Tag Archive | gardening

Morning on the Farm

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It’s a beautiful July morning, sunny with a bit of a breeze.  The dew is still on the grass.  Time to do the farm chores.  When I step out the door, snapdragons and a heliotrope greet me.  The blue flowers have a wonderful, sweet fragrance.

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Otto and Holly tag along.  They love to follow me everywhere.

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The fig tree has four good-sized fruit with many more small ones on the way.  Time to give this tree some fertilizer to help ripen the crop before frost.

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My new yard centerpiece, impatiens on a log.  They actually sit on the septic tank clean-out cover, marking it so nothing heavy (like a tractor or horse) goes across it.

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Day lilies and bee balm brighten the garden beneath the crabapple tree.

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Vista and Maddie, hard at work mowing the orchard.  Cheap laborers who love their job.

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Kai and Cary are out enjoying a little morning sun before their major nap of the day.

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The black raspberries are ripening!  Time to make some jelly.

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Black-eyed Susans make a lovely wildflower accent beside the iris bed.

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The recent rain has spurred the garden to exuberant growth, both vegetables and weeds.

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Finally made it to the barn!  The first and third chick hatch eat together peacefully.  The second hatch is too busy catching bugs and hasn’t responded to the breakfast call yet.

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Little guys and big sisters share the water dish.

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Someone else would like to have breakfast with the chickens.  Two chipmunks live in our barn.  They were being pretty decent little guys until one decided to chew the nozzle off a gas can.  Not sure what the attraction was, hydrocarbons?  Maybe it’s time to bring home a Barn Friend cat from the Humane Society to send the chipmunks packing?

With all the distractions, it’s a wonder I ever get the barn chores finished!

 

 

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Garden’s In

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After much weed pulling, tilling and fence installation, the garden was ready to plant last week.  It took two days to get all the seeds in the earth.  The weather has been so dry for so long that the dirt was like talcum powder.  I watered after planting to give the seeds a start.

The weather forecast was for rain over the past weekend and through most of this week.  Happily, we finally got a good soaking yesterday afternoon and overnight.  It poured!  Now the sprouts will start to pop up.

g2It is time to set the last of the plants in the garden:  the tomato and red pepper seedlings.  These came from a greenhouse last week and have been hardening off outside in the shade, preparing for the harsh conditions in the full sun and open air.  The tomatoes already have flowers!  The variety is Early Girl, a nice medium-sized tomato that is very early.  Usually I get my first fruit by mid-late July.  Yum, can hardly wait for that juicy, home-grown taste!

Planting Time

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Here are some of the seeds I’ll be planting today.  Just seeing all that lovely produce inspires me to get out there and weed and till!

Currently the garden is little more than a 50 foot square spot of dirt choked with weeds and overgrown with Jerusalem artichokes in one corner.  The area will quickly transform, with my exertions, into a fenced spot of fresh earth marked with rows of newly sown seed.a1The spring has been cool and dry, again.  Chance of frost still exists, but I’m willing to get started now.  Tomorrow’s forecast is rainy, perfect for jump-starting plants.  Next week I will put the tender tomato and pepper seedlings in the ground.

By the first week of June we should be safe from frost.  Yesterday was 86F, with lots of sun.  Today is cloudy and mid-fifties.  The weather is so changeable in Maine in spring that it doesn’t do to take something like last frost dates for granted.

Figs Ripening!

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It’s very exciting for me!  My first figs are ripening!  They are getting a pretty pink blush.  When the color is mahogany they will be ready to pick!!  The little tree is ripening six fruit.  Can hardly wait to eat them.  I bought some fresh figs are the grocery store last week.  They were sad, wrinkled and over-ripened things, but still better than dried figs.

The fig tree is in a race with the weather.  Temperatures have remained warmer than normal here. We’ve gotten several light frosts, mostly right around the full moons.  Covering the tree at night with an old bed sheet has spared it from being nipped by frost.  If the temperatures dip any lower than about 28F, I will have to move the tree inside.

