Garden Tour, End of April

We have had far more rainy, cloudy days this month than sun, and it shows. The garden is getting off to a slow start, but it is growing. I didn’t count the number of sunny days compared to the cloudy ones, but this year, it would have been an interesting statistic. There are still many folks around that are just now trying to get things planted, and it is still very, very wet. The weeds are starting to get a foothold, just like the vegetables, and with the sunny weather we are having this week, everything should take off. Our garden is no longer all dirt, God’s masterpiece has begun again. Here is the tour.

Broccoli

Store bought cabbage

Green cabbage

Michilli cabbage


Cabbage leaf with green lacewing eggs mixed in bran sprinkled on it

And I have to tell you. I think the green lacewings eggs that I sprinkled on all of the garden plants are really making a difference. They are too small to see, but the directions said the evidence would be a decrease in insect damage to the plants, and I think that is the case. We just might have our first ever cabbage crop this year. I am very hopeful. I will do a more in depth article on my beneficial insect experiment later on.

The new Comfrey bed is doing great. I harvest here almost daily.
Cowpeas are trying to make an appearance

Okra does not like cool wet weather and is not very happy….yet

Cushaw squash with nasturtiums

Yellow squash with nasturtiums

The tomatoes got off to a hard start with lots of flea beetle holes. I think the green lacewings have made a difference there, too. But the tomatoes don’t like the cool, wet weather any more than the okra. It’s been in the 40’s the last few nights with highs in the 70’s. Today was the first day of sunshine in about a week.

One of the apple trees has a surprise this year for the first time

We each had a strawberry for breakfast this morning. The first of the year.

More on the way

The new strawberry bed is growing despite all of the slugs I pick here every morning.


We have beets planted in several places that are just starting to grow well.

The carrots are happy.

We’re trying collard greens for the first time.

Cucumbers are just getting started.

Onions are finally putting on some growth.

In just a few days, these turnips have just about doubled in size.

And the Clematis is just beautiful.

It won’t be long before the garden will be in full swing and need much more tending than it does right now. That means we need to get a few more projects completed while we still have a little more time. You know the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” Well, with all of the April showers we’ve had, the wild and tame blackberries are blooming in profusion.

And the honeysuckle won’t be far behind. I pick it almost daily for the goats. It’s good for expelling worms.

We watch the garden grow with great anticipation for that first fresh squash, that first pan of turnip greens, that first red, ripe tomato and much, much more. So, tell me, how is your garden doing this year?

Today we drove about 100 miles to the east to visit one of Frank’s family, which took us through rural eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. We noticed along that way that there weren’t many gardens planted. This is sad. Why aren’t people raising their own food? Sad.

Until next time – Fern
 

Gardening Before it Rains….Again

I’m sorry we’ve been MIW (missing in writing) for the last few days. We’ve been working very hard on getting the garden planted before yet another round of rain comes through. It’s springtime in Oklahoma when we have a few days of rain, then a few days of semi dry, then a few days of rain, then a few days of sunshine. It is always a gamble when we will be able to get the garden planted. Well, we’ve had a few hot, sunny days that we took advantage of and did a lot of planting.

I’m going to treat you to some pictures of dirt. There are newly planted seeds hiding under all that dirt, so you will have to use your imagination for now. This is the beginning of the transformation of bare ground to overcrowded, abundantly (we hope) producing vegetables. Our friend Grace recently sent me an email that described her garden as an empty blank slate. That’s what most of ours looks like as well. But her comment got me to thinking, and my response to her was, “It’s waiting to become a master piece.” You know, that is what gardening is. Through the miracle of germination, photosynthesis and the blessing of rain, millions of tiny little seeds each year turn into an amazing abundance of food. I am always in awe of this yearly miracle.

Here is the garden tour for now. Since we increased the size of the garden by almost a third, I changed the garden plan quite a bit. The original plan is now quite scribbled on, but I know what it says, even if no one else can decipher it.

