Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Curiosity

As I've heard some of you comment, flowers seem to be blossoming earlier than usual this year.  Like a few of my other flowers, this is true of the cosmos I've planted.
 
But something weird is going on with them.
 

When the blossoms unfurl, they look like they've been in one heckuva fight.  Even the coloration is strange.  Although this particular one above isn't as bad as most others, they look as though they've been picked and spent too much time in a vase so that they should be relegated to the compost pile. 
 
The buds look perfectly normal, but not the flowers themselves.  Any ideas what may be going on? 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

An Inch and Three-Tenths!

 That's how much rain we got last night in about ten minutes.  Welcome though the long-awaited rainfall was the fierce thunder/lightning storm did some damage.

Yep, our lovely stand of corn got pushed over by the strong winds coming directly out of the west.  Because we had the corn patch surrounded by the cattle panel "cage" none of the stalks hit the ground, but the west half smooshed over onto the east half which stayed standing by leaning against the firmly anchored cattle panel.

I had to go out today and stake up a dozen or so of our sunflowers that were left leaning at about a 45° angle.  None of them snapped off so they should be alright.

The rain came down in such a torrent that we lost some nice black soil which washed off the blueberry patch and into the grass.  I usually mulch the whole patch but didn't this year.  If I had, there would have been no erosion.

It seems our alternative energy solar system may have been zapped by lightning.  During the rapidly passing storm, we lost power and haven't been able to get it back yet today.  (We still have the option of running on grid power in a situation like this.)  Papa Pea has done everything he knows to do trying to track down the problem, and we have an e-mail explaining the problem to our alternative energy guru but have not heard back from him yet.

After having a few days when the temperature was almost tolerable, today finds us back into the (nearly) intolerable temps.  Add to that, there's been a stiff breeze blowing all day (a hot, hot breeze, not cooling in any way) and both of us find that being outside in a wind takes the stuffin's right out of ya.  After I came in today from staking up the sunflowers and checking a few other things, I felt slightly sick and it was a while before I felt good again.

Oops, wouldn't ya know it.  I just looked out the window and see another sunflower that has taken a nose dive.  I'd better go out and stake it up before I forget about it.

We're thankful for the rainfall that came with the storm though.  Now if Mother Nature would just get back on a schedule of giving us some soothing rains on a regular basis . . . and nix on the wind, please.  And lightning.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Tiptoe Through The Tulips -- Oops, I Mean Garden

 I'm relieved to say our temperature has dropped significantly, but we still have gotten no rain.  Not much we can do about it but keep watering our garden and fruit trees which does seem to be doing some good.
 

The Morning Glories I planted way back on June 2nd are finally starting to grow and climb their trellis.
 

The second green cabbage head I harvested yesterday morning had a few insect holes in the outer leaves but turned out to be a beautiful, tightly formed, perfect head inside.  I made a big bowl of coleslaw but didn't use much of the head because it was so big.
 

I'm always surprised at what dense and lovely ferns the asparagus spears turn into after we stop harvesting it.
 

After years and years of talking about it, I finally planted a horseradish root this spring.  We can't take anything from it this first year, but are eagerly awaiting making some homemade horseradish next year.
 

Our corn is starting to form tassels.  A good sign.
 

I could eat a kohlrabi like an apple when they're young and tender.  My small crop of them is starting to size up.
 

It seems my slicing cukes are tripling in size over night.  Won't be long before I can pick and serve a crunchy cucumber salad.
 

And my first sunflowers are opening.  I do love sunflowers and planted three different varieties this year, all of them "shorties" which shouldn't grow more than four feet tall.  I love the flowers but really dislike having to use a chainsaw (slight exaggeration) to get rid of the six, seven or eight foot tall stalks at the end of the season!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

The Garden and The Purge (Are We Winning Yet?)

I'm just in from watering the garden which has been a (nearly) must-do activity each day.  Had a friend visiting this afternoon and I felt good she thought my garden looked fantastic.  Over the years we've worked hard at building up good soil so I'm sure that's helping everything that has got to be stressed by our complete lack of rainfall.
 
We had zero germination sowing buckwheat on our two garden plots we chose to leave fallow this year.  Between the crows filling their craws with the sown seed and our coming to the conclusion that the seed may have been a tad on the old side (arrrgh), the cover crop turned out to be a no go.  But Papa Pea has taken the turn of events as an opportunity to spread lots of great compost on the bare soil which will be a benefit for next year. 
 

