Tag Archives: garden

the fruit of my labor


The fruit (and veggies) of my labor picked today.

The Yukon potatoes were the total yield grown in 2 tires, and there are still 3 traditional rows to harvest. I’d say there’s 20 pounds on the table, at least.

Lord, help me not waste this harvest.

And maybe I mean that literally and figuratively.

See you Thursday, friends.


2013 garden update


A garden is a grand teacher. It teaches patience and careful watchfulness; it teaches industry and thrift; above all it teaches entire trust. •Gertrude Jekyll 

garden update

Alrighty. We’ve had a full month’s sun and rain on the 2013 garden and here is where we stand:

The broccoli is simply amazing. Awesome. I’ve never succeeded with broccoli before and have no clue why it worked this year, but I know have a couple of quart bags of broccoli florets in my freezer. I soaked them in saltwater first to remove any hidden insects and then blanched them before freezing them. [link to preserving fresh broccoli]

The onions? Can barely see them. Their potato neighbors have grown to be 5-feet tall and have kept the root crop avenue crowded but protected… like Franklin Street. Both crops are doing well with no bugs thus far. I can’t let Abby in there, though. If she got in the potato patch, I’d never find her again.

Cherry tomatoes and canning tomatoes are doing well. Lots of green fruit on the vines which I expect to ripen this week and next. The plants grew exponentially while we were camping. I thought I’d left twice as much space as last year between plants to have room for weeding and walking. Right now, half of each plant is staked and the rest of the giant is crawling along the floor heavy-laden with fruit. Staking now will surely break the plants. I’ll have to let it go and see what happens.

No sign of the wretched tomato worms. Yet. And that is all the press-time we will give them.

The Roma tomato plants did not fair well this year… probably due to location next to the beans and excessive weeds. There are 3 or four fruits ripening, but I think 2 of my four plants are goners.

The green peppers that usually hate me? I have 4 little guys growing and looking normal. I am not convinced yet, but it’s a promising sign. The poblano peppers… I forgot to look for. They are behind the mammoth broccoli. Which reminds me that the cilantro plant was lovely and perfect… used for several meals before vacation… is now lost in the potato jungle.

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have never been discovered.
• Ralph Waldo Emerson

The four kale plants are also doing very well. Kale is a very pretty plant. Who knew? I’ve yet to make anything with kale… advice or direction?

The green bean teepee is a huge success. As Rylie says, “WHOA.” No beans yet, but we were late to start so I am expecting those to start this week.

Yellow raspberries are blooming but are being eaten by bugs. We’ve managed to snatch a couple of fruits here and there but are not trying super hard to save the crop.

Blackberries are past flowering and nearly ripened. Almost all the green fruit is beginning to color. Last year’s crop was so large and so lovely… my mouth is watering. We’re hoping the raspberry bugs don’t hop plants.

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get.
• H. Jackson Brown, Jr. 

In summary: everything doing well. Everything needs intense weeding. Our week of 100˚weather also brought very low motivation to do anything other than swim in Trace’s pool. I’m not mad about that.

My children are still completely color blind. Lots of green tomatoes were picked last night out of excitement. BUT, they love the garden and I love that they love the garden.

Chad mentioned in the last garden post that my plant markers would grow legs and I am here to say he is a prophet.

The baby chickadees grew up and flew the coop. Two days later, a mamma robin moved in and laid 5 eggs. They are in their awkward feather-growing stage, but are easily the most-loved things in the garden.

Before planting this year, the garden received about 3 loads of composted chicken coop shavings and poo. Before our 10-day camping adventure, 2 blessed-angel-moms and their kiddos came out and worked for 3 hours with me prepping the coop and garden for the upcoming neglect. Fresh everything: fresh shavings, washed water bowls, weeding, staking plants, shaving mulch spread all over the garden. When I returned? Both the coop and garden looked exactly as we’d left it nearly 2 weeks before. Pretty as a picture. It was amazing. Again, things can change quickly, especially with a couple weeks of humidity and little weeding in daylight hours, but the garden has definitely received more loving care than ever this year and the crops are thanking us. I am hoping I can get out there and prune/clean/weed a bit this week and get things under control.

The best place to find God is in a garden. You can dig for him there.
• George Bernard Shaw 


mary mary quite contrary

Let’s jump right in.

It was our first time for growing sunflowers… success and super fun to watch them open and follow the sun during the day.  We’ll do this again next year and maybe try to make a fort out of it.  The beans and peas never got planted.  I think a fort is in order for those next year, as well.  Maybe a la SouleMamma’s metal arbor?  I planted green peppers… again.  I do this every year and every year they laugh at me.  From now on, no more green peppers.  Just get those at the farmer’s market, Kate. #remindme

I bought some extra blueberry  and raspberry bushes on clearance and tried to plant those last night.  Better judgement would have reminded me that I had 3 children, no husband, a serious head cold, and ground as solid as cement, but we went for it.  Every one came in soaked, as you can imagine.  We’re soaking the ground to let me dig a few more inches tomorrow.  OR, we’ll wait until Dad and his muscles are able to get home before dusk.

The blueberry bushes are forcing the June-bearing strawberries to be relocated.  There was no jam this year, so we will be forced to eek out what we can from last year’s bounty.  We surely won’t make it through the year, but we’ll have a fighting start.  I haven’t bought store jam in 3 years, and I don’t think we could go back!  I need to brush up on transplanting.  Moving the strawberries and adding the blueberry bushes will create a hedge of blackberries, then blueberries, then yellow raspberries along the West garden fence.  I need to draw you a map.

