Tag Archives: gardening

A Dash of Color

I have been a gardening maniac for the last few weeks.  With the late spring, it feels like things are moving along quickly and there is SO much work to do just to get the gardens set for the season.  When I need a break from the physical labor of gardening I will sometimes grab my camera and stroll around the grounds to take some photos.

My bleeding hearts are in full bloom behind the house. Such magnificent flowers!bleedingheart

Volunteer Violets are blooming in the garden too. My Grandma called them “Johnny Jump-ups” and they will always remind me of her.  As a small girl, when I would go to visit she would always send me home with a bouquet of these flowers for my mom.  They were prolific at her house, almost like weeds.  She would wet a paper towel, wrap them gently around the stems, and finish it off with tinfoil to hold in the moisture.  I was always so proud to bring these little gems home to my mom, who would put them in a very small crystal vase and place them in the windowsill.  It is these memories that make my heart happy each spring when these lovely flowers appear in my garden.

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And then there are the tulips.  One can never have enough tulips.  I do not have enough tulips.

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I need to remember that this fall.  I really do need to plant more tulips.  They are such a beautiful way to welcome spring.

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I planted these a few years ago when I put in my new Magnolia tree.  I don’t even know the variety, but I really do love them.  The bright color stands out boldly from all the green spring foliage and makes a real statement.DSC_0330

These purple tulips are pretty too, but their color is more muted and seems to get lost a little in the sea of spring green.  I’m not complaining though.  They are beautiful too.purpletulipsI have a lot more pictures of spring blossoms and flowers to share.  Things are really blooming around here!

Hope you are enjoying spring blooms in your part of the world!

Lynell

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Back to Blogging?

Here I am again, with six months passing and no posts.  Time goes by so fast and life just seems to get in the way of sitting down at the computer to keep our blog updated.  It isn’t because nothing has gone on around here…our summer was just as busy as past ones.  So, since the holiday chaos has passed and the cold temperatures have me trapped indoors, I am feeling inspired to finish some posts about some of our projects around the farm last summer.

The funny thing about blogging is that it is easy to get hung up on putting together the perfect post with great pictures and clever writing.  I have to remind myself that the reason I started this blog was simply to share our experiences and to connect with others who have similar interests, and to create a history of our projects and improvements.  Keeping that in mind, I will just plow forward and try not to worry too much about the details, so bear with me.  🙂

We are well into winter here in Minnesota.  We have had several subzero days in the last week.  Even with the cold temperature and snow on the ground, there are some pretty sights  to behold on the farm.

Have I mentioned how much I love our barn???  No matter the time of year, it is one of the most charming parts of our landscape.

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But anyhow…back to last summer.  We enjoyed three separate home visits by our oldest, the West Point cadet.  He came home during his breaks from his summer military training and it was such a treat to have him around.  As you will see in upcoming posts, we put him to work and he helped us complete some fun projects.

We also had a roller-coaster of a summer with our bees.  After being so thrilled that we had successfully wintered our bees for the first time since starting beekeeping, we were devastated to discover that they had swarmed in May because we waited too long to divide the hives and they became too crowded.  The early spring and warm temperatures moved everything ahead and in our inexperience, we missed the signs that they were preparing to swarm.

All was not lost however, because when bees swarm they leave behind a portion of the worker bees along with new queen cells, one of which eventually becomes the new queen.  We observed the hives over the next few months and it appeared that things were back on track, they had a new queen, and were rebuilding their population.  Of course, the hives were not nearly as strong as they would have been had they not swarmed, but we knew we would still get a honey harvest.

The honey started flowing and the bees had built up a good amount of supers of honey.  Once again, our optimism for our honey harvest was shattered in October when Jesse went out to the hives to check on them and discovered they had been robbed!  Yes, hives can be robbed by feral bees.  All the frames that the bees had worked so hard to fill all summer long were stripped completely clean, as if they had never had a bit of honey in them.  The other unfortunate effect from robbing, is that the honeybees usually die in the process of defending their hive against the invaders.

Needless to say, we lost both hives of bees and only ended up with a very small amount of honey to harvest…another year of learning about all the things that can go wrong beekeeping.  We have just put in our order for two nucs of bees this spring.  We are not giving up; we’re just starting over again.

In the garden, we added two raised beds with blueberry plants, something we have wanted to do for some time.  More on that later…

My perennial garden, particularly my Echinacea (coneflower) plants were hit with yellow asters and I decided to pull every one of them out in trying to rid my garden of the disease.  I was a very sad gardener.

Our vegetable garden was very productive and we enjoyed fresh veggies for months on end.  We decided to forego any preserving this year and to just enjoy the bounty as it ripened.  Now that we are in the depths of winter, I am questioning that decision.  I think we will take the time to do at least a minimal amount this coming season.

Around the first of the year, the seed catalogs started arriving.  I have started pouring over them, marking pages, and making my wish list.  I plan to expand my winter sowing into some annuals and vegetables this spring and am anxious to get started.

DSC_0002Like every other gardening nut out there, I cannot wait to get back out into the gardens and start digging in the dirt.  In the meantime, I will share some of the projects we accomplished last summer.  To be continued…

Lynell

 

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Filed under Bees, Daily life, Miscellaneous

Seed Catalogs…Already??

