The Incredible Pinto Bean

In these times of food uncertainty, nutrition and calories are paramount in my books. What I am going to write about pinto beans could generally apply to most shell beans, such as lima or navy. I have had some questions about canning pinto beans so I will include what I know and have experienced here.
First off, if you can find dry beans, I would recommend you buy them. As many as you can afford and find available. I tried to look up bulk pinto beans in preparation to write this article and find that many bulk providers are out, or only have one pound bags or like Amazon, who has a 24 pound bucket for $63.92!! or a 25 pound box for $57.69 or a 20 pound bag for $54.25. I am afraid most people cannot afford these prices. If you have waited this long to try to stock up some long term nutrition, I am afraid you probably waited too long.
We received an email with some information about bulk food items that may be useful to you. We appreciate the effort this person made in sharing a resource with all of us. Here is the email in part:
You mentioned, however, that bulk foods are getting difficult to find. I am LDS and have used the LDS Home Storage Centers for years. You may know all about them. But in case you don’t, they are open to everyone and carry bulk items. You can choose to buy 25 pound sacks of wheat or you can buy #10 cans of wheat in cases. You can buy it In a home storage center or you can buy it online and have it shipped to your home. They just want people to have food storage, so there is not a huge markup. Most of the packaging is done in Salt Lake by missionaries who are donating their labor. The older couples who run the centers are also donating their labor.
All of their locations are listed here:


Here is their product and price list:

Many of their items are out of stock with all of the crazy buying that has been happening over the last few months, but my local center has restocked many of the products that I use and my brother, who uses a center close to his home in Virginia, tells me they have many items back in stock as well. I just bought more white wheat, red wheat, elbow macaroni noodles, and spaghetti. So if you are interested, it is worth calling the center nearest to you and asking what they have in stock.

I don’t know if this is of any interest to you, but in times like this we should help each other however we can. 
Nutrition. Everyday, but now more than ever, I turn to foods I know will provide good nutrition. This will be crucial as food supplies continue to be impacted by the Plandemic and resulting economic disruptions. I use this website for comparing nutritional values on many foods.

As you can see, one cup of cooked pinto beans with water and salt packs a powerful punch, thus our preference for it. It is often said that beans and rice make the perfect protein. We don’t eat rice, but we do eat wheat in the form of sourdough bread or tortillas. We prefer wheat to rice for the comparative nutritional value the wheat provides.

We have a number of buckets of pinto beans that we have had for at least 10 years, which by the way, came from the LDS Home Storage Center in Oklahoma City. We bought in bulk and stored in our own buckets with Gamma Seal lids. If you’re not aware, LDS stands for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or commonly called Mormons. I have long thought theses beans would be too hard to cook and eat, and that is true. I also thought they would be too hard to can. This is one of those instances that I was more than happy to be wrong.

Last winter I wanted to get more pintos canned and on the shelf for everyday eating, and to have if the country and world went south. I bought several four pound bags from Wal-Mart, before the virus when they were still available, and we canned a batch of 32 pints. Then recently, we decided to find out if those old beans were still usable. We put three pounds of beans in eight quarts of water and brought them to a boil in the late afternoon. Let them boil for five minutes, then let them sit until morning. I turned the fire on low when I got up around 6:00am and let them simmer until morning chores were done and we were ready to fire up the canner. Here are both types of beans. Both great, on the shelf and ready to eat. The 2010 beans turned out great, good texture and flavor. The older beans are on the left and the Wal-Mart beans are on the right in this picture. Some of the benefits of having beans canned and ready to go is that if you want a quick meal, or the world doesn’t allow time to cook a pot of beans, you have nutrition, water and salt ready to nurture your body.

This summer one of my goals is to grow, harvest and can as many pinto beans as possible. In a survival scenario we need calories for energy and adequate protein. Pinto beans provide 245 calories per cup, a healthy form of carbohydrates that does not cause an insulin spike with a quick drop off in energy, and a good level of protein. In my books, an excellent form of nutrition any time.

