Friday, July 02, 2021

Fourth of July Garden Report

 



As I have done for several years, I report on my vegetable garden about the Fourth of July.  Each vegetable gets a rating from 1-10, with 10 being outstanding.  I report on the good and the bad, including this year, a few zeros.

Every gardening year has its challenges and this year is no exception.  The two most challenging features of our Waushara County Garden each year are the weather and critters.  First the weather.  The season began rather normal but in May quickly turned to hot and dry.  Except for some timely watering, we would not have had a garden.  Then, in mid-June the rains began coming, some five inches in a couple weeks.  Vegetables that love hot and wet weather took off, cool weather crops struggled a bit.

            The critter story is a sad one.  Our two-wire electric fence keeps out the deer, turkeys, and raccoons.  But not the rabbits.  This year the rabbit population is greater than we’ve known for twenty or more years, and with dry, hot weather, their normal grasses dried up. They attacked some of the garden vegetables.  And they destroyed them.  These are the vegetables that received a zero in Natasha's rating.

             Natasha, my daughter-in-law, and our chief veggie gardener rated the vegetables as of the Fourth of July as follows.  No vegetable received a 10. Sweet corn and potatoes--9.  Cucumbers, radishes, zucchini,  and winter squash--8.  Pumpkins, tomatoes, gourds, and sunflowers--7.  No vegetables for 6.  Beans--5.  Carrots--4.  None for 3.   Lettuce--2.   Green cabbage--1.  red cabbage, kohlrabi, kale, and spinach (rabbit food)--0.  Zero for onions as well, as the onion sets didn’t grow.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Every garden year has its ups and downs.

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

 


Friday, June 25, 2021

June, a Special Month

 



Strawberry pie photo by Steve Apps

June. A very special month. Let’s start with it being Dairy Month in Wisconsin.  A chance to applaud the hardworking farmers and cheesemakers that keep Wisconsin the number one cheesemaking state in the nation.  Wisconsin has been number one since 1910 when our cheesemakers took the title away from New York State, which had been the nation’s top dairy state. So many great cheese varieties to try—some 600 of them.  Which is most popular these days?  Cheddar?  Nope, it’s Mozzarella. This country likes its pizza and Mozzarella is a prime ingredient.

June has the longest day of the year, the most daylight hours of any of the months.  And it also marks the beginning of summer—officially.

June is the month of fresh peas, lettuce and radishes from the garden.  Nothing tastes better than vegetables that have been freshly harvested..

For this old farm boy, June was also haymaking month.  I will never forget the smell of freshly cut and curing alfalfa—no perfume comes close.

But of all the memories, one sneaks up on top.  Strawberries.  We had a sizeable patch of them—they were my mother’s project.  We picked them and sold them to friends, relatives, and traded for groceries with them at the Mercantile store in Wild Rose.  And we ate them three times a day.  On our cornflakes at breakfast, on shortcake for lunch, and if we were lucky, in a strawberry pie for supper.  My mother also canned strawberries—no freezing as we didn’t have electricity. We enjoyed them all winter long.  When unexpected company came, she brought up from a cellar a jar of canned strawberries.  Always a treat for our city relatives.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: June, a special month in many ways.

 



WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

A Petunia Story


 


Photo by Jerry Apps

Petunias.  Everyone grows them.  They are as common as dandelions.  We take them for granted.  And as the saying goes, “If you can’t grow petunias, you probably should be doing something else.”

             I did a little checking and discovered that petunias are native to South America and there are umpteen different varieties of them.  Petunias were introduced to Europe in the early 1800s—two species, one white-flowered and the other purple-flowered. They eventually made their way to the United States, where plant breeders had a hay day developing many colors of the soon to become one of the most popular flowers grown in the country.