The full sun it receives outside is spurring the fruit ripening, I sure.  Moving the tree inside will shock it some and cause it to drop the leaves quickly.  Not sure what that will do to my fruit.  I’m rooting for warm weather to continue for at least a couple more weeks.  If past weather patterns hold, it will stay warm right up to late October.  We have been getting warm, wet autumns and cool, dry springs for the past several years.  Keeping my fingers crossed for figs!

What’s New in the Garden

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At the beginning of September, the weather still is in high summer mode.  Yesterday was nearly 90F with high humidity and today won’t be much cooler.  The garden plants are taking full advantage of these few remaining warm days, ripening their fruits and grains.  Today I will pick the wax beans and hope to get enough for dinner.  I leave the plants in the ground as long as they want to blossom.  They still produce some, just not the abundance of their main crop.

gar2The tomatoes are producing well.  I harvest them before they are completely ripe to stay ahead of rodent varmints that eat holes in the juicy red fruit.  Most of the foliage has disappeared from the tomatoes, I suspect hornworms have been at work.  They can strip the leaves overnight.  With the fruit so close to maturity, the foliage is not that important any more.

gar4I counted six big pumpkins ripening!  Plenty to fill our Halloween needs. The largest pumpkin must weigh about 15-20 lbs and is just starting to get an orange cast to the skin.  As temperatures cool the orange will spread quickly.

gar7gar8There are also winter squash, an acorn variety, and Jack-Be-Little miniature pumpkins coming along. It was a slow year for squash so there are less than usual. I planted seeds on the manure pile from a mutant squash that volunteered last year.  It was a cross of a pumpkin and summer squash.  Some fruit is visible, growing quickly.  Will have to wait and see what is produced.

gar6The Indian corn is loaded with large ears thanks to hot and humid days throughout much of July and August.  It looks to be a good harvest.  I will cut the corn in mid-September as soon as the ears ripen fully.

gar3I am happy to report three peppers grew! One has already been consumed–it was delicious.  This one is getting large and there is one more very small pepper coming along.  Next year I will grow peppers differently. They will be set closer together, better mulched and well watered during hot spells.

gar5The Jerusalem artichokes make a gorgeous display, all covered in yellow blossoms.  Here the horses graze the lawn in the background.  I am planning to move the artichokes from the garden.  They are too invasive and require excessive space.

From their humble beginnings as a few bare roots and stems pulled from an abandoned strip of grass near a stop sign in Waterville, these plants have become a major success story.  They will be established in an area that allows for their aggressive spreading.  I am convinced the plants emit chemicals into the soil that retard the growth of other plants.  Carrots growing within two feet of the artichokes are struggling.  This plant will hold it’s own against grass and weeds in a different part of the farm.

Another bright yellow, tall flowering plant, the sunflowers bloom in profusion.  They are visible in the background of the first photo.  Little birds visit the plants all day.  They clean the black oil seeds from the flower heads as quickly as they form.  The birds need this rich nutrition to get in shape for their long flight to warmer winter quarters.

Later today I will pick all the ripe or near ripe tomatoes and perhaps clip a few lovely zinna flowers for decorating the table.moth4

Early August Garden

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August 3, 2015

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These photos of my garden were taken about three weeks apart. What a difference! The growth of the corn and sunflowers is especially apparent.  I’ve also added a run for my rabbits, an edge of which is just visible in the lower left part of the top photo.  The bunnies LOVE their new 8′ x 12′ run!  All the female rabbits go out together and have a great time.  I will blog about them later.

