Friday, May 30, 2014


Yesterday was spent in the garden again although I don't feel as if I got a lot done.  (I told hubby a couple of weeks ago I was not going to panic -- my usual mode of operation this time of year -- until the first of June.  Hmmm, methinks that date is drawing close purdy darn fast.)  Because our soil and air temp is never consistently warm enough for some transplants and seeds to go into the ground until the first part of June, I never planned on having everything done in the garden by June 1st, but I wanted to feel at least "on top" of it by then.

So what did I accomplish yesterday?  Got our red and green cabbages set out and 75' of potatoes planted.  And that took ALL DAY?  Yep.  But I did come in a smidge before 11 a.m. to make a nice lunch as B was here helping Papa Pea with a special project, and it was 1 p.m. before I got back outside again.

Speaking of our friend B, she gave me an amaryllis bulb last fall with instructions to let it sleep all winter in our basement.  I've never had one before and had no idea how to handle it.  'Round about the end of March, she said it was time to bring it upstairs and put it in a sunny window.

It was very slow to bloom, and just finally popped out the first flower this past Monday perhaps because it didn't get quite as much sun as it would have liked through the window where I had it.

Sure does make an impressive plant (over two feet tall) in a relatively short time.  Now to see if I can (with B's help and guidance) do what needs to be done to keep it going to bloom again next year.

We polished off the pan of Rhubarb Crunch I made in short order, and being the crazy rhubarb-craving gal I am, I made a Rhubarb Upsidedown Cake last night before bed.  Recipe is here if you're interested.

After getting the cake in the oven (and me in the shower), I was too pooped to process the rest I had harvested, but I'll make more rhubarb pie filling for the freezer with the remaining stalks today.

Sending congratulations out to my brother and sister-in-law on the birth of their second little granddaughter yesterday.  My nephew is proud as punch and his wife and 8 pound-plus little babe are doing fine.  This baby has a "big" sister, just two years older than she, to grow up with.

I know it's hard to believe after having our massive snow melt this spring, but our conditions here are now dry and the fire danger is listed as high.  But rain is a possibility (our ever-accurate [ahem] weather forecasters say) for both Saturday and Sunday this weekend.  Let's hope moisture does fall down upon us and soak everything so the threatening fire danger will be no more.  Plus, if it does rain, I'll be forced to spend time inside to clean and catch up on many other tasks which have fallen by the wayside while I've been concentrating my efforts outside.  Isn't it amazing how quickly a household can fall apart if no one is available to keep it all under control?  Yep, just amazing. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I'm Gaining On It!

Both hubby and I were out in the garden by 7:30 this morning, and we had a very profitable day.

He got the field garden and pumpkin patch cultivated and ready for me to work in.

With his helpful hands and brute strength, I got the pea trellises (cattle panels . . . how did I ever garden without them?) up, and then I got the shell peas planted.  Come on now, you little seeds, do your thing.

Also marked the two bean rows, but haven't planted them yet.  It's a little early; I'll wait until the first week of June probably.

Planted lemon cucs in one raised bed and slicing cucs in another.  Covered them both with cold frames which should enable them to get an early start without coming down with chilblains.  I also planted several rows of assorted lettuces in a bed in between a four foot trellis on each end of a bed where I planted sugar snap peas.  (Sugar snap peas on the end trellises.  Really bad sentence structure.)

Took our first harvest of rhubarb of the season and made a pan of Rhubarb Crunch.  Recipe is here if anyone is interested.

I had enough of the lovely, red stalks to make a bag of rhubarb pie filling for the freezer.  My very first preserved item of the season!

Got in one bed of half spinach and half Swiss chard.  Another of about a third kale and the rest beets.  Got some tilling done around the edge of the field garden.  That darn sod (quack grass) will sneak into the garden if you don't keep it beat back constantly.

Papa Pea got the little chicks moved to their new home outside.  It's an 8' x 8' pen covered in greenhouse plastic.  He rigged a brooder light for them, too, in case they get chilly at night.  They're four weeks old now and just about completely feathered out.  We'll keep them confined in their new abode (which is within the regular chicken pasture that's surrounded by electric fencing) for a few more weeks before opening their door so they can begin to socialize with the "big girls."

As I say, a good day it was, and I can hardly wait to start again tomorrow.  But first, a long, hot shower, maybe a little drinkie-poo of the alcoholic variety, and a little reading.  If I can stay awake that long.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Summer Has Begun and a Garden Update

The past couple of days have been filled with sunshine and warm temps.  I'm sure it must have gotten at least up into the upper 70s today.  My time has been happily spent outside playing in the berry patches and vegetable gardens.

