A transplanted Southern Californian living in North Dakota, with some insights on life with deaf dogs, a gluten free spouse, and the occasional mischievous garden gnome. Thank you for visiting and I hope you enjoy.



Friday, August 26, 2016

We Won - Free Stuff From Our Blogging Friends



Many thanks to Get Busy Gardening! for their awesome recent online giveaway.  If you haven't checked out their website or Facebook Account, I would highly recommend spending some time on their site.  They are our (almost) neighbors just down in the twin cities in Minnesota and have a huge repository of helpful gardening information.   

We entered online a few weeks ago and won: 
Thanks so Much to Amy at Get Busy Gardening!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Take Time to Enjoy the Sunbeams of Life

Shadowfax knows how to best manage a Monday morning: Find a good sunbeam and take a nap!
School has started again for both John and me, and we're cautiously optimistic about the upcoming year. Just 9 months to go until summer vacation...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Cucumber Trellis Update

We posted pictures of our Armenian and Pickling cucumbers growing on a trellis (see post here) last month.  It's always impressive to me to see the growth that happens in late summer.  Here is that cucumber trellis last month:
Here's the same cucumber trellis exactly one month later. The heat, humidity and rain of the last month have helped these grow by leaps and bounds.  They've taken over their trellis completely and have overtopped the 6 foot fence. 
We waited and waited for the Armenian cucumbers to ripen and now we've got more than we can consume, multiple large ones are ripe every day.  That's the nature of of gardening here in the Upper Midwest...wait, wait, wait, then explosion of veggies. 

The Armenian cucumbers are eaten raw, the pickling cucumbers are used to make my tasty Refrigerator Bread and Butter Pickles, several quarts of which are sitting on the fridge right now.  I'll eat them throughout the winter and use them for fresh homemade relish as well.  

You may notice from the picture that many of the leaves in the middle and bottom of the plants are are whitish or pale looking.  This is most likely powdery mildew, which will eventually kill the plant, but won't really have a significant impact on the development of the remaining cucumbers.  Due to our short growing season here, a hard frost is going to kill this plant long before the powdery mildew will. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Petunia Tower Update

The Petunia Tower I created a couple of months ago (see Petunia Tower) is filling out nicely and chock full of lovely blooms.  It's on the East side of the house past the blueberry raised bed area and gets full sun until early afternoon, which the petunias have seemed to enjoy. 

This is the Petunia Tower and clematis (jackmanii clematis) growing on a trellis that we see regularly every day on our way in from the back gate or garage into the house. 
The close up of the petunia tower shows that there's a little room for improvement next year.  These look a bit straggly for my taste and I think next year I'll treat this more like a potted planting like we have on the front steps (pictures of front step posts here) and have more variety of plants rather than just petunias.  This is the fun part of gardening for me, trying something out, seeing how it goes, then making improvements for next year!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Late July Garden Pictures

This Summer here at the homestead has been full of precipitation, we've only had to water a couple of times so far this year.  The gardens have blossomed in the last few weeks of July with regular rainfall and warm, humid conditions.  It has been fantastic weather for growing.
This garden mound was started four years ago and is finally now well established (you can follow the progression from Dirt Delivery and Mound Formation to how it looks today).  There are still some bare spots to fill in way in the back behind the pine tree that have conveniently not been included in the photo.   
The light purple flowers in the left foreground are purple Coneflower (echinacea purpurea).  The middle and background have two monarda - "Purple Rooster" and "Coral Reef".  After taking a few years to get established, the monarda (also known as bee balm) have not only self-seeded to a few more locations in this bed, but also put on a show this year.

The yellow flowers in the middle are "Summer Sun" heliopsis and interspersed are some various annual zinnias and even a handful of marigolds.
This is the front garden bed that faces to the North.  It looks vastly different than it did in mid-June (pictures here), the blue hues of salvias have been replaced by yellow of the "Summer Sun" heliopsis and pale purple of the hosta blooms.  It always amazes me how the same garden bed can look vastly different in a few short weeks.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Rump Pillow for Snuggling

It was a typical Summer day here at the homestead.  We got some chores done, tidied up some things in the garden, and played in the yard with the dogs.  It was hot outside though, and a rousing game of fetch followed by their afternoon walk took its toll on Shaak Ti and Shadowfax.
This is a pretty standard late-afternoon or early-evening scene around here, with the girls all snuggling together on the floor.  Shaak Ti is usually wedged somewhere.  In this case she's chosen to wedge her head between the couch and Shadowfax's rump.  That's a dangerous spot to be. 
When the bright summer sun saps your strength, the only recourse is to submit to a nice afternoon nap. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Growing Cucumbers on a Trellis

Our homestead garden here is pretty good size, around 1/3 of an acre.  But even though I have a ton of garden space, there are still limitations and what can go where.  Part of the yard is inside the fence and is the "dog area", it's pretty much off limits for growing edibles. The last thing we need is the dogs helping themselves to a veggie buffet, or worse scuffling over a fallen tomato.
Other areas are too shady, too visible, or not quite right for one reason or another.  Like many gardeners we're left to try to maximize the space that we have, and one of the best ways to this is to grow three dimensionally, as in upwards. We're able to grow six or more cucumber plants - two different varieties, an American Pickling (we use these for our Bread and Butter pickles) and Armenian Cucumber in a strip of soil that is barely a foot wide.

Cucumbers, melons, and some squash can all be grown vertically, using a trellis to train them to grow upwards, dramatically decreasing the footprint of how much ground space is needed.The trellis that we use is just some old wire fencing material that I've bent to allow to hang over the fence.  The bottom edge is pushed into the ground to make it more secure.  In Fall when the plants are done producing I remove the trellis and store it to make it more aesthetically pleasing to not have the wire trellis hanging on the fence all winter.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Worn Out

Shadowfax was plain worn out yesterday afternoon.  She had spent the better part of four hours in the window, watching me work in the garden and mow the lawn. Too much direct supervising can make even the hardiest of managers weary.  Shadowfax eventually ceased her micromanaging and succumbed to a sprawling nap with her head flopped under the desk. 
We aren't too far behind.  In the past few weeks we've been busy around and off the homestead.  We attended the Mother Earth News Fair in West Bend, Wisconsin and got some great information - more on this in a later post, and stopped at a few other places across the Upper Midwest. 
There are so many stories and pictures to share, we've got to get ourselves in gear and relay all the information to you, our glorious readers.  More to come.