Category Archives: Watering

Mid-Summer Garden Tour

We will start the garden tour in what we refer to as the main garden. This garden are is our largest and is part of our back field. In addition to annual vegetables that we plant there it contains 4 apple trees, our blueberry patch and for the last several years our strawberry patch.

Lets see how some of the annuals are doing there. This year it is mostly corn, pumpkins and squash growing there. There are also buckwheat that has mostly gone to seed and sunflowers that have not blossomed yet.

Corn and pumpkins growing together.
The pumpkins play hide and seek.
This should make a nice pumpkin pie.
Hubbard Squash.
Looks like a perfect apple.

Then we move on to garden three. This area is in the front of our property and this is our first year using it as a garden. My husband started planting strawberry runners in there last summer. Then in the fall we planted garlic in there. In the spring this is where he planted many more of our annual vegetables. Lets have a look.

Pumpkins out of control.

These pumpkins which are planted with corn have grown through a row of sunflowers and are now climbing out of the fence.

Sweet corn with melons to the left.
Bush Acorn Squash
Watering the Squash

During the dry season, when it is a challenge to keep things alive and productive, we look for innovative ways of watering. This year my husband used zip ties to attach the hose to this long 1×1 board. He could then reach areas that he is not able to get to otherwise. It’s not a perfect solution but will buy us some time until the rain comes.

Up Front – Green Tomatoes. Green Beans in the Second Row
Beets and Swiss Chard
Eggplant
Calendula
Our First Cucumber

For several weeks we have been enjoying the fruits of our labor. Thus far we have eaten Swiss chard and beet greens, green tomato, banana peppers, beet roots, and green beans (with garlic butter). We also picked our first cucumbers and they are on the menu for today.

Do you have a garden this year?

Do you enjoy fresh locally grown produce when it is in season?

Dog Days Of Summer

According to almanac.com the dog days of summer run from July 3 through August 11 which is normally the hottest and most humid time of year in the northern hemisphere. Around here every day is a dog day. Just ask Ranger and Trooper. But, yes, the HEAT IS ON and it is accompanied by a dry spell so keeping the gardens watered has been the main focus for the past week or so. If you are curious about how we manage that on our off-grid farm you can check out our off-grid irrigation system here.

In the mean time I put together a collection of pictures that I’ve taken over about the past few weeks to share with you.

This is how Ranger cools off on these hot days. (Did you know beagles can swim?)

and Trooper enjoys laying on the beach after a swim in the pond.

The grandbabies love the water as much as the dogs do.

Dragonflies are yet another creature that appreciate the pond.

This one is drinking water from the sand. Check out the honey bee (on the left) that photo bombed this shot. She too was coming to the beach for a drink of water.

This beauty hung out with us on the beach, for a couple of hour yesterday evening, fluttering about and pausing now and then to rest or perhaps get a sip of water.

One last pond picture because we can never have too much cuteness. LOL.

Speaking of cuteness, here is a double dose – twins.

The lavender is gorgeous this year and the bees and butterflies are all over it.

We have transitioned from strawberry season to blueberry season. On the same day that my husband, and (daughter) Kara, picked the last of the strawberries, I took (daughter) Tina, and Jackson and Addy into the blueberry patch to pick the first ripe berries. While Kara took her 3/4 of a basket of strawberries home. Addy couldn’t wait, so she ate all of the blueberries we picked while they were still at the farm.

Start them off young – that’s my motto. They posed for a group photo then dad took Jackson and Addy, one at a time, for a ride on the tractor.

The garden is flourishing. I have harvested basil and calendula flowers twice so far.

We have green tomatoes, peppers starting to develop, blossoms on the eggplant,

blossoms on the green beans and the corn is knee high.

We cut garlic scapes (check out this post to learn more about scapes) about two weeks ago and will be digging garlic soon.

It seems that every summer our back field is dominated by different plants. This year it is full of clover and birdsfoot trefoil and I think it is just gorgeous. It’s also great bee food.

I’ll leave you with one last photo of this pair who stopped by our deck for a short visit last week. They were kind enough to stay so I could get a photo then they hurried on their way.

Thanks for visiting and remember – stay hydrated, breathe deep and stay well.

Are you having a heat wave?

The Garlic Is Harvested

The garlic harvest is complete and our new barn is serving it’s purpose.

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This photo is the loft area full of Chesnok Red garlic. Each bundle has 25 garlic bulbs. The other two varieties are hanging in the downstairs area. The garlic will hang for about three weeks before we begin clipping and cleaning it to prepare it for market.

Having the barn proved to be such a blessing. We were able to pace ourselves with the harvest. My husband primarily did the digging. He would dig one or two rows a day and move it into the barn. I mostly did the bundling. He pounded the nails into the rafters and hung the garlic and I tied the garlic nooses. Just kidding they weren’t really a noose, but I pre-tied loops in each end of the strings and the string was wrapped around a bunch of garlic then one loop was pulled through the other loop and the string would tighten around the garlic. The loop on the long end was used to hang the garlic from the nail.

At times, especially in the extreme heat, the work was grueling, but the process went pretty smoothly. We make a good team. ūüôā

Besides harvesting all that garlic over the past two weeks we have spent time picking both blueberries and currants. Both have produced great crops this year. This has been our largest blueberry crop so far (we have picked over 3 US dry gallons) and I have put most of them in the freezer to be used throughout the year in pancakes and banana bread, but as a special treat I decided to make a blueberry pie.

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When I was making this pie I realized that this was the first time I have ever made a blueberry pie. I will confess that¬†I used a¬†premade, store bought, crust but the pie was delicious and it didn’t last long.

