Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thus Endeth Summer

Today was my last day at home. Sadly, this also means this was my last day caring for my vegetable garden. I leave it in my parents capable hands, but I'll miss having a garden. I'm back to Minnesota in a little more than 12 hours (about 20 house plants coming with me) so my posts will few as the semester gets going. Marching band keeps me really really busy, but I hope to start posting about the Horticulture class I'm taking, similar to what I did with my Thursday Lab posts last semester.
Of course I have to leave the garden right when things are getting really good. I've picked two big tomatoes and I'm sure more are soon to follow. The beans and cherry tomatoes just keep coming and it even looks like we may have a squash or zucchini later this fall.

The red pepper just after being picked. It turned out to be surprisingly sweet so we added it to a tasty black bean dip my mom made. 

One of the tomatoes a few days before we picked it.

I had a really great time spending this past Saturday morning at our town's Farmer's Market. There's so much fresh produce and local businesses selling breads and pastries, it was making my mouth water.

Wild Upper Michigan blueberries and blackberries.

Heirloom tomatoes.

The market.


Lots and lots of produce.

Michigan apples.

I'm posting late because I've been packing all day and now I need to get some sleep. Starting the 24th until the 2nd of September, I'll be marching and rehearsing with the band from 9am to 10pm and after that school is starting! Summer has flown by but I'm so happy I got to come home and garden for my vacation. Hopefully this semester will be an even bigger step toward that Horticulture major. Math, Chemistry, and another Horticulture course might be a bit challenging, but if I can survive that, I'll have some much needed per-requisites out of the way. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Benefits of a Summer Downpour

Last night brought us one of the first thunderstorms of the month. It rained for at least four hours, if not more, and I woke up to find my vegetable garden practically exploding with overnight changes. Things had started to ripen and beans had popped out of nowhere.

 The most startling evidence of this was one of my pepper plants that went from the first picture (take three days ago) to the second picture, taken this afternoon. The rain really got it to start ripening quickly. 

These peppers still have a bit to go...

And speaking of peppers, the grocery store peppers are still doing really well. They certainly get more sun than my poor veggie garden that has to endure a bunch of trees blocking some of it's much needed sun.

They seem to like it in front of the house. 

I also had my first small harvest of tomatoes. None of the big ones are ripe yet, but I'm starting to see them change color a bit. They're still mostly green though.

Cherry tomatoes. :)

The big tomatoes are still pretty green. Hopefully they'll ripen soon!

The beans burst out after the rain as well. A few days ago, all I saw were flowers, but now I have tons of young beans.

Looks like we're going to have lots of beans!

Sadly, I only have 16 more days left at home. Which means if things don't get ripe before then, I'll just have to trust my family to take care of the plants. I will have more horticulture posts though, as I'll be taking a course on Woody and Herbaceous plants. :) 

So I leave you with two flower shots of the week. The flower garden is still offering up new plants as the summer goes one. Enjoy!



Monday, August 6, 2012

The Estivant Pines

Every summer for the past nine years, my family goes camping in the gorgeous north woods of Copper Harbor, MI. This year, my dad took me three miles up a winding dirt road, logging roads forking off in various directions, to the Estivant Pines Nature Preserve.

This preserve holds the some of the very last old growth white pines in Michigan and is one of the last virgin stands of trees in the Midwest. Some of these trees are around 600 years old!


If you can see it, this tree started growing around 1500 and was cut down in 1970.

Walking into the preserve was like stepping back in time. It was hard to wrap my head around the fact that the whole Upper Peninsula of Michigan was once like this, never been logged and pristine. The hike became more surreal as we came up on the first remnant of an old tree. This tree seemed to have died naturally and was now standing, hollow and weather worn, in the middle of the path. 

My silly lab Molly sitting by the dead tree.

You can look up all the way through the tree to the sky above.

Farther into the woods, we came upon the giant trees. The map we'd gotten from the campground guide named this part as "Cathedral Grove" and it was aptly named because they towered over us. It was impossible to walk and crane your neck up to look at them so we did a lot of starting and stopping, my dad holding onto his hat to keep it from falling off as we looked up.

I couldn't help but hug one of them. It also served the purpose of showing how MASSIVE these trees are!

We went on the second trail and found more of the giant pines but a bit rockier path and had to maneuver up and down some of the hills. The paths are all pretty well worn, but it is rather hill-y in parts. The dog, of course, had an excellent time and ran around smelling everything.


It was crazy to see trees this big. And, of course, my inner plant nerd and nature lover was geeking out over the history of these gorgeous pines. This forest is also considered a boreal forest and isn't quite as lush as some of the forests to the south. The soil is thin and sits right on top of bedrock, so there's less nutrients here than elsewhere. 
It was a pretty eye-opening hike. And if you're thinking about a vacation for next summer and you love the outdoors, I'd definitely check out Copper Harbor, Michigan. (Or any part of Upper Michigan for that matter!)

If you want to learn more about the pines, here's a link for the page on the Keweenaw Traveler website.