Saturday, June 27, 2015

A view of a few before the storm.

We've got a big rainstorm on its way to us by tomorrow, expecting around 2" on the wet stuff and winds, so I'm taking pictures today before it happens.
I also wanted to give you an update on my tiny orchard of trees.  They line our long driveway.

I have 4 dwarf fruit trees: 2 apple, 1 cherry and 1 peach from which I get fruit every year now.
This is the first of the Almaden Duke Cherries I've seen ready to pick.  Usually the birds get them all before I can so imagine my surprise when I spotted 2 red cherries still available.  So I picked the ripest one and the taste is as promised, a bit tart and a bit sweet.  I would have preferred more sweetness personally. 
This is a view, above, of the cherry on the left and my damaged Red Haven Peach on the right.  During the winter the peach's largest limb on the right side was split from the weight of the snow (it was literally buried during our worst winter in several years as far as snow accumulation) and it didn't have any blossoms this year.  I suppose the poor thing is trying to recover from its wounds.  Its been a good provider of delicious large peaches before now, even if its only a small tree.   I hope it comes back into production next year.
Among the apple trees, Malus Honeycrisp above is forming some nice apples.  I love the flavor of this variety.  So tasty and crunchy crisp. 
My only other fruit tree is Benji Shogun Fuji apple and it, too, shows promise this year. 
A side story with this one.  This is our honeysuckle bush against the farmer's porch.  I saw a couple of hummers feeding on the flowers here but alas, they won't stay put when I'm out there with my camera.  I was hoping to catch them on film.  I'll have to wait for another day.

I hope those of us in Maine and in upper New England and everyone is the path of this latest rain storm is hunkered down, their plants as safe as you can make them, and maybe crossing our fingers will prevent our hard labor from being washed away in the deluge.
       Good Luck and Happy Gardening!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Hummer and first Rose of season

Its nice to see at least one of my roses coming back this year so far.  The Japanese beetles did lots of damage to my roses in the last few years so if any of them come back this year, I'm happy.
This is a David Austin English rose, Camisole.  The apricot color is so pretty and it has a fresh, light scent.  I hope its not the only one I'll see this year.

This little female Ruby-Throated Hummer was finally captured on film.  They prove very elusive when I come outdoors.  They'll feed while my dog is out there, but when I come thru that door, they fly off to the trees.  I happened to be out taking other pictures when I spotted her back again.
Today in Maine, temps will be in the low 70sF and sunshine all day.  I love this kind of weather.
A cook-out this afternoon with my good friend is on the list for today.  Steaks on the grille.  Mmmmmm good!
Gosh, I've got to brag on this one.  This is a patio-size tomato, Totem.  During the rain storms before the last ones, this little plant was nearly drowned.  I knew it was in trouble.  The leaves were curling down upon themselves and the little thing looked so tired and emaciated.  I put her in the sunshine when I could and hoped for the best.  It seems to have worked.  She's perked up quite a bit and as you can see, there's the first fruit on the vine and more yellow blossoms across the small plant.  Pretty soon she'll be catching up with her fellow Totems in the Back40 that didn't suffer from the rains as badly since I was able to cover their raised bed with plastic.
The best thing is, I'll be able to pick a tomato or two when I want to add to a salad or just for nibbling, and right outside my doorway.  I also have a Lizzano, a Tiny Tim and a Tumbling Tiger in their pots outside the kitchen, all small tomatoes and handy.
I hope my fellow gardeners are recovering from the torrential rains we've been having but I know the Forest Service is happy the woods aren't tinder dry any longer.  There's always some good and bad news in Nature.
      Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Yippee! My first Harvest, Sugar Snap Peas.

I had to check out the Back40 this morning after the tornado warnings and high wind reports last nite not far from here and thankfully all was well.  The sugar snap peas were leaning, so I strung them back to the fence posts and was able to pick my FIRST peas of the season.
I had sown my first pea seeds on April 13th so these took 73 days from that date to get big enough to eat.  I love sugar snaps.  I eat them off the vine like candy.  To me, they are best raw.
Luckily my gardens didn't suffer from the additional 1 1/2" of rain we got thru all day yesterday and last nite's winds.  In 5 days we reached 4" of rain on the rain gauge.  I'm happy I don't have to hand water for at least a week now. 
Today the sun is shining and tomorrow we expect the same.  We may reach 80F today but low humidity, and cooler tomorrow.  I had to get out early to tie up tomatoes and string some of them since they've grown so much with all the rain. 
I hope my fellow gardeners did not suffer from the high winds and rain and the tornado watch last nite.  I heard several limbs were torn from trees during that blustery time.  Maine rarely sees a tornado and when we do its mild, tearing off limbs that might fall on a roof or car but never tearing apart a home or picking up vehicles to scatter along the countryside.  For that I am grateful to live in Maine.
     Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Its raining again but I took a few pics in the drizzle.

