Garden Update

We are still learning how to grow things in this cool, northern climate.  I am happy to say that our garden this year is much better than we had last year.  Last year we had many green tomatoes and about three ripe ones. Those that did turn red had end rot and blight.  Not a pretty sight.

 green tomatoes

This year we tried some new strategies.  We planted only very early varieties suggested for this area and we planted them all in the wall-o-waters to protect them from the cool nights.

tomatoes growing out of walls

Mother Nature helped out by providing a dry, hot summer.

almost ripe

Voila!  Red, ripe delicious tomatoes.

basket w tomatoes

Ours were ripe even before some of the “local” gardeners who have years of experience in this climate.  I am a true believer in the wall-o-waters for cool climates!

tomatoes in window sill

We’ve also had success with our peas and beans.  Nick’s custom trellis is still standing in spite of my design and engineering, and is covered with pole beans.

bean poles

The peas loved the cool weather, now that is has warmed up the beans have started to produce.

peas and beans

The scarlet runner beans have pretty red blossoms.

scarlet runner bean blooms (2)

We also planted a lot more potatoes this year.  Last year we ran out of time and at the last minute we threw a few seed poatoes in a stack of tires sitting on newspaper and filled it with straw.  We did actually get about four or five potatoes from those plants, but they were never very strong or healthy looking.  This year’s potatoes were planted from seed potatoes in enriched, well tilled soil.  The plants were over three feet tall before they started to sprawl and die back a little.

dying potato plant

When one plant started to yellow, Rick couldn’t wait to dig around and see if there were potatoes under there.  There they were, peeking out of the dirt.

potatoes in dirt

We got more potatoes from that one plant than we did from our whole potato harvest last year.  We are improving.

bowl of potatoes

Another new addition in the garden this year was planting several flowers and herbs as pollinators.  This is borage which the bees love.

borage w bee

We also planted bee balm to attract the bees.  We didn’t get very good yields last year from our squash or pumpkins at least partially because we had no bees.

bee balm

The flowers also make the garden look very colorful.

garden view

Remember those wilted, dead-looking sweet potato slips we got?

wilted sweet potatoes

Amazingly most of them lived and they are now healthy looking plants.  I don’t know if they will produce any sweet potatoes – probably not, but I am surprised they lived at all.

sweet potatoes

Even our little blueberries are ripening and bearing.  Very impressive when you consider they are still in the pots they came in from the nursery last year.  We have the water line in the orchard dug, but don’t have it in yet.  After that is complete, the berries will go on top.  So they are still in their containers, waiting to be planted but bearing anyway.

ripe blueberries

The corn has tassles and ears growing.  We are hoping for some corn on the cob in the next couple of weeks. Last year the varities we planted were too late and never matured.

corn w tassels

A new addition for us is this dehydrator.  Since our electricity is pretty unreliable, it was out for five days this past winter, freezing food is an iffy proposition.  So, I’ve been canning to preserve the harvest, but some things don’t do so well canned.  Those foods, like peas and green beans, I am dehydrating.  I also added in some chopped carrots and celery in this batch.

dehydrator loaded

Here are the carrots four hours later.

dehydrated carrots

Three pounds of carrots in a quart size bag.  Dried foods don’t care if the electricity goes out!

carrots in bag

And to make sure our scraps and ends aren’t wasted the chickens are our new garbage disposals.  They eat a lot of things I would never have expected.  They eat any kind of fruit (except lemons) or vegetables.


They love greens and bread is their very favorite.  They like weeds too. Here is Bernadette with lettuce.

bernadette w lettuce

We are pretty certain now that Bernadette is not a Bernard.  All the hens should start laying eggs in the next few weeks.

5 comments on “Garden Update

  1. Cheri Mudryk says:

    What in the world do you do with those dried up carrots…coming from a non-cook???

  2. Tammie says:

    Wow. Your garden looks beautiful. I am impressed. Ours is not very good this year. I blame it on the dirt that we got out of the barn that we thought would be good. Apparently too much of a good thing is too much! I will definately invest in some of those wall of water thingys. We just picked our first full sized tomato, although the cherries have been producing for a month. I suggest you grow a few cherry tomatoes next year too, they may be small, but they sure are tasty!

  3. Brenda says:

    Cheri, From one non-cook to another, you just add water to them and they turn back into regular carrots. If you are using them in a soup or stew you toss them in and they absorb the moisture from the liquid.

    Tammie, Too bad about your dirt and garden. I would have thought soil from the barn would be great too – maybe you can add some really poor dirt to it to tone it down a bit? I will have to try the cherry tomatoes next year. We should have another bed complete by then so we will have a little more room. If you order the wall-o-waters, I recommend the red ones. The cost almost the same, but I planted the same variety of tomatoes side by side in the original blue and the new red color and the red ones all did better.

  4. ml says:

    I am impressed – after seeing the rocks and a tablespoon of dirt here and there last May I wouldn’t have expected such good results. I love Bee Balm and my hummers do too. Hope your heat has left.

  5. Brenda says:

    Mary Lou,
    It is amazing what a little (actually a lot) of steer manure, compost, peat moss, lime and dried leaves will do for this soil. Of course you do have to dig out all the rocks first – I’m sure you remember those!

    It has been cool and cloudy the past few days after the heat wave. Today is warmer at 82, but there is a breeze and it feels good.

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