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!

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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.

Garden 2018 is planted.

Phew! We finally got the last three double-dug French-Intensive beds finished and planted tonight. We had a bit of a hiccup a few weeks back, when we hit the part of the garden that used to be a driveway.  The soil in that bed was extremely rocky and we had to sift the soil to get all the rocks out. Once that was done things moved a bit faster. I also got the other gardens planted in the meantime. Here are some photos:

garden
Here is a shot of the garden with all the separate beds.
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Here is another pic, the northern side of the main garden.
garden 2
A closer view. You can see the older “raised beds” are not so raised anymore, since we’ve had a bit of rain. Our clay soil doesn’t stay as fluffy as it could. It should still be better than if we were walking on it though – we won’t be since that is the whole point of this system.
greens
The greens bed. Kale, chard, and spinach. They are all growing well.
peas
Here are the peas. They are starting to try to find something to climb, so we put these strings and supports in for them yesterday.
tomatos squash
Here is the tomato bed (not part of the main garden) – I took this area back from the chickens. There are tomatoes and squash in here, and so far they are doing well.
herb garden
Here is the herb garden. It’s doing well also, but it’s hard to tell yet in this picture.
comfrey
Here is my comfrey. I fenced in the area next to the house that this is in, and now the chickens can’t get in there to eat it all.
moth 1
I found a visitor in the garden today, this Sphinx Moth. Possibly a Big Poplar Sphinx Moth or a Modest Sphinx Moth, according to a couple of websites I researched on.
moth 2
Here you can see the purple under its wings. It’s hard to tell scale on my arm here, but it had about a 3-4 inch wingspan while sitting here. They are really large.
moth 3
He was going a little crazy so I put him down on this chair, and after a few minutes he flew off. What a cool visitor.

 

Garden Progress late May

We are progressing on our garden plans for this year.  We’ve had some really warm days, and the nights are starting to warm up now, so planting for some things has started, and other things will be put in the ground soon. We are almost done with our raised bed garden that we’ve been working on, and we are getting the other beds ready as well. Here are some pictures of the goings-on for late May on our farm:

buddy outside
We moved the rabbits outside for the summer. Here is Buddy, our buck. Our does are due next week with babies.
chickens sneaking in
I am working on fencing the side of the house where the hollyhocks and comfrey are – here the chickens have snuck in since I haven’t finished the fence yet. Silly chickens.
herb garden
The herb garden (the back of the house garden) is almost ready, we just need to fence it and fix the pathways, since the chickens have messed those up. The fence will keep the chickens out. They think it’s their dust bath.
work in progress
The main garden is over halfway done with the raised bed system that we’re putting in – here you can see a hole in progress. We’ve come to the hardest part of this garden, the part that we most recently re-claimed from the yard, so it’s super rocky.
last year carrots
Here are some carrots from last year that were hiding in the garden. I found them as we were digging. You can see here why I needed to do a double-dug system. Our clay soil can be so dense that roots don’t go very deep. They should be able to get larger this year.
lemon balm
My lemon balm is doing fantastic. (next to potato bags).
garlic
Here is my garlic.
onions
The onions are coming up nicely.
peas
The peas are doing very well also. I am working on a trellis system to put over them so they have something to climb.
potatos
Here are some potatoes growing in the bags. So far this is working ok, but I think I will be trying buckets next year. The bags don’t stay as open as I’d like them to. 
seedlings 2
Here are some of my seedlings under my grow lights. I have tomatoes and squash, herbs and melons all started. I will be hardening them off here shortly.
tomato garden
Here is the tomato garden. I am taking back a section of chicken run that they really don’t use much, and I’ve dug individual holes for each tomato plant. I’m planning on putting pumpkins in this area too, so I can train them over the fence. I’m digging deep holes that will essentially be tiny raised beds for each plant. They’ll get compost next, and then filled in with loosened soil before I plant the tomatoes and things.
tree leaves
Our trees are really leafing out now. There are a few things that are just budding, but these maples are in full leaf.
the yard is green
Our yard is nicely green.

