Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Volunteer Peas and Brassica Overload

Hardening off the tomatoes and eggplants on the front step, under a bedsheet. Seems to be taking forever this year. 

I planted the cabbage I started from seed in the large rock bed.  Some were tiny, so I put milk jug halves over them to prevent them from getting scorched (or smothered by snow, as the case was last week).  I also planted Detroit Red and Chioggia beets in between them. I've read beets and cabbage are good "companions". 

We might have overdone it with respect to brassicas this year.  In addition to these cabbages, there are 12 cabbage transplants from the greenhouse in the north garden, along with 18 broccoli and 6 cauliflower.  The kale is in a raised bed behind the house (1 extra was stuck in the north garden this morning beside the cabbage).  I also have 6 broccoli transplants I grew from seed.  Where to put them?  I wish my family lived closer.  There will be plenty to share!

This morning, I planted the Painted Mountain Corn.  It ended up being a tight squeeze - I had a few left over, so put them in between the rows I'd already planted.  I hope they're not too close together.

Yesterday, I planted peppers along the south side of the house and a few others in one of the raised beds along the driveway.  Half are ones I started from seed, half are transplants from the greenhouse.

Volunteer peas!  In the corner of the south garden, in a 2 x 3' area where we'd stacked vines, tomato plants, bean stalks, etc to break down over the winter, volunteer peas started popping up earlier this month.  They haven't stopped coming!  I think we have about 20 volunteers up now, versus 4 of the peas we actually planted...on rows.  Ha ha!  When we were gathering up the dried vines and stalks this Spring to burn, we discovered a small pile of peas all gathered together.  It looks like some mice (or other critters) took advantage of the premade "nest" during the winter months.

Bea (R) and Loulou (L) eyeing a magpie on the fence.

Kitties enjoying the sunshine.  (Garbage cans = water barrels, for those who might be horrified and/or curious about the lack of aesthetics...  *cough*)

Friday, May 20, 2016

Sunburns in March, Mittens in May?

Pictures from this morning at 6:15am.  It snowed almost all day yesterday (often mixed with rain, so much of it melted) and it is still snowing.  5cm more is forecast for today.  The temperature is hovering around zero degrees (7:00am).

Not what we were hoping for, but better than a hard frost.

Crabapple tree

Lilac bush

Poor cherry tree!

Pea patch

Currant bush

Raspberry patch and neighbour's trees on fence line.

Trees at the front fence

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Just In Time for the May Long Weekend

Last night and this morning, the air has been hazy and filled with the smell of smoke from the wildfires near FSJ.  The temperature outside at 6:30am was 6 degrees.  Now, at 8:10am, it is 3 degrees, raining, and snowing.  While the precipitation is welcome,  I do wish it was a few degrees warmer.  Forecasts for the next three days call for overnight lows of -1 with more mixed rain and snow.  There is a weather warning in effect for the region that says snow accumulations of 5-10cm are possible for certain areas.  Typical ugly weather for the May long weekend!

Yesterday, I planted the cabbage transplants in the rock bed by the currant bush.  Many of the seedlings were nibbled to death by something that left pin-sized holes in the leaves, but I still managed to end up with 13 transplants.   I will happily use milk jugs to start my cabbage seed again next year.   :-)

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Trinity of Tedious and Back-Breaking Tasks

A busy few days.

Friday (May 13th) turned out to be flower day.  I cleared the rock bed of weeds and quack grass and planted Scarlet Flax, alyssum, Chinese Forget-Me-Not, pink, red, and lilac poppy, and rose mallow seeds.  In the North garden along the back near the fence, I planted Mexican Torch sunflower, Cupcake zinnia seeds.  I also popped in a few Early Russian sunflower seeds for good measure.  I love how big their heads get!

On Saturday (May 14th) we planted the potatoes in the East garden (beside the raspberry patch).  We planted Red Norland, Blue Russian, Yukon Gold, and Russet potatoes.  That garden is almost pure clay when you get below 8 inches. We dug trenches this year, done over a period of several days.  When we hit clay, we dug small divots to place the seed potatoes in.  Overkill, perhaps, but R thought it might work better.  Ideally, I would like to get some clean, dry straw to grow them in but getting a “small” amount of straw (e.g., a truckload or two) in an area where a bale is an enormous, round mass that can only be moved with heavy machinery can be challenging. 

Sunday (May 15th) we set up the trellises and twine in the South garden and planted peas.  (It took 3 seconds to type that sentence.  It took us over 3 hours to do the task.)   We planted Little Marvel (bush/snap), Green Arrow (bush/snap - our usual variety), Summer (bush/snap), and Corne de Belier (climbing - a snow pea variety).  The snow peas grow to 5 or 6 feet.  We're going to need to add extra support for those later...

R. put down weed-block fabric  to make a walkway in the North garden near the driveway, and along some of the raised beds where we plant things (sunflowers, peppers, etc) in containers.

