Let the Canning Begin!

You know those horns that were blown when the king arrived in the arena for a jousting tournament? Picture that sound.
Let the canning begin! 
[I don’t know why the spacing in the rest of this article is not single spaced and I can’t figure out how to fix it. I’m sorry for the changing format.] I was excited this morning to know that today is the day that I started filling jars with food so I can fill my pantry shelves. As usual, I had so many things in mind that I wanted to accomplish today, that it is impossible to do in one day. Well, that’s okay. I did get a lot done, just not as much as I would have liked. I always start off a canning session, and especially a new canning season by reviewing the manual that came with the canner. We have highlighted the most important information to make sure we are using it correctly.
When I first started canning, I was afraid of the canner, feeling like it might explode or something. Now, I am not afraid. I am very careful, make sure I follow the directions, use all standard safety precautions, and just good ole’ common sense.
 
Our first harvest of Cushaw winter squash came to about 28 pounds from four squash. This is great! Not only is Cushaw a good keeper and nutritious, it tastes good. Since I have not included any winter squash in the articles on nutrition, I want to include it here.
  • calories 80 
  • carbohydrates 17.9g
  • protein 1.8g
  • vitamin A  10,708 IU
  • vitamin C 19.7mg
  • vitamin K 9.0mcg
  • folate 57.4mcg
  • choline 21.7mg
  • calcium 28.7mg
  • magnesium 16.4mg
  • phosphorus 41mg
  • potassium 896mg
 

 

I wanted to start off my canning day by putting these four squash into quart jars. I quickly realized that it would take more than one batch to can this much Cushaw, so I decided to get out our second canner. We have had it for a while, but basically got it for a back up, just in case we ever needed to replace the one we usually use, or like today, that we had a lot to can. We use an All American canner that does not have a gasket, and have been very happy with it. Until today. Well, I’m still real happy with our older canner, but for 

some reason, the new one will not seal well enough to produce 10 pounds of pressure. We tried and tried and tried and tried, about seven times, to get it to work. The first four times were with my seven quarts of squash in it. By that time the old canner with it’s seven quarts was finished and we moved the squash from the new canner into the old, and fired it up again. It worked like a charm.

If anyone knows what we might try with this new canner, please let us know. I recleaned and relubricated the sealing plate; re-read the manual for any indications of what to do; checked the pressure blow off valve, and checked the pressure gauge opening and they all appear to be functioning properly. The vent valve works great and allows a full spout of steam to escape during venting prior to adding the 10 pound pressure regulator weight. After the weight is put in place, the canner starts steaming around the lid instead of building up pressure. Frank finally got it to go up to five pounds of pressure the last time we tried it empty, but that is as far as it will go. I will try to call the company on Monday to see what their recommendations are.

 

I had planned to cook and peel the beets after the squash was finished in the canner, with plenty of time to can them with the few cowpeas I have. Both need to be pressure canned, the beets for 30 minutes and the cowpeas for 40 minutes. Since I don’t have very many of either, I will can them at the same time. Tomorrow. I did get the beets peeled, so they are ready to be sliced and put in jars. I shelled the peas I picked this morning while the beets were cooking.

 

I didn’t think I would get to everything, and I didn’t. So, now I also have carrots and green beans to can tomorrow. I’ll do the same thing with them since the carrots need 25 minutes and the green beans need 20 minutes. I finished snapping the green beans I picked this morning while the last batch of squash was in the canner.