The garden is coming along nicely. I’m really glad that we’ve had such a nice spring so far.

Early 2018 Garden

At my last post, we had gotten a whole bunch more snow in mid-April. Within 2 weeks of that, the snow was pretty much all gone. Now we’re well into spring, and I’ve been busy digging, and planting, this year’s garden.  I started seeds inside for tomatoes, some herbs, and flowers at the end of April, and have started potatoes, onions and peas already in the garden.

I came across a book in our house (one of my mom’s, probably) called Backyard Bonanza, a little pamphlet book from the 70s; it’s about the French Intensive, double-dug raised bed method. It’s essentially doing double-dug raised beds, without using lumber to surround the bed – you have beds that are permanent, and double dug, where you don’t ever step on them again, surrounded by permanent pathways. The compaction on the pathways will eventually keep weeds down on them, and the double-dug method gives your plants enough room to put their roots really deep, so you can plant a lot more vegetables in less space. I’d read about double dug beds before and thought “that’s too much work,” but I decided to try it for my main garden this year after reading this book. It’s really not too bad, since I have time – I won’t be planting most things in there until June, so I’m doing a bed a day every couple days, to let my back recover between, and not work too hard.  Here are some pictures of the garden and the farm this spring:

yard meltage
Our snow about a week after that big storm (so roughly 4/21 or so).
snow melting chickens
The chickens playing in the bit of yard that was exposed that first week
garden 1
Here is the garden about 2-3 weeks after that last snow storm. I’ve sectioned it off here for the raised bed system.
yard melt
Another pic of the yard/meltage. It’s now getting more green now than shown in this photo.
sections
Here is a section all done. I have 1-foot paths between everything, and 1.5-2 ft. paths around the edges inside the garden fence. My garden is inside my dog fence, and my dogs like to pee on the fence. The large border (plus tall grass that grows at the fence) will keep their pee off our plants.
garden digging
Here is part of the garden. The bags are potatoes – I am trying that method again this year (using feed bags) but this year I cut those shorter instead of rolling the bags. I’ll only fill them over the potato plants once or twice. The farthest corner here with straw has my garlic that I planted in the fall. I have about 30 or so garlic plants coming up now.
digging
Here I am digging the pea bed. The onions are behind me here (toward the garage).
double dug
Here is one bed dug and one almost done. I dug a shovel-depth down (roughly a foot) and then the next shovel layer is all forked nice and loose, and I added some compost to this layer and tilled that in with the fork. I then added the dug-out dirt back in, and made sure it was all nice and crumbly. The paths get buried by dirt, which blocks the weeds for the time-being.
in progress
Here I am digging with the fork again. The paths will all be mulched with straw when I’m done so we know where to step before things are growing well.
pulling out rocks
Pulling rocks and weed roots out. We have lots of rocks, and many dandelion roots.
ready for filling
Here you can see how clay-orange my soil is. I try to add a lot of composted chicken and rabbit manure to amend it.
clay soil
The big green bin is the weed bin – I fill it and then toss it in the woods or give the weeds to the ducks and chickens.

This garden will have 11 of these raised beds this year (it would be 12 but the garlic was already in for the year – I’ll re-do that one in the fall after I harvest the garlic).  So far I’ve dug 3 beds, and planted two of them. I have 8 more to go, but most of those will be plants that will go into the garden in June.  I also will have the herb garden and tomatoes in the back in other plots. I’m stealing some area back from the chickens for my tomatoes and squash this year, since they usually have the whole yard to roam in, minus the dog run. I’m excited for this year’s garden.

