There is a lot going on in the garden now, but I thought I would take a little time to mention something that I find important.  Soil is not just dirt.  It is full of life and all the creatures in the soil make up the soil food web.  It is pretty common to rototill the garden to make the soil nice and fluffy to plant in.  However, that tiller is killing a lot of the life that lives in the soil, like worms, slugs, earwigs, centipedes, pill bugs, and even smaller critters.  Since these creatures eat other life forms and are food for other creatures the web of life is disrupted, and if this is done continually then the soil gradually dies.  Then you just need a lot of synthetic fertilizer to get your plants to grow.

I know there are different opinions on this, and a lot of great gardeners till their gardens each year.  I just think there is a healthier way that seems to work, though I admit I still have a lot to learn about soil.

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Collards planted a few weeks ago are growing strong.  I just dig a hole and amend the soil a little in the hole.  The soil is dark and has plenty of worms.

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I put up a lot of big tomato cages for my two little tomato plants.  Once some of these plants start growing they can get aggressive and will take as much room as you give them.  I should be able to eat from these red and green romaine lettuce plants in a few days.  Plants that will be in this area and a little beyond the picture are tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, cucumbers, turnips, eggplant, brussel sprouts, mint, and green beans.  A bunch of other vegetables are in other areas…  Once the seeds sprout and everything is growing I will put down some more mulch.

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This book, I checked out from the library, explains no-till gardening among other good garden practices.

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Pak choy flowers and a pollinator.

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I noticed the rhubarb was flowering again this week.  I cut back all the flower stalks.  The article I was reading said that if you keep cutting them back the plant will eventually go back to focusing on growing leaves instead of flowers.  I am hoping that is also true for my vegetables that made it through the winter but are flowering now.  Last summer the kale flowered all summer, but it also grew a lot of leaves that we ate until December.

I made my first batch of rhubarb sauce yesterday!

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I just finished listening to this audiobook, A County Year.  I did not want it to end.  It describes a bee keeper who lives in the Ozarks and what happens to her over the course of a year.

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We have a guard robin, instead of a guard dog!  Lots of bugs these days for this bird!

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One morning I threw part of a bucket of water on my strawberries and I saw the snake scurry off.  I don’t think snakes like strawberries, but they may keep my patch more free of pests like slugs.

It is almost berry time!


Last week, as I looked at pictures of last year in the garden, I realized that it was time for the vernal witch hazel to bloom, so I went out in the snow to take a look.  Sure enough the bottom branches were starting to bloom.

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First yellow blooms on the vernal witch hazel bush.

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Stepping back to see the whole vernal witch hazel bush, which was planted in the fall of 2012.  Just the bottom branches are starting to bloom.

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Wednesday morning brought six more inches of wet, heavy snow, which weighed down the shrubs.  I had to go out to the yew bushes in the front of this picture and the viburnum in the very back and shake the icy snow off of each branch to keep them from breaking and get them to stand up straight again.  Then on Friday the weather was in the 50s and the snow started melting quickly.

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The ice around the low hoop finally melted enough so that I could open one side and get some fresh air in.  Although it looks pathetic after months of freezing weather, I was heartened to see the onions growing and new leaves on the kale and tatsoi.  I could probably throw some lettuce seeds in here in a little while and see what comes up.

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Although the yellow kale leaves are only good for compost there are new green leaves starting in the center showing that the plant is alive. So I should have this plant producing food again soon.

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The pak choi roots have sent up new leaves!  There were also a couple of leaf lettuce plants with new leaves.

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Strawberry leaves poke out of the snow in the garden.  I saw quite a few strawberry plants coming up, so once it is a little warmer I will need to clean out the dead material and extra vines around each plant.

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Various types of sedum are greening up around the garden.  I don’t want to clean up the leaves too much because we are expecting more snow and cold weather on Sunday.

Animal sighting:  I saw a skunk meandering near the little pond I can see from the window at work.  Later in the week I was driving through my neighborhood and smelled the strong smell of skunk.  Seems like the wildlife are ready to come out of their hibernation now, too.


November 10, 2013

One of my favorite shrubs has some pretty fall color this week.

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The fothergilla bush mixes red, orange and yellow colors together in the fall.  This is a four season bush and maybe my favorite.

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I planted another little fothergilla bush in the corner of the yard this spring.  I think this one is called ‘beaver creek.’  It has had a terrible time all year.  I have been nursing it along, but enjoy the promise of bright colors in the future from looking at it today.

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I walked past the miscanthus ‘morning light’ today and notice that it was turning orange/red.

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This weekend was all about building the compost pile.  We mowed and mulched up the leaves.  We will probably have as much again of leaves before we are done.  Meanwhile the pile will heat up and shrink this week.  I added green items to the pile and a bucket of water.

