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Starting African Violets

Frilly and elegant African Violets are gorgeous and are the only plant that intimidates me on a large-scale.

Their beautiful bloom and the velvety leaves are the two reasons that I continue to try to grow them.  My Aunt Kathleen had such a green thumb when it came to growing these beauties.  She had so many of them in every color under the sun!  Last fall I got some leaves from a friend and tried once again to get them to grow.  I got really frustrated and took these steps.

Start with a stem like this.

Using a pair of scissors, snip most of the stem off.

Leave about a 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch piece of stem on the leaf.

Then cut the top of the leaf off leaving about an inch of bottom on that little stem you just cut.

I know this works because I finally got six plants started and more seem to be coming on.  Proceed!

All of the instructions I have said to use a special African Violet potting soil but I just used some leftover Miracle Gro potting mix and it did fine.  Take a lead pencil and make a small hole in the soil for the stem you’ve cut.

I used a rooting hormone called “Take Root” that I stuck the stem of the cutting in a little water and then into the white powdered rooting hormone. It works, I promise!
Next, stick the stem of the cutting into that hole and press the soil tightly around it. NOW WAIT!

It took about two months before I really started seeing results.  Truthfully,  I didn’t figure it would work so I took several cuttings and put them in a tin foil pan that I filled with the Miracle Gro just as directed above.  I had about 10 – 15 cuttings in that 10″ by 12″ tin foil casserole pan that I bought at the grocery store.

I started seeing results but still wasn’t sure they would make it through the winter. I put the pan in a north facing window of my upstairs foyer which stays around 50 – 65 degrees in the winter. It got lots of light and I only watered them when the soil looked dry, careful not to get the leaves wet. Water will make ugly spots on the leaves so water from the dirt, not over the leaves.

In March those plants took off and I had a pan full of 5″- 7″ plants and little ones coming up under the big ones.

And I had my first bloom!!!

It was time to come out of the foil pan and go into individual pots.  Sunday afternoon I went to work separating (gently) from the pan and re-potting in nice little pots I got at Dollar Tree for $1 each.

I placed them in an east facing window along with the pan that small plants are still growing in. They all got a good drink of water and they’ll be fertilized in about a month.

Now, I wait and see how they all do and when I have pots full of bloom, I’ll show them off in another post.

House Plants

I love house plants and while I’m waiting to get in the garden I thought I would share with you some of my favorite house plants.  I love plants and grow them inside and out without a lot of difficulty.  The only plants I have trouble growing are aloe, violets and beautiful orchids.

One of my favorite house plants is the prayer plant which is native to Brazil.  I’ve grown them for years and their easy to grow, keep alive and propagate.

Prayer plant

During the winter months I keep it upstairs in front of a west-facing window.  It’s watered every 7-10 days.  In the spring and late fall it gets a tablespoon of Epsom Salt.  It never stops growing and when it overflows the pot I pinch off good stems and start them in a glass of water over my kitchen sink in the window.  This plant gets its name from the petals folding up like hands in prayer at dusk.

I break stems from the main plant and stick them in clean water. If the water becomes milky before I’m ready to set them in pots, I drain off the water and refill with lukewarm water. Keep in mind that I live in the country with a well and no chlorinated water.

When I’m ready to set them in pots (you will have lots of fine roots coming from the end of each stem you pinched off), I make sure my pots are clean and fill them with Miracle-Gro potting soil.  I make an indention in the top of the soil and place the rooted stems in the dirt.  I press the soil tightly close to the stem, sprinkle a tablespoon of Epsom Salt around the base of the plant and water good.

I take this plant outside every spring after any danger of frost is gone as I do most of my house plants and they live under our maple tree on this table all summer.  They seem to dry out faster outside in the summer so I water at least once a week.

Hanging plant table used year round to hold plants in the summer and bird feeders in the winter.

My next favorite house plant is the pothos, which is really hard to kill and the one I have is over twenty years old. Several of my friends have starts from it.

This is my Pothos mother plant that is over 20 years old.

This plant takes less care than the Prayer Plant BUT while pothos plants are an easy to care for houseplant, you do need to be aware that they are poisonous. Though rarely fatal, the plant can cause irritation and vomiting if ingested due to the fact that it contains calcium oxalates. Even the sap from the plant may cause highly sensitive people to break out in a rash. It is considered toxic to cats, dogs and children, but as mentioned, it normally will make them very sick but will not kill them.  I personally have not had any problems with it but I do not keep it where children can get to it or my pets.  It’s a beautiful shade of green and if you forget to water it you may see a leaf turn yellow.  Pull off the leaf and dispose of and water the plant.  It gets the exact same care that my Prayer plant gets.

A Little Bit of Yard Cleanup

When Mother Nature allows I get out and play in the yard.  Last week I spent three days and completely cleared the debris and now I’m ready to rearrange my flower beds and fix it up!

Two weeks ago this yard was full of leaves from the leaf drop in the late fall, limbs from numerous storms through the fall, winter and spring.

All of the leaves and tree debris are gone and now I wait for warmer weather to sow some new grass.

East side of the house would be great for a flower bed along the side of the house but because of the maple trees there only a very short time for anything to get enough sunlight. I’m thinking about those shade loving hostas but I need to wait until next spring for them because we need to do some major work to the floor of the enclosed porch on that wall this year. It is nice and clean on that side of the house though.

West side of house, big cleanup. I would still be working on it if Eddie hadn’t use the leaf blower to get around the house and the wood house. The wind seems to rotate most of the leaves in this area.  This side of the yard will need the most grass seed and straw.  It’s covered by shade from June until late fall.  When we have ice, it’s worse on this side and longer to leave.

The flower beds are ready for some new growth and I’ve started flower seeds for the “dinner bell” flower garden and I’ve expanded my rose bed.  I’ll be replacing six roses, last falls cleanup left me with the area in front and behind the yard fence and I’ll be working on a new project between the front yard and the gazebo by the pond.  More on that to come soon.

 

Spring Flower Garden Planning

This photo was taken end of summer 2018 and I’m planning big changes in this area for 2019.

