fall is here! the forest around us a spectacularly bright with neons and rusts. there's one particular shade of neon rust that i think is the one i'm allergic to lol.
i dug up the two beds of taters. one was great, the other was worm infested. to the point that the vast majority of the taters were good only for the compost. :( i'll have to investigate tater worms to see what the deal is and how to avoid them. hideous wiggly firm orange things. i like normal worms, but brassica-eating ones (they look just like caterpillars) and the tater ones, i HATE!
i have two winter beds planted although the kale and brussel sprouts didn't germinate well.
the greenhouse is finished! pics soon. i've only started one box in there thus far, with lettuce and kale. we'll see how it goes.
how's that for short, jar? love you oxoxoxo
i've really slacked on this journal, but i really slacked on the garden all summer, so no surprises really!
autumn is upon us. the leaves are falling. there's few things quite so spectacular as standing in a small forest clearing and having thousands of leaves rain down upon you. it's a magical thing!
i have two beds planted with winter greens. those are greens that are really cold hardy. i'm going to put cold frames over them so they should, the idea is!, go through the whole winter, snug and still growing on sunny days, safe in their plastic wrapped cocoon. in there are; chard, lettuce, kale, collards, brussel sprouts, turnips, spinach, and onions. the greenhouse will be finished soon and there will be a few containers in there with some of the same stuff in them. hopefully, the combination of greenhouse and cold frame will give us fresh greens to eat through the winter. that's the game plan, anyway!
this year went awesome out in the garden, even with the neglect. i had lots of visitors this summer and it got soooo hot that i did barely any work out there. even with the neglect, i harvested and stored some tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, & peaches, and we ate something out of the garden all summer long. even now there are still tomatoes, peppers, okra, kale, chard, broccoli out there. amazing! the asparagus took off this year, too. the bed is absolutely full of tall, ferny asparagus which, with the first freeze, will die down and feed the roots for a great growth next year. roll on march/april when i can be eating it again!
the two apple trees and the pear tree i planted this year did really well. the almond tree is huge and will need pruning. only 1 of the hazelnuts survived, sadly, and i still don't know what the two trees are that were supposedly hazelnuts but aren't. i'm going to transplant them in the spring and will probably just have to wait til they produce nuts to know what they are! that means i have 6 unknowns in the yard that came from the same place. all 6 of the trees look very similar. they are supposed to be 2x english walnut, 1 pecan, 1 chinese chestnut, 2 hazelnut. they aren't, though! the two hazelnut, at least, are not what they were labelled, so that means the other 4 could have been mislabelled, too. and because they are nut trees, it'll be years and years before they're big enough to produce. oh, the surprise! hopefully all 6 are great nut trees!
i learned to can and pickle this year, and we'll be eating peaches, tomatoes, blackberries, and peppers from the garden come the coldest days of winter. this is exciting!
my garlic harvest, though picked early, was great. i ordered new garlic this year, choosing some hybrid eating garlic (half the price) and also some heirloom garlic which i'll plant and grow to plant and grow again. eventually, i'll have enough heirlooms that we'll be eating those as well as have enough to replant the next year. until then, we'll eat the hybrids!
someone brought me some ginseng berries so i planted them back on the hill. the rednecks around here pick all the ginseng every year to sell, but they don't sustainably harvest, they yank up everything they can get. the ginseng is getting more expensive the rarer it becomes. this is really sad. hopefully those berries i planted will grow next spring and there will be protected ginseng up on my hill!
i wild-harvested and tinctured some echinacea this year, too. that was fun!
i could accomplish so much more if i had one useful adult human being here besides me. i see what people accomplish when there are two of them, particularly if one of them is handy with building. i have to rely on my adult son to help, but his heart isn't in the land, so getting him to do anything is tough. i myself have no building skills at all. when i was at school, girls weren't allowed to take the cool wood or metal working classes. we had to take sewing and cooking, neither of which i had any interest in (although i'm kicking myself now that i want to know how to sew lol). i feel this now as there are things i'd like to do here on the land that i simply can't. i lack the skills. and learning building skills at age 41, when you're skint and don't have tools is pretty much impossible. this is a huge challenge for me. i'd have chickens by now if i had building skills. i'd have my woodstove in by now if i had building skills. but both of these things have not happened. i'm still heating with propane, and i'm still buying eggs at the store. i must rectify both these, but 3 years have gone by and there's still no end in sight for these two goals. lacking money and skills makes working the land more of a challenge than it is for those that have money and skills. or even just money to pay others to do the work! but, challenges come and challenges go. i will eventually have the woodstove in and a chicken/duck/guinea fowl coop. in the meantime, i have lots of other stuff to learn and grow. and i do love growing!
