Thursday, April 30, 2009

OARDC Crabapple time

This is our cherry tree, but the apple trees are telling me  that it is time to visit the crabapples at work(OARDC).  I was there yesterday and they are not a peak yet, but they are coming along.  If you live in Ohio, or even if you don't you won't be sorry if you stop in at Secrest Arboretum to see the spectacular crabapple show.  We have one of the largest crabapple plantings in the US.  They are not only in experimental plots but are planted along many of the drives.  The campus is a wonderful place to walk, run, or bicycle or just drive through, if time is a issue.    For more on Secrest Arboretum and also their Plant Discovery day this weekend visit 
For more on OARDC in general visit  
I guarantee that you will enjoy your visit whether it is in person to the actual campus, or whether you just able to check out their website.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Japanese Red Maple

Since I picked this as one of my favorite landscape plants, I thought I would share a photo of the little one in our yard. It's leaves are just unfolding. They are such beautiful little well behaved trees.

I didn't get to run around with the camera or the dogs today--probably a good thing.
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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bleeding Heart

I couldn't resist another picture of this perennial plant.  I love it.  It is planted at the NE corner of my house, right beside the driveway.  It is doing very well there and provides beautiful early flowers.
  I keep thinking that I will provide more gardening knowledge in my blogs.  I do know a very little. I have a special article on this plant somewhere in my gardening tomes.   Seems easier to Google it!!
 This plant is the one most people recognize as Bleeding heart.  It's scientific name is Dicentra Spectabilis.  It's origin is China.  It flowers in early May, (late April at my house this year).  It seems easy to care for and I have not had any problems with it.  I've had it a few years, and it doesn't seem to be taking over, but it is probably time to think about propagating it.  I'm not sure, but I suspect that one would divide it? in late summer?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Spring green

The walk was all green this morning.  Beautiful green with the exception of the Bleeding Heart, the red maple, and the cherry tree.  Wahoo.  I couldn't resist using them all.  I need to use restraint.  

Alfalfa and dog

This lovely field of alfalfa is the dogs playground, part of our livelihood, and was a very green, bushy and beautiful field this morning.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009


My first asparagus of the season!!  There are big bundles of it in the store, but this is part of my first harvest.  
I've been thinking that I should have a recipe box for all the good things I harvest.  I love asparagus just plain steamed, either in a pot or in the microwave.  It doesn't even need butter and salt.  Yum!! 

A word of warning:  if  you want to know how to grow asparagus, this is not the site to read. Please browse on.  There must be an or asparagus council or something online somewhere.

I will share a gardening story about asparagus.  I spent the first years of my life on a hillside farm that had a "potager" garden to die for.  There were big plots of asparagus and rhubarb, sour cherry trees, and all kinds of herb beds.  The garden even had a picket fence around it with a real garden gate.  How cool is that?  I know this, because my parents moved to a bigger farm, and kept the old farm.  We owned it for another 10-15 years, renting the house, and growing crops there.  We  visited the "other farm" often, but did not keep up the garden, and the renters didn't either.  Alas.

The garden at home, though productive, was not nearly as neat.  It was just a big dirt garden between a creek and spring run. asparagus at the house, but it was growing wild along the roadside, and in one patch on an abandoned farmsite that was actually a part of our property. My mother would  "look" for asparagus in grass and weeds near the telltale stalks of the prior year.

When my husband and I settled on our little plot of land I bought rhubarb starts,  8   blueberry plants, a peach tree, a cherry tree, and two apple trees.  One of the blueberry plants died and the following all my wisdom, I planted asparagus crowns in the space left by the dead blueberry plant.  My husband was busy with spring planting and didn't know until we saw the little feathery fronds. gosh.  

