The far west of the Northeast

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Hello from extreme western NY. We're on the edge of the Midwest, but still considered Northeast unless you're selling milk in which case we're the Mideast!

Being in the ancient foothills of the Alleghenies and just east of Lake Erie, we have an interesting climate zone and soil. Most of the hill tops (which is where I find myself at 1800 feet) are part of the traditional snow belts and have what is broadly known as Volusia soil - very heavy clay loam with heavy clay under that and rocks below that. The area I am in is what was once the shoreline of an ancient ocean, and we have a goodly amount of rock outcroppings. We have a dairy farm on 132 acres of hill and our first crop every year is rocks. We also have a very tiny quarry down in the creek valley that was used to cut out the foundation stones of the original buildings, all long gone. Here is a shot of what we've done with a few of them.

Thumbnail by Kathleen
Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Nice shot, Kathleen! I would love to see those flowers closeup! How did you move those rocks? They look pretty massive!

We too have a combination of rocks and clay soil. I find that in the far backyard (where the soil is the worst), we just rake the leaves into the garden beds and let them decompose. between my 5 year old daughter and my dog, the leaves get pretty crunched up. It has helped a huge amount with the clay, but not with the rocks! Also have to remind DH not to rake, rake, rake. He is a workaholic in the yard, and will rake my gardens till there is not a plant left!

The other problem we have is tree roots. Giant old trees surround our property, but are not ON our property, so we have to live with it. I just hack them out when I can.

Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

We have the advantage of unlimited cow manure - they just keep putting it out! I've been gradually making all of my beds raised, It has made life so much easier. This ground has been in constant use for over 100 years, and will revert to rock hard clay quicker than scat. I've tried putting newsprint and cardboard down and working over that, but inspite of what the books all say, the paper doesn't decompose here, and it is definitely not for lack of moisture. I just have someone work up the soil and then work on building ovet the top of it.

The flowers in that shot are not much, geraniums and petunias with some blanket flowers and dianthus. The red in the back ground is cardinal flower. That was 2004, a very wet year.

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Well, they are very pretty!

Apparently, our yard used to feed the whole neighborhood- In 1945, when my neighbor moved here, half the backyard was a huge vegetable garden(!) Halfway down the hill was a row of peonies, to divide the yard from the garden. Since the back of the yard was in full shade when we moved here, that was just not a feasible project for us. Now, some of the old trees have been removed, and I think the soil sort of springs back for us when we put the leaf compost on.

Here is a picture of the back- My husband is working on a fence project, and my job was to plant an understory garden. Everything is still small. Some plants are newly transplanted from other areas of the garden, some are brand new shrubs from the local nursery. It looks a little silly with these tiny plants in front of hundred year old trees! In summer it fills in nicely, and there are some deciduous trees and shrubs that aren't showing up in this picture.

This message was edited Jan 30, 2006 10:35 AM

Thumbnail by Ivy1
Long Island, NY(Zone 6b)

Nice - I love what you did with the foundation stone! I bet it creates a mini- micro climate by absorbing the sun's heat!.

Ivy - I can't wait to see shots of your yard in bloom!!!

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

Kathleen, I wish I had unlimited manure, but I sure don't want to do the work involved in maintaining the supply! You must be pretty energetic.

Here is a picture of our hilly, rocky backyard. We added the little stone wall ourselves.

Thumbnail by Ivy1
Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

How pretty! I like the "blues" against the grey stone. I love rocks (which is probably a good thing!) and Stan and I both bring the best ones to the house. I have a couple of piles of big ones like those in the picture waiting for the appropriate spot and smaller ones that I move around and use as accents.

I USED to be energetic. If farmers got disability, I'd be on it - several varieties of arthritis. Stan does most of the work alone now. although he does have a relief milker three nights a week and our son in law and grandson help out. It's a small farm, only 55 cows, which is almost off the radar anymore.

This is the back of the house (with granddaughter and talking snapdragons).