My garlic needs to be dug and hung to cure tomorrow.
 
I planted only six cabbages (three green and three red) with the thought of using them as they matured and not trying to hold any over in the root cellar this year.
 

We've eaten one of the green ones and another is ready for harvesting.
 

The red cabbages are a little slower than the green and are just forming soft ball sized heads now.
 

While watering tonight, I found the first slicing cucumber.  It's approaching jumbo size (not) at nearly three inches long.
 

The green peppers continue to put out nice sized fruits already.  (It seems a bit early according to my records of past years.)
 

The one that got blown over before I staked them all up has called it quits and is headed toward the compost heap.
 

The sugar snap peas are producing and are great in our salads or just tossed into boiling water for a minute or two as that's how we like them cooked.  Great for breakfast with eggs and sausage.
 
* * * * * * * *
 
We continue to keep at our Summer of the Massive Purge and it's going well.  At the same time, it's unbelievable how much time needs to be put into each and every area we tackle.  And most of the storage areas are ones that are oppressively hot in this unusual heat we're having this summer.  It's a drain on our physical and mental/emotional bodies to stay at it for more than a few hours a day.  But we also know it would be even more uncomfortable working in the outside storage areas (for many reasons) in the winter time.  
 
We've sold some things but most of what we want to get rid of has been given away to one source or another because we just want to get it gone and be done with it. 


This is the latest batch on the back porch to be re-homed, relocated or gotten rid of tomorrow.  We both ran out of steam this afternoon and agreed we'd clear these items out first thing tomorrow morning.
 
All in all, it's a rewarding job, this undertaking, and we haven't had more than two or three drag 'em out fights as to whether specific objects go or stay.  It's all worth it.  So far. 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Can't Grow It, But Can't Stop Trying

It must be the stubbornness of the Taurus astrological sign under which I was born because even though I've frequently said I'll never plant corn again until we have a weather and wind protected structure over it, I can't seem to stop myself from a little corn growing experimentation 'bout every other year.
 
This spring I found myself with an empty 8' x 4' raised bed.  I wasn't able to resist.   I used it to plant a small patch of corn mainly to see if we could find a way of keeping the stalks from being blown flat by our frequent high winds.  Maybe we'd even have enough heat this summer to encourage it to grow.  And, boy howdy, have we ever.
 
With Papa Pea's help, I surrounded the corn planting with sections of cattle panel (on all four sides) to find out if the panels would "hold it up."  So far, so good.
 

As far as the growth of the stalks go, they say you have a good crop of corn going if the plants are knee-high by the 4th of July.  Well, ours were nearly waist-high to my long-legged husband at that time and much taller now as you can see by the above picture taken today.  (Yes, we're still existing in a smokey haze from the fires in Canada.  Cough-cough.)
 
Truth to tell, I'm kinda amazed at how good the corn presently looks.  Mother Nature has provided the heat needed even though she's been severely negligent in sending enough rainfall.  Maybe I will be able to successfully grow corn.  Albeit on a very small scale! 

Friday, July 9, 2021

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Okay, to be more positive, it's more like one step forward, one step back.
 
Despite the fact that when one plants mint in the garden, and one is warned that the mint must be contained or it will spread and choke out all other plantings, I've not found this to be true.  
 
But when I first started growing mint, I was cautious and dedicated one 8' x 4' raised bed to the mint.
 
For some reason I can't understand, each spring I find bare spots in the bed.  So I purchase three or four more mint plants from a greenhouse to "fill in."  The plants, whether the old or new ones, never seem to spread and totally fill in the bed.  Nope, it's never looked as though my mint will go crazy and take over our acreage.
 

With the growing season well underway this year, you can see the bare spots in my mint bed.
 
This is disturbing because I need to grow a lot of mint since each year I dry and use a great quantity of it.  Papa Pea has a large cup of mint tea every morning after a cup of coffee.  Plus, our daughter has a friend with a lot of tummy troubles and she's found drinking our mint tea helps her digestion like no other mint she's found.  So it's important to me to grow as much of it as I can.
 
