Monday, December 21, 2009

Tree butchering day

Today the utility company came to "trim" our trees that are too close to the power lines. Needless to say, I don't think that they were arboretists or tree lovers for that matter. Here is the result of their work.

Welcome winter!

Today is officially the first day of winter also known as the winter solstice. Today is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere and the longest in the southern hemisphere. Our days will only begin to get longer from here. For those people that don't like winter, we are now on the upward swing to summer. For those of us that love winter and what it brings, we are still waiting for winter to get started!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

White Christmas?

Even people that don't care for snow will say that they like to have a little bit of white stuff on the ground for Christmas. Here is the link to some interesting facts about Christmas Day weather history for Peoria, IL. According to their records, there has not been a white Christmas here since 2002 when there were 3 inches of snow on the ground. I am keeping my eyes on this developing storm and hoping for a break in the 7 year "no snow" spell.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Garden Catalogs...already!

I received my first two gardening catalogs in the mail today. I think that has to be a new record...every year seems sooner. The garden has barely been put to sleep for winter! Let the spring dreams begin!
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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Indian summer

It feels like yet another round of Indian Summer here in IL. It has been in the 70's for two days with bright sunshine.

In wondering about the origins of the term Indian Summer, I went to my good friend Google once again. The following two were interesting. Phrase finder appears to be a site out of the UK, but still good info.
It would be a great day to hang clothes on the line, however my neighbors seem to think that it is also a great day to burn leaves. Not good for that outdoorsy smell I love on clothes... :(

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Peoria October weather facts

National Weather Service - Climate Data:

Somehow, I missed the trace of snow...I can't imagine that! There is more rain forecast for tonight....

Monday, November 2, 2009

Fall weather...indoor gardening

Tonight is supposed to get to 30 degrees. We have had a few good frosts now, and I have brought in my plants that I want to overwinter; perennials that did not find a home, spider plants that always love the humidity of the summer, Lauren's strawberry plant that we grew from seed, and the gerbera daisies. Now to clean out my shed so I can hang out in there and not feel nuts from the clutter left over from summer! The heat needs to be turned on soon, and one set of lights is running to keep the plants happy.
I am thinking of doing some lettuces under the lights again. I had good luck with that last winter.
Soon I will be pouring over the seed catalogs again dreaming of spring while snow flies...

Sunday, November 1, 2009


We finally got the potatoes dug today. Bill said that we probably lost about 5 lb. of the reds to a mouse. At least he ate well. We still need to weigh them and find out how much we got overall.
Yellow Finn
Dark Red Norland

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Long time, no post...fall is well on its way in central IL. The garden has long since frosted over more than once now. My thoughts have turned to winter and upcoming snows. Before I know it, the garden catalogs will be coming in the mail and the garden dreams will start anew.
My potting shed has been neglected since the seed starting season. It is in need of some TLC. This was probably the worst garden season that I can remember. It seemed that the only thing that thrived were the weeds, peppers and cucumbers. Japanese beetles ate my raspberry foliage down to the sticks! I really need to remember to get some milky spore.
On to winter....gardening as we know it may be over, but Mother Nature has plenty left up her sleeve!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Today's harvest

The first good picking of fresh raspberries
Broccoli (sat in the garden a little long) and the first of the zucchini.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One month later

My Annabelle Hydrangea has tons of huge blooms this year.
View of my garden from the east. In front are cucumbers and then tomatoes behind them.
Cucumber blossom
Sweeter Yet cucumber
This was supposed to be a Marcellino cherry tomato. Something wasn't right!
The red raspberries are starting now
Italian zucchini
dill blossom
This seed came from Johnny's and was supposed to have been an Italian Zucchini. They mailed new seed later saying the previous seed was a round type zucchini. I thought we would still try it. We might like it. They are supposed to be good stuffed.
The end of the black raspberries. It got hot last week and a lot of them dried up. I was able to salvage these today. They will be good in tomorrow's breakfast yogurt!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spinach harvest

We harvested more spinach tonight. I am using washed out plastic containers from bird suet to put the blanched spinach in to freeze. After blanching, I was able to get 4 of those containers. I would like to buy a new food saver machine and once they are frozen, I would "shrink wrap" them for better storage. I have a total of 5 blocks now. I am glad we got them out of the garden tonight. We are getting a wild thunderstorm and have gotten almost 1 3/4 inches of rain in about an hour to an hour and a half. Great for my newly transplanted perennials!!

