What’s Growin’ in the Garden 3

I looked back at the pictures from the previous garden update and realized what a difference a month makes. We have had a few more storms and wind, but the plants are much larger and there was not much negative affect from the weather. This article is long on pictures, so grab a cup of coffee and enjoy. 

June 22nd

July 13th

The rest of these pictures are from July unless otherwise indicated.

Pinto bean weed patch, July 13th


This looks like overgrown weeds, doesn’t it? This is the pinto bean patch interspersed with crabgrass and other delectable weeds…. I have begun to slowly pull the plants and harvest what I can. Next year I will know these need a trellis. An error on my part not knowing pintos are a vine like pole beans. I just made the assumption they were a bush variety like the Jacob’s Cattle beans I have been growing for the last few years.

Once the pinto beans are harvested, this area will receive carrot and beet seedlings. I will probably plant a couple of hills of yellow squash and see if we can have a fall crop for fresh eating.

The trellis next to the pintos has the peppers and Missouri Wonder pole beans. The peppers are just starting to produce well. I will be freezing some of them soon. We have found that frozen, chopped peppers come in handy cooking through the off season.

The yellow squash is finished thanks to the annual squash bug invasion. These will be pulled up and replaced by another cowpea patch.

The tomatoes are starting to ripen and we have begun to freeze them. We have two gallons in the freezer so far. Last summer we froze 20 gallon of tomatoes that we turned into tomato sauce. They seem to be ripening late again this year. Last summer many people in our area barely got any tomatoes and most folks we talked to indicated their gardens didn’t do well at all. We’ll see how this year turns out.

 

We tilled between these tomato trellises about a month ago with the new electric tiller and this is all that has grown there. Without the tilling it would have the same crabgrass overgrowth you see at the opening of the row. I remain very impressed with how this new tiller helps to eliminate grass and weeds compared to the Mantis that I used and liked for years. These amaranth seedlings will be planted between the tomato trellises and in the now harvested corn patch which I’ll show you in a minute.

Amaranth seedlings

Speaking of amaranth, we have harvested some of the heads and are drying them in the greenhouse. I probably picked the first few before they were quite ready, but this is a new learning process for us. There are more heads to harvest from the original growth and we hope the side shoots will now continue to grow and produce more grain. For now we are not harvesting the entire plant, only the top most portion of the main grain head.


How are we going to winnow and clean the grain? Well, we have yet to figure that out. We have some fine strainers that may work and will cross that bridge once the seed heads are dry and ready to work.

The cowpeas we planted right before the last garden article are growing well. They will soon fill in this area between the tomatoes and okra. For now the zinnias are taller, but that won’t last much longer.

Purple hull cowpeas

The okra has been slow to grow and produce this year. It just hasn’t liked the cool, wet spring and the lack of sunshine. One of the nice things about this patch is that it was grown from seed that we saved last year.

And speaking of seeds, much of the garden this year was grown from our seeds. This has been a goal for many, many years, one that we are starting to make some progress on. From our own seeds this year we planted green beans, okra, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, winter squash, turnips, zinnias and marigolds. And yes, you read that right, carrots. As you know, carrots don’t seed the first year, so I had to plant them in a separate part of the garden two years ago. We harvested these seeds last year.


The last of the corn has been harvested and I have a question. I didn’t realize that corn grows suckers similar to tomatoes. I broke them off thinking they would prevent the stalk from producing good ears, but I think some of those plants didn’t produce any ears. Would someone increase my knowledge about the growth and production of corn? We haven’t grown any in a number of years and have never been tremendously successful.

 

  
The strawberries have died. Last year after we planted them they grew very well. Then toward the end of summer, some of the leaves started getting brown spots, curling and dying. The only information I could find was that a virus in the soil causes this problem. The solution? Kill the plants and start over somewhere else. I tried inoculating with nematodes to see if that would have any impact, but it didn’t. The plants started growing this year and trying to produce in the wet, cloudy spring, but most of the berries rotted from the excessive moisture. Now, the virus has wiped out the rest of the plants.





We had a plum harvest this year. Here is half of it. Tasted great!

We have some lettuce coming up in the small bed by the back porch. I’m not sure how well it will do in the heat of summer, but fresh salad greens do sound good.

  
We are blessed to be able to live where and how we wish, and we certainly hope this continues as long as possible. There seriously appears to be very troubled times coming. Plan and plant ahead.

