Monday, August 23, 2021

Pumpkin Patch and Hugelkulture Mound Progress

In the background, you can see the green bean trellis, then cabbages, then cucumber vine, then Marigolds surrounding the beets.  I harvested some carrots from it today, and was amazed at how well they had done.  We've been eating green beans, cucumbers, and beets already.  The cabbage are nearly ready:

Everything in the Hugel mound is flourishing. So is everything in the pumpkin patch.  Not sure what all I have there as I planted some seeds I had saved in the past.  I know I have a zucchini plant, but what is this monster on the zucchini plant?  As you can see, it has normal looking zucchini on the same plant.
I think if I set up a time lapse camera on the pumpkins I could actually watch them grow.

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed by fruit and veggies at the moment, but I love seeing the jars of jam and pickles filling up the pantry shelves.  

Friday, June 18, 2021

Summer is Here!


Volunteer Foxglove overlooking the lake in the morning sun.

Finally, lake is warm enough to swim every day, plants are getting sunshine to grow, and life is good!  My favorite time of year is late spring/early summer, but I actually love every season - if winter is very short!

Broccoli and cabbage in the Hugelkulture mound are thriving.

The pole beans have found the trellis and are growing by leaps and bounds.  Peas along the lakeside fence of the mound are producing peas. 

The beets at the north end of the mound are WAY bigger than the beets I planted in the main garden at the same time. All in all, the 14' x 3' Hugel mound is doing a lot better than the main garden.  But that may be because it's in full sun all day, and the lake is like a big heat sink that keeps the area close to the lake warmer.  Or it could be the composition of the mound itself - where the decaying wood in the bottom creates extra heat to the plants growing on top.  
Raspberries - I'm about a week away from being up to my eyeballs in raspberries.

The corn we planted early came up spotty, so the replanted corn is only about 2" tall.  The corn that did come up early is about 6" to 8" tall.  The coming days of warm weather should change that quickly.

Blackberries - looks like a year I'll finally get a crop of blackberries.

Strawberries every day now!

Lots of figs forming - hope I can beat the birds to them!
Apples are always dependably abundant.  I've been thinning every time I go to the orchard, but it is like one of the tasks of Hercules to get them all thinned.  

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Some Family Pictures


March - In Florida - We had a first visit from family at our new place in Lake Placid and enjoyed our granddaughter and her family's visit.  The great grands are endlessly entertaining!

We took a short trip to Lake Okeechobee, where we enjoyed the sunshine on a pretty day in March.

May found us in Eastern Washington visiting for Eliza's birthday party and checking out the fishing on Round Lake.

Sammy, Addy, and Liza showed me their tricks on the play equipment in their new playground at Grandma and Grandpa's.  Sammy never took off his batman cape!

June brought us family from Salt Lake City, and a family gathering at the lake. In spite of rainy weather, we all had a good time.

  Tony braved the weather to take boatloads of children on their first fishing adventure.  He had a rapt audience when he cleaned the fish and cooked them for the kiddos to try.

Part of any gathering at our house is lots of food, and visiting and catching up with each other.  We missed having a gathering last year, so there was a lot to catch up on.

And swimming is always part of the mix - even on a rainy cold day.  The lake water actually felt pretty warm as the air was colder than the water.

     The cousins always enjoy getting together.  They play games, run around in the woods, fish, swim, and end up totally exhausted.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Hugelculture Update

 In spite of the coolest May in many many years, and plants languishing instead of exploding, plants in the Hugel mound are doing better than those in my main garden.  I transplanted some English daisies that survived the winter outside, some Marigolds I started from seeds while we were in Florida, and some Lemon balm along the south edge of the mound.  I try to plant flowers to encourage bees, and the Marigolds tend to also ward off pests.

Pole beans from saved seeds are doing okay - it looks like slugs have found them, but not enough to kill them, and I think they're ahead enough to survive once they start growing on the trellis.

Beets from seed - about a month after planting,]and cabbage and broccoli from seed.

We have some sun and warm weather coming in the next week, so next month's update should be better.

Meanwhile, my pumpkin patch that will get too big for the Hugel mound is also languishing on the hillside that gets full sun all day.  I know they will be happy for some warm sunshine this next week.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Hugelculture and Square Foot Gardening


As you can see, this was a weedy steep and unused eyesore in front of the house.  My daughter, Amy, has been telling me about Hugelculture mounds.  I decided this natural swale in the land might work,  Instead of digging a 3' trench, I could smooth from the steep side to the lake side that was coincidentally about 3' lower.

Ron helped a lot using the tractor on the scary slope and doing most of the heavy lifting as we covered the first layer with decaying Alder logs.  Second layer was sticks and branches.

Then came a layer of maple leaves - and then load after load of dirt from one end of the big garden.

After a week of hard manual labor, the mound is complete and planted.  Now we wait!

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Lake Placid Area Sights and Happenings


Winter is festival season in the South. On Saturday we went to Okeechobee for the Speckled Perch Festival and discovered it was also the weekend for the Okeechobee Rodeo, and a huge bass tournament on the lake.  Fortunately we arrived early and visited all the booths before it got too hot or traffic got too impossible.  

The band was just getting set up at 10 a.m., and the parade participants were lining up for about two miles so all the main roads were getting shut down.

Finally getting a walk in the Okeechobee City park to visit the Speckled Perch Festival last Saturday.  I started this post a couple of days ago, changed the cover photo, and then got distracted, so it doesn't quite make sense. I thought some scenes from around the area were in order.  The cover is of a farm a mile down the road from us.  I always admire the Brahma cattle that hang out by the fence.  This area is obviously in transition from huge farms to residential and commercial areas.  Some of the farms look like this:

Some are hundreds of acres of solar panels, many are orange groves, and many are sugar cane.

Sometimes cattle crossings, complete with cowboys on horses stop traffic on rural roads.

Most of the area was divided into 1/4 to 1/2 acre lots many years ago, and canals dredged to connect many of the large bodies of water.  So there are a lot of small lakefront lots where both a well and a septic are possible.  

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Myakka River State Park


Myakka State park used to be our favorite park.  We've been on the boat tour many times and the tram tour once.  Always before, we saw so many birds and animals. The only place I've ever seen a Purple Galinul was on the boat tour.  However, even though it was a warm sunny day, the wind was just howling out of the East when we visited the park yesterday.

So what we saw while on the water were white cap waves, and looking back toward the visitor center we could see the smoke cloud of the prescribed burn.  The park ranger told us they burn 10,000 acres of undergrowth in the park every year.

We did see birds and alligators, but they were all in the protected area of the boat basin where they could shelter from the wind.  My advice is if you are going to spend the $20 per person for the boat tour, choose a day when it isn't windy.

Also, if you do take the boat tour on a windy day, even if the temperature is 76 degrees, if the wind is blowing, wear a sweater!
Of course, you will see alligators in the sunny areas out of the wind.  We were told there are between 500 and 1000 alligators in the lake. And the lake isn't that big - one mile across and about 2 and a half miles long.  The weir at the end of the lake usually has multiple alligators sunning themselves also.

Since Myakka State Park is very close to Sarasota and the busy areas along the west coast of the state, it draws hordes of visitors.  Even on a weekday, we had to wait in a line of about ten cars to check in at the front gate, and barely managed to squeeze onto the first available boat tour.  And the huge air boats that used to take people out on the boat tour have been replaced with barges with two 50 horse motors, which can achieve a high speed of about 5 knots, and which can't get close to the shore like the air boats did in the past.  The feral pigs and shore birds along the banks of the lake were only visible with binoculars.