Early Fall Gardening

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:

086
Some of our many tomatoes
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Some very tiny cherry tomatoes. These are very tasty, and super prolific. I even had some sprout from last year’s lost broken tomatoes (I call them rogue tomato plants).
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Some of our purple tomatoes. I thought these were Black Krim, but as I had others ripen I think these darker ones are actually blue beauty. I remembered Black Krim having a lot of green and these don’t.
091
The largest pumpkin I’ve grown, shown between my feet. These were supposed to be pie pumpkins. This is more jack-o-lantern size.
092
Another view of the pumpkin.
082
A nice sunny sunflower. This grew in my yard (not in the actual garden bed) , in an area that didn’t get mowed this year. The chickens didn’t eat it before it had a chance to grow either, so that was lucky.  I think the deer have stayed clear of my yard with all the dog and chicken activity.
085
The ducks enjoying a nice day in the back yard.
094
Here is our garden at the end of September.
097
Another view of the garden, from the porch.
001
Another large pumpkin. This one was hanging from our fence but I picked it so it could finish ripening on the porch. I like how the leaves look still attached here.
002
Downey checking out the porch. There are other pumpkins behind him.
008
A bumblebee on a sunflower.
012
A view from inside the garden in early October.
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We finally are getting some cauliflower heads! I had given up, but then a few days ago I saw a white head. I tied the leaves up on the plant, like you’re supposed to. A day later I found another of my plants has a head, so I did the same thing. This is my first year growing it.
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A pretty sunflower.
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Here are the rest of the tomatoes. We are supposed to get down into the 30s tonight, so I got spooked and figured I’d rather bring the large ones in. It was a little dark when I picked them, so there may be others out there. These will ripen on the table. There are still a ton of cherry tomatoes outside.
bee
Another Bee on a bright red sunflower.
butterfly 2
A butterfly on our zinnias. There has been a lot of bee and butterfly activity on all the flowers lately – I think some are getting ready to migrate somewhere, or store up food for winter.

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.

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.

Mid season harvest

Today I harvested my onions.  The onion bed got away from me for a bit, so they were entrenched in a jungle of weeds.  I went to weed tonight and realized that most of them were probably not going to grow much bigger – they didnt have much of a chance this year. I planted them and then the chickens thought the onion bed was a fantastic place to dust bathe, so I put up a makeshift fence, and then the weeds tried to take over a couple times, and then the chickens found a way in again, and I just decided better to harvest now and actually get some onions.  I’ll find them a better spot next year. This is actually the first onion harvest I’ve had – I tried growing from seed last year and they didn’t really take. This year I planted sets.  Here are my onions:

onions
My onions – I got about 12-15 of them, of varying sizes.

I am growing potatoes in chicken food bags this year. I planted 9 bags with seed potatoes, but I noticed some of the bags had fallen over.  One looked really bad, the leaves on the plant were a bit yellow, so I checked to see if they were ready:

potatoes
Here are the potato bags. The remaining 8 bags are doing great.
tiny potatos
Here is the harvest from one bag (3 seed potatoes originally) – this is a very small plate.
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Here is the largest of the harvested potatoes in my hand.

As you can see, they have some way to go before we should harvest any more.  I also have potatoes growing in the strawberry patch – I had planted some there last year and I guess we did not harvest all of them.  (Another reason I’m growing them in bags).  I may try tubs next year, it would make it easier to add more dirt as the plants grow.  The bags were a little hard to fold up higher, and if they get moved the opening can get too small to let rain in, which is what I think happened to the one bag before it fell over.

I also harvested a bunch of greens today – mustard spinach, which was a seed packet I bought for this year – it has a really mild mustard flavor; and some kale and chard.  I only have a few plants of each, but I harvest the outer leaves as they are ready, and the plant keeps producing all summer. It still gives us a lot of greens.

I also found my first bloomed sunflower of the season (growing in the onion patch, of all places – a re-seed from last year’s flowers).:

sunflower
My first bloomed sunflower of 2017. I had to take the picture from right next to the house so I could get the actual bloom – it was facing the house because the sun was over that way. The plant is about 3 feet from the wall.