Until next time – Fern

What’s Growin’ in the Garden 2

Interesting that I was thinking of doing a garden update today since we had rain forecast. I have some pictures from May 25th and was going to add a few more today. Well, it is raining. We had and inch of rain in five minutes, then ended up with 2″ in about 30 minutes and it arrived with 25MPH winds. Here are some pictures from the porch.

Our creek has extended into the backyard.

North side of the house, water running, now the corn is facing west laying over.

Our new creek through the turnip bed.

Lots of water – this is normally dry

I won’t know if there is any permanent damage for a few days and will let you know about that in the next update. Message for me – always plan for the unexpected. Always…..always.

Here are a few comparisons from the last article. Then pictures and comments about what’s growing out there – or was – or maybe is still growing. Time will tell.
 

April 22nd

May 25th

We are still using coffee grounds for acidity around some plants, these were for the blueberries. The eggs shells have made their way around the base of all squashes and tomatoes, so these were given to the peppers.

 

 

Pinto beans

The pinto beans are doing well and I have learned something. They vine like pole beans. I thought they were a bush bean, but they look just like the Missouri Wonders, except they don’t have a trellis to grow on. Another thing we’ve noticed is that some of them appear to have the same type of curly top problem some of the tomatoes have. Because of that I think the person that commented about the soil being too fertile is probably right. Some of the beans look great and some of them are wrinkled up. Another good learning experience.



Missouri Wonder green beans next to the pinto beans


While we are in this corner of the garden, here are the two apple trees. In the past we have harvested about 20 apples altogether in the seven or eight years these trees have been here. This year there are many apples. We hope they remain on the trees long enough to ripen and harvest. I’m wondering if I will have enough to can a few which leads me to pondering the best way to do that without any added sugar or other ingredients. Any ideas?

Comfrey by the apples. The chickens get a handful each morning.

Sunflowers are planted at the end of each trellis and here and there in a couple of other places.

 I told you about the potatoes Frank bought for me in the last article. Well, right after we planted them it rained and rained and rained. Four plants survived the wet soil. They look healthy and vigorous, though, so we will see what kind of harvest we get.


We have had a few meals of the first small yellow crook neck squash. There is nothing like those first few meals, they always taste so good. Soon we will be overrun with too many, but that’s not such a bad problem to have. We can always share with the chickens. We lost a few winter squash and one yellow squash plant to vine borers before I got the wood ashes around the base of the plants. I’ll put some more out after this rainy week passes.


The carrots, and all of the surrounding weeds and crabgrass, are doing very well. I started the carrot seedlings in pot makers again this year which makes all the difference. They get a good head start and produce much better than direct seeding.

 

Our winter squash this year is Thelma Sanders which is a type of acorn squash, along with some seeds we saved last year. They are a mixture of five different winter squashes we grew last summer. We’ll see what they produce.

 

There are a few pots of nasturtiums, marjoram and basil here and there throughout the garden.

 
The Japanese beetles really like the amaranth. Even so, it is growing well.

 The beets are doing well this year due to being seedlings in pot makers just like the carrots. I hope to can some this year.

The okra has not liked the cool, rainy weather. It is very slowly coming along.

The corn is doing okay. The 2008 Painted Mountain seed germinated very well, much to our surprise. It has tasseled first when the open pollinated sweet corn has barely begun. We hoped to cross pollinate them, but that won’t be happening since the timing is off. And now, after the rain and wind, we’ll have to see if any makes at all.

 


Our experimental patch of sorghum is coming up. It will be very interesting to see how it does, along with the amaranth. We’re curious about the harvest, the labor involved and how we can add these to our diet. Learning, just can’t do without it. There is always something to learn.

That small patch of dirt back there is the sorghum.

 

I planted some lettuce in pots on the porch to see if we can have some through most of the summer. Another experiment. This pot has a marigold coming up in it along with the Romaine.

What is surprising is how much the garden has grown in the last week since these pictures were taken. We’ve had sunshine and many things are really taking off. I realized when looking through these pictures that there aren’t any of the tomatoes, but they’re out there, along both sides of the carrots.
 
Well, that’s it for now. We hear thunder not too far off and there is more rain on the way. Just hope it doesn’t have any hail or high winds with it this time.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods?

