Exit Winter . . .

After a chill night and cool day, winter seems to be making its departure from these parts.  The treachery of mid-April has departed middle Georgia.

Rows are uncovered, plants are soaking up the sunshine and Jim and Liz are planting okra and MORE tomatoes (you know you can never have too many tomatoes).  We have welcomed the return of spring at Elm Street Gardens and bid winter good-bye.  We hope.

Suzy

 

Below are some pictures of spring's return at Elm Street Gardens.  You'll see the uncovered beds, new plantings of squash, okra, tomatoes and cucumbers.  And thornless blackberry blossoms, strawberry blossoms (with a few little berries forming if you look carefully) as well as roses and the lovely pale green of a newly leafed out crepe myrtle.  

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Spring Has Sprung, But . . .

Winter has made a quick and, we hope, a brief return to Elm Street Gardens.  Hopefully the cold will last for only a couple of days. But today Jim and Elizabeth had to cover all the tender spring and summer crops they have been planting in the outdoor beds as well as roll down the sides of the hoop houses and shut them up snug and tight for the cold night or two to come.

Strong winds are blowing the cold front our way so, although the sun is shining brightly this afternoon, you can feel the temperature dropping.  The row covers on the outdoor beds are puffed up with the wind, but all the bricks that were brought back to the garden as anchors this morning are holding them down just fine.

I am believing spring is really here despite this little set-back and the sight of the tomato plants and various blossoms and iris blooming give one hope that this is the last burst of winter.  Surely . . .

Suzy

Lettuces, broccoli, tomatoes, arugula and squash are tucked in for the night of cold.

Lettuces, broccoli, tomatoes, arugula and squash are tucked in for the night of cold.

Fortunately, there are crops that do not need the protective covering.

Fortunately, there are crops that do not need the protective covering.

Strong winds attempt to lift the row covers, but they are secure!

Strong winds attempt to lift the row covers, but they are secure!

Some of the first tomatoes planted in the hoop houses are taking off and will be fine during the cold spell in this warm environment.

Some of the first tomatoes planted in the hoop houses are taking off and will be fine during the cold spell in this warm environment.

Wonderful iris blossoms reassure us that spring is here.

Wonderful iris blossoms reassure us that spring is here.

Blossoms of spirea and viburnum are another sure sign of spring.

Blossoms of spirea and viburnum are another sure sign of spring.

 

 

Organic Certification!

Elm Street Gardens reached an important milestone this past week:  We are now officially a certified organic operation.  We were all delighted to receive the certificate stating that Elm Street Gardens “meets the strict standards to be CERTIFIED ORGANIC.”

Elm Street Gardens Manager, Jim Fraser, gets the credit for this achievement.  Robert and I started the gardens in this direction and maintained organic standards from the very beginning of our garden here on Elm Street, but Jim is the one who has not only maintained those standards for over the past year, but also took them to new heights.  He also was the one to go through the certification process and all the record keeping and work that requires. 

We are very proud of this milestone.  It’s a big deal for us and opens a new chapter in the Elm Street Gardens story.

Suzy

Outstanding in his field:  Jim Fraser shows off the confirmation of Elm Street Gardens' new status.

Outstanding in his field:  Jim Fraser shows off the confirmation of Elm Street Gardens' new status.

Marching On

Seems that the month of March came in like a lamb for us on Elm Street this year.  We’ve made it through a snow (not all bad and rather pretty) and an ice storm (treacherous with rough days here with no power, no water and trees and tree limbs down all over our part of middle Georgia).  So although March is off to a good start, we are a bit antsy about the coming weather. 


The grounds and gardens on Elm Street did not suffer any structural damage or serious crop loss from the ice storm, but there was plenty of clean up work to do.  I am still praising Robert’s foresight in keeping our trees trimmed so that hoop houses and garden beds were spared any major damage from falling branches. 


We have had some warmish times since the ice storm and Jim says that on those warmer days you can practically watch plants grow.  The plants in the hoop houses are happy and looking great and the outdoor crops, protected with row covers for the more tender plantings, looked better with each day of warmer weather that February could muster up for us. 


Weather has been the big topic for me in these blogs of late.  Well, I guess that is what comes of having a garden; we are always watching the weather.  Now I am just hoping that March stays lamb-like and doesn’t do the lion routine!

Suzy

One of many such scenes after the ice storm here at Elm Street.  Broken limbs from magnolias and many other trees littered the grounds.

One of many such scenes after the ice storm here at Elm Street.  Broken limbs from magnolias and many other trees littered the grounds.

And then there was this big tree that went down across the street.  Our mushroom man, Jonathan Tescher, just missed being hit by it.

And then there was this big tree that went down across the street.  Our mushroom man, Jonathan Tescher, just missed being hit by it.

it's hard to keep a good daylily down!  And here come those that are planted at each end of our main garden rows.  It's a sure sign that there is hope for spring.  

it's hard to keep a good daylily down!  And here come those that are planted at each end of our main garden rows.  It's a sure sign that there is hope for spring.  

