Saturday, 15 June 2013

Honey...the Bunny Hunter

It was a historic day today. Honey, at the young age of almost four, saw her first rabbit! She even caught the scent and sent it scurrying out of the garden.

And with that, we should update you on the happenings of the past month or so. We have a bit of a Rabbit Problem. They have eaten my hastas, my pepper plants, my basil, my tomato plants IN the pots on the patio, the peas, and I think maybe they were the ones to take out the beet and kohlrabi shoots. We've started our plan to deter them by getting out the chicken wire. I'm hoping once the plants have a chance to grow a bit the bunnies won't be as interested.

We have a new neighbor. He was raking up an old leaf pile and disturbed about 30 baby bunnies. Yup. That's what I said. 30. So, a bit of a Rabbit Problem. They've moved in under our shed as well.

So we are putting in a permanent fence and have set out live traps. We've caught two baby bunnies so far and released them a few miles away from our house in a nice little wooded area. We will just keep at it until they move on out of our yard. Hopefully, Honey actually chasing after them and sniffing around their nest will encourage them out of our yard too!

We also have an Ant problem in the garden. They are everywhere and eating all our spinach! We've set out bait hoping they'll take it back to their hill. Sigh.

Onwards and upwards!

Monday, 27 May 2013

Planting Time

We made some progress this holiday weekend!  I'd show you some photos, but we're having a nice light rain right now so you'll have to wait.

In the perennial shade garden, we added some ferns from Grandma Rose.  These originally came from her mother at the farm.  They got planted in the back behind the hostas and the daylillies, and hopefully they will take hold and spread a bit.

In the butterfly garden most everything seems to be coming back fairly well (especially the weeds!).  I'm most concerned about my Butterfly Bush.  But my Catmint is coming back nicely and the Columbine.  I think I saw my very first signs of the Butterfly Weed today, a notorious latecomer.  The bulbs didn't do much - rabbit food mostly.  But my Irises from the farm are coming back strong.  The young ones I bought a few years back seem toast though, casualties of the iris-bore last year.  I planted a yellow flower that should spread and keep down weeds as well as a leafy plant that gets purple flowers - both from Grandma Rose's garden as well.  I put cages around the Asiatic Lillies (I took them from the blueberries which I think the bunnies killed).  They had sheered the lillies off at the ground last year, so I weren't sure if they'd come back or not.  The bunnies already got to them once this year, but hopefully with the cages they'll get tall enough to survive those pests.  I also put a few of the marigolds that were started from seed in the greenhouse in the butterfly garden, to add interest and hopefully deter the rabbits.

On the patio, I've been filling pots.  I bought a Lavender plant and a Rosemary plant at the farmers market on Saturday and they each got their own pot.  I'm hoping to be able to overwinter them, maybe in the ground or maybe in the greenhouse?  I also bought a Thai Basil plant, which went in a pot with three more Basil starts from the greenhouse.  Another pot got three Basil starts, and another got 2 Thyme starts and some of the Thyme seeds.  I also potted the Gerber Daisy I got as a birthday gift and it looks lovely on our new little cafe table.  Two more pots got flowers:  in one I started Nasturtium and the other Zinnias.  We'll see how they do this year - my second shot at annuals.  I also have a beautiful little Clematis that mom got me for my birthday, which will hopefully go in front of the deck once it's done.  The 3 big pots haven't been planted yet, but hopefully will be this week (we have rain projected all week, so we'll see).  The Elephant Ears will be the main point of interest in the big pots (our first time with those).  In addition, we have 13 tomatoes of different varieties in pots around the patio.

In the vegetable garden, the pepper plants Nathan got for us from the Pepper Guy went into the ground and are caged.  I alternated between hot peppers and sweet peppers, hoping that will help deter any pests, although we haven't had issues with them in the past (fingers crossed).  We also planted 8 tomato plants of different varieties in the final raised bed with a strip of basil seeds down the middle, and one extra tomato plant next to the peppers (Pepper Row 2.0).

