Country Garden Showcase

Week #1

Hello 2012!  It's time to start planning and preparing the garden.  So get out those gardening books and get started.  To help us get motivated, I have just added a NEW weekly gardening blog party.  The Country Garden Showcase.  I will post the link on Mondays and will leave it open through Sunday each week.
Please add your ideas, pictures, stories, recipes, gardening tips and advice. 
Link as often as you like.  I'd sure love to see your garden and I'd like to watch your progress throughout the year.  In case you didn't already know, I am a gardenophile.  I love growing fruits and veggies, and I like growing flowers too.  Mostly, I guess I just love playing in the dirt.  It's my therapy.  
I look forward to trying new techniques and homemade garden solutions and I encourage you to post what works and doesn't work in your garden.  Together, we can build quite an encyclopedia for gardening and it is my greatest hope that we can help improve eachother's harvests along the way.  All we have to do is share!

Please add our Country Garden Showcase button to your post OR a link back to the Party, if you don't know how to add buttons.  
 I am eager to get started and I hope you are too.    I look forward to seeing pictures of your garden.  

 I am starting off this new BLOG PARTY with a recap of my last season, a few lessons learned and a few ideas mulling about in my head...

 Last season, I learned how to grow climbing plants UPWARD (including giant pumpkins in custom made hammocks

I extended summer crops like peppers and tomatoes by adding these row covers above
 I fell in love with Black Krik Heirloom tomatoes
 Fava beans
 scarlet red runner beans (especially their flowers)
 and I enjoyed a few volunteers, compliments of local birds...
 I realized just how important those crop classes were.  They taught me the importance of plant identification.  The huckleberry above is yummy.  The similar looking Black Nightshade below is poisonous. BOTH were growing in my garden last fall.  The huckleberries I planted, the nightshade I didn't.
I enjoyed so many new plants like these lima beans. They are so velvety soft and pretty.
 I grew buckets of tomatoes
 and I wasted almost nothing.  I am proud to say that I canned more than 80 quarts of tomatoes in all. 
Last year's garden exceeded every expectation I had in spite of a late May 21st freeze, an ice storm, and searing hot humidity.  I grew lots of new things ie: scarlet red runner beans, lima and fava beans, bok choi, leeks, and huckleberries.  I tested homemade organic fungicides that worked!  I managed to improve my soil some, I expanded my harvest by growing things UPWARD and under PLASTIC ROWS,  and I have a great pile of compost cooking yet.  This year, I plan to add herbs to my little space and I hope to improve the soil beneath my fruit trees too.  

January Garden Plans: 
prune fruit trees & grapes
spray copper fungicide
remove litter from base of trees to prevent overwintering of coddling moth
check watering system
chip Christmas tree and leaves into compost pile
aerate and layer compost pile
improve soil in raised beds with mulch and till
make veggie garden plot diagram *remembering to change plant family from last planting in each box 
plant winter veggies ie: peas, beans, carrots, radishes, lettuces, mescluns, and beets under 3 mil plastic inside boxes
when I'm done I am gonna relax and read your garden posts...

Have a Happy New Year and may 2012 be your best year so far.

I have linked up this post to The Homestead Barn Hop!

Week #2

     Happy Monday!  The weather here in the foothills of the Southern Sierra-Nevada Mountains remains unseasonably warm.  I am quite worried about our fruit trees, they're not getting nearly enough hours of freezing temps to set much fruit AND- they are budding out.  In my 27 years living in this region, I have only seen this a few times.  It usually ends badly, a late freeze that kills flowers and a long, cold, dry winter.

     On the bright side, since I am not expecting much of a harvest, this a GREAT year to heavily prune a few damaged or ill shaped older fruit trees in my garden, like the example above.
late red flowering peach tree blossoms
     A great resource for anyone pruning fruit trees is HERE!  This UC Davis/Cooperative Extension publication covers training and pruning of deciduous fruit trees.  It includes dwarf, semi-dwarf, and standard tree information and it provides a good basic education on the three most common fruit tree pruning systems: open center, central leader, and the modified central leader system.  It includes images and examples.  Please check it out.

     I have taken many cuttings from this heavy pruning session and have bundled them up, labeled them, and have them sitting in a dip n' grow rooting hormone/water mixture overnight.  In the morning, I will double check my cuttings to be sure all the cuttings are exposed a bit at the base and cut near nodes which are meristemetic tissue (rapid cell division tissue), a place that will root.  Then, I'll prepare a 4x4 area in my garden and DIRECT plant the fruit tree cuttings in a peat moss, perlite, and bark mix which I will keep moist.  They should be rooted within 4-6 weeks.  I need to get started taking root stock cuttings this week too.  I will treat them similarly with rooting hormone, and making certain to plant them in the correct direction (polarity= up/down) I will plant them in a peat moss, perlite mix and grow them out too. Next year, I hope to have strong root stock and scion stock to graft together to get my orchard going.

   That's what's been going on in my country garden.  Please tell us what YOU'VE been doing in YOURS.

Week #3

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into. ~Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

Where does the time go?  Another week seems to have flown by.  Well, I got all my tilling done in my small fruit orchard.  My hubby even planted me a few new fruit trees including my first two cherry trees- a bing and a black tartarian for cross pollination.  He also surprised me by putting in a new underground sprinkler system to the new trees and a few older trees that didn't have one.  I am so happy.  This means no more time spent standing over my trees with the hose baking in the sun during those HOT summer days...

This is Oliver, our neighbor's cat for more than 17 years.  He has been living in my yard ever since they brought home a new beagle last fall.  The dog won't let any of their four cats into the barn to eat or sleep.  No worries.  He's wrapped my Hubby and I around his finger.  Did I say HE, we recently found out that Oliver is a SHE. Thanks to my BFF Michelle.  Anyway, she lives in my garden and my Hubby's barn now, her and the other three cats.  I have NO rodents because of these wonderful animals.  Thank goodness for hard working barn kitties.

Two weeks ago, I posted my January Garden Plan (re-posted below) and I am making nice progress.  The items lined through are completed.

January Garden Plans: 
prune fruit trees & grapes  
spray copper fungicide
remove litter from base of trees to prevent overwintering of coddling moth
check watering system
chip Christmas tree, fruit tree prunings and leaves into compost pile
aerate and layer compost pile
improve soil in raised beds with mulch and till
make veggie garden plot diagram (almost done)
plant winter veggies (starting tomorrow)

That's what's been going on in my garden.  Please LINK UP below and SHARE what's been going on at YOUR place.  Be creative.  We'd all like to see posts about your garden, farm. yard, barnyard, coop, beehive, fresh produce inspired recipes, garden crafts and flowers, decorations, garden how-to advice, ANYTHING garden related.

Week #4

Things have been kinda slow around our little homestead this week.  The weather hasn't been too cooperative.  I'm not complaining, we NEED the rain.  I did manage to get a few small things done in the garden this week.  I planted  a few rows of cold season seed- carrot, mescluns, radish, and beet under 3 mil plastic in raised beds. I constructed two simple/cheap compost bins using 4' tall wire and t-posts.  I didn't get time to layer and fill them before it started to sprinkle, so I'll have to do that later on this week.

Since most of us are not getting much done in our gardens this week, I want to share a few helpful gardening links to help you get started this year and a few inspirational photos from my last garden.

Mother Earth News- Seed Starting Tips
When to plant herb seeds? 
DIY Easy newspaper pots
Mother Earth News- Resolve to Build a Hoophouse
UCANR- Pre-plant fertilizer application rates for veggie gardens

Have a GREAT week!