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Coneflower

I’ve been working on my gardening journal the last couple nights and have almost got a layout and what flowers will go where when spring arrives.  I’m planning on having Cleome (Spider Plant), Coneflower and Hollyhock in the back corner.  First I will dig up all of the sedum and daylilies and move them to new places in the yard or outside the yard fence.

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Hollyhock

Cleome, Queen Mixed Colors, , large

Cleome

 

Poppy Flower

Poppies

Blue Columbine Songbird Bluebird, Aquilegia

Columbine

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Lupine

I’ll plant 18 x 18 inch clusters of each of these three.  As I move to the front of the triangle I’ll plant 12-18 inch tall plants such as Columbine, Lupine and Poppies.

 

The columbine is already in the ground and one of my favorite perennials.  I also have primrose in the bed and they’re usually the first to bloom but the bloom doesn’t last too long so now I’m trying to find something to plant between each primrose plant to keep the garden blooming all year.

Can you tell I”m anxious for spring to get here and to dig in the dirt???

Making Old From New – Propagation

I think one of the most beautiful and dainty of house plants are African Violets.  I tend to have problems keeping them due to over-watering and moving them from one spot to another.  I have learned from past experience that they love my upstairs hallway window where no one sees their beauty but me and they seem to like the east facing window in our guest room which is also upstairs where they spend the winter months with my other houseplants for warmth.

This violet was a start from a friend and in this post I will show you how I got a lot more plants from the one.

During late summer of 2018 this plant was doing so well that I decided to try to propagate some more from it.  I was going to feel like a “master gardener” if I got one plant going.  Instead I got a whole pan full and they came in at different stages.  First let me tell you the dictionary meaning of propagate:   breed specimens of (a plant or animal) by natural processes from the parent stock.

I started my “starts” in a 5 x 7 foil pan and filled it with Miracle Gro potting soil. I’ve never had any luck starting them in “African Violet Potting Soil”; I sprayed the top of the dirt with a fine mist of just plain water (not chlorinated) just to dampen the soil.

 

 

This is a stem from the parent plant that I pinched off at the base of the plant. I try to find a healthy stem for my starts.

The next step requires scissors that have been dipped in alcohol or bleach to sterilize before cutting into the stem.

Cut the lower end of the stem off up to about a 1/2 – 3/4 inch below the bottom of the leaf. Throw the stem away.

Here’s the crazy part, cut the upper most part of the leaf off. A lot of energy goes into that leaf and we need for the energy to go into stem part to grow roots for the plant.
I will also place that part in the dirt but we want to focus on the stem and half leaf at the moment.

In the top picture of the dirt you will note a pencil size hole poked into the dirt. That is where I place the cut leaf.

In this photo you can see where I placed both pieces of that main stem. I’m not sure if the upper portion of the leaf will root or not but I have nothing to lose by sticking it in the dirt. Before I pinched off the stem from the mother I watered the plants careful not to do too much. If it had been summer time I probably would have placed them in their own pot instead of the same planter the mother plant is in.

This is the foil plant the mother and babes are in now. When the weather warms up I will start each plant in its own pot. It not noticeable from looking at this but there are babes under the leaves of the mother plant.

Lifting the leaves of the mother plant and getting my camera lens in close you can see the new babes. They’re not even a 10th the size of the large plant and yet were planted at the same time.

Close up of a few more plants under the leaves.

There are two large plants in the pot along with the babes. One of them has not bloomed but I believe it will be a pink bloom.

I’m very anxious to collect more starts from other people because they come in such a huge variety of colors.  A few tips if you decide to try the violets:

Be careful when watering and try not to get water directly on the leaves

Let the potting mix get dry between waterings, I only water about every 10 days.

Try a east-facing window to keep them but away from drafts.

Hope you will try some of the delicate beauties.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRUNING SEASON

We only have about two 1/2 months left to prune all of the fruit trees and vines.  We’ve lost four of our heritage apples that have been on the farm for years due the wind and ice blasts.  We have a lot of broken limbs in the maple trees which may hinder the amount of sap we will be able to collect in February and March.  About a month ago we had a day that the wind had laid so I started chopping away at the front grape arbor.

In 2018 I covered the base of each vine with litter from the chickens and rabbits and I can’t begin to describe the growth they had but now I know they have superb root systems.

 

A tangled mess but their second season of growth.

 

There wasn’t a lot of fruit the second year but there were a few on each vine.  I’m hoping for a better, bigger crop in 2019.  We need to add more support to the arbor and have the posts ready to go in the ground and the braces to hold everything up.  We’re thinking about buying to cattle fence panels to go on top of the arbor before the leafing begins and I’ll watch them early to place and tie up the runners so they cover the entire top of the arbor.  This will make it easier to cover the fruit before the birds get the ripe fruit. Of course, the bluebird houses will have to be moved to new locations soon.

Last year the Purple Martens got the houses before the Bluebirds did.

I think they look a lot better now that they are pruned.

 

I see lots of grape juice and jellies in the future.

While pruning the grape vines I also decided to prune our new Green Gage Plum trees.  Our daughter bought these for me two years ago and they had a couple blooms in 2018 so I’m hoping there will be a lot in 2019 and that the frost doesn’t get them.  I’ll add a few more strawberries and blueberries this year and hopefully we’ll add some new apple grafts too when I get some root-stock in a good spot where the rabbits and deer can’t destroy them.

Can you tell I’m looking forward to spring??

Starting New from Old

Summer 2018 saw my front porch filled with flowers along with the yard and my favorite were the Angel Begonias.

Angel Wing Begonia

They have a beautiful, delicate pink cluster bloom.

I want to make sure I have more of these come spring so I’ve plucked stems from the plant which I’m storing upstairs in our guest room.

The leaves of this plant are shaped like angel wings and gives it the name of Angel-Winged Begonia.

I bring all of my house plants in the house in mid-September and take them back outdoors in early June.  To start the plants I pinch stems close to the center of the plant and any that are growing really fast and getting leggy.  I’ve done this to my Prayer Plant and Goosefoot Fern.

