Monday, May 26, 2014

a few spring photos

Yesterday I grabbed my phone to take this picture of Sadie.

Sadie has a knack for always finding any new spot of ground that has been dug or new pile of weeds that has not been picked up yet as her spot for her nap.  This is the newly planted hedge of four sand cherry bushes.  They were dormant bare root plants that are really nothing more than a twig right now and she is perfectly centered between the second and third plants, missing both.
Here she is looking at me as if to say, 'why are you disturbing my nap to take a picture?'

And since I was taking pictures here are a few more:
fern peony


flowering cherry from Nikole

closeup of the flowering cherry, loaded with blooms

west apple tree

east apple tree

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

a great day for planting

Today has been a great day for planting.  The morning was cool and cloudy, the garden soil is friable and not too wet.  Last evening I planted the four sand cherry bushes that had arrived on the weekend.  They are planted as a short hedge just north of the berry box.   Today I added two elderberry bushes north of the sand cherries and a gooseberry plant.  After that I planted the two hazelnut bushes/trees.  One of them went on each side of the white fence, the south one is west of the evergreens and the north one is east of the evergreens.  I am still undecided about where to put the two chestnut trees because they will grow into large shade trees and I am hoping to leave as many sunny areas for garden spots as I can.  I think that I will pot them up and hopefully that will work well until I can come up with a spot. 

In the cornfield garden I have been working up some of the planting rows and some weeding.  I have gotten the first six planting rows turned and the walking rows between them weeded and a row of  Big Beef tomatoes and a row of leeks planted.  The ground is dry and I had not yet  had the sprinkler going.  It was winterized last fall and I wasn't sure what to expect this spring when we fired it up again.  I was pleased to see that we have strong water pressure so I am thinking there are no major leaks. 

Plans for tomorrow: plant two rows of tomatoes, one row of Brussels sprouts  and hopefully two rows of asparagus in the cornfield garden, finish weeding the third year asparagus patch, the raspberries and the rhubarb.  Start making tomato stakes.  Mow.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

crossing a couple of things off the to do list

Between a crazy busy schedule and uncooperative Mother Nature the stuff on the to do list has been stubbornly stuck there for most of what was supposed to be spring.  I think that we are past the frost warnings and we are supposed to have a couple of warm, sunny days coming up so maybe the garden will get in.  The 4/10ths of rain that we had day before yesterday has left the ground pretty moist but I am hoping that tomorrow it will be dry enough to plant.

The lawn has been loving the cool, wet weather and I have finally gotten the entire lawn mowed.  It was long enough to almost bale it.  The last of it required raising the deck and taking a half swath in order to make it through.  One good thing is that all of that long grass on the lawn was picked up and used to mulch the walking rows in the garden.  I was able to mulch 4 1/2 rows with a nice thick layer of the cut grass clippings.

The other thing to cross off the list was the farmstand awning.  Nathan and Michelle were at the farm this weekend and Nathan put in some time helping to stabilize the awning's front edge.  A couple more screws and a little paint and it was ready to move down to the end of the driveway.  I put a few tomato seedlings down there for sale and tomorrow hope to add some leeks and lettuces and Brussels sprouts seedlings.

And then since I was taking pictures I took these pictures of the orchard:




ornamental ready to bloom

  The apples are getting leaves but no flowers yet.  The grapes are still dormant.  The blueberries that I transplanted are starting to show early signs of life.

And a teaser

Blog posts have been pretty infrequent lately but I have lots of material to post about.  Soon.  I recently served several appetizers to a group that I belong to when it was my turn to serve lunch. I helped my sister with her daughter's graduation party and she has promised her recipes which were all very good and easy to prepare.  And this weekend, my daughter Nikole will be celebrating a milestone birthday and there will be food.  And recipes.  And pictures.  Plus I vow to get caught up on the cookbook reviews and recipes.

quick and easy appetizer--three ingredients and no cooking

Friday, May 16, 2014

Manny helps with the cricut

Manny checking out the action
I have a project that I have been working on.  My niece is graduating this month and she and her mom, my sister, have been making party plans.  They have decided to have cupcakes instead of a decorated sheet cake and we have been looking at the cute cupcake wrappers.

My daughter has a cricut, so we had been thinking that we could make our own wrappers in colors that would coordinate with the party theme colors.  A while back she ordered a cartridge for the cricut and when she was home at Easter she cut out a sample.  My thoughts were that she would be home to cut the wrappers or at least get everything set up so that after the first ones were cut I could finish the rest of them. 

That was not to be.  My daughter lives on the other side of the state and the cricut machine and the party are on my side of the state.  There is something to be said about moving out of your comfort zone and learning something new.  I now know how to use the cricut.  I can change the cutting blade and I downloaded computer software and now can run the cricut from my PC instead of fighting with the itty-bitty print on those flexible keyboards that come with the cartridges.  

150 cupcake wrappers later I feel like a pro.  I used the new software to 'weld' together the letters of  my niece's name and 2014 to make little bits from the paper scraps that can be scattered across the burlap table runner that my sister has planned should she choose to use them.   

My other crafty project for her party was to make tissue paper pompoms to suspend from her ceiling.  I followed a tutorial from Pinterest and they couldn't be easier.  The party is tomorrow and I will try to get some pictures of the finished products.  

Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Codie story

A couple of days ago this was my berry box.  On the left side of the picture are my cranberries, recently planted.  When I was prepping the bed to plant the cranberries I was adding peat moss to the sand that had been in there for a long time.  As I was mixing the peat into the sand i discovered an old bone that had probably been buried.  Usually it is Codie that buries stuff and we have seen Sadie watching her and later going and getting it.  I offered the bone to Sadie who was laying under the tree and she didn't seem too interested in it.  Later I gave it to Codie.