(That’s Ry watering, Gus waving, and the bull out back… watching.  He stood there for a good 30 minutes taking in all in.  We’re a show, People.  We are our own show.)

The strawberries will be relocated into a permanent, more protected area within a fenced garden (hence the poles and holes everywhere).  A fence will let the chickens roam without eating all my squash and tomatoes and it’ll keep the bunnies at bay. #fingerscrossed

I planted blackberries and red raspberries last year.  We lost all the raspberry bushes (I believe they met their fate with a weed whipper, but that has been denied) but the black berries have flourished.  They were so. good.  And HUGE!  And, overnight, they’re done.  I’m learning as I go.  Tomorrow, I’ll cut all the canes down that gave us berries this year to let the new canes grow.

The corn died a terrible death… not sure what happened, exactly, but we planted 10 rows and had 4 stalks grow.  SO, that half of the garden was tilled under earlier this summer.  It’s now a dust patch for the chickens, who applauded the change.

I planted 2 butternut squash plants and they are taking over the garden.  We should be set for years.   The onions are in there under the squash vines and are doing just fine.  I need to brush up on winter storage methods.

The tomatoes- all 16 pants, some cherry, some roma, some heritage- are enormous.  I fought the tomato worms this year and won, and now the plants are so big they are snapping their stakes in half.  I should have pruned a bit harder at the start, but, well, I didn’t.  So there.  The fruit will be medium-sized instead of gi-normous, and that’s just fine.  I did plant basil plants in-between each tomato plant because I’d heard it helps ward off the caterpillars, but it was a no-go for me.  The basil is doing just fine, though, so I see some frozen pesto in our future.

2012 expected harvest: tomatoes, sunflowers, butternut squash, 3 different onions I can’t remember now, blackberries, sweet basil, and a handful of strawberries we ate before they made it inside.

More photos HERE!

How does your garden grow?

strawberry hill

Last night, yours truly used a mitre saw, a shovel, a hammer, a bobcat, a riding lawn mower, and a metal rake.  Giddy up.  The garden composted, tilled, and ready for planting this weekend!  I’m sure that’s crazy to those of you who are already harvesting goodness, but Michigan is Zone 5 and few people chance planting before May 15. I’m really a terrible gardener, so I don’t even start seedlings.  I buy started plants from our local nursery so I have some small amount of success.  Small. I need all the help I can get.

This year, I really want to grow things we eat.  Sounds simple, I know.  But it can be so easy to go gangbusters at the seed store and come home with all kinds of things… and then you’ve got a wild garden with 40 sub-species growing and all you’re actually eating are the cherry tomatoes.  This year, I am open to new crops but I want them to be big-time crops for us. 

Main attractions this year: corn, tomatoes (lots and lots… last year was dismal for tomatoes and I wasn’t able to can ANY), squash, zucchini, green beans (a bean tunnel maybe!), cucumbers, carrots, onions, and potatoes. My broccoli and peppers are always awful… so I’m happily leaning on our farmer’s market across the road for those.

Now: root veggies.  We eat lots and lots of these.  I’ve NEVER grown them before, so I welcome any advice and instruction.  Please be as elementary as possible.  Potatoes, carrots, and onions.  How to plant?  How to tell when they’re ready?  How to store for winter usage?  Bring it.

Also new this year: raspberry bushes, blueberry bushes, AND strawberries!  Freezer jam is an absolute necessity in this house and I generally spend $28 on fruit each year to make it.  Strawberries are perennials that can survive winter.  Why am I not growing my own?  Sometimes, I’m a little slow to punch in, Folks.  I give you: strawberry hill.

The frame is made from leftover roof trusses Curt scored from a builder.  We’ve used them in every project we’ve ever made out here.  They are the literally the fabric of our farm. The bottom square (cut by me) is 5 feet x 5 feet.  The middle layer (cut by… me) is 3 feet square.  The top layer (cut by… mmmmhmmmm… me) is 1 foot square.  It holds 25 strawberry plants.  I’ve NO IDEA if it will yield enough for us, but it sure looks awesome. [edited for my notes: the 2 varieties planted here are Earliglow and Sparkle.  Both are Junebearing, but very hearty.]

Ry and I got the idea from my favorite catalog, which had the measurements and quantities already laid out for me.  Brilliant.  Saved: $149 + shipping.  The plants cost me $24 and will be covered with netting to avoid becoming dessert for the chickens and bunnies.  I love this compact, raised-bed system for berries.  It will be easier to weed and cover for winter. 

Please notice Ry’s tools.  I’m not sure how the silverware plays into this whole scheme, but they were important.  Went everywhere with us.

And here’s my little Gus Man.  Dirtiest kid alive, my hand to heaven, and absolutely no help in the garden.  But oh so squishable.

So, that’s the beginning of the garden and berry patch.  The raspberries and blueberries will take a couple years to yield anything measurable, but it has always been a dream of mine to have a berry patch that you can mosey by and grab a snack.  I’m excited.  I’m excited, I tell you, and I got nothin’ but time.

Y’all have a great weekend!  Are you planting anything this year?

Blessings to you from TexasNorth.

We sure do like you.