Now that the gardening season is winding to a close, it's time to review what's happened in the garden this summer. This may be boring for any readers out there, but this should be helpful for next year - it's always good to try not to repeat the same mistakes twice!
Shell & Snap Peas, 2006 Pond Ice Out: Wednesday, April 5 Planted: Wednesday, April 13 First Harvest: Saturday, June 11 Final Harvest: About July 8 (I didn't record it)
Click to enlarge
May 2 May 21 June 7 June 18
Super Sugar Snap, Johnny's Seeds: Grew to about 5.5 feet tall. Very prolific for 3 weeks. Great taste, no real insect or disease problems. Would grow again, although a longer harvest would be nice. Johnny's has the best seed pack growing descriptions of all the seeds I ordered.
Ellen's Delight, The Cook's Garden: Height about 2.5 feet. Pods turned yellow before maturing. Would not grow again. Seed pack information was poor - was limited to describing "peas" in general. This was true of everything from The Cook's Garden.
Spring, Burpee: Height about 2.5 feet. Between 4-7 peas per pod. Hard to know if this was prolific as I've never grown peas before. Burpee has good seed packet information. I would grow this again.
Raised bed with window screen fence The fencing held up to the rabbits until the snap peas fell down and created a hiding place where they could chew through the screening. However, once I cut down the snap peas, there were no more rabbit problems.
Tomato cages with twine This worked very well. If I decide to grow shelling peas again, I'll use the same method.
Trellis with twine The trellis does not work well for snap peas. They end up being too heavy - and the twine with too much "give" - so all the pea vines lean and fall over (see the later photos above). If I grow snap peas next year, I'll need something that is stronger (however, the trellis is working great with pole beans).
Interplanting I planted spinach and potatoes between the peas, and pole beans to grow on the trellis when the snap peas were done. Planting the spinach with the peas was fine (although the spinach itself didn't do too well). However, I will not plant pole beans with snap peas again. The beans were too shaded and didn't grow well until I cut down the pea vines. Additionally, cutting down the pea vines was quite difficult because some of the bean had started twining through the peas, and it was hard clean out the peas without taking out some of the beans.
Fertilization I just added compost in the spring and that was sufficient. Nothing else needed
Insect Pests Some aphids were just hatching when I cut down the snap pea vines, but once they were cut down, no more aphids.
Other Pests Once I got the rabbits out, no problems. However, they will chew through window screening
I posted once before on the pea harvest here.
Overall, I believe the peas had a hard summer this year because of the
heat. Memorial Day weekend was hot - in the lower 90's - and the daily
highs didn't dip below the 80's until sometime in mid to late July. I'm
not trying a fall planting of snap peas because I need to come up with
a new trellis plan (see above).
Although Spouse thinks I should devote all pea space to beans, I think
that I will plant snap peas again next year using a new trellis method.
I'm not sure about the shelling peas, however. The taste was
magnificent, but the harvest was puny. If I'm smart, I will not be seduced by seed catalogs in February and will NOT purchase any shelling peas.
Does anyone in the blogisphere have some good, practical infomation on training climbing roses? I'm starting to think ahead to next year, and I want to plant either William Baffin or John Cabot (extra-hardy Canadian Explorer roses) to climb over the gate into my vegetable garden.
fence is solid cedar planking with 2x2's every 6 inches (see picture below). Should I attach a trellis to the fence? Or can I use eye hooks or some other type of hardware to screw into the fence? If so, how far away should the canes be from the fence for circulation? (Both varieties I'm looking at are supposed to be very disease resistant, but I'll do whatever I need to keep the plants healthy.) What's the best way to tie up the canes? Twine, pantyhose, or some other gadget designed just for the purpose?
Also, if anyone has any advice on rose climbers that are cane-hardy to zone 4a - or if you have any good or bad opinions about William Baffin or John Cabot - please let me know. I don't want to bury the canes in the winter, repeat bloom is nice but not necessary, I won't be spraying with any chemicals, and I know I'm not going to get much fragrance from anything that meets my criteria. Am I picky or what?
I'm just starting my landscape plan for this area. Right now I just have a list of some plants I know I gotta have: climbers for the fence (roses and clematis), peonies, and a very fragrant lilac. These are the must-haves. The rest I'll be able to plan for and dream about all winter.
This past weekend was a busy one. Besides doing some canning, going to the new Guthrie Theater to see The Great Gatsby, and going to the Science Museum to see the Body Worlds exhibit, I also managed to weed my greens bed and plant some cool weather crops.
Planted 8/20/06 Lettuces: Black Seeded Simpson and Red Salad Bowl. Spinach: Space and Baby's Leaf Radishes: Plum Purple Mache: D'Etampes
Since the beets and swiss chard did so poorly this year (I have no idea why), I didn't bother with them. I also toyed with the idea of planting more snap peas, but the only place to plant them is on the bean trellis, and I don't really want to do that.
The only vegetables left to plant for this year will be garlic. I ordered it this spring from Seed Savers, and I'm very excited about growing it! I ordered three varieties - all experiments - to see what does best in my garden.
Here is a picture of the new Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis (photo courtesy of Philippe Ruault via www.arcspace.com). The design is controversial here in the Twin Cities, but I really like it. What I was under-impressed with were some of the interior public spaces. I thought certain areas - like the street entrance and the lobbies - were actually boring. It's also a bit confusing to get around. But, overall, a very exciting building with great views of the river and a new neighborhood being built around it.
