We know that living surrounded by woods and undergrowth there are animals – deer, rabbits, squirrels, wild turkeys etc etc and at least one groundhog! It seemed reasonable to fence the area that I wanted to have for a vegetable garden and those deer treats that I like to grow – such as the black elderberry (Sambuscus nigra). Last year he found the garden and entered via a side gate. He squeezed under the gate, sniffed at the lilac bush, pottered off to the deck and took a look at the mint in a tub at the bottom of the deck steps. He continued onto the deck and looked at peas etc in containers, then went back down the steps and onto the vegetable garden to snack.
He really did not find the garden until late in the year and most of the vegetables were protected but this year we needed to fix the gate (done). This year the little charmer has found the garden already by digging under the sloppy fence. That is a little more work for us to mend. So far we have laid chicken wire from under the now fixed fence, under the fence, down a little way and sticking out a little for him to travel over. We need to finish that today.
groundhog proofing the garden
This morning no sign of the little fella but it is still early in the season and we have not finished yet.
St David’s Day is celebrated across Wales on March 1st along with the national flower the daffodil which is in bloom in March. So I thought I would take a few St David’s Day pictures from my no-daffodil in sight garden:
The crocus grow here
No crocus in sight – though the little stems were showing in early January. They have since been buried.
The hellebore should be here
The hellebore are growing here – under about 4 inches of ice and snow.
Early daffodils and miniature iris should be here.
The early daffodils and little miniature iris should be brightening the landscape here in March. Today they are under 2 feet of ice and snow from the driveway.
So not a crocus let alone a daffodil in sight!
February has gone into the record books as one of the coldest and the ground, as we go into March is frozen, covered with ice and snow and not hospitable to even thinking of spring. Not to be stopped though, the seedlings are starting and I have to be optimistic that the ground will thaw soon and spring will arrive.
The early spinach and chard seedlings have germinated
Some little stir fry mix seedlings
More Seedlings for tomatoes and peppers should be being started but so far not even the cabbages are sown. This weekend that will be accomplished I hope.
We spent a week in Key Largo last week and visited the Everglades National Park – what a delightful place full of animals and birds plus lots of natural landscape. The river of grasses and mangrove swamps were truly worth seeing:
These crocodiles enjoy the Everglades too!
The natural landscape of the Everglades and grass land
Winter 2013/14 was brutal and went on waay too long so it is pleasant to be in the middle of a cold, rainy but not too bad winter. Things are progressing in the garden with the first snow drops just popping up through the frozen soil. The witch hazels are doing fine and the first one has just starting to bloom – this one is Amethyst and has a beautiful burgundy flower.
Winter flowering witch hazel
On the indoors I have lettuce and peas growing in the sunroom and they are doing great. We are harvesting lettuce for salads and sandwiches all winter long.
Last week I was in Pittsburgh!! We lived there for a few years and what I remember of the town was a poor road system and lots of snow! This conference showed me the other side of the town both downtown and slightly further out.
The first surprise was that the conference center had a garden on the roof. There were concrete beds filled with tomatoes, kales and other fresh vegetables which were harvested for the hotel or conference events.
Pittsburgh Conference Center Rooftop Garden
And there were flowers too for pollination!
This summer has been rather cool compared to normal and the amount of rain has been slightly above normal. The net result is lots of great growing conditions and that has led to some enormous plants which are, in at least one case, impeding the poor meter reader getting access to the electrical meter. These guys were a maintainable size last year, but as with so many second year perennials the size has almost doubled. Case in point these lovely dinner plate size hibiscus:
H. moscheutos ‘Blue River II’
This second image, which is closer shows where the electric meter is – slighly to the right of the lower left bloom. There is also a rather overgrown rhododendron there too. Last year I was sent a little note that they, the electric company, would appreciate better access to the meter and would I kindly clear the area – I may get another one this year !! These are really too big here anyway and will look better in the cottage garden to the side.
H. moscheutos ‘Blue River II’
Of course the veggie bed is doing well – it gets regular water and great temperatures for summer squash production. If you don’t catch the squash when it is small, the next day it can be enormous – I think it would be called a marrow at this stage. These over sized zucchini were at the back corner of the garden and I missed them. The third small one was harvested from the same plant this morning. There is not really much difference apart from size and there are some summer squash that are bred to be larger than others. Now I need a recipe to stuff these guys – of course my guys don’t like squash at all but I don’t want to waste them!
These zucchini grew too big so I am calling them marrows!
This month has been busy with getting the tomatoes staked and harvesting beans, potatoes, garlic, onions and squash – the zucchini is going rampant! It would be fair to say that I over-planted zucchini and each and every one is producing very well. Within a few days of the first flowers, which were male flowers, the female flowers started. Some of the male flowers are huge!
Male squash flowers
This will be a female flower which will likely open tomorrow morning
Last month I saw an interesting way to stake tomatoes which I am trying – not before time as the tomatoes are also way to big to not be staked. The idea was from the turn of the last century and the tomatoes were supported by a grid of wood. The two foot grid is horizontal at a height of about 2 ft. The tomatoes are supported here but not trussed upright. This gives shade to the roots and still allows for easy harvesting. I have a bunch of plastic pipe in the garage to make the structure later today or maybe the weekend There are lots of tomatoes but they are still green right now.
The depressingly long winter morphed into a cool spring and very few signs of summer which has made for a poor start for the warm weather guys but a great year for the peas and lettuce! I think this is the first year that the lettuce has been still edible and not bolting in June, but the real prize goes to the peas. I planted a lot of peas because usually you only get one or two harvests – by the time they put out flowers, and pods the weather is already turning to warm nights and hot days which the vines do not like. This year we are still cool to warm and no hot weather yet so the peas kept going and the harvests are still great. I am trying two new ones this year – a purple podded pea and a yellow podded pea. Both are shelling peas and are a little later than the main crop that I put out but the pods are filling out nicely and they will be ready in a few days. The peas inside the colorful pods are standard green.
Alas the peas have had such a good season that they are reaching out past the support and crawling over the edge of the raised bed!
On America’s Home Grown Veggie Show March 29th we are going to talk to Tammi Hartung about Wildlife Vegetable Gardening. This great book talks about how to coexist with wildlife in the garden! Everything from lavender to distract deer to multi variety hedges that provide shelter and berries for birds all help to minimize the destruction of your vegetable garden by animals.
We are also giving away 2 books on March 29th so listen to the show and check the Facebook page to see how to win one of the books.