Thursday, June 27, 2013

those summer nights...

 I finally figured out how the northern half of the United States can grow a garden so quickly... some of you talk about snow in March, or later, and yet your gardens pass mine up by the end of June!  I think the secret is summer nights.... WARM summer nights.  Our temperature, right now, at 8:30 pm on a cloudy and after a full of sprinkles of rain kind of day, is still 69 degrees.  And THAT folks is pretty unheard of for us!  I mean, right now, I'm comfortable OUTSIDE, at the end of June, in shorts and a tshirt... without a coat people.  We can go a WHOLE summer without a night like this.

The last few summers have been on the cool side of average for us and I can tell you we've gone almost all summer without having windows open at night, sometimes even during the day (gasp!).  This week the only night I closed the windows was during a thunderstorm complete with rain that came right in my old windows.

Now my dogs may not be thrilled with this weather but my gardens, plants and of course weeds, are loving it.  My window boxes are full and lush and it's not even July yet...

 Soon my infamous sunflower trough will be overflowing with smiling, happy faced sunflowers of all shapes and sizes.

 I'm enjoying this Bonica rose outside of my kitchen window...

 As well as a continuous stream of english roses IN my kitchen window.

The first of the zinnias are here to say "It's summer!"



The peas have almost reached the top of the windmill and are covered with flowers, soon to be pea pods.

My home grown wave petunias are flowering like crazy...

 As are the hydrangeas...

Looking fabulous in shades of blue...

 And pink.

 Looking so fabulous and healthy in fact that this year, this little guy barely peeks out.

So now that I've figured out the REST of the country's secret to gardening, I'd like to request that Mother Nature keep up the good work... 

The weather forecast for this weekend is hot, sunny with hotter days to come.... after catching up on my weeding, well  I think I'll be sipping a tea on the glider for the next few summer nights...


Oh... and about the "those summer nights"?  Well, some of you just may remember a little movie from 1978.... "Grease"?  It's one movie that still makes me think of summer, even after all these years.


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Sunday, June 23, 2013

life's little surprises


Sooooo........ funny little story.  Remember that vintage glider that I was so enamored of?  The one that got away?

Well funny thing... I found one last weekend, a new one, online at a great price.  It was through one of those sites that has daily "pop up" kind of sales.  At $379 which included shipping, it was a great deal.  This was last weekend and so by Sunday I took the plunge and placed an order on the final day of the sale.

Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your view, I mentioned it to my daughter last Tuesday... who mentioned it to my husband since she knew that HE had purchased THE glider for me for my birthday.

And the funny story?

Well he had actually had the antique store hold this with a phone call... a phone call that was a few days before my visit on that Friday.  That week that I didn't manage to get to the antique store... well it didn't matter since he had already put a hold on it.  Since the owner really seems to like him, and tells him about fun vintage lights and other farmy things, she was willing to hold this for him for a few days until he could get over there on the weekend.

So that Friday when I finally DID stop, when I walked around the corner and the lady was putting a hold tag on MY glider? It's because my husband called them while I was on my way to the store be sure HIS name wasn't on the tag... when I walked around the corner of the store that day she was switching out the tags.

Now, at first I kind of hoped my husband HAD bought this for me... but over the following week I mentioned my online research and he had looked them up too.  I didn't get the feeling that he had bought this based on what he said... I guess for once the surprise worked since this beauty has been sitting at my son's house for the last month...

Just waiting for my birthday in the middle of July.

Of course now that the cat's out of the bag on the surprise, the glider is in it's spot here at Red Gate Farm.  And with our warm and pretty nice weather I'll get to enjoy it a little more than if I had to wait all the way until July 18th!

So if you don't see me over the next few days...

I'm probably here, with my kindle... and an iced tea...

Swaying to and fro,


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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

hi hoe, hi hoe


Hi hoe, hi hoe... it's off to work I go.  

Actually I feel a bit like going off to work, as in my job, is almost a vacation... I think I spent most of Saturday and quite a bit of Sunday in the garden... and if you count mowing lawn for 3 hours on Sunday, well most of Sunday then too.  And I have to say, this may be the ONLY time this summer that you see a weed free garden!  The weather was fabulous this past weekend AND we are supposed to get some rain this week which we all know equals weeds.  Those teeny, tiny weeds sprout into 3 foot ones over night when you get a few days of rain... soooo I got busy in the gardens.

Have you ever used an action hoe?  Well for a large area it is the way to go... I still have to hand weed around actual plants/rows but this little baby takes care of everything else.  We've had this tool for years and years.  At our prior home it wasn't used much, with smaller flower beds it really isn't that useful.  Here, it's the tool, after my own hands, that get used the most.

Of course it takes more than just weeding to have a successful garden.  It takes lots and lots of sunlight (and hopefully sunSHINE).  Our vegetable garden gets light from the minute the sun comes up in the morning until the sun goes down at night.  No shade, at all.


This then leads to the next item... water.  Lots and lots of water.  You'd think this would be a bit obvious but I don't think a lot of gardeners water enough.