It's been sunny and warm enough that even my tan lines have begun to appear.  (Why don't my legs ever tan as easily as my arms?)  In typical northern Minnesota fashion, we seem to have gone from cold, wet, damp, foggy "spring" weather to full blown summer.  (Still no sign of biting bugs though.  Shhhh!) 

The pumpkin patch is waiting to be weeded and tilled up.  This picture makes it look as though it has more weeds than it actually does.  Dear husband mowed the lawn today and lots of grass clippings got blown onto the patch.

My time has been spent getting the raspberries, blueberries and our three (experimental) haskcap berry bushes totally weeded.  Papa Pea will put some compost around each bush tomorrow, and then I'll mulch the raspberries and put some peat moss around the blueberries and haskcap berries.

Nothing (other than the strawberry patch) has been done in the field garden yet, and I'm feeling bad about not having the shell peas already planted in there.  But having it done earlier just wasn't in the cards this year.

I've also been planting in the raised beds.  They're coming along faster than I had even hoped.  So far I've gotten in:

~ An experimental planting of two teeny-tiny cherry tomato plants under hot caps

~ Three beds of onions, two of yellow and one of red

~ A bed of lettuce, spinach, mizuna mustard, arugula and kale

~ Sixteen feet of carrots (which has proven to be just right for us)

~ Morning Glories around the tepee trellis

~ The first four rows of radishes (more to come in succession planting)

~ Two four foot trellises of sugar snap peas

~ My usual planting of Sweet Peas

Geesh, now that I list it, it doesn't sound like that much.  I'd better step it up tomorrow!

There are also two raised beds of garlic I planted last fall.  One of a softneck variety and one of a hardneck variety. 

The rhubarb is in the middle of a bed with comfrey planted on either end.  I'm thinking some rhubarb stalks will be big enough for harvesting this coming week.  Yum!

All in all, a very productive last couple/few days in the garden.  It really feels so good to be out there playing in the dirt.  We're taking a little time off tomorrow, and there is the chance of some rain so that may curtail our progress in the garden a bit.  (And give a little rest to our bodies which might not be a bad thing!)

Friday, May 23, 2014

Baby Steps in the Garden

So, so, so much to do out there, but I'll drive myself straight into the looney bin if I focus on what's not done rather than what is done.

I got the strawberry patch ready for the season today.  Old debris cleaned out, spring weeds pulled, and wood shavings spread for mulch.  Papa Pea hauled away the corn stalks we had used for winter mulch on the bed.

The plants don't look like much yet (picture taken from a second story window), but give them a couple of weeks and they will become lush, little bushes.

Our strawberry patch used to occupy twice as much space in the field garden, but last fall I took half the plants out.  (As you can see, nothing else has been happening in the field garden yet . . . except for the healthy growth of some weeds!)  The berries on the plants I tore out were getting small, and the plants needed to be replaced.  (I put in those original plants in the spring of 2009 so it's understandable why they were worn out!)  We're going to get by with just the remaining number of plants this year.  We're wanting to move the strawberry patch, but haven't made the decision as to where so I didn't want to order any new plants yet.

I made enough strawberry jam last year to keep us going for another year (at least), and I think this year's harvest will give us enough berries for fresh eating, a pie or three and several quarts for the freezer to use in smoothies.

I also got one raised bed planted out today.  In it I set out transplants I had started inside of lettuce, kale, arugula, and mizuna mustard.  I also had room for spinach seeds and more kale seeds.  Now I'm hoping the good weather gods smile on us, and this first bed gets off to a good start.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

It's A Start on the Road to Normalcy!

Hooray and happy to say I started feeling much better on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, however (per Susan's instructions), Papa Pea kept me velcro-ed to the couch anyway.  But this morning he asked if I felt up to pruning the raspberries today.  Wa-HOO, ya sure and you betcha!  It was my first day of working outside.

These are our three rows of raspberries before pruning.

We like to get the pruning done before the leaves bud out, but didn't make it this year.  (We're getting at the task about a month later than in a normal year.)  But as hubby pointed out, it sure makes it a lot easier to tell the dead canes from the live ones when you see the green leaves all over the live canes!

Our system works well; Papa Pea snips of the dead canes, hands them to me and I pile them in the garden cart to be hauled away.

