Carrots, Sunflowers, and Purple Mashed Potatoes

We’ve been busy in the garden.  I am starting to get carrots now – I had planted seed tapes this spring, with tons of carrots. My double dug beds are supposed to allow you to cram things in, so I had seed tapes next to each other and carrot seeds spaced about 3 inches between (so I wouldn’t have to thin.)  Because of our lack of early summer rain, the seed tapes didn’t do so well. I got several carrots, but they are spaced way far between – I planted about 140 with the seed tapes and I think there are maybe 20 or so that have done anything – but they are HUGE.  I had a couple that were popping out of the ground, so I picked them – they were mostly dark purple and 11-12 inches long.  I had planted a mixed blend (old seeds I had on hand), plus these dark purple carrots called Black Nebula, and some yellow and orange carrots.

003
Some of our first carrots. The purple ones are Black Nebula (I got from Baker Creek Seeds) – they are purple all the way through. I grew a different purple kind last year but only the outside was purple – with an orange center. These are nice, they just taste like normal carrots. (I couldn’t tell a difference, anyway.)
004
Here you can see these purple ones have a lot of hairy little roots – those washed right off luckily.
015
I was making mashed potatoes and decided to see if one of the Black Nebula carrots could color them. I cut one carrot up and boiled it with the potatoes in a pot – the water turned all black, and when mashed, we got purple mashed potatoes!
016
I have a ton of sunflowers and was thinking it would be nice if I had some other colors besides yellow. I forgot I had planted a mixed seed bag – we had a couple of red ones open this weekend. Here is one (with the yellows).
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Here is another one – this one is more orange colored.
018
More yellow – these sunflowers are all about 7-8 feet, I am estimating.

The garden is doing well, but we are getting into fall and the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting some yucky weather later this month.  (They talked about a snow/rain mix at the end of September. Yuck. I hope they are wrong). Hopefully I’ll get all my vegetables to ripen before we have to worry about frost or snow.

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Tomatoes in August, and lots of squash

The garden is doing really well. We are getting ripe tomatoes in August! Typically it’s into September before we get any.  More exciting pictures below!

tomatos
Some of our tomatoes – I’ve been watching for them to start turning pink. Then I pull them in because I don’t want to tempt fate. I left a roma to ripen on the vine and it started getting blossom end rot. So I’ve been letting them start to turn and pulling them in.
big ripe tomato
Here is the big tomato in the previous picture, now ripe.  It ripened on our counter.
round squash
We have lots of squash – I saved seeds from an Heirloom pumpkin (I think some kind of hubbard squash) – I have two plants, and both of them seem to be growing different shapes of fruit. This one has things that look like this, rounded. The other one has big pumpkin shaped green and yellow squashes. We’ll see what we end up with. Either way, it’s very exciting.
pumpkin
I received pumpkins from a coworker in the fall and saved seeds – he had grown them locally. This is one of those pumpkins. The plant has two fruits that I can tell, and they both are oblong like this and currently zucchini colored.
butternut
Here is my butternut squash – this fruit grew from almost nothing in about a week’s time.
giant pumpkin
Here is the other heirloom squash. This one continues to grow. I am wondering if the color will change much when it ripens, or how it will change.
onions
We harvested onions today – I got 110 yellow, and 20 red. I had been taking them here and there for cooking as well, so we grew a little more than that.
calendula
Some of our calendula – these were two plants that have merged into one mass of flowers.
sunflowers
More sunflowers keep blooming.
sugar rush peach pepper
Here is one of my Sugar Rush Peach peppers – it’s not ripe yet – they are supposed to be an orange color.
bee
Here is a bee that was sunning itself on our porch.

The garden is really doing well – a lot of stuff is starting to wind down though. I can’t believe it’s already almost September.  But the season is still in full swing.

