Thursday, October 7, 2010

Farm Photos - October 7

Here's Liam, fully awake and making bread at 5:30 in the morning. He loves eating the dough and would slurp and say with a big grin "Bread!"

Jorene likes to make a fall display every year in front of the lodge. All of the gourds and pumpkins were grown here on our farm.

I've been clearing some trees around our parking lot to open it up for more sunshine. As always, the wood is being milled for lumber or cut up for firewood.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Farm Photo - September 14

Another day on the farm.

Clem, keeping watch from his window box.

Goofball goat, curious about what I am doing.

Turkeys on pasture.

I had to start feeding the cow hay much sooner than I thought I would. I had hoped to wait until the first of October, but late summer has been very dry.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Farm Photo - September 13

This weekend, Liam was surprised with a new (used) John Deere pedal tractor, with bucket and trailer. He LOVES tractors, and has been having a lot of fun with it. Since my tractor doesn't have a bucket, he is going to be a big help around the farm for me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jorene's Perennial Gardens-August 29, 2010

A couple of weeks of military duty in early August can really put a girl behind in the flower gardens, especially in the weeding department. Additionally, it is already starting to cool off here in the mountains of West Virginia, and the leaves on a couple of the trees are already starting to change color. Fall is definitely on its way so that also means work, work, and more work in the perennial gardens so that the beds can be cleaned up and ready for Spring before Winter sets in. Many of the perennials are starting to die back, so I cut off their dead foliage and took it to the compost pile so that I can have beautiful, black dirt come next Spring. I removed the summer annuals from the window boxes because they were dead, and I threw them in the compost pile.

In the full sun bed, there are currently five perennials blooming : Russian sage, purple and white Echinacea (coneflower), blacked-eyed susan, and two varieties of aster. However, there are still several varieties of aster that have not begun to bloom yet. I transplanted some coneflower, Russian sage, and the white phlox to the large hill located at the entrance of the lodge. Also pictured in this photo is Brutus, the newest addition to our family. He is a 5-year old adopted English bulldog, and we are so happy to have him.

In this mostly full sun front bed, I sheared off all the day lilies because the foliage was looking quite tired. As you can see, I finally have one red canna blooming, but I think I'm finally going to give up on this beautiful plant. I have somewhat of a love-hate relationship with it. It reminds me of home (Florida) because it has big, beautiful tropical looking leaves. However, it does not survive a cold zone 5 winter under ground, and I have had a difficult time getting any dug up bulbs to propagate the next Spring. I am pretty tired of all of the extra work that this plant requires, so I think I will dig all the bulbs out and try to get red scarlet runner beans in this box next year. This weekend, I also planted some new mums that I purchased at Lowe's. Summer may be over, but, thankfully, the color goes on at least for a few more weeks. Although they are perennials, I have never had too much luck wintering mums over, so I just enjoy them while I can. I recommend purchasing plants that have many buds on them but that have not bloomed yet. The ones pictured here will probably begin blooming next week, and I will be able to enjoy them throughout the fall.

In the friendship garden, the yellow rudbeckia (brown-eyed susans) was winding down its bloom cycle. Additionally, the leaves of the day lilies were beginning to die, so I sheared most of the rudbeckia and lilies so that the aster that is in this bed and about to bloom will have plenty of space. I hauled off the dead flowers and foliage to the compost pile for more compost next spring. I can't wait to see the aster bloom. However, it is a somewhat bittersweet time of year for me. The aster marks the end of another growing season which means I will have to wait another 6 months or so to see any flowers in my gardens.

In the partial shade garden, the rudbeckia goldsturm (brown-eyed susan) is still in full bloom. I really do love this flower. It is so easy and long blooming that I think anybody could grow it. It is equally at home in the perennial bed and in a naturalized setting and a great choice for late summer color. The purple lobelia (cardinal flower) that I planted this Spring is also still in full bloom which is unbelievable. I am pretty happy with this flower, and I hope it naturalizes to fill in this spot next year.