Our first harvest of beans yielded 10 1/2 pounds from about two 30 foot rows of plants. Now this is not equivalent to the same weight of dry beans because they were fresh. Some were partially dried, but most still retained a lot of moisture. We canned 32 pints with enough beans left over for another 3 pints. I was very pleased with the yield and hope the plants will continue to bloom and provide another harvest or two before fall.

To can fresh or dried beans, we bring them to a boil the evening before, then let them sit overnight. In the morning, simmer until ready to can. We use the liquid from the pot to fill the jars. In pint jars, fill with beans about 2/3 full, add 1/2 tsp. non-iodized salt, fill to within 1/2″ of the top with bean liquid, then pressure can at 10 pounds for 40 minutes. This timing comes from our Stocking Up canning book.

Jacob’s Cattle Beans

Something I learned about canning fresh beans as opposed to dried beans. Fresh beans tend to be much softer when you cook or can them. I prefer a bean with a more firm texture, like the old beans and the Wal-Mart beans. We grew Jacob’s Cattle beans a few years back. It’s another shell bean very similar to a pinto. We also canned them fresh and they were much softer, just like the pintos we just harvested and canned. I always thought the softness was just the nature of the Jacob’s bean and never thought about the difference in canning fresh instead of dried. Accidental learning can be a very interesting teacher. Now, instead of canning our next harvest fresh, I will dry them first and see if I can get the type of canned bean I prefer instead of the softer variety. One benefit of the soft beans is the ease at making a type of refried bean for tortillas. By the way, if you have trouble finding pinto bean seed to plant, the ones from Wal-Mart work just fine.

A few years back we tried a different method of canning beans we had read somewhere. In quart jars we added dried pinto beans to half of the jar, filled with boiling water and 1 tsp. salt, then canned according to recommended time (I don’t remember now how long.) They were tough and crunchy. I don’t know how old the beans were or any other details, but we found out for us, this process didn’t work.

Ground pork, pintos & salsa with sauteed cabbage

There are many different ways to add beans to a meal for a nutritional boost. I’ve already mentioned refried beans and a bowl of beans. You can add them to soup or to just about any dish. Like this. But folks, nutrition and energy is, and will be the name of the game as our future continues to unfold. I pray the day never comes that I can’t sit in my comfortable, air conditioned home and type on a computer on the internet. Just how much infrastructure has to remain in place for me to continue doing this? How long will it last?

We will never forget someone asking us why we go to all this work to raise and preserve our harvest. Why do all that work when you can just buy it at the store, they asked. Because now you have a hard time finding or affording the humble pinto bean at the store. Grow it or buy it, food is of utmost importance right now for everyone. Like I’ve said before, regardless of the events surrounding us, peace or anarchy, without food, you are dead.

Until next time – Fern

What’s Growin’ In the Garden 4

Well folks, it truly is turning out to be a hot summer, isn’t it? Frank has long thought the unraveling of our society would come to pass about this time. The uncertainty of life affects us all in many different ways, even the earth is unsettled and behaving quite different. Gardens and pastures in these parts are not growing anything like they usually do. Some things do okay, not great, but okay. Other standard crops are barely growing or doing anything. I have found ONE squash bug this summer. ONE. By now they are normally here by the hundreds and the plants are dead. Instead, we have had many fewer yellow squash, but the plants are happy.

Today we pulled the beets and planted grocery store red potatoes. Yes, it’s very late to plant potatoes and it’s a toss up whether they will grow in the heat of the summer here. We weren’t going to grow any at all, but feel the need to grow more calories and nutrition.

Old beet patch, one new potato patch










More potatoes between the cabbage & sunflowers

                Here is a look at the rest of the garden.

Parsley in the front, carrots and yellow squash


Sweet potatoes on  stock panels are growing well.


Pinto beans, some are climbing and some are not….