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This red lettuce was looking beautiful today.  Unfortunately it tastes very bitter, but it is great for the compost pile.

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I badly needed to thin out some of the vegetables under the plastic hoop.  This is pak choi that we flash fried at lunch.  I also thinned out some lettuce that we put in a green smoothie this morning.

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Whenever I bring in vegetables I tend to also bring in some creature.  On Monday evening I went in to bring in some lettuce after dark.  I had the yard light on, so I could barely see the lettuce.  Now I see that the slugs are active at night and enjoying the vegetables, too. Here is a little slug that was in the sink.

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Here is a bigger slug I found when I propped up one of the collard plants.  The collards have holes on them, but it is not a big issue.

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The green tomatoes I brought in three weeks ago are gradually turning red.  They are kind of ugly looking tomatoes, but they taste good!

October Vegetables

October 8, 2013

The zucchini never really happened and the cucumbers are long gone.  The beans seem to have lost almost all their leaves, or maybe the grasshoppers have been chewing on these plants.  The tomatoes have struggled this year, but are still putting out a few ripe ones.  But some vegetable look great this time of year…

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Territorial Seed Company – TR980 – Tokyo Cross Hybrid Turnip.  This is the first time I have grown turnips and they are really fun to see.  I am not really sure when to eat them.  They are in my winter garden, so no rush to pick them before the frost, since I have a plastic covering to put over this area.

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Territorial Seed Company – Mustard -MU528 Tah Tsai.  Just another picture of my tatsoi in the winter garden.

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I just picked this yellow pepper.  I hope some more peppers ripen soon.

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Winterbor kale – This is a new plant I stared in August.  On the left is seed savers exchange ‘prize choi’ pak choi.  I also have quite a bit of leaf lettuce growing in this area.

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Here is a forest of kale, collards and brussel sprouts that is about four feet tall.  Anyone need any greens?  We have enough to feed a lot of people…  I picked two little brussel sprouts off the plant and threw them in my kale soup and they tasted good, so I will start harvesting more soon.  We also have a few broccoli spears that are ready to be eaten.

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Heirloom cherry tomatoes – ‘Mexican Midget.’  These are so sweet and steady all summer.  I eat a dozen or more every day.

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‘Burpee’s Golden’ beets.  What do you think?  They have been looking pathetic and dried out all summer, but just started to turn a little pink after the rain.

Tonight I pick four large strawberries in the garden, which was a nice treat.  I also have strawberries growing in a container and I wonder if it is too late to put them in the ground somewhere, if I can find space for them….

Watering Week

May 19, 2012

Last weekend I planted a lot of small vegetables and seeds, so I have been watering every day this week to get the seeds to sprout.  Hopefully they will not need much water once they get established.  So far some cucumber and bean seeds have sprouted, but I am still waiting for the nasturtium seeds to sprout.  Today it was 90 degrees, but the weather may cool down some this week.

The irises opened about 10 days ago.  They are so showy to look at from the kitchen window!  I will need to divide them and move some of them or give them away….

I love it when the first foxgloves bloom.  The bees love it, too.  Maybe I can even attract a hummingbird.

In March I moved the big catmint out of this bed to a place where it would have more room to spread out without flopping on the lawn or shading the other plants.  That left a hole and I put a few small plants in, which will take a while to fill in.  I could always throw in a few annuals this year if needed.  Everything is growing well at this point!

A closer look at Blue Hill Salvia and a geranium.  The moonbeam coreoposis on the left looks like it is getting overpowered by the salvia.  The daisies, back right, will be coming soon.

Funky onion showing off!   You can see a few beans that have just sprouted on either side of it.  My neighbor told me he had some left over mulch from last year, and then he gave me five bags, which I put down this morning in the vegetable garden after getting the little weeds up. Behind the fence on the left is a cherry tomoto, cucumbers, kale and my mint patch.  Right behind the onion is a patch of potatoes.  I guess I left some potatoes in the ground last year without knowing it and got a new batch this year. Also on the right is some swiss chard that came back on its own after the winter.  The yellow yarrow is so pretty.  Pictures of that next time.

Looking back at the garden from the other side…  I put up my bean poles for the climbing beans.  They are starting to sprout, too.  On the left are beets, pak choi, more kale and fennel.  Not shown in these pictures is all the leaf lettuce!  I have so much I really have to be diligent to keep eating it every day to keep it coming.  Also, I am starting to eat the first strawberries.  YUM!

A close up of common sage flowers.  I managed to capture the bumble bee on the left.

Dan’s favorite thing in the garden is definitely our Chinquapin oak tree.  He says the branches have grown up and out about a foot this spring.  There is still not a lot of shade, but significantly more each year.

Still waiting for bluebirds this year!  I do have baby sparrows in one of our bird houses.