Thursday, June 26, 2014

first harvest of 2014

we are starting to get some snow peas on the trellis and I picked a few of them. 

There were a few more that never made it to the bowl as they were eaten during the harvest.

And here is the first zucchini that was harvested.

 This was taken on the way to my sisters where I traded it for a steak.  Just kidding, she invited me for supper and made steaks on the grill and grilled potatoes and onions.  I took along the zucchini to share. 

Within a couple days we will have yellow summer squashes big enough to harvest as well.  It is a start. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

the wheelbarrow is planted

We keep getting rain, 5 1/2 inches this week.  It could be worse so I am counting my blessings.  A half hour away they had over 5 inches in one storm where we got 1 1/2. 

There is not much getting planted so I had an opportunity to spend a little time on the wheelbarrow.   Here is the before picture.  It is an old wheelbarrow that was left at Nikole and Brad's house and they were not planning to use it.  It is not very functional as it is low to the ground and has a hard rubber tire so it is difficult to wheel and stuff falls out the front if you stand up straight.

I debated about painting it but like the chippy look.  I did paint the part that will hold the soil with some black rustoleum paint hoping to forestall any additional rusting.

Here it is with a few plants.  I am hoping that they will get bigger and it will have a full, lush look with plants draping over the edges.  It does not have a final location yet.  I am planning to put it in the garden with a section of picket fence behind it and maybe a scarecrow but that part of the garden is not ready yet, needing badly to be weeded and then planted.

Next I am thinking about planting my old weber grill. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

an unplanned 'craft project'

A couple days ago I noticed that one of my sand cherry plants which used to be a twig with leaves at the top was now shorter and minus the leaves.

I felt terrible assuming that I must have snagged it with the mower.  I was hoping that it would come back.

 Then today I noticed that there was another of the sand cherry plants that had been sheered off about 10 inches off the ground and a second one that had one of the branches broken at about the same height.  It wasn't the mower.  Something has been nibbling on my new plants.  The gooseberry had been similarly sheered off. 

I set about to find some way to protect my tender new plants hoping to use materials that I have one hand and came up with the idea of using chicken wire to wrap around an old tomato cage.  I have both tomato cages and chicken wire.  It worked pretty well and now I have seven chicken wire cages completed and installed.  tomorrow I will do four more in order to get the new nut trees protected as well.  I have been seeing a rabbit along the edge of the grove but have never really struggled with rabbits eating my garden before.  

As I was installing the cages around the plants I noticed that the missing parts of the plants were lying there.  That darn rabbit.  If he was going to ruin my plants he should have at least eaten the plant. 

I did rescue the branches and trimmed off the broken end and stuck them in some soil mix hoping to root them.  I am still hoping that the other ones will come back. 

Monday, June 16, 2014


There is a garden blog that I read regularly.   A link to it is located on the right side of my page under 'Inspiration'.  Today in my email inbox is their June Garden Update where they write about, among other things, their succession planting.  I am still planting first crops as nearly a quarter of my garden is yet to be planted.  And Saturday evening we had 2 inches of rain.  And Saturday overnight we had another inch.  Sigh... 

It will be days before I get more stuff planted.  And there is more rain predicted every day this week.   Sigh... 

This is a new lake in the field across the road from my farmstand

every low spot in the yard has standing water

water standing in the road ditch

At least the lawn was mowed. 

I think that I am going to call everything that goes in after today a succession crop. 

There are some good things. 

I was able to spend the afternoon with my parents and siblings celebrating Father's Day without feeling guilty about not being in the garden. 

I discovered that my sump pumps in the basement and well hole are working just fine.  Last fall Nathan did some work on them and this was the first opportunity to see if his upgrades were successful, and they were. 

My newly planted fruit and nut bushes and trees got a good drink.  They are spread out all over the yard so dragging a bucket or hose around is a task that I shouldn't have to do for a few days. 

There are some areas of the yard that I have been neglecting that might get some attention while we wait for the garden to dry out. 

This wheelbarrow might actually get planted...

This wheelbarrow was gifted to me by Nikole and Brad.  This treasure was left behind at their house and they weren't needing it...  Actually it is not very functional and I think that they were glad to be rid of it.  It is short.  If you want to use it a person, even a short person like me, would need to walk really hunched over because standing erect everything falls out the front.  It lists a little to the left.  The paint is chippy--or is that rust? 

I think it will be perfect filled with flowers and I asked my mom that if she saw any good deals on her trips to the garden center would she bring back something for the wheelbarrow.  And she did.  I have a new box of flowers just waiting to be planted.  I can picture it setting on the far edge of the garden along with that chunk of picket fence from my sister and maybe a scarecrow. 

