Category Archives: garden

Saturday at the Farm

Saturday was a productive day. We accomplished several projects at the farm.

Blueberry Patch

We made great progress in the blueberry patch – a project that we had been working on for a few days. Our soil at the farm is mostly clay and despite working straw and other composted materials into it each year we have yet to turn it into an ideal garden loam. This year we decided to add some sand to the soil. A couple of weeks ago my husband had a truckload of masonry sand delivered.

We decided to use some of the sand in the blueberry patch for weed control. Two years ago we put black plastic down between the rows and bushes and while it was largely effective in keeping weeds down it tended to slide out of place or was easily moved by a hunting dog, (Ranger) who had picked up the scent of a mouse hiding under the plastic. (He is relentless.) Water also tended to pool on the plastic creating puddles that took a long time to dry up. After putting the plastic back in place we covered it with several inches of sand.

The blueberry patch project is not completely finished as we still need to put up the plastic fencing around it and the netting on top to protect our crop from hungry robins. We hopefully will get that done this week.

Planting

We put our first plants in the garden on Saturday.

My husband had identified an area that was dry enough to till the soil and that is where we decided to plant potatoes and cabbage – both cool weather crops.

He broke out the rototiller he bought a couple months ago. It is a Champion 19-inch, rear tine, tiller. After tilling up the patch where we would plant the potatoes and cabbage he reported that he is very pleased with the way this machine preforms. We spread a layer of sand on the patch. He then mixed it in as he tilled the area.

We planted six 17-foot rows of of potatoes.

and 12 cabbage plants.

I saved some of the cabbage plants to plant in the raised beds we are making. Since the ground is still very wet, and still having much rain in the forecast, I’m not sure how well things will do that are planted in the ground. You may remember last year we had many vegetables that were lost because the ground was just too wet. This year we will be making some raised beds and I hope to plant at least a portion of some crops in the raised beds that will be better able to drain excess water.

When the Hen’s Away

The chicks will play. The chicks still sleep in the nest boxes at night, while the older chickens sleep on the roosts. During the day while the older hens are out of the coop or using the nest boxes for laying their eggs, the chicks like to spend some time playing on the roosts. Perhaps they are practicing for when they too are old enough to sleep on the roosts at night.

Breathtaking

From a distance to forsythias create a stunning array.

But standing in the midst of their intense brilliance is mesmerizing.

I forget to breathe.

If only my photos could capture that feeling.

Thanks for visiting.

2021 Garden Update

It’s been quiet here on my blog lately. Have you noticed? I have started several posts (like this one) but just haven’t felt much like writing. I’m not really sure why, but it could be several things combined. It’s been a strange year – the weather, national and world events, and things that have happened in our personal lives. We have had a lot of things keeping us busy, and in the past 5 or 6 weeks three people that we loved have passed away. It is likely these things that have given me pause. It’s been time to reflect and contemplate rather than write. I will probably write about some of these thing in future posts but for today I’ll just finish up my 2021 garden update.

You may remember that we started out this gardening season, late May/early June, in a drought but by the end of June that situation had begun to correct itself. It continued to over-correct throughout the rest of the summer. Having too much rain has probably been our most frustrating gardening experience thus far because there is just nothing we can do about it. If we had too little rain we could water the plants, and if we had had problems with bugs or diseases we would try to find (organic) solutions.

Normally Swiss chard, beets and green beans are among the first vegetables we harvest and eat. This year we have no beets or Swiss chard and only a handful of green beans after my husband replanted them in during a mid summer dry spell. The beets and Swiss chard that he planted at that time did not produce. 😦 Corn, squash and melons were also duds this year – some of the plants grew none of them produced fruit to harvest.

Despite all of our gardening woes and worries we did harvest some fruits and vegetables. Thus far we have enjoyed potatoes, green peppers, banana peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, tomatoes and one egg plant. I have made boiled potatoes and garlic mashed potatoes; jalapeno and banana pepper poppers, cucumber salad (with onion, dill and sour cream) refrigerator dill pickles, veggie omelets (with tomato, green pepper, yellow pepper and jalapeno) and fresh salsa on taco night. We’ve also been enjoyed fresh tomatoes just quartered up with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and my husband had his favorite tomato sandwich (sliced tomato on white bread with mayo).

Oh, we also harvested okra but I can’t really say we enjoyed that very much. LOL!

Jalapeno Poppers
Refrigerator Dill Pickles

A week ago Saturday I finished canning tomato juice. I ended up with 41 quarts of juice which I will eventually cook down into 10-12 quarts of sauce. I have also have made about 4 quarts of sauce so far. Considering that we originally had around 100 tomato plants in the garden our yields this year were low.

This year blueberries were the star of the show. Despite getting hit with several nights of freezing temperatures this spring while they were blossoming, then suffering drought conditions followed by all the rain, and having their leaves eaten by gypsy moth caterpillars our blueberry crop was nearly the same as it has been in recent years. I have many quarts of blueberries in the freezer for pies, pancakes, sorbet, and to add to my banana bread. I might even make a batch of blueberry jam. 🙂

Apples are another crop that out-preformed our expectations after our late season frosts/freezes. Even though they mostly came from one tree (we have seven trees) we ended up with about three milk crates full of apples.