Blueberries and asparagus are about as different as you can get in the sprectrum of soil needs.
But they were forgiving and both blueberries and asparagus are still growing and producing well enough.  After getting another asparagus bed started, I thought this was the move the existing asparagus.  If you've never tried to dig up asparagus... DON'T.   It has an unbelievable root system.  I couldn't find anything in ANY of my books about "dividing" asparagus.  Now I know why!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

A garden to create

This is a gardeners easel.  I envision some rhododendrons and azaleas.  There is a small rhododendron in the distance.  It is a work in progress.  Rich dark soil, but wet and we are looking west.  There is not enough time in the day or energy in my soul for this time of year.  
Sometimes I get very frustrated with gardening and homemaking media.  It is all about photography and advertising   One of the articles in a recent issue of THIS OLD HOUSE, (which I do love by the way--because I do like photography) features Twiggy or brushy trellising.  A wonderful woven twig trellis is pictured with instructions.  I have the twigs, and I need a trellis--but it would probably take me most of the day just to cut the twigs.  Even if I had the twigs cut, I really would have had to figure it out on my own, because the instructions were a bit lacking.   Me--doing that,  I would have ended up with an ugly mess I think.

Dogs and dogwoods

This area is one of the latest alterations to my landscape.  I love looking at the colored twigs in the winter and watching them come to life.  The dogs are liking the fact that it hasn't been cleaned yet.  Lots of critter smells to investigate.  I have yet to weed and mulch it this year--maybe this weekend.  I used minimal mulch last year and I am paying for it.  My shoestring budget does not allow much for the landscape--actually I think landscaping falls under the health category of my life.  It keeps me healthy and happy.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Rhubarb three weeks later

Check out the rhubarb today(or a couple of days ago).  Three weeks ago it was just one little sprout.  Now there are 4 leaves and more.(This is just a little corner of the patch)  I'm not sure that I will harvest any this year, since I just divided it this spring.  We'll see how robust it is.  I'll probably straw mulch it soon.  I don't like the looks of straw mulch but I have a lot available for free...and it works---it's just not as professional looking.

Earth Day Musings

Seems like it was a very long time ago when saving the earth was about exposing some manufacturing conglomerate's irresponsible habits.  Now the dinner table discussion is about global warming or EXCUSE ME-- global climate change, with our  family as a whole  wondering whether humans as a group can actually influence such a thing.  I am still horrified when I read about piles of toxic electronic trash in other parts of the world.   Can I do anything about that?  Probably not.

But I can make my little place in the country more beautiful and habital and clean.  Some of the old concerns are still vital--somebody still throws things out car windows.  I have to go pick it up all the time.  Most of us are probably guilty of owning something that drips oil and gas.  Fix it or get rid of it if you can!!  

We gardeners support a huge horticultural industry.  We should be green in our buying habits and encourage our industry to do the same.

All that aside, if we just take care of own little plot,  and our own little neighborhood community, and help our neighbors do the same, the world will indeed be a more beautiful place.  

Happy Earth Day

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fried Potatoes

Now they call them homefries, and sometimes you can order them instead of baked, mashed or fries in an actual restaurant.  Even GOOD restaurants.
I grew up literally dirt poor in the hills of Ohio, and garden produce was basically what we lived on year round.  I wonder what poor kids eat today?  At least 1/3 of our big square dirt garden was devoted to potatoes.  We even owned a potato planter.  I think it was originally designed to be pulled by horses, but we used one of two small farm tractors, probably using whichever one was working at the time.  I remember a big pile of potatoes in wooden crates in our dirt covered basement.  Gosh...there must have been rats and mice.  One side of the basement was lined with shelves.  On those shelves were jars and jars of tomatoes and green beans.  As a teen coming home from school looking for something to eat--I usually settled for stewed tomatoes.  Imagine that.
But...back to home fries--my mother cooked them in a big cast iron skillet with a big dollop of lard.  Yep...LARD!!  They were sometimes all we had to eat, when we came in from milking cows and feeding the calves.  They were liberally sprinkled with salt and pepper and we could sometimes eat them with cold tomato relish.
And....I loved them...grease and all.  I still do, and I still cook them in a cast iron skillet ...on the lowest heat setting of a gas cooktop...15 minutes covered, stir them around, and 15 minutes with the cover off.  My kids eat them with ketchup...but they also have hamburgers, or pork chops, or sausage sandwiches to go with them..and at least a green or orange vegetable.   And I don't cook them in lard!!  I haven't grown potatoes in the garden for a while.  I'm trying the method described by Rodale in an old Organic Vegetable Gardening book I have.
 I don't remember using the easy method of deep straw mulch..we probably didn't have the straw to spare.  Neither do I remember watching for them to come up in the big dirt garden...but I have watched for them this year and I can only hope for the same kind of harvest my parents used to enjoy...because I also remember having to digg them with a potato fork...and digging...and digging.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cherry Belle Radishes