Tomatoes are growing slowly with little production


Purple hull peas after 4 plantings


Okra, barely growing, and it’s mid June

Sunflowers for chicken feed


There are a number of cabbages that survived the worms.


Small pepper plants


Planted Thelma Sanders winter squash by wooden stakes today.


Apple with curculio infestation


I was very hopeful of a good fruit crop this year. Our young plums were loaded with fruit, but each had this little brown mark on it. Every plum dropped and now the apples are slowly joining in. I pick up half a dozen or so every other day as they fall and feed them to the chickens. I found a beneficial nematode that is supposed to help control curculio and applied them below the trees a month or so ago. My research indicates curculios may produce up to two generations per year, so I hope the nematodes are established enough to affect the second generation this summer. I don’t know if there will be any apples left to harvest or not, only time will tell.

Rather dismal outlook, isn’t it? It is definitely a strange growing season. As the COVID19 outbreak grew more serious, we decided to grow more food this year instead of less like we had planned. But the way the garden is performing, we don’t know how much food it will produce at all. If we were truly in dire straits and dependent upon this growing season for survival, it would be a very stressful situation indeed. Well. What if this is it? What if our life does depend upon this harvest?


Folks, we are in perilous times. Do everything in your power to have enough food for your family for the long term. It matters not if you grow one morsel, have food for your family. Do everything in your power to provide a safe environment for your loved ones. Between the virus, the economy, the riots, the anger and hatred, our country is a pressure cooker just waiting for the lid to blow. The tentacles of the enemy are long and well camouflaged. Distance is your friend.

Frank has been saying for many months that it is going to be a very hot summer. The summer is upon us with burning and death. There are a couple of videos at the end of this article that may give you pause. If nothing else, I hope they give you something to think about.

Food. You can’t have too much & without it you are dead.

Until next time – Fern



Got Seeds?

Grow them. Grow your own. One tiny seed can produce more food than you can imagine.

One tough Swiss Chard that keeps coming back every year.

It’s not easy and includes a big learning curve. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes they are viable, sometimes they aren’t. Guaranteed germination rate like store bought? No. But it can be done. Even by accident. That is how much of our learning takes place. We find there are times we learn more from our failures than our successes.

The small salad bed on the east side of the house.

Spinach going to seed.

Around here in the late spring spinach and lettuce go to seed. I will let the spinach seeds drop right in the bed where they are growing. I will harvest the lettuce seeds from the pot on the front porch and broadcast them into the “salad bed” where the spinach is growing. 

Back in February I spread some old spinach and lettuce seeds in this bed not expecting anything to grow since they were older. We received a nice surprise of an extended ‘salad’ season. I will remember this and broadcast seeds next February in hopes this will replicate.

 
This lettuce is growing on the porch in the same pot as some sweet potatoes.

Surprise spinach
Surprise lettuce and parsley

 
Last years sunflowers seeds have germinated very well and are growing great.

Turnips planted last fall went to seed and provided this seed harvest. We dried them in the greenhouse.

Last year’s sweet potato plants probably aren’t considered seeds, but we’re hoping this experiment, planting them in a large pot, having them in the greenhouse all winter, and now on the porch, will show us if they will continue growing potatoes. The few potatoes we harvested last year gave us half a dozen sprouts that have been planted in the garden. They are growing well, so we hope to have replacement plants from year to year. Kind of like seeds, right?

You can grow some type of food almost anywhere with a sunny window, a porch, a sidewalk, with a bucket, a large tub or other container, a flower bed, the edge of a yard along the fence. You can plant nutritious, calorie rich foods just about anywhere, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, any type of cowpea (purple hull peas, black-eyed peas, etc.), to name just a few. If you can find them, buy a bag of pinto beans at the store, they will grow vines you can train on a fence or trellis. The potatoes you can store and eat over the winter, the beans and peas you can dry for cooking later. Neither has to be canned, so no need for canners, jars, shelf space, etc.

The Seed Starters Handbook is a great resource. I bought our copy back in the 1980’s and still use it regularly. It’s part of our resource library.
 