I didn't think anything more about that bone until I came out of the greenhouse today to find Codie standing in the cranberries gingerly pawing at the soil mixture in the cranberry bed.  I called to her to get out of the bed and when I got closer this is what I found:

She had holes dug all over the bed and the only thing that I could come up with is that she was looking for that bone that was long gone.  She appears to have carefully gone around the plants and none of them seem to have been damaged.  Tomorrow I will smooth the dirt mixture and if it looks like it will be an ongoing problem I will put the old blueberry fence around the box. That Codie.  She is such an important part of the farm.  It is hard to be angry with her. 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

a few signs of spring

We had four tenths of an inch of rain overnight along with some thunder and lightening.  More is predicted for this evening and overnight and we are in a tornado watch.  It would seem like spring has arrived.  I did a little tour of the growing spaces looking for evidence of spring's arrival and some plants are showing no evidence.  Lots of trees are not leafing out yet but a few have started.

The flowering ornamental from Nikole

The west apple tree

The east apple tree

one plum tree

the other plum

The replacement pear planted last year
No potatoes growing yet but I checked the peas and found a few were starting to sprout.

The rhubarb that was not visible a couple of days ago now looks like this.

The raspberry plants that I transplanted from where they were growing wild in the grove are starting to get some green on them.

Our first asparagus spear has started to grow.

 There is a bird nest on the grape arbor.  No signs of life yet from the grape vines but it seems that they have usually been later to come around.

The fern peony is coming along.  Nearby is one of Sadie's favorite places to lay so I have added a tomato cage in hopes of preventing it from getting napped on.

And a couple other signs of spring:

The grass is green and needs to be mowed.
Gemma was outside of the fence and couldn't find her way back in today.  Twice.
We have seen our first wood ticks and garter snakes.
We have had invitations to three weddings, two college graduations, one high school graduation, prom grand march, three May birthdays, a three day weekend and mother's day.

And Sadie manages to find every new pile of weeds or freshly turned earth to sleep on.  Gotta love her.  Yesterday I missed getting pictures of her sleeping in the center raised bed in the potager and the day before I missed getting a picture of her sleeping on the compost pile. 

Here she is on a new pile of weeds that had just been raked out of the flower bed and not yet picked up. 

Someday I am going to do a post that is just pictures of Sadie napping in different spots on the farm.  She is a sweet girl and the farm wouldn't be the same without her so I don't really mind if she flattens a few flowers.


the berry box

Years ago when my kids were small we had a sandbox.  I have been considering what to do with it since it is no longer used and have also been considering adding more fruit to the farm.  Last year I began reading about cranberries as I love craisins in salads and learned that cranberries grow in a part sand/part peat mixture.  I divided the sandbox in two parts and built a little platform in the center as that part of the box would be hard to reach to plant, weed or harvest without climbing into the box.  I moved the little bit of sand that was remaining into the north part of the box for the cranberries and planned to put another fruit in the south U-shaped portion.

Over the course of last summer it became apparent that my efforts to amend the soil in my row of six blueberry plants was not working.  The plants were alive but just barely.  They were not thriving.  they were not increasing in size and although they had a few leaves the leaves were yellow in color.  I used a pH kit to try to see what the pH of the soil was.  I added vinegar and coffee grounds and sulfur with no improvement noted.  I am not sure how long those amendments need in order to cause a change  I bought a pH meter and still my soil was not acidic.

Over the winter I did some reading and video watching about gardening blueberries in containers and began to think about moving my blueberries and decided to put them in the other part of the sandbox.  One of the videos I watched suggested a container mix that was 1/3 peat moss, 1/3 wood bark chips and 1/3 azalea potting mix. Early this spring I began trying to source those products in order to prep the space and hopefully move the blueberries while there were still dormant.  In this post  there is a picture of the sandbox  with its two sides with their special soil mixtures and here is a picture of the planted bed.  Right now I have the sundial sitting on the center platform but I can also picture it with a birdbath or some form of garden art.  It would also be pretty with some potted flowers. 

The cranberries are looking great.  It is hard to tell for sure about the blueberries.  Are they still dormant?  Just starting to notice that it is spring?  There are the brown twigs but also some paler twigs which I am hopeful are new growth.  not having had any successful experience with blueberries I am not sure what to expect.

Got my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

a little help with the farmstand

Last year was the first year that we had a farmstand.  We repurposed an old wooden trailer, painted it red and Caitlin painted the lettering on the sides.  Dad and I put on a roof, using some plywood along with some rafters from a dog kennel built by my brother.  This is what it looked like last summer:

My plan over the winter was to cover the rafters and add an awning.  My sister had donated to the cause a sheet of red rubber-like corrugated roofing that I backed with a lightweight wood frame and today was the day to add it to the farmstand.  

This photo is from today.  It was taken in the machine shed where the lighting is poor so the picture is pretty dark.

The rafters are covered on both ends and the awning has been attached.  It is hinged to the uprights that hold up the roof and all that is left is to devise a way to support the awning at the correct angle.  Right now the front edge is propped up by a dark green ladder which is barely visible in the above picture.  I would like to find a way to support it so it is secure in the wind but can be lowered if necessary and fastened to the posts on really windy days.  I am hoping that it will provide a little shade to the vegetable bins as this end of the farmstand faces the south.

I did have a little help on this project.  Below is Caitlin's cat Manny who was my assistant today.

Manny standing on the awning.  He crawled up the rolling stairs in order to get on top.

From the awning it was a short hop to the roof
I have a little touch up painting to do and am considering a little red trim along the edges of the peak.  Caitlin suggested a cute wood filigree to add to the top but we would need to customize one and that might end up being a next winter project as I am hoping to have the farmstand out at the end of the driveway  soon with a few of our extra plant starts for sale.