Pothos stems starting in the kitchen window.

Prayer Plant starts in the kitchen window.

 

I don’t add anything to the stems to get them to start and usually in 10-14 days new roots are showing at each notch of the stem.  In the spring I’ll plant all of the stems of each plant in large individual pots.  The pots will have a good quality potting soil and two tablespoons of epsom salt and they take off.  By August the Angel-winged begonia will be full of bloom if not before and the prayer plant will have delicate white blooms.  I love growing plants.

House plants in the guest room.

House plants and different cacti in the upstairs foyer.

RHUBARB SEASON IN THREE MONTHS

I’m thinking ahead to spring when it gets so frigid that you want to bring the cows in!!  One of the first crops we see here in mid to late May is rhubarb.  A lot of folks don’t like rhubarb because its so tart but I have a remedy for that.  Before I give you that little tidbit let me tell you what I did last summer before the first leaves of rhubarb showed itself.

For two years I had not cut as much rhubarb as I thought there should have been.  I used a huge tractor tire for the rhubarb bed because moles kept eating the tubers when I planted them directly in the ground.  I placed the tire on the edge of the garden where it would get lots of son and on top of some heavy black garden fabric that I folded to fit several times to keep the moles out.  It worked!

The tire was filled with good soil and chicken litter and four rhubarb tubers.  The tubers produced but the stems were thin and spindly.  In the spring of 2018 I decided to thin the tubers and see if that helped and I was also concerned that maybe I had amended the soil with too much litter.  I cleaned up two more areas on both sides of the tire of weeds and only amended that soil with some rabbit litter but not much!

This area was filled with two tubers of rhubarb taken from the first tire.

This area was filled with tubers from some old plants from our Ruble farm and some from the mansion garden.

 

Neither of these areas produced anything but I kept them moist and sprinkled with epsom salt in hopes of new rhubarb patches in spring 2019.

The original tire went crazy!!  I took off three batches of rhubarb and we have plenty in the freezer for the coming year and the year after that.

Early batches of the thinned patch proved to be the best move I could have made!

Three fresh baskets of rhubarb and homemade rhubarb freezer jam!!

Now for my recipe for the freezer rhubarb jam:

5-6 c. of fresh rhubarb, cut in 1″ cubes

Water, just enough to keep the rhubarb from sticking in sauce pan

2 c. sugar

1  3 oz. pkg. of strawberry jello, cherry, raspberry, or even blackberry

Cook the rhubarb in the water until soft.  Add sugar and take off the stove; stir to combine and sugar is completely melted.  Add the jello, stir and cool completely.  I then pour into small containers and freeze.  It’s wonderful on biscuits, bagels, toast and fresh sliced bread.

Spring Plans to Ward Off the Cold Weather Coming

Do you have a gardening journal?  I have journals for everything but love planning for changes in my flower gardens the most.  I started a Gardening Journal late last summer.

This is my 2018-19 Flower Gardening Journal

Back in the fall when I completed my rose garden to MY satisfaction I immediately started thinking about my perennial garden.  I knew I needed to be able to remember where everything was at the point in all of my flower beds so I started my journal.  This journal has been active all through the fall and this winter with notes of whats to go and whats to stay.  I’m including a few pages of my journal with color photos I took and diagrams of things to come.  It’s relaxing to sit in my recliner on frigid nights going through the journal and my new seed catalogs planning for that precious spring to return!  If you click on the pictures they will enlarge so you can see the notes and work ahead for the spring.

4 x 6 photos help me keep track of the area in the yard as well as what was there in 2018.

Some of my photos don’t have many notes because I’m still not sure of what will change in the area. I have lots of thinning and replanting to do in so many areas.

I have lists of plants that I gathered seedlings from and lists of seeds I ordered at the end of the season. They are being kept in a cool dark spot.

This is a diagram of a new bed that I plan to put in outside of the yard. My yard only has one area that gets a lot of sun so I’m spreading my wings to the yard between the house and pond.

Pinterest is a favorite go-to site for finding colors or plants with height or ground cover. When I find things I like and want to look into adding to my garden, I copy and paste a large group on a page and print it off and add to the journal for reference.

Are you thinking about your flower and vegetable gardens yet?  Are you working on an orchard?  Try a journal and see how things progress in the future!

Those Honery Creatures

During most of the summer of 2018 (when I wasn’t blogging much) I was working hard to make a rose garden in one corner of our front yard that gets sun most of the day.  It was hard work and a challenge to position all of them into one corner.

I’m thrilled with how the rose garden is blooming over and over this year.

There are over twenty different types and colors of roses in the bed and it looks a little different from the picture above because all of the non-roses were also dug up and moved to different areas of the yard inside and out.  Several of them survived the winter of 2017-18 due to the ice and creatures called wild rabbits!  They chewed the bark off of every rose in the yard!!

Bark eaten off of nearly every rose.

I meant to put up a barrier fence in the new rose bed during our first frost but never seemed to get around to it.  My procrastination proved to be maddening, the rabbits got to them before I did.  Immediately Eddie and I started putting up the barrier fence around the rose garden.

This is the same plastic fence we use around our garden to keep the deer and chickens out during growing season and take it down at the end of the growing season.

We have chain-linked fence around the yard so we only had to stake the fence around the roses from the inside of the yard.  I’m glad we found the damage before it was to far gone to save the roses.  We will be having Brunswick Stew if I catch the creatures getting through this!

Fencing barrier around the roses.

I think these are worth saving!!!

I absolutely love this color!Peach, orange and yellow, great idea for a quilt.

New rose in a beautiful deep pink/scarlett.

The wild rabbits killed most of my roses during the winter so my wonderful children gave me 10 new roses for Mother’s Day. This beauty is one of them.

Last years yellow rose is such a beauty and has just began blooming. It will be moved into my rose garden early fall.

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SERIOUSLY

It’s really JUNE 2018???  I thought sure that May would slink by slowly and it rained most every day leaving us with a total of six inches in the rain gauge.  May was wet but beauty abounded on our farm and I’m going to show you just a touch of it!!