Remember when we told you that one end of the new garden piece kept breaking the tiller shear pin on the tractor? Well, Frank broke out the disc for the first time ever and broke new ground in one of our pastures, that we have called the garden pasture for many years. We have amended part of this pasture many times with gifts from the chicken house and the barn, so it is very fertile. This year is the year. We are going to plant this area with animal feed. It can also be people feed, but our goal is to decrease the amount of feed we purchase for our animals dramatically. Yea! Another dream come true, almost. Of course, we will have to fight some very vigorous weeds and briars, but I think we are up for the battle.

While Frank had the disc on, he also worked over the new part of the garden that the tiller couldn’t handle. There are some tremendous rocks down on one end of this area. It was so rocky, we couldn’t get the last t-post in for a trellis, so we pounded it in with the bucket on the tractor. But, this is what happened to the first one we tried. Now it looks like a boomerang and is useless as a t-post. After we moved down the row three times, we finally got the last one in.

Now for the dirt tour. Here is the trellis with the stubborn t-posts in the new area of the garden. We have planted pinto beans on both sides of the trellis. If the weather wasn’t trying to fire up with severe thunderstorms, we would also have planted two rows of cowpeas on each side of this trellis. We chose these crops for their ability to help enrich the soil, and for the food they can provide both us and the animals.

 Next up is one of the turnip patches that has been planted for a while. The seedlings are coming up, along with plenty of grass. As soon as the turnips are big enough, this will be one of the first places that needs weeding.

This next beautiful patch of dirt is planted with alternating rows of spinach, carrots, collards and beets. The blank area of dirt to the right is still empty. The pepper plants will go there, but for now, they are too small to set out. It will be a week or so before they are ready.

The trellis behind this patch in the middle of the row, is planted with cucumber seeds we saved year before last, and zinnias. And speaking of zinnias, they are liberally planted all over the garden, to discourage pest insects, and encourage predator insects.

The new strawberry bed is behind the cucumber trellis. These are the extra strawberries that had escaped the original bed and moved into the garden. They just got planted today and are ready for a drink. I am hoping the rain that is coming will do that for me. (It did.)

The permanent trellis against this building has hops and clematis growing on it. They are both doing very well this year.

If you use your imagination, you will be able to see some small hills in this area. This is where the Buttercup winter squash is planted. For the past two years we have planted our winter squash in July or so. This has not worked out at all, so I am planting it at the beginning of summer, just like our yellow squash. Not only will these be stored for our use, but they make great animal feed. We will be planting them up in the garden pasture as well. The small trellis to the right, by the building, is planted with pickling cucumbers. I plan to try my hand at fermented pickles this summer. If I understand it right, this will give us crunchy pickles, which we like, along with the benefits of fermentation.

The next trellis will support our Rutgers and Arkansas Traveler  tomatoes we grew from seed. Down both sides of the trellis carrot seedlings or seeds have been planted. It really is true that carrots love tomatoes. I have tried this for several years and they grow very well together.


 

On the other side of this trellis you may be able to see some more squash hills. This is where the straight neck yellow squash will grow. I have tried to separate the squashes simply to confuse the bugs. We are growing quite a bit of squash this year, but instead of putting them all together, I’m experimenting with alternating them with other crops. We’ll see how it goes.

Next is another trellis with pinto beans planted on both sides, with carrots planted down each side about 10 inches out from the beans. We are going to use immature pinto beans for green beans this year. A friend of ours told us about this practice. We can pick them young and can them as green beans, then when we have enough canned for the year, we will let the beans mature into pinto beans and can them as well. Kind of like a dual purpose bean. I will be very interested to see how this works out.

Our last type of squash is planted next to this bean trellis, which is a Cushaw winter squash. I planted the seeds we saved from one of our few mature squash from last summer. We hope they are viable and will produce a good crop.

The next area is another experimental area. I planted two rows of okra with a row of cow peas on either side. Last summer I was surprised at how long and vine like the cowpeas grew. This year we are going to see if the cow peas will grow up the okra plants.

The other end of the new portion of the garden is planted in a similar fashion. We put one row of okra down the center with cowpeas on either side. Then we filled up the rest of the bed with three rows of peanuts on either side. The okra will not improve the soil, but the cowpeas and peanuts will.

