Friday, September 27, 2013

Let sleeping bees lie...

Sometimes my bees don't make it home at night.  Instead they sleep on the flowers.  This morning I took a few photos.  I was careful not to wake them up.  I liken it to spending the night in a brightly colored hammock swaying with the breeze.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The harvest continues..

I am so excited.  Our two Haralson apple trees produced like crazy this year.  As did the Dolgo crabapple.  I get a few more grapes from my Valiant grape every.  I even got a nice harvest of apples from the wild apple tree on our property.   I'm still getting tomatoes. 

Best of all.....
My potato harvest success.  I tried the method I saw on pintrest, which consisted of a wire cage lined with straw,.  The inside was filled with compost and potatoes.  All I had to do was pick up the cage and the potatoes just rolled out.  That is how we do it in South Dakota, Gene.  No digging needed:) It wasn't a huge crop, because by the time I got my act together to try the project it was difficult finding seed potatoes.
I also harvested the chipmunk's sunflower crop.  I didn't plan a one of those sunflowers below.  Don't worry I'm slowly doling them out to my chipmunk farmer friends.  I never would have guessed I could get such big sunflower heads at this altitude.
 My final project for the weekend was to pull up the corn and use them for decoration.  I also added the sunflower heads.  I'm slowly building my fall display.  Notice my giant pumpkin.  It fell off of the vine.  I'm not sure if it will turn orange.  I have one pumpkin left. 
That is pretty much the end of my garden harvest.  It was a successful year and I enjoyed the challenge.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A year end garden review...

I am a firm believer in looking back before moving forward.  I am getting towards the end of my vegetable garden harvest and now is the time to review successes and failures while they are still fresh in my mind.
First, I'll start with the garden design.  The new outdoor beds worked much better than I had anticipated.  Despite several hailstorms the plants continued to produce.  There are a few changes I would like to make.  One is adding a cold frame at the end for the pumpkins.   A few were lost to an early hailstorm.  On a positive note it has been very beneficial having pumpkins surrounding the garden, because the deer avoid the leaves.  Another change is I need to make a better path along the back, so I can pick my cucumbers without doing a balancing act. 
Later in the summer I added a wheel gate and that has made my little outdoor bed complete.  Someday I would like to add one more outdoor tier.  On the inside of the greenhouse I rotated my tomatoes and kicked the pumpkins out.  The only change I would make inside are the containers I use for growing plants on the bench. 
One of my biggest successes has been the lemon cucumber.  I love that you can just pick and eat them.  I also enjoy slicing them up and putting them in water.  The water just tastes fresher.  I also made some refrigerator pickles that were delicious.  The plants were very productive.  I highly recommend giving lemon cucumbers a try.

Another cucumber I enjoyed, was the little tiny Mexican Sour Gherkins.  I wish I had planted more in a more accessible spot.  Next time I will try planting a few in the wash bin in front of the greenhouse.  They are perfect for salads.  That is if you can get from the garden to the house without eating them.   I will also try a few in the greenhouse.  I don't believe you could have too many of these little guys growing.

With three years of tomatoes under my belt, this is what I've decided.  I love Zebra Cherry Hybrid and Gary Ibsen's Sasha Altai.  The Altai seeds I won from High Altitude Gardens last year and am forever grateful, because they were easy to grow and delicious.  I was disappointed with my Early Cherry Cherry Tomato as they kept cracking.  I also wasn't impressed with my store bought Patio and Red Grape.  The Red Grape ended up being the size of peas.  Next year I'm going to give large tomatoes a chance. 

I was overjoyed with my green peppers.  We ate stuffed peppers several times.  This is the first time I planted them directly into the ground of my greenhouse and that proved to be more productive.  I will plant more green peppers next year.  Hopefully, next year I will be able to pick a peck of peppers.  I won't pickle them:)

I was also pleasantly surprised with the Dill's Atlantic Giant pumpkin.  It was slow out of the gate, but is making it up in the home stretch.  Already the two I have are bigger than any other pumpkin I've ever grown.  Thumbs up on these guys.   Hopefully, this fall you will see a giant pumpkin in my fall porch display.
One more success was my Burpee Sweet Corn Early Choice Hybrid.  I really didn't think I could grow sweet corn at this altitude, but decided to throw caution to the wind and give it a go.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Not only did my corn grow and pollinate, but my husband and I enjoyed several tasty meals.
I don't even want to discuss the jalapenos.  I had it in my head that I wanted jalapeno poppers.  I hate hot and spicy foods, but my friend Jody made some poppers for me once,  They were incredible, so I was determined to try.  Last year I had no luck, but this year I grew 6 plants from seed.  I also planted them in the ground in the greenhouse.  Again things planted in the ground do better.  I have jalapenos coming out of my ears.  I was so excited to make poppers.  Jody sent me her recipe and I was ready.  Oh my, that didn't work.  Even after roasting for an hour they were so hot even my jalapeno popping husband threw in the towel.  That wasn't the end of the story.  I didn't realize the juice from the jalapenos would burn your hands.  For two days I suffered.  I tried every remedy I could pin or Google, to no avail.   Jalapenos will be found under the label of failure.   