Pink rose from my daughter.

Pink Sweet William. It’s a perennial for me and this area is three years old and it’s reseeding every year.

Dark pink with outer layer of light pink Sweet William

I have a small area in my rose garden with Sweet William which was my grandmother’s favorite. I have several colors of this plant in the rose garden.

New rose in a beautiful deep pink/scarlett.

Mauve and cream bearded iris.

I have peonies blooming all over the yard and along the fence as you enter our yard gate.

I think this is one of my favorite with the pale mauve and pale pink.

Yellow and white iris group

Vibrant purple iris

A different yellow and white bearded iris

White and purple iris

This view shows that hint of yellow-orange.

Lavender iris with a hint of orange-yellow in the bottom of the petals.

I absolutely love this color!Peach, orange and yellow, great idea for a quilt.

This red rose has continued blooming since Mother’s Day and I think it will all summer as long as I keep pinching off the spent blooms.

The wild rabbits killed most of my roses during the winter so my wonderful children gave me 10 new roses for Mother’s Day. This beauty is one of them.

Pink and lilac bearded iris. I love iris but when it rains the blooms only last about a day.

The glass shimmers when the sun hits them and they’re a little subdued when the sunlight is not hitting them.

This is one of my new glass flowers, a new hobby. I make flowers for my garden out of old dishes. They add color between the different seasons of the flowers.

A touch of red

A touch of gold

Darker pink columbine. Hummingbirds love all of these beauties.

First year of white columbine, even more delicate! I think there is a yellow columbine and a red that I need to add to my collection. I’ll look into that.

Second year of pink columbine, so delicate.

Gorgeous blue columbine. I started out with one little columbine plant about four years ago and now there’s a multitude of them!!

More columbine

Yellow-white bearded iris

A different yellow and white bearded iris

Gerber daisy in a hanging basket that Eddie got me for Mother’s Day. One week later it had out grown the basket because it had four plants in it. I separted them into two large pots beside my front steps.

Gerber daisies after repotting.

A bouquet of peonies

A bouquet of salmon iris

An unusual iris bud of dark purple

Two year old rose that the rabbits didn’t destroy!

A wheelbarrow of marigolds and zinnias

Old fashioned rose that has been on the farm for over twenty years and every year it’s pumps out the blooms

Dahlia

Old rose bush full of bloom and blooms most of the summer.

Yellow now but as the bloom ages it turns white

Siberian iris-this grows so fast that I have to divide it every spring.  And this isn’t all of them but I think you get my point about May flowers!!

Overgrown Rhubarb

Three years ago I bought some rhubarb tubers for my garden.

New rhubarb started in 2015,

We had some extra old tractor tires that I decided to use for the rhubarb bed.  I didn’t put them directly in the ground because we have such a problem with wire grass.  Wire grass regenerates itself by spread roots underground and it’s really hard to get completely out of any garden bed and flower bed.  I laid black cloth under the tire and then filled it with garden soil and manure from my chickens and rabbits and mixed it up really good.

I expected it to grow but not as much as it did.  The tire bed is 12 inches deep and  44 inches around.  Three years later the bed is too crowded and my rhubarb it way too thick.  I dug out two of the four plants in the bed and and divided the tubers into six pieces each and started a new bed near our quince tree in the corner of the garden.

One small patch beside the tire bed. I cleaned out all the grass, worked up the soil with a spade and fork and added a little dirt from the garden edges.

The tubers are 12 inches apart  in  up and down the bed and across the bed.  I fenced it off to keep the chickens from digging it up since we haven’t fenced off the garden yet.

Wonderfully rich soil and some rain showers should give the new beds a great start. I don’t expect to get anything from them this year but next spring should prove very fruitful if the weather cooperates this year.

The tubers in the tire bed have twice the room to grow and now maybe they won’t bloom as quickly.

Now there are only two bunches of rhubarb in the tire. I will probably have to pull one bunch out again next year. We’ll see how it goes!

The rhubarb stalks were getting about 8 inches long and then blooming, not good!!  I always pull off the blooms to send the energy to the stalks.

I froze a lot of rhubarb last year.  My favorite recipe is to clean and cut the stalks into one inch cubes (about four cups)  and pour just enough water over the cubes in a saucepan and slow cook until the rhubarb cooks up.  I take it off the heat and add two cups of sugar and box of our favorite jello.  We especially like strawberry or raspberry jello but I’ve also used cherry or blackberry, yum!!  Let it cool completely in the pan and serve.  This usually makes enough for four pints of fruited rhubarb and I pour it in plastic tubs and freeze three of them.  It freezes well and it’s fantastic to eat like applesauce or on toast like jams/jellies.  DELIGHTFUL!

Garden Season Ends With Success

I’ve not had a lot of time to write posts this summer because I’ve been doing this:

Fresh tomatoes

Apples from July through October unless the weather changes drastically!

In years past I’ve not had much luck with green peppers but this year I’ve frozen 30 packs of peppers in small dices, strips and large chunks. They are like onions in our kitchen, we use them in everything!

Yellow onions grew and grew. We got a sack full of them and have them hanging in the smoke house until the weather starts to freeze. At that point I bring them in my laundry room (cool spot) to use all winter.

One crop failed miserably this summer and we’ve never had this happen before. We got one egg basket of white potatoes. Thankfully I canned all of those from last year so we won’t have to buy many!

We had some type of bug that bores through the roots of cucumbers and squash. Our cucumbers were used mainly for fresh eating and in salads this summer. I had plenty of pickles left over last summer and with the help of two very special friends we got18 pints of pickle relish and then they were gone.

Fresh peaches and first crop from our young trees. I canned 21 quarts!

The squash faired better than our cucumbers and I froze 12 packs of sliced put in the freezer. We ate fresh squash all summer.

Fresh raspberries gave us 12 quart bags full and the blackberry crop was non-existent due to the weather again.

