At long last, the compost pile tulips bring forth.
Can the other spring flowers be far behind?
At long last, the compost pile tulips bring forth.
Can the other spring flowers be far behind?
The wind stopped and the first hard frost of the growing season settled down upon us last night. It was 24 this morning when my head came off the pillow.
This is a photo that is only possible to take one day a year. After this frost, the flower turns brown!
We enjoyed the longest growing season ever recorded in Central Iowa – 212 frost-free days!
The flowers are starting to fade in the garden, but the celosia are still going strong.
This bunch of stunning celosia keeps up the flower’s image as the ultimate Dr. Suess flower.
Very few things go together more than ants and peonies.
There’s hardly a peony anywhere not covered with ants. The ants neither harm nor help the peonies, but can just be a pain for bringing them into the house. You can cut peonies at the “soft marshmallow” stage before they open up and shake off the ants and then bring them in the house to open up – free of ants.
one year ago…no post
A November ritual is to dig out the gladiola bulbs for winter keeping.
Many of the bulbs provide two new bulbs (corms) after cleaning. Like garlic, once you buy some, each year you can increase your supply without having to buy more.
Linda at work in the barn arranging flowers.
The bench is in an old stall with the old feed bunk converted to a high table top for easy stand-up flower arranging.
Thursday and Friday a crew from Midwest Living magazine descended on the farm.
At a photo shoot like this, they leave very little to chance, including bringing their own potted sunflowers.
They also bring various hard good props (in case we don’t have enough junky old stuff lying around)!
On Friday, they started at sunrise. Martin was game. His only complaint was the rare near-record July 31 cold – he’s in a short sleeve shirt and others are wearing jackets
Martin was accompanied by a female model who also came in to participate in the shoot.
On the farm, you never know when you’ll be surprised by some animal, in this case, an early-rising hen to the delight of the kids.
The photographers checking out the shots in the living room later in the day.
Next it was Emma’s turn. Her job was to water the sunflowers!
The crew setting up for another shot. The people who came were extremely good to work with. They worked well with the children and took wandering dogs, chickens, and the like all in stride. Martin and Emma made money as models and high hopes did get a site fee as well. Kudos to the Midwest Living folks for making a good shoot. So look for us in an issue of Midwest Living next summer.
Once again, dumb luck descends upon High Hopes Gardens. Midwest Living magazine is planning on coming out to the farm this Thursday and Friday to shoot for a story on sunflowers. We have been sending small amounts of garden products to sell at the Des Moines Farmer’s Market. The editors were scouting the market for unusual sunflower varieties.
I think the Moulin Rouge caught their eye.
Perhaps along with the Music Box Sunflower.
Or the Teddy Bear sunflower.
Heck, here’s a honeybee on a more standard variety.
So, they contacted us and we just kind of laughed when they asked how big our fields of sunflowers were. Truth is, we have two or three 50-foot rows and quite a few volunteers between the rows of this year’s crops that Linda didn’t have the heart to weed out. It’s some of those volunteers that caught the eyes of the editors. They sent someone out to look at the farm and decided to go ahead with the photo shoot. So, look for updates on Thursday and Friday about a magazine photo shoot.
At this time of year, anything new in the house is welcome. Linda made this willow arrangement from the willow patch.
It looks much better than this in place – we’ll watch spring arrive a few weeks early as the catkins emerge.
Even though it was a cold, blustery day, it was time to get the gladiolas out of the garden. It’s always a cold blustery day when the glads come up. This year Emma was drafted to help.
Poor April doesn’t know she was caught unceremoniously squatting in this photo.
Emma shows off a couple of glad bulbs. Many people just buy new each year, but we dig ours up as we increase our supply as the bulbs often multiply. After a few days in the house, we’ll pull last year’s shriveled bulb off the bottom of these, wipe the dirt off, make sure they are dry, and put them in the basement for the winter. If we were really ambitious, we could pull the little round bulbs off and grow those up too, but we’ll just let those go.
When the Costa Ricans visited our farm a few weeks ago, one gentleman excitedly moved me over to one of the gardens to tell me something.
He pointed at the agaratum as said, “In Costa Rica, if you have an agaratum flower in your wallet, your wallet will not run out of money for a year!” I haven’t tried it yet, figuring a garden patch is good enough.
There are a few new blooms on the farm this week.
These are a variety of allium that were on super close-out late last fall. They add spunk to bouquets and attract beneficial insects as well.
These are the more common elderberry blossoms – this is the first year we’ve had a profusion of blooms, so we’ll have to figure what, if anything, to do with the elderberries, other than wild bird food.
Linda gathered the first bouquet of the season yesterday.
Here’s a seasonal willow bouquet to brighten up the late winter. New bird sounds appeared over the weekend – robins, red wing blackbirds, and killdeer. It just feels different outside – as if spring might really arrive soon!