Some other things to be thankful for is that I may have a quarter of the garden left to plant but that means that three quarters is planted.  And lots of that is up and growing.  I can row the corn, the potatoes and edamame are up, and the peas are growing up the trellises.  The zucchini and summer squash and other vine crops are getting blossoms.  The sweet potato slips that we grew from scratch seem to be doing well.  I am getting lots of grass clippings collected and spread between the rows which should help keep the weeds at bay.  Each week more of the garden construction, those things that have to be done only once like building raised rows and setting posts, get done. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

baby fruit to show off

The past several years I have been adding fruit to our yard, expanding our "orchard" each year.  Last year for the first time we had apples on our two apple trees. This year one of the trees is again getting fruit.  I the second tree is not yet and I cannot remember last year if they started at the same time or not. 
several apples on the west tree
Two years ago we planted two different plum trees and this year there is fruit forming.  When I looked last evening there were several small fruits starting on the smaller (west) tree but none on the larger (east) tree.  Today when I looked there was one tiny fruit on the east tree as well.  I am hoping that there will be more and that they are just getting started. 

plums on the west tree starting to form
The last couple of years we have gotten a good crop of small purple grapes.  We have used them for jelly.  They have seeds and tiny so not easy to eat.  Perhaps with better management they would produce a bigger fruit. 

tiny grape clusters just starting to form

I took a picture of one of the pear trees.  They are not getting fruit yet but I thought the foliage was pretty with its two colors.  I don't know if that is normal or not but both trees have a variety of leaf color.  They are two year old trees so I am not sure if I should be expecting fruit anytime soon.

pear with green and pink leaves
Just a little update on the garden but no pictures.  I am still planting, with approximately 2/3 of it planted.  The weeds are loving our warm and moist spring and growing like crazy.  Lots of the garden is transplants of things that were started from seed in the greenhouse.  Those that were planted out earliest are looking the best.  The plants that waited longer in cups are paler, more yellow than green.  I am hoping that once they get into the soil they will green up.  I have 2/3 of the sweetcorn planted and some is up now.  The edamame is up, the vine crops are starting to flower (even those still in the cups), the peas are climbing the trellises. 

I had hoped to have the entire garden planted by now but I am pleased to be making progress every day.  Much of what I am doing is still construction of the garden and those are things that I shouldn't have to repeat every year.  I am hoping that once the construction phase of the garden is done that it will be easy to plant in a few hours or a couple of days.  There have been some successes, so I think that I am on the right track.  The soil in the raised rows that were constructed last year is very friable, it dries out quickly after a rain.  The weeds pull easily and when it is not muddy the stirrup hoe works great. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Two down, one to go

We had three food related events in May and I was determined to blog about each of them.  One was an appetizers only buffet that was what I served to a group that I belong to when it was my turn to provide the lunch for our monthly meeting.  That post can be found here.

Our second event was the graduation party for my niece, Kaylee.  The post about her party is now completed and can be found on my blog A Dozen For Dinner here.

The post includes a few pictures and links to all of the recipes.  It was a fun party, successful in that the food was great, and everyone seemed to have a good time.  Kaylee heard lots of compliments afterwards from her friends.  High praise indeed if teenagers are impressed.   :)

It was fun to be a part of it.  

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The blue farm truck

Back in August of 2013 I wrote this post about my blue farm truck.  It was a gift from my brother, Jack, who several years ago started working with old Tonka toys.  He buys them, usually online and then goes to work refinishing them and personalizing them.  As part of that post my daughter, Caitlin, took some outside pictures of the truck.  She positioned it on the driveway and lying on the ground took pictures using our buildings as the backdrop to make it appear as if the truck was a real truck instead of a foot long toy.  I think the pictures kind of fool the eye.

Last month, Jack had surgery and when we were at his house he sent home a truck that had not been refinished.  It was similar to my 'before' truck and he sent it for me to have at my house for a while.  Comparing the before and after is is apparent how much hard work and attention to detail goes into one of his projects.  Jack has done many projects, many are pickups but he recently finished a firetruck.

Here are a few pictures from my house on my table and following the link above to the first post there are some pictures that Jack took at his house and the pictures that Caitlin took outside.

this truck is in its original condition

pretty rusted

original stickers

side by side

The door sticker and the sticker that he had made for the box

a closer view of the sticker

the white stock racks

The fronts

The rears
 It is a beautiful and special gift and I will treasure it forever. 

a new product for the farmstnad

Our family has made and used fire starters for quite a few years.  We make ours in little paper drink cups.  If you place a fire starter cup under your wood and light the edge of the cup you will quickly have a nice fire going.  We have always made our fire starters with candle wax and wood chips or sawdust.  My dad uses them to start the fire in his wood burning stove in his workshop and my brother, Jack, uses them to start a fire in his fireplace.  We also use them to start fires when camping and for fires in the fire pit.

Jack needed to have a tree in his yard cut down and has been collecting sawdust and wood chips.  He recently took over the fire starter production duties.  We are utilizing some old  candle wax shared with us by our sister-in-law, Patty, who had a candle making hobby.  Jack has made quite a few fire starters, many more than he will need, so we decided to try offering a few for sale in the farmstand.  Jack says that our fire starters work better than the ones that he has purchased in stores for the same purpose. 

I will package them up in a smaller quantity for camping or fire pits and a larger quantity for people who use them regularly and see if there is any interest.

smaller (left) and larger (right) packages.

 They are going to go in this cute basket once the weather settles and down to the end of the driveway.  Thanks, Jack for sharing your fire starters.

These large baskets are a new addition to the farmstand.  They were discovered and purchased by Nikole who bought the last four that were in stock.  I am excited to think of seeing them filled with gourds and Indian corn and popcorn and sweet corn and mini pumpkins and acorn squash and summer squash or loaves of bread or bags of homemade egg noodles or biscotti or dog treats.  the possibilities are endless.  Thanks Nikole for finding these baskets.