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Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

Its true. 2012 was the first year I did not garden since college, more than 20 years ago. Twenty seasons of digging in the dirt, and this year, meh. Oh, I still planted a couple of things….some willows in the back marsh, pots for the front. I divided a couple of hosts, and pulled some weeds. But my point of view was different. I didn’t….care. Wasn’t engaged.

Can’t really say why, and frankly the why doesn’t matter. Or maybe it does. Am I burned out? Did the previous years japanese beetle attack bum me out so much, I had to take a break? Don’t really know. All i do know is this.

No fresh tomatoes. No crisp green beans eaten raw. No garden tan…you know, pale back, sunburned arms? No muscles either, and man am I out of shape.

So. 2013. Am I motivated to garden again? Yes.

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Fall Bulb Time

Bulbs ready for planingSo fast my head spins arrive the bulbs I forgot I ordered. Now is the season for crinkly covered beauties – Allium, Daffodils, Narcissus, Oriental Lilies, White Garlic, Red Garlic, low border mixes and “Purple Sensation”.

To see them out of the bag is both disappointing and exciting. In my mind’s eye, I can see them next spring – the snow still on the ground in the northside, crocus popping up and a cool breeze combing through the remains of the landscape grass. And then these beauties, these lovely orange, gold and yellow circled beauties. Celebrating the spring as will I.

My daughter said that spring was her least favorite time of year, that fall, now, was her favorite. I asked her why and she said it was because its “all brown and wet and cold”. And she’s right, its all that.

But spring in Minnesota is also a trembling pale green sheen, that gently, softly creeps over the landscape. Its cold nights, wet mornings, cool afternoons of hard blue skies.

And its about watching the first allium poke their snoots out from the cold ground. The clover and the daffodils and the primroses unfurling like a rolled sail. Its blinking once and then – there – the first…whatever of the year.

Enjoy this putting-away time. Spring is just around the corner.

P.S. I get my fine bulbs from the Maine co-op at Fedco Seeds (and Bulbs, Potatoes and other things.) I like them a lot. They write black and white recycled paper catalogs and subversive diatribes on the dangers of GMOs. www.Fedcoseeds.com

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Chippewa Farm Nursery, main entranceThanks to my mom, we visited a terrific nursery in Brandon, Minnesota, just off Hwy. 94. What’s amazing about this nursery is the volume of plants, hostas, veggies, shrubs and fruit trees in varieties I’ve rarely seen. Prices were great and the selection was vast. Nestled in farmland, the grounds open up to a pond and birds flitting from tree to tree. Minature hostas, blue, bi-color, yellows and large leafed hostas. Link directions here:

Peony viewing

Peony viewing

Mom, Dad and Kathi at Chippewa Farm Nursery

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Rain Barrels

Rain Barrels My husband created this wonderful solution. Catches rain off the “Love Shack” roof, into these barrels. My veggie patch is spread out in front of this photo.

Rain Barrel closeupDetail image of the rain barrel. Note the spigot. We attach soaker hoses to the barrels and drip irrigate the veggie patch.

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In the Garden…

RadishesIt’s early evening, and a cool night. Typical Minnesota summer! I’ve been so busy in the garden that posting has been a challenge. Lately, I’ve been spending lots of time weeding, weeding and dividing spring flowering plants. It’s time to cut back the lilacs, the forsythias, the magnolias.

I’m still harvesting the early spring veggies – lettuce, radishes, snap peas. How fortunate I am to have a healthy, growing garden. As I’m weeding and harvesting, my new kitten plays at my feet, racing through the knee high potato plants and budding raspberries. Every once in a while, he gets “lost”, crying for me at far end of veggie patch, and I have to call him back.

Simple. Plain. Gardening. Life is a wonderful gift.

P.S. planted the last of tomatoes. As I do each year, I seeded too many – and had 12 “orphans”. So I planted them here and there in yard. Now up to 48 tomatoes. YIKES!

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cropped-greenhouse.jpg Lately, I’ve been dreaming of a greenhouse. Not sure if its because of our cool, Minnesota spring weather, or simply the idea of gardening under glass, but I’m in love with this idea.

But if I’m going to do this, I need a plan. Picked up a couple of interesting greenhouse building books – but am really intimidated. I just want a simple, easy to maintain glass house that let’s me grow seedlings early, and grow lettuce and cold season greens over the winter.

More to come.

What’s planting?  I just planted my tomatoes and peppers this weekend with my daughter. She;s a great help in the garden! Planted them deep, with plenty of sheep composted manure. I’m lucky to have a local sheep farmer nearby that sells his manure. For local folks, check him out dpguertin@comcast.net. 1 yard for $40. Rich, composty, clean garden soil. LOVE IT!

My potatoes continue to sprout through my piling. Its getting that I have no more dirt to cover the green shoots. I’m told I can harvest the early potatoes end of June. Yeah – can hardly wait!

Sugar Peas are up but not blossoming yet, and pre-sprouted beans planted last weekend are popping up string and sure. I planted three types of beans – a dry bean for winter soups, a green bean for summer eating and freezing and combo bean for eating and drying if I miss a few.

My lettuce (leaf and head) are up and s-l-o-w-l-y growing in this cool spring weather. My brocolli needs thinning, as do the baby carrots. Radishes too.

Yikes! Time to get into the garden!

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img_1918Its sounds rather naughty, but truly, its a gardening term. True to form, it means bringing your winter seedlings outside and “hardening off” the first true leaves and stems to the outdoors. My technique? After burning many, many plants and having a good cry, I learned the hard way to be patient.

What I do is simply bring out each tray and leave in a light shaded area once air temps reach 60 during the day, and 45 at night. Any colder, and they all come back inside. But this is Minnesota, so for heavens sake, they need to  handle cool evening temps.

Why a shaded location? Any direct sun for more than, say, an hour will burn the leaves. After a couple days of continuous outdoors in light shade, I move them to a dappled sunny location. CHECK for dryness – they will dry out faster outside, especially if there’s any spring breezes.

Within a week in dappled sun (part sun, part shade throughout the day), they are ready for more continuous sun. Again CHECK for dryness. Now is the time to start a feeding schedule. I’m really lazy about this – when I remember, I add a tablespoon of granular fertilizer and/or fish emolsion, to the water bucket. This is less than what is recommended and with good reason – these dear seedlings are not quite ready for prime time.

After a total of ten days, they are “ready” for planting. BUT be sure the ground temp is at least 50 degrees in shade before planting – the seedlings will sit and sulk. EXCEPTION are peppers, tomatoes and vines – they must have warm air temps and soil temps before planting or will develop diseases and frankly, they really sit there and sulk. No fun. Keep those plants in warm sheltered spot until last frost date in your area.

NOW: plant squash, melon and related summer vines indoors now. Plant late season potatoes outdoors now (plant when the dandelions are blooming).

Happy gardening! Let me know of questions or comments!

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