Thumbnail by Kathleen
Woodsville, NH(Zone 4a)

Very nice gardens Ivy and Kathleen.
How lucky to have your own supply of manure.
I have a pile of cow manure that DH bought last fall from a local farmer and can't wait to use it as soon as some of the snow melts.

Mystic, CT(Zone 6b)

I hate to say we have a horse farm (2 horses) up the road from us and I haven't hit them up for any manure. I kept meaning to, but couldn't figure out how to bring it back to our house! Maybe a plastic Walmart storage bin or two?

Annandale, NJ(Zone 6b)


I am responding on forum rather than on D-mail like usual in case anyone else wants to jump in. I have a new plant that I have been trying to identify. I think...via this website....that it is Wheatstraw Celosia. It has green/burgandy foliage with gorgeous hot pink flowers at the end of summer which dry to look like wheat. Since it is an amaranth, it is likely edible and nutritious. I haven't nibbled yet. However, it also seeds like crazy. I bought it at an end-of-spring sale of potted plants in 2004, and one plant turned into 25 in 2005. I have saved some seeds. I will be back in your area ("home!") the weekend of April 30. Do you want to try some out in the pasture? Didn't I see that you grow some purple millet?


Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Oh, Deb, yes I would like some! That's one of those plants that I have wanted, but never gotten. The millet that Stan grows is Japanese millet - just plain green, but the cows love it - like late strawberries, I guess. I'll put the Celosia in the gardens - one does not mess with the pastures - lol, and that's a long story!

Ajpril 30! Will you have time to come over??? : )

Crossville, TN

Hi Kathleen! I see the Green Bench is still there...and what lovely stuff you have added.

I had a friend/neighbor that has horses ...nice lady that she is , she came by today and brought 3 garbage bags of horse poo...PLUS helped me spread it around all my Iris and trees...which is about all I have right now.


Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Hey, Jo, I painted the bench, now it matches the green on the house. The granddaughter is taller and the snapdragons are all under a light coating of snow. The horse manure should do wonders for your plants. We are surrounded by Amish neighbors with horses, and still I use cow poo.

Crossville, TN

I don't blame you for using the Cow Poo...closer to the gardens! LOL

You have such a way with flowers...beautiful. Jo

Annandale, NJ(Zone 6b)

Kathleen (Kathy)

I have your Wheatstraw Celosia seeds getting cold on my porch so they should pop right up when you get them planted. I read through your "What farmers want you to know" discussion and enjoyed and affirm it. My oncologist gets to make the decision about how much running about I do when I am "home" in early April and she gets testy when I do too much so I am likely to defer a visit to your place until I am back for two weeks in June/July. I will bring the seeds with me in April, though. I will see Vincent and Flora Ann - they may even pick me up at the airport - I don't know if you see them regularly or not....can I get the seeds to you via them? HM (Deb).

Note to all....the above is a bit of a personal note posted publicly because I have quite a few Wheatstraw Celosia seeds available. I found Dave's Garden when I was searching for the identity of what has become one of my favorite garden plants...more foliage than flower...majestic and funky at the same time. I have had people slow down in front of our house when they are in full bloom just to look at the stand of them planted by the driveway. If you would like a small packet of seeds.....send me a D-mail. I have checked and checked and do not find any evidence that this is invasive - but they do readily self-sow.

Mine appear to be the cultivar Cramer's Amazon - the only photo I have is one about 3 weeks prior to bloom - that I took when I was trying to find out what it was. (I hope this works....this is my first try at including a photo) The flower is a hot pink flame - the plant is an amaranth and I am still researching the nutritional value of amaranths. HM

Thumbnail by herbmoxie
Panama, NY(Zone 5a)

Deb, I see them every week at church, so that will work. And I understand about conserving one's energy. I'll be patient.

I have to shake up the Farm Forum every once and awhile. People really know so little of the where and how's of food production anymore, makes me sad.

Schroon Lake, NY(Zone 4a)

Kathleen, I haven't seen you on the Farm Forum in awhile! So you hang out over here?

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