To this end, this year I decided to put in a second bed of mint.  But this spring I couldn't find any peppermint plants (which is the kind of mint I want) in any of our nearby greenhouses.  Friends were going to visit relatives down state, knew of a large greenhouse there and said they would look for peppermint plants for me.
 

I was very appreciative when they brought me twelve very healthy looking plants which I put in a vacant raised bed. 
 

The plants took hold nicely and have already started to send out shoots to fill the spaces between the plants.
 
However, there's a problem with this new mint.
 
Does it look like peppermint?  Yes.  Does it smell like peppermint?  No.  Does it taste like peppermint?  No.  It has very little aroma or flavor.  And what it does have, doesn't resemble peppermint.  Or any other kind of mint.  It's a mystery.
 
Today I pulled out all the new plants.  They had very healthy root systems (I had to use a shovel to loosen them from the soil) that were probably at least 12" across.
 
So perhaps I am back to the one step forward, two steps back.  I'll now have to wait another year to start my second peppermint bed in order to make sure I can harvest and dehydrate as much mint as I want.
 
It's not a terrible, awful, bad predicament to have when other gardeners are experiencing severe drought or too much moisture or a serious invasion of insects as is one gardener in our area who has lost about 80% of her garden to grasshoppers.
 
I've thought about starting my own peppermint plants from seeds.  But even at that, I won't know if the plant leaves smell or taste like peppermint until they're big enough to show their true colors.  Best I plan on a determined search of greenhouses within a 200 mile radius next spring giving the old sniff test and maybe even surreptitiously munching a leaf or two.  Just to be sure. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Trying to Find Time for Blogging

Blogging?  Heck, it's been hard to find time for sleeping.
 
It's the good, ol' summer time and the days are flying by with lightning speed.
 
We're making great headway on our cleaning, sorting, re-organizing and getting rid of tons of stuff we really don't need any more.  This (much needed) project seems to fill our days, but it's also providing good, freeing feelings for both of us.
 
In the twenty-some years we've lived on this property, we've never seen temperatures as we've had the past couple of days.  Yesterday our thermometer in the shade hit 91°.  Add about ten degrees to that and you'll know what standing out in the sun felt like.  Our house which has always had the ability to stay cool in the summer time, rose to 81° inside.  Ooof.  Last night did not afford a good night's sleep in this household.  Today the temp has dropped, and we're starting to feel (and behave) human again. 
 
Our sky has had that strange yellowish cast, and you can smell the smoke from the fires up in Canada.  We're been watering constantly to keep plantings alive (blessings on our good well with abundant water) but the soil is dry as a bone within an hour of getting a drink.
 

Our pond is becoming a sad puddle.  We've never seen it this low.
 
I'm managing to keep on top of the weeds in most of our reduced-sized garden this year, but the ones in the blueberry patch have gotten ahead of me and are downright scary.  I've never seen it populated with so many tall weeds.  These must be attacked soon or I won't be able to find the blueberry bushes.
 
That's all for now as I'm going to take my shower and hit the hay early tonight for some sleepy time that will be much (much, much, much!) more comfortable than last night. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Our First Strawberry Harvest

I made our first strawberry harvest of the season this afternoon.
 

I keep track of how many pounds we harvest each year.  Last year was not plentiful in the strawberry department.  We got only 59 lbs. as a total.  This year is looking better as this first picking was 11-1/2 lbs.  I think that's the most I've ever gotten from a first picking.
 
Our daughter took some, we ate some and the rest are now in the freezer for use in our smoothies in the coming months.  That's kinda utilitarian (the ones for smoothies) in my book, but the next picking is destined for a big Strawberry Shortcake and some strawberry fruit leather for a little guy who has been waiting for a new supply ever since we ran out a few months ago.  When he was here last week, he asked me to show him where the fruit leather would be in the pantry when it was ready.  Oh, the eager anticipation! 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The Summer of the Purge

Our "big project" for the next couple/few month's time is, no doubt, nothing exciting or important to anyone else but us.  In our efforts to simplify our everyday lives, let alone accomplish any and all progress or changes we're trying to make around here, we've realized now is the time to get one aspect of our lives in better shape.  Much better shape!
 
We're fortunate in that we've structured our home and surrounding outbuildings in such a way that we have ample storage areas.  The downside is that those same areas have, over the years, become overstuffed with unorganized, and in many cases, no longer need stuff.  Yep, we've become overstuffed with stuff!
 
