Without Food, You Are Dead

Everyone needs to read the opening dialogue from Ol’ Remus at the Woodpile Report this week. He’s right. Food is a Weapon that can, has been and will be used against you. There is a reason Bison Prepper is always writing about food first, wheat, calories, wheat, wheat, wheat. Without food, you are dead. End of story. Not to mention the disease and debilitation that comes from malnutrition and starvation. 

I’ve been thinking about sharing our fall/winter growing plans for a while and the thoughts from Ol’ Remus decided for me that today, I had better get with it. We are working on putting most of the garden to bed for the winter. We’re in the process of taking down the tomato/pepper/green bean trellises. After they are out of the way Frank will brush hog all of

the plants, including the okra forest, into a type of organic mulch.

Then we’ll clean out the chicken house and barn and add that to the garden and till everything in for the winter. If the weather isn’t too cold by that time, it usually isn’t in our latitude, we will broadcast some winter peas for an edible cover crop. It’s good for man and beast.

 
This is the plan for most of the garden anyway. The two ends, east and west are planted with a few more food crops. Not to mention these volunteer squash plants that came up in the yard close to the compost pile. We’re enjoying a few last meals of squash. The first frost we had, we covered these plants with a frost cloth which prevented death, but did not keep the plants damage free. We’ll be covering them again this weekend to see if we can get a few more meals before winter takes it’s toll.

We have a small patch of turnips planted for greens. These are seeds we saved this spring from the turnips we planted last fall. It seems to be a good cycle to get into. We were also able eat fresh greens well into winter, again in the spring and even canned a few jars in June. Our permanent turnip bed idea didn’t work out, so maybe this cycle is a better alternative.

On the other end of the garden we have planted some beets for canning, if they make it that far. 

Some carrots for winter eating.  
 

And some cabbage. We still have some frozen, shredded cabbage we grew in the spring of 2018 that we are using in soup. It’s a great addition. If these cabbages make, I’m hoping we won’t have insect problems this time of year, we’ll eat some fresh and freeze the rest to continue our soup making routine.

 

This small bed on the east side of the house is the only place I have successfully grown spinach. We have had our first salad with miniature spinach and lettuce leaves. I was too impatient to let them grow any bigger before we had our first taste.

In the greenhouse we have started our winter salad collection.

We have two kinds of lettuce. Romaine

Black Seeded Simpson

Russian Kale

Pak Choy from seeds we saved this spring.

Cress

I have also planted a tub of amaranth since it is supposed to be good in salads and we know it’s packed with nutrition.

Even though I don’t expect success, I planted some of the tomato seeds we saved this summer. I wanted to make sure they were viable and wanted to try one more time for winter greenhouse tomatoes.

On a whim back in the spring I bought a six pack of sweet potato plants, put them in some rather rocky ground under a trellis, and pretty much ignored them. They made a few potatoes, more than I expected. We’ll try one for supper tonight with some of those turnip greens we canned in June.

I tried keeping the vines when we dug the potatoes and planted them in a pot in the greenhouse to see if we can use this for our plants in the spring. I don’t know if they will make it when the weather gets cold. We’ll find out.

This is the first year we have had anything close to an apple harvest from the two trees we planted about eight years ago. The apples are good, not too sweet, but homegrown which means a lot to us. We have one with lunch almost everyday. 

 

So, food. What do you have? Is it enough for everyone you need to feed? For a while? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? Can you replenish the supply on your own without any outside assistance? 

Food has always been used to control people. Always. Think of Joseph in Egypt. His father and brothers had to come and beg for food. They had the money to pay for it, but that didn’t mean they would receive any. It’s no different today. Look around the world. Look at how interdependent everyone is. Some countries have oil. Some have water. Some have the type of land and soil that will grow food, some don’t. If any one thing goes wrong, one spoke of the wheel breaks, all systems fail. No water, no food. No oil, no fertilizer, no commercial farming apparatus, no food. No transportation, food rots in the field. No workers, no food. 

Food can and will be used against you as a means of enforcing your compliance to any and all demands. Moral, immoral, just and unjust. Be ready. Provide for yourself and those you love. Otherwise……. 

