Gardening in June of 2020

It is very hard to work full time, part time and try to homestead as well.  We have made many orchard type additions this year to our little patch of land.  We have a total of 6 blueberry bushes in one of the flower beds, now known as the blueberry patch.  I have 4 different varieties.  I have four very small twigs- which are very affordable.  $10.00 a piece, but you have to be in it for the long haul.  The will probably not produce for at least another two years.  Then I splurged one day and got 2 full grown- already with a ton of blueberries loaded onto the bush.  At $27.00 a piece and with how well they are doing it was a great investment.  Unfortunately the two full grown blackberry bushes that also had berries and flowers on them and were purchased at the same time for the same price are completely dead.  With the whole virus lock down I am not sure if the nursery I got them at will accept them back.  I need just an hour to do a little research.

We visited my brother and his wife and switched flowers for starts and seeds.  I gave her lillies and cone flowers and spider wort and bee balm.  And she gave me loofah seeds, thyme, raspberry starts and sour dough starter along with much more.  Only one of the raspberry starts survived.  So the new berry patch is not doing the greatest, but there are other plants that are doing great this year.  such as my lavender.  It is going crazy!!!  I cut and dry at least once a week if not twice a week  and we are not talking one little tray.  For example, yesterday I nipped off one tenth of the flowers and it was 4 trays of just lavender tops drying.  Great for in soaps and sachets.  I have been giving some to the neighbors and they love it.

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Two years ago we moved to our current house and it had 4 fruit trees already semi-established.  What I mean by semi established, is that they were several years old when they were first planted , and have been in their current spot for several years now.  Our first summer we got zero fruit from any of the trees.  My husband said if they don’t produce net year they all get chopped down.  Thank goodness for the pear tree on the end.  Last year it gave us five pears.  I did a bunch of trimming, several times the last two years, the four trees were very large and not trimmed.  Since I really wanted more fruit trees I took the time to get some education. This included watching a few videos of how to prune to increase possibility of fruit.  What we didn’t know was that my random tree trimming actually gave them all a chance.  There is a trick to trimming fruit trees so that they produce more the next year.  It is not an instantaneous type of project.  You have to be able to have and enjoy the long game.  This spring the husband and I worked hard on trimming according to what we had learned.  When you find a sucker (a branch that shoots straight up) go to the bunch of leaves and count three leaves up and then trim.  We have a total of 13 pears on the one tree.

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None have been found on the other pear tree this year but I am hopeful for next year because there was three bunches of flowers on it this past flowering season.  I did some research on the two apple trees – of course they will not produce with each other, they are the same type of apple tree and this particular type of apple tree needs a third party pollinator.  So I have been trimming them accordingly and we purchased three fruit tree babies this year.  A golden delicious apple which is a self pollinator as well as a well know third party pollinator.  The baby trees that we purchased are about three to four feet tall right now and are doing great.  We are being very realistic and knowing that it might not be next year that we will get flowers on the baby apple to cross pollinate with the two other well established apple trees, it might be the year after.  All we can do it keep everybody in good shape and hope for the best.

With our three new fruit tree babies we are doing an apple, a bing cherry and a dwarf peach.  It was also suggested that we try the Espalier style of growth and care.  We love the concept and have already have all three on wires.  We have read that this style of growth and trimming is very time consuming.  From what we were dreading it would be hours every day.  It is not!  Yes I spend thirty minutes watering every single new fruit that we planted this year twice a day if it does not rain, but I expected that going in.  We have spent maybe three hours every other Saturday specifically on the fruit trees.

Today I spent a total of an hour trimming down a good bit of the four established trees, the only reason it took so long is because they are not Espalier style where I can reach them all well.  I have to pull one branch down at a time basically fighting it while I trim with the other hand and then step back see which branch I trimmed and then get a game plan for the net branch go in grab it and try to pull it down with out snapping it.  But within that hour I got two full armloads of suckers cut off.  Hopefully next year we will get some fruit on those little fruit shoots I just prepped.

