Monday, March 05, 2018

Invasive Species Awareness Week

This is Invasive Species Awareness Week - and I have noticed the garlic mustard in my flowerbeds, drawing in the warm spring sunshine and building up sugar in its roots.  Time to get these plants is now, while they are small.  Don't wait for them to build up root systems and potentially spawn off new plants! 

The good folks at Ohio State University Extension service have created a number of Buckeye Yard and Garden Line bulletins about invasive weeds.  Here is a link to one on bittersweet, which many people like for interior decorating. 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

This year's garden

Since I spent six months recovering from a hip surgery and a hip surgery revision, my husband refused to till up the "big" garden in the back of our yard this year and only tilled a small 25 x 20 space closer to the house.  

I've got tomatoes, cabbage,  peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, potatoes, green beans, radishes, a few beets, some lettuce, snow peas, and onions.    They are planted pretty intensively.   But somehow the weeds still manage to come up!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Michigan soil is very sandy.  The water table is high, but any water I put on the garden runs through it because of the sand.

I had some landscaping done around the house, and I took all the old dirt, full of weed seeds, to the vegetable garden.  Because the landscaping had been repeatedly mulched, my reasoning is that the mulch has broken down over the years and will provide beneficial organic material to the sandy garden soil.

I am anxious to start my seeds. It has been a cold, wet spring and I think it is high time to get the seeds either in the ground (radishes and peas) or in the seed-starting trays (tomatoes and peppers). 

Due to medical condition, I am restricted from many of my favorite vegetables.  No more rhubarb, swiss chard, spinach, kale, strawberries, raspberries or blueberries for me.   I am debating whether to put them in my garden anyway.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Yellow Transparents are ripe!

I picked two half- bushel baskets. Yellow trasparents are the best apples for pies, in my opinion.  Plus they always remind me of my childhood, climbing the apple tree in my grandmother's yard.  Not sure if I will have time to bake an apple pie tomorrow.  Tonight we are going to watch The Hundred- foot Journey.  Maybe I will be inspired.

Well, maybe they are a little bit overripe.  Good thing I talked Ed into coming up to now the lawn! I just wish someone could explain why the biggest and nicest fruits are always at the top of the tree beyond the reach of my picking pole.

When we arrived last night this little guy was stuck to the picture window, I guess he was catching flies attracted to the light.  I rarely get an opportunity to observe frogs so closely!

Sunday, July 13, 2014



We have an orchard. It was a long journey, and I am still on the road.  We have an orchard and yet, I do not manage the orchard. I am 57 years old, and it is still an orchard dream.

  I dreamed of having an orchard when I lived in Johnny Appleseed country in Richland County, Ohio.   Unfortunately for me, like Johnny Appleseed, once I planted an orchard, I moved on.  

I lived in an apartment, just out of college, and with a good job.  No room for a garden, only pots on the fire escape in a downtown apartment.   I lived there a few years, until there was a murder outside my window.  I scraped together my assets and moved on. 

I had enough money for a down payment on a mobile home (almost).  I borrowed the rest from my grandmother.  My grandmother had a lot of money in the bank, the result of having been parsimonious during the Great Depression and afterwards.  She lent me the money I lacked, and I paid her the going interest rate of 4%, knowing that she and my grandfather had worked at jobs for $.25 an hour or less to earn that money. I made sure I paid her on time and with the full amount of interest that she might have earned in her savings account. It was proud day for me when that debt was paid off in full.

I lived in the mobile home for a few years.  I paid my “mortgage”, and I paid my grandmother, and I paid the lot rent, and I paid the utilities. Unfortunately, I learned about the “rule of 78”.  That means that you pay all the interest up front, and when you are halfway done paying off the mortgage, you still owe the original amount of the mortgage, in principal.  My naivety.  Their profit.   My kids came along.  I paid my husband’s credit card bills, my naivety. His profit.  I paid the grocery store.  All the time I longed for a patch of land to call my own, where I could have an orchard.

My new husband and I bought a house on 2 acres.  I rented the mobile home to a coworker.  She was a great renter, paid on time every month.  The new house was next door to a home with established apple trees, and had 2 young trees already planted. I was really looking forward to my orchard.  The neighbors were great, they were friendly, and the property backed up to a private park, with ATV trails to the lake.  We got a membership at the lake club and life was good for me and my kids.  Maybe not so good for my husband and his girlfriend.  They went through a lot to convince me that I should not be married to him anymore.  OK.  So it is. I get the house (and the apple trees) and he gets a reduced amount of child support.  My renter moves on to a new job, and I sell the mobile home.

A job change means I get to move to Michigan. No fruit from the apple trees in Ohio yet.  OK.  I will move, because I need the job to survive with my kids.  We move.  Michigan is different.  Way different. We are in a “metropolitan area” instead of a small town.  The neighborhoods are measured by “Mile Roads” and the further north of 8-Mile, the better the neighborhood.