            It was in 1958 that I first began growing petunias.  I was working as a county extension agent for Green Lake County.  I lived in a little travel trailer, eight feet wide and 24 feet long.  And I missed gardening.  I shared this information with the owner of the trailer court.  She said, “Why don’t you dig up a little patch of ground by your trailer door, and I’ll give you a flower to plant.  It was my smallest garden ever—about one-foot square. 

            The following day she brought me a little lavender petunia—one plant.  That was my garden that summer.   I watered it regularly and made sure no weeds grew near it.  It grew and grew and soon had several beautiful lavender flowers, which greeted me each morning when I left for work and again when I returned in late afternoon.

            One day in August, my landlord asked if she could pick one of my little petunia flowers.  “Sure,” I said.  What I didn’t know is that she was active in the Green Lake Flower Club and entered my little petunia in the annual flower contest.  My little lavender petunia won first place. I framed the winner, which I have to this day.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Even flowers have stories to tell.

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

 


Friday, June 11, 2021

What's in a name? Photo by Jerry Apps

 



It’s only a wildflower.  A little rose, a wild rose.    It grows on my farm, as it does in many other places in the area. But it has meaning and memories more than any other wildflower for me.  You see, I was born on a farm in the township of Rose in Waushara County, four and a half miles from the village of Wild Rose.

            In 1973, I wrote a little book titled Village of Roses, the history of Wild Rose.  While writing the book I went searching for the source of the village’s name. The obvious answer, it was named after the wild roses growing in the area.  Nope, that’s not correct. Another possibility, an old-timer shared, with a grin on his face. “The village is named after this young lady, Rose. She was a bit on the wild side.”  Interesting idea, but also not correct.

With a little digging I learned that many folks who settled in around Wild Rose came from upstate New York, from a village named Rose, in Wayne County. It just happened that the year I wrote the book, I also was doing some work at Syracuse University.  I looked at a map and discovered Rose, was only about an hour’s drive from Syracuse, so I drove up there.  I stopped at the Post Office and introduced myself to the elderly clerk as being from Wild Rose, Wisconsin.  She greeted me like a long-lost son had returned.  I soon discovered that several of the names receiving mail from the post office were the same names as people living in the Wild Rose area.  The man who homesteaded my farm, in 1867, Tom Stewart, was from Rose, New York.

A surprising finding,   Rose, New York was named after Robert Rose, an early landowner in the town, not after a flower.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: The history of placenames often reveals surprising information.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org

The Village of Roses book is available from the Wild Rose Historical Society.
If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

 

 

Friday, June 04, 2021

Wild Rose Restoring Old Mill


 

Wild Rose Mill.  Photo by Jerry Apps

Every old building has a story to tell.  The old mill at Wild Rose is one of them.  Francis Strong built

 the mill in 1873 and it served farmers in the Wild Rose area for many years.  In 1904 Ed Hoaglin re-

developed the mill, including expanding the size of the millpond and adding a steel flume and

 penstock. The mill was always water-powered.

            In 1908, a water-powered generator was added and the village of Wild Rose had electricity, decades before those living on the nearby farms had electric power.  For years, the mill was a social center for farmers who waited for their grist to be ground. As a kid, I often rode with my father to the mill, joining the farmers who sat in the little mill office, which was heated by a wood stove.  It was here where I learned how the crops, the corn and the oats and the alfalfa in the community were doing.  It was here where I heard stories—so many stories.  Stories of winters past, which were always more fierce than the current one. “You throw a pail of water out of the house and it freezes before it hits the ground.”  Summers so hot “You could fry an egg on a flat stone.”

            Today the old mill has closed, but the memories remain.  The village of Wild Rose now owns the building and they are raising money to restore it.  If you are interested in donating to “The Wild Rose Milling Company Restoration Project,” send your check to:

            Village Clerk, Village of Wild Rose, PO Box 292

            Wild Rose, Wisconsin 54984

            I’ve sent in my check.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: When you tear down an old building, you lose a piece of history.

