Saturday, May 23, 2015

"An Afternoon in the Greenhouses......"

I spent most of the afternoon working in the greenhouses yesterday. For those of you who may not remember, I have 2 greenhouses, each 5'x5'x61/2' tall, set end to end to create one 5'x10'x61/2' greenhouse. With these last several nights of temperatures dipping down into the low 30's, the greenhouses have been WONDERFUL! With all of the water filled containers soaking up solar heat during the day and releasing the heat throughout the night, I have had no problems protecting the plants from the cold.

Yesterdays time was spent transplanting seedlings from their sowing flats into 3" peat pots. Since each sowing flat holds 55 seed pods, moving them into peat pots takes quite a bit more space. Add the 4 hanging pots of flowers, the 5 hanging bags of strawberries, one huge hanging pot of cherry tomatoes, and 2 large pots of green peppers, space inside the greenhouses is at a premium!

Here are some photos of the greenhouses before I closed them up for the night. The first greenhouse houses most of the larger pots, and the 2nd greenhouse has mostly seedlings in flats, although the 4 hanging pots of flowers and the 5 bags of strawberries are in there, too.  "Someday" I will have a year round greenhouse which will allow hanging pots to actually "hang".  :)


This coleus was given to Don 40 years ago, which he has continually taken cuttings from and propagated. This is the only one in the greenhouse, but we have 2 more large pots of it in the house, along with 12 beer bottles with cuttings beginning to root.


I have sowed green pepper seeds the past 2 years and have decided this year is my last year doing so. I have planted the seeds in a domed flat (effectively a mini greenhouse) according to the directions for the starting date, provided heat via "starting mats" underneath the flat, and have had horrible germination rates. Last year, and again this year, I have had to buy a few green pepper plants because the ones I have started are less than 3" tall! As you can see, the pepper plants in these pots are not "my" homegrown ones.  ;) Oh! I almost forgot! Those 2 small pots in front of the peppers have pumpkin seeds sown in them. So far, only one has sprouted, but the reason I bring it up is because we received the seeds as a gift from our neighbor's sister, Ana, and her partner, Francisco, who live in Argentina. These are the variety that Francisco, who is a farmer, plants on his farm. They also sent some Arugula seeds, which I will direct sow in another large pot.


The following photo shows the 3 bee balm plants that I purchased from Gurneys Seed Catalog earlier this Spring. Each is a different color and they were quite small when I received them, but as you can see, they are doing VERY well and have grown quite tall!


This next pot was purchased 2 summers ago, filled with a huge cherry tomato. I planted cherry tomatoes in it last year and again this year. (new potting soil, of course!).  ;) This year it has 3 varieties......"Golden Gem", "Jelly Beans", and one I call "Andy's Cherry Tomato", because he gave me the seedlings at the Easter potluck they hosted. He'd bought a package of cherry tomatoes at Sam's Club which were especially sweet, so he planted a few seeds. We'll see if they grow true or if we get something other than the wonderful red cherry tomatoes he purchased.


The 4 previous photos are of the plants in the first greenhouse and now we move on into the 2nd greenhouse.  :)  I have 8 flats in here of vegetables and flowers. Some of the flowers are annuals, but most are perennials. And, as you can see, this is where the hanging pots of flowers spent last night, along with the 5 hanging bags of strawberries.




Here is a photo from the night before last, before I spent the afternoon potting up seedlings into 3" peat pots.


Last night was predicted to be the last night of extreme cold temperatures so the hanging flower pots and strawberries can go out today and stay in their permanent spots, leaving a bit more room in the greenhouses. I will probably wait a few more days before setting out the pots of tomatoes and peppers......

Sunday, May 17, 2015

"2015 Annual Asparagus Festival in Empire, MI"

Patrick, Julie , and Abigail joined us yesterday for the Annual Asparagus Festival in Empire, Michigan. Don and I had gone last year and enjoyed ourselves and thought it would be a fun to have the "kids" with us this year. They arrived at our house in the early afternoon and we soon headed to Empire.

