Fall Clean-up & Summer Wrap-up

Even though the garden hasn’t frosted out yet, we took some time this weekend to clean up what we could.

My husband tackled the garden.  He pulled out the dead tomato plants and cucumber vines.  He also pulled out the associated stakes, cages, and trellises and tilled up the newly vacated parts of the garden.  Our beans, bunching onions, kale, peppers, and Brussels sprouts are still doing pretty well.  Those two volunteer tomato plants are on the decline but are still producing a little so those were left in as well.

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I pulled out my gladiolus and calla lily bulbs and put them on a rack (this was from a fridge of some sort) to dry.

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I’ll leave them here until next weekend then I’ll brush off the excess dirt, put them in ice cream buckets (probably with a little pine bedding thrown in for good measure), and store them in the basement for the winter.  I did have a number of bulbs that rotted in the ground before I could get to digging them up, but that was largely a function of the repeated couple-inch dumpings of rain we’ve gotten over the last two months!

I didn’t pull out my dahlias yet… because they’re still blooming!  I’m very impressed with my Sam’s Club dahlias!

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Two of my day lilies – Purpleicious and The Jury’s Out – produced seed pods this year.  Some have dried out already, so I harvested them and have plans to try and start them next spring.  I’m still waiting on some of the pods to dry out, but I’ll collect them as they do.  I would love to see what kinds of hybrids I get from all of my day lilies.

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When I planted this spring I showed you that I put down newspaper and straw to help keep the weeds down.  Did it work?  At first.  The issue was that the weeds that did work their way through were the larger and more aggressive weeds, so when I pulled them they left a hole in the paper and let more weeds populate that area.  Will I do it again?  Probably not.  It’s easier to just hoe or till the weeds in between the plants.

Tomatoes are always boom or bust around here.  This year was bust – thanks to early blight.  Luckily, we had a bumper crop in 2015 and still have ample tomatoes in the pantry.  We ate some fresh, I made and froze some tomato paste, and canned some jalapeno hot sauce.  I found a different fungicide that I felt was working at least marginally better than the stuff I had used prior, so I will buy more of that next year and use it regularly as a preventive in hopes of keeping the pesky blight at bay.

We had a pretty typical crop of green beans.  We were running a full batch of quarts through the canner about once a week.  They’re still growing pretty good, and are actually still flowering.  We definitely haven’t put the canner away yet – there’s a batch of beans going in today!  If you missed my post on how to can green beans, you can find it HERE.

The corn.  Well, that was a lot of corn.  We ate a lot of corn, we gave away a lot of corn, we canned a LOT of corn.  If you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter you likely saw this photo one morning about a month ago…

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All that corn was cut up the night prior and was ready to be canned that day.  We ultimately put up about about 70 quarts of corn.  We just ate our first quart a few days ago and (luckily) we’re very happy with how it turned out.

The cucumbers did okay.  As usual, it took a couple replantings to get them going so we didn’t get a terribly abundant harvest.  We ate a good amount of cucumbers fresh, and I canned some relish.  Next year I really need to be on top of things and start my cucumber seeds indoors.  I’ve historically had terrible luck starting seeds, but I think the birds are getting at my cucumber seeds when I direct seed them.  So, I need to give seed starting another shot – at least with the cucumbers, anyway.  If that doesn’t work I’ll have to resort to buying them from the greenhouse.

The cabbages and Brussels sprouts had a great year, with the exception of one cabbage that rotted on me (from the inside… it was weird, I had never seen a cabbage do that before… but we got a LOT of rain towards the end of the growing season).  The cabbages got made into cole slaw, then what we couldn’t eat fresh (which was a lot) got made into sauerkraut.  Here is one cabbage, all shredded up…

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It’s still fermenting, so you’ll hear more about that if it turns out (so far it looks promising).  We’ll leave the Brussels sprouts in the garden through winter or until we’ve eaten them all.

After a pretty successful growing season we have a fully stocked pantry and are ready for the apocalypse…

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…or just another Wisconsin winter!

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Flowers on a Friday

Since sharing a bunch of flower photos is a great way to start off the weekend… welcome to the second edition of Flowers on a Friday!

Again, we’ll start with some phlox.  First off, all the phlox currently growing in our yard were here when we moved in 8 years ago.  We’ve moved some, we’ve gotten rid of some, and some are still where they were originally planted.  However, they were all purple.  Two or three years ago I noticed a single stalk of white phlox in the septic tank garden.  Now this year there are about a dozen stalks of white phlox.  I’m not sure why or how this happened, but I’ll take it!

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My Hemerocallis Habit

About a month ago when I told you about all my irises (and cats) I promised I would show you all my lilies, we just had to wait for them to bloom.  Well that time has come, so here we go!

Here’s the funny thing… we spent a few years desperately trying to eradicate a large patch of orange day lilies that was growing in our yard when we bought the house.  A few lilies here and there are one thing… a 10 foot by 20 foot patch of solid day lilies in the middle of the yard, no thank you.  Thus began my hated of day lilies. You know what works to kill them?  Not much.  It took a few applications of Roundup along with tilling up the patch a couple times to finally get rid of them for good.

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Weeding

I feel like I have nothing to talk about.  I feel like all we’ve done for the last two weeks is weeding.  But it is that time of year, so I’ll roll with it…

My priority this weekend was taking care of this garden that has been overrun with mint.  I’ll take the blame for this.  When we first moved in, this little patch was nothing but purple violets.  I ripped those out and planted chives, mint, and basil.  It looked really nice that first year.  Then the mint took over.  It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t had the bright idea to plant both spearmint and peppermint.  If that minty mess was a monoculture I’d probably be more ok with it, but since I can’t tell which mint is which I can’t really do anything with it.

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A-Maize-Ing Progress!

As I look out on what used to be our pumpkin patch and see rows and rows of sweet corn, I can’t decide if I’m feeling excited or horrified.  It’s perhaps some of both.  I’m excited because we tried something new and the corn is performing rather well so far.  However, not too long from now I’m going to have to figure out what to do with the produce from 72 rows of sweet corn!

It was pretty hot the last couple days, and the corn loved it.  The temperatures moderated a bit today, so it was a great day to get out and do some work in the gardens!

My husband “weeded” the corn this morning.  The rows are the perfect width such that our tiller fits right in between them.  It really didn’t take him all that long to clean up the entire field.Read More »

All About Irises… and Cats

I mentioned in a previous post that I love irises!

I also love day lilies, but that’s for another post… in a month or so when they’re blooming.

We have five different irises.  The pale yellow ones are always the first to bloom (I don’t have any new photos of those), followed by the little purple and white ones.  One crazy thing I’ve noticed is that depending on where they’re planted, the purple and white ones will take on a completely different look!  In our back garden they are a vibrant purple with snow white, however in our front yard the purple is a more grayish purple, the yellow is much more pronounced, and the white is more of a pale lavender.  See for yourself!

Front yard:

Back yard:

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How The Garden Grows

I can’t believe it has already been 10 days since we got the garden planted!

After my weekend of planting I said we had rain in the forecast, and it came through!  Over the last week we got about 2 inches of rain coupled with some warm, sunny days.  Absolutely perfect weather to get my seeds going!  Most of the bulbs that I planted are really starting to take off, our corn and pumpkins are up and just about everything in the vegetable garden is starting to germinate.

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