We got a bit of rain this morning -- total surprise! So I decided to snap a few photos of the garden, which has been growing gangbusters! You might notice that I hadn't opened up the coop doors yet, either.
The bed in this photo with the long reaching vines coming out of it (front/center) is a bit of a surprise. The plants are actually producing what look like acorn squash, and not patty pan (scallop) squash. I guess the seeds in the packet were wrong, because I don't think I even have acorn squash seeds. Who knows.... maybe I do, and I just wrote down on my planting map incorrectly. That wouldn't surprise me, actually.... *grin* At least the plants are doing ok. I don't typically have good luck w/ acorn squash. The plants tend to wilt down in the heat, but so far they've been able to perk back up by morning. Here's hoping they continue to do well.
This is the bed I put in most recently. This bed didn't have the best growing results last year, so this year I really took time to replenish the soil with good, rich growing soil. So far, so good! Yesterday I put up the wire trellis for the cucumbers to grow on. It arches over and attaches to the top edge of the chicken yard, so it should be a nice support for the plants. I am happy to see that the zucchini plants at the front of the bed are coming along nicely. In the distance, you can see my bed of radish and spinach. Yum!!
This bed is mostly cucumbers, but there is a tomato on the other side of the trellis, and yellow squash on two corners. The tomato and squash were planted after seeing that the cucumbers weren't coming up well in those areas, so I made use of the space with other plants.
The new coop is proving the be a wonderful wind break for the garden, which makes me very happy! Having a larger area where I can grow taller plants (like tomato and giant squash plants), is awesome! We've already been enjoying harvest from the garden. That makes all the work putting the garden in worth it!
First of all, sorry for the lack of posts this past week! I was traveling for work, and didn't have time before I left to schedule any auto-publish posts for you! Yikes! But I'm back, and have been busy as ever. How about a garden update!
The garden has been growing gang-busters in our upper 80s temperatures. And with the rain we got almost two weeks ago, along with the rain we're getting right NOW! ... it's only going to get bigger! Yay!
This is my older chicken coop. In front of the coop are mostly tomato plants, a couple zucchini, and some butternut squash. And a whole mess of volunteer sunflowers! I can't bring myself to pull sunflowers when they're coming up in the spring, even if they're in less than ideal spots. Like right in the walkway between two garden beds. *grin*
In front of the new coop is the larger garden where I planted an assortment of squash plants, as well as 4 more tomato plants. I have tomato plants in one of the metal troughs, and cucumber, radish, and spinach in the second metal trough (which is difficult to see in this photo, since it's just behind the smaller one in front).
The squash plants are doing really well in the larger garden this year. They have a nice wind break from the new coop now, so they won't take such a beating from the wind like they used to. YAY!!! I planted a complete assortment of squash plants in this area, and since I didn't write them down it will be a complete surprise until they start producing fruit.
I set up the lower trellis for the cucumber yesterday, since they're just starting to get to the point that they're ready to start climbing. I imagine before next weekend, I'll be putting up the upper portion of the trellis so they have plenty of room to grow.
I have two big sweet mint plants, and both are growing extremely well. I have yet to be able to keep a mint plant alive through our mid- and late-summer heat, so I have to start fresh with new plants every year. As is the case for everything, except the volunteer sunflowers.
The bed of Patty Pan (white scallop) squash I planted for Alan is growing like mad! These plants always do really well for us! And look at that small volunteer sunflower, right at the middle edge of that bed!
Putting in the garden is a lot of work ... especially since I don't use a tiller. Everything is done with a shovel, fork, and hoe. But the reward of watching the garden grow, and the beautiful harvest we get, makes the hard work completely worth it!
A new challenge is being shared today on the Impression Obsession Blog, and I hope you join the fun! The challenge is called In My Garden.
As much work as it is to put in our garden, I always look forward to being outside, tending the soil, laying out the garden beds, and watching things grow. I think having a garden is to believe in tomorrow...
Spring around here can be a bit stormy. We usually get a good storm in April that can cause damage to my young plants, so I have to be ready for it every year!
To make my card for the In My Garden challenge, I started by creating a watercolored background using Fabriano watercolor paper and various colors of blue and purple distress inks. I knew I wanted a dramatic sky, much like our spring skies can be.
To create the color wash, I smooshed several distress ink pads onto my craft sheet in somewhat-rows of color. I then misted the ink with water and pressed the front of my watercolor paper onto the misted ink. Lifting the paper from the craft sheet revealed a beautiful, graduated wash of color. Once the initial layer of ink was dry, I pressed the paper into the ink again in random places to give a nice variety of color to the paper. I dried the colors thoroughly with a heat tool.
Once my background was complete, I die cut the shapes for my scene. I added a bit of detail to the die cut pieces, and then started assembly. Once I had the tree in place, I added the fence and grass.
Once the fence and grass were in place, I piled on the garden! I added shape to the 6-petal flowers by pressing them into a mouse pad with a rounded stylus. I added a bit of color to the centers with markers, followed by pretty glitter glue for sparkle. The tulips were die cut from red BoBunny polka dot paper, and the stems then colored with a dark green marker so the stems were no longer red. Markers are a quick way to alter a small die cut. As a final step, I added those sweet little bunnies to my garden. The details on the bunnies were added with markers.
I had a blast creating this card! It reminds me of so many places and people, but especially trips to the Skagit Valley in northwestern Washington to visit the amazing flower farms. If you've never been, you should make time for it. Amazing!
Find all the details on how to enter the challenge on the Impression Obsession Blog. A random challenge entry will be selected to showcase on the IO blog and you can to enter to win a $25 gift certificate to IO just by playing!
Now, get ready for a wonderful dose of inspiration and check out what the other team members created for the challenge. Have fun!!
