Monday, June 6, 2011

Farm and Garden Report - June 6

For the very first time, we have planted a rhododendron. In recent years they have become almost as prevalent as lilacs in dooryards around here. This one is a PJM Elite which is supposed to be hardy in Zone 4, to -30º F. It is in the yard right outside the kitchen door, in between a mass of daylilies. It will bloom while the daylilies are small, and they will blossom after the the bush flowers have gone by. I'm hoping it will grow on this windy cold hill. It should be somewhat sheltered where it was planted.

This year's planting of the vegetable garden was late because of so much rain. And so, we've been working out there in black fly season, which is enough to drive one mad. Tom's mother has two sayings about black flies - one that when the serviceberry blossoms the black flies will come, and the other is that black fly season is Mother's Day to Father's Day. If you'd like to learn a bit more about the shad or serviceberry Tom wrote about it here three years ago. Those black flies haven't been too bad the past few years but this year, probably because of all the rain, they have been terrible. After coming in on Saturday from planting in the garden, I had about ten bites all around my ears, which seems to be a favored dining area for them. A dear man, now long gone, used to say that he thought the cure for crime was not jails, but to put a criminal, naked, in a cage outdoors during black fly season!

May 28 was a big day for the baby chicks. Tom and Matt carried the box out to the barn. They will live in a safe, enclosed area until they are bigger.

The animals and other chickens will be able to see them and get used to their presence so that when they go out into the rest of the barn and outdoors in a few months, the transition will be smooth and peaceful.

By the end of Memorial Day weekend the lilacs had begun to fade. I'm always saddened when they go by. They bring such beauty and color and fragrance and though other flowers are still to come, it is the lilacs I really love. But then my sadness is assuaged when the locust trees come into bloom, and I think, ah yes, this is my favorite fragrance; until the sweet peas come, that is.

We planted our six tomato plants we had started from seed. I'm hoping it won't be too crowded in the one raised bed. The varieties are Camp Joy Cherry and Big Beef Beefsteak, both from Renee's Garden, and Cosmonaut Volkov Slicing Tomato from High Mowing Seeds.

I planted Dark Red Morland potatoes from Johnny's Seeds on the last day of May. A little late, but they should be fine. They took up one whole bed and part of another.

This past weekend we got the rest of the garden in.

There's a bed of the Zephyr summer squash from Johnny's. There's a whole bed for peas, what Johnny's calls Premium, an early pea. I sure hope so since we planted it so late. We haven't grown them for a few years, and I have missed them. They are one vegetable that I think simply must be eaten out of the garden. Frozen peas just can't compare. Even if I have only four or five meals in the summer, it is worth it to me to plant them.

Last year we grew pole beans for the first time and they were such a success that I think we'll stay with this variety from Renee's Garden, Filet Beans French Gold. Last year they grew in tall tomato cages, but this year Tom took some tree branches and made a teepee, tying the tops together with baling twine.

In the same bed, I tried something new for our sweet peas. Instead of using cages or fencing, I brought out a clothes rack which Tom secured into the ground. I put one variety on each end and one in the middle. I have high hopes that this will be a great support for them, albeit a little unusual. I grew two varieties from last year, Cupani's Original and Painted Lady, and a new one called Royal Wedding in honor of THE wedding this past April. All are from Renee's Garden.

Yesterday, after our godson's college graduation party, we headed to Lowe's for wood to build one more raised bed. This one is on the other side of the fence from the patio. It will probably hold the onion sets, which we are also late in getting in this year, and a cage of cucumbers. We have panolas, mallow, and sweet peas in the vegetable garden, and now we'll have vegetables in the flower garden.

In the flower gardens, the bleeding heart plant has turned into an almost five-foot tall bush.

The lupines are in their glory.

In 2008 I wrote about this being the indigo time of year.

Aquilegia or columbine

Bearded iris

Baptisia australis, which has lots of names - Blue wild indigo, Blue false indigo, Rattleweed or Rattlebush, and Horse fly weed

Mountain bluet also known as Perennial cornflower and Perennial Bachelor's button - there's a little entry on this flower which I wrote four years ago.

Spiderwort, with the 'or' sound as word, not wart, according to Henry Mitchell.

There is very little work to do amongst the flowers. All of them are perennials which come up every year, and they are planted close enough together that by this time of year, no weeding is necessary. The only job now will be cutting them back at the end of their growing season.

The bluebirds are happily settled in. Usually they sit together on the wire morning and evening. I don't think there are two pairs, but am still not positive. Just this morning when I opened the laundry room windows, the female flew out of the birdhouse under the eaves,

and up onto the old tv antenna [query: why do we still have this?]

So, that's it for this report. I should be back in not too long with the Korean lilacs and Siberian iris and poppies.


  1. Oh, thank you for showing your garden. That lovely dark soil, it could be in England. (Although in England, they call it earth, not dirt or soil...really, it IS earth, isn't it?) Love all the photos of the that a lupine that you have on the header?
    It's gorgeous!