Until next time – Fern

P.S. We have a question. Do any of you have experience with a corded electric tiller? We are reviewing this one. Please tell us what you think or if you have other recommendations. I have a Mantis and it works fine, but it just won’t till. It is a cultivator, not a tiller. I need something vastly smaller than the tractor with the tiller attachment to help take care of some of these weeds. Please tell us what you think. Your thoughts are appreciated.

What’s Growin’ in the Garden 1

Frank had a good idea earlier in the year. We’re going to be showing a time lapse of the garden growth as the season goes along. Harvests and production rates will be noted as well as any difficulties we encounter along the way. In the long run, this will probably be more useful to us, but we hope you find something of interest along the way.

Last year we had a real problem with mosaic virus. Not only did it affect our green beans and Jacob’s Cattle beans (a shell variety like pintos), it affected the tomatoes as well. Not in time to affect last year’s growth and harvest, but hopefully to have a good impact for this year, we applied nematodes. Lots of them. Aribco Organics is a place I have found for beneficial insects. We applied nematodes from them about four or five years ago for slugs and it worked great, I rarely see a slug

in the garden. Well, last year we also started a strawberry bed that seemed to be doing well until later in the season when some of the plants started having brown leaves and dying. The only thing I could find in any of my books was a type of virus and the recommendation was to kill all the plants and move the bed somewhere else. We didn’t want to do that, so they got a healthy dose of nematodes as well. The three pack of various nematodes affects a wide variety of garden pests, so that is what we used. It takes a while for the nematodes to multiply and affect the health of the soil, so we’ll see how it goes. Nematodes are a natural part of the soil which will continue reproduce and become part of the soil as long as nothing comes along to affect the population. There are beneficial and ‘pest’ nematodes that can help or hurt the growth of garden plants.

March 31st

Winter spinach in the back porch bed

Freshly tilled dirt

April 10th
Time to clear some brush from the fence row

Apple blossoms

Turnips blooming and going to seed after spending the winter in the garden
April 12th

Brush removed, tilling complete

Trellises in place for tomatoes, beans and peppers

April 19th
Tomatoes by the trellis, pots of basil, carrots down the middle

Mostly dirt, but lots of potential!
April 22nd

The corn is peaking out.

It’s all planted. Whew! The greenhouse is now empty and in need of a good cleaning. We’ve planted around rain showers and muddy ground. Luckily, we’ve had some pretty windy weather in between that has allowed us to keep planting. I could keep adding more and more pictures and updates, but I’ll take up here with the next garden edition.

Now, we wait. As always we hope to have abundant harvests with lots to eat fresh and even more to put in jars on the shelf. As of today the plantings have included: corn, okra, Thelma Sanders and Cushaw winter squashes, amaranth, beets, tomatoes, carrots, basil, zinnas, nasturtiums, yellow squash, pole green beans, peppers – sweet, bell, banana, jalapeno and our cross pollinated surprise peppers, sunflowers, pinto beans, lettuce, cress, turnips and swiss chard. I think that’s everything.

The strawberries are blooming and have lots of green berries. We hope they continue through the season.

Has anyone grown amaranth? If so, any pointers? We hope to be able to harvest leaves and grain. Another new adventure in gardening and nutrition.

How are things growing in your neck of the woods? We hope your harvest is abundant and your shelves are blessed with many jars.

Until next time – Fern

P.S. Frank bought me a surprise bag of red potatoes yesterday to plant. We had planned on picking up some seed potatoes at the feed store a while back but never made it. The potatoes we saved from last year sprouted a long time ago. They look like some extreme, wild hairdo with long straggly sprouts. Frank was at the store yesterday while I was visiting my mom at the nursing home and spied a bag of red potatoes with lots of eyes. Thus, my surprise. 

After the rain showers pass in a few days, we will have one more addition to squeeze in out there. We plan out our garden with annual maps for rotation and companion planting. After the potato surprise yesterday I got out the map and my Tomatoes Love Carrots book to check for companion placement for the new addition. It’s already pretty crowded out there, but we have a place to squeeze them in. If you looked at the garden now, you might not consider all of that dirt crowded. Just wait about a month or two and you’ll wonder where we walk to harvest and get around.

Some wives want flowers, I wanted potatoes to plant. It’s a great life!
 


