Hayefield Happenings

Hayefield House from orchard path June 8 08

Text and photos ©Nancy J. Ondra

Wow, I can’t believe how fast the weeks are passing. So much for the days of blogging every day or two! Besides the usual busy-ness of this time of year in my own garden, I’ve been working every other day at a friend’s nursery/garden center for the past month, installing and maintaining some huge new gardens, so I’ve been gloriously immersed in extended hours of hands-on gardening every single day.

In many ways, it brings back the days when I used to be a professional gardener. I enjoyed it then, but I remember it being pretty tough physically. Getting back into it 20 years later, I find it’s actually easier now, maybe because I have a lot more experience, and a good selection of time-tested tools as well. Still, dealing with the intense heat we’re experiencing now in PA is tough at any age, so I’m grateful to be indoors for today.

Between being so busy and dealing with an unusually cool May here, with frost as late as mid-May, getting my garden here at Hayefield planted was a challenge. I finally have pretty much everything in, except some of the summer veggies. Even though the planting ended up being several weeks later than in past years, this heat wave is bringing things on quickly, so I don’t think I lost too much time.

Radishes 'French Breakfast' and 'Zlata' June 8 08

With the high temperatures we’re having, it seemed like a good idea to harvest the rest of the current batch of radishes before they bolted and got tough. Mom and I really enjoy the white-tipped red ‘French Breakfast’, but our new favorite is the pale yellow ‘Zlata’ from Territorial Seed. Admittedly, the color isn’t as striking, but even at golf-ball size, it’s still crisp and sweet, without a strong aftertaste.

Potato 'Catalina' seedlings May 22 08One of my most exciting experiences of the past week was finally planting out my potato seedlings. I’d started the pelleted seed of these ‘Catalina’ potatoes back in February, and the seedlings looked great (shown here on May 22), but they haven’t grown much in the past three weeks. I’d been reading some references that said seed-grown potatoes wouldn’t make tubers the first year, so I wondered if it was worth bothering to plant them out. Well, I’m glad I did!

Potato 'Catalina' seedlings with tubers June 6 08When I knocked the first seedling out of its pot, I was thrilled to see that small tubers (about the side of a bean seed) were already forming! Turns out that each seedling had at least one tuber, and many had two. So I have high hopes of getting some sort of harvest from them this year, if the potato beetles don’t devour them. Here’s a picture of the plants snug in their bed.

Potato bed June 8 08

Scorpiurus muricatus seedling June 8 08Along the straight side of the bed, I tucked in some asparagus peas. I didn’t have tremendous success with them last year, but I decided to give them another try this year. On the other, curved side of the bed, I planted a new experiment: prickly caterpillar (Scorpiurus muricatus) from Seed Savers Exchange. This oddity isn’t grown for eating, but for its fuzzy, curvy seedpods, which people apparently find amusing to pop into salads to freak out unsuspecting family members. I’m not sure why I find that so amusing, but when I read that description, I just had to try it. I’ll definitely report back on this one later this summer.

Parsnip flowers June 8 08In a nearby bed, I had missed a few parsnips when I harvested the patch back in March. In one of Piet Oudolf’s books, he includes parsnip as an ornamental, so I decided to let them flower and see for myself. They’re pretty much as I expected: about 5 feet tall, with sturdy stems, bright green leaves, and large clusters of yellow flowers, like a giant dill. They probably would look good in an ornamental border, so I think I’ll try leaving a few from this year’s patch and see if I can move them to a good flowering spot next spring.

Futher down in what I call The Orchard, the fruit crops are coming along in abundance. The grapes seem to have set some fruit, and the ‘Surefire’ cherry and Asian pears are loaded with developing fruits, and even the ‘Methley’ plum has set some fruit ( a surprise since its pollinizer died last year). It looks like I’m in for a good gooseberry crop, as well. Yay!

Gooseberries ripening June 8 08

Of course, the stars of the early-June garden, fruit-wise, are the strawberries. I’d meant to replant my several-years-old patch of ‘Tristar’; the plants fruited this year, but the berries are very small. I don’t mind that, though, because I have loads of good-sized berries from the ‘Sarian’ plants. I grew these from seed last year, and they fruited some last fall, but this spring’s crop has been even better.

Strawberry 'Sarian' June 8 08

I also have lots of ‘Yellow Wonder’ alpine strawberries coming along. I started these too last spring (you can read about that in this post over at Gardening Gone Wild, if you’re interested), and they fruited very well both last year and this year. One packet of seed produced dozens of plants, so I can harvest my fill of the small fruits. It’s a little tricky to find the creamy yellow fruits (certainly not as easy as it is with the red ones), but supposedly the birds don’t bother these, because they don’t recognize the pale fruits as being ripe.

Strawberry 'Yellow Wonder' June 8 08

Well, looks like my alpacas could use some special attention at the moment. First a fresh bucket of lemon-lime Gatorade (always a favorite), then time to put on the sprinkler. Ahhh.

Daniel and Duncan with sprinkler June 8 08

Daniel tends to lose interest quickly, so he’s happy to get back into the barn and eat in front of the fan.

Daniel in front of fan June 8 08

And Duncan is happy to have the sprinkler all to himself and become one with the water.

Duncan face down in sprinkler June 8 08

Ten minutes later, he’s ready to retreat to the shade of their new “paca palace.” And I’m ready to retreat back into the house. Whew!

