Tag: Garden

It’s a Jungle Out There!

DSCN1199It has been so hot! Too hot to go out and weed, until this morning, and now we have a jungle forming in the garden. At long last the plants are starting to kick it into gear. We had things in seedling form for two months; they just didn’t grow. It was discouraging. We came back from California, expecting a noticeable change and there was very little. UGH!

We had thought the problem was that the compost was getting too hot for the little seedlings, because it does get very dry. We spread straw all over before we left for graduation, hoping that the whole garden would look better when we returned. Not so. We resigned ourselves to getting rid of the noxious weeds this year and little, if any produce. Next year!! (sounds just like my farmer uncles)

DH is a soil man, and he was perplexed. All that wonderful compost and things looked terrible…he finally decided that it might have been a nitrogen fixing problem with the compost. That, and the cardboard we laid to deal with the noxious weeds, might have been too much for the little seedlings. The pure compost was busy fixing (I don’t understand that, so I can’t explain it) and until it was finished, the plants couldn’t get the nitrogen they needed.

The areas that weren’t in raised beds started growing first, especially the tomatoes which

we had really babied along. (It takes A LOT of tomatoes to make a quart of tomato sauce!)  Some of the corn was actually “knee high by the 4th of July” which I understand is necessary to get corn.  (The buckets are to collect extra rain water when we get it.) Some of the corn, (it’s very spotty) is as tall as me now, and I found a baby squash this morning while weeding.

DSCN1205However, the canteloupe, which was an after thought and where we used our little bit of personal compost was going crazy!




Earlier this week I noticed that one pepper plant DSCN1198in the raised bed had suddenly turned a darker green and was sprouting leaves everywhere, also buds…hurrah! He’s the dark one in the lower left.

The green beans are starting to pick up steam now, after looking sickly since May, even with the second planting I did.



The sprinkling of carrots is taking off, though the onions and garlic are likely a lost cause for the year, as are the turnips, rutebegas and cabbage. We may have a chance now with some beets, and a replanting of spinach should be fine.


Get this, though, the lettuce started growing this week. DH keeps reminding me that this is God’s garden, and He will provide the food we are supposed to have from it. If not from here, it will come from somewhere else.


Seeing this lettuce is a delight; it is called baby romaine, and I was really looking forward to salads. Maybe I’ll get some just when the tomatoes are going, and maybe a lone cucumber or two. (another fail, though one plant is determined, it is only 2-3 inches tall, but is sporting one very nice bloom.)

SOME of the sunflowers have gone crazy now…look at this monster! They are still pretty short, but some are literally growing close to an inch a day I think!


The grapes are in their glory! They are now four years old, and they have literally covered their corner of the fence. We have grapes in visible clumps, getting bigger by the day, and looking VERY happy. There will be plenty for eating fresh, maybe a batch of jam, and some juice. We will attempt to do raisins, but with the crazy little birds, that might not work so well. We’ll try. No photos of this, they are just a huge wall of leaves!

Too bad I took all the pictures before I spent an hour weeding. By sunset, it will look much better out there, with all the contraband dried up! You probably noticed that we have what looks like grass every where. That is the straw sprouting…its wheat. We  pull the larger clumps and just lay them on the ground, for extra nitrogen. In the fall we will let whatever is left go, and collect the stems. Last year I actually ground a bit up for whole wheat flour, I think I gathered up maybe a cup of wheat kernels, which grinds into a cup of flour.



Garden Update June 9

If you want to compare from the last report, you can go here. Progress is slow, or at lest seems slow to me! We have survived two 90 degree days along with NO rain. The grass on the front lawn is crunchy again. We did get a 1/2 inch of rain, and a thunderstorm with .2, but there has been a lot of hoses moving in an effort to get the seedlings to the point that they can be mulched before we leave for graduation.

The big news for this report is that the grass is up! Not a lot yet, but a definite twinge of green, especially in the shaded area. I am guardedly optimistic, that we will have lawn by the end of the summer, though sooner would be so nice.

At this point the only no shows are the pumpkins and the strawberry cuttings; I think the pumpkin seeds were not good, either immature, or didn’t like the freezer, and the strawberries may not be OK in the barrels. We may have to do real plants in order to get them what they need.  The beets and garlic are not doing well, not sure they will make it, but we can hope.

