Viewing Weedwhacker's Garden Diary: Garden 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The day after...Pouring rain here all day for Christmas - yuck! Just had a small dinner for 6 at our house. I'm glad it's over for another year, this has to be the most over-rated holiday there is!
Thursday, December 17, 2009Escanaba tied the record low temp at -8 overnight; and I saw the first flock of juncos under the bird feeder today as well. Brrrrr.
The (unheated) greenhouse is consistently running about 10 degrees warmer than outside every morning (before the sun has a chance to affect it) - something I never noticed in the "off season" before. That's with the sensor about 4 feet off the ground; I should really move it down to the ground and see if it's even warmer there (which is what I would expect). With the sun out during the day, even with outside temps in the teens the inside of the greenhouse has been in the high 70s to low 80s.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Winter is here!What a change from one day to the next! Tuesday (12/8) we had bare ground - overnight and all the next day we had a big snowstorm with 25 mph winds, at least a foot of snow here and lots of drifting, with temps in the low single digits. I did some snow blowing on Wednesday since John will no doubt be working extra, snow blower is not running well at all. The dogs, big and furry as they are, seem to have pretty tender feet when it comes to the cold - hope they toughen up pretty quickly or I'll have to get some boots for them. Yesterday the sun came out and although the highest temp outside was only 10, the greenhouse got up to 81 -- would have been a good day to break out the margaritas! Now we're supposed to have several days around 30, then back down again. Good weather for planning next year's garden, I guess!
Sunday, December 6, 2009Posted by Calalily in the vegetable gardening forum - this sounds delicious! (and might actually be a use for the radishes I keep growing and then throwing out)
>> I remember radish sandwiches with butter(we had cows and made our own butter). A neighbor from Switzerland makes a great open face sandwich with crusty bread (like french or italian), cream cheese, radishes and arugula. Very yummy and is a good snack in the middle of the afternoon with fresh radishes and arugula from the garden.
Friday, November 27, 2009The day after Thanksgiving, and yet another good day for working outside! John has been cutting branches off the poplars in the yard, in preparation for cutting them down altogether. I re-potted the geraniums that have been hanging out in the greenhouse, but not much else. Nice to be off work on a Friday, with nothing that really *had* to be done! Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and 46 degrees again, but after that it looks like we'll be getting some "wintry mix" as they like to call it. That will actually probably be a good thing because I need to stop spending so much time outside and get caught up on some house cleaning!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Making garlic powderTried out the coffee grinder and it worked great! This stuff smells powerful - much more so than store-bought gp. Can't wait to try it out, will have to make some garlic bread with supper tonight...
Photo of the dried garlic and a little pile of the powder.
Update 12/3/09: From about 3 pints of chips I ended up with 1 pint plus a spice container of the powder - not bad, certainly plenty for a year's supply for me.
Sunday, November 22, 2009Bought a little coffee grinder on sale at Shopko - it will only do about half a cup of the garlic at a time but should work for my purposes.
After running errands in town didn't have a great deal of time to work outside, but thinned the foxgloves by the sunroom somewhat, top-dressed the garlic patch in the veg. garden with finished compost, and put all the shovels, rakes, etc. away in the shed. Also have been trimming up some of the shrubs a bit, and pulled the Clethra out that was in the back by the deck - the dogs had chewed it down to a stub! Will probably find somewhere to move the Clethra by the sunroom to in the spring, it really isn't adding much to that spot. Would still like to do some more cleaning up in the herb bed and the perennial bed, but I'm afraid this weekend may have been the last hurrah for decent weather - every day for the next week is predicted to have showers and snow showers. Can't complain, though, this month has really been a bonus for gardening!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Making garlic powderOne of my projects today was to dry some of the garlic to make garlic powder. This was kind of a mess - I forgot how sticky garlic cloves are! - and took a couple of hours to peel the cloves. Then I used the food processor to slice them up and had enough to just about fill the processor bowl. Spread those out on 3 trays of the dehydrator (with the finer mesh, no-stick mats) and dried at 140 for about 12 hours, until brittle. Put into canning jars with tight lids, about 3 cups of the dried chips and pieces. Still have to turn these into powder, will try the blender but am thinking of looking for a (cheap) coffee grinder to use just for this purpose. Not entirely sure yet if the results will be worth the time, but (1) I really have too much garlic to use fresh before it sprouts, and (2) garlic powder is something I use a fair amount of.