Since there were about two quarts of squash left over after I filled the 14 quarts, and Frank was gone looking at some antenna towers a man had for sale, I baked the rest of the squash for lunch. And since the stove top was busy, I peeled a few of the small turnips I had harvested and baked them with some simple meatballs made from ground meat. That gave us a good meal without interrupting the canning process.
It has been a long busy day, but a very good one. I can see where we will have many more jars of squash on the shelf, both winter and yellow summer squash. They are both very nutritious and easy to use in many different dishes. We will keep some of the Cushaw to store fresh, but will wait and harvest the keepers later on in the season. For now, I will can as many as we harvest. 
Our beet harvest has been very small so far. I hope to be able to grow many, many more before winter sets in. I would like to have about 70-80 pints on the shelf. And the same with the carrots, and green beans, and…… Everything! I am glad the time has come to preserve the harvest. Like many folks around, I feel pressed to grow and store as much food as we can. The unprecedented rainy spring has delayed the harvest of many crops in our area. I sure hope we can make up for lost time. In the meantime, I am planning our fall crops and will continue to plant many more seeds before the year is out. And by the way, our greenhouse is about halfway finished, and it is beautiful. When I look at it, I don’t really see a greenhouse, I see food. This will give us the potential of growing food year round. I will show you the finished greenhouse and explain our plans before long. 
Find your calling in the hard times that come. We all have talents and abilities that will be needed. Be ready to put yours to good use. Frank and I have found over the past few months that there are and will be things that we don’t do together, which is different for us. We have always done things together. Building projects, homestead chores, washing dishes, everything. But now our roles are changing a little. Today while I harvested and preserved, Frank worked toward the communication abilities for our community network. Then this evening while I did the chores, he visited with a gentleman from his class, answering questions and discussing the capabilities of different kinds of radios and antennas. We talked about it after I came back in from the chores. You see, I feel like the time and effort he is putting into radio communication could very well save my life one day. Just as much as the squash I am putting in jars. Find your calling and increase your abilities as much as possible. It could save your life one day as well.
Until next time – Fern

The Current Garden

I figured it was time for an update on our garden, especially since the weeds are giving the vegetables a run for their money. When it was too wet and rainy, I couldn’t do much weeding. Now that it is hot, humid and dry, we are really busy with a number of projects, so I still have accomplished little weeding. I get a little done in the mornings when I go out to pick greens for the chickens, goats and pigs. That’s about it for now. The last few days have been in the 90’s with high humidity and intense sunshine. I know, I know, I really wanted some sunshine, and I’m glad we have it, but it sure has turned off hot rather quickly. Here are some pictures of our growing masterpiece, weeds and all.

 Not only are the turnips not a hot weather spring plant, these are having to compete with a lot of grass. I pull as much grass as I pick turnip greens for the chickens in the mornings, but it is still starting to overtake the bed. These pictures were taken around 5:00pm, when the lighting wasn’t the greatest. The wilting of these greens tells me it’s time to water the garden. A week ago I never thought I would be saying those words.

 

Collards, carrots and zinnias. I sprinkled the collards with diatomaceous earth a few days ago and I think it is helping with the slugs and worms.

 

Frank made the perfect DE (diatomaceous earth) dispenser for me out of an old fiber canister. Works great!

We have about 20 volunteer potato plants in this area of the garden where we grew them last fall. Even though we are not eating potatoes right now because of the high carbohydrate content, we view these as our seed potatoes for future consumption on a limited basis.

If you look at the size of the blade of grass in this picture, you’ll realize just how small this pepper plant is. Surprisingly, it is growing. There are a few more that survived the cats and the last flooding rainstorm. I need to plant more seeds and see if they will direct germinate in the garden.

The Buttercup winter squash hasn’t taken off as quickly as I would like, and one hill rotted from the rain, but it is starting to vine out and produce. These are really good, sweet squash that are great keepers. They taste similar to a sweet potato.

 

The tomatoes are blooming and have been worked into the trellis on the right. They are healthy, sturdy plants that are growing vigorously. The Buttercup squash is on the left in this picture, with carrots beside the tomatoes on the trellis to the right.

  

We have lots of zinnias growing here and there throughout the garden.

 This small trellis was supposed to have cucumbers growing on it. Instead, I must have planted some yellow squash seeds that we saved last year. The cucumbers I planted while it was still raining, are still in a tub on the porch. See the empty space on the right? That is where I planted the cucumber seeds I saved last year. Only three of them germinated. All of the plants on the left are from a packet of seeds I bought.

 The planned yellow squash patch is between the tomato and green bean trellises. The grass and weeds are especially happy here.

