Thursday, October 8, 2015

"More Garden Re-Arranging......."

"Finally", after being here 3 growing seasons, I started on the removal of the low raised bed that had been in place when we moved here.  The raised bed behind the 4'x4' caged raised bed will be moved to this area where the soil is being removed.

The old raised bed was only about 6" above the ground level, and as some of you may remember, our soil is almost pure sand, so 6" isn't very much amended soil. My "grand plan" is to move both of my 4'x8' raised beds to that area, where they will have 1/2" poultry netting attached to the bottoms of the raised beds, in hopes of deterring the chipmunks from burrowing underneath and into them, but that meant removing the 6" of amended soil. 

I've now removed half of the old raised beds soil and moved the previously built raised bed to the prepared area where I attached the poultry netting to the bottom, it is now set in place and ready to be refilled. I will begin filling it by using the 2nd half of the old raised beds amended soil as the base, then fill it with the composted straw mixture that was previously in it.

The following photo shows how the straw and "Wholly Cow" (composted cow manure and peat moss) have broken down and and mixed well together, creating a wonderfully dark growing medium. This is what I will use to top off the amended soil from the low raised bed.

This is the other 4'x8' raised bed that I plan on moving once all the old amended soil is removed.  I am also thinking about redoing the "greenhouse topper" after seeing a photo of one on Facebook that seems sturdier and easier to work with while open. If I do, I will certainly post about it. :)

Here is another view of the "soon to be" renovated/re-organinzed garden area.

You realize, of course, that once both these raised beds are in place, it leaves their previous spots open.......perhaps building more raised beds is in my future?  ;)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

"A Bit of Refitting......."

You may remember my building wood frames covered with hardware cloth and hinged to the top of my 2- 4'x4' raised beds to prevent the chipmunks from going in and taking bites out of strawberries? Well, I was certain it would do the trick and as the season progressed, I found out that nothing is certain when it comes to our chipmunk neighbors and their devious ways. ;) The little guys ignored the caged tops and dug their way inside by tunneling under the raised beds wooden sides!

So today brought about some refitting to the raised beds. I hoisted one of them up and off of its planted interior and turned it upside down. After cleaning the underside of the bed frame, I stapled 1/2" vinyl covered poultry netting (wire mesh) to the bottom of the frame.

Here is a closeup of the stapled poultry netting.

I have moved the bed frame next to where it stood prior to the refitting but have not refilled the bed yet. I need to purchase more bags of compost, etc. before transplanting the strawberries back into it.

You might also recall how I filled the beds originally using bales of straw standing on end, then covered with compost and soil. That worked well for the first season. I knew the straw would deteriorate into compost, too, but I did not think ahead and plan for the planting bed to sink so far below the top edge of the sides. I would have been better off filling the beds with compost and soil top to bottom since I was planting perennials rather than annuals. If I had planted annuals in the beds, then I could have added more compost and soil prior to transplanting this spring to offset the sinking due to the straw composting. Live and learn, eh? ;)

Here is a photo that gives you a better idea of how much the planted area had sunk compared to the top edges of the beds. Originally, the plants were even with the top of the frames. You can also see how dark and rich looking the composted straw and potting soil are now, too.

Once I purchase more compost, etc. (you probably remember that our soil here is almost pure sand so amendments are necessary to build a good planting mixture), I will transplant the strawberries back into the bed and then do the same thing with the 2nd raised bed.  I have 2 other 4'x8' raised beds that should have the same treatment but I do not know if I will get to them this year.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that this solves my chipmunk issue! :)

Friday, September 18, 2015

"Grow Tent"

I had bought a variegated lemon tree last fall and then ordered 3 tiny citrus trees (Meyer Lemon, Dwarf Orange, and Key Lime) this past spring. They have lived out in or around the pop up greenhouses all summer and have thrived! With the outdoor temperatures fluctuating from the low 40's at night to the 80's during the day, I decided it was time to give them a more stable environment by moving them inside for the winter.

