Archive for the ‘planting’ Tag

05-22-2016 Journal – Spring Has Sprung . . Finally!   Leave a comment

I was beginning to wonder if Spring would ever arrive but as always it has. Finally the fear of frost has passed and we can start getting serious about gardening.  Todays posting will be a few miscellaneous items about the garden and other things.  Our day today has already been planned and as soon as I leave this computer I’ll be back playing in the dirt once again.

My first item concerns something I mentioned in a recent post about my new favorite drink, the Hot Pepper Margarita.  I collected all of the ingredients needed to get things rolling and here it is. This photo was taken after two days of the peppers soaking in tequila.

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I can already seen the peppers losing their colors as the tequila bleaches them and it won’t be long before it will be ready for use. One more week and then I’ll strain the tequila and put it back into it’s bottles. Then the fun can begin.

I began planting in earnest this week with zucchinis, cucumbers, onions, kohlrabi’s, and eggplant.   Later today I’ll finish up with tomatoes, jalapeno peppers, Serrano peppers, Thai peppers, and Kung Pao peppers.  Now that the nights are warming up the peppers should flourish.

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I began my night time skunk patrol this week.  He made his first stinky visit a few days ago and has been digging up the ground in and around the garden already.  The fence will keep him out of the larger frames but if he insists on causing problem in the unprotected frames he’ll be risking his stinky and smelly life.  My new rifle has been cleaned and oiled and is ready for action.  “Go ahead sucker . . . make my day.”

Here’s an update wide angle photo of the garden as it begins to grow. 

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THANK GOD IT’S FINALLY SPRING

05-12-2016 Journal – Garden Aches & Pains!   4 comments

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I hate missing a scheduled posting but it happened this week for the first time in almost a year. The weather turned bright, sunny, and beautiful and I got swept away with garden preparations and grass cutting. By the time I was finished it was much too late in the day to sit down and post something.  I’ve been waiting five long months for these first spring days and I enjoyed the hell out of them.

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Along with all that enjoyment came the inevitable aches and pains.  The morning-after reminded me just how many muscles I have in places I’d forgotten about . . . and they weren’t happy. Oh so sore.

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My better-half and I spent some time and money this week visiting a number of local nurseries and were able to purchase almost everything we needed for the initial plantings.  We  bought, cucumbers, zucchini’s, various hot pepper plants, pea pods, spinach, cherry tomatoes, and even some early kale plants. Add to that a few dozen marigolds for a little color and we’re ready to start planting next week. We also picked up quite an assortment of herbs to replace plants lost over the winter and a number of new ones as well.

I even got a little carried away and started transplanting a few things from the flower garden to a more prominent position near the driveway.  It was a backbreaker trying to get this bush moved but it appears to have survived the trauma and is doing well.

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‘Before’

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‘After’

We’ve filled our cold frames with plants and they’ll remain there until I’m sure the weather will remain warmer and no frost in the forecasts. Regardless everything should be planted on or about Memorial Day.  Then it’ll be time to relax and let Mother Nature do what she does best.

These few photos are the first of many I’ll be posting this summer. We should have a really productive garden which will hopefully fill our pantry shelves for next winter.

I NEED TO ORDER MORE BEN-GAY!

05-08-2016 Journal–1st Garden Plantings   Leave a comment

Even though the nights remain cool it would appear that Mother Nature is beginning to cooperate.  The hard frosts have stopped and the temperatures have been well above freezing at night.  It’s time to get busy planting a few items that aren’t effected as much by the cooler temperatures. As you can see here the rhubarb could care less about the weather. It’s up and going strong.

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With that in mind I purchased two more small rhubarb plants to fill in the frame a little. You just can’t have enough rhubarb because regardless of what you use it for . . . it’s delicious.

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The herb garden is coming along nicely but I lost a few plants over the winter. I’m not sure why but two of them had been around for years and I hated to see them go.  Nothing I can do but replace them.

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These items were planted next. Three parsley plants, three lavenders, and two spinach.

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As you look at the photo’s you can see chives growing damn near everywhere. Regardless of the weather you can’t seem to slow them down much. We’ll have bushels to harvest once again this year.

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It just felt so good to be digging around in the dirt for a few minutes. Next week I’ll be heading to our local nursery to pick up some lettuces and any thing else that catches my eye. I try to be guided by what the nurseryman advises when it comes to early plantings.  I’ve paid a serious price in years past by not listening to him.  The hot peppers and tomatoes will have to wait a few more weeks when the danger of frost is completely gone.

THE FUN HAS BEGUN

05-24-2015 Journal– Garden Progress!   Leave a comment

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The final plants are being planted and within a week the garden will be left to grow and bloom on it’s own.  It may require fertilizer one more time in mid-summer and steady watering but the hard work is mostly over for me.  I’ll be back at it sometime in October for the final harvesting, cleanup, and soil preparation for next year.

