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End of the Growing Season; Start of the New

IMG_5496The 2015 growing season is pretty much at an end. On August 29th, the soybeans were still dark green with just a very few leaves starting to turn yellow.

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It didn’t even take a month for the beans to dry down. I took this picture on Friday, September 25th. About an hour after the picture was taken, the combine moved into this field and harvested the beans.

IMG_0048On the following Monday and Tuesday, the Farmer worked the soil and then on Wednesday, September 30th, planted winter wheat. The wheat is up, growing and will be harvested in the summer of 2016.

IMG_0050The narrow row, in between the field radishes in the garden, is where the Amaryllis bulbs were growing. I dug them up last Saturday, washed the roots and laid them in my garden wagon to air dry. I pull the wagon outside into the yard during the day; in the evening I put it back into the garage. They look nice and healthy. The leaves will be cut off after they have dried, then the bulbs will be stored in the basement until I’m ready to start potting them in November. I’ll pot a few bulbs every 2 weeks so I have continuous blooms during the dreary days of January, February and into March.

I tilled the soil where the amaryllis were and then planted garlic cloves. They should push through by the end of October; winter over and start growing again as soon as the soil warms up next spring.

So, as my title says, it is the end of the growing season but next year’s growing season has started.

In the Garden

Last year I did a garden update every month. The weather was uncooperative this year and the garden wasn’t the bright spot it normally is.

IMG_5486Except for the pole beans, the garden has finished production for the year. I plant fall radishes after each section has finished growing it’s vegetable. The radishes suppress weeds and their deep roots loosen the soil for spring tillage.

IMG_5487The Amaryllis bulbs are still growing and one of them is actually blooming, a second plant has a flower stalk too. I’ll let these bulbs grow until the end of September unless frost threatens earlier. They’ll be pulled and allowed to start their ‘rest’ until they are repotted again in November.

The leaves do get beat up some from growing in the garden. I think it helps develop stronger bulbs by growing in the real world for a while.

IMG_5488On the east end of the garden are these beautiful hybrid sunflowers. They have been transformed into  flowering bushes instead of having just 1 seed head like they used to. I had originally planted a whole row of the sunflowers on the left side but whatever ate my tomato plants also ate most of those seedlings. I had used all my seed so I went back to the seed store. They were out of the original variety IMG_5489so I got another type. I think they’re even prettier.

 

 

IMG_5493The bees enjoy them too. There have been bumble bees, honey bees and some wild type of bee that looks like honey bees but are half the size.

I enjoy looking out the west windows of the house and seeing them so bright, colorful and cheery.

IMG_5496The soybeans are nearing the end of their growth. It is hard to imagine, but a month from now, this field will have yellow leaves with some of them turning brown and starting to drop off the stalk. If we have a normal (what’s normal anymore?) fall, they should be harvested in October.

After they are harvested, we’ll no-til winter wheat into the soil.

IMG_5462My flower beds aren’t very colorful anymore. The black-eyes Susans are still smiling but the most brilliant flower this late summer time has been the lily hostas. The early summer rains really made them grow, their flowers are beautiful. When I head out to the barn in the early morning, the scent of their sweet perfume is hanging in the air. It is too dark to see them, but they definitely let you know they are there.

In July we combined the wheat in our bottom field and baled the straw the following week. A combine can’t harvest every single seed grain so there are wheat kernels dropped to the ground. There are 3 wild turkeys who have been grazing the field ever since the combine did it’s job. They were there when we started baling, waddling ahead of the tractor eating the seeds. I would love to get a picture of them for you but I don’t have a telephoto lens on my camera. As I am typing, I am looking out the east window at them. They are determined to glean every loose seed in that field.

As we baled hay this week, the barn swallows gracefully flew and swooped around us; devouring the insects we disturbed. I’d take pictures to show you, but I’m not fast enough to snap one. I don’t know how much longer they will stay in northern Indiana before heading south. My bird book says they winter from Costa Rica to Argentina.

I did manage some sewing time this week, but I’ll share that with you in my next post.

Pillowcases!

