although we still have just a few things going on in the gardens, i will reluctantly call this the last L&G post for 2009. it's been a busy growing season for us, but not nearly as busy as it could have been. we'll remember all the things that we've learned this year, and by doing better next year, we'll be busier~ and have more of a harvest. but all-in-all, it's been a good year.
here's a view of the upper garden from the duck puddle. you can see the buckwheat and pole bean cover crop. the soil is not that great, as evidenced by the stunted buckwheat, but we're still working on it!
we did finally pick the beans, and i got enough to freeze for 3 meals. the yield was disappointing, but I'm thankful for what we did get.
note to self: although i did plant these beans (back in July) as a cover crop, i was certainly hoping to harvest a fair amount of beans, both to eat and to sell. however, all that was available at Agway were pole beans. i wasn't able to stake all the beans, so we just let them crawl over the ground. they did their main job of shading out the weeds in an area of the garden that had just been tilled up. (we decided halfway through the summer that we wanted less yard and more garden) however, pole beans apparently really do need to climb. (go figure) consequently, the beans were in all stages of maturity- from blossoms to tiny beans to nicely edible to cigar size. i sorted them out for people consumption and animal consumption and just called it a lesson learned.
we pulled all the beans out, and tilled the green stuff under,
including the buckwheat. already we have a winter cover crop of annual rye and oats in. with the rain that we've received in the last few days, the shoots are already peeking through the soil. both of these crops are not winter hardy, so at some point we'll roll out some of our mulch hay.
last week we butchered our 2nd crop of chickens. that was the batch that we had such a miserable time with, having only 21 chickens to butcher! (out of the 50 that we started with!) 15 were sold, and the remaining 6 i put in our own freezer.
the chickens are winding down as well, with our final batch of 50 4 weeks old today, giving them another 6-8 weeks to get pleasingly plump.
the first crop of green beans that i planted is still growing! we left them on the tomato cages and just planted the rye around them. the girls love to go out and pick beans for the chickens.
the chickens are always eager for something green, and B is quite adept at poking the beans through the wire without getting pecked by a greedy hen.
we are getting almost a dozen eggs nearly every day, and it's hard to keep up with that production rate! i freely share with some friends from church~ but still...
soon the older hens will be destined for the pot. it seems such a shame (disloyal, even) but they're getting ragged looking and old. from the 5 older hens, we're only getting 2 or 3 eggs a day now, so there's definitely some slackers in there!
B is still enjoying some of our fresh peppers- what's left of them. i forgot all about them down in the lower garden, so we definitely could have had more for the freezer if i had remembered!
the big red pig was ready to butcher, and i was able to sell him at the last minute to someone we found through our butcher! Dave still wants to try our hand at butchering our own pig, and since it's still too warm to do that, i was so glad to not be stuck with this gigantic pig!
we got him all crated up and i drove him on his final journey to the butcher shop. we got a call later in the week that he hung at 223lb! that's some pig!
we found this praying mantis while working down in the lower garden
and had a fascinating time looking at him. a praying mantis is a cool looking bug~ in a freaky sort of way!
but the really big news is~ we bought a potato plow! with 5+ rows of potatoes to dig, any help we can get is appreciated!
it's actually a horse drawn walking plow (close-up pictures later, hopefully) but easily adaptable to our horses Massey and Ferguson. i was elected to drive, while Dave wrestled with the plow behind. the idea is to run the tip of the plow right down the middle of the potato hill, and all the potatoes just pop up and out, neatly laying in the row for the happy helpers to gather up.
there's definitely a technique for using this implement, and we're still learning. but even with several stops and starts, we were able to dig a whole row rather quickly.
next year perhaps I'll grow all my veggies like we did these pumpkins- benign neglect. (and come to think of it, the whole gardening thing would be so much easier!) we did not plant one. single. pumpkin. seed. and at the beginning of the season, i was even pulling the baby pumpkin shoots like weeds! but still~ we got a respectable showing of pumpkins, did we not?
however, i can say that the philosophy of benign neglect does not work for flower beds! i really need to get out and weed before we close everything down for the winter.
i also have bulbs to plant- garlic and spring flower bulbs. i ordered some bulbs from gurney's and Dave got me tons of tulips and daffodils for my birthday so i can see another gardening day in my near future!
I've never planted garlic before, so I'm looking forward to trying it. i still haven't decided where in the garden to put them- i don't want to forget about them and accidentally till them under in the spring!
our freezing and canning is also winding to a close- just some grape jelly (today) and applesauce (next week) to do yet.
we also need to put the cover back on the high tunnel. it's getting chilly here at night (no frost) and the broccoli and cauliflower are doing well. hopefully well enough to actually produce something!
I'd also like to get a planing of lettuce and spinach in the high tunnel and cold frames. i should have done that a few weeks ago, but never got to it... i have noticed, in all my second plantings, that the plants do well, but take longer to mature and produce.
so- i guess that's it! we learned alot, and had a good time with our gardens this year. before you know it, the seed catalogs will be pourning in again, encouraging us to dream and plan for next year.