I finally got the shallot starts in the ground.  I basically just filled in empty spots in the onion bed where bulbs have gotten stolen (just a few).  I should put a few of my leftover onion sets in the open spots that are left.

I also planted one little Marigold plant from the greenhouse in each of the corners of the raised beds.  We're hoping these will both attract the bees and deter the rabbits.

On a sadder note, the Kohlrabi and Beet sprouts that I was so excited about in my last post got mowed off by something that can climb the whiskey barrels.  It even ate some of the radish sprouts!  I will need to replant.  I bought some fine wire mesh and some 14 gauge wire to make domes to protect the plants.  I'm so tired of all my hard work feeding nature instead of us!!!  Those bunnies sure are nice and healthy, although this was either squirrels or some type of mouse/shrew.  The bunny fence isn't up yet around the raised beds, but maybe we can get that done tomorrow if it's not raining.  The peas have been lost I'm afraid (eaten), but the lettuces are coming up nicely.  We'll get the cucumbers and beans going up the trellises this week and fill out the rest of the beds.

Left to plant are most of the herbs.  The big ones (Cilantro & Dill) will have to go in the vegetable garden, but I'm hoping to be able to have more of an herb garden on the other side of the shed.  We also need to plant the zucchini/summer squash.  I also want to get the miniature sunflowers planted around our little Evergreen tree.

The potato towers really seem to be taking off!  Wait until you see the pictures.  I sure hope we get some potatoes.

We also bought a pretty hanging basket for by the shed.

That's all for now, next time I'll have names of the peppers and tomatoes as well as some pictures.

Monday, 6 May 2013

More Sprouts!

The Kohlrabi and Beets have sprouted as well!  and the Lilacs are beginning to turn green.  The Rhubarb is up and have some decent size leaves as well.  And if we didn't have rabbits, the Tulips would be blooming (or close to it).  The daylillies are also coming up around the foundation and the grass is green and just starting to grow over the last few days.

Happy Spring!

Sunday, 5 May 2013


My radishes have sprouted in the whiskey barrel (I put them in with the carrots), and one of the lettuces. Spinach I think? The rabbits or birds or squirrels seem to be a little interested in the onions and garlic. Some of the onions were pulled up and the garlic has been nibbled on, but I don't think they liked them much. Project for this week is to put up the rabbit fence!

Side note. The squirrels have been very busy digging up my poor crocus. Oh well. If we try again, we will need to put them in the backyard where Honey can keep the rascals away.

The weather seems to be turning on our side!

Sunday, 28 April 2013


We had an absolutely lovely weekend here!  It's been in the 70's since Friday, which has given us plenty of opportunity to get some things done.

I finally got the majority of my cool weather crops in the ground.  The onions have been planted next to the garlic, so we have one full planter bed.  I also planted my peas, but I fear they won't have long enough of a season since they are getting in so late.  They need 60 days of cool weather (below 80), which an April 27th planting puts into Mid to late June.  I'm not convinced we'll be below 80 that long, but we shall see.  I've also planted the lettuces:  spinach, arugula, romaine and a mix.  The potatoes went into Potato Towers (see picture below).  The carrots, beets, kohlrabi and radishes went into whiskey barrels this year to try and keep them away from the bunnies.  I've also purchased some chicken wire to make fencing around the beds.  Hopefully that will work better than last year!!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Preparation & Inspiration

Well, it's currently 50 degrees and raining gently.  Melting the snow.  The grass, hinting at touches of green through the patches of white.  Tomorrow's forecast holds the last bit of cold, with more rain and perhaps a bit of snow projected.  Then begins the warmup (so they say).  With 60's (even a 71 in the 10 day forecast!).  Now pardon me if my faith waivers a bit after the spring we've had, but if we can maintain temps above freezing on a regular basis I'll consider it good.

My big concern is that nothing has gotten into the ground yet.  No peas, no potatoes, no lettuces.  I'm hoping to get them in before I make my trip South this week, but we shall see.

We're going to try potato towers this year.  Not the kind that claims to get one plant to produce three feet worth of potatoes off of one plant, but one that you can plant groups of potatoes vertically instead of in mounds.  Pictures to come as we get them planted.