 Some of the squash is happy, and some are heat stressed and need watering. I applied diatomaceous earth to all of the squash mounds in an effort to impact the vine borer and squash bug populations. I planted nasturtiums around the squash hills this year, which are very pretty flowers, and supposed to be bug deterrents.

 



 The green beans are growing well and blooming, but the heat is getting to them as well. Some of the bottom leaves are yellow today. There are carrots growing down each side of this trellis, in spite of all of the grass and weeds. I’ve been able to clear out parts of the weeds, but there are still more than enough to pull in this area.


The Cushaw winter squash grows very well here. It took off early despite all of the rain and is producing a number of young squash. It is hardy and healthy.

The cowpeas have more than enough grass to keep it company. Some of the seeds I replanted made it and some of them didn’t. There are supposed to be two rows of okra growing in between the cowpeas, but the rain either washed away the seeds, or they rotted. I will be replanting them next week.

 I may be able to harvest a head or two of cabbage after all. They got a hefty dose of DE after it quit raining and since then I haven’t seen much more damage. I’m tempted to harvest the largest head just to see if the worms and slugs are hiding out inside where I can’t see them.
 

The Michilli cabbage has been disappointing. It didn’t do anything besides grow loose leaves that were rather tough, then start bolting to bloom. I have used these as animal feed instead of human feed. Now I am pulling up the plants a few at a time and feeding them to the pigs. I will plant some cantaloupe or honeydew here.

  
The only thing that is planted in the new part of the garden for now are pinto beans on this trellis. As time allows I will till some of this area and plant sunflowers and cowpeas.

  

There is enough spinach for salads, even with competition from the grass.

The beets are doing well. There are some here and there in the cabbage patch as well as some back down by the collards and turnips. But there aren’t enough, and I need to plant some more.

I attended my bug class today and learned a few interesting things I will share in another article. It was geared more towards habitats for pollinators than beneficial garden insects, so in that respect I was disappointed. But, on the other hand, I learned some useful things about beneficial insect habitat that I will be able to incorporate into our garden and landscape environment.

It is 94* today with high humidity and little to no breeze. I hope this is not an indicator of how the rest of the summer will be. After having cool, rainy weather for so long, this quick onset of hot, summer weather has been difficult for gardens, animals and humans. I some ways it reminds me of how the events in the world, and particularly in our country, are heating up. If we’re not all careful, vigilant and prepared, we could suffer heat exhaustion or have a heat related crisis, in more ways than one. Remember to protect yourself from the heat, meaning the temperature and the climate of your neighborhood, city, state and country. It could be a matter of survival.

Until next time – Fern

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
 

Making Graham Crackers & Pie

After I figured out how to make Chevre – soft goat cheese – I made a cheesecake out of it. I knew that Frank likes a graham cracker crust, and we don’t buy graham crackers or pre-made pie crusts. So, I made some.

How do you make graham crackers so you can crush them up and make pie crust? I didn’t find any recipes in any of my cookbooks, so off to the internet I went. Isn’t it wonderful to have so much information right at your finger tips? I found a recipe that had ingredients that I was willing to use and had on hand. There are many recipes that I just won’t use because I don’t buy special items that aren’t part of my staples. If I can’t make it with some pretty basic ingredients, it either doesn’t get made or gets revamped to fit my tastes.

The crackers are pretty simple to make. Mix:
1 cup white flour
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
5 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
(I used 2 tbsp. sugar)

Cut in: 3 tbsp. butter and 1/4 cup shortening until it is fine and crumbly.
Mix in: 2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. molasses
1/4 cup water
1 tsp. vanilla
(We have great local honey that is very dark and strong, so I used 3 tbsp. of it and no molasses.)
Form dough into a ball, cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

 

Take the dough out of the frig, divide it in half and let it sit for 15 minutes. Well, about this time, I had to do a few other things so the dough sat out longer than this. I think in the long run, it would have worked better if I had stuck to the 15 minute time frame.

 


Coat wax paper with flour to prevent sticking. Roll out the dough to a 7 by 15 rectangle. This dough is fairly moist. A good coating of flour is needed to keep it from sticking to the waxed paper. The first few kind of wrinkled up instead of letting me slide the spatula underneath them. I ended up turning the spatula over to release each cracker instead of sliding them off of it. Next time, I will add a little more flour so the dough won’t be so sticky.