i brought in some containered plants that can't survive cold temps so i now have my indoor winter garden. mostly just pretties, but i have basil and oregano. i want to start more containered herbs, too. i haven't yet managed to keep lavender or rosemary alive, however, so herbs might prove to be yet another challenge! basil and oregano seem to like me, though lol.
another job i'm starting soon will be making a scrap rug. i'm using curtain poles for the top and bottom beams of the makeshift loom, then sewing together long strips of fabric to make the "yarn". by the time i'm done, i'll have a woven 6' x 4' rug. if it works, i'll posts pics!
today is the new moon. i'll be starting seed on the porch in a container. i love watching baby plants come up out of the dirt. it's a beautiful beautiful thing!
AND....!!!!.... the peaches are rotting on the tree, but - i'm picking them now so that i at least get some. they're not quite ripe but the brown rot is taking so many of them. today i'm making a peach cobbler and freezing some (in a sugar solution). tommorrow i will pick more and - *screams* - attempt some canning! i have everything i need, it's just a matter of doing it. this will be my first ever time. wish me luck! hopefully i can get at least a bunch of nearly-ripe peaches off the tree before they're all rotten!
i just made enough fresh from the garden salsa to put a 32oz jar in the fridge and 2 quart bags in the freezer! the only things in it not from the garden were the cilantro (the dog killed mine) and the lime juice! i used green chile peppers and sweet banana peppers.
the goal this year was to eat from the garden but i got to do a little preserving already! woohoo!
strange thing: i cut up a store-bought tomato and inside was a sprouted seed. little baby plant inside an un-opened tomato. my daughter planted it to see what it does!
lessons learned this year: plant more in succession, feed more, put cardboard down on the pathways.
i have succeeded in my goal of actually growing stuff, though, so i'm happy. we've been eating fresh food out of the garden since early march. next year the goal is to grow enough to preserve some!
at the moment, we're eating beans, zucchini, cucumbers, basil, oregano, the odd tomato (they're mostly still green but are reddening up), chili & sweet banana peppers, broccoli, kale, blackberries, carrots, onions, garlic, chard
not ready yet but growing are pumpkins, okra, butternut squash, cabbage, peaches, more carrots, beets, watermelon, jerusalem artichoke
i planted one lot of beans and they put out a bunch (so frikken yummy!) but they're mostly done now. i will definitely succession plant these next year.
all the baby trees look good. i think the two mystery trees are walnuts. one of them is planted in a spot that can handle a large tree but the other will have to be moved.
the goji berry and the butterfly bush have not survived. that makes 3 bushes planted in that same area that have died. i have no clue why. the peach tree, jerusalem artichoke, elderberry, and blackberries back there, and all the "weeds" do well, so why not those.
3 weeks of broken toe and the garden looks like a jungle. a friend mowed the lawn yesterday and i felt, once again, the need to start more beds and get rid of more lawn! the walkways between the beds are hideously overgrown. i need to put cardboard down to help minimize this. i have not had a real problem with weeds in the beds, though, probably because i didn't till and put thick compost on them. i hand-pull stuff that shouldn't be there, and have no big issues other than the walkways (not walking on them = them becoming overgrown). my friends who all tilled are complaining their beds are totally overgrown with weeds. layering your beds with compost and mulch and not tilling them means far fewer weeds.
i transplanted a fennel in from a friend's garden. everything i read said fennel does not transplant, and by the time i got it home, it looked very dead already. but it survived! it's still small but it put out flowers and is getting bigger every day. sooo stoked! the hollyhocks are growing up nicely, too, and there are sunflowers everywhere, nodding their big yellow heads in the sun.
i put in the ground a few new hazelnut babies that i got from the arbor day foundation. i had put in a couple of them from some cheap plant wharehouse place when i first moved in, but they've been struggling. now that the new ones are all leafing out nicely i can see that the first two do not have the same leaves as the new ones. a little research tells me the new ones are definitely hazelnut. i have no clue what the other two are! they look like a nut of some kind, but i'm not sure what. the thing is, i planted them in places that a hazelnut bush would fit, not a huge full sized nut tree. needless to say, i'm going to have to identify them and then move them accordingly. *sighs* getting borage seeds in a kale seed packet was annoying, getting, say, 100 foot pecan trees instead of 15 foot hazelnut bushes is a little more than annoying, and will need some strenuous rehoming.