IMG_5191Our almost three-year old grandson has moved out of the crib and into a big boy bed so I decided to make him a pillowcase to celebrate. It was so much fun to just sit and sew something and have it completed in an hour, that I decided to make pillowcases for the rest of the grands.

They’re all completed. I think it will be awhile before I make pillowcases again but they did turn out cute.

IMG_5193The pillowcases were all made using the magic pillowcase method. I hope the link works, the lady started talking right away.

IMG_5196The last of the Amaryllis are blooming now. The 2nd flower stalk of both red Amaryllis have now opened. The white one has both stalks blooming at the same time. I’ve noticed as the season as progressed, the interval between flower stalks blooming has lessened. I’ve placed a sticky note in the calendar on November as a reminder to pot up the bulbs earlier in the fall. I’ve got to have a note as a reminder or I’ll forget all about it!

Amaryllis Care in the Summer

Since I’m only working on 2 quilting projects, I haven’t been posting as much. I’ve had several of you e-mail me and ask me about how I care for the Amaryllis’ when they’re not blooming. Thanks for the interest, and what a great idea for a post!

For the rest of the winter, keep on like you are doing now. Cut off the dead flower stalks and keep the plants watered, but don’t overdo it. I keep mine in the house until maybe the first of May (sometimes earlier if it is really warm), then I set them outside by my back steps. If temperatures lower than 40* threaten, they are moved back into the house.

When there is no long a threat of frost, I normally transplant them into a flowerbed, but this year they are going to be planted in the garden. Before planting, I trim the leaves to about 6″ from the bulb. I do this because the plant isn’t “hardened” and the leaves aren’t able to stand up to the wind. Don’t worry, they will grow more leaves.

I dig an individual hole for each bulb big enough to hold the dirt from the pot. I do loosen the soil from the potted roots so the roots are free somewhat, but I try not to disturb them too much. Sometimes though, no matter now careful I am, all the soil falls off the roots. Just put the roots in the ground and place the potting soil with it. Push the bulb into the soil and pull real dirt around the bulb until just the tip is sticking out, then I mulch them. You can use whatever is available and whatever you like to use, but please mulch them. Mulching helps hold the moisture in the soil. When the mulch is in place, I give them a good drink of water. I’ll water them every couple of days for a week or two. If it rains, you don’t need to water that day.

If any baby bulbs have fallen off during the planting, go ahead and plant them too but be sure to mark the spot with a stick or something so you can see where they are.

Keep an eye on them over the summer, but they are very self-sufficient.

When fall comes, keep an eye on the temperature. When frost threatens, loosen the soil around them and get them out of the ground. I rinse the roots in water, removing all the soil, then I like to lay the plants on my garden wagon (slotted frame) and leave them there to dry. I don’t cut off the leaves. I set the wagon in the garage and let them dry until usually the middle of November. By now the leaves are all dried up. I cut the leaves off with a scissors and place them in a basket, then store them in the cellar until I start potting them in December.

You will need to adapt this method to your growing area. We’re in the very northern most part of Indiana.

I’ll close with this picture of my beautiful flowers.

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The Jane Stickle Quilt, Row F

IMG_5171I’ve been working diligently on my Dear Jane blocks  and row F is now completed.

 

 

 

 

IMG_5172The first 6 rows. When I have row G (7) sewn, I’ll start a second half. When the blocks are all completed it will be easier to sew 2 halves together than to keep sewing a narrow row to a section.

IMG_5173Of course I need to keep you updated on my Amaryllis. I’ve had these bulbs for years and some of the bigger bulbs have grown baby bulbs. Sometimes these baby bulbs break off when I’m transplanting them into the flowerbeds in the spring. I plant the little bulbs and let them grow over the summer just like I do the larger bulbs. When I start potting the Amaryllis bulbs in the winter, I plant a larger pot right away with just the baby bulbs. There are 8 babies in this pot but this year one of them has bloomed! She only has 2 flowers but next year she’ll get her own pot and will have more blossoms.

There are a lot more flowers coming! I’m glad, we still have snow on the ground!