Dies: Rabbit Set, Sm Bird Set, Leaves & Stems, Tulip Set, Tiny Flowers, Sm Grass Border, Fence Border, Bare Tree (Impression Obsession)
Paper: Fabriano 100% Cotton Cold Press Watercolor paper, Neenah, Paper Accents, BoBunny
Ink: Ranger Distress Inks in blues and purples
ShinHan Touch Twin markers
This is why I love wheelie bugs. They eat grasshoppers and caterpillars off of my plants in the garden! Any bug eating bug is welcome in the garden. Especially wheelie bugs!
Look how this one is hanging by its two back legs, like a trapees artist, while using its beak to suck the guts out of that awful tobacco horn worm! That's coooool! ;)
I have more garden photos to share with you. I'm happy to know that the garden posts are enjoyed. Our garden is far from perfect. Each year it has it's challenges, and this year is no different. I've learned so much from gardening in Texas, and am fairly certain that if I can have success here, I could have a successful garden just about anywhere!
We've never had much luck growing watermelon, but I wanted to try again this year. And what do you know, we have little mellons all over the place! This year I placed soaker hoses in the rows where the watermelons are planted. I think it's making all the difference in their success this year.
I'm trying a new winter squash this year - Bush Buttercup. The squash are growing beautifully! Hopefully, the plants can survive to harvest time! I've found some squash bugs out there, so hopefully they don't do the plants in.
There are watermelons planted at both ends of the garden. Little round sugar baby melons at one end, and yellow moon and stars watermelons at the other. The plants have completely taken over the walkway down the center of the garden. They are loaded with blossoms, and bees!
The MASSIVE yellow pear tomato plant has lots and LOTS of tomato clusters, just waiting to ripen! I've been enjoying the ripe ones right off the plant in the morning when I water. Fresh tomatoes for breakfast ... you bet!
This is the full yellow pear tomato plant. It's well over 6' tall, and since it's planted in the trough, I'll be dragging a ladder out to the garden when it comes time to harvest all the tomatoes towards the top! They're WAY up there!
In this part of the garden are more tomato plants. There is the volunteer front and center, as well as a husky cherry red, and a couple super sweet 100's planted in large blue tubs. There are also tomato plants in the small trough you can see in the distance.
The oldest of the super sweet 100's is already loaded with young fruit. The other two plants, which I planted a bit later, are coming along nicely, but have a lot of work to do yet before they start setting clusters of tomatoes like this. I think we'll be tomato-rich, soon!
Husky Cherry Reds are a new variety for me this year. I wasn't too sure about giving them a try, but after I did a bit of reading about them online, I thought we'd give them a try. I must say, I'm really pleased with them! Their plants are not as tall and gangly as other cherry tomato variety, and in fact, really are quite "husky". They held up to our spring winds beautifully! And boy, are they ever LOADED with fruit! Clusters like this throughout the entire plant! I would certainly grow these again.
I mentioned in part 1 of this garden post that the volunteer tomato plant is LOADED with blossoms. I wasn't kidding. Here is just one of the branches ... and each branch looks like this. The plant has set a lot of fruit, so if it manages to set these as well, whoa, will we have some tomatoes! Not bad for a volunteer. I'm kind of interested to see how it performs so I'm not planning on topping it off. I'll just keep watering it, and see how it grows. We're supposed to have some relatively "normal" weather for a while, so growth in the garden should be interesting to watch.
And finally, the friends in the dill. We are up to at least 4, possibly 5, swallowtail caterpillars in the dill now. This little guy is only about 1" long. It's kind of painful to watch them as they munch on my dill, but I'm willing to share with the butterflies.
Hope you're enjoying the weekend, and the last bit of June!
I took a couple photos in the garden this morning. It's a jungle out there! I hope to get more photos this evening. I usually take garden photos in the evening since the light is better, so hopefully things won't be all wilted down from today's heat. These two beds in front of the chicken house are doing great! The front bed is Patty Pan squash, and a few salad slicing cucumbers in the back corner on a trellis. The back bed is three Cherokee Purple tomato plants, and three zucchini plants. These beds are always great producers, since they're protected from the southern winds by the chicken house. I have a late-planted black cherry tomato in the blue tub at the end of the raised bed. It's growing beautifully, and I can't WAIT for those little tomatoes!
The tomato plants are doing well this year. And that makes me wish I'd planted more! I have a couple of volunteer tomato plants that are completely LOADED with blooms right now. One of them is right in the front/center of this photo. There are so many blooms on the plant! I'll snap a detail photo later so you can see all the blooms ... it's crazy, really!
You can also see the pumpkin plant has started taking over the yard, and behind that you can see the cucumber bed has completely grown out into the grass as well. There's a 6' tall yellow pear tomato plant in the large aluminum trough towards the back of the garden, which is now so tall I can no longer reach the top of the plant without a ladder. It's loaded with blooms as well, so I hope this weekend's heat doesn't ruin the possibility of fruit setting.
Stay tuned for more! *grin*
Some insects really aren't welcome in the garden, but I'm willing to share my dill with the lovely monarch swallowtail butterfly caterpillar. (Thanks for the correction, Shala!) I spotted two of them in the dill earlier this week, when they were but little tiny things. They've really grown! The larger of the two is not quite as big as my pinky finger.
We also have two American Painted Lady caterpillars in the dill right now, munching away. The Painted Lady's are a bit small for getting any sort of in-focus images of. I'll give them a couple days to grow -- they're about as long as lady bug larvae at this point -- and I will snap some pics when they get a bit larger.
And I keep meaning to get some new photos of the garden! It's been a month since my last update, and things have really changed! Maybe tomorrow... *grin*
Remember our grasshopper infestation? Sooo not fun. Disgusting, actually. We are doing what we can to keep the numbers down to something a little less horrific. We have free-ranging chickens, ducks, and guinea, and lots of wild birds coming in to eat. We have most of the area around the house and yard mowed to discourage the grasshoppers from moving between pastures and the yard/garden area. But it wasn't knocking down the population like we needed.