While they may look flawed on the outside, beneath the skin they are beautiful and quite tasty.

They make wonderful apple pie and apple sauce. Thus far I have made pie filling for 4 pies (3 in the freezer and 1 that we ate) and canned 20 pints of apple sauce. I’m still working at it and will probably end up with enough filling for 4-6 more pies by the time I’m done.

Last but not least we harvested some grapes. During the summer we discovered that the grapes had black rot, a fungus that will quickly destroy a crop. We did some pruning to allow more air flow and sprayed them thoroughly with copper sulfate. These actions saved most of the crop. Earlier this month, as the grapes began to ripen we weren’t the only ones to notice. Birds became frequent visitor to the vines and the grapes began to disappear. Last week we decided it was now or never, so we picked the bunches that still remained. We harvested about 5 pounds of grapes which I turned into juice. It only made about 3 pints of juice but it complements our breakfast nicely.

While our plans for a wonderful garden with lots of produce to preserve did not come to pass this year, I remind myself the God doesn’t always give us what we want but He always gives us what we need. For this I am thankful.

Thanks for visiting. Did you grow a garden this year? How did your garden grow?

Too Much of a Good Thing

Last week, when I took you all on a little garden tour, our gardens were doing well. We had gotten some much needed rain and did not anticipate having to water anytime soon. Now we have gotten too much rain, and our gardens are suffering .

June 27, 2021

It is called wet wilt. The ground is simply too wet for the plants and they are basically drowning.

June 27, 2021

We have lost significant amounts of tomatoes and peppers and the entire row of green beans. Today we noticed that the cabbage and potatoes have also taken a hit.

June 27, 2021

On June 27th, when we first discovered that we were losing plants, my husband removed all of the straw mulch in order to give the ground an opportunity to dry out and prevent further damage, but with showers and storms adding water to the ground each day there has been no chance of that. We now have about five dry days in the forecast so hopefully the worst is over and all is not lost.

While this is discouraging we must remember –

Do Not Worry
(Matthew 6: 25-34)25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns—and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles strive after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today has enough trouble of its own.

As soon as the ground dries up some we will be placing some of the lost plants. My husband was able to find some tomato and pepper plants at a garden center and he also bought more green bean seeds. 🙂

Early Summer Garden Tour

Well summer arrived this week – incognito it seems. It came disguised as spring of all things. It showed up as the rain storms that were absent throughout April and May. They dumped over two inches of rain on us in about 12 hours Sunday and Monday. It also brought cooler temperatures that dipped down into the 40’s in the overnight hours.

The rains returned today and it seems as though we have gotten at least two more inches. If there is any accuracy in the forecast for the next 10 days our drought problems should be over since there are some chances of rain everyday over the next 10.

For some crops. such as our strawberries and blueberries, it’s too late to make a difference but other crops should be served well by the rain.

Shall we take a look around?

The apple trees have some apples, not a bumper crop, (we had several days of frost while the apple trees were blossoming) but hopefully enough for a pie or two.

The blueberries are beginning to ripen. Again this won’t be a bumper crop. I suspect these were impacted by both frost and drought but we are grateful for what we get.

In garden 3, which now has become the puppy playground, these cabbage and onions were some of the first vegetables to be planted. They are doing well.

Also in garden 3 the potatoes (above) were also planted early. They have blossoms.

We also have a row of potatoes in the main garden (above). These were the first to be planted and despite being hit by frost on several days they have flourished.

The above photo was taken as I enter the main garden and look to the north. Sweet corn, pie pumpkins, cantaloupes, tomatoes and three different types of squash are growing in this area.

The photo below is from the same spot looking to the south.

Pumpkins, cucumbers, hot peppers, sweet peppers, eggplant. tomatoes, okra, green beans, beets, swiss chard, and dill are growing on this side of the garden.

We have several varieties of tomatoes. Some have begun to blossom and make fruit.

Jalapeno peppers are starting to bear fruit

as are the bell peppers.

It will be a while before we are picking green beans (above) but just the thought of them makes my mouth water.

We also have sunflowers planted in several areas along the fence, some of which came up as volunteers.

Thanks for joining me for a garden tour. Are you enjoying any home grown produce or looking forward to doing so?

Yesterday’s Harvest

From the garden we harvested green beans, tomatoes, beets and cucumbers.

From one hive we harvested 8 frames of honey and wax. Now the bees are cleaning up the frames.

Honey is our oldest hen. She turned 7 this spring.

From the coop we collected 11 eggs. Only 8 of them made it home though. It seems that Ranger learned a new trick. He figured out how to steal eggs out of the egg basket. They didn’t break until he stepped on them. I’m not sure why he decided to take them – either he thought he had found a new toy or he was telling us he wanted to eat. Crazy Dog! LOL!