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org
If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, May 28, 2021

2021 Garden Planted

 



 Natasha mulching garden plants. Photo by Steve Apps

Memorial Day—a day for memories.  A time to recognize veterans.  A day for visiting graves of loved ones.  And a time to finish planting our vegetable garden.

We planted our first garden at Roshara, our Waushara County farm, in 1967.  We have planted a garden there every year since.  I should be more accurate about the “we.”  I do little these days except for offering a word of advice, and starting the tomato plants from seed.

 

For the past several years, my son, Steve and my daughter-in-law Natasha have done 99 percent of the planting, weeding, and harvesting. For those interested, in what we plant and when, here is a rundown.   On April 25, Steve and Natasha planted six rows of potatoes, plus onions, lettuce, spinach, kale, radishes, peas, carrots, and beets.

 

May 23, a week early, but my workers schedules had to take first place, the garden two-some planted: sweetcorn, pumpkins, winter squash, zucchini, green cabbage plants, red cabbage plants, kohlrabi, a few hills of gourds, and 6 rows of tomatoes.  We are great lovers of fresh tomatoes, and Ruth continues to make many pints of tomato soup that we enjoy throughout the winter.  Finally, following my dad’s admonition to plant something pretty in the garden, they planted a row of flowers, including zinnias and sunflowers.

 

One of the gardening tricks we learned over the years is to put mulch around the tomato plants as well as around cabbage, broccoli, and kohlrabi plants.  On our sandy loam soil, the mulch helps to conserve moisture as well as keep down weeds.

 

Now it’s up to Mother Nature as to what kind of a garden year it will be—each one has its surprises, both good and bad.

 

THE OLD TIMER SAYS:  Each year the garden is the same; each year it is different.

 

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, (Garden Wisdom for instance) go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org
If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Keeping the Critters Out of the Garden



Steve putting up the garden fence. Photo by Jerry Apps     

    When I began vegetable gardening at our farm many years ago, my neighbor, Floyd Jeffers, who

 farmed across the road from me, warned that the critters would eat it all.  He was referring to the deer

 and turkeys, and he also mentioned that raccoons liked to prey on gardens as well, especially sweet

 corn.  What to do?  His answer, don’t grow a garden.  Not the answer I wanted.

            I asked around.  “Here’s what you do,” an old timer in the neighborhood said.  “String a wire around your garden.  Ask your barber to save a bunch of hair.  Put the hair in little plastic bags and hang them every three feet or so around on the fence.”  Sounded like a dumb idea.  It was.  The deer seemed attracted rather than discouraged from having at my struggling little vegetables.  Next idea, dump out the hair.  Fill the little plastic bags with mothballs.  I bought umpteen boxes of mothballs and did that.  Another dumb idea.  Deer seemed to like the smell of mothballs.

            I remembered what my dad did when I was a kid.  When he temporarily wanted to keep animals inside an enclosure, he put up an electric fence.  In a brief moment of thoughtful consideration, I said to my wife, Ruth, “I have the answer.”  She had been chuckling at my failed “keep out the critters” plans.

            “My dad put up an electric fence to keep animals in, wouldn’t the opposite work?” I said.  For many years we have surrounded our garden with a two-wire electric fence.  The top wire about four feet from the ground, the bottom wire about 10 inches.   No more critters in the garden.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Sometimes you have to turn your thinking upside down to find the right answer.

WHERE TO BUY MY BOOKS:

To purchase my books, (Garden Wisdom has more about critters) go to your local bookstore, order online from bookshop.org, or purchase from the Friends of the Patterson Memorial Library in Wild Rose—a fundraiser for them. Phone: 920-622-3835 for prices and ordering.
Patterson Memorial Library
500 Division Street
Wild Rose, WI 54984
barnard@wildroselibrary.
www.wildroselibrary.org
If you live in the western part of the state, stop at Ruth’s home town, Westby and visit Dregne’s.  and look at their great selection of my books, including my new ones, or order a book by calling them at 1-877-634-4414. They will be happy to help you.