Got seeds? Got food? Grow some. Any amount you can provide for yourself will decrease your dependence on others, be it the grocery store or the government. It will increase your self confidence and determination to maintain or regain a small portion of independence for you and those you love.

Until next time – Fern

Homestead News, Volume 17

We are still working on our antenna project. The rains have softened the ground enough that we can’t get in the garden to work on raising the first of three towers. We attempted to raise the first one as the rains were coming, but found out we need a stouter pulling pole to get this tower up. We’ll give you a lot more details in an article dedicated solely to this project when we’re closer to completion.

Our young hens are starting to lay and we get varying sizes of pullet eggs everyday now, and that is great. We were blessed with eggs from Grace and Faith to tide us over until we had enough.

October 29th

The garden is history for this year. There are still a few potatoes that keep coming up out there, but we already have two pots in the greenhouse. I may add another one or two but it will have to be tomorrow if I do since the low tomorrow night is supposed to be 24 degrees. This will be our first hard freeze of the season. We’ve had a few dustings of frost so far, but haven’t even made it down to 32 degrees yet.

Easter & Patch

We brought home a buck this evening that we are borrowing from Faith. It was dark by the time we got him unloaded and settled, so no pictures yet. Faith and her husband have been gracious enough to provide us with an opportunity to add some new blood to our herd, and we haven’t been able to find a permanent replacement buck for our herd yet. Victor, the borrowed buck, has four does to breed while he is here. Our plan is to keep him for 60 days to make sure all of the does are pregnant, especially our two young does, Patch and Easter. Young does don’t always ‘take’ the first time they are bred, so we will be counting days to see if they come back into standing heat 21 days after breeding. If not, it’s usually safe to say they are pregnant.

We tried the pear sauce this morning on some sourdough biscuits and it is very good. To us it seems very sweet even though there is no sugar in it. The very ripe pears I used worked great. Very nice.

The outdoor kitchen work has been on hold because of the wet weather. We need to spray down the plywood walls and let them dry for a day or two so we can paint them before we start setting up the stove, smoker and sinks. Maybe next week it will be dry enough to get the painting done.

We cleared out the stuff that had accumulated in the livingroom around the woodstove so we can get it ready for use. When we paint the outdoor kitchen we’re also going to paint the concrete board that goes behind the stove and get it fastened to the walls. We plan to paint the exterior doors on the house, too. I hope we can finish off the painting soon, neither one of us like to paint, and really don’t look forward to that chore.

The Survival Radio Relay Net continues to slowly grow. There were two new people on the net this week. Our ability to communicate has been somewhat limited with the towers down, so Frank has been calling the net from one of our vehicles that has a CB and a VHF/UHF in it. We are all learning how to be more effective in contacting each other and relaying information between different people. It is a great learning experience and we get a little better at it each time we meet.

Life is good. It has slowed down a little with the coming of winter, but not much. We’re hampered a bit by the weather, but still making good progress. 

The events of the world continue to unfold with increasing speed and TEOTWAWKI comes more into focus each passing day. I often think of Ol’ Remus’ advice, “Avoid crowds”, especially in light of holiday shopping. Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings, there are wolves in sheep’s clothing among us.

Until next time – Fern
 

What’s Growing in the Greenhouse? Volume 1

Well, we did it. We actually built a greenhouse after 30 years of dreams and plans. Dreams really do come true, and they are appreciated all the more when the wait is long. To be honest, it still doesn’t seem real to me even though I tend the plants here everyday. Recently I had lots of fun, when I added another 18 pots of stuff, some alive and kicking from the yard, and some with newly planted seeds.

We decided to continue using our former seedling tables for planting, this is where the messes will be made. The set up is great, there is lots of room for dirt, gravel, pots, tubs and such, at first we were thinking that everything would move into the greenhouse, but not now. We’ve already started to wonder if the greenhouse is too small, when at first it didn’t look like we could possibly fill the shelves. It is quite the interesting learning process. I can only imagine the other changes we will make along the way.

