Wednesday, November 9


The rain has turned to snow....the tree fell almost in slow-motion, kind of freaky, actually.

Friday, May 20

It's a jungle in here!

Some shameless bragging here... The tomato plants have gotten off to an excellent start, as clear from the photo. Not all varieties have sprouted, though - I think some of the 5- and 6-year old seeds have failed finally & I'll toss the rest if there are any left in those packets.

This year's new seeds from Seed Savers Exchange have had a 100% germination rate, resulting in lots of extra tomato plants. I may end up gifting plants away, not to mention the tomatoes I anticipate later this summer.

In the forefground are two pea plants, the dwarf variety that can be put into containers. I hope to pot those & harden them off this week - next year I need to start them earlier and the plan is to make spring gifts of the potted plants as a pretty centerpiece.

"Topsy-turvy" flower planter

An impulse buy late last year, this 'Topsy-Turvy' planter came home for $2 or $3 from an end of season clearance. This one allegedly attracts hummingbirds, but is pretty much the same as any other upside-down planter. About 3 or 4 gallon capacity, which I have filled with a blend of compost, peat moss, and polyacrylamide granules (SoilMoist) for water retention. Then, I planted four Wave Petunias (three in the top, one in the bottom) and we shall see how well they grow. My biggest concern for now is the weight of this - at least 25 lbs, probably closer to 30.

The overall construction of the planter is pretty nice, with reinforcing straps inside the bag, and metal weight bearing structure.

I found (since we had a short-notice frost warning), that placing this over a bucket will support the weight while not crushing the flower growing from the bottom. Is it worth the retail price? I'm not sold on it yet, but for $3 at the local discount store, it was worth an experiment.

Wednesday, May 18

Tree Progress

"What am I supposed to do with these sticks?" That is what I said 8 years ago as I surveyed the "DNR trees" we got. I regretted the cost, even though it was about $1 per tree. They looked hopeless - bare-root, about 12" tall, and caliper (trunk diameter) thinner than a pencil. Pitiful start for the grand forest I had envisioned on the back of the property.

Following the directions provided with the trees, we used a tree spud (a.k.a. planting bar) (rented for $5) to put them in fast. Then we put a slow-release fertilizer tablet about a foot from the roots, and about a foot deep (punched the hole with a crowbar). After a month or two of careful watering during droughts, they were left on their own, and they have grown well.

This photo was taken this week, with my extremely cooperative dog posing for a size comparison. The cedar in the photo is 7-8 feet tall, and is about average for the first planting of those little sticks 8 years ago. I wholeheartedly recommend the DNR programs if you have the patience to wait for the trees to grow in, or need to re-forest a large section of land.

Monday, May 16

A friend in the garden

Just hanging out in the lawn clippings that I use as mulch.

Things I should have learned by now....

It's been years and years since I started this gardening would think some basic lessons would have sunk in...

  • If there isn't enough space to walk between planting beds while planting, it won't get any better for weeding. (The onion bed is 15-foot square this year...Gak!)

  • Don't let radishes go to seed.

  • Don't let volunteer radishes go to seed, again.

  • If you cut off a taproot weed at the soil surface, it's going to grow back.

  • Check the forecast for late spring frosts prior to spending hours planting annual flowers.

  • There will be critters in the compost pile, expect it. ( a little vole was in there today)

Tuesday, April 26

Genesis 7:11

...on that day the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.

We had a pretty bad rain storm last night...winds in the 15 mph range, with gusts about 25mph. This was fine for the seed potatoes, the onion sets, and the other seeds in the garden. No so much for the pop-up netting.

Here's a photo of the garden from the weekend, the netting is staked down with 9 tent-like stakes that were included. This morning, I saw the netting had disappeared, so I ran out between raindrops and located it. A quick inspection shows it is still mostly intact (a more thorough review will happen in a day or two). Some of the stakes are missing, perhaps buried in the mud, or thrown off.

Thus far, I am not impressed with the stakes, but the netting seems to be OK. Had this been protecting tender transplants, I'd be awfully annoyed. Reviews on the Gardeners Supply Company website mention tears when the product gets wet - I'll withhold judgement for now, though.

Other comments on the early garden:
The boards you see in the photo are my feeble attempt at keeping the mud in the garden and off of our shoes this year. They are scraps of plywood that have been sitting out by the tree nursery beds for a few years now. I don't recall the original intention.

In the upper left, you will see my open-bottomed potato box. This year, that houses the blue fingerling potatoes, while the late crop hugs the fence, and the early crop is on the near side of that pathway.

The next bed coming towards us is the pea bed - a good crop of shell peas is already planted, with some sugar snap peas mixed in. The shell peas do not require stakes, and I am experimenting with allowing the climbing snap peas to use their cousins as support.