Next to the okra/cowpea area in the garden is the portion that was planted previously and we have already shown you. The onions are starting to grow, kind of. The broccoli, green cabbage, Chinese cabbage and beets are growing well. 



Beets
Broccoli
Chinese cabbage

Cabbage

  

 

I planted the new comfrey roots over in this corner. I originally planned to spread them into a larger space, but they were outgrowing their tubs and it will still be a while before the rest of the area is ready to plant.

The salad fixings I planted in front of the herb bed are doing okay. I will be giving them some of the manure tea and whey sometime in the next few days. 

Kohlrabi
Lettuce

Lettuce
Lettuce
Spinach
Swiss Chard

The turnip patch by the herb bed is doing very well. It will be time to thin the plants and pull some weeds before long.

So there you have it, our garden of mostly dirt, for this year. I still need to plant the peppers when they are big enough, put the cowpeas into the stubborn end of the new bed, plant a few more onions, and figure out what I want to put in an empty portion of the new bed in front of the herb bed. And then there is the new garden in the pasture to play with. This is our blank slate awaiting to become a master piece.


I hope spring is treating you well, and you are able to make a dream or two come true in your life. It usually takes a lot of work to realize a dream, but it is well worth the effort.

Until next time – Fern

I Don’t Have a Clue What to Write

I really don’t. It’s late. I’m tired and I can’t think of anything interesting to share with you. Frank and I have been very busy. We made the unplanned trip to look at the goats. Very informative, and the ride gave us time to reflect on our decision to come home with an empty trailer. We’re still glad we did. We’ve contacted a few other folks about a new buck. We’ll just have to see how that works out.

Frank has spent a couple of day working on a new CB installation in the vehicles that we will share with you sometime in another post.

Cabbage seedlings the rabbits are chewing on.

The seedlings are doing well now that we got a few days of sunshine. The part of the garden that is planted is growing. The turnip seeds I sprinkled in the front of the herb bed are coming up very well. I look forward to picking the greens for man and beast alike. With all of the cloudy cool weather we had this month, our seedlings grew very, very slowly. The small cabbage and broccoli we planted are finally starting to take off and grow. We did buy some spinach, lettuce and a few cabbage plants to provide some food a little earlier than our small seedlings will.

I also ordered more plants for the herb bed this year. They are getting acclimated, and will be planted in the next few days. I will do an article on how the herb bed is coming along in the next few weeks. I’m excited about the number of plants that are established and have been coming back year after year.

We are getting ready for more baby goats this week. Tomorrow we will be working on the barn making sure everything is in order. Cricket and Lady Bug will hit 150 days of gestation on Thursday, and Penny will do the same on Saturday. Since they are all first fresheners, I may not get much sleep after Tuesday night, with trips to the barn at all times of the day and night checking for babies, then checking on babies. You’ll be hearing all about them as well.

I tried a new low carb fried chicken dinner last night that was really good. After I do a little more research and put it all together, I’ll fill you in on that one. It was one of those experiments that I just didn’t know if it would taste good or yucky. Good thing for us it turned out very good.

We bought some seat cushions for our dinning room chairs. There comes a time in life when a little cushion can make a difference. They came in today so we haven’t had much time to try them out. I also ordered a roll of high density foam to put in the cushions on my chair. This is where I sit with my laptop and write these articles, and the cushion needs a little more umph. And, yes, that’s a heating pad. My back’s been acting up again, so during breaks from planting the garden and such, I fire it up.

 

We all know there is a drought going on out in California, and there is a drought going on in western Oklahoma, but there is not a drought in my neighborhood. It seems like just a few weeks back we had snow on the ground, then we had ice on the ground, then we had snow again.

Every now and then we’d have a pretty day or two, then we’d either have cloudy days with rain or rainy days with clouds. Once we had about three or four days of sunny weather, and Frank got the garden tilled. But, down deep it was just too wet and everything clodded up. So, when we needed to do some planting, we took some hard rakes and broke it down. Then in rained for four or five more days, then we had about three days off from the rain and actually had some pretty weather. So, Frank tilled the garden again, still too wet, but the clods were a little smaller this time. Then, you guessed it. It rained for three or four more days. 