Sunday, May 31, 2009


Yesterday Bill and Lauren and I went to a couple of plant sales. I love plant sales because you can ususally get some good plants for next to nothing. I bought one Frances Williams hosta, one Elija Blue hosta, one unnamed hosta, and a yellow yarrow. Bill got me two Globe Flowers (trollius chinensis) "Golden Queen", two Asiatic Lillies "Monte Negro" which is a beautiful burgundy red, and one clematis "Ville de Lyon". We planted all of them today along with my shade window box full of impatiens, and two troughs of assorted plants that I had left over for by Bill's shed. I have to "girl-ify" it. We also transplanted bee balm (Monarda) and Shasta Daisy "Alaska". A little bit of this and a little bit of that.
I had to replant one Parade cucumber. Something lopped off my newly planted plant. Bunnies, anyone?
I still have a ton of things to plant....
A mole is running through my newly planted flower bed under our Blue Spruce tree that Bill trimmed up. Bill put our two traps today. I noticed that the mole was also running throught my raised bed of peppers also. Darn thing!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This weekend's plantings

This past weekend Bill and I planted our squashes and cucumbers. I spaced the cucumbers on the trellis (cattle panel) a bit further this year. Last year I had read to space them every 6 inches on a trellis. This year I am trying 12 inches. Too crowded last year.
  • 4 - A&C Pickling - Abbott & Cobb introduced this variety in 1928. The fruit is uniform and deep green. A good variety for salads or for dill pickles; large yields.

  • 4 - Parade - Popular Russian variety. Heavy set of uniform fruits that mature at relatively the same time, making it a good processing variety. Fruits 5" long by 2" diameter, one of our favorites at Heritage Farm. Resistant to extreme weather conditions. 50-60 days.

  • 4 - Sweeter Yet Hybrid Cucumber - A burp-free cucumber with perfectly balanced taste. Best when harvested at about 10inches - 12 inches long, 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter. Fruits are dark green thin skin, needs no peeling away, sweet taste and no bitterness. Vigorous vines grow 70 inches tall on a trellis or 80 inches on the ground with no support. Fruits are long, cylindrical and mature in 48 days. Fruits are white-spined gynoecios hybrid. Disease resistant to DM (Downy Mildew), PM (Powdery Mildew), CMV (Common Mosaic Virus), ZYV (Zucchini Yellow Mosaic Virus) and PRSV (Papaya Ring spot Virus).

  • 2 - Sunburst Summer Squash - AAS Winner leading market variety, consumers prefer the glossy bright deep yellow fruit making it one of the most sought after for full size and baby vegetable dishes. Fruits may be harvested when 2 to 3 inches as baby vegetables, without loosing the tender, buttery flavor which is sustained in the larger mature squash. Compact bushy plants are sure to produce heavy yields. Scalloped edges and deep dish shaped.

  • 1 - Yellow Crookneck - the best yellow variety for buttery flavor and firm texture. Big plants are late to begin bearing, but then yield consistently over a long picking period. Best picked small, 4-5" long.

  • 1 - Green Zucchini

  • 1 - Costata Romanesco (Cucurbita pepo)
    Best-tasting.Distinctive Italian zucchini, prominently ribbed. Medium gray-green, with pale green flecks and ribs. Big, large-leafed bush with only about half the yield of hybrids, but much better tasting; clearly better textured, nutty, and delicious, raw or cooked. Also a good producer of heavy male blossom buds for cooking. Packet: 30 seeds.
    Days to Maturity or Bloom: 52

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Finally, no rain!

Spring in Illinois this year has been atypical. Usually we go straight from heat to A/C. This spring has been exceptionally wet and cool. We have had flood warnings every day for as long as I can remember and last night it got down to 38 degrees. It has been consistently in the 40's at night. It is very hard to plant under these conditions.

Today was nice, so Bill and I got 48 tomato plants and 15 pepper plants planted as well as my very late onions. I had been potting up the tomatoes and peppers along the way, so they look very healthy. I am disappointed to get the onions in so late, but better late than never. As usual, I have tons of tomato and pepper plants left over. I would plant them, but I am running out of room. Darn!!