A good link for instructions - looks like drying the bulbs a bit first would have made it easier to peel the cloves, but not sure the bulbs would fit in my dehydrator; also had an awful lot of dirt still stuck to the bulbs, which made quite a mess. Will have to try to clean them off better next year.
Update 10/28/2012: This link still works but there is now a $1.50 charge for the PDF download for the instructions - but well worth it.
Planted what I think are 6 bleeding heart plants that I had potted last spring and left by the shed - put them in the garden by the lilacs and sedums to overwinter. Will likely have lots of seedlings again from the flower bed by the sunroom, but these should be larger.
Also cooked another squash (Golden Hubbard) and made a pie, plus froze three more 2-C containers, and saved the seeds for next summer's planting. Still have my largest (12-pound) squash and a couple of small ones, and have given 2 away - really had just about the right amount of these.
Friday, November 20, 2009
Vegetable Garden RecapI've been giving some thought to how well (or not) I've utilized the plants I've grown, and what I could be doing different. We did well at using the main vegetables as they became available - asparagus, green beans, tomatoes.
Celery - I didn't do so well. This was just my 2nd year of trying to grow it and am still learning, but overall it grows surprisingly easily. I had 14 plants and only really used a couple of them. Can't leave them until late in the season and then think I'll freeze some or something, because the stalks get too dried up. Maybe I'll just put in half a dozen or so, start using when small for soup or something, then try freezing some as they get bigger. Because some of the old roots from last year (that I had tilled up in the fall) were trying to re-sprout this past spring, I left 3 or 4 of this year's cut-off plants in the ground where they were growing to see what they will do. No doubt will bolt and go to see right away (I'm pretty sure it's a biennial), but celery seed would be useful for the cukes!
Radishes - why do I even plant these? I might eat half a dozen in a year and John rarely touches them. Then I end up tossing them on the compost pile when they're overgrown.
Carrots - Didn't plant as many this year so I think I might actually get them all used up before they spoil in the refrigerator. This might be a good use for the hoop house - plant some carrots in there and should be able to just harvest them out of the ground all winter. Maybe cover them with some straw?
Beets - only ate a couple of meals of these this year, then John dug them all for me but they didn't get taken care of and pretty much all went limp from the tops sucking out their moisture. :-(
I wish beets weren't such a mess to clean up before cooking!
Onions - did quite well, although I don't think I harvested as many as I usually do. Should have weighed them, but I got at least 25-30 pounds. If it isn't quite as many as usual, probably okay because I generally have a lot that sprout and go bad before I can use them. I do need to start at least some of the onions (seeds) earlier, would like to have some plants ready to put out by May 1st. Will need to start the seeds in early February for that.
Garlic - did very well and I was pleased with how the softnecks did, although I never did manage to "get around to" braiding them like I wanted to. Have enough that I want to dry some and make some garlic powder, because again there seems to be only so much fresh garlic that I can use.
Lettuce - another under-utilized crop for me. Really need to get more into making salads in the summer, what could be better? (answer: having someone make them for me!) I'm glad I made a late planting in July, which is still growing and looking good out in the garden (under Reemay), and not at all bitter. This will be another good crop in the hoop house.
Chard - also under-utilized. I love growing it, and love eating it, but again seem to have trouble finding time to do the gardening *and* the harvesting and cooking. Or maybe I just like doing the gardening a lot better than cooking! (I do like eating, however!)