We've already had 2 inches of rain but last nite we got another 3/5" of it and its drizzling again.  They tell us for sure we'll have a nice Wed and Thurs with sunshine and temps around 70F.  Sounds good if they're right this time.
Let's take a little stroll thru my gardens:
I'm letting the Asparagus Berm go to ferns.  We had a few good meals from that bed this year, better than last.  You can't beat a fresh asparagus right from the garden.  Its so tender you don't have to cut off too much from the root end either so you have more to eat.  Mmmmmm good!
Here's my twin tomato plant experiment.  These are twin Legends growing up together.  They were equally vibrant in their cell pack so I planted them both together.  I want to find out if both plants will be vigorous and give me lots of tomatoes.  So far, they are doing fine.
I think in this photo you can better see the two main stems side by side.

There are baby tomatoes on both of my Totem tomatoes in the greenhouse bed in my Back40.  I hope they start turning pink soon.  My mouth is watering for fresh tomatoes right from the garden.

The broccoli and kale bed where heads are forming on the broccs.  In the back are three Better Boy tomatoes with one having blossoms.

My Early Cherry tomato in the flower bed is also blossoming.  I'm really happy that my tomatoes are doing well this year....knock on wood.  Last year they were a disaster.  Not only were most of the seedlings stunted, but early blight hit my area for miles around and most folks didn't get much for a tomato harvest last year.  I hope that's remedied this year.  I'm also hoping my newspaper mulch will help in that regard.  One can only hope.

On Hosta Hill beside the back deck, they are growing big and lush.  I'm eager to see the lovely flowers soon, in white and lavender.  I have a range of varieties, including Guacamole, Hyacintha, Christmas Tree, Birchwood Parky's Gold, Halcyon and an unknown transplanted from a relative's bed.  The two in the forefront are Guacamole left and Parky's Gold, then Hyacintha the taller one in back and the blue-leaved one to her right in the rear is Christmas Tree.

You can see the blue-leaved Christmas Tree better in this view, with the white-edged unknown variety in front of it.  Christmas Tree has huge leaves.  The pink Bleeding Heart is still showing some pink blossoms and is huge this year pretty much crowding out that unknown hosta.
I think I'll end this stroll with the cukes sown along the trellis at the end of the asparagus berm.  Summer Dance on the left and Boston Pickling varieties on the right in this view.  The rain is doing them justice so I won't begrudge the seemingly endless rain this past week.
The rain was much needed in our forests.  Maine has thousands upon thousands of acres in forest and a forest fire would be so damaging.  The forests were like tinder only a couple weeks ago so Rain, you are welcome, but please go visit another for awhile so I can get out and weed.  You're welcome to come back in a week or so if you must.
             Happy Gardening!

Monday, June 22, 2015

I've got Hummers, really I do.

Each year I think the same pair come back to my yard and nest and feed.  This year I've seen a male and female Ruby-throated Hummer, but they are very elusive.  When I have my camera handy, they never show up and when I don't have my camera, there they are.
This time I tried to take a picture of a pair of females at one of the feeders from inside the house thru the mesh screen door and a glass storm door which didn't make for a clear photo.
There is a black pole holding up the feeder and on one side is one female and on the other is the 2nd female.  I'm thinking the 2nd one must be a fledgling from the nest or maybe one from last year came back along with the usual pair.
Next time I hope to get one while I'm outdoors so nothing will smudge the view of the hummers.
The carousel horse you see in blue and white is a decal on the storm door which is open during the summer.
Note to camera operators:  The view thru the mesh or a screen does not come out as clear as seen in the lens.
And so this isn't a wasted post, here's a photo of my Bowl of Beauty Peony bush as well.   
We had a total of 2.5 inches of rain the last 3 days and finally we got our sunshine a bit in the afternoons.  I won't have to water the gardens for a few days at least.  Works for me.
Happy Gardening!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

More Blossoms for both Flowers and Crops

Its nice to see more blossoms in both the flower garden and the Back40 veggie beds.
The latest Peony is Bowl of Beauty.  Here's a close-up of one of the blossoms.

And above is the bush itself.

Karl Rosenfield is still looking so beautiful in her red gowns with only a few opened so far.

In the Back40 some of my broccoli, Premium Crop, are starting to form heads.

The tiny varieties of tomatoes in the Back40 have lots of blossoms and a couple of them are growing little tomatoes.