Now, I have to say, the last three days have been beautiful. Sunny skies, light to moderate breeze. So when we got home today from running errands, Frank tilled the garden again. And, yes, it’s still too wet, but it’s getting better. Because you know what’s forecast late tonight and for the next five days? Liquid precipitation. If it could hold off for a little while tomorrow morning, then we can get the barn cleaned out without changing the corral into soup. Our weather men continue to tell us that we are running short on precipitation for the year, and I’m sure they’re right. 

 The folks we talked to at church Sunday mentioned that they haven’t planted a garden yet. It’s just too wet. Two Sundays ago at a potluck, I asked a lady if she had brought her famous turnip green dish. She said no, to do that she would need to build an ark. Somebody else made reference that to get to their garden they would need a canoe. I sure did miss those turnip greens. Well, that’s what the weather’s been doing lately.

See, I told you I didn’t have anything to write about….. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods. Feel free to share what you’ve been up to.

Until next time – Fern
 

Gardening, Chickens, Goats & Organizing

 
Yesterday before the arrival of yet another week of possible rain showers, we were able to till part of the garden with the tractor. The day before, we went out with a shovel and dug around a little to see if we could possibly till it up. Some of it was still too muddy from the last few weeks of rain. Although this is not best practice, we knew that if we didn’t take advantage of this small window of opportunity, it would be another week or two before the ground would be dry enough to work. 

 Before we tilled the garden I went out to dig up the wandering strawberries that had made it out of their bed and into the garden area last summer. I thought I would order more and use these to start another bed. Little did I realize that there were probably 50 plants that needed to be moved. The more of them I dug up, the more of them I found. Now I don’t need to order any more. I think this is plenty for the new bed I have in mind. They too, will have to wait until the ground is dry enough to work.

Their new home will be back there by that fence.

 

I also pulled up the last few turnips that we have been eating on and feeding to the chickens all winter long. I really hated to see the last of them go. Since the place I have planned for a new turnip crop is still very muddy, I sprinkled a bunch of seeds in an area in front of the herb bed. I’m not sure how well they will do in the summer, but it is early enough that I hope to be able to harvest greens both for us and the animals into at least early summer.

Another turnip patch will be here in front of this shed.

Cabbage

Broccoli

We planned on getting our cole crop seedlings into the ground a couple of weeks ago, but the rain and rain and snow had other plans. The weeks long cloudy weather has also put a damper (pun intended) on the growth rate of the seedlings. They have grown rather leggy, but are still pretty vigorous. Because of that, I planted four or five plants together in the hopes that one or two of them make it. I prefer to have larger plants to transplant, but that just didn’t happen this year. When I

Spinach

went out to check on them this morning, they hadn’t disappeared and most of them were upright and looked good, although rather small. A few of them looked a little limp, but that’s to be expected. The carrot and beet seedlings are still quite small, which is okay since the area they are destined for is still very muddy.

Frank has been working on getting a few things out of the garage and more organized. He came up with this idea for holding some of the extra pvc we keep on hand, as well as some of the extra antenna poles we have here and there. Great idea, and very effective.

Today while I was dressing out our two extra roosters, he also put up this board to make a place for some of our frequently used tools. This area is under a carport that is attached to the garage. It will keep our tools organized and off of the ground. Once he got the places ready for them to hang, we also cleaned them all very well with the drill with a wire brush. It is simple, effective and looks great.

Yes, the roosters. We ended up with three roosters and 19 hens from last years young birds. Two of the roosters are Buffs, either Buff Orpington or Buff Rocks. The other is was red, not Rhode Island Red or New Hampshire, but some kind of red. Well, Red matured first, but one of the Buffs had basically taken over the hen house, causing a lot of daily ruckus and much commotion. Time to get down to one rooster. Besides that, we want to make sure that all of our eggs are fertile because come the first of May we will start saving eggs to fill up two or three incubators. This will give us meat for the table and replacement hens for a new flock. The cycle continues.