Pig Tales, Volume 1

Guess what? I think I like our pigs. Really. They’re funny and not one of them has tried to bite me or chew on my shoe or anything scary. You know what else? I’m a pig catcher. Yep. I can catch a little pig, but they are fast little buggers. I’ll tell you more of my pig catching story in a minute.


We kept the pigs in the stock trailer in the barn for about three and a half days. That was a very good choice. They were enclosed, protected from the weather, and kind of in the middle of all of the barn activity. This gave them the opportunity to hear the other animals along with Frank and I when we were there doing chores. It also allowed us to observe them closely without worrying about escapees.


By day two, I was scratching everyone on the back while they ate. The largest boar likes touch the least, but he is finally coming around as well. The gilt had been handled much more than the boars and she doesn’t mind being scratched at all. One of the smaller boars, which will probably be our breeder, is becoming quite friendly, too.

While they were in the stock trailer, the pigs were introduced to cabbage leaves, comfrey, carrot peels, green beans, goat milk and whey, canned okra and some old squash and tomato relish we need to replace from the garden this year. They weren’t really sure about the leafy fare at first, but now seem to enjoy it. They don’t attack it like they do the grain or whey, but 

they are eating them. We have also been giving them the corn and sunflowers we grew and dried last summer. They are really enjoying chewing the corn off of the cob. One thing we have already noticed is how quickly they put on weight. We weren’t exactly sure how much to feed four little pigs, so we are cutting back on their portions. At first we    

gave them more grain to help tame them down, but now we will be giving them a green bean can full each day and that is all. We don’t want them to be too fat, which can cause problems. I’ll be talking more about that in a minute. Even in the stock trailer, I sprinkled the grain around on the hay for them to root around for.

By the end of day three, the stock trailer was getting rather stinky and the flies were getting thick, so it was time to move them into the pig pen. We have our doubts that our original pig pen will hold these small pigs. It is made of stock panels that have two rows of smaller openings, about 2″ by 6″, on the bottom rungs, but then it expands to 6″ by 6″ for the rest of the way. They can probably still squeeze through that third rung for now, so we chose to put together the other pig pen. You may be wondering why we have two pig pens, but no pigs. The original pen was built to house two feeder pigs about four years ago. They didn’t even get large enough to produce bacon before we took them to the butcher. I hated them. I was afraid of them. But this was their pen. We never considered letting them out to graze like we are these pigs. So that’s why we call this large pen the pig pen, even when we use it to wean baby goats.

 A number of years ago we bought a pig pen that was made by the students of one of the local agricultural programs. It is made of 2″ by 4″ heavy stock panels, welded to square metal tubing to create four panels, one of which has a gate on one end. Putting it together is kind of like a tinker toy puzzle. The puzzle is which ends fit together. Each end of each panel has a hinge of sorts that long metal rods fit through to hold them together and create a corner. The pictures will show you much better how this works than I can describe. After trying to put the first two panels together and realizing it was a little more complicated, Frank measured each end, had me write down the measurements, then we compared the numbers to determine which ends would fit together. The panels were a little heavy, but we maneuvered them into place without much trouble.


After we had the pen constructed, we hitched up the trailer and pulled it out into the pasture by the pig pen. We’re glad we brush hogged the grass and weeds down by the pen, it is so thick and tall, it’s hard to walk through. So, now it’s time to catch the pigs in the trailer and move them into the pen.

Remember, up until this time I had only caught one pig in my life, four days earlier. Since I had that experience, I now knew to carry them by their back feet. Well, one little boar was nice enough to just walk up to me. That one was fairly easy. Next, the gilt, she wasn’t difficult either. I had put a little feed in their pan to draw them together so I could grab a back leg. Of the two that were left, one of them kept trying to escape the pet carrier when we bought them. I wanted to try to catch him while he still had company, but they are fast little pigs and it took me a while. Frank recommended I catch the other boar first, since he 

would have been much easier to grab, but I kept trying until I finally got the one I was after. I had to stop and laugh a couple of times at my efforts and their speed. If you had been able to watch, I’m sure it would have been quite comical. But now, I am a pig catcher, since I have caught all of five pigs in my life. One of Frank’s recommendations was to catch them by the front legs since they tended to face me to watch what I was doing. But that goes back to my fear of pigs. I was afraid they would try to bite me since I would be grabbing them. I opted to wait until a back leg presented itself.