Peppers - grew great despite the cold summer, mostly used for stuffed peppers, salsa, and poppers. Should have cut more up to freeze.
Cucumbers - boy, did we have cucumbers! Ate them to excess and gave away a LOT of them. At least no trouble finding people to take them!
Zucchini - had more than enough, but froze a lot of zucchini bread and made quite a few casseroles with it, I think we only grilled it once, overall I'd say we did a good job using this crop.
Pumpkins - Took up a lot of space in the garden, ended up with about a dozen really nice ones - but never did do anything with them as far as using for fall decorations and K never got around to taking some for the kids; probably shouldn't bother with growing them next year, if I want one for halloween I'll just pay the $ and buy one! (although I'll have corn stalks next year, so maybe I should grow pumpkins again if I have room... ??
Winter squash - Yes! These really took up some space but are absolutely excellent cooked. Still have half a dozen or so out in the garage to cook up and freeze for making pie, pumpkin bread, or whatever. Definitely will grow again!
Cabbage - planted mini cabbage, Caraflex, in July - should have thinned, but even so got half a dozen decent little heads. At this point they're still in the garden, under Reemay. This would be another good thing to put in the hoop house, could probably keep them in there nearly all winter.
Pole beans - of course grew the Blue Peter beans again, which did very well other than having to replant some because the cats dug them up. Saved seeds from half of the far section, should be plenty for a couple of years. New this year was "Garden of Eden" which turned out to be the first up to the top of the trellis and very productive. Beans were really late this year with the cold weather, didn't get our first meal until 8/14. Maybe put in a row of bush beans next year for earlier (if back-breaking) harvest. Froze plenty, about 32 pounds, plus still had a few in the freezer from 2008.
Tomatoes - again, very late, but eventually did get plenty to make salsa (canned 33 pints) and sauce (froze 14 cups, plus still had quite a few from 2008), as well as eating a lot of them fresh. Brought in a lot of green ones before the weather got really cold, but many went bad before they ripened. New (to me) varieties Margherita and Country Taste did very well and would be worth growing again. Next year I want to try at least 2 more OP varieties (the only one this year was Brandywine), one of which will be Pruden's Purple. Also want to grow 4 plants in the hoop house, likely should go with determinate varieties, and maybe some very early varieties (Siberia? Subarctic Plenty?). Goal: A ripe tomato by the 4th of July!
Next year will have room for corn since we extended the garden out another 18 feet. Not sure I'm going to have enough freezer room, things are pretty filled up right now... might have to think about getting a bigger freezer (or a 2nd small one?).
A couple of other things to think about growing - broccoli and peas (snap and/or shelling type). I buy these pretty regularly and it would nice to have some to eat fresh and some to freeze. Again, could be a problem with freezer space!
Sunday, November 15, 2009First day of deer season here and a beautiful day for more garden clean-up -- high of about 48 degrees and sunny, doesn't get much better than this for mid-November in the UP! Trimmed up the lilac and forsythia bushes out by the road, hopefully John can use the weed trimmer out there tomorrow. Next spring I should dig the bulbs out and somehow re-do that bed, other than first thing when the daffs are blooming it's always overgrown and a mess. Plus the forsythias haven't done well at all and would like to just pull them out. The lilacs are nice, at least!
Also spread some compost on the asparagus bed - not sure why, but my compost has been really excellent the last couple of years, much nicer than I used to make; actually looks like something you'd buy. The only thing different is that I've used some "compost alive" so maybe that really does work.
Friday, November 13, 2009The more I think about it the more I like the idea of using some big containers for the shade plants on the west side of the house. I could use some landscape fabric and bark mulch - which I guess I could do anyway, to keep the cats from digging back there. I was already thinking about using containers for the herb garden, so that could all blend together pretty nicely. Lots of good ideas in the "container gardening" forum here that I need to study! For one thing, it seems I've been using the wrong planting medium (MIracle Gro potting mix); apparently a non-peat-based medium is much better, so will have to look into that.
