Monday, July 25, 2011

July out at the 'Farm'

I've been a bad girl and have failed to keep you up-dated on the progress of our 'Farm'. Almost everything planted has done amazingly well, especially the weeds, and we have started harvesting crops already. We had a good start with the zuchini, and got a bunch of them all at once, but one plant has died and I think maybe the heat has slowed down the other one. That's OK, we have enjoyed the ones we have eaten, and there will be more. Some of the brocolli have produced some yummy heads, the lettuce was delish. Last week I thinned out the beets and cooked up a mess of beet greens and baby beets that was wonderful!!! So much so that I just went out and bought more beet seeds for a second crop to fill in the spot where we lost 3 cabbages. I think I might try to slip in those pretty Swiss Chard Rainbow Mix seeds next to the beets too. The cabbages are getting big enough to start harvesting, so we'll be having some cole slaw for dinner pretty soon. Last night I picked three nice sized pickle cucumbers to add to some greek salad for dinner this evening.
Below are some photos I've taken as things progress out at the 'Farm'. You can see how fast things are growing! The bottom picture was taken just late last week, there is hardly room to walk down the paths to water and check the crops. There's a good set of green tomatoes on most of the plants, so any day now, we expect to start harvesting those. And the winter squashes!!! Sheesh! I swear they are trying to over-run the whole place. I have to keep steering the vines back into their designated area, otherwise I think they'd be out on Newburg Road
Al, diligently hoeing weeds
things are growing!

and growing

and GROWING!!!

I got another nice selection of seeds from the Seeds of the Month Club this month, and while I won't be able to fit them into this season, there is always next. This month I got some Garlic Chives, Salad Cucumbers, Okra, and Sweet White Spanish Onions. The seeds will keep until next summer, unless I see that yes indeed, I can fit in just one more crop. By then, I should have a really nice collection of wonderful new things to try, Mike sends such a great assortment every month.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Out at 'The Farm'

Things are coming along nicely out at 'The Farm'. We got our plants in and our seeds planted just after Memorial Day, and spent the next several evenings making sure everything was well watered to ensure a good start. Before planting the beans, we constructed tee-pees of bamboo poles and twine for them to grow on, and set a sturdy tomato cage around each of our tomatoes.  After a few days, we sprinkled on some 13/13/13 fertilizer for the plants, and decided to wait a bit to fertilize the seedlings, not wanting to disturb them unnecessarily.

Above, you can see the slightly raised beds I designed for our garden, keeping all foot traffic in the lower areas to keep the soil from getting compressed, making it easier to care for the plants, weed and hopefully harvest our crops.
We were out there last a couple of days ago and the seeds were all starting to emerge, the tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli and squash were all growing nicely, and we needed to weed! Boy do those weeds grow fast! Tons of little seedlings all over the place! Al made short work of them with a hoe, we watered again, and as the sun went down, we were on our way home. The weeds will be back I'm sure, but as long as we can keep them under control while the crops gain in size, we'll be OK.

I got another nice selection of seeds from the Seeds of the Month Club this month, and I sure wish I had a place to fit in some of those beautiful Swiss Card plants! Look at the color on those! I can plan on fitting them in next summer though, the seeds will keep until then, along with the Roma Tomatoes, Cilantro, and Eggplant. By then, I should have a really nice collection of wonderful new things to try, Mike sends such a great assortment every month.
The Seeds of the Month Club is distributed by Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, who also administers the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Opening Day!

   Finally! After one of the wettest springs in my memory, the community gardens at Greenmead are finally open! We were able to check in with Brad, the head gardener there, find and mark our assigned 25 by 25 plot and plan on setting to work in it as soon as the weather and soil cooperated. When we checked in last Saturday, it was still too wet to work the soil- still some standing water, and muddy patches. Since the city never got to do the final plowing and disking, it was rough, and full of weeds, debris and a scattering of volunteer lettuce and dill. I could take my vegetable and herb plants out of the greenhouse and harden them off for planting! Woo-hoo!

Nice looking plants!