We did a lot of weed control with newspaper and straw between the beds. We are hoping for a much less weedy garden this year. With all that we do outside of gardening, it is amazing how quickly the weeds can overtake the garden! We speak from experience.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1st real harvest

Today I picked a 1 gallon bucket of spinach. It probably was more than that, but I kept gently pushing it down, being careful not to bruise it. It was really sandy with all of the rain we have had, but I found that using a 5 gallon bucket and rinsing a couple of times then filling the bucket again and letting the remaining dirt fall to the bottom worked well. It came really clean. I am going to blanch and freeze it. I did get the items that I need to make a lasagna this week. I am wanting to put some of the spinach in it.

I also thinned my beets and lettuces. I used the same rinsing technique as above. I picked quite a bit of this. I am ready for a great salad this week. Maybe with my lasagna.

My radishes seem to be getting lots of foliage and not much bulb. Maybe I need to check my soil.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all my fellow gardeners! It's been a beautiful gardening day here!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Beautiful day and observations

Today is a beautiful day! We have had so much rain again lately. I haven't been able to get into the garden at all. The ground is great for weed pulling though, and goodness knows that there are plenty of those!

Just looking around at the yard recently, I made a few observations.
  • The crab apple didn't really bloom this spring and neither did the forsythia.
  • The lilacs bloomed and are drying up already. I didn't even get a chance to enjoy them.
  • The asparagus is almost finished.
  • My apricot irises are blooming.
  • The birds are nesting in a frenzy. I have found robin and dove eggs.
  • My knockout roses did not do well over the winter and had to be cut almost all of the way to the ground. They seem to be recovering well though.
  • We had a couple of blossoms on our Wolf River apple but not the honeycrisp. The wolf river is one year older.
  • No blooms on the peaches, but a couple on the cherry tree.
  • The columbine that I planted last year from seed is double in size and looks great. My hydrangeas seem to be doing better this year. I almost killed them a couple of years ago by putting too much lime on them.
  • I have two resident bunnies in my garden. They have been feasting on my Green Goliath broccoli prompting the placement of chicken wire around the raised bed. Of note, they don't seem to care as much for the Romanesco Italia variety.
  • The strawberries seem to have survived. They were almost decimated by something last year. Don't know what, but I thought for sure we would have to replant the whole bed. There are plenty of blooms coming on so far.
  • Everything seems to getting taken over by a weed that I have never seem so much of before. It like to spread out, I know that much! It is in the lawn and the flower beds and garden.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Back from yet another trip south

We have ended up making two trips to Alabama in the last week and a half. The first was to visit my grandmother and family. She had recently been placed in a nursing home. We had the most wonderful visits. One week to the day after returning, we were on the road again for her funeral. It was truly a blessing to know that she was no longer suffering and with the Lord in heaven.

All this traveling means that something has to slide. That would be the potting up of my peppers and tomatoes. They may just burst their little roots out in rebellion soon. I want them to be strong and have good root systems before I plant out in mid May. These sayings won't comfort my plants....Good things come to those who wait, patience is a virtue, hurry up and wait, etc. Rather I think of this...only the strong survive!

On the other hand, it was nice to see all of the green. I had once heard that for every 100 miles that you travel north or south that there is a one week difference in the seasons. The trees are very leafed out. My uncle already has corn and beans planted. Something that I would not do until mid May in central Illinois.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Is this an old hummingbird nest?

Lauren found this in our spruce tree which just happens to be near my hummingbird feeder. It looks small enough to be a hummingbird nest. It is made with very fine twigs/sticks. I would like to think that our hummingbirds were nesting nearby.

Seedling status

Lettuce sprouts on the bottom of this picture and pea pod plants, toward the top, just starting to sprout
newly planted potatoes - Dark Red Norlands and Yellow Finn. I planted an extra row than I really should have, but I couldn't help it. I didn't have room for an extra bed of potatoes. I had a few left as it was.
Broccoli plants just put out today
Pepper plants still in the shed. I didn't think it was warm enough for them yet outdoors. I was wrong though. It got into the low 70's.
Small container of Southport red globe onion plants and broccoli seedlings before I planted them out.
Onions seedlings - Southport Red Globe, Ailsa Craig Exhibition, and Australian Brown
Hardening off
more hardening off....
And yet more hardening off of plants

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tiny field peas

We had some of the best food in Alabama! One of the things that we had were "tiny field peas"with snap beans. I am trying to figure out if these are just a regular crowder type/black eyed pea that are picked immature or if they are a particular type of pea. We found them in a can and bought some, but I would like to grow my own. Any thoughts?

