Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Farm and Garden Report - April 30

Gosh, it has been a long time since I've done a farm and garden report. The end of April is a great time around here. I know many of you have had warm weather and blooms for ages, but this is the real beginning for us here at Windy Poplars. The grass is greening. The bloodroot has blossomed, as have the daffodils planted so long ago under what was then a fir balsam tree. It has since been cut down and lilacs planted there, on the corner of the parking area, and those few daffs are still there with their cheerful burst of yellow. 

Esther the goat who never met a fence that could stop her.

There has been no color here since October. You may know how I love late fall and winter with their tones of gray and brown, but by now I am READY for color! The little scilla at the top of the blog have been out for a few days now. They grow in the grass next to one of the raised beds.

The main area of daffodils is up with a hint of the flowers to come. 

The little grape hyacinths, which share a garden with garlic are up. 

The chive plants are doing great, and it's a treat to be eating them again.

Last fall, we planted six peony plants in the vegetable garden beds. 

This one is called Nancy Nora. (how could I resist?)

We've dug out most of the orange day lilies from the front patio garden. They looked great but after they bloom, there is nothing there but cut down day lilies, so I wanted to diversify that garden a bit and extend the season. Much of my gardening is of the 'rob Peter to pay Paul' type. We took plants from other areas and planted them there - some bearded iris, different color day lilies, aquilegia. 

We've started some flower seeds under the lights and will put some of them there in a few weeks; stock, more aquilegia, and lavatera. I may put the parsley and basil seedlings there too. 

I don't know if I've mentioned that Tom retires in June, which means more time and less money. So, what better thing to do than to grow more of what we eat. We started many tomato plants: Martha Washington, Matt's Wild Cherry, and Peacevine, and sweet peppers for the first time in ages. The seeds we planted King of the North and Sweet Sunrise are supposed to turn red and orange in my climate, so fingers crossed. 

We also have a lot of onion and leek seedlings ready to go out in the garden. They've been sitting on the bench for a few days to harden off. 

Lots of lettuce is also ready. My new favorite is a variety called Pirat. I'm not a fan of the newish, sometimes sharp tasting greens. I like big green leafy lettuce, and Pirat suits just fine. 

When it warms up we'll plant the Garden Oasis cucumber and Zephyr summer squash. The French Gold pole beans have been such a success, I think we'll always plant them. We missed sweet peas last year, so have packets of April in Paris and Mary Lou Heard. The spinach, Renegade, and peas, Green Arrow will go in now the soil has warmed up. And the corn will be planted at the end of next month. The Sugar Pearl white corn has been delicious and successful for a couple years now. I've got a packet of Rainbow mixture carrots. I love all the new colors. Last year's seeds didn't come up, so I hope these will grow. 

With our adding of more vegetables, we must increase our raised beds, so Tom is going to build four more out in the area past the garden. And the other day I looked out and he had piled some rocks in a circle and built a fire pit. 

He's already made a fire of last year's cornstalks and hollyhocks. Which brings me to the hollyhock situation. I so loved them last year, but haven't planted any seeds. I think I'll wait a year before planting again. They say that last year's seeds might come up. We'll see.

View from fire pit looking back at the house.

Here is the list of what we started under the lights:

In mid-March, planted in 2 small flats/40 cells per flat:

40 cells Cortland F1 Hybrid onions (High Mowing) and 40 cells Baby Primor Leeks (Renees) 

On April 14, planted in 3 medium flats/28 cells per flat:

12 cells King of the North sweet peppers (High Mowing)
7 cells Sweet Sunrise sweet peppers (Johnny's)
5 cells Martha Washington tomatoes (Johnny's)
2 cells Matt's Wild Cherry tomatoes (High Mowing)
2 cells Peacevine tomatoes (High Mowing)

8 cells Large Leaf Italian basil (High Mowing)
8 cells Giant Italian parsley (High Mowing)
6 cells Granny's Nightcap aquilegia (Hart - bought at Aubuchons in 2012)
3 cells Beauty of Nice stock (John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden)
3 cells Ruby Regis lavatera (John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden)

4 cells catnip (John Scheeper's Kitchen Garden)
24 cells Pirat lettuce (High Mowing)

We moved the grow lights out of the butt'ry area of the kitchen to the adjoining laundry room. When we plant the lettuce outside, we'll start new seeds under the lights, and keep doing that all summer. I love lettuce, and as you may know, eat it plain like a rabbit.

Soon it will be time to mow. We've got a rider mower that Tom uses and a new, but old-fashioned push mower for the small areas of lawn. One of the summer projects is to restore this sidewalk.

Years ago, we put in small stones for a gravel path, but they were uncomfortable to walk on, weeds and grass grew up, and it ended up looking awful. We have some leftover pavers from the patio, and plan to make a new sidewalk. Eventually the area right outside the kitchen door will become another patio, but that's a project for another time, and just as well says Sadie, since this is one of her favorite napping places.


  1. I love seeing other people's gardens!

    We're about ready to harvest the first lettuces, which overwintered under some mulch this year. I'm looking forward to them -- and to the strawberries, which should be ready for harvesting in about a month.