 

 

After the pigs were placed in their new home, Frank backed the trailer up to turn around, and so we could clean out the hay and ick it contained. That tall, wet grass and weeds? Yep, he was stuck. The tires kept spinning on all that vegetation.

  
Now, out comes the tractor. We hadn’t had to do this before, but with Frank’s instructions and me behind the wheel of the truck, he had us out in no time. Ladies, this is one of those things I mentioned recently about having a good man by your side. Putting the pig pen together, I couldn’t picture in my mind what Frank was seeing, and how it would work, so I just followed his directions and it went great. The same thing happened with pulling out the truck. We tweaked a few things according to his directions and everything went fine. There is no substitute for having a good man. None. It’s the way God intended it.


While Frank had the tractor out, and I was cleaning out the stock trailer, he brought several loads of dirt into the corral to place in a low area under the gate that leads to the pig pasture. We will be adding some rocks to fill this area in, which will prevent the pigs from coming into the corral once they have free rein of the pasture.

Now, we have a pig pen within a pig pen. The pigs will stay in the smaller pen until the grass is gone, or we are comfortable letting them have access to the larger pen. We will eventually dismantle the interior pen, reassemble it next door to the original pen, and use it for farrowing when we have litters of piglets. This will prevent the boar from pestering the gilts when they birth. Well, that is the plan for now anyway.


Speaking of the gilt, her name is Liberty, by the way. The man we bought Liberty from had two sows give birth this spring. Liberty’s mom had four piglets, but two of them were dead. The other sow had two piglets, but one of them was dead. The breeder has raised pigs most of his life, but didn’t know why this happened. He was also disappointed with the low number of

piglets in the litter. This sounded a little odd to us, but we took him at his word. After we got home and had time to think about this and discuss it, we have come to the conclusion that we need another young gilt, just in case Liberty’s genetics don’t lend to becoming a healthy, productive sow. The vet was here this afternoon and we asked him what he thought about Liberty’s probability of being a good sow. He told us that if a pig has less than four fertile eggs developing, it will reabsorb these eggs and breed again. A sow will always have a minimum of four piglets. So we have some questions about the gentleman’s story. There is another breeder in a different area that we have been in contact with that has a litter of piglets that will be ready to wean around June 1st, so we will be adding one more piglet to our herd. By the way, I looked up the names for groups of pigs. When the pigs are grown, I can call them a passel of pigs. I like that one, it’s funny. I hope five pigs will constitute a passel, because that many adult pigs is more than enough for us.

The vet and his wife work together which I think is great.



While the vet was here, he cut the piglets teeth. Because we are keeping three boars, two to eat and one breeder, we have chosen to have their teeth cut to prevent injury if they chose to fight over food or the gilt at some point. It may not have been an issue, but we would rather prevent a problem at this point until we know more and have more experience as pig herders.

 

This whole tooth came out. They are very small at this age.

 

Of the three boars, we were planning to choose one of the two smaller ones to keep for a breeder. Lance, the largest boar that kept trying to escape the pet carrier when we were loading them up, was going to be the first to grace our dinner plates. But after we talked to the vet about growth rate for producing meat for the table, we chose to castrate the two smaller boars and kept Lance for our breeding boar. I will just have to work with him a little more to get him to be as tame as the others.

 

For now, our pigs are doing quite well. Once they calm back down and quit running away from me again since we have moved them, then cut their teeth, and castrated two of them, I think they will work out fine. We’ll keep you updated with further tales from the pig pen. Now it’s your turn. Not necessarily to get pigs, per se, but to seek out a new experience that will benefit you and yours in whatever situation you find yourself. Be it homestead, city lot, apartment, where ever you are, you can learn and develop skills that will increase your chances of survival in the coming days, weeks, months and years. We would have never even considered getting pigs if we didn’t know that

great changes are upon us and that we will probably have to fend for ourselves. Pigs have never been part of our equation until now. Are we comfortable with this new venture? No. Are we working at it diligently? Yes. That is why I said in the previous article that I have decided to like, and not be afraid of pigs. It is a conscious decision I have made to increase our food supply. The article I wrote about women and survival indicated my belief that one of my major responsibilities in a collapse scenario will be to keep food on the table. These pigs are part of my efforts in that direction. Frank supports me and helps me when I need it, with anything at all, but his role when the time comes will be different. He will be our protector, community

communications leader, and will be working at making sure the infrastructure of our homestead is functioning well. All of these things will allow me to concentrate on food, clothing, and maintaining the hygiene we need to be healthy. We have been blessed with the natural inclinations of a man and a woman to perform those duties that will support a safe, productive home, and we chose to fulfill those roles. 

