Southeast Yard Cleanup

Two hours later and a blister between my thumb and pointer but it’s done. The southeast yard looks pretty darned good, I think! All it needs is some warm days, lime and fertilizer.

No leaves, no limbs, no weed trash! It looks so better! The bare spot along the house wall is full of Hosta’s already budding out of the ground.

The big flat rock at the bottom step of the back door has been hauled off to be used somewhere else on the property.

This was a danger for anyone that came out the back door, especially when there was snow or ice.

I’ve got a nice flat bed in front of the chimney for a bunch of zinnias, and I made sure they wouldn’t be in the way of the chimney sweep (my husband). The bricks have been taken to our brick pile. They were placed at the bottom of the chimney clean out but they’re not needed there now.

No leaves, no limbs, no weeds trash! It looks so good!

In the corner of the chimney is a wooden nail keg holding hen & chicks given to me by a wonderful friend and they seem to love that spot where the sun hits them first thing in the morning.

The base of the nail keg is surrounded by Siberian Iris which I have to thin every year. It’s amazing how spread.

Last summer I started a hen & chicks garden in the old stump at the back fence of this part of the yard and it survived the winter which was mild to say the least.

Last summer I cleaned out the center and put some rich dirt in the stump. I pulled babies from my main hen & chick crock and they’re doing great. Another year and it will be full of Hens & Chicks with stringers falling over the stump and rocks. This spot gets morning and evening sun.

I have bird nesting spots all the around the building to the left which used to be a milk house when dairy cattle were on the farm. Now the building is used to store all of my gardening tools, small firewood for the kitchen woodstove, lawn ornaments stored for the winter and 20-30 bags of leaves in the fall/winter season for the chickens and the dog bedding. On the outside of the building are the nesting spots of Carolina wren, house finches and sparrows.

This old shoe that I found in a closet was put up three years ago and the finches love it. They raise at least twice a year. I noticed new feathers lining the outside of the nest while I was cleaning the yard. The birds couldn’t wait until I got out of their space.
This new bird house used to be a bird feeder that Uncle Holl had put up but the birds like it better for nesting.
I put up this old colander that I found last fall and hoping they use it too. The overhang of the roof is great for these houses. Protection from the sun and the cold seems to be a preference.

Next stop, rose garden and front yard which are both the worst of all. I don’t think I’ll be working on it today unless the wind lays and it warms up a bit, so I’ll concentrate on the inside of the house.

Pruning Grapevines

Spring is here according to the calendar but not quite for a gardener and farmer in our neck of the woods.

What a tangled mess it wove!!

What a mess! I need to do some research on one end of this concord vine because it has had lots of new growth, huge leaves but no grapes. The other end just started producing two years ago and it’s a red grape. We have several arbors of grapes mostly blue and one small vine that wraps around our woodhouse that has wonderful white grapes every year. They’re not huge nor are the other grapes but they’re all super sweet. I also need to figure out how to get the grapes to grow bigger. All of them now are about the size of a marble. I want some about an inch around. Any suggestions?

Much neater than before.

I didn’t cut it back as far as I usually do because for some reason the last two years we got a huge amount of new growth and leaves but not many grapes. We’ll see if this thinning is better for grapes than years past.

Transplanting Asparagus-Part Two

This is a continuation of a previous post.

The mass of asparagus roots has been dug up and transplanted and moved.

Hubby helped me dig it up because I couldn’t get the shovel to go in the ground at this spot. He dug up 14 large clumps and I dug the holes inside the garden fence for their new home. I’ve never seen such a tangled mass of roots in one little two-foot space. Last year it produced quite well but was overshadowed by the pear tree on one side and the grapevines on the other side.

We didn’t space any certain way when we transplanted and because other groups along the fence are doing quite well, we just filled in those space with about 10 – 12 inches between and buried deeper than the root balls.

I’m not sure we will get any produce from these transplants this spring or not but I’ve covered them with a little chicken litter and watered well. Now we wait!!!

The soil is really good in our garden but we constantly amend during the cold months with ashes from the stove and all of the litter from the chickens and rabbits (when we have rabbits).

After we finished this I pruned the grapevines and hauled the trimmings from them and the plum trees to our special spot to die, decay and make another rich place for planting. It’s also a good hiding spot from the hawks for the wild rabbits and squirrels.

Much neater than before.
The rhubarb patch is sprouting. It’s usually the first thing we harvest.

Next will be our very messy yard but it will wait until this next wind/rainstorm passes through.

Trees From Seeds Experiment

These are some of the seed planted and sprouted in 2022.
From top left clockwise, we have chestnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts.

These are a few examples of trees I’ve started in pots in the greenhouse. Some others are apples, cherries, peaches, English and black walnuts, grapes and plums. Now before getting too excited, the apples will not come out true to the tree I got them from, but we get them started and then use them for root stock.

Three years ago, I started several apple and plum trees from the seeds from fruit trees on our property. I’ve also used seeds from apples and plums I’ve purchased at the farmers market when we didn’t have any fruit due to frost. I’m afraid this will be true again this year due to the warm January and February weather we’ve had. Those apple trees were planted last spring in one of our smaller orchards and probably next year we will graft them if the rabbits, deer and vermin don’t eat their bark or roots first.