Farm updates early August

Everyone is very busy around here – the garden is giving us a lot of vegetables, and showing us a lot more to come. New pictures below:

bee balm
Here is some bee balm (bergamot) I didn’t know I had – I planted it last year but it didn’t actually show up / bloom till now. In the spring I had what I thought was Moldavian balm coming back, but then it bloomed into these. It is really pretty and the bees love it.
bee on the balm
Here is a bee enjoying the bee balm.
atat and downey
Our dogs, Downey at Atat (Atat is in front) playing outside. They miss Nova but they seem to be taking her loss ok.
goldendrod
Here is some goldenrod that is in my hollyhock bed / weed garden. The bees really like this as well.
hollyhock
We have hollyhocks again! The chickens had decimated them, and so last year I fenced the bed and planted some new hollyhocks – only a couple plants lived till this year, and now one is blooming.  (The fence got knocked down a bit by snow falling from our roof, so it’s a little bent in- hence the hollyhock is actually growing through the top of the fence.)
big tomoato
A monster tomato waiting to ripen. I noticed my cherry tomatoes are starting to turn, so hopefully we’ll have some ripe ones soon.
cantaloupe
Here is a cantaloupe, I have found there are at least two growing. I grew this kind last year and I don’t think we even got one melon. I changed the location this year and they seem to like it.
chilis
Our first peppers are getting big – these are a “Sugar Rush Peach Hot pepper.” They should be orange, sweet and hot.
pumpkin
Here is one of the pumpkins we have growing.
rooster
A couple of our young roosters. The one in the center – I really like his coloring so I think this is probably the one we’ll keep (along with Bertram). We have many contenders this year for “2nd rooster.” We are waiting to see how annoying they get with their crowing, and if any get really aggressive. Mean and annoying roosters don’t stick around long.
rooster band
And here are a lot of the roosters. Most of (if not all of) the chickens in this picture are boys. The gray one on the left might not be, and the buff one on the left with her head down is most likely a hen. We had a white rooster also but he was crowing incessantly and he was not on the “keep” shortlist, so we took him out last week. We now have 28 chickens. 7 or 8 boys, we think, besides Bertram. We might list some of these guys on Craigslist, but it is hard to get rid of roosters.
short corn
Here is some of my corn. This is an “Art Verelli’s” variety.  I had read that the stalks don’t get very tall, and these are about 4 feet tall – so very short for corn. They already are forming ears. My other variety is a regular sweet corn variety and that one is still just getting tall, with no ears yet.
squash
Here is one of my grocery store pumpkins (I think a Hubbard squash, actually). They were supposed to be heirloom squash so I saved seeds, and here we are.
summer squash
Our summer squash are starting to be prolific. You can see our light zucchini, the yellow squash, and our patty pan squash here. I also have one plant that produces dark green zucchini.
watermelon
Our watermelon is doing good – I need to make some kind of sling for this one – I’m worried the weight will break the stem eventually.
sunflower
Here is a bloom from our second sunflower to bloom – I have many blooms on our first one, but this is the 2nd plant to give us a show.
garden
A picture of the right side of our garden. The weeds have caught up with me a bit, but my plants are not being overrun, so I’m just not worrying about it unless they are. (There is carpeting in the path, that was an old rug we cut up in an effort to keep weeds out of the main path).
garden 2
A better pic of my main garden as of yesterday.

Poultry in Summertime

Our chickens and ducks have been enjoying this summer. We let them free range when we are home, and they love to wander around our yard, looking for yummy things to eat. We currently have 4 ducks and 29 chickens (14 adults, 15 chicks/almost adults). Here are some updated pictures of the flock:

older ducks
Here are our older lady ducks. These two and the new ducks still hang out in two pairs, mostly. We can tell them apart because these ladies have dark-stained bills, the newbies have orange bills.
newbie ducks
Here are the new ducks, they were running away when I tried to take their picture. Another way to tell the pairs apart is that the male (in back, here) quacks softly, all the time. So you always know where he is in the yard.
Esky
Here is Esky (short for Escape Artist). She is one of our oldest hens, and the only one who lays white eggs.
esky daughter
Here is Esky’s daughter – she has the same comb as her mom, and was born the next year (so is about 3 years old)
brahmas
Here are our two Buff Brahmas, they were enjoying a dust bath. They along with Esky make up our 4 year old hens.
bertram
Here is our older (2 years old?) rooster Bertram, patrolling the yard.
food
Here are a bunch of chickens coming for treats. The black hen at the front is an older lady, and most of the rest are chicks from this year. You can see some of the coloring now – some of the chicks have really amazing feather patterns.
orloff son
I believe this is a young rooster, and he looks like a young Bertram.
chicks
Here are more chicks – they are all different – some light, some bright orange, some black and gray. We have a lot of muff-necked chickens now.
red and brown
Here is one of the really cool looking ones – orange and black with a muff neck.
white roo
Here is one of our young roosters. If you look back at our chick pics, this one was the one with little cat-eye eyeliner. He likes to come out of the coop each morning and crow before Bertram does. Bertram doesn’t seem to mind just yet.
buff hen
Here is a Buff-Orpington looking hen (she seems docile like a hen, anyway) as well as the back of our older Brahma’s head.