As I mentioned a few posts ago, the cucumbers I planted were not Straight Eight, which is what I ordered, but some sort of pickler. They were starting to stack up in the fridge, so it was time to do something besides eat yet another cucumber salad. Yep, it was time to pickle.
For the cukes, I used a recipe I found on the web for kosher dill pickles. It was a lower salt recipe, which both Spouse and I prefer. The only ingredients were vinegar, water, pickling salt, dill and garlic. We'll give them 6-8 weeks then see how they turn out.
Also pickled were all of the Hungarian Hot Wax peppers that were left on the plants. After a short blanch - and after stuffing as many as possble into the jars - I only ended up with two pints. No problem, though, as growing - and canning - these particular peppers was all an experiment this year. This was also a simple recipe, with only vinegar, water, sugar, salt and garlic.
For those who have never pickled before - it's easy and it doesn't take much time. My water was boiling and the jars were sterilized before I had finished cutting up the cucumbers and bringing the brine to a boil. As I processed the cucumbers - for 10 minutes - I was able to start preparing the peppers and their brine. All in all it took about 2 hours from start to finish, and at least 45 minutes of that was bringing several gallons of water to boil in the canner. So, if you have some extra produce and are feeling adventurous, give canning a try!
My favorite garden at the Minnesota Landscape Aboretum is the Home Prairie Garden. I'm not sure if that's its "real" name, but it's a designed garden - distinct from the actual restored prairie that's across the street.
Without some sort of elevation, it's impossible to get a picture of the entire garden. This is one side of it, with an arbor for some shade.
At the center of the space is a circular garden. Surrounding the garden is rill - a small man-made stream. It's only about 4" wide. In the center are tall liatrus, prairie dropseed, big bluestem and grey-eyed coneflowers.
This is a garden I'd love to duplicate. However, our house is in a heavily wooded area and I'm not sure it would look right. I love it, though.
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a great place to visit at just about any time of year. Part of the
Arboretum's mission is "to inspire and delight all visitors with
quality plants in well-designed and maintained displays, collections,
model landscapes, and conservation areas."
One of everyone's favorites at the Arboretum is the hosta glade. On the day we were there, the sun was blazing and temperature was over 95F. A perfect day to be in the hosta glade, although not the perfect day for taking pictures of it. On the left is Mom, relaxing in the shade. On the right is Spouse, admiring the plantings. Click to enlarge either picture.
I really like the Japanese garden, which includes a waterfall and koi pond, several paths, and the use of Minnesota native trees and perennials to achieve a Japanese look. Unfortunately, the sun was so bright the day I took this picture that you don't get a sense of the serenity of the place. Plus, by late summer the water starts to look a bit skanky.
I don't plant a lot of annuals at home, but the annual garden at the Arboretum is pretty inspirational. When it's the beginning of August and all the traditional garden perennials look like they've seen better days, these annuals are just hitting their stride.
Another crowd pleaser is the rose garden. I don't have any roses at home, mostly because of the deer, but it's really fun to walk through the Arboretum's roses and imagine taking a bunch of them home. The picure below only shows half the garden - the other half is to the right.
It was too sunny to get a full picture of the rock garden, but here's a close up of some sedum and hens and chicks growing in pockmarked rocks.
Lastly, this is a flower that I thought was really cool. Called Belamcanda Chinensis - Blackberry Lily - it's in full bloom in mid-July to early August.
Coming tomorrow - my favorite garden at the Arboretum.
This year they have a Secret Gardens Summer Exhibition, with 20 different designed spaces. There were two that really stood out for me.
One was called Magic Mirrors Mandalas, with different plantings in each quadrant. I thought this was the coolest of the secret gardens, and would be something that could be replicated at home. Below you can see the West and South plantings.
Here is the sign describing the exhibit (click to enlarge for easier reading).
Another exhibition garden used colored plexiglass in an unusual way. I didn't get the name of this garden, but I liked the idea of using color in an imaginative way. Below are the "front" and "back" of this garden.
I'll post more pictures from the Arboretum during this week.
While I was cutting some basil for dinner, I found a tiny tag-along, a very small tree frog. He wasn't much bigger than my thumbnail. Unfortunately, he has one deformed leg. You can see it a bit better in the right-hand photo, taken after he had jumped from the basil and into the
beans (click to enlarge).
Frogs with deformities were first found by southwestern MN school kids
in 1995, touching off nationwide concern about our the use of chemicals
in the environment. Unfortunately, our state legislature - as led by
our "no new taxes" Republican embarrasment of a governor Tim Pawlenty -
discontinued research funding in 2001. It's a very Pawlenty thing to do to cut off funding for a program that generates lots of interest from kids and could tell us something about what we're doing to our environment - especially our groundwater - so that we could learn from our mistakes.
Anyway, the MN Pollution
Control Agency keeps a web page with some links here.
This is the first frog I've seen this year, although we have heard their calling during the spring and summer. I think this is because last summer we had eight great white egrets fishing our pond (in addition to two green herons and a few visiting blue herons). This year there have been very few egrets, and none that are living on the pond full-time. My guess is that they ate most of the tadpoles last year, so the next few years will be a rebuilding time for the frogs. Sort of like mast years for acorns.
And the frog isn't the only animal who's happy to be in the garden. Just look at that cute dog.
These were supposed to be Straight Eight cucumbers, a variety I've grown for several years now. They are most decidedly NOT Straight Eight cucumbers - I'm pretty sure they're a pickling variety. You can eat them, although they're very seedy, but I don't think they're nearly as good as Straight Eight. I ordered them from Veseys, which must have had a mix-up at the sorting plant.