    I like the idea of starting lettuces indoors all summer long, since ours tend to bolt before too long. Maybe starting them in my office window will keep them manageable!

    1. Overwintering lettuce, eh? Amazing.

  2. I am so impressed with all your gardening efforts so far and your future plans. Those chives make me hungry for some. They used to come up here so I'll have to go see if any did this year. And I agree with you about the tender salad greens. Maybe a leaf or two of the sharp ones are okay but I love the tender greens and also the pretty red leaf lettuces.

    Here I've just been studying how we can go more maintenance free in the garden and you're amping it up at retirement time! But when I look at pictures of our garden seven years or more ago when it was at its peak before arthritis made my kneeling in the garden days be over and compare it with now, I am seriously studying what we can do.

    I really loved every picture of your garden, plants and Sadie. I too am a fall and winter person but cannot help loving this spring.

    1. Chives are a miracle to me. I have five plants scattered around, and I try to use them most days for all the months they grow.

      Amping it out of necessity. I like organic produce, and an organic pepper in the winter from Israel or Holland is about five dollars!! I'm hoping we gets lots from the plants, and then I'll freeze them.

      Have you seen those raised beds that are really quite tall? Maybe three or four feet off the ground? Let me see if I can find a picture...

      Pricey in catalogue, but I'm sure it could be build for much less.

      Tom has one of those kneeling pads, and also sits on a milk crate, whereas I mostly stand bent over. :<)

      Thanks so much. I'm really happy you enjoyed it.

  3. Love the flowers in your header. So very pretty. I'm always amazed at all the variety of things that you plant. Hope all of it does very well and you lots and lots to eat and put away.

    1. SO happy to see you here!!! I really don't have that much variety - we are zone 3, with zone 2 in some spots, so there is a lot that won't make it through the winter. I rely on the hardiest plants I can get. Just lost the poppy over this winter.
      Thanks for the encouragement. I'm hoping too. Every single plant seems like a miracle to me. I can't believe they grow from little seeds. :<)

  4. It's really interesting to see what the landscape looks like and what is growing in a totally different part of the country! As you know, we're steady moving toward our relentless Louisiana summer. Thanks, Nan, for this extensive view of your garden efforts.

    1. Our 'relentless' is the winter. Good thing I like it. :<)
      I'm happy you liked the report. I hope to do them more often.

  5. Loving all of the growing going on at your place. Congrata to Tom on retirement!!! Sounds like you already have quite a lot of things for him to do!!

  6. This was a beautiful post, Nan! I so love the names of all the plants. Peacevine; April in Paris; Sugar Pearl - how wonderful they all sound, and will undoubtedly look and taste, too.

    Although we've had plenty of colour out there now for several weeks, I remember very well how much I craved each tiny speck of yellow, pink, white and lilac after the long monochrome months of winter.

    1. Thank you. I love plant names too, and it was fun to have one with my name!

  7. Like you Nan, I prefer autumn and winter but at this time of year, I love the garden and all its fresh green and bright colors. Once the end of July approaches, I am so longing for autumn once again. :-) Your garden blooms are looking very pretty.

    Hugs from Holland ~

  8. It all looks so lovely and inviting and homey. I know it's a lot of work but isn't it nice when you reap the rewards of it all - vegetables, flowers and all. Maybe now the weather will cooperate and be warm for a while.

    1. Thanks. I loved the 'homey' adjective. It isn't really that much work. I'm more an appreciator than one who has to be digging all the time.

  9. I've missed your farm reports, Nan. This one made up for the ones that fell behind. I love spring. We've been busy cleaning up what was left of fall and gleefully discovering all that is growing underneath. Did I say I love spring? We had bloodroot in our other house. I miss it each spring here, but, so many other things to enjoy.

    1. Thank you for saying so. That encourages me to do them more often. I don't know what happened last year.
      What you wrote is exactly what happened to me today - I had raked the front terrace garden, and lamented the loss of lily-of-the-valley. And today, voila, there it is!

  10. So lovely to visit the farm again, it always looks so well loved. Thank you for showing us round.

    1. What a nice thing to say - 'well-loved.'

  11. Oh how I love your farm and garden report. I wish I could walk the property with you, and have you tell me "These are the daffodils we planted when..." but this post is the next best thing. I have a table full of seedlings in the south facing window in the kitchen. And, the garlic I planted in the fall is growing like mad. Do you keep yours as a perennial patch?

    1. I'd love that, too. I'm eager to see more house and garden pics of yours!! No, it isn't a perennial patch. We use a different box each year. We've bought garlic before but this year we plan to save some out, and plant it.

  12. Add me to the readers who love taking a virtual walk around the property with you. I did a little bit of that myself today, though my yard is not nearly so interesting. And I swear, this year I AM going to grow those adorable Zephyrs!

    1. Is it too late to plant them for this year?? As far as I can tell, only Johnny's sells them:


      I do love them!

  13. I love your gardens... and the firepit is wonderful. The chives are making my mouth water...that is something I never see any more, even at the good farmer's markets we go to. I wonder if I could grow a pot of them here...maybe next year.

    1. Once we've had some rain, we can light it up. We're pretty dry around here. I am sure you could grow chives in a pot indoors.


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