Even though we had a frost scare the other night the plants are doing fine.  A few of them were nipped by the cold but should survive without a problem. Feeling a little motivated this morning I was in the garden early to do some final plantings.  It was another chilly night last night and the winds haven’t lessened in the least.

The better-half recently purchased a spaghetti squash plant and I planted it today. We love spaghetti squash but have had no luck growing our own. Maybe this year will be different. 

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I decided to plant another basil because our original plantings look terrible. They may ultimately recover but I thought another large plant should be planted just in case.  If they all take off like I hope they will, we’ll have more than enough to dry and store this Fall.

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I planted another dozen marigolds around the perimeter of the garden which will hopefully keep those annoying critters away.  It’s a win/win because they also add a nice touch of color to the garden.

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We’re also trying to grow leeks for the first time.  I don’t anticipate them growing too large due to our short growing season. We’ll probably be eating them half-grown like scallions for use in soups or salads.  I may even be able to freeze some for our winter meals.  I’m crossing my fingers on this one because I love the flavor of leeks.

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So we have another garden almost completed and the waiting can then begin.  Barring any unforeseen catastrophes we should have great results in the Fall.

05-20-2015 Journal–Time for Planting!   Leave a comment

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It appears that the weather will finally permit me to get back into the garden.  I’ve been monitoring the long-range weather forecast for a week and it looks as if the chances of a hard frost are behind us.   Most of the night time temperatures for the next two weeks are in the high forties and low to mid-fifties.  Today is the day that the majority of the garden will be planted.

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I’ve had a lot of plants in my cold frames for more than a week letting them get accustomed to the weather and cooler temperatures.  I collected my three dozen hard boiled eggs, a bag of fertilizer, and headed to the garden.

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Dig a five inch deep hole, drop in an egg, crush the top, drop in a little fertilizer, and set the plant in place.  Do it about ten more times and you have a nice patch of jalapenos peppers  to harvest later in the Summer.

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Next came the cherry tomato plants. I decided to double the number of plants from last year because we eat so much salad during the Summer months. We came up a little short last year and I don’t want that happening again. What good is a salad without tomatoes.

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I planted the zucchini, yellow squash, and kohlrabi’s next but ran out of eggs.  I plan on picking up more eggs tonight and tomorrow I can plant all of the remaining cucumber plants.  Twenty minutes of sprinkling completes the planting for today. Hopefully we’ll get some rain in the next few days or I’ll be running the sprinklers again.

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I was a little surprised to find that I had two areas in the frames where I could add some miscellaneous plants.  The better-half and I will decide what else we need and have them planted over the weekend.  My goal was to have everything planted before the end of the Memorial Day weekend and we’re right on schedule for a change.

05-16-2015 Journal– Squirrel Peace Treaty!   Leave a comment

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I’m happy to announce that a peace treaty has been reached in my eight year struggle with the squirrels.  Every place I’ve lived and gardened over the years I’ve been forced to deal with those little delinquents who insist on driving me insane.  I’ve tried just about everything but I’ve never gotten the upper hand. 

Seven years ago we were inundated with a population surge of red squirrels. They’re much more aggressive than the grays and caused a great deal of damage to my deck and feeders.  I spent some money for ammunition and was able to thin the herd a little.  After tons of research and the expenditure of more money than I care to think about, I found feeders the little bastards couldn’t get into.  They continued to visit my deck and tried over and over again to piss me off without much success.

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One side of our property faces a wooded area where gray squirrels dominate and on the other side of the property the trees are filled with reds.  I was beginning to feel overrun like the last guy at the Alamo.  I hated shooting them so I continued  looking for a way to make peace.

Earlier this year I decided to try misdirection on them by installing a squirrel feeder behind the house.  It’s easily in reach by both factions but it also keeps all of them away from my house and deck.  Now they can battle amongst themselves for the food I supply and I get to sit back and watch the fun.

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Finally I have a little piece of mind.  I had to buy the feeder and the corn to put in it but I can live with that. As you can see from these photos these little guys have no fear of humans, especially this human.  I walked around taking these photo’s and he never blinked an eye.

His new routine begins every morning around 7:30 am.  He shows up for his breakfast and then climbs back into the trees.  I’ve made peace with the reds but the grays have yet to attempt a visit to the new feeder.  The war will continue between them but for a change I won’t be stuck in the middle.  It’s worth every penny.

05-06-2015 Journal–Spring is in Full Swing!   Leave a comment

Almost a week of beautiful warm weather and I think I’ve made the adjustment quite nicely.  The expensive to run heating system has been shut down until sometime in late October (Yeh!) and my winter wear has been stored for another year. I actually had a weather related orgasm yesterday when the temperature reached eighty degrees for the first time.  I have to admit it was really good for me.