I'm still using organic methods in the garden -- even relocating wheelie bugs and ladybugs to the garden when I find them other places on the farm. But when the numbers of grasshoppers creep up in the tall grass and trees in and around the yard, we spray those areas with a Malathion/water mixture. It's a little more serious than we normally use on the farm, but is still a garden-safe method of control.
During the day, grasshoppers are very active and hard to control. But at night grasshoppers stop feeding and climb up out of the grass and perch themselves along the edges of the pastures on the tall grass stems, along the fence wires, on trees, and weeds. And there they sit, waiting for us to make our way around the yard wearing our headlamps, armed with a sprayer. And yes, I still have grasshoppers in the garden. But not nearly as many as I would have if we weren't able to control the population in the areas around the yard.
So how about a small garden tour!
This yellow pear tomato plant is also amazing -- it's HUGE, and has officially reached the top of the 4' cage around it. The plant next to it (can't remember what it is!) is doing really well too, but there just aren't a lot of flowers on either of these plants. Some flowers, but not a lot. Maybe I need to supplement with some phosphorus to encourage flowers. I use bone meal when I prep the beds for planting, but maybe adding some worm casting tea might be beneficial. Hopefully I can encourage these two to put on more flowers!
I have cucumbers growing in several areas, but this is the largest area. A full 4'x8' bed of them, and they are quickly vining out of the bed's edges. Under those leaves are a bazillion flowers! And we've even picked a couple cucumbers! I think they are enjoying not being trellised this year.
The pumpkin is doing well (for just being old seeds tossed at the edge of a zucchini bed), and the zucchini and other squash plants are looking healthy. In the blue tub at the left are some mini white cucumbers, a great little variety that is really fun to grow!
Here's some organic bug control in the garden ... ducks! Chickens can be really hard on a garden since they're really drawn to eating leaves and small tender fruits, and like to take dust baths in the soft soil -- which isn't so great for plants. But ducks and guinea are great in a garden! They are more focused on bugs! They pull them right off the stems and leaves, and the ducks also root around the edges of the garden beds where other insects like to hide during the day.
Our farm, and our neighbor's farm are being invaded, BIG TIME!
Time to bring out the big guns.
The garden with two rows is the new area we put in a year ago. Here I'm growing various squash (spaghetti, acorn, 8-ball, yellow, black zuc), watermelon, and some cantaloupe melon. Just yesterday I put down soaker hoses along the tops of the rows and covered the hoses with compost to help with water conservation. This bed gets a LOT of southern wind, which is very hard on the plants. So, just out of view on the right side of the garden I put an aluminum windbreak in place. You'll probably see parts of it in other photos.
Last year we pulled the two large metal troughs out of the barn to use in the garden. They're completely full of holes and I thought they would make great beds for the garden. I was RIGHT! There are two tomato plants in each trough, as well as either spinach or radishes to fill in the growing space. This trough happens to be a Sweet 100 tomato, and a yellow pear tomato, along with spinach (which I need to pick!) I have a couple pieces of plastic roofing temporarily clipped to the trellises to block the strong southern wind we were getting today.
Behind the troughs are nine 4'x8' beds (two I'm not using this year), three 3'x5' beds, and lots of large containers.
This is the main area of the garden (click photo for larger view). Where we live does not have the best soil for gardening, and we don't have a tiller, so I do my best to grow in raised beds or large containers with a mixture I create using our soil, farm compost, and sandy soil we had delivered a couple of years ago. The large blue tubs are not my favorite visually, but they are great for what I use them for. Alan buys the tubs in the winter for the cows. They're filled with a hard sticky mess that the cows just love to lick on. When the tub gets emptied, it becomes mine for the garden! We drill holes in the bottom for drainage, set them on a couple inches of gravel, and I fill them up!
In the tubs I grow things like tomatoes, mint, small cucumbers, herbs, and even flowers. This is a new tomato variety for me this year. Husky Cherry Red -- and boy are they not kidding about this thing being "husky"! Some of the branches are as big as my thumb! It holds up GREAT in the wind, so I'm hoping it puts out some nice fruit. It might be a good variety to grow here, if the tomatoes are good!
In front of the chicken house are two 4'x8' beds. The back bed is filled with three black zucchini and three Cherokee Purple tomato plants. The front bed has some small watermelon (backside), and three monster sized Patty Pan squash plants. I also have a small grouping of cucumbers set to climb up a half circle trellis in one corner.
Here is the backside of the bed that is just in front of the chicken house. Plants always do super well in this bed, where they are protected by the chicken house from the southern winds. What a jungle.
In front of the chicken yard is the tee-pee trellis we built last year. This year I decided to just plant a grouping of sunflowers in that area. The HUGE plants closer to the fence are volunteer sunflowers that popped up in the grass. As far as I'm concerned, sunflowers can grow any where on the farm they'd like and volunteers are always allowed to grow. In the blue tub is a Black Cherry Tomato, just transplanted and trellised today.
Back in the main garden area, I have a 4'x8' bed of red beets ready to harvest. They're destined for pickling! Yum! Not sure what I'll plant in this bed once the beets are pulled. Decisions, decisions!
I had several OLD packages of basil and dill seed I thought I'd just toss into this large aluminum tub. I wasn't sure the seeds would germinate ... the packages said 2005 on them. I guess they were OK afterall! Haa!
This year instead of trellising all of the cucubmers, I thought I'd try growing an entire bed of them on the ground without a trellis. We just get so much wind here and the vines get really dried out. I thought maybe they'd do better if kept lower to the ground. We'll see. They're just now starting to flower. I'm already battling cucumber beetles, and have lost a few plants to wilt. I have cucumbers in several locations, so hopefully we'll get enough for us while battling the bugs.
I haven't been short of challenges this year. I thought we'd be able to get a good jump on the garden, getting seeds in the ground in February in time for some good spring rains. But, I was wrong. We didn't get the rains we expected, and the ground temperature wasn't ideal for sprouting seeds. Much of what I seeded didn't even come up. And then we had a frost, and I lost a good portion of what had sprouted.