The beets this year have not done that well, nor the bell peppers or lettuce, but the aphids have not been too awful and now that the sugar snap peas are producing I have been able to pick a few every morning.

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We have been getting one or two blueberries as well as a few strawberries.  The sage and oregano have tripled in size this year.  The spearmint and peppermint have gone gang busters jumping out of their small enclosure.  I have been able to dry so much mint this year that I ran out of room in the quart jar I use, its now in a paper bag, and I should probably cut some down tomorrow.

The Elephant Ears as well as the Hostas are perfect for concrete casting right now but with all craft shows canceled for the time being I am slightly hesitant to spend money and time on casting leaves right now, I will have to see how busy our weekends get as places start to open up.

Spending time on Gardening, RickabaughReviews approves.  I really have been taking advantage of the Covid slow down and have been enjoying putting my gardening goals into action.

Adding More Garden

My husband and I recently purchased a new home. It came with 4 average sized raised veggie garden beds and an enormous amount of decorative landscaping in the way of flowers and ground cover and a bunch more flowers. Watch my ever so slow process of turning some of these flower beds into veggie beds.

This is our current veggie garden space.

F8621D4C-4A21-46F9-A58C-0E5B40B7C48D.jpegThe landscaping is very beautiful at our new home.  There are so many different kinds of beautiful flowers and lilies.  A lot of lilies, which is great because they are perennials. Which means they will come up year after year.  Considering we just got a hive of honey bees this is great news for them. I am allergic to pollen so it isn’t as wonderful as it may seem. Part of the property has a six foot privacy fence.  In front of this fence is about four feet deep worth of plants, some flowers, some not. Most of the distance of the fence line gets a fair amount of sun and for at least 50 feet of the fence I would like to turn it into garden space.  This adds up to adding about 200 square feet of garden space.  Does not seem like a whole lot to a bunch of the homesteaders out there who have many acres but I have one acre, and half of it is wooded .The very nice part about having a raised bed up against a fence is the ability to better brace the plants for the crazy amount of wind and rain storms that the Pennsylvania climate has. In the last seven years that my husband and I have been trying out this gardening hobby, at least twice a year we are running outside into the storm with rope and scissors to prop back up and tie up the sweet corn.

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This is some of the space that I would like to transform.

Step one-start taking out some of the hostas.  The first part of removal but trying to keep as much dirt in the space as possible is to trim away the leaves so we can see the roots that need to be dug out.

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This one hosta came out over this past weekend.  Monday I cut down three more Hostas.

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The leaves I put into the compost and the roots I put in a specific area in the woods. I will not mind if they root in this area.  I just tossed them all in the area. Hostas are extremely hardy and I would not be surprised if they took  to the area.

We lived at our old home for 8 years and I tried to remove a hosta in the front flower bed twice a year for all eight years. I am hoping I do not have as much trouble at our new home.

8/6/18 Update:

I am a very busy person with lots of projects.  For example I am currently having our robotic automatic vacuum the upstairs, boiling eggs for my salad tomorrow at work, updating my blog with my right hand and making butter with my left hand.

Making my garden bigger today involved finding a big rock and bringing up from the woods.  I know not a whole lot on that effort today. But I also started to trim down one of the three pine trees that have a great deal of dead branches throughout them and are blocking a lot of light from my garden area. These three trees will eventually be coming down, not just because they are blocking light and have a bunch of dead branches but also because of two other main reasons. 1- I am very allergic to pine trees, sad but yes we have fake Christmas trees. Also they block my vision of keeping an eye on my dog, Belle, when I am outside. If they were in the woods, and there are a few, I would leave them. Every time I try to do yard work with her within 2 minutes I am panicking because I can not see her, EVERY time she is on the other side of the pine trees. In addition that is a great location for another raised veggie bed! Long story short, I cut some branches to let in light for the new veggie bed.