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‘Red Cabbage’

I made a visit to a nearby family run nursery to make the first of many upcoming purchases for this year.  I was looking primarily for lettuces and cabbages which can stand the cold nights we’re still having.  There’s nothing better than strolling through a smoking hot greenhouse.  There are times when shopping at this nursery is like going to Walmart.  You start buying this and that and eventually find it hard to stop.  I wanted to fill my car with plants but my better-half helped keep me under control.

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‘Delicious Rhubarb’

Since we eat a great deal of salads I loaded up with four different types of lettuce.  We should have more than enough to last us until Fall.  Throw in some cherry tomatoes and  a few onions and we’re good to go.  On a whim I purchased and planted twelve purple cabbage plants.  We’ve never tried growing them before but  there’s nothing better than cooked cabbage. I hope they do well.

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‘Assorted Lettuces’

I returned home and couldn’t wait to get planting.  It didn’t take too long as you can see.  The next stage will be the new herbs I purchased.  I picked up a quantity of parsley, sage, basil, and rosemary.  Some of them are annuals that must be replaced each year and a few others that were replacements of ones that didn’t survive the winter.

The remaining herbs that did survive are really starting to sprout and from all appearances I’ll probably be knee deep in oregano this year. 

05-15-2014 Journal Entry–Back to Work!   Leave a comment

After thoroughly enjoying my day-off and cruising around the area with my better-half it was once again back to work.  It seems that we’re finally free of the frost for this year so we I began planting the next group of plants which included black beans, green beans, wax beans and snap peas.  Any or all of these are delicious to eat fresh from the garden but they also can be canned without losing their flavor.  Normally we use them as part of the vegetable mixes we make for use through the Winter in stir-fry’s.

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The vegetable mixes are usually the last thing we do before closing down the garden.  The mix can contain any number of veggies that are left over at summers end. We try to make a number of different assortments as you can see by the photo’s.

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The better-half has been trying unsuccessfully for years to grow gourds.  She gives them a great start in the house under glass as you can see. Then they are moved to the cold frames before final planting. We decided this year to move some of the gourds out of the garden to a spot closer to the house where they can get sun and be better protected from the weather.  We’ll cross our fingers and hope for the best one more time.  In my opinion it’ll take a minor miracle to get them to grow large enough to produce anything useful. She’s forever the optimistic and is certain it’ll work this year. Half full is her manta in all things.

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I wanted to plant the jalapeños and cayenne peppers but stopped myself.  As a rule peppers do best when they have warm nights so I decided to wait another week or two. I’ll be able then to put the cucumbers, zucchini, and squash in and finally be done with the garden planting. So for now they remain in the cold frame.

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My winemaking efforts continue and that red wine I mentioned in an earlier post has completed it’s hard fermentation and moved into glass jugs and sealed with air locks.  It’s now just a wait of a few months for the jugs to clear.  Eventually gravity will cause all of the yeast to drop to the bottom of the jugs and I can siphon off the clear and finished wine.  I have to say I love the smell of yeast and wine when it’s fermenting.  I wish some company could bottle that smell because I’d make sure my man-cave was always filled with that fragrance.

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While I was cleaning and organizing my man-cave I was pleasantly surprised to find this bottle of wine.

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This is a bottle of blackberry wine that I made back in 1986.  I’ve recorked it a few times over the years and each time I’ve taken a small taste.  It’s pretty potent after all those years but I think I’ll put it back in storage for a few more years before I try it again.

05-07-2014. Journal Entry – Garden Update!   Leave a comment

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Needless to say the Spring garden work and yard cleanup continues apace. The only part of my body that’s not sore or aching is the tip of my nose. Everything else is shot to hell and letting me know about it every time I move the least little bit. Fortunately all of the hard work is finally paying off which is rather satisfying for so early in the year.  The better-half who is in charge of the flower gardens is already seeing amazing results as you can see by these pictures.

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It occurs to me that the plants in Maine understand what a short growing season we have and make the most out of every minute with whatever rain and warmth they can find.  The grass can look like a field of dirty dead plants one day and within a week it turns into a lush green carpet that very quickly needs to be cut.  I added the first mowing of 2014 this week along with all of the other chores I had on my To-do list.

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The herb garden suffered a little more from the winter weather than I first thought.  The neighborhood cats will be highly upset when they discover the huge catnip plant has passed away. Our garden was a regular stop in their travels where they could roll around in and eat some catnip.  It was like the town’s feline opium den. I suppose I’ll be replanting it once again even though my cat  Stormy is unaffected by it’s influences.  I made enough room in the herb garden so that a larger than normal patch of parsley can be planted.  We use a great deal of parsley through the winter and we ran a little short this Spring.