The Festival had a few stations set up for the younger set to enjoy. Abigail sat right down and painted a postcard after seeing some of the others hanging up.


I'm sure those people with younger children already know this, but paint can be purchased that already HAS glitter in it! It was news to me! Its hard to see in the photos, but her butterfly "sparkled"!




After finishing her painting, Abigail found these stalks of asparagus and actually allowed us to take a photo of her with them. She's become more shy about having her photo taken as of late, so this was a nice change.  :)


The Empire Village Library was right next to the food/refreshment tent so Julie and Abigail are seen here returning after checking it out. Don went in with Abigail a bit later, after we had snacked on a few "asparagus delicacies", and thought it was very nice, too.


As it neared 4:00, we went and found a spot to watch the Festivals Parade. I had brought along 2 telescoping tri-leg stools that we put into use. The following 2 photos show the intersection where most (at least that is what it seemed to me) people come to view the parade.



And here are some photos of this years 2015 Annual Asparagus Festival Parade! Not being "locals" of that area, we were not "in the know" who some of the participants were, since not everyone had "signage". :)



Very cool "pedal powered" car, eh?





I had to show what pulled the final entry since we "like" John Deere tractors.  :)



That pretty much sums up the parade, which as you can see, is fairly small, but we had a very nice time, as did everyone there, in my opinion.  :)

One last photo..........


Thursday, May 7, 2015

"A Little Outside Work......"

While Don blazed some new trails in our woods, I did some transplanting of seedlings into their permanent spots in one of the raised beds.

As you may remember, I made a hinged frame and attached the hoops (formerly attached to the raised bed) to it, covering them with semi clear plastic. I figured it was time to transplant some of the heat loving tomato seedlings into it. I decided to plant one each of the 5 varieties of tomato seedlings, hoping they will thrive and I will have tomatoes earlier than usual. I also planted some bush green beans, kale, and sweet basil seeds, too, since the bed will have quite warm soil, so should have ideal sprouting conditions. The hooped top will, of course, be lowered to cover the raised bed overnight.


I also decided the "strawberry bags" would have to be hung up, going against what Park Seed Company's suggestions were. They have been lying flat for a week (2 weeks was suggested) but I have had a hard time making sure they were well watered, so I hung the bags, added more potting soil to the open top and planted a few more strawberry plants which I took from one of the raised beds in the garden. They are now thoroughly and easily watered.  :) Originally I planned on hanging them from shepherds hooks, but decided this might be the better way to go.


And why not plant more of the cherry tomato varieties in their permanent hanging pot? I have 3 varieties and have one each of 2 and 2 of the 3rd variety because there were 2 of them in the peat pot. Hopefully the one with less roots will survive, but if not 3 tomato plants will do fine in the pot, too. This huge hanging pot will stay inside the greenhouse until the nighttime temperatures stay consistently warm.


Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Don's New Tent........"

Don has been chomping at the bit to get his new tent and set it up in one of our clearings in our woods. For those who do not know this, he had one set up last year but made the mistake of keeping it up a day too long into Fall. We had a heavy, wet snowfall, earlier than expected, and it damaged the tent beyond repair. So......this year he has found a larger tent, and LOVES it!

Last Friday Patrick, Julie, and Abigail came up and Patrick took down a few select trees that Don wanted gone before he set up his new tent. Yesterday, Don cleaned up the clearing, moving the cut logs and raking up the debris. He then took a break and we drove to Menards to buy some indoor/outdoor carpeting to lie underneath the tent floor. He had trouble with "things" trying to regrow under last years tent so wanted something substantial between the tent floor and the ground.

Once we returned with the carpeting, he was out and back to work! :)

First, the main frame had to be assembled.


Don follows directions very well. :)  Next, the tent was attached underneath the frame, followed by the tent fly stretched and attached to the frame.



Then legs inserted into the frame.......