Dicing green and banana peppers

Canned cabbage

Squirrel season came in two weeks ago and I’ve froze over 12 bags so far. We love squirrel and rabbit meat!

I froze over 40 bags of fresh corn and everyone that we’ve shared it with says it’s the sweetest corn they’ve ever eaten.

Green pepper strips

I’ve tried just about every apple in our orchards in the last two months to find the best for apple pies and fried pies but all of them are great for fresh applesauce every meal!!

While I was canning tomatoes I was also canning cabbage and freezing it. I canned 14 quarts and froze 24 quarts. We’ll use both in vegetable soup and cabbage is a great favorite side dish at our house with pinto beans, fried potatoes and cornbread!!

Our tomatoe crop wasn’t the best because of the rains coming in when they were ripening. They split, cracked and had hard black spots on the outside. I did manage to can 18 quarts of tomato juice. This winter when it’s cold outside I’ll make pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce from what we preserved this summer.

We raised some of the sweetest cantaloupes I’ve ever tasted this year and their my favorite of all the melons.

This wooden crate is full of all types of apples we have on the farm. They’re all somewhat tart and we will buy sweet apples from a nearby orchard to make our cider in the coming weeks.
We didn’t grow a lot of watermelons this year but got good return on the seed we planted.

The crate is filled to the brim with cider apples from our orchards. We think it holds about 15 bushel of apples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course we also had green beans this year but I didn’t can very many because we had a lot left over so about four canners (28 quarts) was enough to fill up the shelves.

You will never starve as long as there’s green beans on hand!!!

Left-hand side of the cellar shelves are overflowing!

Right-hand side of the cellar is catching the overflow! I normally store all of the empty jars on that side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then to sum it all up we have these:

Canned white and yellow peaches

Frozen broccoli

Frozen corn off the cob

Yellow summer squash

New white potatoes-This was the most we got from the first plants!!

Onions drying for winter use.

Wonderful pickle relish that we use in pinto beans, on hotdogs, and in tuna or chicken salad. Hubby loves it on peanut butter sandwiches!!!

Our favorite pizza sauce of which I only made a few half pints and one pint. I’ll make more throughout the winter.

Two crates of sweet potatoes. One of the potatoes was the size of a football. We’ll have several meals from that monster!

Gorgeous canned peaches, I can’t wait to open the first jar!

 

Moonflowers

I have a new plant this year that is absolutely gorgeous!  They’re called Moonflower’s because their huge blossoms open during the night.

Moonflower plants like full to partial sun during the daylight hours. You will like the fact that Moonflower thrive in poor, dry soils. That makes them useful in areas where many other popular plants just won’t grow. It also makes them easy to grow with little care or attention. Just plant them, and away they grow!

We woke this morning to this beautiful sight at our gazebo at the pond.

We begin our mornings sitting on the front porch and having breakfast and what a treat to have fresh flowers to brighten our day!

I want to plant hostas all around the gazebo and have the moonflowers as the focal point.

The blooms fade as the heat of the day increases and I pull the spent blooms.

This plant bears large trumpet-shape flowers that unfurl in the evening or on overcast days. I’m anxious to see if any blooms open during the eclipse tomorrow.

This morning I found several buds that will open tonight.

This is a seed pod that grows on the plant. Once they dry and open I’ll collect the seeds to start next spring. Some articles I’ve read on the internet says to sow them in the fall but you can also sow them in the spring. I got this plant from a nursery after Mother’s Day.

Moonflower plants like full to partial sun during the daylight hours. You will like the fact that Moonflower thrive in poor, dry soils. That makes them useful in areas where many other popular plants just won’t grow. It also makes them easy to grow with little care or attention. Just plant them, and away they grow!

Willow Trees

Starting new willow trees from cuttings

These cutting remind me so much of forsythia but they are in fact willow tree branches from a very old tree at my husband’s grandfather’s farm across the road from us.

Our daughter loves weeping willows and has bought several and planted at her new home on our family farm but they have all died.

Hubby and I decided to get some cuttings from Granddaddy Harry’s farm and see if I could get them started in a bucket of water.  We cut about 50 branches of new starts, old branches and broken branches.  I put them in a five-gallon bucket and filled it with water and placed the bucket under the roof overhang of the east facing side of our house/  They set there for about two months and the roots that came out on those branches were quite plentiful and very  healthy.

Strong roots on practically every stem.

Willow branches rooted and potted.

In April, I set about 20 of the healthiest starts out in buckets of very fertile soil and the majority of them have lived.

New leaf growth and decision time!

Now all she has to do is decide how many she wants and where she will plant them.  If they don’t make it there will be no money lost and my time was worth the wait to watch them become little trees.  I love growing things!

 

Spring flowers are changing

As spring changes to summer so do the flowers in our yard.  The beautiful iris bloom is  dwindling fast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the iris fade the peonies start showing off their beauty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As beautiful as they are, more beauty is budding to take their place!

The majestic roses are starting to bud and burst into astounding beauty in so many colors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve worked hard since moving here 15+ years ago to have an ever-blooming yard of color.  I think it’s been worth the hard work and determination.  I’m including some more of the beauty that is showing now.

Balloon flower in full bloom.

Balloon flower in bud stage and where it got its name.

A new addition to my garden and I have no idea what it’s called. The bloom is about 3 inches across but it’s only about five inches tall.

The Sweet William is getting fuller and more beautiful and sits in front of my rose garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But we can’t forget the natural beauty out in the fields!

The ever beautiful daisy which I love to make a crown of when we have small children on the farm.

I have no idea what this is but some of our fields are full of the little bell-shaped white flower. The honeybees love them too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go for a walk every chance you get and enjoy the beauty provides us everyday!

 

Spring pictoral

Just a quick note this morning to share the beauty in my yard so far this spring!

More iris

Peonies

Shamrock from hubby for Mother’s Day

Clematis

Hostas everywhere

Tall phlox will bloom late summer

Iris of every color that have never bloomed much. We opened up the maple tree and this is what I got this spring.

Allium got froze back but still showed a little color.