The morning sun is so bright, it is hard to get good contrast, but hopefully you get the idea! We are still too early to yell Hurrah, but there’s definitely hope for many of the beds now. South Dakota summers can turn on a dime, and we could still get a heat blast that dries those seedlings beyond help. We’ve lost a lot already, but hopefully these will hang on, especially with the straw coming in this weekend for a little shelter from the hot sun and wind. (15 mph all day with hot temps is difficult to fight!)

How’s your garden growing?


Transition Land–Healing a Heart

Ugh! I thought I was doing pretty well with this transition thing. I was keeping busy, being productive, and was even starting to think about the future and my thoughts for it. Then we hit the weekend of my big 4-H event, and every time I turned around I was leaking tears. What? I thought I was over this. After some contemplation I realized that maybe my brain had refused to deal with the finality of things until this past week, or maybe my brain knew my heart just wasn’t yet ready to start dealing with it.

Gosh I hate it when I get all emotional…that is just not me, but I found myself in tears while walking the dog, at the Ladies Retreat last weekend, even on Monday when a volunteer called me for advice about his daughter’s competitive goals, and when I wrote my original co-workers to explain …GEEZ! The retreat, by the way was focused on the this passage and did speak to my heart! It was very encouraging.😊

The reality is that I’m enjoying being home, and I am not missing having to go to work. I hear things about my boss and can only shake my head and think what a relief to not have to deal with him. I am not bored, and now that we have good weather, I have plenty of things to work on outdoors, which I have never been able to, so I guess I am just impatient! How long does it take for one’s heart to catch up with one’s head? Or maybe it was the final blast of winter and all those cloudy wet days last week? 

This weekend was filled with hard labor (as in 3 tons worth!) and lots of sun, which seems to have chased whatever away. I have plenty of chores to keep me busy this week, with more compost needing to be moved and other smaller jobs so that DH can spend his time setting the fence posts.  Physical labor is therapeutic, or maybe exhaustion keeps one from having a pity party! So after a not great week, I’m back to my regular self for now.

So Heart, please take note, your owner has too much life to live to waste time moping! 

I’ll leave you with some before and after shots of the garden makeover, confident  that my heart will see a similar improvement in the not too distant future!

Spring at Last?

Spring at Last?

A benefit of living in the upper Midwest USA is that on the west side of the Missouri River we have fairly temperate summers, usually lower humidity and temperatures do not often reach 100 F (38 C). We make up for it with a wide variability in the fall and spring. The average last killing frost is May 4, and the early average killing frost is September 12.  Many years we experience spring time in March only to have a killing frost, or a 30 inch snow in the latter part of April. Likewise in the fall, we may have a killing frost in early September, followed by two months of gorgeous weather. Gardeners in South Dakota learn early to invest in tarps to cover their squash and tomatoes!

This spring has been more regular. The temperatures have very slowly risen, with a day or two of lovely spring like weather thrown in here and there, but nothing constant enough to cause us to do anything but clear out what we didn’t get to last fall, and to wait for a sunny day to apply some necessary weed control. DH and I are not proponents of herbicides, but we got a batch of manure that was full of noxious weed seeds; with thistles sporting three foot long roots in spite of me pulling them last year. They choke out grass and vegetables alike, so war must be declared! Therefore, we are applying a small amount of RoundUp, which is a contact only herbicide, followed by a layer of cardboard, and finally compost. I will use a paintbrush to deal with those that migrated into the iris patch, painting the individual plants I want to kill. 

Because the temperatures have prevented applying weed control AND planting, we have been working around the edges, so to speak. That has included taking down the fence on the old squash patch and the east border fence on our original garden. We will set some larger posts in the corners and then redo the fence. The old squash patch will become tomatoes, and instead of cages we will run some cattle panels in a few rows. They provide a grid for the plants to climb on, but are much easier to store during the winter. 

I am itching to get something planted, so time has moved slowly. We had snow last Tuesday, then cold and cloudy weather early this week, but only rain. We are now headed for a week or more of highs in the  60’s and 70’s , so I believe that spring has finally sprung!  

Today has been lovely, so Max and even the citrus spent the day outside! Our lemon trees have survived the widnter, along with three grapefruit seedlings. Yesterday we started a pineapple, and today two avocados. Unfortunately, we haven’t hit upon any orange seeds yet, but we have two limes sitting out, and a mango in the fridge, waiting patiently. The success of the citrus has spurred DH on to attempt all the above. 😊

This afternoon I discovered that our sunflowers have started sprouting, so we have, at long last, the beginning this year’s garden! Tomorrow they will go outside permanently and we’ll transplant them into their permanent home in a week or two.

