Make yourself comfortable under the Tulip Tree.

My name is Victoria and I am gradually creating a suburban homestead in Central Illinois.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

heirloom seed gifts

Seeds acquired through family gifts:

slo-bolt cilantro from Todd's Seeds (Michigan) http://toddsseeds.com/

tomatoes: cherokee purple, abe lincoln (a nice USDA cultivar), black krim. and big rainbow (Ferry-Morse)

flowers (from Timo and his wife, katia of peru)

Marvel of Peru (mirablis jalapis) - 4 o'clocks (containers, as they won't winter well here)
Forget-me-nots - victoria blue (of course!)

Already preparing for winter seeding in home-made plastic houses and the greenhouse.

Friday, December 21, 2012

new deck out front

New deck out front. Had Geno, the rent-a-husband, tear down the old weathered neglected on and design and build this one. It's about 45 ft across and 8 ft deep. We stained it a natural cedartone which turned out dark orange. weathering should help it.

 Here, we are protecting the evergreens not just making them fashionable.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gardening is not a rational act - things that did not go well in 2012

Wild weather

  • Drought: there was not much rain and certainly high temperatures. The water bill was high even with a drip system.
  • Drip system installed. Had pressure issues and plugged hoses. Drip system saved the containers, though, while we were away for 3 weeks in June.
  • Broccoli did not head. Cauliflower headed in late October. 
  • Strawberries flowered and fruited three times! They were confused.
  • Raspberries also confused.

Rodents of unusual cuteness

  • Chipmunks ate young brassicas and undercut one of the tomato beds leading to premature demise. Too bad, our resident Cooper's hawk (picture) wasn't hunting them.  In further insult, our friends who were gifted with extra tomato plants had bumper harvests. Rats!

Japanese beetles: I won the war this time by going out morning and night and capturing and killing all that I could find on my cherry trees. Last year, they defoliated them. This year, I claim victory!

Beauty acquired: I scored white tulips at a clearance bin!

Peppers galore! Freezer full of hot and not-so-hot peppers.

Potatoes: Two years of unsuccessful harvest. The container method is not working. Where are the 100's of pounds of potatoes from a bin? We barely get seeds back out.

Sunflowers rocked!

time and tide waits for no....

frost killed yellow squash

tiny cauliflower - started heading in late October

big beefy yellow tomatoes (heirloom)

cauliflower harvest

Some late harvest goodies from the garden.

The cold frame is doing well even with outside temperatures going sub-freezing overnight. Lettuce, arugala, and spinach gets harvested twice a week.

Garlic was planted just before thanksgiving. Twice as much as last year.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Alexa is 5'4"...the sunflower is almost 7' tall.

This one is from seeds Kervin gave me...we're been calling the giant russian sunflowers, but that's just a guess.

Also, a happy bee.

heat and more heat

Heirlooms are not doing well in the heat despite plenty of water. 

The strawberries think it is August. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

japanese beetles are back

Japanese beetles, also known as popillia japonia, are invaders that we truly need to prevent and control. They love to feed off of the yard's life, defoliating leaves and fruit. I was going to town with a spray bottle full of soapy water and olive oil. Last year, the beetle defoliated both cherry trees. I hope to stop them this year before complete destruction occurs.

Monday, June 18, 2012

beautiful iris

Beautiful iris from the Amish lady at the Farmer's Market. It has three blooms that alternate with opening and closing: left, right, middle, repeat. Weirdest thing I have seen in the garden.

Iris, most beautiful flower,
Symbol of life, love, and light;
Found by the brook, and the meadow,
Or lofty, on arable height.
You come in such glorious colors...

Edith Buckner Edwards, 1961

potato harvest...not good so far

red potatoes still growing strong
  The reds look good so far.

The gold potato plants were dead when we got home from vacation. we had a drip system set up to give them water. So we pulled the pile. 

At least 6 bigger potatoes had started rotting in the wet earth. I dug through 100 pounds of composted soil and straw to the bottom to find a few potatoes.

We did get bigger potatoes but not very many and they were only at the bottom of the barrel. I don't see how people gets "hundreds" of pounds of potatoes from a vertical system.