More iris

Roses budding

More iris

More peony

Sweet William, my grandmother’s favorite

Siberian iris

More Sweet William

And more Sweet Williams

Foxglove

Siberian iris

Clematis hiding it’s beautiful bloom

Finished the Yard

Yesterday was the first pretty day I’ve had in over a week without the wind trying to blow me off the mountain!!!  Hubby was turkey hunting and our daughter was working on the yard at her new house so I decided to tackle the rest of our yard and it was bad!

Before the cleanup my yard and flower/rose beds are covered with leaves which protect them from the freezing cold.

Maple tree leaves help protect my roses and perennials all winter long but they’re a bugger to take care of in the spring!

I started raking around 1:00, I think, and finished about two hours later.  I hauled my big wheelbarrow away with six packed-down loads.  Now the entire yard has been cleaned up and I’m ready for some gorgeous flowers to brighten my life!!

This is where I began. It doesn’t look like much now but once the perennials between the roses come out it will look great. The big rocks that I use for edging came from the site where our daughter has built her new home. They make great edging and I don’t disturb the flowers when I’m mowing.

Next was the corner rose garden. I started using the old red gate last year to try to contain the old-fashioned rose. I wired an old birdhouse that Uncle Holl had made to it to dress it up and this year I have a pair of bluebirds nesting in it.

bluebird nesting in the rose garden! Love it!

Then I cleaned out the Siberian iris along the south fence prepared the wheelbarrow for something bright red and purple.

After that I replaced my lawn wind flower that Heather got me for Christmas. I love that thing!!! I have to take it down when the wind gets up because it twirls itself apart!  The front of the rose garden is full of sweet-william.  I’ve loved that flower since my grandmother grew it when we all lived in Paint Bank as a child.  Last year is the first year I was able to get it started.  It has stayed green all winter and the frost we had the last two days hasn’t hurt it at all.  It’s beautiful when it blooms and blooms all summer.

Johnny jump-ups are all over the yard now.

My daffodils have been beautiful this year!

I’m so glad the cold doesn’t hurt them.

Isn’t this color so very bright?

 

 

Surveying Cellar Food Stores_Preparing the Garden Site

The Cellar

The Cellar

I just took some empty jars to the cellar and took an accounting of what is left from summer 2016 canning.

Full shelves from canning season 2016!

They were completely full in October but now supplies are dwindling!

We have a huge pile of potatoes leftover and will probably sell them in the coming months.  I’ll can about 15-20 quarts but the rest will go in the garden for seed and we’ll eat some more until they start sprouting.  They’re bakers and peeling size and have been so good throughout the winter.

Hubby has plowed the garden and we’re hoping we’ll get some spring rain on it before we disk it up for planting.

We use the Kubota tractor for plowing.

Our garden site has very rich soil and always produces more than we can eat and preserve.

It also seems to get bigger each year!!!  This year we’ll plan the usual crops of green beans, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, squash, broccoli, brussel sprouts, melons, sweet potatoes, cucumbers, and in the fall some turnips and field greens.

Hope your planting season is grand and praying we have an abundant season this year.  In the coming weeks I’ll be cleaning off the various asparagus patches we have and watching the rhubarb show its sprouts already.  I had six grape vines started new last year and they all survived but one.  I bought this red grape to replace it.

It’s a red seedless grape and I love them. Hope they get as large as the one’s we buy in the grocery but know it will be a couple of years before that happens.

We also went to Food Lion yesterday and bought three dwarf apple trees for the orchard at the mansion.

Dwarf red delicious – once this starts bearing fruit we’ll take cuttings from it and graft to some new root-stock or some wild apple trees we find every year on the farm that we’ll transplant to the orchard.

Dwarf yellow delicious-dwarf trees don’t last as long as standard trees but they give you fruit quicker.

This is a dwarf McIntosh which is hubby’s favorite. We have one tree in our large orchard but it’s really old and we lose an old standard about every year.

This is the mansion orchard where the dwarf trees will be planted. The pond is close by and a mountain spring runs through it to make for easy watering.

Last years grape arbor is where the new red grape will be planted and is right beside our garden.

 

 

 

The Garden is Empty (almost)

We’ve cleaned out the garden and everything has been stored, frozen or canned. Hubby did till up a few spots and planted some turnips as a winter crop. He loves them boiled and with almost every meal. I like them raw!!

End of harvest 2016

End of harvest 2016

We harvested several small pumpkins and four large ones.  The small will adorn the entrance to our house and the large ones I canned.  dscn8721

I washed them good on the outside, split them in half, scooped out the pulp and seed and then sliced them to make peeling easier.

 

Split in half to clean.

Split in half to clean.

Sliced w/rind makes for easier peeling.

Sliced w/rind makes for easier peeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diced to cook

Diced to cook

I diced them up in 1-2 inch pieces and put them in an old canner.  I put one quart of water over them to cook on the stove on medium low heat.

 

 

 

 

They need to cook slowly to keep from sticking/scorching.  I don’t add any seasoning until they’re to be used for pies, cookies, or pumpkin bread.

 

dscn8723  Once they’re tender enough to stick with a fork, I drain off the water and run the pumpkin through my sieve.  It’s very important to get as much water out of the pumpkin as possible before mashing.  I usually let the pumpkin set in the sieve for about 15-20 minutes so the water on the pieces will drip out.  Dump this water out before pressing.

I love this sieve and it works great for all vegies and fruits.

I love this sieve and it works great for all vegies and fruits.

It's beautiful and ready to go in the jars.  I use pint and quart jars because of the different recipes.

It’s beautiful and ready to go in the jars. I use pint and quart jars because of the different recipes.  

Quickly add the pumpkin to the jars, clean the tops of the jars and add the lids & rings, and tighten.

Quickly add the pumpkin to the jars, clean the tops of the jars and add the lids & rings, and tighten.  I process them in the hot water bath for 20 minutes.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out of the four pumpkins, I canned six pints and three quarts.  I can’t wait to start baking with them.  My pumpkin recipes will be added to my Recipes From My House To Yours page tomorrow.