 

Poke holes with a fork in 1/2 to 1 inch intervals, then cut into 2 1/2 inch squares. The directions say it doesn’t matter if the cracker edges are touching because the edges will brown up first anyway. Use a spatula to move the crackers to an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned on the edges. That’s it. They are very simple.


 

 

Just as I was rolling out the second half of the dough, Frank had an idea. You see, I made these crackers just so I could make a graham cracker crust for a Winter Squash Pie, per Frank’s request. To fill that request I needed to make graham crackers and cook our small harvest of Cushaw winter squash for the filling. But, instead of cutting up the second half of the dough and making crackers, we just used it as a pie crust. Since there is more liquid/moisture in the cracker dough than a standard pie crust, I baked the crust for 10 minutes before I put in the filling. Since the cracker recipe has baking powder, it did puff up a bit while it was baking, but for the most part, it did fine.

 

 
While the crust was baking, I started peeling, seeding and cutting up the squash. Frank got out our small stock pot, I added water and started adding squash. After I peeled most of one squash, I had another idea. Since I had the oven going, I thought I could bake the squash and spoon it out of the shell, instead of peeling, cutting and boiling. So, I changed the process in mid stream, and was glad I did. Baking the squash and scooping out the meat with a spoon is much easier than peeling it beforehand. The thing I would do different next year, is cover the squash with foil while it bakes. It dried out a little more than I liked this time. After I had enough squash baked and scooped, I mixed up the pie and got it in the oven.

 

I realized when the pie was just about done that the crackers take 15 minutes to bake and the pie takes 60 minutes. The crust around the edge of the pie plate was a little browner than I would like for it to be, so I could have covered with a little strip of foil. I just didn’t think of it during the baking time.

I ended up with enough squash for four pies this year, so we will have to ration them out over the year until the next crop is producing. I saved the seeds out of the largest squash, it will be interesting to see if they are viable.

 

 

The crust turned out fine, it tasted good, but it really wasn’t very noticeable since the flavors of the pie and crust were very similar. It didn’t have the contrasting flavors a cheesecake and graham cracker crust do. Good, but not noteworthy. So, next time, I’ll go back to a standard pie crust for this pie.

 
One of the reasons I really like cooking from scratch is that I can control the content of our food so much more than if I let someone else make it for us. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many conveniences that I truly enjoy and would hate to be without. Take air conditioning for instance. It is not unusual in the summer for Frank to hear, “I really love air conditioning!” when we come in from a chore that leaves us hot and soaked with sweat. But knowing how to find information, about anything you are trying to do for yourself, is such an important skill. If you have the gumption to try, and the ability to find the information you need and put it to use, you can do just about anything. And if at first you don’t succeed…….(what is the old saying?)…….try, try again. Just ask Frank how many loaves of heavy, flat bread he had to endure before I finally started making some pretty good bread. Well, on the other hand, maybe you shouldn’t ask him…….

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

Fire Ants & Aphids

Last summer I mentioned the discovery of the relationship between fire ants and aphids. Fire ants will protect and raise aphids to produce nectar for the ants to eat. The ants will carry the aphids to a plant that will provide nourishment, thus feeding both insects at the same time. I found this to be fascinating even though it can be devastating to my garden crops.  

I hadn’t noticed any aphids at all this year until after I had planted my Cushaw winter squash. I noticed the ants were moving into one of the squash hills, so I sprinkled wood ashes and coffee grounds on each of the five hills. I started checking the plants morning and evening in hopes of keeping the squash bugs at bay that had killed off our yellow squash at the other end of the garden. That’s when I noticed a few ants on the underside of the leaves. Then I realized that the beginning of an aphid infestation was occurring. I also discovered tiny, tiny little winged insects as well. From everything I’ve been able to read, I think these winged insects are the adult aphids, but I’m not sure. If you know what they are, please let us know.

Here is a close-up of the ants pouring out of the ground.

So I put coffee grounds on them.