  2. I am enchanted with your Hill Farm! The surrounding forest is so beautiful; no doubt full of black bears.
    Do you have a planting diary with the names of all your many flowers and vegetables? You must, otherwise how would you ever remember all of them.

  3. two have been seriously busy!! There's so much to look at and read about!! I've been inspired!

  4. Of course you have the old TV antenna for the bluebirds to perch on -- seems like reason enough to me!!

    Thank you for the Spring update -- the fragrance of one beautiful flower fading and another taking its place... a reminder of the parts of gardening that I miss. And we have missed the lilacs for sure. We're on our way back to Oregon -- but it will be too late for many early spring blooms of course.

    I am reading a Louise Penny book where they are on a lake near Quebec in summer and the one guy is tormented by blackflys. I'm not even so sure what they are -- don't think I want to find that out!

  5. First off, I have been admiring your banner of lupines. Beautiful.

    What a wonderful farm report, full of plants and plans and all your hard work. My Korean lilac (what the deer didn't eat) just finished blooming, so, it is nice to hear of yours just getting ready from afar. I love this lilac. We had one in our other house near the front window and door. You had to pass it to get into the house, which was a treat for the senses each time one went in and out of the door.

    Yikes. Those black flies.

  6. Your report makes me want to go out and start a garden myself! Don't you just love all the beautiful names for the varieties of vegetables? I am going to have lunch at my mum's today, and I bet there will be (among other things) a salad with produce straight from their garden.

  7. Great use for laundry racks! I bet the peas will love them.

  8. I'm in awe of your ability to grow things. Unfortunately, I completely lack this talent. Sure do enjoy your pictures and so much information though. I do have purple lupines and another purple wildflower in my garden at the moment now. Every year I've added wildflower seeds. Now since we've decided to do away with the garden since I don't have the stamina to weed, they seem to be blooming like crazy. Go figure!

  9. Wow! What a lot going on on the Hill. I still haven't finished planting our vegetable garden either. But I'm already eating our lettuce every night.

  10. Kay, we are lucky to have good soil (earth!) here. It is a bit rocky but not clay at all. It is a lupine. This is their season around here. They are all over the place.

    Jill, what a nice, nice thing to say! Yeah, to the bears. Saw two in the yard last evening! I don't have a planting diary. I sometimes make notes here or in a gardening email to grow a certain variety again but that's it. I don't have all that many plants, really. I have a lot of the same plants. There are a lot of plants I've had to give up because it is just too cold for them up here.

    Staci, it honestly doesn't take all that much time and effort. :<)

    Sallie, good thought. I'll remember that! They are little black flies. Lucky you to not have met them. :<) More here, if you are just dying to know:

    Thanks, Penny. I have the Korean lilacs in honor of our kids who were born in S. Korea! I'm not so wild for the smell - I don't like it nearly as well as the common lilacs. It is a little bit like hyacinths, perhaps?

    Librarian, I love hearing about your parents' gardens.

    Sprite, I'm thinking just maybe the blossoms will cover the whole thing!

    Barbara, honestly I don't do that much. I plant them. Put down cocoa mulch. Weed a tiny bit in the spring. I'm not a fussy gardener at all. I just let things grow. :<)

  11. Lucky you, Pat! Lettuce is our downfall. Isn't that silly? But it's true. We never plant soon enough, often enough, or enough period. And I love it. I eat it plain - no dressing, no other vegetables. My family calls me a rabbit.

  12. Lovin' those lupines. They always remind me of moose. I can remember the first time I ever saw a moose. It was staning in a patch of lupine by a roadside. The next thing we will hear is that you have moose in the garden as well as bear. ha.. If you like Henry Mitchell have you read Bevery Nichols trilogy of creating the garden at Merry Hall, Laugher on the Staris and Sunlight on the Lawn? A good read. Seeing all of these raised beds almost makes me want to got set up some myself.

  13. Lisa, you should! Nothing is easier. Your husband will love that job. We have moose in the woods, and occasionally we'll see them in the pasture, just stepping over the electric fence. They are SO tall. I have read one BN, and enjoyed it immensely. I own a couple of his books, and should read them soon, as well as the other Henry Mitchell I have. Such a dear fellow he was.

  14. Simply lovely! Your raised beds are always such an inspiration to this wannabe gardener. Maybe when I retire and have more time to putter in the yard... It's almost mid-June and I haven't managed to get any annuals in all the pots I have on our deck or in our yard. Just too busy this spring. Now I'm wondering if I should skip them until next year!

  15. Les, that's partly why I don't have annuals. My perennials are almost care-free. A little bit of weeding in the spring and then cutting them back in the fall. My 'job' is to sit and enjoy the flowers. As for the vegetable garden, those raised beds have made much, much less work. Easy to go out and prepare one for planting, or weed one at a time. I'm all about ease in the gardens. They are my joy not my chore.


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