I followed directions. Oh well. We'll have to maybe throw the potatoes into one of the boxes and try rows next year. 

Homegrown new potatoes taste wonderful!

Sunday, June 17, 2012


The soft-necked garlic looks ready...falling over. I dug up 4 small cloves. I left the others in the ground for a few more days.

The elephant garlic needs another week or so.

A great page for garlic: http://www.hoodrivergarlic.com/garlic-calendar.htm

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Drip system worked...sort of

The drip system and timer worked very well while we were gone for 10 days. Some plants didn't get as much water as others; one can tell from the size of the plants.

The basil had a great growth spurt despite being dug by a chipmunk!  To each side, are the flowers that just loved getting watered every day.

Yes, the chipmunks managed to dig out there tunnel which I had blocked. They, however, did not eat my brassicas to the ground like last year. So, win. There is now a pound of camphor inside and a large brick over their hole.

In other news, the poor cucumbers are battling. They did not get as much water as the centered yellow squash and melons. This one has only 2 true leaves, and has blossomed. Weird!

Friday, June 1, 2012

vacation hiatus and meditation

Headed off to vacation and a disconnect from the digital world. I leave you with leafy carrot tops!


bodhii svaha

Friday, May 25, 2012

potted plants


Herbs in pots: clockwise...stevia, dill, thyme, and baby basils

Bonus planter: calladium and double tap petunias.

berry berry squirrel

Cup of strawberries for the morning sun. Bonus: every squirrel loves berries!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

peas are flowering

These peas are in one of the "new" beds from last year and are almost chest high. In an old bed, they barely got to waist high. I assume the abundant nutrition from compost has helped their growth. 

These are snow peas so the pods are picked young. 

Underneath are the cucumbers and yellow squash plants which will be trellised up as well.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

plant giveaway

I left about 2 dozen tomato plants, a dozen cauliflower and broccoli, plants, a flat of peppermint, lemon balm, and oregano, and a dozen sunflowers on the table at work. Within 5 minutes of my email, there were a dozen folk down there. They were all gone by the time I came back from lunch an hour later. Plants put to good use by folks who appreciate a local harvest.

the color, yellow, pops out from the shade

The first of  the daylilies have popped. I put them in about 2 years ago. They were a gift from a co-worker. These are located under the Tulip Tree. I really like yellow because it "pops" out of the shade. My garden and landscape design is designed to give the eye something to look at. You reye wanders and you say, Hey! What's that? That's interesting!" beforeroaming again. Contemplation. Meditation.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last week while I was gone...

Alexa did a lot! She raked out all the old mulch from the landscaped areas in preparation for the arrival of the new cedar mulch. The cedar mulch, about 6 yards (3 cu ft) fill about half a dump truck. It was the prize for winning the Journal-Star Better Earth Garden contest for 2011.

See post here: http://tuliptreehomestead.blogspot.com/2011/06/yes.html

Also being delivered is 2 yards of finished compost. One can never have enough compost, truly.

Asian Lily
Also, while I was away at a conference for work, the asiatic lilies popped out near the toad houses.

Today, we planted all the annuals into the pots for the front patio. Also, planted another section of sunflowers on the north side of the house edged with hostas. There are already 3 types of sunflowers on the south side of the house also fronted with hostas. The sunflower varieties are: Lemon Queen (Seed Savers Exchange, Iowa), Valley Green ($0.10  generic seed), and Kervin's (a coworker) Giant Russian Sunflowers.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

"butterfly" daisy

I've always loved daisies.

This one is....

Argyranthemum frutescens
Marguerite Daisy

Monday, May 14, 2012

raspberry parfait!!

raspberry parfait dianthus

Alexa's raspberry parfait flowers came back from last year in their pot!


The Dianthus Raspberry Parfait, 'Dianthus chinensis' has petite pink flowers with a dark crimson eye that grows equally well in patio pots or beds. The Super Parfait series has a compact growth habit that flowers earlier than other varieties.

True story.

We had in order of appearance this year: daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, peonies, and now dianthus.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

weeds are not really weeds

Peppermint and lemon balm starts. They are going wild in and out of the boxes. Started them and plan to offer them at the neighborhood garage sale next Saturday.