To keep you up-to-date on the double planting of my Legend tomatoes, here they are as they both grow taller together.  So far they are looking mighty healthy.

Even my Early Cherry Determinate in the flower bed is filling up with yellow blossoms.  I'm hoping for some tasty tomatoes soon.

Above is one of my Winterbor Kale among the flower beds.  That's lots of Ceratostigma popping up around it and the taller green upper right are some Raspberry Monarda.  The Ceratostigma is a lovely royal blue flower in late summer and early fall.  Mighty colorful and pretty for a low-growing plant.

Above is my little Fairy village near my kitchen doorway.  The greenery around this little village is all low-growing Ceratostigma.  This fall it will be outstanding with color.

We're expecting rain tomorrow afternoon again so I haven't watered anything today.  I think they can manage quite well without extra watering this week.
Everyone in New England, I hope you are finding that its a pleasure to finally get your crops in for our short season.  Good luck and Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A few more flower pictures.

After a couple of days of drizzle, the soil was well watered and the plants loving it.  I think we got a total of nearly 3/4" of rain in 4 days.  Not much but enough to keep plants happy.
You can't see this too well, but its the first blossom on my Carnaby Clematis vine.  Its in 2 shades of pink.  I only have a couple Clematis and the Multi-Blue took a beating last winter so I don't know if it will recover enough to blossom this year.

This Peony is just starting to open its blossoms, Karl Rosenfield.  I love the beautiful shade of red of this double-blossomed peony.  Its so lovely.

The earliest peony, above, is my Japanese variety for which I can't remember the name  Its lost in the innards of my old computer, I'm afraid.

This Honeysuckle bush growing up the outside of the front Farmer's porch is rich is flowers.  It amazes me that in the winter you can't find a branch, but when spring arrives, it starts its upward growth from beneath the soil and fills in so beautifully.

As for crops, the closest I am to harvesting anything would be these sugar snap peas that are blossoming.  I know the tomatoes will follow behind but I'm eager to taste the sugar snaps.  I tried some Super Sugar Snaps last year and for my taste buds, I think the original Sugar Snaps taste better so I only planted these this year.  When one has a small garden, one must grow what one really enjoys eating. 

In Maine this week we are going to have fabulous weather.  That's what I love about living here.  The winters may be long and white and cold, but in the spring and summer, its wonderful.  Temps will be in the 70sF daytimes and in  the 50s and 60sF nights.  A little rain might fall on Thurs late at nite and very early Friday which makes for a great daytime later.
You can sleep with the windows open at night and leave the doors open daytimes if its screened, to defeat the insects.   At this time of year, the insects are not too prevalent as they will be in late July and August.
I'm sure the tourists are loving this week as are the residents like me.    
                  Happy Gardening!!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Experiment: Growing a double tomato in same spot.

OK, so I'm a softy.  I had started some Legend tomatoes and among the few that I grew, there was a double in one cell that I didn't notice.  They looked so healthy and fine in that cell, I didn't know which one to sacrifice.
So I didn't!
I transplanted them both together into one space in my flower beds.
Above is how that double Legend looks today, 2 weeks after transplanting.  Both plants are growing up side-by-side and doing well at this point.
Then a few days ago I was watching LoveYourGarden in Colorado on youtube and the gardener transplants four, yes I said four, plants together in her garden.  She starts 4 seeds in each cellpack and transplants them that way later.   She claims they hold each other up well and produce an amazing amount of produce this way and she's done it before and will continue to plant this way.   So maybe my taking a chance isn't so whacky an idea after all.
I can only experiment with my two and hope for the best.  I'll try to keep you posted on this twin's progress.   Keeping the bottom branches cut away for about a foot seems necessary for air flow and less soil borne diseases as in any other planting. As for me, I'm newspaper-mulching all my tomatoes to deter diseases from splashing. 
Keep watching to see how this experiments works out.
      Happy Gardenikng!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

My Favorite Garden Tool

As the years progress, I find that weeding my gardens is always the worst possible task for me.  I can't handle the bending for any long period of time and the task gets to be too much for this old body.
My favorite tool these days is my Telesco Weeder.  The business end of it that weeds is only 2"wide by 5" long and the handle is 4 1/2 feet long.  That little stirrup-type head is stationary and gets into the smallest places and can root out the tiniest weeds before they get dug in.
This photo above gives you an idea of the tool's size.  I'm not weeding those cukes out but just showing it as a comparison.

That little weed is history in a second here.  With a pull of the weeder, the weed is pulled out.

As seen under that Kale, its small enough to get beneath all the young plants without harming them.

