It is now mid-October and our weather is taking a turn for the worse. We’ve had a month or so of way too much rain, with a few days of nice temperatures and sun thrown in, until this past weekend – I had ice on my car window yesterday morning. I knew this was coming so we pretty much pulled everything in that remained outside. I experimented a bit this year, I grew some sunchokes and some crosnes – those grew but never flowered. The deer ate most of the sunchoke plants the other day. I am leaving them where they are to see if they will come up again in the spring. I grew peanuts and ginger. Our ginger did really well in the early part of the season, with our hot weather, but then we got lots of rain in the later part of the summer and the temperatures really weren’t warm enough – I have two plants and I have pulled them both in the house to keep growing, under grow lights. My peanuts, however, did really well, despite the rainy later summer/fall. Below you will see some highlights of this year’s garden:
I still have a few things in the ground that may be ok till the ground freezes – kale, brocolli, and some brussel sprouts. I planted my garlic and some shallots last week and covered them with some straw. All in all, I feel 2019 was a pretty good gardening year. I do wish the rain would spread itself out over the whole season instead of walloping us either early or late – this year we got nothing in the spring and way too much in the later part of the season. I am already thinking of what to plan for next year’s garden.
I planted garlic this past weekend. You plant garlic in the fall and get a mid to late-summer harvest. It was recommended to have the garlic in the ground 2-4 weeks before the ground freezes. It’s hard to predict actual ground-freezing date, but this is probably a good time. I planted last year on October 11, this year it was October 7th, so we are close. This fall has been really cold as well so I’m thinking we may get freezing earlier than we’ve seen the last couple of years. I planted four varieties – two porcelain garlics (Music and German White), an artichoke variety and a purple stripe variety. The pictures below will show you my planting process:
If you want to check out Filaree Farm’s site, you can find them at http://www.filareefarm.com – I’m sure other places have good garlic too, but I’ve been really happy with this company. They sell heirloom organic garlic, shallots, asparagus, and other things. They have lots of different varieties of garlic and a lot of useful information on how to grow them.
I planted the 11 cloves I got of the porcelain, 14 of the artichoke, and 8 purple stripe – so hopefully next year we will have 33 heads of garlic. I love garlic and cook with it all the time – I’m excited to see how these grow!
Summer is over, and fall is in full swing. The garden is now pretty much done for the year. I picked the last of the Kale and Chard yesterday, or at least I think this is it. I may go pick some more broccolini if it produces, but I’m at the point I get to every year where I’m pretty tired of the garden. Picking and processing things have taken their toll, and I’m now ready to just stay warm inside and not deal with a garden. I know that in a couple months I’ll be tired of winter, and again be perusing seed catalogs and getting excited for spring. This happens to me each year, I have found.
This was a weird year for gardening – most things grew ok, but there are a few things that didn’t. In the early season this year, we lucked out over last year in terms of rain – my seeds all lived and everything seemed to take ok. But this fall has been really wet and cold. We got so much rain that a lot of my tomatoes got blossom end rot – probably half of what I planted was lost, and even some of the rogue tomatoes. Thankfully I had a lot of rogue cherry tomato plants – those made up for the loss of other tomatoes. I did get a few really nice beefsteak tomatoes from the planned-plantings, but those were all ripened in the house.
My kale and chard did good; I grew broccolini this year – I had shied away from any kind of broccolli because I tend to have a lot of problem with cabbage worms. I haven’t had much luck with brassicas except for Kale. I remember my mom telling me once that broccoli wasn’t worth growing because of all the bugs in the heads. This year I tried broccolini because of the tiny heads. I am very glad I did. I grew about 5 plants, and it’s been a nice cut-and-come-again patch for us. You start the plants, and then cut off the first head that grows (which would be the main head), and then the plant will grow tons of tiny heads – those are the brocollini that you pick. I did have a lot of cabbage moths – I found worms on my kale this year which usually seem to be immune to them, but this year the worms were really bad. I think the tiny heads of the broccolini make them easier to pick the worms off. It was a bit time consuming for cleaning, but not bad. And the crops weren’t decimated, just a tiny bit munched on – surprising for how many moths were flying around. I’ve grown cabbage before and had the worms get it all before I even realized what was happening.
Some things did really well, and some things didn’t. We had too much lettuce – I will grow less next year. My tomatoes and pumpkins and squash were in the back garden, which ended up not getting as much sun as the plants needed. I think that and the rain contributed to the tomato problem, as well as the fact that my squash didn’t produce too well. We got a few patty-pans, some zucchini, and a yellow squash or two. But I had 6+ plants and we didn’t harvest nearly what should have come from that amount of plants; we should have been overrun but we weren’t. I did notice a couple of tiny zucchini rotting on the vine at the end (because of the rain, I think – I do think they had been pollinated). Next year those will all be moved back to sunnier areas of the garden.