Maple Leaf Guild Quilt Retreat

Last week-end was the Maple Leaf Guild’s annual quilt retreat held at Epworth Forest Campground in North Webster. I had a wonderful time!

IMG_5164I was tired Thursday and didn’t want to think very hard, so I just pieced these little 9 patch blocks which will finish at 3″. They are made from fabrics leftover from other projects. I try to strip piece as much as I can, but some pieces were just big enough to cut a 1-1/2″ block so I had to do some individual piecing. I actually made more than what is shown, but I had already removed the ‘bright’ ones and put them with a work-in-progress.

IMG_5157I felt more ambitious Friday morning and sewed up the pincushions I have been embroidering this fall and winter. They are from the Patchwork Loves Embroidery book by Gail Pan. My friend Deanna and I filled them with walnut hulls I purchased at a pet store.  I had remembered to bring a funnel along but they still spilled some. After they were filled, I hand sewed them shut. They could have probably used more shells for filling, but I think they look pretty good for a first time. I IMG_5158liked the hexagon pincushions better than the rectangular ones, when I was embroidering them, but now I like the rectangles best. For your information, if  you decide to buy the book and make your own pincushions, I reduced the size of the hexagons to 75% of the original in the book. It was just too big. I just realized, the hexagon pincushions are supposed to have a button in the center, that’s why they are baggy. I’ll get that done sometime.

 

 

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I had pieced the HST’s ahead of time so I could get right to work on Red Radiance. I pieced the star points Friday evening. Saturday morning I sewed the embroidered pieces together and then sewed the HST border. This isn’t the finished project, there is an embroidered border (I have 2 sides embroidered) and then another HST border (which I sewed together). Once I’m finished with the embroidered border I should be able to finish it quickly. I already know how I want to hand quilt her, so she will be going in the frame right away.

IMG_5159We had a special treat on Saturday, the 2015 charity committee showed us the Relief Sale quilt we members pieced and appliqued blocks for. This is Kim McLeans’ Stars and Sprigs pattern. We have several members who do beautiful applique work so 4 of them each appliqued a border. This quilt will be hand quilted by our guild.

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Last August I attended the AQS show in Grand Rapids for the first time. There were beautiful quilts and lots of vendors. I bought a couple kits for small projects but haven’t had time to work on any of them. I brought  Snowman Love along, which I had purchased at the Red Button Quilt Co. booth. I completed the body of the project, but need to do some handwork. I might put this away and save her to finish at the next retreat I attend.

 

IMG_5168I had two Apple Blossom and an orangey/red Amaryllis bloom while I was gone. Aren’t they just beautiful? You can see there are several more to open in the future. I need these flowers to keep me happy in the winter. I’m pleased that staggering the planting has made the blooming staggered.

 

More Amaryllis Blooms

I’ve been gone a week to the warm sunny Tempe/Phoenix, Arizona area to visit our daughter and son-in-law. Now I’m back home to Arctic temperatures, wind chill factor, lake effect snow and white out conditions. In the next several posts, I will be sharing about my trip, but first I need to catch up here at home.

When I left on February 5th, several IMG_5149of the Amaryllis buds were close to opening. This is what welcomed me home. The white flowers are from the bulb the Farmer gave me for Christmas and the red one is actually a darker red than it shows. In real life it has a velvety appearance. The white flowers remind me of an Easter Lily.

 

 

 

 

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The blooms on the red Amaryllis that was flowering before I left had wilted and the second bud was open. If you look in the center of the blooms, there is a 5th flower that will open in a few days.

Behind the Amaryllis is a happy blooming lavender geranium.

 

 

This flower pot was close to the

IMG_5155impatience in a flowerbed last summer. A seed fell in this pot and now there is a lonely impatience flower blooming.

 

 

 

While I was gone, the temperature rose to 40* one day. We have steel roofing on the house and when the temperature warms, all the snow comes sliding off in one big whoosh/thud. This snow is very icy and packs hard. It needs to be cleaned off immediately or it turns into solid ice when the temperature drops, which it has. These are the steps into our house. Fortunately there is a path on the left side to step up. We won’t get the ice off until the next thaw.

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The next several posts will be about warm, sunny Tempe!