Water well and return

I did what any other seed starting gardener would have done...panicked!! Why, you ask? At the thought of going away on vacation and leaving my seedlings at risk of certain death! I have done this before, but it is much like raising children (how close the analogy is), no one can care for them as well as you can. Ultimately, you come home to dead or half dead plants or ones that are screaming to be pulled out of their watery graves.

This year we were only going to be gone for four days, so I took a chance and watered extra well prior to leaving. Alas, when we came home, my seedlings looked as if I had never left. They did need a drink, but all are still doing well.

I am now in the process of hardening off my broccoli and onions. The weather is quite cool today in the low 40's.

I checked my lettuce, beets, peas, spinach and radishes today. It appears that the mesclun and white radishes are peeping out of the soil. I am anxious to see more!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Great day for gardening

Today was a beautiful day to be in the garden! The temps were in the 60's with plenty of sunshine making it nice to be out without a jacket.

I pruned back dead and unruly raspberry canes. Bill tried to get me to wear his long sleeves, but being stubborn, I didn't listen. So here I sit with what looks like some sort of allergic reaction to the scratches that are now welts. I have never had that happen before. Anyway, five hours after taking 50 mg of Benadryl, I am still awake at 3 am. I bet I will sleep in in the morning! I will feel a Benadryl hangover....

I planted my snow peas as well a multiple varieties of lettuces, spinach, and radishes. I am using an innoculant this year for the first time. Is that organic?? I hope that it works as well as it is supposed to. I had the onions out to start the hardening off process. I forgot to take the broccoli seedlings out too.

Tomorrow I will be potting up my pepper plants. They are needing more room than the cells that they are in now.

We are having a nice thunderstorm now. My seeds will be well watered in by morning.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The alyssum that I just planted Sunday have sprouted. I had them on my heat mat, and I'm sure that helped, but that fast??

Monday, March 30, 2009


Well, I just came back from the shed, and nothing really looks different than it did yesterday. Not that I thought that it would, just like to check. Of course the seeds I just planted aren't going to be coming up yet. I did notice that my Shasta daisies are sprouting pretty well though. The pepper plants are starting to get their second set of leaves. Not enough to transplant yet though.

Peeking outside the shed, I noticed that the cherry tree that we planted last year is budding out with just a hint of green starting. It always feels good to know that a tree that you planted last year made it through the winter!

I fixed my outdoor thermometer so I can again monitor the high and low temps for the day. My new gardening journal has a spot on each day for the temps. I did not want to rely on the airport temps in Peoria. I wanted accurate temperature readings for my neck of the woods.

There is a chance for thunderstorms tonight and tomorrow. I am waiting impatiently for a good spring storm.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Crop failure

Two of the pepper seeds that I planted never came up. One was the free seed that I received from Baker Creek Seeds (Yellow Star Hot pepper) and one was seed that I had since 2006 (Salsa Delight Hybrid). I thought about replanting the yellow star, but figured since I over planted enough, I could do without. No one really like the hot peppers anyway. I have quite a few Impatiens that have not sprouted either. They are this year's seed too (Flavours hybrid). Everything else seems to have decent to excellent germination.

Today's planting

Another busy seed starting day

6 Rubin red basil
21 Sweet basil
9 Parsley
9 Cilantro
6 Oregano

Packet of Ailsa Craig Exhibition onion
6 Black Krim tomato
2 Black Cherry tomato
2 Yellow Pear tomato
2 Red Lightning tomato
6 Sheboygan tomato
6 Crnkovic Yugoslavian tomato
6 Pink Brandywine tomato
6 German Pink tomato
6 Italian Heirloom tomato
6 Caspian Pink tomato
3 Amish Paste tomato
6 Roma tomato
1 Jelly Bean tomato
1 Marcellino cherry tomato
1 Amish Salad tomato
10 Imperial Star Artichoke

18 White Sweet Alyssum
18 Purple Sweet Alyssum
18 Johnny Jump Up Viola

Busy planting day in the shed

I am taking a break from potting seeds for a moment. I have potting up LOTS of seeds today. I will make sure to post what was planted today later.
My seeds from Pinetree Garden Seeds came yesterday after quite a delay. I was disappointed because I purchased my artichoke and Ailsa Craig onion seed from them and they are getting a very late start. They did however note that they have seen an increase of 30% this year which seems to be the norm across the board from what I have been reading. They included the following coupon apologizing for the delay. I thought that was nice. I made a mental note to order especially early next year. The price of their seeds is very cheap.