i'm harvesting beans right now. there's still some greens i'm picking from. the peas are now done, but zucchinis will be in any day. we ate a few small carrotts out of the garden, too, which was awesome. the tomatoes are plentiful but green. there's a baby pumpkin and baby butternuts and baby cucumbers. now that i harvested the garlic (too early but they're still good) the beets that were between them might do something. they haven't yet, except for straggly greens that i've been picking from. i haven't yet pinched any of the taters in the ground but i probably will in the next few days. the okra plants are still small but looking pretty.
the whole garden is screaming for food. i broke my toe so haven't been doing much out there, but i did up a bucket of compost tea so tommorrow everything will get fed. basil and oregano are both doing okay, the watermelons seem to be taking off nicely, a transplanted fennel amazingly survived, and there are quite a few pepper plants beginning to fruit. a branch broke off one so i have green (unripe) chillies in the kitchen.
i love being able to go out in the garden and gather foods for dinner!
today the harvest was nettles, dandelion greens, two types of kale, broccoli, spinach, swiss chard, mint, and basil which i sauteed with garlic and onion, a little soy, then added coconut milk, cardomom, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, and mixed peppercorns, then served this over chicken over brown and wild rice. the wild rice was harvested by a friends father.
eating fresh greens is divine.
today i redid the strawberry bed. we have baby strawberries! i was concerned that i'd left it overgrown for too long and that winter had killed the not-mulched berries, but no! i've been straw mulching them, feeding them with compost and compost tea, and pulling everything else in the patch. i'm very happy with how it's turning out. when i first pulled everything-but-strawberries, the plants were small and barely flowering. i'm amazed how many are actual domesticed plants and not the wild ones. i was fearful most were wild, but they're not. so many of them have burst out with babies. exciting!
i'm getting rough callused man hands! i'm very happy with this, too. means i'm working hard out there. which shows, actually, as i have really healthy beds. whoot!
i have seeded tomatoes twice now and had no takers. the first lot i seeded were inside in a sunny window and were heirloom tomatoes. fail. the second lot are outside on a hot sunny porch and are brand new store bought seeds, some organic, some just cheap ones. fail. good job i'd bought a few baby tom plants or i'd have none at all. i also had bad luck with pumpkins and butternut squash. a couple took but that was it. oh, and the violas did not sprout, either. everything else did. yesterday i dug a new bed for all the baby watermelon plants i've got (they all sprouted!) this isn't a great area for growing watermelon, however, so we'll have to see how they do. i bought some more straw and mulched the rapidly growing potatoes again. i do hope this works! the plants look really healthy thus far, nice and big and strong, and they look happy completely surrounded by deep straw, so *fingers crossed*.
the key is food. plants need lots of food in order to be food. i've been putting a lot of effort into these beds to make sure they're full of lovely organic matter, so hopefully they'll continue to do as good as they seem to be thus far. we are at least eating greens out of the garden, which is frikken cool. between the lettuce beds and the greens beds (kale, chard, broccoli, turnip) we've been eating out of the garden for a while now. at least i know i can grow green stuff! now to see if i can get anything else!
i hate driving around looking at everyone else's gardens. right now it's so very obvious that they all feed their gardens with petrochemicals. the fields and beds are all tilled and raked and ready to be seeded/planted. barren red earth, void of any life whatsoever. give it a month, and the land will be full of lush greenness, fooling you into thinking it's life and health. but it's not. it's all fake. identical food-replicas growing in oil. it's so sad. the earth wants to be filled with lush greenness, but when it's dead it can't. and all the land, at least the cultivated land, is dead. barren. only growing green stuff because of all the carefully manufactured and genetically altered pellets put in the ground with the seed. anyone can take a patch of barren, lifeless land and grow stuff that way. but as the land is dead, so too shall we be. eating oil and plastic and test tube creations.
give me wilderness!! give me dandelions and chickweed and worms!! give me dark brown dirt full of life and love and health. the foundation of our very lives is the earth beneath our feet. when was the last time you went barefoot in the early morning dew, studying the colour and substance of the earth beneath your feet?