Support is also a requirement for some things... like tomatoes.  I don't bother with tomato cages, if there's a trick to using them I don't know what it is.  I use old metal fence posts and plastic ties on my tomatoes.

And I've been diligently using these little hog wire "tepees" for my cucumbers.  I saw this somewhere and supposedly the cucumbers grow over them and the fruit hangs down inside for picking... plus it's supposed to keep the cucumbers from curling up since they dangle.  Now here's the diligent part... my cucumbers do NOT want to grow over these no matter what I try.... I've sort of resigned myself to the fact that they are just large markers to show me where to water by the end of July and August when the cucumbers are growing everywhere BUT on these.

One thing I've learned from gardening is to learn from doing AND from mistakes.  Take for instance the humble cilantro plant.  I tried growing this year after year and ended up with scraggly plants that turned to seed overnight... I kid you not!  A couple of years ago I didn't even bother... much to my delight I suddenly had volunteers of cilantro all around the water spigot.

Now I purposely let some of it go to seed and I have tons of cilantro each year.  In fact it grows everywhere and I actually have to weed it out of the garden in some areas.  And the bees like it when it flowers!

Another plant that needs "my support" is peas... I grow them on this rusty, vintage freebie of a windmill my husband brought home.

This year I added some left over netting (from my beans) so that the pea tendrils can really get a good grip.  Some years they've flopped over when they reach full height, I'm hoping this netting will allow them a bit more stability... we'll see if this is a win or a miss of an idea...

My little greenhouse in the background also works hard each year.  A spot for seed starting, for growing San Marzano tomatoes and peppers, as well as a spot to hold all my garden junk tools.

And probably the most important part of the garden....

The dirt of course!  We're fortunate to have sandy loam soil at Red Gate Farm.  Everything grows well, it's easy to weed BUT does take a lot of water compared to soil with more clay.

Before you know it, I'll be harvesting more than just some radishes... and this year I even have a super cute little berry cart to use!  Can't you see me wheeling this little guy around the garden, full of cucumbers and tomatoes?

Speaking of harvest... my dandelion field now looks like this.

And it's corn!  In 9 years this is a first.  I'm kind of excited for fall and the towering stalks that it will bring!

So.... how does your garden grow?

Hopefully spring and almost summer has reached your little part of the world and it's doing great,

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

unexpected beauty

Do you like surprises?  The happy go lucky, unexpected and beautiful kind?  Sometimes they are all around you and you just need to slow down and see them.

I happened to notice the other day that there was a bit of pink peeking out of the tall weeds under the cherry tree.  Last summer when the retaining wall was put in a bit of the extra dirt, grass and the huge compost pile was moved down in the little corner of our 20 acres.  Fill actually since the mister wanted to level this corner that dropped down into the ditch and the neighbor's yard making it tough to mow.

Today I took a little stroll down the road to see what exactly those spots of pink were...  The weeds are so high in the ditch along the road that you can barely make it out...

Boy, I was surprised to see three very large pink poppies!

I'm not sure where they came from... I've never had a poppy.  I do recall there being a RED poppy growing in the compost pile a few years ago, but not this pretty pink poppy.

 Sometimes the unexpected beauty comes when you snap a picture that you really like...

Or even a kind that doesn't look real... no touch ups or picmonkey finishes here.  I guess the scabiosa just really pops against my lime thyme... kind of an Andy Warhol kind of beauty, I think.

But see... it's the real thing!

The lavender is looking pretty spectacular as well.  Perhaps you've noticed a common theme in my front flower beds?  When I planned them 8 long years ago, I went with mostly purples and chartreuse kinds of colors.  I'm still liking that decision.

 And while I was snapping a few pictures of the foxglove...

 And hydrangeas...



I had an unexpected surprise "buzz by" from this little guy (center top of picture).  Can you make him out?  I've never been harassed by a hummingbird before!  I must have invaded his territory because he chased me all the way around the east side of the house...

Past the hanging basket...

To the bird garden where he zoomed up into one of the evergreen trees.  Fortunately this little bee on my elderberry wasn't disturbed by the whizzing bird, fanning tail and shrill chirping from my obviously agitated hummingbird friend!

Since he finally left me along, I could stop and enjoy this elderberry in full bloom.  I love the black, dark leaves of the elderberry against all the other green of the garden.

 The cherry pink of one of my fuchsias really pops against the barn wood bench.  Kind of an unexpected pairing but I like the juxtaposition.

And this rustic, vintage birdhouse look so cute tucked in among the daylilies and a few of my white impatiens.

The grape in front of the chicken coop is covered in little clusters of tiny little grapes again this year.  The bright, bright chartreuse color is stunning and seems to glow when the sunlight hits it.  By September the grapes will turn a pale purple-y red and be ready for picking.  I'll be sure to beat the birds this time!

 And I even have a super cute strawberry cart I can use for my grape "harvest"!

But the real message I want to pass along is to be sure to slow down and look around...

Because you never know where that unexpected beauty might be found,


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