Our 'Farm'

Yesterday, I loaded up the car with tools and sett out to hoe all the weeds down and build the raised beds we would need to plant all of the veggies and cut flowers we intended to grow. An hour after arriving, I had hoed an area about 3 feet by 12 feet and the task looked daunting. So when a nice young woman came over and asked if I wanted the plot rototilled, I weakened, and then caved. Rototilling isn't really all that good for the soil, and churns up more weed seeds to grow more weeds, but it does make the weeds that ARE there easier to yank out. The rototiller made short work of the whole plot, so I spent the rest of the morning and part of the afternoon building the raised beds so we could start planting. I had rescued the wild lettuce scattered around the plot, so I stuck that back in on the edge of the squash bed- it will be a few weeks before that part of the bed would be overrun with squash vines, by then the lettuce would be eaten.
Getting it rototilled

Ready to plant
 Later in the cool of the evening we hauled our tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli out to 'The Farm' along with  the flowers and basil we also wanted to grow. The wind was pretty fierce, but we managed to get everything planted and watered in before the sun went down on the day. This evening we'll go back out and plant some seeds, cage those tomatoes, and make tee-pees for the pole beans we plan on growing.
Day 1 optimism

Just a footnote about my little Robins: Below is the last photo I got of them before they fledged. All crammed into the nest, pushing and shoving like little kids in the back seat. The next morning, only one remained in the nest all snuggled in. He seemed to be comfy there, almost saying "I've got my own room! Cool!" He stayed for another day, then seemed sort of lonely and left to go find his family. I took down the empty nest and put it in a tree in case Momma Robin wanted to use it again. Later that week I spotted two of the babies out in the woods waiting for Dad to bring them some food. It'll be fun to watch as the parents teach them where and how to fend for themselves as they grow into adulthood.
Bye-bye birdies

Friday, May 20, 2011

They grow up so fast!

It seems like just yesterday that Mr. and Mrs. Robin built their nest on the porch light and dropped 4 perfect little eggs in the bottom. In no time the little ones hatched out and started to grow as momma and daddy brought them juicy worms and other insects. Follow their progress below as they triple and quadruple in size, grow feathers, and open their little eyes.

May 11

May 14

May 17

May 20

Momma and Daddy have learned to identify the 'paparazi' and fly at me whenever I am outside
It will probably only be a matter of days before the little ones leave the nest and follow their parents around learning to find food, I hope to grab a few more pictures before they do, but I really don't want to lose an eye.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Spring comes to Michigan! (finally)

Finally! After a long, long, long winter, and a cold and wet early spring, it seems that finally we are in for some nicer weather. The trees are finally leafing out, and flowers are blooming.

New life has begun right under the front porch roof- a pair of Robins has started a family on top of the porch light, and while we could have removed the nest before they laid eggs in it, it seemed like  a mean thing to do- it was so sweet and perfect, well protected, warm and dry for the little ones. From last year's experience, I knew it would only be a few weeks slight inconvenience before the eggs would hatch and the babies fledged. Within a few days, although the parents fussed at us whenever we left the house, the nest had three, then four beautiful blue eggs in it, being kept warm by two diligent parents. They got used to us coming and going, and while they would fly off the nest if we got too close, they stopped fussing and dive bombing us unless we reached up to snap pictures.

This morning, while working in the garage, I noticed one of the parents perched on the edge of the nest, rather than sitting in it. She seemed to be looking down into it, so I thought just maybe the eggs were hatching!

When I finished my work in the garage, I got out my ladder to snap a picture of the inside of the nest- the only way we can see all the way into the bottom. While they are far from cute yet, the two newly hatched chicks will be joined by their two siblings soon and in just a few days double in size, start to grow feathers, exhaust their parents in keeping them fed until they completely crowd each other out of that deep nest and are forced to fly off and explore the world.

It's been spring in my basement for a while now as all of my seeds have sprouted and are quickly outgrowing my shelves, some flats have even been moved out to the greenhouse on the deck- cabbage and broccoli like the cooler spring weather, and so do phlox and lobelia. The indoor shelves are crowded with tomatoes, impatiens, zinnias, and a few other things to plant around the condo, or out at our vegetable plot we are calling 'The Farm' or 'The Back .040'.

Last week, I got a new shipment of seeds from the 'Seed of the Month Club'. Italian Flat leaf Parsley, Black Beauty Zucchini, Cylindra Beets, and a packet of Mammoth Sunflower seeds. Some of them will be planted here- the parsley I can put in my herb garden, the beets and zucchini can be planted out at 'The Farm', but the sunflower will have to be saved for next year- it's just too big and tall. Some time in the next few weeks, we should be able to start planting, and I can hardly wait!  If you are interested in The Seeds of the Month Club, there are links below to find out how to join.

The Seeds of the Month Club is distributed by Mike the Gardener Enterprises, LLC, who also administers the largest Vegetable Gardening page on Facebook.

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