Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Tour:The Year in our Garden

 Spring arrived very late in Chicagoland. Like much of the country this year, the weather was bizarre.

Snow, ice and cold temperatures replaced the normal gloomy days of rain in March and April. My fisher boy and girl are ice fishing in a frozen pond. No luck, I bet.

You can see how low the sun was---keeping the snow from melting in the back yard.

Nestled next to our vegetable garden is our 6' x8' greenhouse. Normally we start our vegetables the beginning of February. Not this year, our plants were started in the house in early in March.  We are cutting back on plants this year, because of the remodel. Being optimistic, we moved our pots to the greenhouse the week of Easter.

Since then we have a few good days---and lots of ugly ones. This last week of April 30th  has been ugly since last Monday.

And one moment of sunshine belied the cold temperatures in the 40's.

 But our plants still grew safely in the heated green house.

Our tulips stayed wrapped, and then exploded with the one nice weekend.


But the greenhouse heater was back on and has been ever since. Two large black garbage cans of water provide radiant heat when the sun comes out! But, Mother Nature can be stingy and slow to awaken.

On the warmest weekend I  bought pansies...and quickly potted them here and there and crossed my fingers. It's too crappy out and even take pictures now.

Here, Southern exposed areas surrounded with concrete will bloom, even in the cold temps.

  We have planted, a small lettuce selections in the back yard and on the side fence wall.

Last year in early June, we moved transplanted tomatoes out to the yard. This year they will be in the garden.

Railing pots for herbs, lemon basil and oregano.

These lattice panels are a REDO reuse from my closed brick and mortar shop. I had built one room into a trellised garden, and now the trellises are in my garden. I do not recommend wood mulch for the garden.(not a GREEN thing to do!) This was last year, because I wasn't able to garden and help weed. We will be toughing it out this year with weeds and a mulch free garden.

The tarped sandbox and the church pew on the patio. 

Every kid should have a sandbox even if it's a tub full of sand. When we have a gathering, everyone gets their fingers in the sand.

The garden isn't just for growing food, I love hanging wash surrounded by our veggies and flowers.

And my dragonflies on the fence, with the perrenials in full bloom and a huge kohlarabi and some japanese eggplants.

Pots waiting to be moved.

 I have pots everywhere filled with annuals, and I move them around to where the yard needs color.

We have three fountains on the property. My fairy pond is nestled in bushes under the tree next to the screened porch.

The large pond under the south kitchen window. This is the noisest of the ponds and is surrounded with perrenials and pots full of color.

My fisher girl and boy---are patient and trying to catch fish in the pond.

Last two years, our feed trough pond has been overturned because of the Grand. Now she is going to be four, and is very good about listening to Gramma and Grampa. So we will shallow fill the pond this summer.

The pump is an old one from the Fishmarket. The harrowing tale of it's retrieval is here.

But, the birds dont' care where it came from and love taking a bath under the water and wait in line, LOL.

One of my favorites are the Hollyhocks on the side fence. They were gorgeous last year. I spread the seeds, in hopes of keeping them. Not too many are coming up this year though. It's still early though.

These are our old deck railings and boxes, however Carpenter Bees took up residence and we had to take it all down last year. I will miss the flower boxes and the privacy of the screen lattice, but we will see what grows on the front porch now.

The best part of vegetable gardens is the constant stream of fresh produce.

The first crops are always salad greens. We eat lettuce, spinach and mixed greens for almost 5 months of the year from the garden.


 The next crops are cucumbers, summer squash and zuchinnis.


 We have about three weeks of raspberries, this was our largest picking around July 1.

Once the tomatoes start,  I freeze, can, and also roast the cherry tomatoes. We do a final ripen in the windows in the kitchen, or critters and bugs get to them.


I roast tomatoes when there is not enough for canning. These are frozen in bags and added to dishes throughout the year---so much extra flavor! DIY-Roasting Tomatoes.

Towards the end of the summer in September the romas are ready for canning and CABBAGES for making sauerkraut and cabbage soup.   Hubby taking a breather after carrying our 10# cabbage to the table. 

At times the produce is overwhelming. I remember this particular week, we had two pickings like this. We grow pole beans and they are crazy when they get going. I freeze beans and broccalli. Cucumbers I try and keep for relishes and Hubby eats the smaller ones, constantly.  Squash are canned in a tomato juice concoction of celery, onions, peppers, zuchinni, pressure canner time is 90 minutes. But my zuchinni medley is so good!

We have garden duties split, Hubby is in charge of the garden, and I'm in charge of the flowers, and hacking away at the bushes and trees---and the cooking, canning, and freezing.

Hubby does help with the canning, especially doing peppers, barbecue and hot sauces, they are his specialty. We can make a good team when the jars are filling and so hot it takes two to keep up.

More produce. We eat very healthy...and almost turn green in the summer!

Back to my flowers, shade loving plants around the Fairy fountain and flower pots.

We have summer shade on the patio---which is wonderful when it is hot. Always hoses everywhere to water all the pots.

The screen porch back stoop has shade lovers. My Rex Begonia's my favorite with coleus,  and peppermint. My house plants thrive here and are outside from May until October.

The beauty of a garden--- is it always changes...the lights, the scents, the sounds...

and provides homes and food for critters, bees, and butterflies.

When the sun lowered again, we knew Fall's on the way. I moved many tropicals and houseplants back into the house.

The last of the day lilies and the garden was still lush.

Explosions of color in late summer and ornamental grasses surrounded the fishing pond.

Flowers in full bloom, while others began to get leggy and sprawl. Notice the daylily pods in the lower left.

The last summer bouquet inside.

We picked apples in Fall and canned 37 quarts of applesauce and and as many pints and half-pints apple butter from my sister-in-laws trees that year.

Fall began and Pumpkins were everywhere....and then made into pies and pumpkin butter, cookies, muffins, cake, etc. etc, etc. I'm planning a whole month of pumpkin recipes for Fall blogs.

Huge ones, rescued from an early frost.

Pumpkins and dried gourds in the planters. Nipped flowers struggled to bloom.

Our last Maple to change, this tree was usually dark cinnamon color but last year went golden.

A couple of days later...a frost. Mums and marigolds held out for a few days and then the trees emptied.

A final heavy frost, then snow and the garden settled in for Winter.

I Hope you enjoyed a whole year in our garden.

Thanks for stopping by, I love all your comments and questions and will try and answer them all.

All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions or posts. Please do not use photos without linking back to this blog without my permission. Thank you for your cooperation, Sandi Magle

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