You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2012.

It sometimes happens in the northern Dakota. Two years ago we had a blizzard on May 16th. So, the risk is always there.

Tonight, May 29th, there is a chance of frost for Kulm, so we covered all the plants we could within reason. I found this handy chart from Purdue (see bottom of article) that helped me easily decide what deserved our attention and what could fend for itself. Even though they are tougher than they look, we decided to cover the peas anyway… they just looked so wonderful that we couldn’t help but coddle them!

Here’s the next step in our growing cucumbers: their “devil tongues”!!

And, another big milestone in my personal journey into rural life… Today I received my first tick bite. I’ve been stressing about it for years, knowing it was a certainty at some point. I’ve brushed many off of me, but had yet to be bitten. Even though it seems like a sort of baptism, I could have happily gone about my whole life without it. But, now it’s passed and I don’t have to stress about its eventuality any more.

We also found this guy hanging out in the barley:

We think it’s an ALBINO barley sprout! We’ll be watching it closely to see if it is able to mature.

Here are some pics of the garden tarped and blanketed (with Jordan saying a little prayer that all our work covering was for nothing). We’ll know tomorrow!


This week has been exhausting. But, for all intents and purposes, the garden is IN!!! There are a few things will get a second round of planting (i.e. lettuce, beets, corn), and a few that go in later (sweet potatoes, eggplant), and some afterthoughts that I’m not real concerned about happening one way or the other. It feels VERY GOOD to have it done.

Thank you, thank you, Beth Andrys! She has allowed me to bring the kids over for daycare everyday the past week! Without question, not even half as much would be in now, if not for her amazing care. And, the kids love it there, so it sure makes it easy on me to leave.

Total for Wednesday and Friday is 49 tomato plants, 92 peppers, and 8 melon hills. The peppers have a bit of a story… I dug 35 holes and put 24 peppers in. Then I decided those aphid-eaten leftovers were definitely not worth the effort I was putting into them, AND Jordan wanted me to space the rows further apart so he could till between them. So, I filled all the holes and REDUG (not sure about that term) the holes — actually, Linda did most of the digging — and put 68 new pepper plants in, nice healthy ones this time, purchased at Kusler’s Greenhouse, here in Kulm. All 68 holes were dug and peppers planted yesterday. This is me about 1/2 way through, cursing silently (that’s what that funny smile is):

I picked the kids up from daycare and still had about 20 left. The good news is, kids pass the time pretty happily when they are surrounded by dirt and machinery.

In the first pic, you can see they were riding the 4-wheeler, which Jordan hooked up to the garden trailer yesterday. Grandpa Bill made the trailer for us last year from an old pick-up bed, and it has been very useful getting our tools back and forth! Here’s a better look:

Tomatoes went in well. I read in a few places that tomatoes like lots of calcium, and planting eggshells right with the plant is a great way to give them that extra calcium. A friend of ours heard me talk about the idea, so she saved me 15 dozen eggshells from a catering job she did! So wonderful, and it was just enough to put a handful in with each plant.

And we have more newbies coming up! Our first cucumber, kale, wheat, barley, and popcorn! Jordan planted the last three only 5 days prior, if you recall. All that careful attention pays off, boys and girls.

If you ever wondered what a corn plant looks like right when it splits through the soil, here it is, with my thumb for comparison:

A curled shoot, spiking through the ground. It will unfurl into the first leaf, also called the flag leaf.

And, I almost forgot to mention my big discovery. During all my digging, I unearthed something. This giant rock! The 4-foot yard stick is there for size comparison (I don’t know why it is a 4-foot yard stick… or why someone would make that).

Every time my shovel hit rock I would move over a little and try again to see if I could get to the outside of it and leverage it out. Despite the heft you would assume latent in my 5 foot 1 inch frame, I soon realized that even if I dug deep enough to get under it, I could not lift it out. So, I had to abandon the hole and move on. For a very brief moment early on, I let myself imagine it was a real treasure chest! It was an exciting moment!

Now we get a very short breather before we have to start weeding like mad.

Jordan took a very short break from custom planting to put in his popcorn, wheat and barley. The wheat and barley are for a home-brewing experiment he’s planning for this winter. And the popcorn is his cash crop of the future. He can talk himself into being a supplier for Orville Redenbacher if you let him talk long enough.

Here’s the very precise Jordan planting his popcorn JUST right.

This is also why I don’t even help him plant “his” crops. Mistakes in this area are unforgivable, so, for the sake of our marriage, I work elsewhere while he’s in the garden. But it sure makes him happy!

And when we say we plant the garden by hand, people, we mean BY HAND!

If you have good eyes, you might be wondering, “Why is that popcorn black?” It’s a variety called Dakota Black Pop, a 90 day maturity corn. Last year we planted a 112 day variety, CRAZY for our short growing season. It only made it because of the above crazy, i mean BRILLIANT!, farmer who did this a few times when it got below freezing:

that's how you friggin tarp some corn!

And that, friends, is how you tarp a friggin corn field. We had to use a few tarps, but the point is, the corn survived!

Today I planted red, green and lima beans, and cabbage. I forgot my camera, so all you get is my “after” shot of my dirty face. Tomorrow… TOMATOES! That’s a big day.

If it wasn’t obvious from the title, we have some aphid trouble. On wednesday, I was looking over our plantlings and then saw THIS:

EVERY pepper we started was covered in them. ARG!!!!!!!! But… I  put them outside to get them away from the other plants, and let them overnight in the open air. The next day there were only a few on each plant. Then I sprinkled silver water on them and by the end of yesterday there was only 1 or 2 on a couple. So… whatever I did/didn’t do, they seem to be decreasing in number. I hope we have some pepper survivors out of it all though. Updates to come.

We planted beets and peas on Wednesday. I read an interesting method for planting peas in John Seymour’s book, so we tried his idea. Dig a 2 inch deep, 4 inch wide tiny trench. Then plant peas an inch or so apart in windows (at least that’s what we called it in cheerleading):

Thursday, Lynda and I planted cucumbers, onions and carrots. Josh was busy farming, but did stop to picnic with us and pointed out our first potatoes! Woo hoo!

Yesterday I planted the leafy greens section of the garden. 2 10 foot rows of iceberg, 2 romaine, 1 spinach, 1 tat soi, 1 bok choy, and 1 kale. I also marked off a second section so I can repeat the whole process in about 2 weeks, because I’m just a glutton for punishment I guess (or fresh lettuce salads!). I have been thinking about the delicious fresh salads we had last year, a spinach and beet salad with orange dressing in particular. I can’t wait!