I hope you can enjoy your garden harvest as much as we are.  With Hurricane Matthew charging up the coast and a cold front moving in from the northwest I’ve used some of our harvest today to make a big pot of homemade soup!!!  It’s suppertime!

Canning Season Coming to an End

It seems all I’ve accomplished this summer is canning. That’s not a bad thing but when you work so hard all summer and it all fits in one room it’s kind of underwhelming!!

Stocked and ready for winter.

Stocked and ready for winter.

We still need to harvest and freeze some more corn, dig the potatoes and sweet potatoes, harvest the pumpkins and late cabbage.

I started our own sweet potatoes plants this year.  I started our own sweet potatoes plants this year

The plants started really easy and I got 14 plants from two plants.  One end of the garden is full of sweet potato vine.  I've got my fingers crossed that there's lots of sweet potatoes.

The plants started really easy and I got 14 plants from two plants. One end of the garden is full of sweet potato vine. I’ve got my fingers crossed that there are lots of sweet potatoes.

We filled up the food shelves and had to make room on the canning jar shelves for the sauerkraut and barbecue sauce.  The pumpkin and some cabbage will also go on those shelves.  I may even can the sweet potatoes because I don't know how long they will last in the cellar.

We filled up the food shelves and had to make room on the canning jar shelves for the sauerkraut and barbecue sauce. The pumpkin and some cabbage will also go on those shelves. I may even can the sweet potatoes because I don’t know how long they will last in the cellar.

We canned 14 quarts of whole tomatoes yesterday.

We canned 14 quarts of whole tomatoes yesterday.

We froze 16 pints of corn this morning and it’s so sweet.  During the summer I’ve kept busy filling these jars:

28 pints of sweet pickles

28 pints of sweet pickles

18 pints of pickled squash

18 pints of pickled squash

Pickle relish, I think 23 pints.

Pickle relish, I think 23 pints.

21 quarts of squash to use in casseroles and soup

21 quarts of squash to use in casseroles and soup

24 pints of spaghetti sauce and it's so good!

24 pints of spaghetti sauce and it’s so good!

24 pints of barbecue sauce

24 pints of barbecue sauce

Two quarts and 24 pints of sauerkraut

Two quarts and 24 pints of sauerkraut

100 plus quarts of green beans this year

100 plus quarts of green beans this year

18 pints of squash pickles

18 pints of squash pickles

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!  I canned 36 pints of pickle relish.

Pickles, pickles and more pickles! I canned 36 pints of pickle relish.

We froze 24 bags of broccoli and we we’re STILL waiting on the Brussel sprouts.    We’ve never raised them before but the plants are about two feet tall, still healthy and a beautiful green.  We see lots of little heads at the bottom of the stalk but not enough to harvest yet.  They seem to be waiting on something.

I froze 25 half-pints of rhubarb and a few pints of applesauce and don’t need a lot because we have some left in the freezer from last year.  I diced six gallon bags of green peppers.

We’ve fought potato beetles all summer and they seem immune to everything we’ve sprayed on them.  The potato bin is empty now but looks like we’ll have a good harvest again.  We were afraid with all the rain we’ve had this summer that they might rot.

Empty potato bin waiting to be filled.  Last year we almost had it complete full and it'll hold 20 bushel.

Empty potato bin waiting to be filled. Last year we almost had it complete full and it’ll hold 20 bushel.

I hope everyone’s harvest has been as wonderful as ours.  The garden is still full of tomatoes and corn but I think we’ve put away all we need this year.

The hens have sure enjoyed all the scraps!

Chickens waiting for more garden scraps!

Chickens waiting for more garden scraps!

HAPPY GARDENING!!

 

 

News Update. . .Lost in Time

Please forgive my silence. Between the garden, animals and the issues unforeseen, I’ve just been inundated with work and only open the computer a couple times a week.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

The garden is full!!! With so much rain this summer, our pantry is running over.

Our granddaughter graduated from high school in June and starts college in a couple weeks.  Where has the time gone!!!

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Victoria and proud Uncle Shawn

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

Parents, Victoria, and maternal grandparents.

On top of that we have a brand new grandson born three months early and he’s in New Jersey (450+ miles from Virginia). He’s in a neonatal unit at Children’s Hospital in New Jersey. His mother had some major health issues which caused toxemia and the baby had to be delivered early on July 8th. He weighed 2 pounds and 2 ounces and 14 inches long. He’s a little fighter and gained some weight and now weighs 3 pounds and 15 inches long. Declan Bryant is his name. He’s having some serious issues this week and the little guy is exhausted. Shawn, our son, is in New Jersey this weekend to see him for the second time and he’s keeping us updated.

Shawn's first visit with his son.

Shawn’s first visit with his son.

I’ve been canning and freezing green beans, broccoli, cabbage, pickles, squash, apples, rhubarb and Eddie told me last night that I’ll have more beans in the coming week and corn after that. We’ve pulled the onions and waiting on the brussel sprouts. We have a crock of kraut fermenting now and hope it’ll be ready before anything else comes in.

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Pickles, pickles and more pickles!

Squash pickles

Squash pickles

Canned fresh squash

Canned fresh squash

Green beans and we're not done yet!!! I think we'll sell the ones coming in now.

Green beans and we’re not done yet!!! I think we’ll sell the ones coming in now.

I’ve taken on two part-time jobs working on websites for two sisters and working away from the house on one of them 2-3 days a week. The other one I do from home. It’s a little extra spending money. Our big yardsale/estate sale was for one day and we cleaned out one house on the farm and made around $2500.00. I’m in the process of filling it up again from the other buildings and we may have one more sale next spring just to get rid of it all.

This is enough news for now but will catch up again later. I haven’t touched my blog in some time but haven’t given up on it.

One more bit of news, neighborhood dogs that aren’t watched after cleaned out our duck population in one night back in June, I think, and another one got in my chickens this week. I’m down to 21 hens and two roosters at this point.

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This is just a quick catch up and I’ll hopefully be back soon! Love you my friends and want to ask you all to keep our grandson and son in your prayers.