Once everything was up and attached, he then arranged the legs, making sure the tent material was properly stretched before securing it to the ground with tent stakes.

Now for a few photos of the interior and surrounding area. The front screened in porch has zippers on both sides and can be used as a door, but the tent also has a door on the backside, too, plus another inside door that allows one to close off the inside room from the screened porch. The large inside room can be divided into 2 rooms, too, but Don is leaving it as one large room.


This shows the rear entrance.


And this shows the door to the screened porch.




This next photo shows where the tent clearing is located compared to our house clearing. Our house is way back and to the left of the tent.



Fortunately, mosquito season has not begun yet, so working outside has been quite nice. Once the mosquitoes hatch, we'll have to spray ourselves each time we go outside......."if" we want to retain our blood.  ;)

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Planting My Strawberry Bags for Hanging....."

My "Strawberry Kit" from Park Seed Company arrived today. The kit includes 24 strawberry plants and 2 plastic bags for hanging. Each bag will hold a total of 12 plants, but the top 2 will be planted later when the bags are ready to be hung outside. I had purchased extra bags with plans of taking some of my existing strawberry plants from one of the raised beds and transplanting them into a hanging bag, too.

Each bag is filled with potting soil to about 2" from the opening at the top of the bag.  The top back of the bag will be laid over the front and taped so that no soil will be lost when the bag lies on its side. The directions suggest having the planted bags lie on their side for a few weeks to give the plants a chance to become established.


I added a couple more slits in the bottom to allow for better drainage when hanging.


After the bags were filled, I hung them on a shepherds hook and thoroughly soaked the potting soil, using warm water so it would be absorbed easier/quicker.


Here are the 2 bags from the kit filled with top edges taped so no soil will be lost and ready for planting.


Planting is done by using my forefinger as a dibble, creating a nice sized hole for inserting the plants. Nice bruise on my arm ,eh? I have no idea how I got it........but know my old skin bruises so easily the older I get.


Here the plant is inserted into the planting hole. The soil is pressed around the plant by putting pressure on the plastic around the opening and moving the soil underneath towards the plant.


Here are the bags filled with the plants that arrived today. I will add more strawberry plants to the 3rd bag and to the top of the bags which now hold 10 plants, using strawberry plants from my garden.


Heres to hoping I have saved this years strawberry crop from the local chipmunks by "raising the bar" so to speak.  ;)

Monday, April 27, 2015

"Abigails Day With Us......"

Our granddaughter, Abigail, spent last Friday with us. Let me preface this whole post to say we ALL slept well Friday night.  ;)

Abigail and Grandpa Don took a hike in our woods after she and I got back from picking her up from her house. "Hike" might not be the correct word for her outing in the woods since she moves much faster than Don. She does occasionally stop and explore whatever takes her interest. Thankfully, she is not squeamish when it comes to bugs, etc.


When they came back to the house, we got in the car.....er, excuse me, Abigail corrects me each time I say that.......we got into the "Jeep" and drove over to the playground in Grawn, the little village next to Interlochen. They have a wonderful playground, which includes a "splash pad", too, for the warmer days. I "assume" that opens up after Memorial Day, but do not know for sure, although we WILL be going back there.  :)


This may explain why Abigail slept so well Friday night.  :) The girl runs and runs!


Grandpa Don joined her in moving some sand......


No fear of heights either......


Moving some sand by hand, too.  That is the splash pad in the background.


One piece of the varied playground equipment is a HUGE Goldfish, featuring its spine as a climbing ladder.


After a lunch stop (and ice cream), we came home and once again the paths in the woods called. I tagged along for some of the hike but Grandpa Don and Abigail soon wore me out. They came back a bit later carrying this organic sculpture, which now resides on our front porch. Abigail had seen my bundle of dried Dill hanging in the garage and asked for a few stalks to add to her piece. It is quite attractive in my opinion. Perhaps she will work in or own a nursery/florist shop, eh?  :)