I started out my planting foray by digging up some things from the garden and herb bed. I realized today that I missed getting some marjoram, which we have really come to enjoy. I will get some in the next few days and add one more pot to the greenhouse shelves, for now. My digging adventure turned up a number of things.

More potatoes from the garden
Comfrey

Mustard greens
Lemon Balm
Creeping Thyme
Two year old celery
Oregano

Tiger decided we needed to have a discussion while I was putting these plants in pots. 

 

Next came the seeds, more pots, and more trips to the greenhouse.

 

I have to admit, it looks pretty neat in here. With more pots on the top shelf to water, I started using the step stool. I am tall, 5’9″, and watering a few plants is not a problem, but now that there are a lot more, it’s time to ‘step up’ to the task.

I have been reading about hand pollination since we have a number of plants that will need help. Since I have several different cucurbits (squashes, cucumbers, muskmelon) growing, and I don’t want to cross pollinate them, each plant will have it’s own paint brush for this task. When I told Frank I needed some paintbrushes he reminded me there were some in the garage. It’s nice to go no farther than one of your own shelves when you need something.


We have picked some lettuce and spinach for salads. I even trimmed some greens from the onions once. We’ve also picked a few turnip greens, but that’s all so far. I don’t think it will be long before the pickings will be increasing, and that will be a real treat, especially as the days get shorter and cooler. Here is what’s growing in the greenhouse.

Onions
Collard greens


Comfrey
Romaine that is going to seed.
Lettuce
Strawberries from the garden thanks to a reader.
Spinach
More Turnips
Turnips
Brussels sprouts
Broccoli
Cabbage

Carrots in tub #1
Carrots in tub #2
Beets

As I prepared some of the new seeds and plants, I began to wonder where I would put them. Some of these plants thrive in cooler weather, so I thought about putting them on the floor. Even though the concrete will help with some heating via solar mass and ground temperatures, I could picture these plants going dormant because of the cold air that settles to the floor. At first I thought about raising them off the floor with concrete blocks, but they would be cold as well. I settled for scrap blocks of wood from some of our building projects, hoping the wood would not conduct the cold as much as a concrete block. We’ll have to see how this theory pans out. This also utilizes more of the space we have in the greenhouse.

Austrian Winter Peas in the tub, new potato plants in the pot
Celery from the herb bed
The first potatoes from the garden
Mustard greens
Okra, which is a hot weather plant. We really don’t expect it to produce.

The area next to the wall of the house contains the plants that prefer hot weather and/or need a trellis. So far with night time temperatures in the 40’s occasionally, this area tends to be around 10 degrees warmer than the main shelf by the outside wall. We are very interested to see how this will work out with freezing temperatures. Since the nights are not down to freezing and the temperatures inside heat up quickly on sunny days, we have not closed down any of the vents yet. Frank has a plan for easily opening and closing the vents as needed.
 

Back row: Green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers
Front row: ginger, buttercup squash, turmeric

Yellow squash

 

Muskmelon

The yellow squash and muskmelon are in the center of the room. So far, they are very happy. The squash will be blooming soon. I hope to be able to wind the muskmelon around on the table top as it grows.
 

The herbs, a few greens and some flowers, have found homes on the top row of shelves. When I was looking for herb seeds, I ran across some Thumbelina Zinnia, Livingston Daisies, Dandelions and Moss Rose (which we have always called rose moss), and just couldn’t resist having a few flowers in here.

2 kinds of Kale
Rose Moss
Zinnias
Mesclun Mixed Greens

 

Creeping Thyme

The almost dead Stevia is coming out again.

Oregano
Lemon Balm with a dandelion

It’s hard to imagine how growing these things may affect our diets, especially in a survival situation. This truly is our survival greenhouse. We have much to learn, and a short time to do it. There will be failure and there will be success, but most of all, I hope there is food.

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

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