Without food, you, and everyone you love, are dead.

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.

Homestead News, Volume 19

 It seems a number of things around here are aging, animals, people and such. Pearl, our Great Pyrenees, is now 10 years old and is showing some wear and tear. She is slower to get around and takes an arthritis medication regularly. Recently she started making this huffing sound, not really coughing, just a quick breath out, everyday. We took her to the vet, did x-rays and found out she has an enlarged heart, which isn’t unusual for a dog her age and size. She weighs about 120 pounds. Now she takes Lasix.  

One Stripe

One Stripe, our old lady goat, no longer gets to have kids. Two years ago she had her last, Two Tone. We had to take One Stripe to the vet to have the kid pulled because of a bony protrusion that had grown down into the birth canal. Without that assistance, they both would have died, I just couldn’t get the kid out. We really thought the kid was dead, but she wasn’t. The challenge then was to keep them both alive since neither could walk for about a week. One Stripe because of the trauma of birth, and because when we were loading her in the trailer to go to the vet, I pulled her leg out sideways trying to lift her hind quarters. Two Tone had front leg trauma from the long birth process where first I, then the vet, tried to pull her. We splinted her front legs for about two weeks before the ligaments were strong enough to hold her upright. It was a long haul to recovery, but they both finally made it.

Two Tone

This year Two Tone had her first kids. I have only been milking her for about three weeks, but it appears she will be a good milker.

There are a bunch of turnips still in the garden. Last fall we picked and canned a batch, then picked, cooked and froze about eight quarts. Now we plan to till them in and plant some more. We are going to try a perpetual turnip bed. We don’t eat the turnips, by the way, only the greens. I have found a type of turnip seed that doesn’t make a turnip bulb, just mostly greens, that I will try this year. The vast majority of my seeds come from R.H. Shumway’s. The turnips I grew in the greenhouse last winter did well enough for us to pick and cook a batch every week or so. Then, when I planted them out in the garden in the spring instead of taking off and giving us a head start on greens, they surprised me, and went to seed. I saved the seed, but let them cook in the greenhouse too long while they were drying, killing off most of the viability. Now, our experiment will be to establish a turnip patch, let them go to seed the following spring since they are biennials, and see if they will reseed themselves. That is the theory anyway, we’ll see how it works out in practice. 

We’ve been working on getting the barnyard to the garden when we can get into the corral through the mud. This past late summer and fall were exceptionally wet, and the trend has not changed. We are tired of the mud and would like a little more sunshine.

After Frank’s bypass he was anemic for about nine months. We tried iron pills, which he could not tolerate, we ate lots of liver and spinach. During my research at that time I found out turnip greens are much more nutritious than spinach and are higher in iron. We were surprised, and since turnips grow much more prolifically here than spinach, which just doesn’t tolerate our hot summer weather, we are now even more determined to have turnip greens on the shelf and in the ground. 

 

I’ve started the Pot Maker routine and have planted some carrots in the greenhouse. Next will be beets. I’ll wait until later in the month to start tomato, pepper and squash seedlings. The new garden map is planned and awaiting warmer weather to put into action. 

 
We have started the cheese making season with mozzarella, which we had run out of in the freezer. We still have chevre and cheddar from last year, so mozzarella was first on the list.

From mozzarella comes pizza, of course. The difference now is using sourdough for the crust instead of the previous white flour recipe we used before.

Right now I’m milking five does and we have way too many babies running around. I’ll do a goat tail story before long and get you up to speed on all of them.

So, how do you like our new Frank & Fern logo? It was Frank’s idea.

Life on the farm is good. Very good. We wouldn’t live any other way. We need your comments positive and negative, we need your ideas. We are all in this together. We need to share. How are things in your neck of the woods?

Until next time – Fern

The Survival Greenhouse

Now that the greenhouse is up, has doors and looks wonderful, I want to fill it with plants! I’m not a very patient person and I’m ready to get started. The problem? This afternoon when it was 89* outside it was only 117* in the greenhouse. It would make an excellent dehydrator at this point, and would cook any plant I put in there. The solution? Plant seeds anyway, but leave them on the porch in the same place we have been growing seedlings for the past few years.