My pumpkins didn’t do very well – I grew a tiny variety and got several, but some most of them were rotting by the time they were ripe enough to pick. I’ll probably grow a larger variety next year, in a sunnier spot. I missed having some for the freezer for this year. I had a couple pumpkins that rotted once we had picked them (they must have been on the way to doing that when they were picked) – I got one that actually is lasting:
We didn’t have a lot of luck with our vining plants except for cucumbers. I got tons and tons of cucumbers – we made lots of pickles. I gave tons of cucumbers away. And at the end the chickens got a lot of them, we got so tired of them – I grew a Spacemaster variety, and had 4 plants – next year I may grow two of them. Or one -we’ll see. I also grew an Iznik variety which is more of a salad cucumber, I believe – it didn’t have many seeds. I only got maybe 5 or 6 cucumbers from one plant.
My watermelon didn’t do very well – I grew a Yellow Doll variety and we got one melon; it was tasty but way too seedy – we won’t grow that one again. I grew some cantaloupe that didn’t get very big; I found that they need sandier soil than we have in that garden, so next year I’ll plant them in the behind-the-house strawberry bed/herb bed – it’s next to our foundation and has extremely sandy soil. I grew a tiny Tigger melon that got a few melons really late (I picked them last week when we had a freeze warning). They didn’t have a lot of flavor. Next year I probably will only grow one cantaloupe for melons and give up on the rest for now.
Our potatoes did fantastic – we got over 45 pounds of potatoes! I grew them in chicken and dog feed bags that were converted to grow sacks – I cut each bag in half, cut handles onto the sides, and then poked some holes in the bottom for drainage. I planted 2-3 potatoes in each bag, covered with some dirt (I used old composted chicken bedding from last year – it was nice and crumbly) and then once they had grown a bit I buried them to the top of the bag with dirt – then I just let them grow. I had 12-13 bags growing. I probably started with a few pounds of seed potatoes – I used smaller ones so I didn’t have to cut them. Our local feed store has seed potatoes in spring, so I was able to hand pick the individual seed potatoes I wanted. Next year I will weigh the seed potatoes so I know what I started with. We grew a red variety and Kennebec, a white variety. They are all very tasty.
If you read my other posts, you may have seen that we had a really nice garlic harvest. I’m going to be planting garlic today for next year’s harvest. I saved a couple of heads from our harvest that had really big cloves, and I also ordered some new varieties from Fillaree Garlic farm – I had been growing an artichoke and a purple striped kind, but the new ones are Porcelain garlic (I got Music and a German variety) – Porcelain garlic has 4-6 cloves per head! The heads I got are huge – almost like an elephant garlic but they are just normal garlic – I will be planting these today:
We also got a decent crop of carrots and beets, and beans and peas. I also grew edamame (soy beans) and those did fantastic – I will grow those again next year. I think the garden in general did really well, except for a few hiccups. I have already planned out next year’s garden layout – we’ll see if it holds up or if I change it in the middle of January when I start getting wistful for spring.
We’ve been harvesting tomatoes left and right. We’ve gotten a little bit of zucchini. It’s funny how you plan for the year and things just grow how they want, with no regard for your planning. Last year I was overrun with zucchini and yellow squash, so this year I grew one plant of each. They have not done well, so I’ve gotten 2 zucchini and it’s already October. With the amounts of rain we had this year (and it’s not done) the garden has been a little hit or miss for some things. Here are some newer pics of our garden:
The garden is starting to wind down a bit. We still have a lot of stuff to harvest, but most of it will be ok if we get frost. Carrots and beets are still getting larger, and I have some Kale to pick. We also have peas and beans, but I’m letting those dry on the vines. I’m hoping I get enough peas to make a little bit of pea soup. I usually don’t let them go that long (they are so yummy picked earlier) but I want to give it a try.
It was a bit chilly today, but the sun was out. We have had colder temperatures lately, and the garden is mostly done. We had a couple of watermelons that just were not growing anymore. My son asked if he could pick them today, so I said yes. I figured they weren’t ripe, but when we cut into the largest one (the one we’d set up a sling for, from previous posts), it actually had some pink to it. And it was surprisingly sweet tasting. So this was our first ever successful watermelon:
For some reason (maybe the sunshine), I got the bright idea to let the chickens and ducks out of their run today. We have had so much rain, and it rains so often, that we just haven’t gotten a chance to mow our lawn in the last couple weeks. So I thought, since they’ll eat grass, and they’re hanging around in a semi-wet / muddy run, maybe they’d like to hang out in the yard for the day. It wasn’t that unwise, I suppose. It was just a cluster trying to get them back in. They wanted to hang out in the woods, and they found the sand pile for some much-needed dust baths, and didn’t want to give that up so easily. They didn’t really do much “mowing” for us, but they enjoyed themselves. We got some good pictures:
We also moved the adult rabbits to their winter home, inside our entrance shed/mud room. We got some new cages, and my husband has been putting them together and setting them up for us. Last winter was really hard with our old setup, so we wanted to make it easier this year. Here are photos:
The cages are pretty nice, we got them from KW Cages. They have a slide-out tray for easy cleanup, which should make it really nice. The rabbits are getting settled in – they weren’t so sure at first but they seem to be relaxing more tonight. We have a gate to the shed, so we can keep the nosy dogs out (Especially Atat, who is almost as tall as the cages, and very curious). I think this will work well for winter. We’ll get them set up outside again in spring.