I ordered a grow tent and grow light from The Grow Store (for you Facebook users: and it arrived yesterday.

With some help from Don, I set the grow tent up in the basement, next to my weaving area, and moved the trees into their winter accommodations.

I was able to use 2 of the potting benches I had built for the pop up greenhouses.

The variegated lemon tree is the largest of the trees.

I decided I wanted to have more space between trees, so added a couple of plastic totes, allowing me to set 2 of the trees on them.

I will probably rotate the trees weekly from level to level so they get to take advantage of the better light higher up when sitting on the potting benches. I will be going out in a bit to see what I can find in timers (for the lighting) and small fans (for air circulation).

Monday, August 31, 2015

"Becky and Rosa's Visit......"

Friends from Madison, Becky and her daughter, Rosa, came for a short visit last week. We had one full day to "show them around" and chose to take them over to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park.

Here is Rosa trying on one of the several "bear" hats at the Visitors Center.

After leaving the Visitors Center, we drove over to the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive, stopping at the first of several "scenic views". This one overlooks Glen Lake.

Our second "scenic overlook" is of the backside of the Dunes Climb, and gives a beautiful view of North and South Manitou Islands. Unfortunately, it was quite hazy on Friday while we were there, but still beautiful nonetheless.

"Ms. Photogenic"......

Our last "scenic overlook" was right above the Lake Michigan's shoreline.........and we were waaaaaaaay above it!

Don, Becky and Rosa went a short way down the dune while I continued on and stood on the deck overlooking the shoreline.

Between where I was, and where they were, is a small stand of windswept trees. This couple attached their hammocks to a couple of them, making many people envious, I'm sure. ;)

Don, Becky, and Rosa then joined me on the deck overlooking the shoreline.

Beautiful views despite the hazy conditions......

After leaving Sleeping Bear Dunes, we drove down to The Cabbage Shed in Elberta (across Betsie Lake from Frankfort).

We had a wonderful visit, although too short, with Becky and Rosa, and look forward to their next one.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

"Citrus Blossom and Buds......."

When checking my 4 citrus trees this morning, I noticed several flower buds on my variegated lemon tree. I knew I had a blossom on my orange tree, but to see buds on the variegated lemon was truly surprising! The tree has not been doing well as of late, although it started regrowing leaves a few weeks ago after I sprayed it with a homemade "shower spray"......having used that last winter when I "think" it had spider mites. A few of the old leaves still have black spots, like mildew, but the rest of the plant is looking, and doing, very well.

Friday, August 7, 2015

"Time for Kale Chips"

I decided it was time to make some kale chips today. We have several plants and I have been keeping an eye on them to make a decision as to when I had enough decent sized leaves to make the dehydrating effort worthwhile. Today was that day.

After cutting the leaves, the stems needed to be removed, leaves washed, spun dry (using our salad spinner), and they were ready to be bagged for their drizzling of olive oil.

I then laid them out in a single layer on the trays of the dehydrator and sprinkled them with popcorn salt.......this time using "Ranch" flavor.

After loading several trays, the top was put on, time set for 1 hour at 130 degrees, after which I will set the drying temperature down to 120 degrees for the rest of the drying process. I will set the timer for a good number of hours, due to not remembering how long it took from them to dry in the past. :)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

"Last Nights Gathering....."

Don and I were invited to an annual summer party, hosted by PK, whom we met at a party we attended on Fathers Day. It is held at his summer home, located northwest of Honor, MI. It is a somewhat "unusual" summer home, to say the least. It sits next to a pond, which I "think" is manmade, although I am not sure about that.

PK has a beautiful garden next to the house, which he has to protect from the deer with electric fencing, which thankfully, was turned off for the party so we could wander amongst the flowers. :)

Don on the left, PK on the right, with a young man in the middle, whom I did not meet.

Here is a view of the lake......

I met and chatted with several very nice people, plus got to catch up with a few of our neighbors who were also in attendance. A nice time was had by all. :)