Our living and everyday functioning areas remain neat and organized; our storage areas are not.
 
A big hang-up we've come to realize that weighs heavily (unconsciously, even) on both of us is the amount of materials we've saved (in most cases "for someday") that have filled up our storage areas and must be sorted and organized, sold, given away, or otherwise sent down the road because so much of it is no longer needed, wanted or important.
 
To give a small example in only two areas, over the years, we've gone full circle as to what livestock we want and need to keep here on ye ol' homestead and all the equipment (which has piled up, up and up) related to same.  I've collected furniture and household goods (lots) for that cabin on a lake we've always thought we wanted, but now realize is not as important as it once was.
 
We have back-ups for our back-ups, but because we've worked so hard on successfully structuring the necessities of basic food, clothing and shelter, we no longer need to rely on so many, and in some cases, inferior materials we've kept because they "might be needed."
 
Things change, people change, we've changed, and paying attention to different stages of our lives needs to take precedence.  Other aspects of our lives presently need more attention.  We want more of a balance (ah, yes, that elusive balance) in our lives, time for each of us to spend individually pursuing personal interests, time for us together exploring, recreating and just being.
 
So, onward with the grubbiness, the time-consuming task, the brain-straining constant decision making, the arguments (civilly done, of course) of what stays and what goes. 
 
What a big job!  We're currently well into the project and are finding it's taking much more time than we anticipated (what doesn't turn out to be so?), but find its already giving us a sense of freedom and more energy.  The feel goods we're experiencing are well worth it. 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Little Pepper Plant That Could

As usually happens in the month of June, the growth in the garden is s-l-o-w, and I'm once again positive nothing will ever grow to maturity.  The fact that we've been suffering from lack of rainfall hasn't helped the situation this year either.
 
I can't remember a season when I've had to water the garden so often this early in the year.  But, 'tis what it is, and we have to flow with it.
 
My pepper plants, even situated under their cold frame protection, haven't been showing much growth.  Most of the transplants aren't even yet a foot tall.
 

However, this little plant (bless it's heart) has decided to put forth fruit anyway.  I don't know if this means the plant is Superman-strong or has decided to put a last ditch effort into producing one lovely green pepper before claiming exhaustion and calling it quits.
 
* * * * * * * *
 
To insure I'll have more hours to put into our "big project" here this summer, we've decided to plant only half of our usual gardening space.  This is hard for me as I simply love gardening and growing as much of our own food as I can, but Papa Pea and I have both been trying very hard to make some changes in our lives and this means slogging through some uncomfortable ways of doing things.  At least for a (relatively) short (I hope) interim.
 
I'll post an explanation of our "big project" (and my lack of blogging) soon.  Promise. 

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Challenges of Gardening

 For all the years that we've had the cold frames we put on some of our raised beds, we've tried (unsuccessfully) a myriad of methods of securing the cold frames to the raised bed frames.  As you know, we get a lot of wind here and if the cold frames aren't closed down tight, the wind gets a purchase on them and they part company with the raised bed frames.
 
Last year Papa Pea came up with the idea of using a hook and eye combination with a spring that kept the hooks from slipping out of the eye during movement caused by winds.
 

We put two hooks on the front and two hooks on the back of the cold frames and the corresponding eyes on the raised bed frames.  
 
Eureka, we finally found an attachment method that securely held the cold frame to the raised bed.  Boy, were we feeling smug.
 
Early yesterday morning, around 5 a.m., we had a rain, wind, lightning and thunder storm.  Light on the rain, very heavy on the wind.  Was this forecast?  Nope.
 
Monday night we had heard that there was a slight chance of rain overnight and the temperature was to remain warm after a hot day, so I chose to leave the cold frame covers open over our slicing cucumbers and over our pepper plants.  As all you gardeners know, you can't beat natural rainfall as a huge boost for parched soil and the plants growing in it.
 
The 5 a.m. storm woke us and we could hardly believe the scene as we looked out on the garden.
 

Oh, the cold frames stayed fastened to the raised bed frames secure as could be, but the wind took the cold frames AND attached wooden raised bed frames (and they are heavy) plumb up and off their position in the ground.
 

Amazingly, there was hardly any damage to the cold frames (that a little tweaking couldn't cure) and with only minimal shovel work, the bed frames were put back on/in the soil from where they had been ripped.  No plants sacrificed their young lives during the event.
 