Finally, this photo is of one of the budget gardens that I started less than 1 1/2 years ago. It has already filled in quite nicely, and I think that it should be completely filled in by the end of next summer. The lamb's ear and hosta in the photo were moved here from other locations around the lodge, and the liriope was moved here from a townhouse that we own in Arlington, VA. I purchased a few liriope from BlueStone Perennials, and the Itea Virginica Henry bushes in the background from Ebay. Other than very minimal weeding and decent soil, these plants receive no special care, fertilizing, or watering, so I am very happy with the way this perennial bed has turned out. If you love to garden but are on a limited budget, look around at what you already have for inspiration. Your newest perennial bed could already be right under your nose.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jorene's Perennial Gardens- July 25, 2010

In the full sun bed, my beautiful white lilies and shasta daisy are no longer blooming. There are currently seven perennials and a bush blooming in the full-sun perennial bed: Russian sage, campanula blue-eyed blonde, purple and white Echinacea (coneflower), white phlox, blacked-eyed susan, and hibiscus (rose of Sharon) blue satin. I sheared the spiderwort located in front of the clematis. I have red that this will encourage new foliage and flowers to rebloom in the fall. I have never been so lucky, but does keep the perennial bed looking clean and organized.

This photograph is a close-up of the hibiscus (rose of Sharon) blue satin. I planted it Fall 2008. It did very little during 2009. There were hardly any leaves on it, and it did not bloom. In fact, I was nearly convinced that it did not survive the winter. However, I left it in the ground, and it is doing wonderfully this year. So far, there have been several dozen blooms on it. It will eventually grow to be a bush that is about 8 feet tall. As it grows, I will transfer some of the perennials that are near it to other locations on the property so that the hibiscus will have plenty of room. This bush is very useful for late summer blooms. By the time it stops blooming, the blue and purple aster in the sun bed will be in full bloom.

In the naturalized bed, the red and maroon Jacob's Cline Monarda (bee balm) is nearing the end of its bloom cycle. However, the butterflies are still enjoying it immensely. Whenever, I look at this perennial, there are always dozens of butterflies on and around it. I highly recommend this perennial for a naturalized area where it has plenty of room to grow. My bee balm perennials started as little plants but are now taller than me. I have to continually divide them and give them to friends to prevent them from overtaking this flower bed.

In the friendship garden, the yellow rudbeckia (brown-eyed susans) are in full bloom while the red-orange and orange day lilies wind down their bloom cycle. This is my favorite time of the year for this perennial bed because, as previously noted, I just love the mix of red, orange and yellow that this combination of these day lilies and brown-eyed susans provides.

In the partial shade garden, the purple clematis are no longer blooming, but the rudbeckia goldsturm (brown-eyed susan) and yellow thread-leaved coreopsis (tickseed) are in full bloom. I just love both of these flowers because they are deer resistant, care free, insect resistant, and long blooming. They are equally at home in the perennial bed and in a naturalized setting, and they are a great choice for late summer color. These perennials are surrounded by large dark green and smaller yellow-green hostas.

This is a close-up photo of the brown-eyed susan and coreopsis.

The lobelia (cardinal flower) that I planted this Spring is in full bloom. I love this perennial in the naturalized setting where it is usually red. I originally thought this purple variety would be perfect in this full shade spot to add height and interest and attract butterflies and hummingbirds. However, as you can see, it currently needs staking because the stalks were just laying on the ground, but the perennial appears to be healthy. I am going to research this issue because they should not need staking. Hopefully, I can figure out this issue by next year.

Five hostas in the shade garden have become casualties to the deer. It happens to the best of us, and it does not actually harm the plant. It just looks ugly. This perennial bed is right up against the woods on the far side of the house. The deer can easily sneak in, have a meal, and sneak out before I even notice. Ken sprays an organic deer guard on the hostas for me, but when we have lots of rain, it washes off fairly quickly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Full Day in the Kitchen

With the garden starting to come in steady now, I have begun preserving a lot of our harvest to store in the pantry. Today, I put a full day of work in the kitchen, canning, juicing, pickling and cooking. Today's harvest has, from left to right, zucchini (Golden and Striata d ' Italia), patty pan squash, cucumbers, beets, corn, potatoes, swiss chard, fall apples, and transparent apples.