 

The Garden is Growing!

We started off this summer a little dry, but we’ve been getting more rain now, along with hot, humid weather. The garden is very happy about this – my plants are growing like crazy. Here are some photos of the garden from this weekend:

yellow sky
The sunset from a couple of nights ago. We looked out and the sky was yellow, so we had to take pictures.
garden 1
Here is the left side of the main garden. (Taken from my porch, where I usually look out at the garden).
garden 2
Here is the right side of the main garden.
ground cherry
I’m growing ground cherries this year for the first time. The plants are doing well, so I’m hoping they will fruit for me. I have never tasted them, but I’ve heard they are good.
peanuts
Here are my peanut plants. They are now getting flowers. At some point they are supposed to get a stem of some kind that pokes into the ground and that is where the peanuts grow. These seem to be growing well so far.
first fruit
My first tomato! This is one of my larger types, so this is not ready to ripen yet, but hopefully I’ll will see a few ripe ones before September. I usually have to pick them to ripen in the house.
english cucumber
Our first English Cucumber. I am growing these and an Iznik variety. I grew Iznik last year, they were good but not very prolific. I haven’t grown English cucumbers before.
squash
Here you can see my jungle of summer squash plants. I planted the rest of my variety seed packet from last year, so the types I get would be a surprise.
patty pan
They are all fruiting now, so I know I have a couple of Patty Pan squashes like this one here, a few yellow squash plants, a light green zucchini and a dark green zucchini. I put in 9 plants but I think only 7 survived. They are blending together now so it’s hard to tell.
watermelon
Here are my watermelons. I put these and the cantaloupes in a really sunny, sandy-soiled spot. They do seem to be growing really well. I read that they prefer sandy soil so I’m trying that this year. (My foot for scale) I have two plants here and am trying to train them to grow away from each other.
ginger2
Here is one of my ginger plants. They are growing in bags in the garden and are doing pretty good so far, especially now that it’s hot.
ginger1
My other ginger. I started with 4 rhizomes but two died when I was trying to sprout them.
cantaloupe
My cantaloupe plants. These seem to be happy as well. I have three plants here.
chickpeas and rogues
My chickpeas seem to be growing well. I have rogue tomatoes growing among them – I may leave them since the rogues are these really good cherry tomatoes that keep coming back each year.
cabbages
My cabbages. They have gotten a little cabbage-worm damage but I made an insecticidal soap/garlic oil/citrus concoction, and I’ve been spraying all my brassicas with that. So far it seems to be working, but I have to respray each time it rains. There is damage but they are not destroying the plants. I consider that a win.
atat and hubbard squash
Here is my Atat, outside of my garden fence. To the right you can see my Hubbard squash / heirloom pumpkin now growing outside of the fence. (I’m not sure exactly what it is, it was an Heirloom pumpkin from the grocery store).
sunflower prebloom
My first sunflower bloom – this is the flower I posted the pic of last week. It has grown so the flower is almost eye level with me (I’m 5’6″). And it’s about to open.