I was surprised when I opened the mailbox today and found a large bundle of mail, even by Christmas card season standards.   Assuming that we have received most of the Christmas cards that we will this year, I was curious about the contents of the bundle.

Amongst all the normal bills, junk mail, etc., I found these…

Seed catalogs?!!  Already?

In all honesty, I am a seed catalog junkie.  I pour over them, mark pages, make lists, plan, and daydream about the upcoming gardening season.  But it is not even January.  I still have my Christmas tree up and have not even recovered from the holiday.

Is it just me, or is this a little too early to be receiving seed catalogs?

Lynell

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A Rose is a Rose…

I love roses and keep adding to my collection each year.  The roses have been bursting with blooms lately and I admire them daily.  I thought I would share a few recent pictures of my blooming beauties.

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Spring Fever

It’s official.  It’s that time of year.  The time of year when you can hardly wait for spring.  When thoughts of spring, basking in the warmth of the sun, green grass, bountiful gardens, and fresh flowers take over your mind.  But we need to wait.

The garden is waiting, waiting for the sun, so full of potential.  Waiting, waiting, waiting….

And the raspberry plants, they’re waiting too.  Waiting for the soil to warm so their leaves can burst out and set blossoms.

And the chickens.  The chickens are also waiting.  They are so patient, but they have spring fever too.  Afraid to hop out of the coop  on the snow all winter, they seriously contemplate it at this time of year.  They stand in the door of the coop, gazing outside, the strength of the sun enticing them, until…

…they can’t stand it anymore.  They finally take the plunge, after encouraging each other, and jump down on that scary snow (at least I think that is their thought process).

Spring fever makes even chickens do the craziest things.

The cats have spring fever too.  Waiting anxiously at the door each morning, they spend their days outside.  They lay on the porch basking in the sun.  Sometimes they go exploring, navigating through the melting snow, ice, and puddles.

And so we are all waiting for spring to arrive.  It feels closer every day.

I am not as patient as the gardens, chickens and cats though.  So I planned a trip to Mexico with my husband.  We leave tomorrow…and I can’t wait.

I hope that when we arrive home next week that spring is closer.  After a few days in the sun, I think I’ll be capable of a lot more patience.  Until next week….

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Filed under Chickens, Daily life, Gardens, Travel, Vegetable

Sowing Seeds Outdoors in Winter

I came across an article entitled “It’s Sow Easy” in my Northern Gardener magazine last winter about sowing seeds outdoors in winter.  Because I’m always looking for inexpensive ways to increase my perennial collection, I thought I would give this method a try.  The theory is to turn recyclables into mini-greenhouses to place outside during the winter months to wait for the spring thaw and germination of the seeds.  Seems easy enough and it has the added bonus of using recyclable materials.  We’ll see how it goes.

After purchasing potting soil, seed starter mix, seeds, and saving up some gallon milk jugs, I was ready to get the process started.

The first step is to cut the milk jugs in half with a sharp utility knife and poke several slits in the bottom for drainage.

Using a mixture of equal parts seed starter mix and potting soil, I put 3-4 inches of dirt in each container.

Here are all the mini-greenhouses waiting for seeds.

The soil needs to be well-moistened, a “muddy consistency” according to the article.  I checked each container to make sure that the water was draining out the bottom.

Not surprisingly, I purchased way more seeds than I had room for in containers.  I could hardly control myself at the nursery at all the seed choices of plants that I want to grow or multiply in my garden.

I decided to plant Delphinium, Oriental Poppy, Shasta Daisy and Foxglove with my first set of mini-greenhouses.  After sowing the seeds according to the package directions, use clear duct tape to attach the top and bottom back together.

Set the mini-greenhouses out in the snow somewhere that gets plenty of sunlight, snow and rain.  According to the article, I can just put my feet up now and let Mother Nature take over until spring, when the seedling appear and more holes will need to be added so that the plants don’t get overheated in the greenhouse.  I’ll be amazed and thrilled if this process actually works.  And if it does, I’ll start planning huge new perennial gardens and saving milk jugs much further in advance!  Stay tuned.

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A Rainy January Day…

Every Saturday I make a trip into the big city to take our daughter to rehearsal for the youth symphony.  This weekend she also has a piano theory exam to take at a local college.  I’m waiting for her now.  I spend a lot of time driving and waiting for my kids at various activities these days.  It’s one of the reasons I decided to start blogging.  Recording aspects of our country life provides me with an outlet while I wait at practices, rehearsals and lessons in my crazy and chaotic modern life.

Today is a dreary and rainy winter day in Minnesota and it definitely doesn’t feel like January.  Instead, it feels more like April with its snow-melting spring rains and I’m daydreaming about spring and my gardens. I’ve started noticing the gardening magazines in the grocery store check-out line.  Although they call out to me as I stand in line, I have resisted purchasing any so far.  The seed catalogs have also started to arrive in the mail and I peruse them with grand ideas of all the different vegetable varieties I am going to try this year.

My real gardening passion is flowers.  As each growing season comes to an end, I contemplate all the things that I will grow “next year” in my flower gardens.  On this rainy day, looking at random pictures of my flowers cheers me up and inspires me for the upcoming growing season….even if it is months away.

William Baffin climbing rose and Jackmanii Clematis

Zinnias and Bachelor Buttons

Hollyhock

Johnson's Blue Geranium

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