In front of that is the brassicas, with the previously mentioned pop up net, and lettuce & spinach sutside the net. I will plant more lettuce & spinach in another 2 weeks or so, to give a longer salad harvest. (Compost has been used to top dress the bed, you can see where the planting ended.)

An empty bed is next - this will be carrots and root crops, when get another nice day.

Teh foreground is the (very large) onion bed, with >300 sets, and about 30 cloves of garlic. No, I have no idea what will be done with all of them yet. Garlic braids would be nice in my pantry, though.

The peppers and tomatoes are a few inches high, still under lamps in my basement (I don't trust the weather here). The other half of the garden will be a large crop of corn and sunflowers, with beans and squash mixed in, if I can manage to get the "three sisters" growing nicely. Tomatoes will be a combination of upside-down plantings (another experiment), about 1/3 of the other part of the garden, and anywhere my compost pile sprouts up.


Saturday, April 23

In the dirt

An early spring warm-up two weeks ago (on a weekend) was the perfect opportunity to get the garden tilled - perhaps the earliest ever that this has occurred.

Shortly thereafter, 300 onion sets were planted (mostly because I had helpers, who really enjoyed planting). I may have to look into some older 'homesteading' books for long-term storage ideas for onions....braid & hang, I suppose.

Now, we also have approximately 12 pounds of seed potatoes in the ground - some blue fingerlings and general purpose potatoes (early and late).

Today, I put in a few rows of shelling peas, some sugar snap peas, three rows of lettuce, and moved the brassicas out under a net.

Hopefully this nifty pop-up net from Gardener's Supply Company will keep the cabbage moths out of my plants - I had given up on broccoli altogether because those green caterpillars are just a bit nauseating to find in your salad. I bought the short 3' by 3', for a trial. Let's hope it works and I can spend some more on the bigger options.

Initial impressions are decent workmanship - I expect it to last several seasons if I don't abuse it too much. I might need to do some sewing repairs, if the spring steel wears through the binding, though. My biggest complaint at first was the lack of directions to re-fold it - I spent nearly an hour looking like a fool trying to wrestle it back into the pouch. The mfr. does include 9 heavy-gauge wire stakes to hold it down. The mesh is thin and sparse enough to not shade the plants too drastically. I doubt it could be used to warm the plants during a frost, but you could get the row-cover material instead if that were the goal.

Installation was simple - pop open, stake down. The larger models seem to have a zippered entry door, which might make a better plan, but if I were so inclined, it should be straight foreward to stitch a zipper into the top.

The net is home to broccoli, cauliflower, napa cabbage, and brussles sprouts for now. I'll keep you posted on the performance of the net as the season continues.

Sunday, April 17

Sprouting seeds

I start the bulk of my indoor seeds around now. Usually, because we've had one or two nice days and it's getting my fingers itchy to start digging. What is the plan for this year, you might ask?


  • Black Krim

  • Choerokee Purple

  • Roma

  • Early Girl

  • Oxheart

  • Mexico Midget

  • Jelly Bean

  • Early Girl (one lonely seed that was hanging around from last year)


  • Wisconsin Lakes

  • California Wonder

  • Misc. Hot Peppers


  • Black Seeded Simpson

  • Tennis Ball

  • Buttercrunch

Sunday, April 10

Spring spring spring!

Well, a false spring at least. It was 80 degrees (F) today - far warmer than seasonal for April, but we got some good work accomplished in the garden. I believe this is the earliest ever for having the garden tilled completely. Spent several hours Friday and Saturday removing the worst weeds, raking up the leftover mulch, and discarding old plants. We even uncovered several dozen volunteer onion plants that were transplanted to the onion bed along with 300 new sets and a row of garlic (for the fun of it). Even a few forgotten carrots were found & quickly consumed. Since the tilling went well, I expect seed potatoes to go into the garden this week, after I have had a chance to cut them and let them dry. Still looking for some red or blue-fleshed potatoes, and will hit up a garden store or two tomorrow on this quest. Seeds have been started for peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, brussles sprouts, napa cabbage, and some lettuces. This week, tomatoes will be started, as well as more lettuces. I have 1.5 dozen impatiens started as well, for the heck of it. With any luck, this is the year we get rid of the rock pile and make a nice, liveable, fun, area there....we'll see what the coffers can supply.

Thursday, January 13

Not a garden...and not Wisconsin either...

A hammerhead shark, very fast and graceful, about 10-12 feet (3-4 meters). This has been cropped and color corrected, using Irfanview.

This little fellow is a whale shark, the largest living fish. The photo has been touched up for coloring and to remove the ghastly pale legs of midwestern divers. We estimate 20-25 feet in length (7-8 meters).