Here is an ant tending to the aphids. There is one above him by one of the leaf veins.

Here is that aphid, enlarged.

Tiny winged insects. Does anyone know what they are?

Here is one of them enlarged. I think it is an adult aphid, but I’m not sure.

We really enjoy the Cushaw squash and hope to have a decent harvest. It looks like we will have plenty of competition from the squash bugs (I have squished a few each day), ants and aphids. I just hope we win the battle.

Until next time – Fern
 

Playing in the Dirt

Don’t you just love dirt? Well, most people probably don’t have the same affinity for dirt that I do, but most gardeners love dirt. To me, a new patch of dirt holds so many possibilities. Of course the grass and weeds will take advantage of any new ground around, but with a little work and encouragement, a tiny little seed will turn into something amazing to behold….and eat.

After the potatoes, beets, onions, sunflowers and corn were harvested it was time to till up some of the garden again for the fall crops. I have tilled the garden with the tractor exactly one time before, and since Frank’s back surgery was recent, he could not do this for me like he usually does. He did stay with me for moral support and advice, like, “Watch the bucket (on the front of the tractor) and make sure you don’t take out a chunk of the house or storage shed.” This was very good advice. I am still very slow and awkward using the tractor between the house, fences, vegetable trellises and storage buildings. For some reason backing up and turning the wheels in the right direction just does not follow the same pattern I have in my mind for driving a car. I had to laugh at myself several times as I got the tractor all whopper jawed and not aligned at all with where I wanted to be. Frank could only just stand there and shake his head.

But the job is done, and now I have some beautiful dirt to play in. We got the tilling done just in time to plant six hills of Cushaw winter squash

before evening fell. Then along came two days of a nice, slow, soaking rain. After that, I had the terrible poison ivy outbreak. I finally went to the doctor and he said it was not my psoriasis, which I thought it was. By then it had covered over a third of my stomach, the tops of my thighs, the inside of both arms and a few spots on my neck. I was truly miserable. I am finally healing up, but I haven’t been back out in the garden except to pick a few things. Today, we are getting another round of rain, which is great. When the earth has had some time to dry a little, it will be time to play in the dirt some more and plant the rest of my fall seedlings and a few more seeds.



The cantaloupe will share this small area between the two storage buildings with the neighboring Cushaw. I have broadcast some zinnia and radish seeds around in hopes of deterring some of the squash bugs that reside not too

far away. I also spread some wood ashes around the base of each plant to deter squash vine boring worms. While I was at it, I shared some of the wood ashes with the green beans to try to help their blossoms to set fruit.

I’m going to plant the cabbage over in this small area by the dying yellow squash. We were still able to pick a few squash until recently, but the plants and a lot of squash bugs have now gone to the chickens. 

 

I will plant the Brussels sprouts and carrots in the front of the herb bed so they can have lots of time to grow. That way I can till the regular garden at the end of the season without working around these two crops.

The area that held the corn will become sugar beets, both Mangels and Bucklunch. It will be interesting to see how these two crops do. If we can get a decent harvest our goal is to see if we can make some sugar. That will be a real learning experience. We will feed the beet silage to the goats and chickens if this experiment works out.

Then, next to the new beet patch we will plant another row of potatoes. We probably have enough potatoes to get us through the winter, but I would like to have some fall potatoes to store for next year’s seed potatoes. Just like saving seeds from some of the other crops, I would like to grow our own seed potatoes. What if I couldn’t get anymore from the store in the spring and we had eaten them all? Potatoes are a very nutritious, energy rich food that we would like to be able to produce on our own if the need ever arises.

Next will be our first crop of turnips….ever. We have heard lots of folks talk about raising turnips, both for themselves and livestock. It’ time we tried our hand at it.

With the continuing discord throughout the world, we are all feeling a growing tension and a sense of dread. What might be around the next corner is an unknown at this point. The need for vigilance and determined self-reliance is more important now than ever. Do you have what you need, both in knowledge and supplies? Get with it before it is too late. Keep your family close, and to borrow a phrase from Ol’ Remus, avoid crowds.

Until next time – Fern