Winter’s Last Hurrah

It’s beginning to warm up in Iowa; we had our first day where temperatures reached into the 60s this week. With winter on it’s way out, I thought to give it one last hurrah with these snow pictures!


I love snow. (People think I’m crazy.) In February, we had one last nice big snow. It was wonderful! I had to scamper out and take pictures.

Derek thought we got 4+ inches!IMG_2138


My attempt to capture the depth of the snow. It came above my ankles up to my shin in some places!


I love it especially when a fine layer of snow rests on everything — even the grass heads!



The sky as the last of the snow storm was leaving. Can you believe this is mid-afternoon?


The garden all asleep under the snow.



I only lasted about 15 minutes before scampering back inside. I couldn’t feel my fingers, even with gloves, because of the cold! The snow is so beautiful and refreshing (even if it is cold.) I’m glad I had the chance to enjoy a little of this last show of winter.

By the next post, I bet you will be seeing the spring greenery coming out!


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Winter Garden Projects

Every January in Iowa, the weather warms up above freezing for a week span called a thaw. Just last week the thaw came and left us with several days of lovely 40s and 50s.


The winter garden. All is quiet and sleeping. Well, nearly everything…



Except this!


My hard-working gardener.


He’s thinking.


Eep! He sees me!


This is what the hubs was working on. The entrance to the garden is designed so we can get in without getting zapped by the electric fence. Some large creature — we’re thinking a deer — must have tried to enter the garden here and got caught on something. It ripped the wires out of the ground and snapped a post!


The broken post.


Looks a lot different than in the summer huh?









The right picture is the stumps of 2017’s asparagus. On the left is the rhubarb, hiding deep in the ground from the cold. Rhubarb at this time of year looks kinda alienish, I think.


My birthday present.

I’m very excited for this! Do you know what it is? Crocus! Derek got them for me for my birthday and planted them last fall. They are the earliest flower you can have in Iowa. I’m not sure if they are for my birthday last year or my birthday this year. Hm… I’d better ask.


The compost pile

But it should be called the volunteer pile! These are peach trees, growing on their own from the compost. There’s nearly 10 of them, and some are some very well built trees! We have no idea what we’re going to do with them yet. A surplus of peach trees… What a problem to have!


One of the best and biggest of the volunteer peach trees.


Last years green beans and okra plants.

Creation is so beautiful, even in the dead of winter!


Here’s the other project my hubs did — cleaning up the edge of the blueberry row fences. He’s planning to lay some wood chips around to help keep the weeds down.


These weeds, that is!


Fences after being cleaned up and weed debris down the middle.

The hubs always does such an amazing job with the garden. He can make things look so neat and clean. He’s like an artist of the gardening world.


Tools of the trade.


A young blueberry bush.

We had enough blueberries to taste last year. I can’t wait to see what 2018’s blueberry crop will be like. Derek says it won’t be much longer into they’re bearing regularly.

Baby apricots, planted just last year.

After the picture on the left, I asked my hubs to smile. Then, well, you see the result. (He has such a wonderful smile, too! He’s just too goofy to show it when there’s a camera around.)


A red raspberry… I think.

So, Derek wanted you all to see the difference between a red raspberry and a black raspberry. Trouble is I can’t remember which was which exactly. I’m 95% sure that’s a red raspberry.


Pretty sure this is a black raspberry. Pretty sure.

Any of you can correct me if you can tell the difference!

This is the final project Derek’s been up to this winter. He’s been cleaning up some rogue trees on the property.


Rogue trees no more — Derek says many of them are mullberries.


A girdled tree.

For those trees too big to bring down, Derek girdled them. He said that if you cut into a tree about an inch deep all the way around, it will kill the tree. Then it will eventually come down all by itself. Who knew?

So that’s what we’ve been up to during the winter months. What do you like to do in the winter time when you can’t be gardening?


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Last Grill Out of the Season

Back several weeks ago, when the weather was more favorable, we had our last grill out. The temps had been forecasted to drop below freezing that night; Derek planned to lug the grill up to the shed for winter storage at the end of the day.

I couldn’t resist this last opportunity! So, I lit the flame, defrosted minute steaks, chopped up and foil-wrapped some new potatoes, onions, and peppers.



Yum! Except I botched the steak — I read 2 tsp of sugar as 2 tablespoons. Sweet steak = no, no, no.



Fire, food, and the outdoors — I’d grill all year round if I could! I had the chance to enjoy this beautiful sunset while manning the flames. The sky in 2017 has been SPECTACULAR, displaying more incredible the storms and sunsets than I usually see. God sure knows how to make a scene of beauty!