Today Linda started the first seeds – some flowers that are slow germinators.
They get the heat mat treatment to get a good start. When the high temperatures are 30 degrees below normal, it takes faith to plant flowers!
It’s time to get the gladiola bulbs out of the ground. It’s a little like Christmas or winning the lottery. Many times you plant one bulb, and get back two, or sometimes even three!
This particular bulb has produced two new bulbs. The original bulb is on the bottom, barely visible in this photo. So, you just break apart the new bulbs and throw the old one back to the earth. And again, the price is right – just a little labor in exchange for a stunning stem. You can see the ground is a bit dry – after a very wet August and September,Â we’ve not had rain for aÂ month.
Here’s a bushel basket full of gladiola bulbs, ready for winter storage and the promise of another season.
This is a big flower day. We’re providing 25 table bouquets for a banquet. Enough flowers made it through the frost and it is a big evening of picking and arranging. The packing and transport is one of the trickiest parts
Linda hired the girls to help since it was such a big job for a work day.
It’s early for a frost. Very early. Here’s Linda out last night covering some of the flowers in the garden. We rolled out every tarp, old sheet, and even an old dish towel or two to try to survive the night.
We’re especially worried about the flowers since we have 25Â centerpieces for a dinner to get out this week. It was a hectic night – the horse came, and with the imminent frost, we picked raspberries and tomatoesÂ and covered flowers, peppers, and a few tomatoes racing against the sinking sun.
I’m not 100% sure but I think the work paid off – we had a light frost here and it killed some things, but I think the plants that were covered will be ok.
Here’s a nice shot from the garden today.
This is a strawflower being used as an anchor for a garden spider to weave it web. I’ll claim arachnid ignorance on knowing what this spider is really called – we just call them garden spiders. They usually first appear this time of year and are striking additions to the flowers and raspberries. I’m glad to see them, because it means fall is finally on the way.
The flowers and corn took off while we were gone. Of course, many of the glads bloomed in our absence.
Here’s Linda with a handful for a bouquet for the house. This week we have Linda’s sister’s family from CA visiting us – so we’ll have two weeks of vacation in a row, only one will be at home.
Today Linda and the girls were featured in a monthly magazine published by the Ames Tribune – the July version of Facets. As soon as I can get a link up, I will. This issue focused on “green women” in central Iowa.
Linda contributed “little green gems” numbers 51-63 in the issue. The only correction we would make to the article is the photo captions switched Claire and Emma! Thanks to Sue Ellen for making the drive out and meeting with the girls of high hopes.
In other news today, A little birdie told Linda that a local foundation contributed $75,000 to the Entrepreneurial and Diversified Agriculture program that Linda founded at Marshalltown Community College. Â More good news may be on the way soon as the farm bill and other federal appropriations are announced. She has worked extremely hard to get this program off the ground and do her part to support sustainable agriculture in this part of the earth. More on that in upcoming weeks.
Our ground is now “hard as a rock.”Â I moved some electric fence and had a hard time pushing in the posts. Today we were promised relief from the heat and 100% chance of rain, with 2-3” amounts possible. The rain came, but not even enough to get the ground wet under the trees. You’ll see most of the rain still sitting on the flower petals on the following pictures.
Here’s a view of one of the gardens. Linda’s probably got 85-90% of the garden in. We could use a good rain as we haven’t had one since the deluge April 26.
I’ll stop back here in July for another photo.
Today, a report came out in the April Journal of the American Diabetic Association that found that young children who regularly eat home grown fruits and vegetables eat more than twice as many fruits and vegetables as their peers who do not have a garden! This is a huge difference. The researchers from St. Louis University Medical Center found that the kids who grow up eating home-grown produce prefer the taste of fruits and vegetables to other foods.
We’re digging out the last of the gladiolas. It’s amazing how much size the bulbs gain in one year.
In fact, they not only get bigger, but create another bulb! So that is good for the bottom line to get twice as many bulbs for free for next summer. They’ll go in a cool dark place and be ready to be planted next May.
Here’s this week’s “Thingamajig Thursday” entry. Also check out
last week’s answer.
Back to high school biology for this. Everyone knows this is a zinnia flower, but what are the yellow thingamajigs called?
As always, put your guess in a comment below.
The yellow thingamajigs are called “disk flowers” and the pink thingamajigs are called “ray flowers.”
Here’s a sample of what we bring to market. This may be one of the last weeks as the garden winds down.
As Martin’s Kindergarten class was discussing colors this week, nobody believed that peppers were purple. (Doesn’t anybody teach “Peter Piper picked a peck of purple peppers anymore?) So, for share day, he brought in some Purple Beauty peppers to show.