The zucchini was grated and bagged for zucchini bread this weekend when I have guests at the Lodge. The patty pan squash was sliced, rolled in egg and flour, and fried in bacon grease. Everybody in our family loves it this way, but then what's not to like about something fried in bacon grease.

With half of the cucumbers, I made 6 quarts of pickle spears. I still have 8 left to eat with salads and raw. Of course, I'll probably have another half dozen ready to pick tomorrow. Looks like more pickling is in the future.

The beets were washed, blanched and the skins removed. I'll fix these for Liam's dinner tomorrow night. I'm not fond of beets, so Liam gets them all to himself. The eight ears of corn were blanched and cut from the cob for freezing. I love to add corn to soups in the winter. The potatoes were put in the crockpot with a pound of green beans Jorene picked yesterday, along with a ham bone. We had these for dinner tonight and they were delicious.

Next is my favorite vegetable, Swiss chard. It is a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals, with high concentrations of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, vitamin E, and dietary fiber. I use it in omelets, pizza, soups, and salads. My favorite way to prepare it is sauteed with garlic and onions with a handful of nuts. This is one of my Rainbow Swiss Chard beds, which it shares with beets and onions. I'll offer one tip about harvesting Swiss Chard. Don't weedeat around the raised bed the night before you plan to harvest Swiss Chard. I had to rinse the leaves three times to get all the little bits of grass out of the wrinkles.
I have two varieties of apples in the tubs. The first has thinnings from a fall variety. A friend asked me to help him thin his tree and in return I could keep what I picked. They are tart and firm, but make a great baking apple. I made two apple pies for some guests last weekend and they loved them. I'll freeze the rest of the apples for pies later in the year.

The second tub of apples are transparents. I juiced these in my juicer and made over 7 gallons of juice.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chicks - Week 9

More pictures of our Freedom Ranger chickens, Pekin Ducks and White Holland Turkeys. I really love these Freedom Ranger chickens. Their foraging capabilities is much better than the Cornish Cross. I can't wait to see how the meat tastes, which will be soon. I plan to start butchering later this week.

One curious thing I noticed lately about the ducks is that they act as bouncers for the group. The seems to always be two chickens trying to decide who is the alpha chicken. A duck will actually get out of the pond, run across the field and break up any fights. It's never the same duck. I think the ducks in general don't like fighting. It's funny.

We also added 13 more turkeys to our farm last week. I plan to raise them for Thanksgiving, butchering them around 16 weeks. This will put them in the 20 - 25 pound range when dressed.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Jorene's Perennial Gardens-July 12, 2010

The veronica royal candles, nepata walker's low catmint, spiderwort, and purple clematis in the full sun bed have all ended their bloom cycles. There are currently seven perennials and a bush blooming in the full-sun perennial bed: Russian sage, campanula blue-eyed blonde, purple and white Echinacea (coneflower), blacked-eyed susan, and lilies, shasta daisy, and hibiscus (rose of Sharon) blue satin.

This photograph is a close-up of the full-sun perennial bed. It contains, from left to right, clematis and spiderwort (which are no longer blooming), purple echinacea (coneflower), and russian sage. Low growing Pat’s Select ajuga is in the foreground. Purple echinacea is an all-time favorite in many perennial beds because it is deer resistant, long blooming, and attracts butterflies and birds to the garden. Additionally, its black roots have been used medicinally as a blood purifier; echinacea vitamins are widely available in most drug stores.

I am also very happy with the way the campanula blue-eyed blonde has performed this year. It bloomed earlier this year, and I cut the spikes that the flowers bloomed on at the end of their bloom cycle. Now, the plant part of the perennial has bloomed again.

In the naturalized bed, the red and maroon Jacob's Cline Monarda (bee balm) continue to bloom. As previously noted, monarda is a superb choice in any naturalized bed that gets full to part sun because they are care free and deer resistant. The flowers are very attractive to beneficial butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. The leaves can be used to make a delicious herb tea.

In the friendship garden, the red-orange and orange day lilies continue in full bloom. It is amazing how long the flowers in this bed have bloomed, especially since my other day lilies have nearly all finished blooming. Additionally, the yellow brown-eyed susans have started to bloom. I love the mix of red, orange and yellow that this combination of these day lilies and brown-eyed susans provides. The gorgeous double blossom orange day lily which has beautiful ruffly petals continues to bloom as well.