I think I was expecting a spring like we had last year, where the garden was in full harvest by the first of June. So, mid-April, I reseeded most of the garden (even using old seeds, if I had them). We might have some surprises, since when I replanted, I didn't exactly write down what I planted in every location. I'm sure I have a few of the squash plants mixed up. Oh well!
I sure hope we have a good harvest this year.... and if you garden, I HOPE YOU DO, TOO!!
I knew exactly what I needed to be looking for...
This is the first Tobacco Horn Worm I've found in the garden this year. Longer than my middle finger, and about as big around. I know there will be others, so I will have my eagle eyes on the tomato plants from now on. Horn worms cause great damage to plants. Thankfully, they're easy to pick off, and easy to dispose of. The ducks LOVE them!
Don't remember my first ever encounter with one of these monsters? Read about it and see more detailed photos, and even learn the difference between Tobacco Horn worms and Tomato Horn Worms.
Learn even more about the Tobacco Horn Worm, or Manduca Sexta.
The sentiment on the card is from one of my Whipper Snapper cling mount sets called Friendly Expressions.
Find all the details of this week's challenge on the High Hopes blog.
Stamp: "Gardening Gertie" by High Hopes Rubber Stamps, "Friendly Expressions" cling set by Whipper Snapper Designs
Ink: Memento Black
Paper: Neenah, The Paper Loft, Bo Bunny, Paper Accents
ShinHan Touch Twin markers: YR132, YR133, YR25, YR32, YR21, BR97, BR107, BR102, BR92, Y36, WG5, GY175, Y42, WG3, PB144, PB185, B182, R136, B68, R3, R2, B64, B66, Y34, Y36, YR33, CG1, CG3, CG5
Other: Prima flowers, SEI brad, Tracing Wheel, Spellbinders label die, MFT label die, May Arts ribbon
My Baker Creek seed order arrived today! Alan wanted to know why I wasn't out in the garden this evening planting seeds! *Haa!* I'd have to prep more beds first, that's why! I still have some seeds from last year, so this isn't a complete list of what will be grown in the garden this year. These will just fill in a few spots with something new to grow, and provide us with a couple favorites. Let's see what I ordered.
I ordered up this Fordhook Zucchini simply because of the note on it that reads "freezes well". We get a LOT of zucchini from the garden, so this might allow another method for prolonging the harvest. I'm excited for the Bush Buttercup squash. Since they grow in bushes, like a zucchini, they won't take over the entire garden like a vining plant would.
I wasn't able to find scallop (patty pan) squash seeds locally, so they are were top priority on the order list. I also picked up some Patisson Strie Melange, which will be new to our garden. We thought they looked like fun!
I've tried growing strawflowers two years in a row now, and have had miserable luck with them. I thought I would try them one more year before coming to the conclusion that I just can't grow them here.
I know many of you are still having freezing temperatures, and may even still be getting snow! So hopefully this little promise of "spring" warmed you up a bit!
Here's what I ordered, if any of these spark your fancy!
Bennings Green Tint Scallop SSQ109
Blue Curled Scotch KA101
Dwarf Siberian Kale KA102
Bloomsdale Long Spinach - 1/4 lb SP101-E
Patisson Strie Melange SSQ134
Fordhook Zucchini SSQ139
Bush Buttercup SQ168
Tall Double Mix - Strawflower FL640
Blue Seas - Statice FL662
Tiger Eye Mix Sunflower FL743
Orange King - Zinnia FL818
Pink Senorita Zinnia FL831
Redman Super Cactus Zinnia FL820
What's on your list for this year's garden?
Today I prepped three 4'x8' raised garden beds and the two old aluminum trough planters we moved into the garden last year, for planting. Prepping the soil included loosening and turning the soil that was in each bed, digging up and hauling many wagon-fulls of farm compost (soil and POOP!), filling up the beds w/ the additional compost, turning it all together, and leveling out the soil.
And believe it or not, I actually got seeds planted in the beds I prepped! Five rows of beets, two rows of spinach, two rows of giant peas, and and entire bed of cucumbers. I haven't planted anything in the two aluminum troughs I prepped yet though. One of them is fitted with two super-great round wire trellis, so I want to plant something in that trough that needs upright support. Maybe slicing cucumbers? Last year it did a fantastic job of supporting a couple of monster sized yellow cherry tomato plants. The second trough doesn't have any upright supports in it this year, so I might just plant spinach and chard in it.
I think this might be the earliest I've ever gotten seeds in the ground, and it sure feels like it's time. I worked extra hard today prepping the beds because we're supposed to get some rain tonight and tomorrow. And that would be GREAT after working the soil and getting those seeds in the ground!
There's still loads of work to do for this years garden, but at least I've got it started!
The February layout challenge has been posted on the Paper Loft blog, and while you may think that the layout challenge is only for scrapbookers, that's not so! Cardmarkers can join the fun too! I did! *grin*
Have you started thinking about your garden yet? I've started thinking about it, but haven't done too much else. Just thinking.
Stamp: All Night Media (Garden Lady)
Ink: Black Memento, Antique Linen Distress Ink
Paper: Neenah, The Paper Loft
ShinHan Touch Twin markers
Other: Spellbinders wonky rectangle and circle die,May Arts twine, tracing wheel, button, string
I thought I would pop on out to the garden this evening and see what the chickens were up to. Some of them were hunting for bugs in the grass. Good chickens! (Rosie in the front, Goldilocks, Poof, and Rosie in the distance). Yes, I have several Rosie's. You try telling several Golden Comet chickens apart on a regular basis! *grin*
Some of them were enjoying the sunshine. By the way, this is Dolly... my, how he has changed!