Oy.  All's well that ends well, but I gotta say this makes me all the more hesitant about the greenhouse Papa Pea wants to put up over part of the field garden.  I would really be upset if the wind tore something like that apart.

Monday, June 7, 2021

A Jill of All Trades

 That's our daughter.  The gal can do anything she puts her mind to.

We've had a leak under the kitchen sink and suspected it was coming from the spray attachment.  I've not been using it for several days waiting for Papa Pea to screw up the gumption find the time to replace it.  (My dear husband gets dizzy and a very sick headache when he is forced to do work requiring him to lie on his back so I wasn't pushing him to do this chore.)

Today after eating lunch with us, dear daughter informed us that the rug in front of the sink was wet.  What??

Turns out that even though the spray attachment hasn't been used, the water pressure in the hose going up into the head was still leaking.  Ugh.

Angel that she is, daughter volunteered to fix it for us.


Fortunately, we had an identical sprayer to use as a replacement.  Years ago when we first installed this sink faucet unit, we found that the box we purchased had been opened, prior to us purchasing it, and some parts were missing.  The store told us to keep what we had and they replaced the box with a new (unopened!) box.


Not the easiest place in which to work.


Can't.  Quite.  Reach.


We tried to provide some comfort.
 
While checking out the situation, she found two spots where it looked like there might have been some leakage in the caulking around the sink and possibly what looked to be a small hairline crack in the bottom of the right hand sink (!), so did what she could to repair those spots underneath.  (New sink is on our shopping list.)
 
Lastly, she also re-caulked around the upper side of the sink and the surrounding counter.
 

I now have wide tape protecting the new caulking (so I don't get stuck to it, she said) and the right hand sink is off limits until tomorrow morning.
 
The new sprayer is working perfectly, and we're hoping this is the end of the minor floods under the sink.
 
All thanks to our talented daughter who isn't afraid to tackle most anything.  Whadda gal.  (And her father is eternally grateful she saved him from doing the job.)
 
 


Thursday, June 3, 2021

A Hum-Drum Post?

I realize my blog posts have been infrequent.  Don't have an explanation for it, but it seems to be affecting many bloggers at this point in time.  Kudos to those of you who haven't fallen into this abyss and are still posting regularly.  Your posts are enjoyed.
 
I've been watching my divided and transplanted rhubarb but haven't wanted to take a first harvest from it yet.  For a rhubarb lover as I am, it's been hard.  Bless her, our daughter stopped in last night after her work day and plopped a bagful of lovely red stalks down on my counter.  The household where she nannies has an abundance of rhubarb, and I was quick to make a 9 x 13 pan of our favorite rhubarb cake almost as soon as she left.  Can hardly wait to cut into it today.
 
Our strawberry plants are looking good with lots of lovely white blossoms.  Last year's harvest wasn't great but we're crossing our fingers for this year.  All the more so as I don't hold out much hope for our blueberries.  Sad to say, most of our bushes seem to have given up the battle with Witches Broom and I'm afraid we're going to lose them.  Now I'm concerned for the eight new bushes we planted in the plot this spring.  Is the Witches Broom a cyclical thing?  I haven't found more evidence of it on the bushes since winter time.  Nor have we ever seen it before in fifty-some years of gardening. 
 
We ordered a batch of little bantam chicks that arrived a week ago.  The only chicken variety that we've ever had successfully hatch out new chicks here on the homestead were bantams so we were hoping to raise some up that would do so again.  Unfortunately, the shipment of the little guys got "delayed" in the U.S. postal system and were not in good shape when they arrived.  To date, we've lost all but three of the fifteen.  Papa Pea contacted the hatchery yesterday just to let them know of the slow delivery time table, and they couldn't have been nicer.  They offered us a complete refund or a replacement shipment of chicks.  We chose the replacement which was shipped yesterday.  Let's hope they make it through the mail in a timely manner.
 
We're still lacking rainfall.  I can't remember a year when I've watered the garden more so early in the season.  Our temperatures haven't been hot (which is good considering) but the soil is dry.  Difficult for transplants taking hold and emerging seeds.
 
