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Potato Storage Bins

one hill new potatoes from raised bed 18 potatoes

one hill new potatoes from raised bed 18 potatoes

This is the time we gardeners have been waiting for: harvest! One crop I love to harvest is potatoes. Digging potatoes is like digging for gold—especially if they happen to be Yukon Golds.

Since there are only so many potatoes that can be eaten at once, how can they be stored without rotting? Potatoes need a cool, dry room with air circulating around them. At our home, our pantry is a cool, dry room but we still needed a container to allow air circulation. Here is the solution my husband devised.

potato storage bin

potato storage bin

He cut some leftover wire shelving to fit in milk crates. He also found some metal strips to hold the shelving in place.

leftover shelving

leftover shelving

This allowed us to stack our potatoes and add storage space when needed. It’s worked so well for us, and we didn’t have to purchase anything. I hope this idea will help you and allow to enjoy your vegetables longer.

stored potatoes

 

HAPPY HARVEST!

 

Orchid Memories and Orchid Varieties

phalaenopsisOrchids are not only beautiful, but they may also trigger a wonderful memory. When I was a child, my mother always wore an orchid corsage to church on Easter Sunday. My brother would pick it up on Saturday from the nearest florist (twenty miles away), and it would be stored in the side door of the refrigerator. It was pinned on Mom’s dress after she had secured her hat with bobby pins and before she slipped on her cloth gloves.

I have the most common orchid variety, the Phalaenopsis, not the type Mom wore as a corsage. For a wonderful look at the mind-blowing number of orchid types, check out a compendium of the orchid family created by FTD.

Have fun checking out the amazing photographs. Perhaps it will trigger some lovely memories, too.

orchid

What Do I Do With This Beautiful Orchid?

phalaenopsis

phalaenopsis

The exotic beauty of orchids intimidated me into thinking they’d be difficult to grow and maintain. But as I wrote in my last post, I found a deal that I couldn’t refuse on some beautiful blooming orchids. Now that the holiday season is over, I wondering how I’m going to care these beauties. I did some research about orchid care and will share a few basic tips and helpful websites that I have found.

First, find out what kind of orchid you have. There are many, many varieties out there, but the most popular orchids found in the garden section of the hardware stores are the phalaenopsis, also called a moth orchid, the dendrobium, also called a cane orchid, or the cattleya. The two blooming orchids I purchased during the holidays are phalaenopsis. However, last year I bought a tiny cattleya in the “needs lots of love immediately” houseplant section of Lowe’s. It hasn’t bloomed since I got it. Evidently it needed a whole lotta love! If a name tag wasn’t with your orchid, here is a great website that has pictures to help you identify it. http://aboutorchids.com/identify/index.html

 

cattleya

cattleya

One of the most important tips I learned is to leave your orchid alone until it has finished blooming. By leave it alone, I mean don’t repot it, don’t fertilize it, and don’t overwater it. When it comes to water, less is more. Water it once a week, but make sure the pot drains properly. Don’t let the orchid stand in water. Don’t get water on the leaves. If you do, wipe the water off them. I know, that’s lots of “don’ts.” I’ll try to be more positive.

Do keep the orchid in a sunny room, but not in direct sunlight.

Do keep it away from drafts and vents.

After your orchid has bloomed, check its container. If it’s not in a pot with holes, re-pot it in one. Also, it’s helpful if your pot is a clear plastic so the roots of the orchid are visible. Orchids with green roots are healthy. Those with gray roots need more water, and those with dark roots are over-watered. If you re-pot, be sure to use a medium specific for orchids. Orchids like their roots in bark rather than dirt.

orchid roots

Orchids usually need fertilizer to re-bloom. Like watering, it should be used sparingly. Use fertilizer when the orchid is in its growing season which is after it has bloomed. I plan to use an orchid fertilizer rather than creating my own because I don’t have any experience with orchids. I’m going to play it safe.

I hope this information helps all of you who have these beautiful flowers. For more detailed information about their care please check out the American Orchid Society  https://www.aos.org/ .  May your orchids brighten your winter!

moth orchid

Spice Up Your Flowers With Ornamental Peppers

Ornamental Pepper Plant

 

This year I decided to spice up our flower gardens with ornamental peppers. There must be a million varieties from which to choose, but I limited myself to three: Purple Flash, Pumpkin, and Poinsettia Hot Pepper. I grew all three from seed in our bedroom window.

 

 

Ornamental Poinsettia

All three of these ornamental pepper varieties are so different that it’s hard to believe they belong in the same family. The Poinsettia Hot Pepper looks more like the traditional pepper plants I’m used to growing. These fire engine red pepper fruits are extremely hot, too hot for our family’s taste. I was hoping the deer might take a bite and decide to leave my flowers alone. But no, they’re too smart for that. Instead, they eat around the pepper plants.