Lola is a Bearded Buff Laced Polish. Isn't she a beauty! Check out her blue legs! I love raising Polish hens. They have the sweetest personalities, although sometimes they can be a bit punchy (probably because they can't see all that well with their big headdresses!)
The stamp images I used on my project are from my "Farmgirl Betty" and "Farmer John" cling sets, available at Whipper Snapper Designs. I used various images from the two sets to create a simple scene that celebrates Fall.
I thought the patterned paper from Paper Loft's Funkysaurus line looked so much like tidy, interesting garden rows -- making it perfect accent paper for my Farmgirl Betty card!
Tomorrow is the last day to enter the current Touch Twin Markers & More challenge. You can find all of the details on the Touch Twin Markers & More challenge blog.
The topic for the current challenge is to make a project in a food theme with some type of shadowing technique. I chose to dress up one of my jars of homemade salsa with a piece of muslin, twine, and a tag featuring an image from my Whipper Snapper cling mount set called Garden Fresh.
The Garden Fresh stamp set has the jar with a blank label, along with various fruits and veggies you can add to the center of the label. I chose to use the fatty tomato on my jar's label, of course! All of the shadows on the image were created with markers. There are no additional layers used on the jar or label to add dimension to the stamped image. Just a lotta coloring!
Thought you might like to see the current status of one of my kitchen counters. This is a little more than HALF of the zucchini that's in the kitchen right now. And Alan hasn't even brought in today's harvest yet... *mercy!*
The average weight of these is 2lbs each. Some as much as 3lbs. The stack goes from countertop, to the bottom of the upper cupboards at it's highest point.
After dinner tonight (we're taking Alan's parents out for Father's Day), we'll be stopping at the grocery store and picking up more onions so I can do a couple more batches of relish (we love relish!) and some zucchini pickle recipies.
So, tomatoes and zucchini aren't the only BIG produce we've harvested from the garden this year! We're also growing monster sized cucumbers! This photo can be a little deceiving... Just how big do you think those cucumbers really are?
Let me show you...
They are Armenian cucumbers. I received some seeds last year in a seed exchange and decided to plant a few of the seeds beneath the tree branch trellis. A few days ago, Alan and I decided to harvest a few...
This side of the cucumber was against the ground and didn't get much sun. Amazingly enough, with all the BUGS we've got this year, they have very little bug damage. The vines did get pretty beat up during the two storms we've had, though. The wind really damaged some of the leaves.
Here is Alan holding the three cucumbers we picked. They measure 26.5" & 5lbs, 22" & 5lbs, 22" & 4.75lbs. That's a LOTTA cucumber! And, by the way, the "smaller" two cucumbers in the first photo are ordinary slicing cucumbers, and both weighed .75lb each.
I knew you'd want to see the inside of one of the large cucumbers, so I snapped a photo after I sliced off what we ate for dinner that night. It was very crispy, juicy, and had excellent flavor. We'll happily grow these again!
I'm saving seeds ... perhaps I'll do a give-away!
Thought I'd post an update on the garden, to track how things are progressing. As always, click photos for a larger view. The tomatoes in the metal troughs were completely toppled over during the last storm we had. Bent over clear to the ground, cages and all. I set them upright again as best as I could, and Alan set a t-post on the outside of the trough so their cages can be tied off to it. We never get wind from the direction that caused all the damage... it was wacky! That same storm really beat up the larger zucchini plants as well, but they've done a fine job of recovering. The cucumber plants took a beating too, and sill look a little rough from all the wind.
The new garden area we put in this spring is filling in nicely. We ended up having to line up some of our hay along the backside of the garden to keep the hot southern wind from pulling the plants right up out of the ground. The wind really whips the plants around, dries them out, and pretty much ruins any chance of survival. Hay bales to the rescue! They are a temporary solution to the problem, though. We will have to put up some fence panels, like we did on the backside of the "old" garden area closer to the chicken coop. They help so MUCH!
In the new garden, we've got our second planting of zucchini. Just a few plants... that should get us by for a while longer on zucchini! There is a spaghetti squash plant at the far end, too. A new plant for us this year.
I am trying to get some watermelon to grow this year, too. The vines are doing much better now; they took a little while to get going. Before we set the hay bales along the garden, the wind was really rough on the vines. But now they seem to be growing nicely. We have enough time in the season still, so I poked a few more seeds in the ground where there were some "holes" where some of the plants didn't make it. Hopefully they come in quickly and are able to put on some fruit!
A few more cantaloupe plants, and at the far end a couple acorn squash plants. You can see what's left of my green beans in the bottom right corner. The grasshoppers did them in. I decided just to leave them, as maybe the grasshoppers will continue to eat on them instead of the other plants.
Here you can see how the yellow zucchini plants have just about abandoned their bed and have taken up residence in the walkway. So much for getting down that path any longer! Even the chickens and ducks wondered how to get past!
In the evening, the chickens and ducks get to visit the garden and hunt for bugs. They are very good hunters, but really need to be supervised while they're in the garden. Otherwise, they get into places they're not supposed to be. For the most part they spend their time hunting bugs, and do a pretty good job of spreading out my compost pile.
The beds in the back of the garden where I had my salad greens, kale, and beets planted are now empty. Soon, we will prepare the beds for fall planting. I want to add more height to the sides of the beds and add more soil and compost. That will make growing in the raised beds even better! The front beds are still hanging in there. The big cucumber wall (just off the right side of the photo) is just about done for the season. The vines really got hit with bugs and I'm dealing with a lot of wilt now.
Alan is the "harvester" of cucumbers, squash, and zucchini. He leaves a zucchini on the plants if it isn't quite big enough to pick ... and then two days later, SURPRISE! It's HUGE! This is how we get 2.5lb - 3.5lb zucchini! Haa!
