Wednesday, June 10, 2015

a few baby pictures...fruit babies.

Well, my deer situation is still a work in progress and it is pretty depressing to go into all the details so here are a few happy pictures of baby fruit.
baby plums on the west tree
 Last year this tree had maybe four tiny plums.  It was the first time it had set fruit and just as they were starting to turn color they disappeared.  This year there are a least 20 on the branches.  The largest ones are already about the size of an almond in the shell and similar in shape.  Last year those first couple of fruit never got this big the whole season.  The other tree did not have any fruit last season and this year I have so far spotted only a couple of very tiny fruit.  It may be that this year that tree, the east tree, is doing what the west tree did last year. 
from a different angle
 Last year was the second year that we had apples on our two trees.  The first year we got maybe a dozen of smallish apples from each tree.  Last year, the second year we got only a few apples from the east tree but at least 20 or more of large, very nice apples from the west tree. 
baby apples on the east tree

apples on the west tree
 The grapes are full of clusters.  Just loaded.  This is the purple grape.  It has seeds and is very tiny and makes great jelly. 
baby grape clusters
 These are the raspberries.  They are tiny gray beads right now, but they will turn red and then black.  The canes are full and once they start to turn it will be a race to see who gets more, me or the birds. 
black raspberries
No fruit coming on the two pears.  Still waiting for their first fruit production.  Other fruit that we have planted recently but not gotten fruit from yet are the sand cherries, the elderberries, the cranberries and the gooseberries.  They were only planted last year so it may be too soon to expect any but I will be checking them out just in case. 

Other stuff--the greenhouse is empty.  It was just too hot for plants so the last of the plants are up by the house waiting for the deer situation to be better managed before they go in the ground.  The timer is working great for watering.  I have adjusted the timing a couple of different times hoping to discourage the deer.  The lawn is mowed but the part mowed first is looking like it needs it again.  The potager is completely planted, both seeds and transplants.  I have been working on a decorative spot in the big garden that so far has a small piece of picket fence, a bench and a couple of perennial plants.  The bench is the only part that was not given to me by my sister.  Thanks, Lisa.  I am hoping to make a seated scarecrow for the bench as part of the grouping. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

the potager gets a little attention and the cornfield is getting planted

Before there was the big vegetable garden, I gardened in raised beds.  It started out as four rectangular raised beds laid out in a square.  It eventually got a taller square bed in the center and a wood and chicken wire fence and then finally a few more smaller rectangular boxes squeezed in here and there for a total of 11 raised beds.  A potager was born.  The original four boxes were showing their age with some rotting of the wood and loosening of the screws that held the corners together.  The summer before last I replaced one of the boxes and my plan was to replace one a year building a new box, moving soil from one of the other boxes to the new box and then replacing the empty box with a new one and repeating the process until all four of the boxes were replaced.  Last fall we were given a trailer load of black dirt so we quickly put together the remaining boxes and filled them up with the black dirt ready for planting in the spring.

When spring arrived so did the thistles, dandelions and various grassy weeds.  They were everywhere, in the boxes, in the crushed granite that covers the walkways between the beds and around the outside of the potager.  While I have been busy with the greenhouse, the big garden, the mowing and the orchard the potager has gotten no attention.  A potager is traditionally a kitchen garden and my plan has been to put in there things that might be tempting to a rabbit since there is a fence around it.  Last year I tried planting edamame for the first time.  I planted it in the big garden and it was gone immediately, nibbled off at ground level.  I decided that I would try it again but this time in the potager.

I have lots of planting left to do in the big garden (the cornfield) but decided to focus on the potager while I wait to see if my deer repelling strategies are successful.  More about that later.  I had a some great help from Caitlin and Willow who were visiting and offered to help.  We were able to clear the weeds from all of the boxes and some of the walkways.  We then planted the center box as a meadow.  I am shamelessly trying to copy Su's meadow that can be seen in her blogpost here.  Scroll down to near the end of the post for a picture of the cutest meadow ever.