I want to try growing a few dry pole beans this year, so R. brought home some poplar branches (6-8 feet long) and rigged them in the North garden using umbrella anchors!  We’ll see how that works and if they secure enough length on the bottom of the branches to hold them up all summer.

Of the Trinity of Tedious and Back-Breaking Tasks, the one that remains is weeding the raspberry patch.  Uhg.   I say weeding, but in fact it is faster and easier on my arms to trim around the existing canes with small shears or even scissors.  There are so many new, small (< 7 inches) raspberry plants growing in the patch that we (I) will have to weed it or else we will constantly be stepping on the new plants when we pick raspberries.  

FYI, the Trinity of Tedious and Back-Breaking Tasks consists of 1) digging up/planting the potato patch, 2) trellising/planting the pea patch, and 3) weeding the raspberry patch.  Any weeding, unless it can be done with a hoe, is liable to be approached with a deep sigh of resignation and followed by an Epsom salt bath!

Some of the dahlias that were zapped by the frost are showing signs of bouncing back.  Fingers crossed that they make a full recovery!

Thursday, May 12, 2016


Earlier this week, I spent several hours outside transferring my dahlia tubers into large containers and planting the 6 varieties of mint transplants we bought at Peavey Mart on the weekend.  The blossoms on the trees (crabapple, cherry, apple, and several whose names escape me) were beginning to fill the air with that gorgeous, light, sweet scent I love and that never seems to last long enough.  The lilacs were on the verge of opening and the pansies doing well.

The weather has been on the cool side this week, but not unreasonable for May.  The weather forecast over the last few days has shown overnight temperatures dipping to 0 to 2 degrees, but the items I have outside have always fared well down to zero.  Even so, we still cover things with sheets if there is a risk of frost.

Which we did last night, as the forecast predicted lows of -1 to 0.  When I went out this morning, however, and uncovered the things I spent hours planting (and in some cases, growing from seed and babying since March), I was met with a sickening sight.  I'm going to take a wild guess and say that the lows dipped below -1.  My dahlias - all 9 (I gave two away!) - are completely zapped.  Some of the mint is zapped.  The marigolds, some of the pansies, some of the parsley, and the lettuce that was just starting to come up is zapped.  The kale, leeks, onions, garlic, and chard, of course, are fine.

More zapped dahlias...and a photobomb by Bea, who is tossing something in the air.  (Lou is curled up in the plant next to her.)  Click picture to truly appreciate her moves.  *L*

This is what I get for being lulled into a false sense of security by months of unusually mild and sunny weather.  I should know by now not to even think of planting or putting out anything other than the most cold hardy vegetables before the middle of May.  :(   I will cut back the dahlias and the mint and hope they bounce back from scratch.  If not, it's another visit to the store for more mint, and it will be a summer of zinnias and sunflowers, from seed.

What's really unusual is that most of the leaves on the large trees (crabapples, lilacs, etc.) have been zapped as well.  So there they are, vibrant green and covered with fresh blossom, but badly wilted by frost.  Neither R nor I have seen this happen before and wonder what will happen - will the leaves bounce back, or fall off?  If they fall off, will new leaves grow back over the next few weeks?

crabapple outside plant room

crabapple outside plant room



Between aching from yesterday's potato trench digging and this morning's discovery of half my plants a wilty mess from frost, suffice to say I won't be doing one damn bit of gardening today.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Toughen Up

Hardening off the transplants.  (Lou assisting)

My leeks!  (I ran out of cardboard tubes...)

Monday, May 2, 2016

May 1st - A Head Start

Yesterday, we tilled and weeded the 3 garden plots, and finished turning over the raised beds along the driveway.  It took the entire afternoon, but it is finished and the spaces are ready to be planted.  We are ahead of the game by 2 or 3 weeks because of the wonderfully mild Spring we've had. It was around 26 degrees and I got my first sunburn of the season.  If the overnight temperatures hold, I will likely plant my leeks this week and the peas and potatoes can be planted next week.

 My kale and Swiss chard transplants have done well and I have started to harden off the marigolds and parsley.  I have also started to harden off the 13 potted dahlia tubers I have in the house.  It is a bit of a nuisance to haul the pots in and out in the morning and again at night, but after losing vegetables and flowers in the past, I am very cautious when hardening things off now.  It is more work the way I do it, but I've hardly lost anything during the process for the last 4 years.

The corn seedlings continue to thrive in the vermicullite!  We won't be able to transplant them outside for another month.  I wonder how large they will be come June?

First pansies

Leaves on the apple tree.

Loulou exploring behind the house.

She spots a bug!

Currant bush. (Ignore the tires, etc between the sheds. I try to...)

Close-up of the currant bush leaves.

One of the eggplants (Ping Tung)

North Georgia Candy Roaster (winter squash)



Feverfew (in front) and yarrow