Thursday, November 12, 2009After looking at some of my older photos, I really have to get things tidied up around here, everything seems to have run amuck! Namely, need to use the bark mulch in the flower beds and around the edges, and in the spring I think I'll totally dig out the herb garden and re-do it, possibly use some containers instead of having the plants all in the ground (which would also help keep the dogs out of them). I'm also thinking that in the back I might regress the planting areas back to just an area closer to the house, and then I could put a couple of big planters on either side of the deck, near the house, to hopefully keep the dogs from running through and trashing everything. They aren't doing quite as much running in the back yard now that we have the e-fence and they're getting more exercise out in front, so there might be some hope. I have no idea what, if anything, will come up there next spring - but I have plenty of hostas that need dividing and there are always bleeding hearts in the garden by the sunroom that can be moved. If worst comes to worst I guess I could do some container gardening back there as well, although would probably have to then stick any perennials in the veg. garden to overwinter.
Thursday, November 12, 2009Had a chance after work to get the sedums and lilacs that have been hanging around in big pots all summer stuck into the garden to over-winter. I think those lilacs have been in and out of the garden for 3 years now, next spring I HAVE to find a place to plant them. Actually thought they had died from lack of water but they all have buds, so anything that tough certainly deserves to actually be planted!
Monday, November 9, 2009Cleaned up the flower bed on the north side of the sunroom, and also the herb bed outside the veg. garden. Have tons of foxglove seedlings - I should really move some of them somewhere!
Sunday, November 8, 2009What a beautiful weekend! Saturday the temp here was in the 60s, did a final tilling on the garden and planted the garlic (about 100 cloves, 25 of Music, 25 of my other hard-neck type - possibly Purple Glaser? - and 50 of the soft-neck types, Western Rose and Polish Softneck, which for some reason I didn't keep separate).
Today I raked lots of stuff out of the perennial bed, still needs more work but definitely looks much better. I still have some nice lettuce and chard and a few mini cabbages left in the veg. garden, glad I made that planting in July!
Sunday, November 1, 2009Finally cut down the asparagus stalks and cleaned up most of the other junk in the garden. Still have lettuce (under Reemay), celery, beets, carrots and chard growing. The weather is not cooperating, very wet lately. Still have lots to do before everything is covered with snow!
Saturday, October 31, 2009Cooked one of the squash and froze five 2-cup containers; still have to research what the variety is, looks something like a small bright-orange Hubbard. Nice dry, bright orange, relatively sweet flesh, and a fairly manageable size. LONG vines, went from the middle of the garden to each end, so something like 20 feet.
Well! Apparently the squash is "Golden Hubbard." This is the description from Seed Savers' Exchange:
(C. maxima) Introduced by D. M. Ferry in 1898. Typical hard-skinned hubbard, but the shell color is a beautiful deep orange. Fruits weigh from 8-12 pounds and have thick dry sweet fine-grained golden-yellow flesh. Good for baking and roasting. Great keeper. A standard for American market stands. 90-100 days.
I'll add a picture soon.
Also made 6 more jars of salsa, used all hot peppers so this is a pretty hot batch.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
SalsaCanned another batch (14 pts) of salsa.
Thursday, October 1, 2009
First freezeOur first hard freeze last night - summer is officially over! Fortunately we brought in a lot of tomatoes and peppers, as well as the pumpkins and squash. Still scrambling to get salsa and tomato sauce made, still want to do 2 more batches of zucchini bread to freeze, and also have to get the new garden section tilled up. On top of all the end-of-season gardening, we're also trying to get the dogs' "electronic fence" installed. Rain is predicted for this weekend, so that will not be helpful.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
SalsaFinally got enough ripe tomatoes to make a batch (13 pts) of salsa!
Monday, August 31, 200938 degrees this morning - the Weather Channel showed 34 for Escanaba. No wonder the tomatoes aren't getting ripe.