After Caitlin and Willow left I worked on planting the prepared beds.  The edamame seeds went into one of the long beds.  Next I planted the Kohlrabi seedlings in one of the perimeter beds.  A second long bed was planted with eggplant seedlings.  A third long bed was planted in short crosswise rows of salad greens--12 different kinds.  A second perimeter bed has lengthwise rows of three different kinds of romaine lettuces and a row of spinach.  The final long bed got two rows of onion seedlings and a row of beet seeds.

That left four small perimeter beds left to plant when the rain chased me out of the garden and into the house.  It wasn't much rain but more is predicted for during the night and it will be great to have all the newly planted stuff get a little rain.

And now a little bit about the deer in the big garden.   A couple weeks ago I had planted some kohlrabi, beets and onions.  They were all seedlings, the kohlrabi was a bit bigger but the others were pretty tiny.  I came back the next day and some of the kohlrabi had been eaten.  I was unable to locate the beets and onions so I am not sure if they were eaten too or just were too small and didn't make the transplanting and uncooperative (cool nights, cloudy but dry and brutal winds) weather.

Last weekend Nathan and Michelle and Nikole and Brad were at the farm along with their dogs Reese and Greta and Honey and Indiana.  We spent some time in the garden.  I would like to have the garden be no-till but it might be a bigger project than I can handle without tilling.  We will have to see how it evolves.  So we tilled the one end of the north half and planted the vine crops.  There were 110 plants in all including zucchini and yellow summer squashes, cantaloupe, and acorn, delicata and butternut winter squashes.  The area that will hold the sweetcorn was also tilled and after the kids left that area was readied and planted with 15 rows of sweetcorn.

We are growing six kinds of tomatoes, a hybrid slicer, two heirloom slicers, one paste and two cherry tomatoes.  The hybrid slicer, paste and one of the heirloom slicers went in first.  A row of each.  The next day I noticed that some of them had been broken off and the tops left laying and some were gone completely.  I was really surprised that they would be eaten.  I replanted and it was just about dusk when I finished and the very next morning some of them were gone.  I have three big dogs and although the garden is on the edge of the property and kind of separated from the house I really didn't expect to have so many repeat visitors.  I really cannot afford to fence the whole thing in and I don't want to unless I have to, so I checked the internet and came up with a list of things to try.  The easiest was to hang foil pie pans from strings to make noises in the breeze.  Mom and Dad were coming to the farm so i asked them to pick up some pans for me and by nightfall I had replanted the tomatoes, planted the other tomato varieties that had not been planted yet and as a test a couple of eggplant seedlings and Brussels sprout seedlings.   I have nine fence posts down the center of my garden and they all got a foil pan wind chime.  I also hung some on the trellising for a total of 12.  That was yesterday.  Today I walked to the garden and found that there were no new eaten tomatoes.  The eggplant and Brussels sprouts were just like when I planted them.  One night is not a guarantee of ongoing success.  It has been an extremely windy spring but that doesn't mean it will always be windy enough to move the pans and make noise so I am going to try a few other deterrents as well.  And keep my fingers crossed.

Thanks kids for all the help.  I will try to get a few pictures to share. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Strawberry moon arising...

Made me think of CCR's Bad Moon Rising so I had to go to you tube to take a quick listen.  While I was there I listened twice.  Still a great song.  I was a kid when it was released.  I may have even listened to it as an oldie.

I had some of my kids at the farm this weekend and all of the dogs--8 dogs total, including the three that live here.  What a great time.  I had some help with the garden, weeding and tilling.  I am still planting and to be honest we have still been having some nights drop into the 30s so it is probably fine that we are getting a later start.  We have had terrible wind so the plants already in the ground have taken a beating.  The water timer is working well.  Tonight some rain is predicted but unless we get a bunch I think I will let the sprinklers do their thing in the morning also.  Hoping to post some pictures soon once I get everything in the ground and looking presentable.  I have not had much success selling plants in the farmstand.  I may have been late getting them out there, so I will be looking for space to plant those plants as well.