Until next time – Fern

Growing Animal Feed

Growing some of our animal feed is something we have wanted to do for a long time, but it’s a goal that is not easy to meet overnight, in a year, or even over a couple of years. This summer we have been able to make a little head way on this project, and we want to share what we have learned.

In the spring when everything was turning green, I started gathering grasses and weeds to feed the chickens. Our chickens are not out ranging at this time, but they do have a run outside of the chicken house. We need to add a chicken proof barrier along the bottom of a couple of gates to keep them on their side of the yard and out of the garden. So, for now, they get some kind of greens almost everyday along with other garden or kitchen scraps as they come along.

In the early spring, I started to feed them beet greens as soon as the plants were big enough to spare a few leaves.

I also planted some new comfrey roots to expand our ability to provide more animal feed. This patch had really done well. For most of the summer, the chickens received a handful of comfrey leaves almost everyday. This was a great addition to their feed. The goats like them as well, but since they had lots of good things to eat out in the pasture, they were not a crazy about these leaves as the chickens were.

We grew some sunflowers this year to be used as animal feed for both chickens and goats. Our patch was about six feet by thirty feet with four rows of plants. Here is our harvest. All of these plants were grown from seeds we harvested last summer from our very first plants. I think there were about six of them. It’s good to know the seeds are easy to save and replant. If we wanted to grow enough to feed a little all winter, we would need many, many more plants than what we grew this year. But it is a start.


 
The corn we grew ended up being dried for the animals instead of canned for humans. Sometimes things just end up that way. It is interesting to see how it has dried, and figure out an easy way to remove it from the cob. Once it is this dry, the kernels separate from the cob fairly easy just by rubbing two cobs together. I will keep the dried shucks to see if the goats will be interested in them this winter. Another thing to learn. This small amount of corn won’t go very far as animal feed, either, but it has been a very interesting learning experience.

 

Now that the fall crops are up and growing well, I pick a batch of greens for the chickens every morning. They get a bucket full of turnip greens.

Turnips, Kale & small Swiss Chard

Add a handful of kale…..

 

 And a handful of beet greens.

The fall carrot crop is growing pretty well. It will be interesting to see how the animals take to carrots, turnips and Mangel sugar beets as a source of winter feed. Very interesting. This is something I have wanted to try for a long time.

 Our patch of purple hull peas has been taken over by the grass and weeds. But before that happened, we were able to pick several batches that had dried on the vine and fed them to the chickens and goats. They were all more than happy to eat them, the chickens just the seeds, but the goats, pods, seeds and all. This is a very easy crop to grow that is highly nutritious, for both animal and human.

I still throw in a few comfrey leaves every now and then, but I am letting the comfrey put energy into their roots for winter. The original comfrey plant I added to the herb bed about four years ago stays green until about January when our weather turns cold. I have been surprised every year that it takes that long for it to die back. It starts peaking out new leaves in late March when it starts to warm up, but doesn’t produce enough leaves for fresh feed until sometime in April.

The amount of feed we are harvesting each day for our animals really doesn’t amount to a whole lot, but it is a start. There are some other things we also want to try. Our friend Grace found a article in Mother Earth News that talked about Austrian Winter Peas that can be used for chickens and deer. Some folks also eat the shoots in salads saying they taste just like peas. It is better known as a cover crop for fixing nitrogen in the soil. After Grace told me about them and I read about them, we ordered some seeds. It will be another thing we can try for animal feed. Thank you, Grace.

If times get hard and we have to provide for ourselves and our animals, this small amount of experience will hopefully help keep us on our feet while we learn even more. Challenges will always come our way, and we have had more than a few this year. Even so, our little animal feed growing project has taught us a lot. And we hope to learn even more through the winter and during the growing season next year.

Until next time – Fern

The Nutrition of Tomatoes & Peppers

I never really think of tomatoes as being a nutrient dense food. But I thought it would be interesting to include it in our nutrition series, since so many of us love to eat them fresh from the garden. We read years ago that peppers contain many nutrients and trace minerals that you don’t find in most other foods.