Another unsuccessful plant was the Tigger Melon.  So cute and yet so yucky tasting.  Sorry I couldn't think of anything more descriptive than yucky.  I have one more out there and I will wait longer to see if the next one tastes better.  If not I am sorely disappointed.  Too bad, because they are super cute.

Well, that is my gardening story and I'm sticking to it.  Please share any vegetables that were surprisingly successful or are tried and true favorites.  I'm always looking for new things to incorporate.  Plus, part of the fun of blogging is sharing ideas.  Happy gardening.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dabs of Danish Garden art...

We visited so many things in Denmark.  All of them are great.  My editor reminded me the theme of the blog is gardening, so stick to the plan.  I'm sharing a few more garden art inspired photos.
The first three photos are what I call the art garden.  There weren't many flowers, but the yard was captivating to me.  The home was in an little beach resort town of Tisvildeleje.

 I love the little fellow above.   There is just something about him.  I am infatuated with the rocks hanging from a wire in the photo below.  I looked everywhere for some to buy.  I also considered bring back a suitcase of ocean round rocks and try to make one myself.  If you look closely you can see apples on the bench and a picture of either beer or apple juice.  The hens and chicks in the rock are also very cool.
 I wish this person had been outside sipping on their beer (or apple juice).  I had a lot of questions.  Where did they get the stone carvings?  If they made them, how did they do it?  How did you string the rocks? Is that beer or apple juice?  Many many questions.  They are lucky they weren't outside when we walked by.  Below are happy birds not angry ones.
The next three photos are from a nearby horse farm.  Again the rock sculpture caught my attention when we first got there.  It is quite soothing. 
Don't you just want to sit on that bench with a glass of lemonade?  The blue on the barn was a very common color.  It is a very relaxing spot. 
This flower garden was next to the chicken coop.  Photos do not do justice to the colors of the phlox, clematis, and calendula.  It was a lovely garden.

 I hate to say these last three statues were not part of a garden, but part of a cemetery.  I fell in love with them.  This wasn't the statues of knights, horses, or lions that you expect to see in Europe.  Instead they celebrated the tiny little creatures of Denmark.  I regret to say I missed seeing a hedgehog by one day.  A friend of Christina's had a beautiful little garden (Sorry I forgot the camera) and a little hedgehog family had shown up the night before we got there. Alas, I did not get to see them except in statue form.  
Just a fraction of the beautiful things we saw thanks to my good friend.  I'm not sure if you are tired of Danish photos.  Maybe a few more posts.  After all it was a once in a lifetime trip.  Which garden art was your favorite?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

While I was away...

While I was away, the garden flourished, despite a heat wave.  Our kind neighbor kept the greenhouse watered for me.  That was a daunting task, since it was a daily requirement.  As you can see by my basket below, I was kept very busy canning and freezing upon our return.


Our lady hawk took advantage of the peace and quiet during our absence to put a dent in the resident chipmunks.  I enjoy the chipmunks (Ella not so much), but when two becomes too many I don't mind a check in the population.  
We missed our Ella and it is good to be reunited.  I think she enjoyed her stay at The Deadwood Dog House.  She was a happy puppy when we picked her up, but as you can see below she missed gardening as much as I did.    
 It was a great vacation, but it is good to be home.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Danish garden...

 The Danish take great pride in their gardens.  Every home had a small, private, and well kept garden.  Christina's was very secluded.  It was surrounded by cherry trees, elderberry bushes, mountain ash, and evergreens.  

Lanterns are very popular there.  If you look close enough almost every house has one and usually more.  Needless to say, we came home with a lantern of our own, but not until we searched high and low for the perfect one.  We found the one below at a garden/clothes/furniture store.  I can't believe it made the trip to America in one piece.  Just seeing it by our door makes me feel very satisfied. 
The Danes have their share of garden pests:  Snails, little Danish deer (the size of goats), and giant ugly slugs.

There were also colorful caterpillars and bees on the flowers.  I took a lot of photos.   Not just of the big things, but also the little things around us.

This, like all of the other photos, cannot come close to capturing the essence of Christina's garden.  We had most of our meals outside.  It was wonderful since there were no bugs (giant slugs excluded).  At night there was a fresh cool breeze.  Her garden was so peaceful and it was a place where time stopped.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Out, about, and over the pond...

The most difficult mountain to cross is the threshold.  ~Danish Proverb

My husband and I just returned from the most amazing vacation.  Ten days in Denmark.  Hosted by my very good friend, Christina.  It was perfect in every way.  The weather, the activities, the people we met, and the sights were even more than I hoped they would be.  After 25 years of telling Christina I would come to Denmark, we finally did.  She showed us so many wondrous things.  I am thankful to have such a good friend.   I will share more of our many adventures over the pond later, right now I'm still recovering from 13 hours of flying.