A better photo of the double blossom day lily that I wrote about in the last blog.

Finally, my first sunflower bloomed. They usually do not bloom until September, but I guess the extra-hot summer triggered it to bloom a little early, Regardless, it always makes me happy when I look at my sunflowers in bloom.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Harvest Meal - June 28, 2010

Yesterday, I made an awesome lunch for my family, all from our farm and garden. We had a pork tenderloin from last winter's hogs, Swiss chard, baby beets (for Liam), mixed salad greens, blueberries, sugar snap peas, shallots and garlic.

I roasted the pork tenderloin on a cedar plank along with the baby beets for 1.5 hours. When finished, the tenderloin medallions were topped with blackberry liquer sauce. I sauteed the shallots and homemade bacon and baked them in skillet cornbread. I cooked the Swiss Chard, sugar snap peas, and garlic with pine nuts and raisins for a delectable side dish. After all that cooking, the blueberries were simply eaten straight from the bowl with a splash of yogurt. Good food, straight from the farm.

Chicks - Week 8

It's hard to believe it's almost July. This batch of poultry has been out to pasture for four weeks now. I prepared the brooder house for our next round of turkeys, which we will raise for Thanksgiving. At this point in time, I would be planning to butcher Cornish Rocs. The Freedom Ranger Broilers have gained considerable weight, and some could be ready to butcher in a week or so. I plan to butcher all of them by the middle of July, when they are 11 weeks old. They love to forage, much more than Cornish Rocs do, and have eaten a great deal of grass. I'm also impressed with the foraging capabilities of the ducks. Along with the turkeys and the broilers, they are all keeping me busy with moving their fence. I move them to fresh pasture ever other day, now.

Liam loves feeding them every day. He's almost as tall as the 42" fence.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Jorene's Perennial Gardens - June 27, 2010

The big news this week is that our friends came over while we were out tending to our other vegetable garden and picking blueberries, and they fixed our broken gutter. This is great for a couple of reasons. First, the thunderstorms will no longer erode erode the good soil from my shade garden's flower beds. Second, we can now store the rain water that runs off the roof into our huge rain barrels/cisterns located in the back of the lodge, and I use this water to water my gardens during droughts. I am so thankful for their help. After we discovered their surprise, DH hauled up 4 loads of compost to help me fill in the large holes that had eroded during the Spring thunderstorms. Then, he helped me mulch it all over. Eventually, I would like to build a dry creek bed down the middle of it, so I have left space for that. I am not positive if that will happen this year or not because we will be very busy with our vegetable gardens and guests at The Ponderosa Lodge until November. Nonetheless, I am really happy with the way the shade garden is starting to look.

The dark pink astilbe is blooming in the shade garden, and the color of the blooms really pop against the light green leaves of the frances williams hostas located directly behind them. Astilbe are medium sized plants that grow approximately 24" tall. They produce a big airy plume in the Summer, although my dark pink astilbe do not produce as puffy a plume as the light pink ones. They are an excellent choice for the shade garden because they are care free, deer resistant, and long blooming. Astilbe is also available in white, peach, red, and purple.

I also have my very first big hydrangea bloom on a hydrangea that our friend Doug in Northern Virginia gave me this Spring. Hydrangeas are a staple in many Summer gardens, but this is the first hydrangea in my garden that I have managed not to kill. I am pretty happy about that. My hydrangeas are fairly short in stature this year because they are newly transplanted, but they will eventually grow to 4 or 5 feet tall. The mother hydrangea plant is located in Doug's neighborhood, Fairlington Villages, in Arlington, VA, and nearly every beautiful hydrangea in that neighborhood was started from that one plant. I really hope that Doug's good luck with hydrangeas rubs off on me. So far, so good.