1 cup of raw cherry tomatoes include the following nutrients. We don’t grow cherry tomatoes, but this is the one listing for raw tomatoes.

  • calories 28.6
  • carbohydrates 5.8g

  • protein 1.3g
  • vitamins A, C, K
  • folate
  • choline
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • sodium
  • phytosterols
  • omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids

1 cup of raw, sweet, green peppers include the following nutrients.
The nutritional content of jalapeno peppers is very similar to sweet peppers.

  • calories 29.8
  • carbohydrates 6.9g
  • protein 1.3g

  • vitamins A, C, K
  • folate
  • choline
  • calcium
  • phophorus
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • phytosterols
  • omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids


The list of nutrients here surprised me. I knew that tomatoes were not high in calories or carbohydrates, but I didn’t realize how many other benefits they included. It also surprised me to find out that tomatoes and peppers both provide very similar nutrients. So now when you make up that batch of pizza sauce or salsa, you will know how good it is for you.


When thinking of a survival garden and the nutrition it provides, tomatoes and peppers will not be rich in carbohydrates or calories for energy, but they both provide needed vitamins and minerals in larger amounts than some other vegetables. Something to think about. The size of garden you are able to tend successfully will determine what you are able to grow. That, along with the availability of seeds. Do you have some? Do you have enough? Make sure you have what you need, just in case you can’t get anymore.

This morning I was reading Rural Revolution and noticed that Patrice Lewis has had success with a short season corn. If this is of interest to you, please check it out. We talked about it, and even though we live in the south, we may be able to grow two crops. I think we will try it next year.

Until next time – Fern

Of Corn, Potatoes and Sunflowers

The corn crop we harvested is now turning into dried corn. It just didn’t work out with Frank’s recovery to process it for human consumption, so we are drying it on the cob for the animals. Interesting how some events in life teach you something new. This

is yet another thing we haven’t tried yet, drying corn. A few of them had started to sprout before we got the shucks turned back, and even though it should have been done earlier, I thought these sprouts were very interesting.

The last of the potatoes have been dug and we estimate, we haven’t weighed them, that all together, we have harvested about 100 pounds of potatoes this year. That’s amazing for us, and by far the best crop we have ever had. We plan to try growing a few more this fall, if for nothing else, for seed potatoes for the spring.

The sunflowers had started to droop quite a bit and some of the bigger flowers had a good supply of seeds. 

A strong storm that blew through last week, bent some of the plants over to the point that they could not recuperate. So I decided it was time for harvest.

 

I wanted to use these thick stalks as a heavy mulch in front of the house where we want to make another herb bed. This is the same place where I put all of the corn stalks. 

The sunflowers were too hard to pull up, so I got out my loppers and started cutting them down. Pruning shears also worked great to cut the flower heads off of the stalks. 

After I started cutting them down, I realized that some of them were kind of brown and gooey in the middle. I figured that had to be some kind of pest damage, but I didn’t see anything. Several of the flower heads were smaller, but looked dead and kind of folded up. 

So, I broke one of them open and found this little guy. He’s hard to see. It’s a small brown worm on the fleshy part inside the flower. He’s actually sitting on some of the light brown goo stuff. This same plant had the brown goo in the stem, so I figured they were related. There are several kinds of worms that affect sunflowers. I found this out after I found the worm. Since this is our first real (although small) crop of sunflowers, it has given us yet another chance to learn more things about growing crops for animals. These seeds are destined to become feed for the goats and chickens. We will also save some of these to grow next year’s crop. This year’s sunflower crop has been grown entirely from last year’s harvest. We think that is really neat.

I think it is really fascinating that each sunflower is made up of a gazillion tiny flowers and that each flower makes a seed. A sunflower seed. Just amazing.

 The potatoes are bagged up and stored in the house, the corn is drying on the back porch, and the sunflowers are drying on the front porch next to the squash we picked for seeds and the tubs of seedlings for our fall crops. 


And, guess what? Today we picked our first red tomatoes. Even though it is pretty late for the first red tomatoes, I think it was all by design. God knew we would be busy with Frank’s healing for a bit, so we haven’t had and green beans or tomatoes to pick. But now that Frank is doing better, there will be many things to put by for winter. Life is good.

Until next time – Fern