Purple Flash Pepper

The Purple Flash make a nice contrast against the marigolds in our flower box. Next year I’ll put them in a flower bed rather than a container. I believe they would have grown bigger and tolerated the heat better if I had planted them in a bed rather than a tractor tool box.

Pumpkin OrnamentalPumpkin Ornamental Bush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Pumpkin, which looks more like a tomato plant than a pepper plant, grew way bigger than I’d anticipated. It’s a hog! It almost took over my entire flower bed. Now that I know what to expect from it, I’ll give it lots of elbow room next year. Its fruits turn from green to red to orange. It’s like watching a tomato transform into a mini-pumpkin. In fact, the fruits make great substitutions for mini-pumpkins in fall decorations.

I was very pleased with these ornamental peppers and plan to grow them and other varieties next year. They make a great conversation piece in your garden and provide a lot of fun. And fun is the best reason to garden.

purple flash pepper

 

The Sweet Taste of Victory

Sweet Corn 2014

The raccoons and I have waged war over sweet corn for over twenty years. Since our main garden is an eighth of a mile from the house, it’s difficult to protect it from marauders. An electric fence would help tremendously, but the garden is large (90’ x 54’) and I really didn’t want to spend the money. I don’t want lot of corn, just enough to put a few pints in the freezer and have a few meals of fresh corn-on-the-cob.

I usually don’t have any trouble with raccoons until the day before I’m about to pick the sweet corn. I’m convinced they have ESP and know when I’m planning to harvest. Every year, I think I can outwit them and every year I go up to the garden with bucket in hand only to find the ears ravaged. As I watched the corn thrive this summer, I decided that this would be my last year growing of sweet corn. The game I’d played with the raccoons had become too wearisome, and I was throwing in the towel. This year was particularly hopeless, because we were going to be away from the farm right when the corn would be at its peak.

ear damage/raccoonscorn stalk damage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in Indiana, I tried my best not to think about how the raccoons were pillaging the garden. When we returned home, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Only half a dozen stalks were torn up and the rest were untouched. For once, I picked enough corn to freeze and to enjoy fresh. Victory!

So how did I beat the raccoons at their game this year? Mostly luck. However, I also used my husband’s suggestion to plant twice as much corn in hopes that I could pick a few before the raccoons wrecked the entire patch. It was a good strategy not only to keep the raccoons at bay, but it also helped the quality of the corn. More corn meant better pollination.

 

Peaches & Cream Variety

Peaches & Cream Variety

Will this truly be my last year of growing sweet corn? No way. That was too much fun. I’m doing this again next year!

 

DON’T JUST SMELL THE ROSES, TAKE A PICTURE OF THEM

AceHardware Rose

This is a wonderful time of year for flowers. It’s not too cold and it’s not too hot, and so with a little watering, flowers thrive. The peonies and irises are just now past their peak at our place, but the clematis, roses, and day lilies are in full bloom. Snipping a few bouquets to adorn the dining room table and fill the house with sweet perfume is one of the great joys of summer and what we miss so much in the winter. But when you’re admiring your favorite flower, don’t forget to take a photograph of it. When the snow is blowing in January, you’ll be so glad you did.

A couple of years ago, I took a photograph of every flower that bloomed inside and outside our house. I had photographs of theClematis amaryllis blooming indoors in January and the crocus blooming outside in March and ended the year with hardy mums in October and poinsettias in December. That project taught me a valuable lesson about beauty. I found that the ordinary is actually quite extra-ordinary. Roses and Oriental lilies may have show-stopper elegance, but take a close-up photograph of a marigold or a plain old sunflower and see their subtle loveliness. It’s made me appreciate what all flowers have to offer and realize what a miracle each one is.

Take a photograph of the miracles growing in your garden and enjoy them for more than one season.

 

 sunflowers

 

Recycling a Shower

Barn Garden 6/1/13

We created a great little garden a few years ago that used to be part of our barnyard. As you can imagine, the soil is fertile and after hacking away at the clay soil of our other garden, this compost is such a pleasure to work with. However, (isn’t there always a however?) the ground is not level and after a heavy rain, a few plants or seeds drown or wash away.

barn garden drain inside

When we replaced a bathroom shower last December, an idea clicked. We could dig a trench and line it with pieces of our old shower. Okay, it sounded a little redneck, but the price was right. This spring, my husband and I dug a trench and then lined it with the shower pieces he had cut to fit. We snugged up the pieces with dirt and filled in where needed with gravel from outside our barn. The hardest part was creating a smooth decline for water to flow on out through the fence and the garden. This involved digging a trench outside the garden as well as inside. Once the digging was finished, we added wire to the bottom of the fence to keep the garden rabbit-proof.

barn garden drain outside

We received about an inch of rain yesterday and so far, so good. The water is draining just as we’d hoped. I plan to fine-tune it a bit, but I’m calling it a success.

This is the season for heavy rains.  Anyone else having drainage issues???