Tag Archives: strawberries

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.