Amazingly enough, I have yet to see a single squash bug in the garden this year. Very unusual. I think that with our mild winter, we have a bigger spider population and they are master hunters in the garden beds. In the photo above, those are two wolf spiders (yes, the VERY VERY CREEPY kind) sitting in a zucchini plant. To give you an idea of size, the stems of the zucchini are about 1.5" diameter. They're BIG spiders. And they give me the complete willies ... but I'm learning to tolerate them in the garden.
And as if that wasn't enough of a garden update, stay tuned for more on our GIANT tomato, and we have another BIG garden harvest surprise to share, too!
Look what I brought in from the garden this evening! Another whopper sized Cherokee Purple tomato! I would have liked to let it ripen on the vine another day or two, but it looked like it was going to start splitting, and I DID NOT want the bugs to get it! So, into the house it went... 18.5oz! The largest tomato I've ever grown!
This is my first year growing Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes, and I have to say, I'm loving them! They are delicious! I've never been able to grow very large tomatoes here, regardless of the variety. Small tomatoes grow like crazy, but I have trouble with the large tomatoes. I think they have more trouble with the heat we get than smaller cherry sized tomatoes.
I was very excited when I brought this beauty in today and set it on the scale! 14.3oz ... just a bit shy of 1 POUND! Most of the other "large" tomatoes I've brought in have been between 8oz and 11oz, so this one is a WHOPPER (from our garden, anyway!)
And I'm going to eat it for lunch tomorrow! ... I might share with Alan... *grin*
Tomorrow I will be canning relish, cutting up zucchini for candy recipies, and juicing fresh cucumbers for breakfast!
The tomatoes are just starting to ripen, and they are delish! Cherokee Purple tomatoes have been the top "large" tomato performer for us this year. The small Juliet and Sweet 100s are coming on strong, though too!
Some of the garden beds are "done" producing for the spring/summer crop. The bugs did the last of the plants in -- mostly the spinach, kale, collards, and such. But, we're going to add more boards to the raised beds, add more soil and compost, and I'll get the beds ready for fall planting. All will be good.
In the "new" garden space, the plants are just starting to flower. We've got canteloupe, watermelon, more zucchini (hey, it grows for us, so we plant lots!), and some acorn squash, so hopefully they all do well.
Ten days ago I posted that we have a honey bee swarm in a tree here on the farm. Well, they're still there, and they've been 'buzzzzzy' making a honey comb! I snapped this quick photo today, and will try to get a better photo tomorrow. It was real windy today, and most of the photos I took today were SUPER out of focus.
See the yellow honey comb, towards the bottom of the swarm? I believe there are three comb sections. The one that you can see a portion of, I believe, is the center comb. There is a much shorter one on the left side that I've seen a portion of, and I believe there is a third one on the right side of the swarm.
I'll see about getting more photos tomorrow!
Alan and I were out in the pasture this evening, and as we were walking back up to the house I just about walked under a tree, right under this temporary honey bee swarm. ZOIKS! (Click on the images for a larger view.)
We'll be keeping a very close eye on the swarm, and the farm, to make sure they don't decide to set up a hive in one of our buildings. Yikes!
The plants have started blooming like crazy! A mix of slicing cucumbers, mini whites, and lemon cucumbers. Should be fun to see how they come in! There are little baby cucumbers everywhere! I have cucumbers in 4 other places in the garden, as well. Good thing we eat a lot of cucs! Also in this bed are 4 kale plants and a small row of beets which are now nearly hidden by the cucumbers and the kale.
The zucchini bed is growing like MAD! The six plants in this 4'x8' bed are three feet tall, and spilling over every edge of the bed. So much so that you can only see the edges of the bed in one or two locations.
The remaining three plants are black zucchini's, and just like the yellows, the plants are putting on LOTS of fruit. I have zucchini plants in several other locations as well, so I imagine we'll be eating zucchini for a good long while. Some of the other plants are just starting to put out blooms, others are just putting on their second and third leaves, and others still have yet to come up. I did good succession planting, this year!
The trough gardens are doing great! Soon, the patty pan squash will start to hang down over the edge, and hopefully the nasturtiums I have planted in the troughs will start to trail down over the edge as well.
There are some squash plants in this bed that have grown so tall, I think they're shading out the tomatoes and peppers behind them. In the front corner is another grouping of cucumbers, and same with the corner of the bed on the left .... yup, more cucumbers. *grin* You can also see how tall the sunflowers are getting along the chicken yard fence! They are going to be beautiful!
This bed has an 8-Ball zucchini, a butternut, and a patty pan squash plant. Cucumbers, some onions, and some kale are on the backside. On the left side of this photo you can see part of the Armenian cucumbers I have planted on the tree branch tee-pee trellis I built last year. They are really strong, healthy looking plants, so I hope they do well.
Every time I go out to the garden, I'm amazed at the progress. I actually ate the first ripe cherry tomato this morning, right off the vine. And it was DELISH!!
I used my Spiral Veggie Slicer to make zucchini noodles. It's so easy, fast, and fun! The Spiral Veggie Slicer comes with three different cutting plates. Small, medium, and flat. I used the small plate to make spaghetti sized noodles. I also use the small cutting plate to make raw sweet potato noodles, and raw beet salad. Yum!
It's very easy to use. Simply make a cut on each end of the veggie so the ends are flat. Place the veggie onto the slicer, press the handle into the veggie, and turn the handle! Out come the most amazing noodles! You can peel off the green if you don't like the green edges on your noodles.
I'm going to be making this dish all summer long, as long as we get zucchini from the garden! It was deeeee-lish!!
1.5 - 2 pounds Zucchini
1/4 Cup Pesto
1 Large Tomato, diced
Salt/Pepper to taste
Make zucchini "noodles". Sprinkle noodles w/ just a pinch of salt, toss, and let sit for 20-30 minutes. This will pull some of the water out of the noodles, wilting them a bit, making them look, act, and have the texture of real pasta noodles. Press out the excess water using paper towels.