Speaking of growing seedlings in the past, the other day when we cut the hole in the wall of the house for the door, I did some reminiscing. The window we removed was the first place I learned to grow seedlings. It wasn’t ideal and they were usually a little leggy, but it was all we had at the time and we learned a lot.

This is also the time we discovered using newspapers and a Pot Maker to make our own seedling pots that would quickly break down the in soil and recycle newspaper at the same time. We have been very successful transplanting the seedlings we grew this way. 

So as that window was removed and the door installed, I remembered our learning process of the past and looked forward to this new learning process in our future. We have never had a greenhouse, so there is a whole new learning opportunity in front of us. My problem is I just can’t wait to get started. 

This afternoon after finishing up a batch of mozzarella from our fresh goat milk, I got out the seeds and sorted out the ones I want to try growing in the greenhouse. Some of them will probably make you shake your head and wonder, but we want to try all kinds of plants and see how it goes. Our greenhouse will be unheated except for the sun and the thermal mass of the concrete slab and ten 55 gallon water barrels. Our theory is that with the sunshine during the day, the concrete and water will absorb heat. The question will be how slowly that heat will dissipate through the night and what effect it will have on the air temperature surrounding the plants. This will be fascinating to observe, a great learning adventure. We also have some frost cloth to use if the temperatures are going to be very cold. I have only tried them in the garden up to this point, so that will be another experiment. We can only wait and see how our theories pan out.

 

For most things, I used some of the dishpans and bus tubs we have used previously. They get pretty brittle in the sunshine, but we will keep using them until they break down and are unusable. I still have a few on the shelf that will have to go. Eventually, when time allows, we will build some planting flats from wood that will last for years. For now, these will work fine.

 

I keep soil in a 30 gallon trashcan. After some seedlings have grown large enough to plant in the garden and are removed from the tubs, the remaining soil is put back in the trash can for use again the next time. Each tub has a layer of gravel across the bottom to help with drainage.

What did I plant today? Five kinds of lettuce: Romaine, Buttercrunch, Tango, Corn Salad & Endive.

 

 
Two kinds of spinach: Mustard Spinach and Bloomsdale Long Standing.

 I planted two kinds of peppers, yes peppers even though it is fall. We are going to try to grow a few ‘hot weather’ plants and see how they do. Banana peppers and Marconi Rosso Sweet Peppers.

Yellow Crookneck Squash

Banana Muskmelon

Danvers Half Long Carrots

Golden Ball Turnips

I ran out of space on the table and daylight before I got to the beets, kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, cabbage, chives and onions. I’ll also be planting more carrots at intervals along the way.

I thought this might be a good place to put these tubs, but then I remembered the cats always think these tubs are litter boxes. I hope they don’t get into them up on the table this time.

I didn’t plant tomato seeds today, instead, I went out in the garden and cut some starts off of a few of our tomato vines. I’ll root them in water then plant them in this pot.

 
My theory is to put the ‘hot weather’ plants against the wall of the house or in the middle of the greenhouse away from the outside walls. I’m hoping the heat from the house, concrete and water barrels will provide enough heat for these plants to grow.

And I cheated a little. We were at the lumber yard last week and they had some bedding plants. This is the first time I have seen fall seedlings and I picked up a few.

 

We really look forward to the possibility of eating fresh food during the winter. This greenhouse has long been on the drawing board with supplies bought and stored years ago. There are many different ways to accomplish a goal, sometimes sooner, sometimes later. Frank has had a saying for longer than he has had me. Postpone gratification for long-term gains. We have long lived by that motto. We buy most things on sale, and if we can’t pay for an item, we don’t buy it. It’s that simple. This greenhouse is a very good example of living by this creed. We have dreamed of having a greenhouse for many, many years. The time has now arrived and we are very thankful. It is unfortunate that the excitement of a new learning opportunity has an underlying sense of necessity. The coming storm will tax us all in our endeavors to survive. This greenhouse is one more means of producing food. Food that we will need for survival. A survival greenhouse.

Until next time – Fern

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