There's still too much for both of us to do in a day's time and our efforts to gain a more balanced life have been frustrating.  The items to cut out on the To Do List almost seem an impossibility at this time of year.  Staying positive, grateful for all we have (including good health!) and much appreciation of our lives here is a good thing.  A very good thing.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Stalled

Yes, stalled.  At least garden-wise.
 
This has been our third morning in a row that we've had a light frost to greet us.  (Mr. Gore, can we talk?)  To say much hasn't been growing in the garden is an understatement.  But the fact that everything is still alive (let's keep our fingers crossed) is the good news.
 

Curiously, the strawberry plants have blossoms and even some small green berries showing.  And this is earlier than usual for us.
 

I put zinnia transplants out earlier this week, but covered them with plastic cloches.  Good thing as they need heat to grow and right now would probably appreciate small electric heaters next to them under their protective covers.
 
Out of six varieties of lettuce planted from seed, only two have peeked through the soil so far.  Lettuce likes to germinate in cooler weather so what's with the other four varieties?
 
I have my slicing cukes and pepper plants snuggled down under cold frames and they are seemingly surviving in good shape.
 

The peppers were transplants, and I normally get more to harvest from them than we can use.  Hoping this will happen again.  Gotta admit their leaves in this picture do, however, look as though they may have gotten a little colder than they like.
 

I started these cucumber plants inside and will thin them to just three as soon as I am sure I have three healthy ones.  I find that number is just right for their space and as soon as they start bearing . . . well, we have cucumbers coming out of our ears.
 
Of course, there's more than the above to see in the garden even though I'm cutting back this year.  (Believe it or not.)  There are too, too many projects to work on this summer season than we have time for so we're trying to make wise decisions on where to spend our time each day.  This includes prioritizing for more down time and recreation for both of us.  Try as we might, we can't seem to find more hours in each day so now we're trying to make better use of those we have.
 
 

Friday, May 21, 2021

The Waiting Game

Darned if it hasn't been a rough start to our gardening season.  First we waited through a very cold spring when temperatures were just too cold to tempt either human bodies or vegetable transplants or even seeds to venture out into the garden.
 
Then we were lucky enough to have a week of weather when the night time temps managed to move away from the freezing point so I felt okay planting my onions and sugar snap peas. 
 
In order to keep these few things and the emerging garlic, chives and berry patches alive, I watered nearly every day because of extreme dryness that made us fearful of actual forest fire danger.
 
Thankfully, this past week has brought very welcome rainfall (hooray, hooray) which has done wonders toward bringing the leaves out on trees and greening up sad looking yards.
 
I got my red and green cabbage starts set out the day before the rains came.  Also my started salad greens (wasabina, scarlet frill, arugula, and mizuna mustard) were planted along with spinach and several varieties of lettuce seeds.
 
I started another raised bed of peppermint with twelve purchased plants.  The old bed looks as though half of it died over winter which makes me sad.
 
The haskap and blueberry patch is weeded and ready for its annual dose of peat moss.  We also ordered, received and have planted eight new blueberry bushes to fill in a couple of bare spots and extend the size of the patch a bit.
 
The strawberry rows are completely free of weeds and mulched for the season.  Even though it's early, I can't help but check for the first little blossoms to appear.
 
All of the fruit trees have received a circle of cardboard laid around their trunks and a heavy layer of mulch on top of that.
 
It's not that I haven't had things to do garden-wise, but now I'm having to wait for the soil to dry before I can do more.  Lots of transplants to be taken out of their now too small pots and planted where they can stretch out their cramped roots and start to really grow.
 
This afternoon after the rain stopped I went out with my trowel but found only wet, sticky mud in my test spots.
 
More rain is forecast through the coming weekend.
 
Bottom line is that it's only the 21st of May and old-time (and successful) gardeners up here claim they never plant anything until the first of June.
 
So controlling the gardening itch and keeping my knickers from getting in a twist seems the sensible way to go.  That shouldn't be hard, right?  H-e-l-l-l-p . . . .  

Friday, May 14, 2021

A Thursday Adventure

 Although yesterday was an overcast day, the temperature was just right for being out in nature.

Dear daughter, her just-turned-three-year-old companion, Papa Pea and I loaded up the truck with necessary supplies (maps, snacks and water) and a couple of back packs and headed out.

The whole day we saw only two mosquitoes.  One met a quick demise and one flew away to bite another day.

