Mid summer update

There has been a lot going on this summer, but not much motivation for writing about it. The garden is doing well, and producing a good amount of food for our table, but it is clearly too small. But then again, we have still not really hit the tomato season yet. We have had a few handfuls off the vines, but the cool June, and cool nights for the last month or so have slowed down production. This cooler weather trend has affected the curcubits as well, and so far we have had only two cukes off the vine. I can see that we may not end up with a very good harvest if the nights continue to be so mild. My dreams of pickles lining the walls of our basement are fading. On a positive note, the small chilies, Hungarian Hot Wax, and JalepeƱos have produced well so far, and are drying, pickled, or frozen (respectively). The kale is continuing to produce, and we have harvested 3 cabbages, one of which was enormous at 10 1/2 inches across and I am guessing around 7 pounds. Bea found that she is allergic to the bean vines by harvesting several pounds last week. She will need to wear sleeves and maybe gloves for the next round of picking. The leeks are still getting taller, and are around 3 feet at the moment. While the last minute potato experiment seems to be doing alright, the corn experiment right next to it does not look too promising. We have ears and tassels, but everything looks stunted and yellow. The variety has bantam in the name, but I don’t think it means the entire plant stays under 6 feet tall. A fun surprise was the hops! We planted it and let it go where it wished this year, not knowing how well it would do. It has produced quite a few cones, and the first harvest is drying now. I am not exactly sure what I will do with them, but I know people who brew, so I might send them directions west.

On the animal front, we picked up 9 more chickens from a retiree that had too many bantams. He just loves birds, but was getting to old to move all the cages indoors in the winter, so he switched to the smallest bantams he could find. The population got a little out of hand, so he he asked my friend Jason at Tractor Supply if he knew anyone who would take some, and Jason gave him our number. These little Dutch Bantams are only 7-9 inches tall, and the 4 roosters were full-grown and feisty. They are slowly integrating with “the ladies”, who now seem like amazonian giants. We don’t think we will keep them all, but at the moment, they are producing eggs and entertainment, so they are earning their keep. Ah, eggs. Our ladies just started laying last week, and their eggs are the same size as those from the mature bantams, only brown. They will start laying larger eggs in a few months, but right now we have the novelty of feeling like giants eating 3-5 eggs in the morning with our toast. We also have the 3 rabbits, but I am leaning towards shipping them off. They may be soft, but they sure are not doing anything to pay for all the feed they eat. We have contact with a girl that raises meat rabbits, so maybe we will give away some that we have in favor of some that can “make meat”.

Our freezer is slowly filling with harvested produce and berries. When apple season comes around we will look for windfall apples for making applesauce and cider, and stock up on vegetables that can be stored. We have been drying chilies, chamomile, hibiscus, hops, mustard seeds, coriander, and oregano. Our perennial bunching onions have grown in nicely, so they may be next. The bulb onions are all pulled out and hanging in braids in the carport, thanks to Ariana. She already knew how to braid them! We have noticed that we are missing garlic, so we will be putting that in this fall for next year, along with lots more onions.

I could keep rambling on and on about the garden, and plans for the homestead… but I won’t. We will be pretty busy the next several weeks with family arriving back, and visiting, as well as some serious camping. Things won’t settle down again until near October, which is feeling too soon at the moment.

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5 thoughts on “Mid summer update”

  1. Nice update.
    Our tomatoes just started redding-up, and they are great. I have some chili brining right now. Those eggs sound great!
    I need to do my “last days of summer break” update. Feeling guilty about not blogging…

  2. Wow! Congrats on the harvest. Even though, you’re not satisfied with your yield, that is quite a lot of veggies and herbs. We would be happy with a fraction of that. The first year seems to be tough that way. So many things we hoped would grow, just didn’t like beets, kale, and chives. Oh well, we’ll keep on planting. Your garden sounds wonderful.

  3. I know our expectations are a little high. The ultimate goal is to produce *all* our own food, so this was a good first step, and we are pretty excited by what did grow. It is a little hurried here with our 150 day growing season (if we are lucky).

    I still intend to get some cold loving crops in like lettuce and spinach, but so far have not gotten to it.

    Keep at it Jeff!

  4. I’m actually more optimistic about our winter garden. We didn’t have spring weather here until June, then it was scorching-hot. Two days ago it was over 100′ and yesterday it poured rain all day and was chilly– the first since June. Such a weird growing season. At least the fall is fairly predictable. We have tons of brassicas planted and will be putting in a lot of onions and garlic. I know what you mean about wanting MORE. Were trying to fill in half of our yard with food, but it’s slow going. Also, between the cost of seeds/ starts and the HIGH cost of water here, I don’t feel like I’m saving much money. We’ll keep learning as we go. I’d like to put in a grey water system, but that’s a little ambitious for us right now. It’s fun to track with you guys as you grow!

  5. Ariana and Jeff, have a look at this: rain harvester

    We are considering this for the future, but with your more frequent rain, it might really be a boon for your garden plans.

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