Then, to my alarm, this guy caught my eye.20171004_171927

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Hanging out right next to my pots of things! I’m not normally intimidated by bugs, but this guy unsettled me. Easily thicker than my thumb and longer than my index finger, he was HUGE!



How can bugs be so beautiful and yet so creepy at the same time?


My hubs, who normally rescues me from unsettling insects, had busied himself out of reach in the garden at that moment. So I waited and faithfully kept my station at the flame, all the while keeping an eye on this giant caterpillar. I felt for sure an insect so large much be rare and amazing! (And hopefully not poisonous…)

Turns out, Derek recognized it right away. It was neither rare nor amazing — rather this giant caterpillar is a pest! It’s a tomato hornworm. Derek said he’d see this guy earlier; it’d munching the tops off my vine-ripening tomatoes that stood behind my pots o’ things.

With the growing season rolling to a close, we let this guy quietly crawl away into the grass. I felt much relieved when it’d gone, needless to say, and finished my grilling and sunset-gazing in peace.



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Sunset Colors

In between storming, the sunsets gave us quite a show this summer! Here are some pictures Derek ran out and snapped.


I’m sure glad he did! Look at those reds and crimsons. I love the silhouettes of the evergreens. Sometimes I like to think of God as a painter and the sky His canvas.


Yours is the day, yours also the night;
you have established the heavenly lights and the sun.

(Psalm 74:16)


The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.

(Psalm 19:1-4)



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Summer Storms

This has been a summer of the most amazing thundercloud formations. On more than one occasion, you would have found Derek and I standing outside, slack-jawed, marveling at the sky. (Often lingering so long we had to scurry inside through the rain that began pouring down!)


The front comes rolling in. Many powerful, Iowa thunderstorms have a bank of clouds pushed along the out edge by high winds. It creates an amazing spectacle. And a degree of foreboding.


It gets so still. Only distant thunder rumbles and a capricious breeze stirs the grass.


When the wall cloud moves overhead, all at once the winds escalate and bring sheets of rain pouring down. It so powerful and dramatic. I love how God’s power is reflected in how He made Iowa weather.


The failing sunlight must have been streaming through the thunderheads above us. It cast this pillar of light shooting off into the east. I’d never seen anything like it.


To the south, the sunset lit up the thunderheads.


Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and mist, stormy wind fulfilling his word! (Psalm 148:7-8)

The majesty displayed in the sky was so incredible! It was hard to decide which way to turn our heads; I just wanted to stare at it all at once! At the end of it all, this last show of glory before the close of the day.


Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
    your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones!
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
    Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
    and awesome above all who are around him?
Lord God of hosts,
    who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
    with your faithfulness all around you?

(Psalm 89:5-8)

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The Mint that Lived

What a summer! That garden keeps our hands busy, that’s for sure. It’s autumn now, and I find I have quite a few catch-up posts to do. This is back from the start of growing season.

Maybe you remember “Pots o’ Things” from last year. Well, after the ground thawed out, here’s what I found…


All dead. None survived the winter. (Excepting a stevia; being tropical, that herb spent the winter by a window, cozy indoors.) It’s not too surprising really. Iowa is sliced in half by Plant Hardiness Zones 4 and 5. Our particular location is right on the borderline. Most herbs can’t survive above Zone 5. (Excepting chives — some varieties of which thrive all the way up to the Canadian border.)

I’d been experimenting to see if we were deep enough into Zone 5 that herbs could overwinter. The bare pots have answered a resounding no. Time to start over…. But wait!


Chocolate mint – coming out of the bottom of the chive pot? Shoving the pot back, I found a network of white roots alive and well. The mints overflowed their pots last summer. Some of that overflow must have escaped and put down roots. (Mints are evasive, by the way; always put them in pots! ) I dug up the sprig, and it’s now a lush, happy herb — and back in its pot.

A few days later, my hubbs came up to me as I washed dishes. He said, “I think your mint has escaped.”


Apple mint? Behind the pots, a long stem of this apple mint had reared itself above the grassy thicket. Flourishing. I’m not sure how it survived too, but it did. I promptly transplanted it into it’s own pot. Though I missed a good chunk, because it showed itself again the following week. I haven’t had the chance to corral it back in over the summer, and I doubt I will with it being the thick of harvest season.

The apple mint has officially escaped. I hope I don’t live to regret it.


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Red Rock Seedless Watermelon




Delectably sweet.

A favorite for as long as we’ve grown watermelons, Red Rock Seedless watermelons are the highlight of picnics, potlucks, and our farmer’s market stall. This melon sports a deep pink flesh with pale seeds so few, thin, small, you may not even notice them! This is the watermelon that summer dreams are made of. We’ve never had a seedless watermelon this good; and we’re willing to bet you haven’t either. Come find us at market and give it a try!

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