Wethers

So, Eagle Eye Frank dispatched the roosters so we could have them for dinner. They were six months old and a little tough, but pretty tasty, too. I will put all of the left overs into a pot tomorrow and simmer them for most of the day to make broth and soup. That will make for an easy meal, which is good, because tomorrow we plan to butcher two of our wethers. We are out of red meat again, so it’s time to replenish the freezer. Our plans are to dress them out tomorrow, hang the meat overnight, then, besides the hind quarters, we will grind, wrap and freeze the rest the next day.

This evening when we fed the goats we moved the does to a different pasture that has more new green to eat. Things are starting to grow quickly now, and even with that, the does had really made a dent in the pasture they were in. This will give the young does some good grazing these last two weeks before they kid. We also moved the ‘boys’, the billy and the wethers to a different pasture. The primary motivation for this was to escape the large mud hole that is right in front of the gate of their previous pasture. If we are going to dispatch two of them tomorrow, we don’t want to have to drag the carcasses through a big mud hole to get them out. We will have to watch for a window of opportunity when it is not raining to kill them and bring them down to the garage. Then we will hang them under the carport to dress them out and wrap them in a meat bag so we can leave them hanging overnight in the garage. Once we get them down here, it won’t matter if it is raining, which it probably will be.

Life’s routines come and go with the seasons and we enjoy them all. Some are a little more work than others. Some make our bones a little more achy than others. Planting time is always a lot of work, sometimes back breaking work. Tending and harvesting, not so much. Raising animals is not generally a lot of work, although we do need to mix feed again. And then again, we would like to raise a whole lot more of our animal feed, which would entail more planting, tending and harvesting. I really admire our forefathers that raised what they ate, year after year. It is a lot of work to do the little we do. We are so much softer, and less skilled at it than they were. They did it out of necessity and we do it out of a desire to be more independent and less dependent. And folks think we’re nuts for living the way we do. But that’s okay. I usually think the same of them.

Until next time – Fern
 

Gardening & Goats in February

The weather has been snowy and cold for a few days and doesn’t look to be letting up anytime soon. We don’t have it near as bad as some of the folks to the north, east, and west, so I thought I would share the sounds of the coming spring. There is hope that spring will arrive, even if you’re buried under feet of snow. Before long you will be hearing this sound in your area.

I started some seedlings back on February 10th. The age of the seeds made me question their continued viability, so I planted them pretty thick. Well, most of them have done really well, to the point that they are in serious need of thinning. Here is a pictorial of their progress.

Green cabbage, February 16th

Green cabbage, February 25th


Michilli cabbage, February 25th

Kohlrabi, February 25th


When I thin these out, we will either eat the seedlings in a salad, or I will give them to the chickens. Now, if I can just get these cabbages to grow to maturity without feeding another crop of cabbage worms, that will be great.

Mixed lettuce, February 16th

Mixed lettuce, February 25th


Spinach & mixed greens, February 16th

I was surprised how much they grew in one day. February 17th

Now they really need thinning. February 25th

Onions, February 17th

Onions, about ready for a haircut to encourage bulb growth, February 25th

The broccoli didn’t do as well, but there are enough for plenty of plants. February 25th

Yesterday I decided it was time to get the carrot seedlings started. I already had some pot maker pots rolled up, but during the cold, snowy, wet weather, I rolled up a few more. It was a cold day, but the sun was shining on the west porch yesterday afternoon, so I decided to give it a try. The garden soil we have in a large trashcan on the porch was so cold! It didn’t take long before my fingers were frozen, even with gloves on. I decided to bring the three trays of pots I filled inside to thaw out before I planted the seeds. 

 This morning I planted them and watered them in with hot water. As it turns out, our indoor growing area is getting pretty full. I hope the weather warms up enough to move these cold weather crops outside into the sunshine during the day to encourage more growth and to harden them off before we plant them in the garden. If all goes according to plans, I hope to plant them around the middle of March. Next up will be starting more carrots, along with beets and green peas in more paper pots.

In the meantime, I have collected a few more short videos of the baby goats. They are doing very well, strong, healthy and active. The vet will be here this afternoon to disbud them. Today is when we were originally planning to start penning them up an night so we can get more milk. But with the disbudding and predicted 19* weather tomorrow night, we will wait until it is warmer. Maybe Saturday. Right now we aren’t getting any milk, with the cold weather, the babies are drinking it all. But we don’t hold that against them, they are babies after all.