In a large bowl, toss the noodles with pesto and tomatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
The warm weather we're having is making the garden GROW! Everything has added 6, 8, maybe even 12 inches of height since last weekend. If you watched the video I did last weekend you might remember the little volunteer 8-Ball zucchini I showed ... well, I picked it this morning and it weighed 1.5 pounds! I know what we're having for dinner! And there are more on the way! Yay!
Here are some more photos to share, all taken this morning.
The plants around the outside edge are Armenian cucumbers -- supposed to make cucumbers that grow up to 36" long. Woweee!! The plants in the center are average slicing cucumbers. I wasn't sure the larger ones would come up, so I planted others. Then, most of them came up. We'll see how they do!
Hope you enjoy the day! Promises to be beautiful here today, though a bit too warm. 90. Phwew...
I took some video clips of the garden yesterday, and thought I'd share!
If you can't view this video here on my blog, check it out here on YouTube.
Have a GREAT Earth Day!!
Hope you have a wonderful day today, and take at least a moment to appreciate Earth. Yesterday evening, Alan helped me "refresh" the garden bed where I had spring peas planted, so today I get to plant some new seeds, water them in, and watch them GROW! Also in celebration of Earth Day, I did some video clips of the garden, and will post the video shortly.
Promises to be a gorgeous day here today ... a Sunny 81* ... a perfect day for a sundress, sun tea, and relaxation.
Well, yesterday I hinted at a project Alan and I did yesterday afternoon .... and for those of you who thought perhaps we went and "got hitched", Hahahaaa!!! No, we didn't .... but thanks for the laughs! I never imagined that would even be a guess! Instead, we put in a new 8' x 24' gardening area!
We mowed the area we wanted to work with, set paper in place (to further supress the grass and weeds), and added the compost. Alan suggested we line the entire area with some landscape timbers that Alan's dad brought out to the farm last year from his yard. Good idea!
Here you can see the last bit of paper showing. We put down about 4" to 5" of compost to start with, and as I build rows for planting, I'll add more compost (we have 21 bags of compost left) to the planting rows to increase the growing depth for the plants. Eventually, the paper will break down and the compost will keep the ground beneath nice and damp for plant roots.
This year, I won't plant anything in the bed that requires a very deep growing root structure. We'll do some green beans, some leafy greens, summer squash, and a few other odds and ends. I'm excited to get some rows created, and seeds in the ground! I know what I'm doing this weekend!
We had a good rain yesterday afternoon, and the garden looks a lot greener than it did prior to the rain. It's cloudy today so I'm hoping the plants are really able to enjoy the rain water before the sun pops out and dries everything out. And who knows... maybe we'll get rain again by the weekend! Here's hoping!
I'm trying a few new things in the garden this year. We had a couple leaky (think collander) troughs in the barn that I was going to plant potatoes in. I didn't get around to planting spuds soon enough, and we don't eat many potatoes anyway, so I decided to plant them with a couple tomato plants, some chard, and nasturtiums. We'll see how they do.
I am also using some of the big blue tubs left over from some of the treats we give the cows in the winter. Alan drilled holes in the bottom for drainage, and I filled them with good soil, tomato plants, some herbs, chard, mints, and a few other things (radishes, onion chives, etc). They are unsightly, but hopefully functional.
The sunflowers and zinnias I planted along the chicken yard are coming in well. The bed is filling with our icky crab grass, so I've got to get out and trim it up a bit. You can see that the fence took a bit of a beating from Lucy and Darcy (cows) while we had the girls in the back yard this winter. Baaaaad cows! :)
This small bed was supposed to be all flowers. Two seeds came up. Well, more than that sprouted, but were quickly eaten off by pill beetles. So, I planted some acorn squash seeds in the center of the bed. They didn't come up either. So, when I had to stop at the nursery to pick up some replacement plants for the ones I lost in the hail storm, I decided to pick up a few more to plant in this bed. The day after I planted the peppers and two tomato plants, all of the acorn squash seeds popped up. This should be an interesting bed to watch grow..... *grin* Oh, and the netting that's around the beds is to keep the free-ranging chickens and cats out of the beds. Works great!
I'm excited for this bed! Down the center, on both sides of the trellis are three different kinds of cucumbers. Then a row of beets and a row of spinach, on both sides. YUM!! I did lose some of the cucumber plants to hail, but there are plenty of others and they're doing just great.
This year's primary tomato bed has 6 plants that are coming along beautifully! Last year I planted 8 plants in a different bed this same size, and it was a bit crowded. It was difficult to only plant 6 (they're so small when they're first planted!), but I'm hoping that with a little extra elbow room, they'll do great!
This bed is beets and spinach, and as you can see by the "holes", I've lost quite a bit of seedlings to pill beetles ... rollie pollies. After this bed is harvested, it will be getting a second board added to the perimeter to increase the bed's height, and I will be adding lots of really good compost. I had the most trouble with this bed last year, and since it's not doing so great this year either, I think it's in need of a face lift. I only wish I'd have thought to add the extra height before I planted this spring! But no worries .... I'll be able to get something else planted in this bed soon enough, and it will be marvelous!
A rather large spring storm passed through today, and I stepped outside to take some photos. The clouds were dark, and active. Areas in and around Dallas experienced tornado damage, but we got by with just some heavy rains (not quite 2" of rain fell), a bit of hail, and lots of wind. The only casualties on the farm were in the garden. A banana pepper plant was snapped in two, two newly planted Juliet tomato plants were demolished, and the larger leaves on the zucchini plants are torn and filled with holes. Aside from the pepper and tomato plants, everything else will survive. My next trip to town will require a visit to the garden center to pick up some replacement plants. Here are some photos from this afternoon, as the storm rolled in.
Took some video clips this evening showing the progress of some of the garden veggies, the wildflowers in the pastures, and COWS!
If you're not able to view the video here on my blog, you will find it here on YouTube.
(Click on photo for larger view.)