Gardening while I wait

While I wait for the freshly swept, mopped and waxed floor in the living room to dry I’ll take time to write about our 2016 garden.  We thought we were very late getting it started but in fact this is the second year in a row that spring has come early to our farm and this neck of the woods.  We had three, maybe four, heavy frosts/freezes in May but did get the old and new garden spot plowed, worked and tilled (three or four times).

New garden plot plowed last fall.

New garden plot plowed in March.

Second plowing and tilling.

Second plowing and tilling.

We started planting the last week of May and it’s all worked out really well.  We’ve had lots of rain but with a couple of days of dry weather and the wind we could get in to till and pull weeds.

Last year hubby said we would cut back and only plant about half of what we normally plant and I smiled!! 😉  He says this every year!!  Not only do we have most of the old garden plot full, we also have the new plot which is attached to the old full.  I’m going to be very busy come the middle of July!!

In the first row of the old garden plot we have summer and winter squash. I've already seen two summer squash about two inches long. In the second and third rows and half of the fourth we have onions.

In the first row of the old garden plot we have summer and winter squash. I’ve already seen two summer squash about two inches long. In the second and third rows and half of the fourth we have onions.

In the third and fourth rows we have onion and cucumbers. In the fifth row we planted broccoli and green peppers. Last year I had beautiful peppers but they're not looking so good this year but we'll keep working on them.

In the third and fourth rows we have onion and cucumbers. In the fifth row we planted broccoli and green peppers. Last year I had beautiful peppers but they’re not looking so good this year but we’ll keep working on them.

The sixth row is cabbage and 7th is brussel sprouts and at the end of that row are a few watermelons.

The sixth row is cabbage and 7th is brussel sprouts and at the end of that row are a few watermelons.

The eighth row is sunflowers (for my chickens) and sometime this week I'll plant Blue Lake green beans between each one so they can run up the sunflower stalks.  I also need to hill them like we do potatoes to keep plenty of dirt around the stalk as they grow.  They tend to lean somewhat and with beans growing on them they'll need all the support they can get.  I may even stake them as time goes on.  I planted a whole row of indian corn beside them that was saved from a few years ago but none of it came up and that's why there is a wide space between the sunflowers and the next row.

The eighth row is sunflowers (for my chickens) and sometime this week I’ll plant Blue Lake green beans between each one so they can run up the sunflower stalks. I also need to hill them like we do potatoes to keep plenty of dirt around the stalk as they grow. They tend to lean somewhat and with beans growing on them they’ll need all the support they can get. I may even stake them as time goes on. I planted a whole row of indian corn beside them that was saved from a few years ago but none of it came up and that’s why there is a wide space between the sunflowers and the next row.

The tenth row is a very crowded row of tenderette green beans.  They are stringless, early and great canning beans when picked young.  I love green beans!!!

The tenth row is a very crowded row of tenderette green beans. They are stringless, early and great canning beans when picked young. I love green beans!!!

This space is empty for the moment but I will probably plant a couple more rows of corn and summer squash about mid-July.

We planted another later batch of cabbage and then we have this large space which is empty for the moment but I will probably plant a couple more rows of corn and summer squash about mid-July.

In the new plowed ground we started with three rows of potatoes.  We had a few spots where the potatoes did not come up and hubby filled those in yesterday.  They'll be later but he can't stand empty spaces between plants.

In the new plowed ground we started with three rows of potatoes. We had a few spots where the potatoes did not come up and hubby filled those in yesterday. They’ll be later but he can’t stand empty spaces between plants.

Next we have one row of green beans and two rows of Silver Queen corn.

Next we have one row of green beans and two rows of Silver Queen corn.

THEN, we have lots of tomatoes!   There are 32 Mr. Stripey tomatoes, 12 Roma's and 4 of a new yellow tomatoes we're trying.  My spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce that I canned last year is such a hit that I'll be canning a lot more of it this year and lots of salsa and diced tomatoes.

THEN, we have lots of tomatoes! There are 32 Mr. Stripey tomatoes, 12 Roma’s and 4 of a new yellow tomatoes we’re trying. My spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce that I canned last year is such a hit that I’ll be canning a lot more of it this year and lots of salsa and diced tomatoes.

The tomatoes are blooming and full of little green tomatoes.

The tomatoes are blooming and full of little green tomatoes.

Last but not least are the sweet potatoes.  We have a dozen plants and they're spreading out.

Last but not least are the sweet potatoes. We have a dozen plants and they’re spreading out.

The sweet potatoe sets were started in my kitchen window.  I placed a large sweet potato in a large bowl and kept it full of water.  It soon sprouted and now they're in the ground.

The sweet potato sets were started in my kitchen window. I placed a large sweet potato in a large bowl and kept it full of water. It soon sprouted and now they’re in the ground.

I"m just waiting on them to bloom and produce big sweet potatoes to can and to bake.

I”m just waiting on them to bloom and produce big sweet potatoes to can and to bake.

We’re currently bringing in black raspberries and freezing them.  Soon there will be transparent apples to make applesauce and apple butter with.

Don’t you just love growing your own food????

 

 

 

Beauty of Summer



I remember my roses being beautiful last summer but they’ve outdone themselves again this year.IMG_0006IMG_0007IMG_0008

Peach rosebuds yet to unfold.

Peach rosebuds yet to unfold.

White rose at it's peak.

White rose at its peak.

The botttom was blooming last week and the top was full of buds.

The bottom was blooming last week and the top was full of buds.

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Old Timey Rose and no matter how much I cut it back it bushes out and full of blooms.

Old Timey Rose and no matter how much I cut it back it bushes out and full of blooms.

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The roses are beautiful but when you add a little nature . . .

We have wild rabbits everywhere and sure hope they don't get in the garden.

We have wild rabbits everywhere and sure hope they don’t get in the garden.

then you add a view like this . . .

View from the front porch.

View from the front porch.

And a view of the mountain

And a view of the mountain

beauty is everywhere!!!