This year’s garden is starting to wind down. Our growing season is not typically very long. I’m hoping we’ll hold off on getting a frost for another month, but a lot of plants are done producing anyway. I pulled out our yellow squash, and picked most of the tomatoes. There are a few straggler tomatoes left on the vines. My son harvested about 8 ears of corn from his 10 or so plants. We still have a few things waiting to be picked, like beets, kale, chard, eggplants, and zucchini. Take a peek at our recent harvest:
I’m a little late with this post. This November has been a little strange, with warmer temps than normal… that is, until a few days ago. I took some pictures last week, before we got snow, when we were in the 50s temperature wise. The snow started a couple days ago. We only have about an inch on the ground right now. We’ve had some flurries here and there, and now our temperatures are in the 20s. Brrr… Here are some pictures of our pre-snow November.
I’ll get some new pics soon to show you what our snow looks like. I’ll also update on the baby bunnies – they have grown a lot in 2 weeks.
Fall is definitely here. We’ve had lower temps – 50s and 60s. We got a touch of frost – I saw some on the grass one morning. But I think my house is in a bit of a microclimate – in our town there was a hard frost at the end of September, where you had to scrape frost off your windows. We didn’t get that here – I’m only about 12 miles outside of town, but the way our property is situated we sometimes are spared from the frost. I was worried things would die, so when we got the hard-frost warnings, I harvested everything in the gardens that was anywhere near being ready. I didn’t worry about things that can deal with frost, like Kale. And then nothing happened, my plants that were left out there are all still doing fine. Here’s a photo tour of how things are looking lately.
I’m debating on whether to pick everything out, and cover it all with compost now, or wait and do that all in the spring. Either way, the soil will have a layer of plants between it and the snow; I’ve read that is better for any mycelium networks (which are very helpful for your plants) – if you leave bare soil any beneficial mycelium that may be there can die, and you are depleting your soil. That is why people plant cover crops – I don’t really want to do that because we really don’t have time. Last year, we got snow at the beginning of November. I don’t think a cover crop would have time to sprout and grow. So I may just use my already-there crops as “cover crops”; then in spring, I’ll pile on compost, and till it all in. (I’ll still have to pull big stems out, like the old corn and sunflowers).
Our trees are very colorful – they had just started changing last week and then suddenly everything’s orange, red, and yellow (with a touch of green).
Most of my plants in the garden are on their way out for the winter. Most of my sunflowers are spent, and have seeds that the chickadees have been enjoying. I found this one that is a late bloomer. It’s really tall but it fell over so it’s laying on the ground:
My marigolds are still going strong. They are so pretty, I love the orange color of these:
Our apple trees are doing well. The biggest problem is that most of the good looking apples are way up on the tree. I’m planning on picking a bunch more this weekend. I picked a few several weeks ago and made apple butter. I’m planning on making some more (since it’s delicious) and also drying some apples for snacks.
One thing I planted this year, just to try, was Amaranth. I found out you can cook the seeds up kind of like rice. I would like to try it but they are not ready yet. The “flowers” are supposed to drop their seeds – you can test it by running the flowers in your hands, and if the seeds drop into your hand they are ready to pick. Mine are not there yet. But they look like they are on their way:
I got my hens some “chicken aprons” – they can wear them and it’s supposed to protect their backs from the roosters’ shenanigans. I had the roosters separated but it’s getting colder, and I was worried that if the roosters are separate, they can’t actually do their job of protecting the hens. So they are all together now. Most of my barer backed ladies are now wearing these aprons:
I also thought the aprons would help keep the hens a little warmer this winter. Some of my hens still have completely bare backs, and I was worried about winter because with no feathers there, they would be too exposed to the cold. They work pretty well, I do have a few hens that these seem a bit too big for. I ordered some standard size aprons from someone on Amazon. They do have some smaller ones, I may have to get some of those. Mine are all “standard” breeds but some are on the smallish side. I have a barred rock hen that these didn’t fit – it’s like the middle bit of the apron is too wide to fit between her shoulders, so she just kept getting tangled up in it. I only tried it on her for an hour or two, and then I had to take it off.
My escape artist chicken decided to pose today for me, I got some really nice pictures of her:
She doesn’t have a name except “Escape artist” because if anyone gets out, it is usually her. And she gets out almost every other day. She must fly out, but then she can’t fly back in for some reason so I have to catch her and put her back in the run. She sleeps in the rafters of the coop now, and she’s actually gotten one of her friends (my Cornish hen) to sleep up there with her.
Thanks for checking out my Fall farm pics. I do like fall, but it always leads to winter, which I’m not really looking forward to.