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“Asparagus”

The asparagus roots have been planted and hopefully within the next two years we’ll have a thriving patch to harvest from.  I love it with my meals but it takes such a long time to establish before we can use it. It’s recommended that we don’t harvest from this planting until early in 2016. Patience for this I just don’t have.

The lettuces were planted yesterday as well.  I’ve put in three varieties this year along with spinach and two varieties of kale.  The kale is freezable and my better-half tells me that kale chips are in my future.  They don’t sound all that appetizing but I’ll withhold final judgment for now.

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“Spinach/Lettuce”

I’ll be waiting at least another week or two before putting in any plants that could be killed by a frost.  I’ve gotten ahead of myself in past years and been burned when a late frost wiped out a large number of my plants.  I guess gardening is a great way to learn patience but it’s not something I’m known for.

This garden is much smaller than most people think when they see the results each Fall.  The excellent level of production takes good planning, crop rotation, great compost, and plenty of good old sunshine and water. 

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I consider this a modern version of the old WW II Victory Garden. It takes a little hard work and investment of time but growing and eating your own crops makes sense to me. I know what I’m eating without fear of spoiled plants or diseases and it’s fresh and tasty. It hasn’t been sitting somewhere in the back of a truck or warehouse for weeks before the store displays it for sale. Enough of my preaching, it’s time for me to climb down off my soap box and go accomplish something.

Another week of this and I’ll be all out of a gardener’s best friend, Ben-gay.  I should start buying it by the case every Spring based entirely on how my butt and legs feel this morning.

05-03-2014. Journal Entry – Spring Continues!   Leave a comment

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“The First Flower on the Deck for 2014”

I just opened my eyes, rolled over and checked the clock.  It was 6:30am and I was awake, it was morning, and the only thing on my body that wasn’t sore or stiff was my eye balls as I looked around the bedroom.

Without a doubt I love Spring time but OMG the work involved.  The last week has been nuts and the weather has been just warm enough to make me crazy. As always I tend to overdo at this time of the year in my lame attempt to make the warm weather get her just a little sooner.  I’ve been "garden" involved almost one hundred percent these last few weeks.  I’m trying to get as much of the preparation done as I can before I take my trip to Texas over Memorial Day.  I’ll be returning from there just after the holiday and I need the garden ready for planting when I get back.

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My main project for the last week was the rebuilding and repairing of the raised beds that I initially built five years ago out of non-pressure treated lumber.  They were slowly rotting away and were filled with bugs and other unwelcome guests.  It was easy enough to just tear the wood out of the ground but getting the required replacement lumber to the house without paying Lowe’s  huge delivery fee was a bit more difficult. I have no immediate access to a pickup truck so I had to improvise.  I drive a small and cute PT Cruiser that is my all time favorite vehicle.  I was forced to turn her into a workhorse for two days as I made numerous trips from Lowe’s to my house with 12 foot long pressure treated boards sticking out the passenger side window at least four feet.  It was the only way I could get them in the car and close the rear tailgate door.  It made for a very interesting drive home. I accomplished it without killing any pedestrians who happened to be standing along the edge of the road and I also dodged hundreds of mailboxes that I came within inches of as I sped past.

Everything was delivered to the house with minimal damage to the car, to me, or any innocent bystanders.  It’s not something I ever want to try again. Lugging all those heavy boards around has accounted for most of my sore muscles and general overall feeling of "death warmed over".

The pictures will show the new and improved beds and the other work that was done.  The gardens have been cultivated, composted, and the fabric put in place covering the soil.

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This week I’ll be planting the cold weather crops such as lettuce, kale, and spinach. I visited a nearby nursery yesterday and made a few preliminary purchases to place temporarily into the cold frames. While chatting with the owner I was able to pick up some valuable information on upcoming weather patterns and all of the problems with specific plants lost or damaged due to the rough winter.

I’m now in the process of preparing the hoses and sprinklers for installation. They should be up and operational in a day or two and then I can relax for a week or so before my trip.

My better-half is suffering from a raging Spring Fever that has taken complete control of her life. We have a wrap-around deck that partially circles the second floor of our house. This deck becomes our second home during the Spring, Summer, and Fall.  As you can see she has moved many and assorted pots to the deck to begin planting her container garden. She’ll have pots full of a grand assortment of flowers and certain selected vegetables making it like  a jungle out there in just a few weeks time.

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Once I return from Texas I’ll be back to my good old Maine gardening ways doing all of the things I enjoy most. Fortunately for us both all of the really hard work will have been completed by then allowing us to enjoy the garden and deck time well into September. Then the canning, herb drying, and wine bottling can commence once again.