Nothing says that winter will be over soon like daffodils!

Nothing says that winter will be over soon like daffodils!

Onions and garlic have been planted and growing in the outdoor beds for some time now.  This is our own Elm Street Garlic.  We found it growing on what is now our flower bank when we first moved to Elm Street. Its good performance is testimony that native plants are best.

Onions and garlic have been planted and growing in the outdoor beds for some time now.  This is our own Elm Street Garlic.  We found it growing on what is now our flower bank when we first moved to Elm Street. Its good performance is testimony that native plants are best.

Another wonderful sign of spring.

Another wonderful sign of spring.

The bulbs on the flower bank start to show their spring colors.

The bulbs on the flower bank start to show their spring colors.

The garden beds in March:  The 'tender" crops have their row covers handy and ready for covering up in case it is to get to freezing.

The garden beds in March:  The 'tender" crops have their row covers handy and ready for covering up in case it is to get to freezing.

Growing Pains

Having a garden is mostly a joyous thing, not a painful thing.  The term “Growing Pains” is used here to mean growth and progress is coming to Elm Street Gardens with the acquisition of two empty lots on Elm Street so we may grow our garden space.  Admittedly, there will be a lot of work involved and that may be somewhat painful. 

 

One of the new lots is on the same side of the street as our current garden and the other is across the street near the top of Elm Street.  They are close, but not contiguous to each other or to our current gardening area.  One lot is relatively flat and mostly needs to be cleared of some scrub trees and undergrowth while the other needs more clearing and leveling as well as work to control the water which flows across the back of the property.  (But we have dealt with the same water issue on our current grounds and we know it can be done.)

 

Robert is tickled to have the new project and is looking forward to the process,which will involve the issues I mentioned above and much more.  Elm Street Gardens manager, Jim Fraser, may not be looking forward as much to all the hard work that will be required of him, but I think he is genuinely pleased that he will have more land on which to grow vegetables and fruit for more people.  And it pleases us that we’ve kept the new growing areas all on Elm Street.

 

So here we go again.  “If some is good, more is better” is the maxim that has often ruled our lives.  It is great to see the energy and interest with which the development of this property is anticipated. 

Suzy

Here are a few views of the new lots that will become part of Elm Street Gardens.  Not too much to see perhaps, but I am submitting these pictures as the "before" record of all the work that will come.

Looking at the new Elm Street Gardens plot that is on the east side of Elm Street.  This is just up the street from the existing garden with two residential properties in between.

Looking at the new Elm Street Gardens plot that is on the east side of Elm Street.  This is just up the street from the existing garden with two residential properties in between.

A view of the property on the west side of Elm Street.  It is at the top of the residential section of the street and this view is taken from the back of the property looking across the street.

A view of the property on the west side of Elm Street.  It is at the top of the residential section of the street and this view is taken from the back of the property looking across the street.

Robert hammers in the surveyor's marker at the top of the east lot.

Robert hammers in the surveyor's marker at the top of the east lot.

Snow Day On Elm Street

The quiet of our first snow of the year (actually the first snow we’ve had for two or three years) arrived last night and we woke to a garden and grounds blanketed in white.  Even though the snow is not deep and does not quite cover everything, it still transforms all that it touches.

 

So for those of us to whom this soft covering of our grounds is a novelty, here are pictures of Elm Street Gardens in the snow.

Suzy

The snow started coming down last night well after dark.  

The snow started coming down last night well after dark.  

A similar view in the morning after.  

A similar view in the morning after.  

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A view from the main floor of the house of the formal garden.  Such gardens were often part of the landscaping in the 1840's and were meant to be viewed from above in the house.  This way, formally attired ladies did not have to soil their skirts on the ground but could still enjoy the garden.

A neighbor snapped this picture of the house as she took her morning walk.

A neighbor snapped this picture of the house as she took her morning walk.

A Currey & Company faux bois  bench is ornamented but unfazed by the snow.

A Currey & Company faux bois  bench is ornamented but unfazed by the snow.

The old tool shed has its act cleaned up by the snow.

The old tool shed has its act cleaned up by the snow.

The garden beds are all white and it's not just the row covers that make it so.  

The garden beds are all white and it's not just the row covers that make it so.  

A view across the top end of the garden beds toward the back of the house.

A view across the top end of the garden beds toward the back of the house.

The very back of the property, looking toward the retention ponds, takes on a whole new look with a bit of snow.

The very back of the property, looking toward the retention ponds, takes on a whole new look with a bit of snow.

Snow is already starting to slide off the hoop house structures. The area under the trees should be filled with daffidils soon.  

Snow is already starting to slide off the hoop house structures. The area under the trees should be filled with daffidils soon.  

We laugh and call this our "summer office" as it provides a nice shady spot to rest for a minute when the muscadine vines are fully leafed.  Not so cozy on a snow day though.

We laugh and call this our "summer office" as it provides a nice shady spot to rest for a minute when the muscadine vines are fully leafed.  Not so cozy on a snow day though.