The other big news this week is that all of the day lilies on the property are in full bloom. I have orange, yellow, and red orange varieties. They were all on the lodge property when we purchased it, or gifts from friends, or transplants from my townhouse in Northern Virginia, so I am unaware of their species. There are a large variety of day lilies commercially available in nearly every color of the rainbow that bloom in June, July, and August. All of mine bloom about the same time (mid to late June). As an aside, I learned this week that daylilies are nearly 100% edible because you can eat the tubers, the young leaves, the buds, and the flowers which means that this perennial provides you with beauty and bounty all in one.

In my naturalized garden, the white ox-eye daisies are no longer blooming. Pink Asiatic lilies, orange day lilies, and red and maroon Jacob's Cline Monarda (bee balm) have taken their place. The Monarda, which started out a few years ago as small plants, have been fabulous growers in the garden. They are a superb choice in this type of naturalized bed that gets full to part sun because they are care free and deer resistant. Moreover, the beautiful flowers, which are uniquely shaped spheres with finger-like projections shooting out, are very attractice to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. The leaves can be used to make a delicious herb tea.

The hostas and ferns that were transplanted to the part shade to full shade beds located on the guest side of the lodge have settled in nicely. One of the clematises did die off, so I will have to replace it. The purple lobelia (cardinal flower) and a yellow chrysogonum pierre (a ground cover) that I purchased from Blue Stone Perennials appear to have survived their transplants. The lobelia appears to be growing which is a nice sign. I am not sure if it will bloom this year, but, hopefully, it will produce some nice color next year. One experiment I tried this year was to plant annuals in a few bare spots in this bed this year. I thought this would produce season long color and make for a prettier bed, but for some reason, the annuals did not survive the transplant. In the future, I will probably only plant annuals in the flower boxes, so I will need to find another perennial to fill in the bare spots.

The thread-leaved coreopsis in the part shade to full shade beds are blooming, and the black-eyed susans planted with them will bloom soon. Both of these plants are care-free, deer resistant, and spread readily. They should continue to bloom until frost.

I sheared the salvia in the friendship garden as I stated that I would in my last blog. The red-orange and orange day lilies are currently in full bloom while the yellow brown-eyed susans are just getting started. I also discovered one gorgeous double blossom orange day lily which has beautiful ruffly petals. When I look at this bed, all I can think of is all the work that it is going to take this Fall to thin it out. It is amazing how quickly the perennials in it have grown, especially along the edges, in part because DH puts our wonderful rabbit manure in this garden twice a year. Since the flowers are all fighting for space, I will mark about half of the day lilies and Japanese iris that I want to transplant, shear them all to the ground in the late fall, dig out the ones I have marked, and then transplant them to a different spot on the property (most likely on our front hill)
. The double blossom day lily.

Last but certainly not least is my full sun bed. There are currently six perennials blooming in the full-sun perennial bed: veronica royal candles, nepata walker's low catmint, spiderwort, purple clematis, Russian sage, and shasta daisy. This photograph is a close-up of the full-sun perennial bed. It contains, from left to right, low-growing ajuga, viola, and lamb's ear in the foreground with white clematis, spiderwort, russian sage, and blue star in the background.

As an aside, blogging about the perennnial gardens has allowed me to keep a very good track of the sequence in which my perennials bloom, and it has also allowed me to see where I could place more effort. For example, there is not a great deal of color in this full sun bed in mid-Summer. Although the flower boxes that contain annuals make up for some of the lack of color, it also clues me in that I should start researching perennials that bloom mid-summer so that I can add them to this bed in the Fall or next Spring.

The purple clematis and spiderwort are at the end of their bloom cycles, but they still look lovely.
This photo is a close up of shasta daisy and delphinium which are no longer blooming. The delphinium, which I wrote about in-depth in my last blog, will drop its seeds soon. Then, I will cut the flower stems and leave the green plant part. The shasta daisy is another beautiful mistake. Although this perennial fits the purple, blue and white them of this bed, I thought that I had transplanted all of the shasta daisies to the front of our driveway.

If there were only two perennials that I could have in my garden, they would be this veronica royal candles and nepata walker's law catmint. While they do not produce the most magnificent blooms, their flowers are deer resistant and last for over a month which counts for a whole lot in my book. Hope, our English bulldog, snuck into the left side of this photo; she's always trying to steal the show!