 At last today the dirt people called, and our 4 tons 😱 of compost will arrive tomorrow, so the weekend will be spent doing a ton of work, literally! We visited the cardboard recycle bin this afternoon and picked up nearly a third of the cardboard we’ll need for this effort.

Summer’s coming!

Summer’s coming!

I have been hard at it the past few weeks, trying to get wedding gifts ready to go, and as I work on those items I look longingly at my Pendleton wool coat, which requires ripping. Meanwhile, it has been a race against time to get the summer programs at work ready to go, but such iimages the world of youth development. It seems that we are always working against the calendar! The first wedding happened this weekend, and happily, I was all finished with the gift… The cashell linen was wonderful to work with, though it obviously got pretty wrinkled by the time I complete the stitching. It finished up very nicely however,image and will be a great reminder of their beautiful ceremony and vows.  The next wedding is coming quickly in June, and involves a smaller throw quilt in the double wedding ring pattern. I sewed the top several years ago, during my learning how to piece era, and have had it sitting in my cedar chest, waiting for one of my daughter’s good friends to get engaged. Quilts still feel pretty overwhelming, because I’m not very creative on what to quilt. I spent several evenings perusing pinterest and googling images until I found an idea I felt I might be able to accomplish. DSCN0425[1]

I learned how to make my own template on the last wedding quilt, so once I found this pattern, it wasn’t difficult to trace it on the plastic, and use my handy melting pen to get the template made. I used a fine tipped fabric pen to transfer the design. No issues with tension and getting things going, and over the course of doing the pattern about 30 times, I think I am finally doing OK on tracing patterns with my free motion foot. I am still disappointed with my inability to keep an even stitch length, but that isn’t so obvious, especially since it is white on white. I keep telling my inner 4-H’er this is NOT for competition!

Now I am working on the rings, and have decided that in the future, I must come up with a better way to build quilt sandwiches. In spite of working hard to keep things smooth, I will have some tucks and very poofy spots. I am hoping that the final wash softens those issues, but I’m going to need to figure out a better way to sandwich before the next bed quilt, which is likely only months away…DSCN0426[1]

Overall, I’m pleased with my progress. I know the quilt is far from perfect, but it was made with love, and I think that it will hold up for many years to come.

Under the banner of Etc., summer is also about family camping adventures and gardening. Growing up on a dairy farm, side trips during the summer were unheard of, so I have really enjoyed learning how to camp with my  husband, who graduated from scout camp outs as a boy to summers as a wilderness ranger in the Colorado Rockies during his college years. Our entire family enjoys longer visits to the Big Horns in Wyoming as well as quick weekend getaways to the more remote Black Hills area campgrounds. I guess we are traditionalists; we use the campfire for cooking and still sleep in our cozy tent, though I think I’m getting ready to move up to a more cushy floor pad! Each outing is an opportunity to try new Dutch oven options, hike and just soak up God’s creation. I really love being unplugged, not counting the book on my ipad!

I always bring a project to work on during our camping trips, usually knitting, but sometimes handwork or some sewing that is ready for hand stitching, so I’ve been considering my options…I have leftover wool that will make a nice pair of socks, I have a lunch time cross stitch project that could be packed, and I’m hoping that I might have some hand sewing to do on my coat…though I may decide not to risk it being too near the smoke from the campfire. I’ve also been following the Splendid Sampler adventure going on with Pat Sloan and friends, and have been considering trying my hand at hand piecing with some of those blocks.

DSCN0418[1]I hope that soon the only thing competing with sewing will be the garden, which we attacked this weekend. While it may seem late to many, we just had our last frost on May 16!  We have a thistle and bindweed problem that is driving us to distraction, but made excellent progress Sunday afternoon. To solve this weed issue, we’re going to put down black plastic and literally bake those nasty bindweed and thistle roots. We are resorting to RoundUp only for the strawberry patch, which has been a dismal failure, due to the deer fertilizing it with thistle and crabgrass seed….GRRR! Our garden has three plots; one is 20 x 40 and the other is 30 x 30, plus the strawberry patch which is 10 x  30. It covers half the back yard, and provides us with all of our potatoes, winter squash, pumpkin, green beans, carrots, spinach and tomatoes for the year. Today we’ll put out the tomato plants, all 58 of them. They have become a forest on the dining room table, so it will be good to get them out! Soon to follow: potatoes, carrots and green beans, and finally pumpkin and squash the first of June.

Until next post….Kathy