You can't keep a good radish down. Two warmer days have made a difference outside. However I do not think these Cherry Belle radishes will be ready next week. The 22 day maturity time must be for warmer temperatures! My unmulched potatoes are up. I left some unmulched at one end so I could see when they came out of the soil. I will need to add more straw to the whole shebang. You can see rows of things in the garden. Peas, radishes, lettuce, beets, carrots, kohlrabi are popping up in the garden. I added a few more rows of peas this weekend. In a few days, I think I will start moving things around in the rows and adding into rows. I want to try some companion planting. My puzzle is how to make the whole thing more attractive and inviting. It is now just a big old-fashioned square farm garden. Hmm. I don't want to do anything very permanent, as we need to get the tractor in, and maybe we'll want to put the whole thing back to crops...but this is the third year and it is starting to shape up.
If any gardeners looking at this have suggestions on how to make a big square garden in a big farm field look like something that suggests something more than untilitarian gardening..please share!!

Country collage

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

The weekend farmer and his son are out and about already. There's work to be done inside and out. Even the dogs are telling me to get on with the chores, and get outside.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

WARM and Sunny. Yeah.

I haven't even walked around yet. But this is what I want to do today.
1. Muck the weeds from the old blueberry patch, fertilize, add some more peat mulch and straw.
(I think I think I think my blueberry starts(cuttings from the old bush) have rooted. Yeah!!!!)
2. Move strawberry starts from the old patch to the new one, and mulch. Weed and mulch in the old patch
3. Finish manuring and mulching the potato patch.
4. If the big dirt isn't too wet by this afternoon, it's time to make the 2nd planting of all the good stuff..lettuce, radish, onions, kohlrabi, peas. Sigh.
5. Walk and run with the dogs.
6. Maybe run the lawn mower around a little bit.
7. Pick up trash.
8. Continue cutting brambles and rosebushes.
9.....and there is still the house stuff...clean off the deck, mulch the flower beds, wash windows.
10. It's a good day in the country.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Very nice Easter Sunday

We had fun in the country yesterday afternoon. We played with the dogs, anchored the black plastic on the unplanted part of the big dirt gardern, and burned off some of the tall grass, bramble, and alder infested edges. That's been our method of slowly enlarging the controlled part of out real estate over the years. Burn it, keep it mowed for a year or so, then replant to something desirable. We've finally taken the plunge and planted some tame black raspberries. Doing that has added to the importance of getting rid of the wild potentially virus infested brambles--at least those close by.

Biggest news...the leaf lettuce I seeded earlier is growing. I saw the first little leaves yesterday. They were too little too take a picture of, but I'm excited. It thought maybe the soil temperature was too cold too germinate anything. All my cabbage, broccoli, and lettuce plants are still alive and growing slowily--except for the one Grizzly stepped on. He has elephant feet.

It will be a while before we can plant tomatoes. Our little part of the world is located right on the border of two growing zones. Every map I've ever looked at puts our little X right on the border of April 15 and April 30 for the frost free date. However all the ancestral big dirt garderners in my family suggest strongly waiting for June 1. Maybe we can get by with a little earlier due to all the much talked about "climate change".

Koko's STAR PUPPY medallion and certificate arrived in the mail today. Yeah!!

Sorry no pics today.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Working dog


Grizzly hauling rocks out of the garden. Little did he know what it would like like today.
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Monday, April 6, 2009

Monday Mojo. We all need that today.

Just do it. Put on the coat, put on the boots, and get on with it--whatever it is you need to do.
The dogs need exercise.
Humans need exercise.
Grass is growing.
Dust is accumulating indoors.
Turn down the thinking, and turn up the doing. I can do it. You can too.

What great satisfaction at the end of the day--you've done a good job.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Koko playing on our walk

This is one of my best pictures so far. I couldn't resist using it. We are in the bottoms in a little boggy area below are house. Koko and the big guy went swimming in the swamp, then went for a dip in the pond to wash off. They took a detour to visit the guys sawing firewood in the woods. Now they're pooped, but the big guy is going to have to put on his backpack and truck rocks out of my garden.
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