Thursday, August 13, 2009

Thursday's Livestock and Garden Report ~ Week 20

Glory Be and hallelujah! my garden is finally starting to produce something other than potatoes!

my very optimistic late planting of summer squash is flowering! and look: there's even a baby squash gestating. we're doing a little happy dance up and down the garden rows!

the onion sets from Gurney's are done growing, and this week G and the little girls helped me pull them. we got about a bushel.

some were very small; hardly bigger than when we planted them back in April. makes me wonder what they've been doing with themselves these last 4 months!

we ordered and planted 6 bunches. hopefully next year we will have better fixed the fertility issues in the lower garden. I'll still plant more onions next year, but this is a good start!

the potatoes are growing like gangbusters! these are some big ones that i pulled out to show off, but i should have put something (like a coffee mug) next to them to show how big they really are. the biggest one on the right is bigger than 2 fists!

we dig fresh potatoes pretty regularly, and pack them in bags that i make from our multitude of feed sacks. 10lb. for $5.

the produce stand is bringing in some small, but steady income. red Pontiac potatoes definitely seem to be the favorite, so next year i plan on planting more than 50 pounds of that variety.

the honour system works pretty well in our rural county, and we've not had too many issues with stolen potatoes. (with the exception of one day last week when someone took 20 pounds of potatoes and left me 29 cents!)

the peppers are doing nicely as well. dare i say that we're being inundated with fresh produce?

the 5 ducks are quite happy. (the 6th died unexpectedly a few weeks back) every afternoon we let them out to free range, and they are quite comical to watch as they waddle (all in a row) where ever they go.

the morning glories right outside the back door have finally grown taller than the cherry tomatoes (it was a neck-and-neck race for the sunlight) and are cheerily blooming every morning.

A is quite proud of these sunflowers that she planted with the nasturtiums.

the chipmunks planted all the rest of the sunflowers. all over the flower gardens there are little sunflowers randomly and eclectically coming up. the goldfinches are enjoying them, and we like to see the diversity of birds that comes for a snack.

the cherry tomatoes are almost prolific~ A and B really like to go out to see if any are ready, and beg for someone to pick them a fresh 'mater. i really like having the cherry tomatoes right outside the back door, and plan on putting them there again next year. once they start producing, it's really hard to keep up with them. having the plants in such a convenient spot makes that task almost effortless.

we're getting a few tomatoes from the upper garden as well. it's really a horrible year for tomatoes, so the yield is disappointing.

again, A and B enjoy eating a fresh tomato just like you would an apple. (all my kids have done that)
the tomato plants themselves look horrible. they are all brown and dead from the bottom up, and the Florida staking system fell over after a recent heavy rain. we were busy cooking for the roofers, and i never got out to fix it.

that being said, i really like the Florida staking system and plan on using it again next year, just implementing the things that i learned from experience this year: taller and stronger stakes.

the broccoli and cauliflower in the cold frame is doing very well, and i plan on transplanting the seedlings to the high tunnel in the next few days.

due to the tomato blight, the tomatoes in the high tunnel were a total flop this year. nevertheless, we plan on trying again next year, applying the things that we learned: only 2 rows of tomatoes, plant indeterminate and train them up string, or longer and stronger stakes for the Florida staking. I'd also like to grow some cherry tomatoes in hanging pots, to better utilize the upper space.

our second planting/cover crop of beans is growing nicely. (lots of "growing nicely" in this post! but then again, it's about time for some good news!)

these are the beans that i planted around the tomato cages. they are training themselves right up, and are even taller than i am now. i really like having them on the tomato cages, and plan on doing that again next year, as well. (i thought up that idea myself, and I'm quite proud of it!)

these are the cover crop beans, and even though they are pole beans, i don't plan on staking them. they'll just have to produce despite the benign neglect, or just be tilled under!

look closely- you'll see the baby beans! Dave "took care" of the groundhog problem in the upper garden, so these beans actually had a chance to do their beany thing!

and look~ real, live beans! from our very own garden! we'll have some for lunch, and I'll freeze some, too. there should be another picking in a few days.

we still have lettuce, too. since it's been such a cool summer, that has extended far longer than we thought it would. i have the 4th planting in the second cold frame, and this time planted spinach, too.

we planted 10 pounds of onion sets, and while most of them did not get exceedingly big, they made a respectable showing.

next year I'll definitely plant more purple onions, maybe as much as 7+ pounds. i like to use them in recipes, just for the extra color.

the beets were a disappointment, but that was for several reasons. the lower garden is not very fertile, and compound that with the fact that i could just not bring myself to thin out the beets, (it feels so wasteful!) they did not get very big.

before bringing the beets to the house, we stopped off at the pigs and gave them the too small beets, as well as the tops of the beets we were canning.

we managed to eke out 12 pints of pickled beets. not too bad, considering that i don't' even like pickled beets! (the jar that i entered in the county fair won second place!)

I'll end this lengthy post with my recipe for pickled beets- just in case you want to preserve some of your own summer bounty to dislike on a cold winters day!

Pickled Beets

harvest whatever beets you've managed to grow and that haven't been eaten by the deer, woodchucks or rabbits. top them all, and scrub clean. put beets in large pot, covering with water. boil until tender. drain, reserving beet juice. cut off tops and root tap, and slip off skins. pack hot into pint jars. cover with pickled juice.

pickled juice:

2 cups sugar

2 sticks cinnamon

1 T whole allspice

3 ½ cups vinegar

1 ½ water ( use your drained beet juice)

simmer this for 15 minutes, and then ladle over your beets in jar, leaving 1/4" head space. remove air bubbles. process pints (and quarts) 30 minutes in boiling water canner.


Anonymous said...

Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen as well.
My green beans are pathetic though.
I will have to try the beet recipe, even though I didn't plant any beets. :) I love Harvard beets, not sure how to make them, but I love them :)
Thanks for the update, your pictures are awesome!
I wonder if your husband "takes care" of ground hogs the same way my husband "takes care" of ground hogs? :)

Anonymous said...

what posts did you use for the florida weave? we used 7' t-posts - egads expensive for 40 plants - but they are sturdy, and will probably outlive us. for tying, we used some kind of biodegradable baling twine. it's a little flexy, so sags over time, but it works out alright. the t-posts do all the work. we just have to remember to keep tying frequently enough...

and pick of those dang hornworms. f

the Provident Woman said...

Wow! What a great harvest!


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