Here is Patch chewing on One Stripe’s ear and my jeans, along with a good look at Cricket, Lady Bug and Copper. I felt Cricket’s babies kick for the first time yesterday.


Here we have babies nursing and Lady Bug on the milk stand for the second or third time. I have started bringing in my three young does to eat on the milk stand so it won’t be such a foreign place when I begin to milk them. Penny is the most hesitant about getting on the stand. Cricket and Lady Bug are doing great.

These are our day to day events, and in some ways, year to year. I’ll teach the young does to eat on the milk stand and get them used to being touched because before long they will be milked, everyday. We did this last year, and the year before, and we hope to do it next year with Patch and Buttons and ????. The garden is also day to day and year to year. It’s a cycle, and it’s a chore, but that’s what life is about, isn’t it? Now, how do I train those tomatoes to attach to that trellis? Think maybe they’ll just jump right up there? Life is good. We have high hopes for a productive garden this year. And we have high hopes for productive goats this year. Hope your dreams come true. Mine have.

Until next time – Fern

The Frost Cometh

Well, it’s our turn to have our first frost tonight. The nice piece of trivia about having a frost tonight is October 31st is our first average frost date. This year, we are hitting it right on the nose.

We have had a faucet trying to leak on the north side of the house for some time now. Yesterday it decided to become a small, constant little stream. So, this afternoon, Frank replaced it. I thought it would be more difficult and take more time than it did. Having a husband that is able to fix just about anything is a blessing indeed. 


Since the frost is coming tonight, I picked the last of the peppers and tomatoes this afternoon. It’ kind of sad it’s going to frost because the okra, tomatoes, peppers and purple hull peas are all just blooming away right now. We have had some warm days in the last couple of weeks and these plants just don’t seem to be ready to shut down yet. I was surprised to find that even though the okra has been blooming, and still has a number of buds, I didn’t find one pod of okra to pick this afternoon. It has been about a week since I picked the last few pods, so I expected to find some today. The only reason I can think of is that we have been having cool nights in the 50’s for a while and okra does not like cool weather.

I am very curious to see how the turnips, kale, swiss chard, broccoli, carrots, mangel beets, brussel sprouts and potatoes do with this cold snap tonight. You can see from the weather forcast that we are not expecting anymore freezing weather very soon. I’ve read that the flavor of turnips actually improves with a frost, and the same is true for brussel sprouts. But I’m curious if the turnip leaves will die with the frost. If they do the chickens will miss them since I feed them the greens every morning.

The turnip patch

Kale, swiss chard, broccoli and one lonely cabbage

Carrots and Mangel beets

 

I know the potatoes will die back with the frost. Since I am not quite up to digging them up yet, and we have had some come up here and there from the ones we missed during the spring, we wanted a way to find them after the plants died back. Frank had a great recommendation. We have some of that bright orange spray paint that is used to mark the ground for construction sites and such. It worked great and made it easy to mark each plant. The potato plants haven’t grown as big as I would like. They were very, very slow to

come up and get going. I can only speculate why. It was still pretty hot when I planted them, so I wondered if that affected their growth rate. After they finally came up and the weather cooled off, the growth rate increased quite a bit, but the resulting plants are about half the size of the springtime plants. I don’t expect to have near the harvest we had in June, but I know the potatoes will keep better, stay crisper and be slower to sprout, so I can use some of them for seed potatoes come spring. That makes the effort to grow this second crop worthwhile.

Even though autumn has arrived, I look forward to being able to continue our harvest for a little longer. The more we can learn about extending our growing season, while we still have time to practice and it is not a life and death situation, the better we off we are in the long run. It also gives us the opportunity to increase our harvest, and have more food to eat. You just can’t beat that.