Here's the "after" picture.  Sure looks a lot different doesn't it?  That big space between Row One and Rows Three and Four is because I took out Row Two years ago.  It was a fall-bearing variety of raspberry which never did diddly-squat in our northern climate.  Each and every year, just as the berries were almost ripe in the fall, a hard frost would hit and zap the whole crop.  Actually the width now between Row One and Row Three is none too wide.  It's amazing how thick and bushy (and impenetrable)  the canes will be in short order.  Working in between Rows Three and Four to pick those berries when they're ripe is like walking through a thick jungle . . . with no native guide.  Or machete.

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Still sick but definitely getting better.

Felt like I had "turned the corner" last Friday
. . . and did way too much.  
(Yeah, I know, dumber than a box of rocks.)
Not only set me back in my recovery,
but just about "kilt" me.

Have apparently cracked a rib or torn a muscle
during one of my coughing fits.
This makes my continued coughing
extremely painful.

You should see what I'll do to avoid sneezing.

Tough time sleeping (me on couch and hubby in bedroom)
because of coughing and finding a comfortable way to lie.

Papa Pea is still coughing but looks and feels much better.
He even finished a two-day job of pruning all the
fruit trees today.  (Whadda guy!)

I am going bonkers looking at all I need to be doing
outside, but also know I can't physically do it yet.

Have had unusually poor germination on my
seeds I've started inside this year.  
Very frustrated over this.  One more thing
to add to my crankiness.

We're subsisting on canned and frozen food
from the pantry and lots of eggs.
 I told hubby my Menu Planning App is on the fritz.
Also our taste buds have been out to lunch 
. . . which is perhaps fortunate considering
the meals I've been managing to put 
on the table.

But, hey, it could be a lot worse.
My biggest challenge is keeping a good outlook
and making sure I never, ever, EVER
catch something like this again!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Official Notice of a Short Suspension

Just wanted to let you know I need to take a brief break.  A petite pause.  A little lull. My blog posts will be even more lacking than they have been recently.

I'm not recovering from my recent malady any too quickly, and in his usual way of totally supporting me, Papa Pea has now come down with a form of what I've had.  A couple of nights ago, this sent him into a slightly scary (for two people who almost never get sick) night of chills, fever and out-of-his-headness.  Fortunately, that passed.  Although, my cognitive skills are admittedly not operating at peak level right now either so who knows what shape either of us is actually in.

Now we seem to be in the stage of nights when one tosses and turns listening to the coughing fit of the other.  Then we both settle into a fitful sleep until the next coughing fit of one of us takes hold.  Oh my, yes, we both get up in the morning looking and feeling as fit as fiddles and ready to tackle anything that may come our way.


Our weather still refuses to give us more than tiny fleeting glimpses of sunshine.  We have been so immersed in gray, foggy, dampness that not much in our outside world is drying out.  This is seeming to add to the fact that we're both feeling a smidge bit of stress regarding all we had planned on having done, or at least under control, at this time of the calendar year, but don't.

So, dear readers, those are my excuses as to why I currently need to cut my daily efforts back to the bones of necessity until I'm back to my normal, vibrantly healthy, totally organized and on-top-of-everything self.  (HahahaHAHAHAhohoheehee.)

See ya soon!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"OMG, Mom, You Really Look Your Age Tonight!"

That may have been the most backhanded compliment I will ever receive.  It was uttered by my dear daughter a few nights ago when she stopped in on her way home from work to see if I was still alive how I was.  She took one look at me and said she knew I was really sick because I looked every one of my seven decades (plus one year) of age.

Yep, I was felled (more like pole axed) by one of the super-nasty, ugly-bugly germs (or maybe a whole army of them) that have been laying young and old flat out in our neck of the woods.  (And in many of your areas, too, I know.)  It hit me last Wednesday and today is the first day I've felt well enough to sit at my computer . . . which has been dull, dark and lonely for one whole week.

I now know what the expression "weak as a kitten" means.  I also know that I am going to have to be very careful not to overdo it as I work at building myself up again after this illness.  I do not like being so out of it that I barely remember some things that transpired.  I do not want to go there again.

So as behind as I feel at this critical time of year, I'll get done what I can when I can and hope for the best.  Our snow (except for in the woods, of course) is gone.  Papa Pea uncovered the garlic, rhubarb and herb beds for me today and the little green shoots are pushing forth with determination.

I really must get a new blog header photo up along with a more seasonally appropriate profile picture.  Although the current one showing me flat out in a prone position is only marginally less accurate than how I still currently feel.  But knowing the worst is over, I plan to rise again.  


Maybe tomorrow.

For more than several minutes at a time.