The long handle makes it easy to use. As I check thru my gardens in the mornings, I'm taking this with me to root out the beginnings of any more weeds.  Very easy to use for even those of us more feeble than others.

I don't remember where I bought this since its been some years ago, but the name on the handle clearly states Telesco Weeder so maybe somewhere online there is a dealer that sells these.  I highly recommend it.
     Happy Weeding!
One of my readers found this on Amazon at:

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Hooray for a Quarter Inch of Rain Last Nite.

I'll take whatever Mother Nature wishes to provide.  I was hoping for more rain than a quarter inch, but it so refreshed the garden, I'm pleased.
The color of this Iris, Painted Cloud, as the sunlight frosted it, was so lovely this morning.
And this peony, with it Japanese name that I've forgotten, is the first of my three to open its blossoms to the sunshine.
In this little corner of the Iris bed you can find some Swiss chard growing, the Bright Lights variety, with one of my garden fairies nestled between them.  The soil is damp and fresh-smelling.  What gardener doesn't love that.
Temps will nearly reach 80 again today with sunshine.  A lovely weekend is lined up for the tourists in this area where they flock every summer to our Sebago Lake, the 2nd largest lake in the Maine.  Its just down the road from us and looking so beautiful with sunlight sparkling off the water.
            Happy Gardening!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cucumber Seeds are Sprouting after 6 Days.

I'm so happy to see the little sprouts popping thru the soil today.  All my cucumber seeds, all sown on June 6th, are coming up, from the Back 40 in the raised berm to the two pots in my flower garden.
In the Back 40 in the raised berm with the trellis, these little Boston Pickling seeds have popped up.  I've kept them watered every day since sown.
On the other end of the trellis, I've sown Summer Dance cucumbers which are also coming up.  I hope to get enough to make freezer pickles this year.
At the head of my flower garden I've got this pot of Spacemaster cuke seeds sprouting.  They seem to be healthy and nodding their little heads.
Beside the Iris bed, I've got this clay pot of Bush Crop cucumber seeds just breaking the surface of the soil.  They don't get quite as much sun as the Spacemasters are getting in their spot.  I may have to move them if there's much difference in growth shown in the next week or so.

I nearly forgot to show you the first 2 blossoms on the sugar snap pea trellis.  I have 3 trellises this year, all sown 10 days apart and this was the first trellis.  The peas should be coming in pretty quickly now.

I'm also happy to report the peonies are forming nice little heads that should be opening in the next week or so....
as can be seen in this photo above.

And remember that Genovese Basil I just didn't know where I could tuck it in, well I found a place between a couple of tomato plants in the flower bed.
They say Basil and tomatoes do well growing together, so we'll see if that works.  All my basils, except for one in a pot, are growing beside a tomato plant.
Temperatures are forecast for the low 80sF today.  Unusual this time of year but I'm sure my crops are loving it.  As long as it doesn't get near the 90s I can handle it with just a fan in the house.  They claim we'll have some rain tonite, maybe even a t-shower or two.  Except for watering the new seeds beds, I'm leaving the watering to Mother Nature today.

Its a busy day for me today.  I'm having Game Day here at my apt.  We try to set aside one day a week for Games, taking turns on whose apt. we'll use for the day and who will prepare a nice lunch with dessert. 
A very good friend and I play card games or Scrabble or Cribbage for the afternoon, eat and talk and just enjoy ourselves hugely.  Today its my day but my friend, an excellent cook, insisted on bringing our lunch.  I can't wait to see what she's bringing.  I know it'll taste marvelous.
                    Happy Gardening!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Name Tags for my Plants, a New Way.

I've written name tags on popsicle sticks, on plastic tags, and even on strips of venetian blinds.  Eventually they all wear off.
This time I tried something new.  Indelible ink on pieces of white cotton cloth that can easily be placed on stakes or cages or wire clothes hangers.
My tomatoes above have indeterminates with stakes to which I can add a cloth tag, plus the caged determinates.  I can cut a slit in one end of the tag and slide the other half thru and tighten it up on anything; wire hanger, bamboo pole, metal fence pole.  My concern will be the rain when it comes.  Will the ink stay.
Above is a Winterbor Kale tag attached to a wire hanger in front of the two kale in that patch of the flower bed.  I have a venetian blind tag in the ground for the kale but I know that will wash out.
And here's one attached to a cage for the Mountain Gold determinate tomato in front of a few potted plants.
The best thing about these tags is they are up closer to eye level where I can read them easily.  In the ground, the lush greenery eventually covers them up and the same holds true for just about any plant.
Let's see if this new method works for me.  I'll keep you posted.
I really could use a laundry marker, but didn't have one.
     Happy Gardening!