The other thing that we’ve spent a lot of time doing over the last two weeks is watering the gardens. Rain has been very scarce here this summer. The first three weeks of June were completely dry, then¬†on June 24/25 when the rains finally came. Over those two days we probably had three or more inches of rain. While it made up for some of the deficit, all that rain at one time damaged some of our plants, specifically cabbages. We then went into a hot dry spell and our next rain fall did not come until July 16. That day our rainfall was probably less than an inch. We had a little bit more today and the forecast¬†is¬†for more tomorrow. Feel free to say a prayer that the forecast is correct. We are.

 

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Since the garlic was harvested and there was rain in the forecast my husband spent the day yesterday preparing the garlic field for next years crop. The garlic field has been tilled and seeded with rye grass as a cover crop.

Even though the garlic harvest is done I don’t expect our pace to slow down as there are so many things that need to be done. If we do get a good rainfall we can the spend more time weeding (always easier after the rain). The grass needs to be cut and my husband will be checking the bees and hopefully harvesting honey soon. The list is way longer than that and probably longer than I realize, but I’m sure you will read about some of it as time goes on.

I also hope to get back to posting more often and some of the posts I have planned include a second post about things we are harvesting (if you missed the first one you can find it here), a post about honey, and as I mentioned in a previous post I will be sharing my thoughts about natural skin care.

Thanks for reading and until next time – Be Well.

 

Who’s Eating Our Strawberries?

When we discovered that some of our ripe strawberries were being eaten, before we had a chance to pick them, I assumed it was slugs.¬† Slugs are notorious for invading strawberry patches.¬†¬†I began saving our coffee grounds separate from the other compost and spreading them around the strawberry plants to deter the slugs. Since I didn’t have enough coffee grounds to do them all at once I wasn’t surprised that I was still seeing eaten berries.

Earlier this week while I was watering garlic and my husband was watering strawberries, he called me over to the strawberry patch. “Want to see some baby bunnies?’ he asked. I grabbed my camera.

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There are at least four of them. My husband found their nest, a small hole in the ground, hidden in an area where the strawberry plants are thick. It is well camouflaged as are the baby bunnies. They are very difficult to see until they start moving around.

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I can’t say for sure that there are no slugs eating the berries, and I have also found a¬†few bugs which I assume are sap beetles, http://extension.psu.edu/plants/gardening/fphg/strawberries/insects-mites/sap-beetle¬† but I suspect the majority of the eaten berries are providing yummy meals to these cute little critters who couldn’t care less about the coffee grounds.

A Wise Use Of Resources

Summer is flying by. I can’t believe that it has been a month since I have posted anything but anyone who knows anything about farming can probably figure out that this is a very busy time of year for us.¬†While the gardens are doing well it has taken much watering to keep them alive.

Although the drought monitor listed us as only abnormally dry, for people like us who are trying to keep crops alive it seemed extremely dry. We had a least 3 weeks, maybe even 4 weeks, straight where no rain fell on our farm. Even the days when scattered showers were in the area they went around us to the north, they went around us to the south, or they simply broke apart before the reached us.

My husband spent countless hours watering the gardens. At first our system at the farm https://donteatitsoap.com/2016/06/05/our-off-grid-irrigation-system/¬†¬†¬†was sufficient. Eventually¬†¬†some of the plants got too large for individual watering to be feasible, and there were days when the windmill¬†didn’t keep up. He began hauling additional water in barrels in the¬†back of his¬†truck. The barrels are fitted with spigots near the bottom so a hose can be attached and gravity makes the water flow through the hose, but since there was no way to¬†get the hose to every squash and corn plant I saw my husband¬†using five gallon buckets to throw water on¬†the field¬†in an effort to get some water to whatever plants he could. As we prayed daily for rain, the weather¬†forecasts offered little hope, and the task of watering became arduous. My husband was exhausted, frustrated and depressed.

I¬†truly believe that God answers all prayer, and while¬†He doesn’t always give us want¬†we want, He gives¬†us what¬†we need.¬†As my husband expressed his frustration, I¬†continued to pray for rain and wished¬†there was something I could say or do to make things better. Then one morning I was sitting on¬†our deck and¬†noticing that the house¬†needs to be power washed. I got¬†this really crazy idea. Is it possible that that power washer could be¬†operated by¬†hose attached to the barrels¬†on the back of the truck? Would it operate by being gravity fed? If so he could use it to spray water the gardens. “That’s insane” I thought, but it would make things easier. For a couple of hours I argued about it in my mind, before I finally decided to let my husband¬†know that his wife had lost her mind. ¬†I think I started by saying “I have a crazy idea.” As¬†soon as I said it, ¬†he said, “power washer?” Ok, maybe I’m not so crazy. We discussed the idea and decided it was worth a try.

After we returned from grocery shopping he got the power washer out of the shed. It started on the first pull. He hooked it up to one of the barrels, and yes, it worked as we hoped it would. Within an hour he was at the farm delivering more precious, life sustaining water to the foods that will sustain us. That evening I did some of the watering as well. I have to say that I was impressed at how well this worked. It saved time, it saved (our) energy, and we could get the water where it was needed.

Call it¬†a wise use of resources, or maybe it was innovation born out of desperation. While both phrases are fitting I prefer to say, “Thank you God, for giving us what we need”.

For the next¬†4 days my husband continued to “power water”, delivering enough water to keep things alive. We also continued to pray for rain. On Thursday, August 11 the glorious, life giving rains came. It was a happy time to say the least, not only for my husband and I; but for the lawns as the brown began to turn green again; for the squash plants as, their wilting leaves perked up; for the¬†green beans which had stopped making beans, as they began to blossom again; and even for new life as late plantings of carrots and green beans began to sprout. It was a happy time as (our piece of) the earth was revived. In the past week we have had rain on a regular basis, and while we are still not at levels of what would be considered normal for our area, we thank God for every drop that falls.