Until next time – Fern

Gardening When You Can

Our gardening experience this year has been different. Not a total failure, just different. It started out like it usually does in the spring, in bits and spurts around my work schedule at school. Then Frank started having serious trouble with his back. School was almost out, so work continued around his medical needs and the garden was last in place. We still got it planted and many things came up, but then they were pretty much on their own. I did get some squash and squash relish canned but that was about it. After that, I picked and cooked what I could, but haven’t canned anything since spring, that in itself is strange. We have frozen many tomatoes and a few peppers for later use, and hopefully canning. For now, here is a tour of the garden, which in spite of me, is still producing.


The green beans are worse for the wear, between the grass, weeds and grasshoppers.

 


The Cushaw squash is growing and starting to put on quite a few squash. There is this one big one and many small ones. I have been checking for, and squishing squash bugs morning and evening on the way to the barn to milk the goats. Powdery mildew has begun to grow on some of the leaves. Most of these I have cut off to try to prevent spreading. One organic remedy I have read about is mixing one part milk to 9 parts water and spraying the stems and leaves. I haven’t tried it, but it sounds like an easy solution if we need one.


The turnips are up and doing well. I have thinned a few plants in places and fed them to the chickens. As the plants get bigger we will be enjoying turnip greens as well as continuing to feed them to the chickens and goats. This is one of our experimental livestock feeds. We hope to be able to supplement the animals feed with turnips and cut down on the grain we buy.

The kale is doing okay. It hasn’t really taken off yet, but it has a decent start. I don’t think it likes the hot weather we have been having, but that should change before long.


The carrots and broccoli are just barely peaking out. The challenge will be to keep track of them among the weeds that are growing faster than they are. Here is where they are growing, and I have to be very careful even walking out here, let alone trying to weed without getting the vegetables. The carrots are another crop we hope to use for supplemental livestock feed. They will be left in the ground until we need to till the garden again. It will be another experiment of how to store some feed sources in the winter.

There are a few Mangel beets coming up here and there, but not in any abundance. The extra patch of beets we planted down by the okra appears to be a tasty snack for someone. Our experiment of making sugar from beets will probably have to wait another year. We’ll see how big these get before winter gets them.

 


Our fall potato crop is almost non existent. Out of the two rows we planted, only these two plants have emerged. I dug around in one of the rows and found the potato we planted and it has just begun to grow. I don’t know if the hot weather is holding them back, or if growing a fall crop just won’t work in this area. The interesting thing is that some of the potatoes we missed when harvesting the spring crop have come up here and there down by the Cushaw squash, so either way, we hope to have enough fall potatoes to use for seed next spring.

 
The purple hull peas are still there, it’s just that the crab grass has taken on the roll of camouflaging them. That’s a nice way of saying the grass has just about taken over the pea patch. Interestingly enough, more peas are coming up next door in the potato patch and other areas we tilled for the fall garden. I don’t know if they will have time to produce before frost, but they might.

 

I have tried something different with my okra harvest this year. As I picked the pods, I trimmed off some of the leaves that stick out into the isle I was working from. This way I can see better to pick and I am not getting itchy from constantly brushing up against the leaves. I got this idea last year from CQ at Hickory Holler. It works great.


Another thing I did a few weeks ago was cut the top off of the plants that were too tall to reach.

 This prompted the plants to sprout out from the bottom forming new ‘branches’ or suckers. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but now as the branches get big enough, I am cutting off the top part of the plant altogether to concentrate the energy into the new branches. I have already started harvesting okra on these ‘new’ suckers.

I continue to be surprised at how many tomatoes we are still harvesting. I have lost count of how many gallons we have in the freezer, at least 15, that we plan to can plain and make into salsa later on.



It has been a very wet year compared to most. We have only had to water a handful of times. In years past, we had to water regularly from the beginning of July, so that has been very nice. We have had a cooler summer, like everyone, but still days with the heat index at or a little over the 100 degree range. Overall, the garden has been very happy among the weeds and grass. It’s nice to know that during years like this, with surgeries and accidents, there is still food to be had from a forgiving garden. I hope the first frost of winter holds off until October 31st or after, which is our first average frost date. But many are talking about an early, long, very cold winter. Even so, we will manage. Hope your pickings are plentiful and your shelves are full.

Until next time – Fern