The Farm in early July

This summer’s garden is going well.  We have had a weirdly dry year, compared to the last few. I have had to water things to make sure my seeds sprout. (I’ve had seeds drown and wash away in previous years). Everything seems to be growing pretty well though.  The chickens and ducks are doing well too, and seem to be happy with the summer weather. Here is a photo tour of our little farm:

roses
The roses are blooming. My parents planted these many years ago.
roses 2
Here is a better view of the roses.
peonies
Peonies. These smell really nice.
columbine
Here is the columbine I found in the roadside ditch last year and transplanted to my front flower bed. It grew back this summer and bloomed, so it must like its new spot.
bleeding hearts
Bleeding hearts (this photo is catching the end of the bloom for this year).
hens
Some of my older hens hanging out near the shady side of the house.
chicks
Here are the chicks – they are doing well although we lost another one about a week after my last post. (I was on vacation, my husband said that he counted at night and one was missing, with no trace). We have luckily not lost any more since then. So we now have 15 chicks (29 total chickens). They are almost full sized so hopefully that will deter whatever took the two we lost. They free range in our yard, so they were behind the chicken coop here.
bright chick
This is one of the chicks. Possibly a hen, we are just starting to figure out who is what. We have at least three young roosters, based on them crowing. We’ll have to decide what to do with them later this year.
comfrey
My Comfrey is doing well. I put in 3 plants a few years ago and they keep coming back and spreading a bit. They are pretty and the bees like them.
strawberries
Some of our strawberry harvest! My patch did really well this year, I got at least 6 cups of strawberries.
potatoes and squash
Here is a side view of my back garden – the potatoes are on the left, summer squash on the right in the middle of this picture. Strawberry patch is behind the summer squash.
cauliflower and brussels
My cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, and lettuce on the right.
butternut
Butternut squash plants. I put in a fence trellis for them to climb – the trellis is resting on the main outside fence of the garden, with enough room for us to go in and grab fruit if it ends up hanging under the trellis.
garlic
The garlic are doing really well. I harvested some scapes the other day.
corn
Here are some of our corn. I have two patches, two different kinds – these are a Golden Bantam variety.
peanuts
Peanuts! These are growing well, as far as I can see. Our summer has become hot and humid lately, and they seem to like that.
onions
My onions. These are doing nice.
main garden
Here is a picture of the right side of the main garden – the other corn patch is in the background. Then coming forward there are peanuts, peppers/green onions, and cucumbers/shallots.
tomato fencing
Here you can see my tomato trellises. I set it up right this year (instead of using sticks like last year). I just used welded wire fence sections, and pounded some stakes in and attached the fence with wire. I tied the tomatoes up after I took this pic – most of my tomatoes are determinate varieties but they still get pretty big, and droopy when the fruit comes in. Some are indeterminate though. They are starting to get flowers now. I can’t wait for tomatoes!
grape vine
A grape vine my uncle gave me last year. I had it in a pot until late fall and I realized “oh, I’d better get that in the ground before it snows.” – I put it in not knowing if it would come back, but it did. It’s in a good spot too, right at the fence at the northern side of the main garden, so it can grow there and not be in the way.
sunflower
Here is my tallest sunflower so far – it’s about 3.5 feet tall currently. I have 14 or 15 sunflowers coming up that I’ve found so far.  I planted several seeds, but I have some rogues coming up as well.

Late Summer Photos

There has been a lot going on this August, and the garden is still growing well.  We have tomatoes but none are ripe yet. We have had an overabundance of cucumbers and starting to have a ton of summer squash. Here are some cool pictures of our farm from this past month:

onions
My onion crop! We got 103 yellow onions. I also planted some red onions late in the season, I am not sure if those will be ready this year or if we’ll have to wait till spring. This is my second time growing onions from sets, and the best harvest I’ve had. Last year the chickens kept dust bathing in the onion patch – this year the onions were not where the chickens could go.
garlic
I got a good garlic harvest too – I think there were a couple that didn’t grow though; I planted around 40 cloves from last year’s harvest, which grew into 36 bulbs, and these were mostly pretty large sized. I am saving a couple of bulbs for replanting, and also ordered some more garlic – a couple of Porcelain strains to try. Those have really large cloves – like 4-6 per bulb on average, so that will be exciting. I ordered my bulbs from Filaree farm. (filareefarm.com)
tomato and squash jungle
My tomato and squash jungle. I will be cutting the tomatoes back soon to let things ripen up. They don’t get a lot of sun in this spot except in the afternoon, so I think that is holding them back a bit – these were all early (60-65 day) strains, but they are just sitting green currently. Some large tomatoes though!
squash and tomato garden
Here is another view of the squash and tomato bed. You can tell the sunnier part of the garden (toward the cars) since the plants are a bit taller there.
tomatoes
Here you can see the big beefsteak tomatoes sitting on the plant, in the center of this photo.
back sunflowers
Sunflowers at the back of the house.
sunflower 1
Here is our tallest sunflower, I’m guessing this one is about 10 feet or so – it towers at least 4 feet over my head.
tall sunflower
A better view of the tallest sunflower plant. This is a rogue that grew in the middle of my garden. Sometimes those seem to grow better than the ones I actually planted. Although I have a few very tiny ones that grew from the birds dropping seed in my yard. Those are cute and about a foot tall.
sunflower and bee
A bee hanging out on a sunflower. We have a lot of native bees here – I used to want to get hives for honey, but I’ve been rethinking it the last year or so – I’ve been trying to do more to support the native bee species we have around here.
bees and flowers
Here are three sunflowers, each with a bee. The bees seem to really like to hang out on these. I think they get a “sunflower coma” – like a baby would get a “milk coma” if that makes sense – like their bellies are full and they are tired so they take naps on the flowers.
bees
Here are two bees napping on a coneflower. The bees are cute.