Late winter storm

Last night started with heavy rain (including the snowfall, we had over an inch of precip) and a couple of thunder claps. At 1am I woke up to sleet hitting the window. I later woke up to 5 or more inches of snow on the ground. It is now 3 pm, and the snow is almost gone with the promise of 60 degrees tomorrow. You have to love spring in Illinois!
My purple and white crocus has about had enough between the driving rain and then snow.
The daffodils aren't holding their heads high this afternoon either.
The view outside my potting shed into the side yard as the snow was melting.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Outdoor blooms

Peony buds
Yellow crocus
A not so good picture of columbine. My beds still need cleaned out from the fall leaves.

The yellow crocus are starting to bloom, and the daffodils are budding quite nicely. The peony is also up. The forsythia is budding out as well as the lilac leaves.

What is growing under lights today

Lots of sprouts! And I haven't even planted tomatoes, cucumbers, and squashes yet!
The top shelf is all of Lauren's plantings. I planted many perennials from seed yesterday as well as broccoli. I should have planted it earlier. I had it, but just was not calculating right. I will have to learn for next year.
I think that I need to plot out my tomatoes so I know exactly how many to plant. I like to overplant! Something to do for tonight.
We are supposed to get a lot of rain tonight. 1 - 3 inches. I am hoping for some good thunderstorms. Good for fixing nitrogen in the soil.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Today's planting

9 Sweet William mix
9 Hollyhock mix
9 Lychnis - Diamonds and Rubies
9 Shasta Daisy - Alaska
9 Columbine - Wm. Guinness
9 Columbine - Dragonfly Hybrids
18 Coleus mix
18 Floxglove
18 Stock - purple
7 Ivy cuttings

18 Broccoli - Green Goliath
18 Broccoli - Romanesco Italia

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Blooming crocuses!

The white/purple crocuses in the east bed (front of the house) are blooming and the yellow ones are on their way. The first thing to bloom this spring.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sprouting today.....







1. Pepper plants
2. Onion plants
3. Lauren's butterfly mix - I did not think that this would even grow. The seed was so old.
4. Lauren's planting - unsure exactly what it is - she would be able to tell me though.
5. Lauren's alyssum
6. Lauren's sunflowers and lettuce
7. More onion plants. I love using leftover containers from fresh mushrooms. They make great small flats!
This post did not come out very well. I am not very good with the pictures. The layout looks much different in draft form than on the blog.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The onions are sprouting!

I just went out in my shed and checked on my plantings, and I have onions starting to sprout! I had figured on a couple of weeks based on the seed envelope information. So exciting to see!

More seeds planted

Today's plantings:

6 Golden Marconi peppers
22 Impatients - Flavours hyb. mix
33 Impatients - Butterfly hyb. mix
9 Gerbera daisies - mix
9 Geraniums - Paint Box mix
9 Delphinium - Pacific Giants "Summer Skies"
6 Salvia - Blue Bedder Sage
9 Dianthus - Siberian blues (Hardy pinks)

I wonder why it is that I always feel the need to plant SO many seeds! I have planted a total of 78 pepper plants!! I may have to sell them or give them away. I know that I will use allof the impatients. I have a lot of old seed for perennials and veggies that I am trying to use up. I may have to get another shelf for lights.

Yesterday was very nice for outdoor work with today promising to be in the low 60's. My neighbors were bitten by the spring bug and taking leaves off their garden beds. I am waiting a couple more weeks. March is far too fickle!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Lauren's plants

Lauren's (my 9 year old) seeds are starting to sprout. When I was in the shed planting my veggie seeds, she was going through all of my seeds asking, "Can I plant some of these? How about some of these?". She loves to garden! These are not marked, so I do not know for sure what is growing right now. I will have to have her let me know and post it later.