We usually have a nice hollyhock patch growing next to our shed – this year I’ve let the chickens and ducks wander the yard, first because their fenced run was too wet, and then we continued because they didn’t destroy the yard like we were worried they would – we only let them when we’re home because they like to wander near the road – we need to be home to shoo them back.  Anyway, they’ve messed up the hollyhocks a little.  A few of the plants grew well before the chickens could get to them, but any that were low enough for them to munch on got munched. So we have about half of what we normally would.  Next year I’m going to put up some kind of barrier.  Here is the first bloomed hollyhock for this year:

hollyhock
Here is our first hollyhock of the year.

The garden is in full swing, and we’re starting to really see the results.

Zinnias and Garlic!

I harvested some wonderful garlic tonight.  Here are some pics of the harvest, and of the plethora of flowers in my garden.

garlic
Here is the garlic – it’s a little dirty still but it looks wonderful. I harvested 24 really nice bulbs.
garlic 2
This is the second time I’ve grown garlic – last time I just bought organic garlic at the grocery store. This time I ordered actual garlic bulbs. It made a big difference.
calendula
Some Calendula and nasturtiums. The flowers I planted in the garden really look nice this year.
melons
I’ve de-purslaned the melon area – there is still some growing in between the tomatoes, and I’m sure I haven’t seen the last of it here, but it looks a lot better.
sunflower top
Here is a sunflower head. This was just under my head level, so I’m sure it will get a lot taller before this flower finishes forming.
herbs and stuff
Some herbs and cauliflower.
marigold
Marigolds! I love these, but I’m really starting to enjoy my zinnias…
zinnias
More zinnias. I planted a big mix and they are really delivering this year. They are all different.
zinnia
Here is a close up of one.
zinnia 3
Another zinnia.
zinnia 2
A really nice yellow one.
flowrs and greens
Here is a nice shot of some of the greens and flowers on one side of the garden. I’m really happy with the flowers this year.
greens and flowers
Another shot showing more flowers.

My Garden is growing quickly!

I’ve noticed a lot of explosive growth of many things in the garden this last week. My tomatoes seem to have doubled in size – I have tomato cages around them but I need to tie up some of the branches.  I have a bunch of cool flowers starting to bloom. I planted a mix of different kinds of zinnias all over, and some calendula and cosmos – they are starting to bloom.  I love the different colors mixed in with the huge amount of lush green in the garden.  My carrots and beets are sprouting now.  And my weeds are getting large – this week my chores will include getting rid of a lot of them in the spaces I haven’t weeded yet. I have a ton of purslane still, even after picking some and making pickles.  I bough some ranch dressing and some cucumbers and tomatoes (since my plants aren’t producing yet) and am planning on some purslane salads this week.  It’s actually pretty good – we had it on tacos instead of lettuce the other day, and that was quite delicious.  Some updated pictures of my growing garden are below.  Enjoy!

escaping nasturtium
Right next to the entrance to my garden I planted a nasturtium. It is now escaping the fence. It’s about 2-3 feet away from the fence.
nasturtium flowers
This one has bright red/orange flowers.
nasturtium on the run
Here is the same plant. It has tendrils going out in all directions – here it is crossing the pathway.
zinnia
Here is one of the zinnias I planted. There are some reds and mixed colors too. I’m excited to see them all.
pumpkin plant
Here is one of my pumpkin plants – it too is escaping and climbing the fence. I planted it near the fence for that reason – it can climb the fence and save me space in the garden a little.
cosmo
Here is one of the cosmos I planted. I haven’t grown these in years.
calendula
A calendula.
cantaloupe
Here (in the middle of the bag, with some yellow flowers) is one of my cantaloupe plants. They seem to be doing better than my watermelon. They are surrounded by our new vegetable/weed purslane. There is another nasturium behind it.
mass of tomatos
My mess of tomato plants. I have both determinate and indeterminate varieties – the indeterminate are already branching a bunch, so I need to get in there and start tying stuff up.
tomatoes and greens
The greens area. Chard, spinach and kale. These are all getting large now too.
back of the garden
A view of the back of the garden. The sunflowers are getting bigger. I have a bunch along the back (north side) of the garden.
garden getting big
A view down the middle pathway. I like to take pictures from here to see the change through the summer.