Late July Harvests

We’ve been really busy, and the garden has been growing! We picked all our peas and are going to replant to get a fall crop. We are starting to get beans, zucchini, and cucumbers. We’ve been picking lettuce, chard, kale, and herbs.  Here are some pictures of the late July garden…

zinnia
A pretty zinnia – the first one to bloom this year.
lettuce carrots beets
Here are my carrots & beets (on the left) and my lettuces on the right. I’ve realized that with this French Intensive method, I really didn’t need to grow this much lettuce. I’ll do one combined chard/kale/lettuce bed next year.
the garden
Here is the main garden – everything is growing nicely. Using the raised bed method has definitely kept things neater. The weeds are still a bit of a problem but there are spots where I don’t worry about them as much since they are on the pathways. I pick them out when I can and add mulch. The weeds in the actual veggie beds are really easy to remove since the soil is less compact.
sunflowers
Some of my sunflowers. The shorter one bloomed early but didn’t get any taller (it’s about 4 to 4.5 ft tall). I have one very tall one (not pictured here) that is about 7 feet tall now, and not blooming yet.
sunflower
Here is a bloomed sunflower in our back strawberry bed, with a visiting bumblebee. This is a rogue sunflower and I thought it would be lemon yellow, since last year’s plant in this spot (the rogue I thought had re-seeded this one) was lemon yellow. I tend to let sunflowers grow wherever they want to, even in the middle of my beans or the side of the strawberry bed.
cucumbers
Here are some of my cucumbers. These are starting to get quite prolific. I have 4 or 5 plants and they are growing really well.
zucchini
My first zucchini of the season. I am growing a “summer surprise mix” with several varieties – the shortest here are 4 inches (and skinny) and then I have this striped variety as well. There are also two yellow squash plants but they aren’t large enough to pick yet.
cucumber plants
Here is the cucumber bed. I scared a hiding toad the other day while picking cucumbers.
peas
We picked all the peas, and I shelled most of them. We got 4-5 cups of peas (after shelling), as well as a bunch of pea pods that I threw in some stir fry. Since I picked them all, we figured we’d grow some more since we should have time, and they should do well in the late season’s cooler weather.
tomatos and squash
Here is the zucchini/squash/tomato garden. The tomatoes are growing nicely and have flowers. I haven’t seen any actual tomatoes developing yet but they should appear soon. I ended up using sticks to stake my tomatoes, it’s working well so far. Our old tomato cages were all beat up, and I didn’t really like using them.
whatchya doin
The chickens came to investigate when I was taking pictures.
rogue nasturtium
A rogue nasturtium. These took over my garden last year, and re-seeded, so I have been trying to pull them out. I decided to leave a couple and I’m working on training them up the fence instead of into the vegetable patches. My son calls them his “edible flowers.” I do think they are pretty but they sprawl everywhere.

 

The garden is doing good – I can’t wait for tomatoes!

