A bit about us...

We are a modern family of three, living on less than two acres with a 3,000 square foot garden that meets our produce needs and allows us to share with friends and neighbors. Our laying flock of chickens seems to expand each year as we raise chicks each Spring to replace older hens. This blog is more of a journal, if you will, for us to chronicle and share our experiences in the yard, garden and kitchen. It is our hope that along the way a few folks might learn something, be entertained, or simply enjoy sharing in our stories and the lessons we learn on a daily basis. I named the blog after the times when I am the happiest, when I am elbow deep in earth.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chasing the harvest

WELL! It has been ages since I took the time to sit inside and write a blog post.  I am sure I am missing the point of a blog with lengthy entries such as this, but nevertheless, this is how I write.  The garden is in full swing, the varmints are driving me batty and the weeds are taking over.  In other words...just another day in paradise!

Since it is over 90 degrees today, I thought it wise to skip outdoor chores in favor of finally recording some of the season's happenings.  Let me begin with a brief list (HA!) of everything we have planted in the gardens this year.

  • "Green" Beans - Provider, Jade, Tri-color assortment, and Yellow Garden Beans
  • Lima Beans - Henderson
  • Great Northern Beans (for soup and white chicken chili)
  • Carrots - Napa and Red Chantenay
  • Corn - Early Golden Bantam, Stowell's Evergreen, Early Illini, Extra Sweet Illini
  • Parsley - Hamburg root and common Italian flatleaf
  • Bell Peppers- Sweet Chocolate (ripen to chocolate brown) and California Wonder
  • Hard neck Garlic
  • Onions - Vidalia, Sweet white Italian, Bunching (for green onions) and Candy
  • Peppers - Hot Garden Salsa, Tabasco and Jalapeno
  • Peas - Bush and pole (sugar snap)
  • Pickle Cucumbers - 2 varieties (Sumter and one I do not recall offhand)
  • Zucchini
  • Winter Luxury Squash (great for pie)
  • Pie Pumpkins
  • Green pie squash (cannot recall the variety, but I saved the seeds from one I made pie from last year)
  • Baked potato Squash
  • Winter Squash Mix (Fairy Hybrid)
  • Goblin Egg Gourds
  • Gremlin Gourds
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage (white and red)
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Dill
  • Tomatoes - Zebra (will ripen to green and white stripes), Roma (great for sauce) and Rutgers (awesome for salsa)
  • Potatoes - Kennebec, Russet, Fingerling and a variety with red stripes in the centers 
Perennial crops include:
  • Asparagus
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries (Honeoye and Cabot)
  • Blackberries (Thornless and wild)
  • Blueberries (2 varieties)
  • Horseradish
  • Rhubarb
"Volunteers" that have come up in some relatively random places:
  • Tomatoes (unknown variety) - These came up in the garden as well as near the chicken run...they are apparently messy when they eat their treats, flinging seeds outside their run, thereby "planting" them
  • Corn (I can only assume decorative colored corn known as "Indian Corn," based on where it came up - next to the chicken run)
  • Pie Pumpkins (in the compost area)
  • Blackberries (wild and coming up everywhere)
  • Squash (coming up on the compost pile)
  • Atlantic giant pumpkins (taking over the compost pile)

Obviously, we have been busy trying to stay ahead of weeds and watching things grow.  The most disappointing part of the season has been my garden marauders.  Woodchucks and rabbits have been mowing my beans off for me on a daily basis.  As soon as the plants try to recover, sprouting a couple new leaves, those little jerks eat them clean off again.
I have tried numerous non-lethal methods of controlling them including store bought repellent, shaving Irish Spring soap around the garden,  adding pinwheels to create motion, and increasing human activity in the area as much as possible.  So far, the most effective method I have found for deterring those mangy little bean eaters has been the lethal approach, my .22 Lever action Browning Rifle.  It is not my first choice, but they are eating my groceries!  No one I know would tolerate someone coming into their home and stealing the food from their pantry, so why is the garden any different?  I will tell you....because I am planting, weeding, watering, tending, harvesting and preserving THESE groceries myself!  This labor of love is worth defending!

A few items worth updating from previous posts:

The wisteria bloomed beautifully and now I am planning on installing a piece on top of its post to give it something to grab onto.

Right now, it grows up a 4 by 6 post and each time it reaches for the sky, the weight of the vines causes it to collapse into a heap on itself.  If I want to train it to look more like a tree... I am going to have to give it something to "hang onto."  I bought a big metal ball, much like a grapevine ball, that I will mount to the post on top to encourage upward growth.

The peas didn't make much this year...the temps getting so hot so quickly didn't help and I wasn't good about keeping the weeds out of them.  The competition really did them in.

The babies have GROWN!  My little chicks are full blown pullets now.

One of the straight run chicks turned out to be a rooster.  He will very soon be moving to his new forever home with a dear friend of mine.

 I was fortunate to find someone who could take him and ensure him a safe, healthy life with lady chickens to love!

As always, things aren't going as planned, but they are moving along nicely.  Other yard and garden projects are moving along and we are pleased with the progress.  We will continue to chase the weeds, chase the critters and and chase the harvest!