I just finished a major weeding of the garden and it’s looking pretty spiffy so I took photos to share.  The wax beans are ready to pick!b9  b1That gave me a surprise this morning.  I didn’t realize how quickly they were developing.  I can make a meal on just fresh wax beans.  The beans are in the center of the photo on the left.  They have come a long way from the struggling shoots of early June.

b8I have harvested four tomatoes and eaten one. It was yummy!  Some more are ripening on the vine.  No more buying tomatoes for awhile!

b10There is an ample supply of greens from the small patch of head lettuce.  As the plants are thinned, I collect bags full of sweet, tender leaves.  Because there is such an abundance, I share a few with the horses and bunnies.

b7b5The sweet peppers are not doing a whole lot. There are a few tiny peppers to be found, but overall rather disappointing. The peppers are growing in the open area of the photo at the right.  There are tall marigold plants between them and the fence.  I will try adding some urea to the soil around the peppers.  Maybe that will wake them up.

b3b4My zinnias are under attack by Japanese beetles!  The nasty bugs are taking big bites out of their leaves and petals.  I will set up some beetle traps to lure them away from my flowers.

The strawflowers I planted never sprouted.  So I dug up that area and planted a row of carrots.  They will be ready to harvest this fall.  I wonder why none of the strawflowers came up?  The seed was fresh and I planted and cared for them as directed.  Oh well.  That is the second time these flowers have failed me. Guess I’m done with them!  The newly planted carrot row can be seen in the lower right corner of the top photo of the garden.  It is the freshly dug area just beyond the growing carrots near the fence.b6

The winter squash and pumpkins are making a major growth spurt.  During June they mostly hibernated, but late July saw big gains in size for them.  They are busy blooming and spreading their vines.

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I love the sunflowers. The variety I grow has many blooms per plant. This year my sunflowers are volunteers and it looks like they all came from a yellow-flowered plant.  Still they are big and beautiful.  The plants tower above my head, maybe eight feet tall.  Bees adore the pollen rich flowers.

A small groundhog has been spotted several times trying to find a way inside the garden fence.  He better stay clear!

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Garden 2015

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The garden this year went in about the same time as usual.  It was all planted by the second day of June.  We had lots of chilly, wet weather this spring so the planting was somewhat delayed.  I like to get the garden mostly done by the end of May.  Since I don’t plant many cool weather things like peas or radishes or broccoli, I don’t have to bother with April garden tilling.  This year would have been too wet to work the soil that early.

indian corn

indian corn

baby bib lettuce

baby bib lettuce

For plants I have indian corn, field pumpkins, mini-pumpkins, winter squash, carrots, Boston bib lettuce, sunflowers, tomatoes and sweet peppers.  Also put in marigolds, zinnias, strawflowers, and bachelor buttons.  Of course, the Jerusalem artichokes occupy one corner.

sunflowers

sunflowers

bachelor buttons

bachelor buttons

These photos were taken several days ago, right after the carrots sprouted.  Since then we have gotten more rain and a few warm, sunny days.  The sunflowers have nearly doubled in size since the pictures.  These sunflowers volunteered from seeds left in the garden last year.  I transplanted the seedlings to the edge of the garden before tilling.  They all survived nicely.  Many of the bachelor buttons are also volunteers from last year’s seed.  Some are now beginning to bloom.  I loved these flowers so much last year that I planted several more flower varieties to enjoy.  They go well with the vegetables and add some color to the garden.

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sweet peppers

This is the first year in some time that I have grown peppers.  These are sweet green, turning to red if left on the plant.  Right after I put the seedlings in the ground, something devoured most of the leaves on one plant. Not sure what did this.  There were no tracks so maybe a flying creature or something very small like a vole. Why just one plant?  I don’t know, but I’m glad they left the others alone.

wax bush beans

wax bush beans

The wax bush beans are struggling.  Since this photo, several more have sprouted.  I will have to replant some of the rows if I want many beans.

tomatoes

tomatoes

I planted six Early Girl tomatoes, my favorite variety.  They are growing well.  I have to mulch the tomatoes and peppers to improve their growth rate. Something I hope to do today.

It’s nice to have photos of the plants when they first start out.  As the garden develops I like to go back and look at how much the plants have grown.