Dunc in paca palace June 8 08

13 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anna on June 8, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Your garden looks lush and yummy. I can see you work hard. I left you a msg at GGW. I sure admire your work.

    Thanks so much, Anna. I left a return note for you there.
    -Nan

  2. Posted by Lisa at Greenbow on June 8, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    Nan your front garden looks great in this heat. Whew it is hot here too. I would likely have gotten into the sprinkler with them. ha… Isn’t it funny how some pets like the sprinkler and some don’t. I have had dogs that don’t want to be watered down any way and I have had a dog that loved to run and jump in the sprinkler like a child.

    I’m pretty pleased with having the sprinkler so they can suit themselves. I normally spray them by hand, by it’s tough when both want to be sprayed, and Duncan will stand there for what feels like hours. This way, I can lurk in the shade of the barn until he’s had enough, then turn the water off as soon as he’s done. What we do for our critters, huh? Speaking of which, time for another sprinkler session…
    -Nan

  3. I really like the rock border on that raised bed. Nice.

    Thanks, Deb. It’s a good way to use up all those pesky little rocks I keep finding in the gardens and pastures.
    -Nan

  4. Your garden looks amazing! I love the pictures of Daniel and Duncan. I’m sure the water at least cools off Daniel even if he doesn’t enjoy it much.

    Daniel likes the water much better when it comes from a hose I’m holding, because I tell him how cute he is as part of the process. The sprinkler isn’t nearly as generous with compliments, which is fine with Duncan, as he’d rather soak in peace.
    -Nan

  5. Here I was reading along, enjoying looking at your garden and then you trotted out those alpacas. Aaaaaawwwwww! How sweet! I would just give them a big HUG.

    Robin at Bumblebee

    You could *try* hugging them, Robin, but I’d have to wish you luck; they don’t much like being touched. Now, if you were to offer them some Lama Treats…well, then, you’d win their hearts, at least until the treats were gone.
    -Nan

  6. I guess everywhere is getting blasted with this high heat. It’s hard to step outside after 9:00 AM and not get steamed. Your garden is looking great. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry from the garden!

    The heat sure is brutal, isn’t it? But at least we have hopes of it getting cooler again in a few days. And in the meantime, the cannas, bananas, sweet potato vines, and other heat-lovers are finally putting on some new growth. So it’s not *all* bad, I guess.
    -Nan

  7. If youse guys (sorry, my NJ childhood is coming through) getting blasted by the summer furnace could just point it in our direction, we’d sure appreciate it. We can’t get past low 50s. but finally today we get to see the sun. Those strawberries look yummy.

    Hey, now, ‘Mudge, that’s just mean. It’ll be a long time before we get to feel temps in the 50s again, I fear. You can have as much of our heat as you can handle!
    -Nan

  8. Do the Alpacas like only the lemon-lime flavor of Gatorade? If so, how did you figure that out? I’d never have thought that they would drink Gatorade. You really do spoil them, but they are awfully cute.

    Actually, that’s the only flavor I can find in the powdered mix. I make it much more dilute than the directions say, but there’s still enough that you can smell it and taste the flavoring. I give them plain water too, but they drink more from the Gatorade bucket. They get it only when it’s really hot or really cold, as a special treat. There are so few things they really like, other than being left alone, that I’m happy to give them anything they enjoy.
    -Nan

  9. Your garden looks amazing! I don’t envy your hot temps, though.

    Thank you, Nancy! It’s not looking too perky at the moment, but if we get the predicted rains without the accompanying severe weather, it should be much happier in a day or two. Stay cool!
    -Nan

  10. The boys sure do look happy with their sprinkler and their Gatorade treat! :)

    I really kind of like that parsnip. From the top part that you showed, it looks like a cross between lovage and angelica… and totally like something Piet would enjoy. Are you going to save seed, then, to replant next spring?

    You’ve nailed the description of the parsnip, Kim: the color of lovage with the stoutness of angelica. I don’t know yet about saving the seed; I guess I should. I already have this year’s crop planted, so I’ll have plants for next year anyway. It’s definitely growing on me, so to speak.
    -Nan

  11. Posted by ourfriendben on June 10, 2008 at 6:49 am

    Wow, what fun!!! Of course, I had to rush into the mudroom to check the emergency jar of powdered Gatorade, and sure enough, it was lemon-lime, despite the orange packaging that had tricked me into thinking it was the much-preferable citrus flavor! Oh well. Wonder what the bunny would make of Gatorade? This heat is as rough on them as it is on us. I’ll be taking her some ice cubes later on… gasp…

    Yes, the orange packaging is kind of confusing. I’ll have to see if I can track down some other flavors some time and do a taste test with the boys.
    -Nan

  12. Oh Nancy, everything looks delicious, especially the gooseberries! Boy do I miss them. This July I’ll be in Germany and can’t wait to eat lots of red currents. Maybe the gooseberries will still be available too.

    Can’t you have gooseberries now, Melanie? Currants are even nicer shrubs and don’t get very big (at least the red- and white-fruited ones). The gooseberries here are finally starting to get ripe – mmmm. The red currants are starting to color up too, but I’ve learned to wait for several weeks to sample them. I hope you get to enjoy lots of good ones on your travels!
    -Nan

  13. Lovely garden. I love your photographs.

    Welcome, Marnie, and many thanks for your kind comments.
    -Nan

Comments are closed.