To plant the nuts and fruit, I take the seeds from their parent and store in the refrigerator until the following spring. If the nuts have shells which most do, I crack the seed out of the shell and place in a four-inch pot that has fresh, moistened potting soil in it. I cover the seed and keep the soil moist but not wet throughout the summer months into the fall. If they sprout, I take them into a protected room in the cellar of another house on the property, wet them down and leave until the following spring after any expected frost. Most of the ones that have been through this process will grow another 6-8 inches in the small pot. In mid to late summer, I transplant them into 10–12-inch pots with new soil added, fertilize lightly and start introducing them to the out of doors until fall arrives and then they go back into the cellar one more winter where they go dormant again. The following spring, they are brought back to the greenhouse to sprout again and midsummer they will be planted in an orchard to get a good root system going prior to winter. We water them well throughout the summer and fall until weather turns cool and then they’re on their own and hopefully thrive.

Last summer three almond trees were planted behind my greenhouse. At the moment I have about thirty seeds, mostly fruit, in the cellar waiting to move back to the greenhouse. It’s very gratifying to grow this produce from seed just like we do in the garden.

Transplanting Asparagus

The first thing I want to tell you is this is NOT out of the ground yet!!! With all the sunny warm days we’ve had I’m a little surprised but it’s way too early for anything out of the garden or around it. Though, you couldn’t tell it with all the trees budding out and the lilies pushed six inches out of the ground. We had a hard frost the last three morning and I’m expecting all of those buds to drop to the ground.

I’m kind of glad we’re in for colder weather for about 10-14 days because I haven’t got the asparagus transplanted. I have a small patch outside of the garden between the grapevines and the pear trees. It has to fight to survive in that spot so I’m going to move it.

Now, let me tell you that I’m not a Master gardener or any kind of expert at anything. The posts that I write are the way I/we do on this farm. It’s not saying they won’t work for everyone, but it does for us.

All of the asparagus patches on our farm originated on a fence line as is the case of the one I want to move and were started by wild birds. In the fall, they eat the red berries from the dying plants that grow wild all along our state road and then the bird will fly off to a fence post and leave their droppings. Those droppings contain the seed after the bird has digested the berries which are full of teeny, tiny seeds. Wallah, we get asparagus!!!

This patch I want to move fights for nutrients against the fruit tree and the grapevines and is losing the battle. I’ll prepare a bed against the interior of our garden fence and fill it with lots of nutrients from the chicken litter and crushed eggshells so that the asparagus will have lots of grand nutrients all its own. I’ve done this with all of the eight spots I have along the west fence of the garden. It’ll be next year before it produces well but then again, I may have asparagus this year since it’s been producing for about four years in the bad spot.

This is a closeup of the transplant! Looks like a bunch of dead weeds and sticks but that what it looks like in the winter months.

Asparagus is not something I can or freeze because since its makeup is mainly water it will turn to mush just like it does if you overcook it. We love it fresh and as long as I keep it picked off, watered and weeded it produces most of the summer. I guess that why we so look forward to it in the spring. Next step, move it next week while it’s cold. I’ll prepare the bed for it tomorrow.

The Yard Is A Mess

Winter time just makes me so much more anxious for spring!!!

What a mess to address as soon as winter is OVER!!
The yard is full of debris which will probably take me at least four days to clean up once the weather is agreeable!
Every area of the yard is full of leaves, maple tree limbs, and dead foliage.
The gazebo is full of foliage from the moon flowers and wire grass. This will take the least amount of time to clean up.
The area in front of the porch will be the hardest work because the hosta’s need to be divided.
I let the leaves lay through the fall to add just a little cover for the perennials.

The best part, I’ll be outside digging in the dirt which is my favorite pastime in the spring and that not too far off.

Preparing for Spring Greenhouse

Seeds for Christmas and seeds not used last year put me way ahead of the game. Winter has not been nice though so there are repairs to do and changes inside to think about. I’m ahead of the game in other aspects though! I sterilized all of my pots, every last one of them, and that’s a big chore in the spring.

I love it when the seeds arrive.

Needs are few, including Pro Mix, new shade cloth, repair the roof and one window, and kill two sand briars that made it through the four-inch layer of gravel last summer and are still alive after scalding them with boiling water, spraying with vinegar and pouring salt water all around the base of the weeds. Nothing worked, they’re still alive!!! Those are hateful weeds!! Deciding on which heat system to use, when to actually start the growing processes and making a canning and freezing plan are things also on my mind every day that the sun is out.

Spring can’t get here soon enough!!

I’m still sifting through my seed catalogs for four new plants to try this year which is a project on my Bucket List. I know what vegetables we like and that do well here so the new plants will probably be in the form of flowers or herbs and I’m leaning towards the herb group.

I have lots of fruit and nut seeds that I’ll probably start first because they’re simple and quick to start. They are in the dormant, dark and cold area now to give them a good start. I got apple root stock and almond trees started and planted last year. This spring I’m leaning toward more apple, blueberries and hazelnuts, three of each. I’m not planting as much of this for 2023 because it does take up a lot of space and need to be watched just like anything else in the greenhouse. Of course, the big problem is I have all of these good intentions that seem to fly out the greenhouse doors once I get started!! I do love to play in the dirt and grow anything and everything!!!

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