Sunday, August 23, 200946 degrees this morning - Cornell had 38! Still no tomatoes to speak of, but we're buried under cukes. Less plants next year - we'll still have plenty to give away.
Sunday, August 16, 2009Dug most of the garlic - left in some of the "Music" that still seems to be growing. The soft-neck types did well enough to grow again. Picked a good bunch of beans, lots of cukes, half a dozen zucchini. Took 18 of the cukes to Breezy to give away. The onions are looking good, other than where the cats dug them up - they also dug in the beans (had to replant some) and really messed up the carrots and beets. Will have to cover everything with Reemay next year until I can get enough grass clippings down to discourage them. Also picked 2 big Flavorburst peppers - nice!
Sunday, August 16, 2009The celery is doing great - I've used 1 plant so far, may give some away - really just can't use it fast enough. Giving it lots of water seems to be the ticket. The cuke vines are all over the place - need less plants or a bigger trellis!
Friday, August 14, 2009Finally had our first meal of green beans! Have lots of zucchini and cukes, celery is doing well. Had a meal of beets while Dick and Toni were here. Garlic is ready to dig.
The squash and pumpkins are taking over the garden.
The Fantasy petunias looked great until they got rained on - will try a different variety next year, hopefully with more rain tolerance.
Kept the plastic halfway up the tomato cages until 8/8/09 - there doesn't seem to be any sign of blight yet. Also no ripe tomatoes yet - up until this past week have had very cool nights.
Sunday, July 5, 2009Planted lettuce (BSS), rainbow chard, mini cabbage and Kohlrabi; hopefully these will have time to develop before the end of the garden season.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009Put flower boxes out on deck railing (with Fantasy petunias). Put 2 Patio tomatoes in pots for myself, already gave Mary B. her 2 plants.
Monday, June 15, 2009Pumpkin, zucchini and winter squash plants are in. Put in some radish seeds. (planting later than normal this year because of the cold weather, hopefully everything will have a chance to catch up!)
Sunday, June 14, 2009Tomato plants are in. Planted Mabel's flowers and veg. garden.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009The weather just isn't warming up - highs are lucky to hit the 60s.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009Pepper and cuke plants are in. Covered with Reemay.
Tuesday, June 9, 2009Beans (pre-sprouted) and celery plants are in.
Saturday, June 6, 2009Planted 144 onion plants; definitely started more than plenty of these, have also given lots away.
Thursday, May 14, 2009Leaves are finally poping out on the trees, burning bushes, etc. Everything seems late this spring!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009First picking and meal of asparagus.
Friday, May 1, 2009Finally got the heater set up in the greenhouse - had trouble getting it to work, had to take off the front panels and blow out the nozzle with compressed air.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Seed Starting3/4/09 Onions: Four 6-pks each of Walla Walla, Ruby Ring, Prince, Gunnison.
3/9/09 Onions: Two fiber packs each of Candy, Cortland
3/28/09 One flat Supercascade Petunia mix
One flat imps - Dwf Baby mix
3/29/09 One flat imps - Tempo Cancun mix
Two flats of peppers (will divide up plants later on)
4/12/09 One flat Cosmos Sonata mix
One flat Fantasy petunia mix
Six 6-pks of Tango celery
One flat coleus, Wizard mix
4/22/09 Two flats of tomatoes (will divide up plants later on)
5/2/09 One-half flat imps - my saved Salsa Dancer seed
One-half flat imps - Tempo Cancun
One flat Fantasy petunia
One flat Supercascade petunia
One flat Inca II marigold
One flat Antigua marigold
5/9/09 Potted up the tomatoes - about 140 altogether
5/14/09 One flat Durango marigold
Two flats (36-cell) Cut & Come Again zinnia
Cukes, pumpkin, mini pumpkins, Golden Hubbard, zucchini
5/16 and 5/17/09 - potted up the peppers - 121 total