We also bought two hog panels for use as trellises in the planter beds.  They fit perfectly as arches.  The plan is to put lettuces underneath so when the trellised plants are fully grown, they'll provide some much wanted shade and help keep the lettuces from bolting.

More updates as we make progress on that front.  Until then, some inspiration from my recent trek through Texas.

South Padre Island

South Padre Island

Hibiscus, Harlingen Texas

The next set of pictures are from Tyler, Texas during the Azalea district during peak bloom which we were lucky enough to see.  Too bad they won't survive the Minnesota winters!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Better late than never!

Ok, we have a few things to update, but we'll start with the garden.  The snow is finally melting!
And the even better part, things are growing!  Like...the garlic I planted last fall...
There were 2-3 cloves that were above ground.  I don't know if that was just the frost heaving them out or a critter, but they didn't seem to be munched on at all.  I poked them back in, so we'll see what happens.
We also have some other things popping up.  Tulips maybe?  No sign from the Crocuses yet, but hopefully soon. 

Here are some pics from the other parts of the yard.
Vegetable Garden

Butterfly Garden

Front Garden

Crocus Bed

Rear view of the house

Sunday, 24 March 2013

We're late! We're late!

For a very important date! Ok, not really. But if you look at our dates from last year, we already had growth on our spring plantings by now! My only hope is that this snow now melts slow enough to stay in the ground after our very dry year last year. Fingers crossed. The weather forecast does look more promising, with nighttime temps above freezing by the end of this week (knock on wood)...

Sunday, 10 March 2013

It's coming...

Spring that is! We had some rain yesterday (an entire day of rain without snow!) and the temps have remained above freezing for the weekend. It'll drop down again tomorrow, but we've had some snow melting. Even a small pond forming in the backyard! And by pond, of course I mean giant puddle.

This melting makes me think back to the little crocus bulbs I planted last year...I wonder how long it will be before we see their little green sprouts??

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Seed order!

I ordered our seeds for this year today! As I was looking to update the blog, I couldn't help but looking at last year's planting dates and notice that our first outdoor planting was just one month from now! It seems crazy with the amount of snow we have one the ground...but hopefully this upcoming cold front is the last of the season.

More updates to come!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Creative Vegetable Gardening, Joy Larkcom

I was lucky enough to receive the aforementioned book as a Christmas gift this year (thanks!) and it's been fueling some inspirational thoughts for the garden.

The book is all about how to make vegetable gardens beautiful, and is plum full of ideas!

Some initial thoughts as I work my way through the book:
  • Arched trellises between the beds. We may need to increase the spacing a little bit to get this to work, but I think it'll be a great space for cucumbers, peas, beans, and climbing squash.
  • Hanging planter boxes (like window boxes) to hang from wooden fence to hold herbs (found this one on pinterest)
  • Terraced raised beds - three small beds of staggering heights - this would be really pretty along a hill or fenceline
  • A semi-permanent screen made by 1x1s in 4-6" squares would be great for cucumbers and primary
  • Seating - these gardens are so cute and all have a chair or bench in them to enjoy the setting. we'll have to figure out something...maybe the Adirondack chair??
  • Containers - filling little corners, etc. with containers filled with flowers or veggies. Note - soak new terracotta pots before using so they don't suck up all the moisture. The book recommends the following (we can think about these for the hanging boxes too!):
    • Basil
    • Marjoram
    • Thyme
    • Bay
    • Juniper
    • Lavender (I wonder if we could over-winter these in the greenhouse??)
    • Lemon Verbena
    • Rosemary
    • Sage
    • Tarragon
    • Chives
    • Lemon Balm (we planted this in a container last year, I wonder if it'll come back?)
    • Mints (yes!)
    • Chives
    • Parsley
    • Caraway
    • Dill
    • Coriander
    • annual flowers, including marigolds to keep the bunnies away!
  • For the herb garden, I think we need some creeping thyme as a nice border plant
  • Intercropping - apparently onions can be intercropped with lettuce. We'll need to try this!