Arriving at our destination, we parked our vehicle and started out.  Up, up, up we climbed with the three year old leading the way.  (This remarkable child loves the outdoors, the woods, the water, etc. and cries when he has to come inside.)


 What a beautiful outlook.
 

A chipmunk came out of the underbrush to say hello and was rewarded with a cracker.  (I wasn't quite quick enough to get a shot of that.)

Next we drove some back roads trying to find another trail we wanted to hike.  We made a couple of interesting stops along the way, but never located the trail we wanted.


While roaming and looking for the trail, we came upon this stop sign at the intersection of two deserted gravel roads.  As you can tell, it was in a spot where no road crew had done maintenance in quite a while.

All in all, it was a great day with good exercise.  Daughter mentioned she could feel a bit of muscle strain in her legs, my gluteus maximus muscles were making themselves known, Papa Pea seemed to do fine, and the little munchkin just kept going and going.  He did fall asleep on the way home though.

When he woke just after we had unloaded the truck, there were a few tears with his words of, "But I don't wanna be home."

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Well, I Knew It Was An Experiment . . .

So, how did it go planting my garlic in the spring instead of the fall?  I have to say . . . FAIL!
 
Being a person who generally follows the rules, I've always planted our garlic in the fall ('round about mid-October), snuggled it down with a good blanket of mulch for the winter, then watched the little green shoots emerge in the following early spring.
 
Supposedly, gardeners living in the more more southern, milder climates of our country can and do plant their garlic crop in the spring quite successfully while those of us in the northern states are told we need to plant ours in the fall.  Why?  I've frequently wondered about this so started this little experiment in the fall of 2019.
 
Per usual, after harvesting and curing that garlic crop I had planted about one year previously (in the fall), I did not replant any of the cloves for my next year's crop.
 
Instead I waited until the early spring of 2020 to plant that year's new garlic crop.
 
During the summer they grew beautifully and in the fall of that year (2020), I harvested the garlic bulbs when the plants matured and were ready to be dug and cured.
 
First thing I noticed was that the bulbs were perhaps a bit smaller than usual, but most were nice sized and there were plenty of them.  I cured them per usual.
 
Again, no fall planting of the garlic because I wanted to wait and follow through on the experiment to assess their keeping quality over that winter of 2020-2021.  Maybe I was on to something and really didn't have to plant the garlic in the fall.
 
Next thing noticed was that the garlic didn't seem quite as pungent this time around.  In a couple of months, I began to suspect the bulbs weren't keeping as well even though stored in the same place under the same conditions as they've always been.
 
The last couple of months of this late winter and early spring of 2021, I've had to search through each bulb selected to find a couple of firm, usable cloves.  Hmmm, is there a picture appearing here?
 
Because I was still in the midst of my little experiment last fall, as previously said, I did not plant any garlic as we gardeners in the north are told to do.  (Ahem.)
 
This spring, I did sort through my remaining stash and picked the best looking cloves which were planted on the 5th of April.
 

This is how the bed looks today.  I've got good germination with only a couple of no-shows so it looks as though I'll get another crop of the experimental spring-planted garlic but, frankly, I don't expect it to be any better in flavor or keeping quality than that of last year.
 
How many years would I have to continue my experiment with my spring planting of garlic to ascertain it really does make sense to plant it in the fall here in my northern location?  Probably more than the time I've put into it.
 
On the other hand, I'm willing to believe there are garlic growing experts who know one heckuva lot more than I do, so I'll be purchasing a new supply of garlic from a good commercial grower in a few months and come mid-October of this year, I'll be pushing those new garlic cloves down into the soil of one of my raised garden beds, covering the bed with a deep layer of mulch, giving all a loving pat and telling the cloves that I'll see them next spring.
 
 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

A Short Sunday Post

We took a hike in the (very) fresh air and sunshine one day last week.  Went through some rough "untamed territory" but it was well worth it thanks to our daughter showing us this heretofore hidden gem we'd never previously seen.
 

Hiked through the wooded area downstream past this gorgeous waterfall until it disappeared over a steep, vertical rock cut.  Couldn't find a way to get past it for a shot of that drop which must have been impressive.
 

Then we drove along a gravel road and hiked to this area which was much more calm but beautiful in its serenity.
 
What a fantastic off-the-beaten-track hiking day made all the more perfect because the bug season hasn't started yet!