My back yard is really small.  It backs up to the middle-school track, and is just around the corner from the park, so the kids learn to live in a metropolitan area.  My oldest daughter was in elementary-middle school and the youngest was just starting kindergarten. There is no room for an apple tree, but a family of skunks make its home under our porch.

 A job opens up back in my hometown (same company.) With only a small hesitation, I take it.
We move back home.  Thomas Wolfe said “you can’t go home again” and I fear he was correct. My friends from high school and previous school activities had moved on.   I planted three trees, one Liberty, one Enterprise, and one Freedom.  All three are disease-resistant varieties. 

I start dating again, and fall completely in love with the love of my life.  Unfortunately for the apple trees in my back yard.  They were just starting to bear fruit, and I had to move again. 

 But, as it turned out, he owns an orchard in Michigan!  There are Northern Spys, Grimes Golden, MacIntosh, Steel Red, Yellow Delicious, Red Delicious, Greening, Yellow Transparent, Jonathon, one Wagner, and one Red Astriken. There are also pear trees and a single Damson plum tree.  The trees are old, and haven't been properly pruned for many years. 

His back yard in Ohio had a MacIntosh apple tree.  For some reason, it did not bear well.  He said it is because MacIntosh is a variety that has a heavy crop one year and a light one the next.  We never got the heavy crop. 

Fast forward, the factory closed.  We move to Michigan.  There are two Cortland apple trees in the backyard.  I did not even realize they were real fruit trees until 2013, when I harvested a bushel of apples from each tree!   It was the first time I got a real harvest from an apple tree that I owned!
I am looking forward to learning more about how to manage the orchard.  There is poison ivy everywhere, and I am wondering if goats would be advisable.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

A little Logging

May 16 - Trespassers on the farm found about a pound of morels.  The neighbor kept them talking until Ed arrived.  The nice young men apologized and said that their uncle "Brian McCarthy" had told them it would be OK since he knew the owners and the owners lived in Indiana. Ed confiscated the morels.

I do not know that Brian McCarthy, but his nephews are good morel hunters.  We enjoyed them. 

May 17 - spent the morning looking for my own morels.  I found a few more.  It was interesting, I noticed May Apples near where they were found, but I also noticed Purple Deadnettles very close to most of them.  CLICK HERE for a photo.  Saw a pickup truck high-tailing it off the property when I got close to him. 

I found morels along the edges between woods and fields for the most part.  Limited ingredients on hand at the farm, I cooked spaghetti, asparagus (from my garden in metro Detroit), cream sauce made with cornstarch and milk, and some mushrooms

May 18 - spent the morning tromping around the woods again.  Found NOTHING.  The weather was a little warmer, in the 70's. A couple drove into the driveway and asked Ed for permission to hunt mushrooms.  Nope!  Came home.  Ed mowed the lawn.  He found a morel in the front yard.  Menu for dinner: fried mushrooms (a little flour/breadcrumb, dip in egg/milk, dip again in the flour/breadcrumb mixture, fry in butter, turning frequently) as an appetizer, chicken thighs in gravy and broccoli.   Watered neglected tomato seedlings which look dessicated.  Spent some time reviewing morel-hunting procedures in Michael Kuo's excellent book.

May 19 - After eating at a pricy restaurant, came home and picked about 10 stalks of asparagus here.  Looks like maybe I could pick a cup or two of rhubarb later this week.  Tomato seedlings have recovered some, but some will not revive.  Checked on the elderberry plants from 2 years ago, cannot find them.  Checked on last years blueberries, they are growing.  Put a couple of stakes near them so that Ed does not mow over them.  Weeded flower garden a little, pulling those persistent sow thistles or whatever they are and some bindweed.  Realized that pulling stinging nettles without gloves was not a good idea.  Retreated to the house!

Monday, April 28, 2014

Expecting rain

We are expecting rain today, it has been quite windy all day.  On the way back from the post office I drove by a gold mine of compost material- three bags finely chopped and stacked by the curb.  I scooped up two of them since that is what would fit in my car.  When I got home I drove back to the compost pile and emptied them, some of the loose material blew away to enrich my neighbor's fields. Even something is better than nothing, though. 

 After returning the car to the garage, I found one of my cole plant trays had caught the wind and was scattered across the front yard.  Once again, I scooped up the tiny little plants, put them back in the trays, gave them a watering, and put that tray back in the garage.  I left the other three trays outside, they seemed to have a little more water weighing them down.  When the rain comes it will keep them from blowing away.

We had a power bump a little while ago,  the TV came on upstairs all by itself, the wireless printer made some noises, and the light in the living room came on.  Gave me quite a creepy feeling to go upstairs and find out what the noises were.

On another note, I have been enjoying the Canada geese who seem to be making a nesting area in my pond.  They take turns with the heron who comes and fishes from time to time. 

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