many seedlings.

And so I did.

The 2 kinds of cauliflower, 2 kinds of broccoli, and 3 kinds of cabbage are in the ground.

Over 140 plants.

That is no joke. Jan counted them.

I’m either an overachiever or certifiably insane.

Or…maybe we just love cauliflower and broccoli.

At any rate, I should have enough cabbage to make sauerkraut for an entire German hamlet.

That is – if they actually grow.

And the bunnies don’t find them.

And the pigs don’t get out.

And the cabbage moths don’t infest them.

And the rains come.

And the creek don’t rise.

Okay – I’m certifiable.

It Worked!

Do you remember my crazy “early-February there is snow on the ground” attempt at planting my sale bulbs that should have been planted in October?

You know – the 400 bulbs we put on the ground and covered with the frozen blocks of top soil we got on clearance?

Yep – that crazy idea.

Would you believe –

tulip

It worked!

Well – kind of.

I didn’t get 400 beautiful flowers – not even a hundred.

Okay – barely 25.

But the ones that came are beautiful.

And it makes me happy.

Maybe I’m not so crazy after all.

Wait…don’t answer that.