Some of the fall bouquets are striking with the dark reds and browns.
Our fall raspberries are just going nuts this year – lots and lots of big berries.
This week’s Photo Friday Contest theme is “Circle.” Here is my entry.
This is a Gaillardia from our garden photoshopped into a round shape.
Here’s what Wikipedia says about Gaillardia:
Gaillardia is a genus of drought-tolerant annual and perennial plants from the sunflower family (Asteraceae), native to North America. It was named after M. Gaillard de Charentonneau, an 18th-century French magistrate who was a patron of botany.
Tomorrow will be our first visit to the Grinnell Farmer’s Market this season. We don’t have a whole lot because of the drought – not many tomatoes, between raspberry varieties – but some flowers and odds and ends.
Here’s Linda getting some bouquets ready in the barn.
I thought I’d share a picture of one of the bouquets Linda makes. We sell them at farmer’s market and to some people at school and in town.
The flower composition varies by the week, but they are always nice!
One of the ideas we had last winter when we were researching a farm store was an e-mail ordering service for mid-week to help keep produce moving between markets. We started with two families and it is working great for us – send them an e-mail as to what’s available and they e-mail back what they’d like. Both the delivery and school bouquets are great since we only harvest what we know we can sell mid-week.
This week’s idea…well, more about that tomorrow.
It’s time to let some of the flowers in bloom at High Hopes speak for me today.
Yesterday I wrote about the abundant living and dead fledglings – today I caught Martin playing moma robin!
If you look closely, you may be able to see the worm he found for the robin dangling above the bird’s mouth. After he fed it 3-4 worms, we put the bird in the compost bin so it was safe from dogs and had plenty of food. The real moma robin found it and took over feeding from Martin.
We have separation of duties at the farm today – Linda takes care of manure and I take care of dead bodies. Today was clean out half the chicken coop day. It was easier with the tractor as we positioned the bucket by the door and Linda could just throw it an and wet it down all at once before taking it to the compost pile. It was lawn mowing day – got some more weeding done and some ground dug up for a new raised bed.
The first flower bouquets are in the house – the iris are in full bloom.
Don’t let the cheery lilac fool you – the tomatoes and peppers we put out yesterday looked, well, dead, today. It was 39 when we woke up, but obviously it was colder than that sometime during the night. The low was predicted to be 40. It’s a bummer not necessarily because of the replanting, but because we had many heirloom varieties from Seed Savers and elsewhere that aren’t available at a greenhouse or garden center. We’ll have to check to see if we have any seeds leftover and start over. The frost also killed the new, tender leaves on the year-old walnut and chestnut trees.
But there’s still lots of things to do – here are Linda and the kids working on putting in the flowers started from seed.
The eggs we were incubating also started to hatch – pictures tomorrow!
Spring is in full bloom. The plums are finishing up, the lilacs are on the cusp and many others are in their full spring regalia. If you ask me now, Spring is my favorite time of year. Hope is in the air and the bugs are not!
Apple Blossoms Poised to Open
May the promise of the season be with you!
Today we (Linda) started digging the gladiola bulbs out of the garden.
When we planted them this spring, they were less than half the size they are now.
It’s nice to see so much growth – and we can use them again next spring and will probably get bigger glads. There’s still more to get and freezing ground is not far away.
Today was Claire’s “graduation” from her two weeks at U of I. The director told us that they were the youngest that the university recruited and each has a $1,000 scholarship should they enroll at Iowa. I wonder if Iowa State will match it and add 10%?
Claire after the closing ceremony.
We “had” to go Prairie Lights bookstore where one of Claire’s favorite night-time events was a book reading.
This morning we decided to try to move some stuff at Linn Street Market – a place where local farmers can sell their goods year-round at an indoor venue by renting market space. We brought in some raspberries, flowers, and the first apples of the season.
Linda creating her magic in the barn arranging the flowers. We also vacuum-packed the first few carrots of the year and threw them in the freezer.
Today after lunch, brother Kraig and family left, Linda and Claire went to Iowa City to drop Claire off at a two weeks writer’s workshop, and Grandma Jo took Jill and Emma, so it was the boys most of the day. We mowed some grass, stained the wood for the trailer and sanded the metal to get ready for primer and cooked dinner.
The clematis on the garage is going nuts this year. Here is a view from afar.
…and a closeup.
While I was mowing near dusk, I happened upon some interesting sights. First was this grass laden with yellow pollen. (Allergy sufferers, it must not be quite so beautiful) and then a Great Blue Heron set its wings over the back pasture and swung around a couple of times. I was flattered that the small wet spot we fenced away from the cattle was even being considered by a heron. Later, near dark, I wandered down there and the Heron was roosting in one of the big maple trees on the edge of the pasture.