I updated my garden map to show this year's planting plans. I've got about 75% of the garden planted already, and things are starting to pop up! We've got a good showing of peas and radishes, and the beets, spinach, and carrots are starting to make an appearance. I'll need to pickup some tomato and pepper plants at the nursery (didn't get my seeds started last month), and I may bring home some Ranunculus flowers, too. I do love them.
I need to decide on what else to plant in the cucumber bed. I have the cucumbers set so they grow up a trellis down the center of the bed, which leaves the outside edges of the bed available for something else. Maybe something will get my attention at the nursery...
Something that's missing from this year's garden are Patty Pan Squash. I haven't found any seed yet ... bummers! EDITED: Found some seeds!! YAY!!
Here's what got planted today:
Onions (two types)
Radishes (two types)
A little bit of lettuce
A few broccoli (never grown here -- just a test)
A few cauliflower (never grown here -- just a test)
I didn't get tomato seeds started yet (I had hoped to get them started a month or more ago), so I will most likely just pick up a few plants at the store one of these days.
Cucumbers (several types)
...what else? ... I'm sure I'm forgetting something...
First of all, thank you for all your support to those who purchased the On the Farm 2011 calendar last year. We had a great response to last year's calendar, and have decided to offer On the farm 2012.
A small portion of all purchases comes back to the farm, and all proceeds recieved go towards the care and feeding of the animals here on the farm. The calendars make fantastic gifts, and are ideal for personal use. The calendar is available in 3 sizes. All of the photos in the calendar were taken by me; I hope you choose to spend 2012 enjoying photos from our farm.
Order your own copy of On the farm 2012 today! Some of your favorite farm critters are featured in the pages of our calendar! Even Baaaaad Boxcar Betty makes an appearance!
HOT SALE! Today through November 20th, cards are 50% off, and calendars are 20% off when you use coupon code CARDSCAL2011 at order checkout. In addition to the 2012 calendar, you will also find all kind of lovely cards in my Zazzle shop as well!
Zazzle Coupon Details:
Enter code: CARDSCAL2011 at checkout in the "Zazzle Coupons/Gift Certificates" box 50% of the greeting card, invitation, photo card and postcard net sale price will be deducted when one or more qualifying products are purchased. 20% of the calendar net sale price will be deducted when one or more qualifying calendars are purchased. The coupon code CARDSCAL2011 must be applied at checkout to apply these discount offers. Offer is valid until November 20, 2011 at 11:59pm PT. This offer does not apply to past purchases and may not be combined with any other Zazzle promotional or volume discount offers. If a volume discount applies to your order, you will receive either the discount set forth in this offer or the standard volume discount, whichever is greater. Offer valid on Zazzle.com only.
I found images of a project I created in October using the Lifetime of Happiness cling set, and thought I would share them with you.
It's kind of timely that I came across these photos tonight, because we've got quite a windstorm happening and I'm hoping that some of the garden debris finds it's own way out of the garden and into the pasture with the donkeys and cows. Nothing like a little helping hand from Mother Nature when it comes to getting some of the farm chores done!
I really like how this project came together. The peachy colored paper I hand dyed using various distress inks and pearl colored Glimmer Mist. It really is quite pretty being slightly shimmery under the image, which as you can see also happens to be dressed up with even more glitter.
To add the top sprinkling of glitter, I gave the card a light spray of adhesive (spray adhesive comes in a can, like spray paint) after the card was all assembled. While the adhesive was still tacky, I lightly sprinkled crystal glitter here and there. A light hand is best for this technique ... it's easy to get carried away and add too much adhesive, and glitter! (Do you believe me?) *grin*
After the adhesive dries it's no longer tacky, so you don't have to worry about random things sticking to your project after the adhesive is dry.
... I do believe we're sneaking up on a Friday! ...
Thanks for checkin' in on me today!
The photos I shared from the farm in Oregon reminded me of this little Farmer John garden tag I made before I left on my trip. I used scrap strips of paper from the Memorandum paper pad by Lily Bee Designs to create the tag, and added Farmer John to the tag using foam adhesive to give him a little "lift". I used twine that I use in the garden (to tie up tomatoes and cucumber vines), and I like the extra bit of rustic it adds to the project.
This tag will come in quite handy next spring, when hopefully I'll have something that actually IS fresh from the garden! *grin*
I had a GREAT time, and it was hard to leave the clean, crisp air of Oregon behind. We spent Saturday at the coast, visiting favorite beaches, and just enjoying the day. The Florence bridge is such a historic place.
There's really nothing like visiting the Oregon coast. It ranks right up there as one of my favorite places to visit. In the late afternoon, a big fog bank rolled in and covered the beach with a thick, heavy mist so we headed into Yachats for dinner. I had fresh pan fried razor clams, and they were deeee-LISH!
Every moment was spent with friends, and I had a wonderful time! I am so grateful for their friendship, and hospitality.
As for me today, I am still sick. Tonight, my temp is up nearly 3*. After literally two days of being in bed, medicated, you'd think I'd be feeling better. But I feel like I've been hit by a bus, and sound even worse! What a dreadful end to a beautiful vacation! *grin*
But we got a little rain this evening, so I can't complain.
How about a little more Farmgirl Betty inspiration!
When I showed Alan this card, he said "why is her hair blue?" That made me giggle!
So, a 2li23ttle off top2.i4c ... but hav3e2 2you 0ev0e00r. tr5ied 5t+o+ +ty5pe3 .with a chic6k+en standi2n2g22 next to..3666you6r6 keybo3a.rd? No? Well, l2e2t me 3t333ell y56ou, it gets0 i0nteresting.
Here is how that sentence should have read: So, a little off topic ... but have you ever tried to type with a chicken standing next to your keyboard? No? Well, let me tell you, it gets interesting.
She types nearly as fast as me, but she favors the number keypad.
Whatever that means... It must be good!
Well, it's bedtime for this farmgirl. Sweet dreams!