Monday, January 27, 2014

Suds 'N Snow

This month has been extremely wintery!  To quote Timothy, "Snow Sucks!".  Because Shannon hasn't done much shoveling, she is grateful for the multiple feet of snow covering the ground and plants.  The consistently low temperature combined with negative 20 wind chills on average, is detrimental to the marginally hardy zone 6 and 7 plants in my technically 5b to 6a zone.  We have gotten away with it so far because of the past mild winters.  This spring will show who's tough and who is dead.

While Shannon is safely hiding inside, away from the outside that looks like this...

Piles of Snow.  View from the basement slider.

She is preparing the supplies for seed starting.  We frugally save the plastic trays and inserts year to year.  So cleaning is on, and by doing a couple a day it breaks down a huge chore.

Scrubbing the dirt off.

Clean trays ready for March.

This small daily chore makes me think of spring and WARM WEATHER.

Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 Year in Review


January 2013 was the opposite of our beginnings in 2014.  We didn't even have snow really until the end of the month.  We were out in the yard working yet at the beginning of the year and in fact were still harvesting perpetual spinach from the unheated greenhouse.

Barren Back Yard

January Chard


Snow is here but so is a sunflower!  Apparently there was a sunflower seed from the birdfeeder that made it into the compost and grew in one of the indoor pots I had a geranium cutting in.  At the time it flowered, it was about 3 feet tall.  The pot is on the bottom shelf of my plant rack and the stem grew through the wire shelves.  A welcome diversion in one of the gloomier months of the year.

Little Bit of Sunshine


Two great things happen in March… Shannon's birthday with the annual trip to see the butterflies at Fredrick Meijer Gardens with my family and starting my plants for the garden.  So excited to see the little green babies popping up.  Makes me hopeful for spring when it is usually still snowy, dreary and cold out.

Butterfly at FMG

Baby Seedlings


Many of the babies have graduated to pots and the grow light rack.  

Grow Rack

Meanwhile outside the fall planted garlic is up and growing nicely.  Days are longer and warming up enough so I want to be outside.

Happy Garlic


Tomatoes potted up into 4” pots are too big for the grow lights now and we have moved them to our small, unheated greenhouse along with everything else that doesn't fit inside anymore.  

Busy Greenhouse

Our apple tree is loaded with blossoms this year.  Last year a late frost killed all but one apple on our tree.  This year is looking much more hopeful.  Beautiful and humming with bees.

Bountiful Apple Blossom Blessings


Wonderful strawberries this year.  While we ate all the strawberries from our small patch, I picked several flats to freeze from a nearby organic strawberry farm.  Definitely worth the work when we eat them in the middle of winter in a smoothie.  

Gorgeous Organic Strawberries from Beaver Creek Farm

It is now warm enough for the basil to be happy and my pond graciously bloomed its first flower from one of my hardy lilies.

Genovese Basil 

Hardy Water Lilly


Ah…. warm.  Some might say too warm but that makes the tomatoes and us happy.  

Tomato Beds - Basil Pots

My gardens are full of flowers and of course I couldn't narrow it down to just one. Here is a photo collection along with the little pond.

Pot Man at Little Pond

My Messy Cottage Garden

Asiatic Lilies with Striped Grass

The garlic harvest was abundant and I braided it so we could hang it to cure.

Garlic Braiding


Harvesting in earnest now… beans, cucumbers, onions, peppers, potato seed pods, summer crook necked squash…

Day's Harvest

Oh, and tomatoes, lots of tomatoes.  It took awhile because we had a lot of nights when the temperatures dropped below 55 degrees and that sent our tomatoes plants into stall mode but they are finally ripening.

Find Smiley

 Vine Ripened Tomatoes
Since we had a lot of rain, the grass strip which is usually brown at this time of year is a lovely green and of course a few more flowers.

Green Grass in August!

Morning Glories


Sukkot was early this year and we spent two weeks in Missouri at Season Of Our Joy enjoying the fellowship, dancing and services.  This is one of the dances that Shannon coordinated and created the garments for called Garments of Praise.  It was a lot of sewing but turned out beautiful we think.  

Garments of Praise Dance at SOOJ

We still managed to harvest quite a lot of tomatoes and peppers when we returned and that all went into many, many jars of salsa, which we are still enjoying.  

Makings for Salsa

Oh, and the tomato plant that grew up through the second story deck to join my herb pots was over 10 feet tall.  I’m sure its not a world record but it was for us!

Tall Tomato Plant


Snow…  yes snow that covered the ground and stayed for a few days in October made me hurry to finish all the outdoor chores.  

Frosty Herbs

We harvested a bumper crop of apples, 8 five gallon pails of them, the majority of which we turned into apple sauce.  We believe we have a Jonathan apple tree which is sweet and crisp.  So yummy.

Apple Sauce!

Not so yummy were our carrots.  They were amusing in their shapes but they were a bit woody as we waited too long to dig them up.  One of 2014’s goals is to do better with this.

Carrot Man


Well, when one plants bulbs alone, there isn't much to take pictures of.  It was a cold, rainy and snowy month and I put over 500 bulbs in the ground, either at the Holland Community Garden or in our gardens.  The proof will hopefully come up in spring.  ThanksHanukkah was blessed, all three parties we had and busy.  I was asked to be apart of a program promoting the library called “Geek the Library” which was a lot of fun.  

This last one is a drawing I did for the baby shower invitation that I gave for my sister who married a fireman and is expecting a baby boy in February 2014.

Baby Fireman


Lots and lots of snow that came down and did not go away.  Several days of ice storms created a lot of chaos and beauty.  Here are a few of my favorite icy nature pictures.

Southern View From Our Deck

Azalea in Diamonds

Hope you enjoyed our year in review.  Share with us your most memorable garden experience from 2013.  Please leave a comment.