Late June Tour of the Farm

We’ve been busy, but most of the garden work is done – just weeding here and there and adding mulch. Here are some pictures from today:

itty bitty egg
We found this tiny egg the other day (here next to the normal sized egg). It didn’t have a yolk at all.
columbine 2
Here is a columbine flower – I found this plant growing in the ditch near my house! I dug it up and brought it home. It seems to be happy next to some bleeding hearts and hostas.
chickens
Our chickens enjoying the day.
peonies
The peonies are blooming. We have them fenced to keep chickens out and that is working as a nice trellis for them.
tomato patch
Here is the tomato/squash area. These are doing well.
herb garden
My back herb garden.
strawberries
Here is the strawberry bed. These are giving us a few berries this year. Last year the chickens almost killed them off so I moved the plants and fenced them in.
rogue sunflower
Here is a rogue sunflower.
sunflower
Another rogue sunflower – this one is in the middle of my main garden, and about 2 feet tall.
peas
My peas – almost 2 feet tall now.
sunflowers
More sunflowers – these were planted though. Between the potatoes and onions.
potato flowers
My potatoes are getting flowers now.
ducks
Here are the ducks enjoying the sunshine.
cucumber
A cucumber plant.
chard and kale
A sea of kale and chard. There are a few spinach next to them but they are bolting already so we’ve been eating the spinach.
carrots
A carrot sprout.
lettuce
Lettuce! (and my toes.) We are growing 3 kinds of lettuce. There is a darker kind here on the right – they are a little hard to see here.
bunnies
Baby bunnies with their mama. They are getting ready to go to their new home soon – they are going to be pets for my aunt’s dad. (There are still 3).

The garden is growing well. I am impatiently waiting for my veggies to be big enough to harvest.

Late Summer around the farm

We’ve been up to a lot this last month – it still just keeps raining way too much, so everything tends to be sopping wet.  Some veggies are finally starting to produce/ripen. I’m hoping the rains don’t hurt the harvest – I’m worried about tomatoes splitting. Oh, and we’ve also already had frost warnings – some areas near me actually had frost a week or so ago, but we lucked out at the house and didn’t get any frost.  Here are some pics from the last few weeks:

late august
The garden mid-August. You can see the soaked muddy ground here.
sopping wet garden
Another pic from mid august.
toad
We found a visitor in the garden. He was huge! I wish the picture had turned out less fuzzy.
chickens
Here are the chickens coming to see if we brought them any treats.
bubble
A bubble – my son got a bubble wand from a birthday party, and we took some photos.
potatoes
Here is about half of the potato harvest. We harvested the last 4 (out of 8 or 9) bags. We really didn’t get a lot – I will try a different method next year (and keep the plants away from the chickens) – the food bags didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. I think we planted more seed potatoes, weight-wise, than we harvested.
fuzzy raspberries
A fuzzy picture of our raspberries. I put them in a couple years back, and finally got a decent crop, BUT they don’t taste like raspberries. One berry had a hint of raspberry flavor. I’ve tried letting them ripen more but those just rotted, so it’s not that they’re not ripe enough. I’ll have to research this variety more. They are good, just not what I want them to taste like.
cherry tomatos
Our first ripened tomatoes of the season, on one of the cherry tomato plants.
early girl
Early Girl tomatoes – these are the next to ripen – this pic is from a few days ago but I noticed one is a little pink today.
black krim
Black Krim tomatoes. These will get red on the bottom when ripe. They keep this nice dark color on top.
blue beauty
Blue beauty tomatoes. They are more of a purple tomato when ripe.
zinnias
Some beautiful Zinnias.
more zinnias
Another Zinnia.
uestion mark
A question mark made from potatoes – my husband set these up, using this silly shaped one we got.
large pumpkin
A large pumpkin waiting to ripen. It’s supposed to be an 8″ pie pumpkin variety, but this one is a bit larger than that.
small pumpkin
Here is a smaller pumpkin.
train depot
We sold some hens today – our 3 year olds and a two-year old. We’re trying to bring our food bill down for the coming winter. Here the ladies are waiting for their ride this morning. We now have 22 chickens (20 hens and 2 roosters). And 3 ducks.
early sept sunflowers
I took this really nice picture tonight – The sunflowers have some really nice flame colors.

Thanks for checking out our late summer pictures. Hopefully this rain will let up a bit and we’ll have a nice fall harvest.