Dyeing with Fresh Indigo

Freshindigo18The dye garden is doing fabulously this year!  The Hopi sunflowers are over 10 feet tall, the madder is prolific, and the indigo is lush.  Our indigo (Dyer’s Knotweed or Polygonum tinctorium) grows very well in the North Carolina mountains and this week was indigo harvest time!Freshindigo5

Nikki (my Fern Fiber partner in crime), my kids, and I worked quickly to cut the stems above the 3rd or 4th node and strip the leaves off.  (Cutting the stem here lets the indigo grow back for a second harvest in the fall!)  The leaves were weighed and then added to some cold water.  We were hoping to get 4 pounds of leaves to dye 2 pounds of yarn.  But, we ended up with only 3 pounds.

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We were joined by our friend, Sarah, as we began chopping up the leaves in the blender with more cold water and blending them to a pulp.

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We stirred in 3/4 cup white vinegar.  This is supposed to help pull out the pigment and keep it from breaking down too quickly.  We let this sit for 30 minutes.

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Then we strained it through muslin cloth and put the strained liquid to the side in my super large dye pot while we soaked the plant matter a second time in more cold water and let it sit for another 30 minutes.

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Once the second batch was strained, all the liquid went into the big pot…

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and the yarn was added.  (This is organic merino wool that we soaked overnight in water.)

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After one hour of soaking, you can see the color of the bath and yarn had become more blue.

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We gently squeezed the yarn out and hung it up to dry.  Within seconds, you could see the air oxidizing the pigment and changing it to blue!

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The lighter blue on top was just out of the dye bath.  The darker had been out in the air for a few minutes.  Look at the difference from the picture above, too!

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Drying in the shade, you can still see all of the color dripping onto the rock below!

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We had been worried that we wouldn’t get enough color for the amount of yarn we wanted to dye.  I’d read that you should have 2 times the amount of plant material and we only had 1.5.  Despite this, there was still so much color left in the dye bath, we decided to add more yarn (another full pound that we’d had soaked and ready… just in case).  This sat in the dye for another hour.  The yarn on the left was from the second batch.  Only slightly lighter, but still super gorgeous!

Freshindigo17There was still so much color in the dye bath, but no more yarn to toss in there.  I decided to put the strained indigo plant material back in the bath to see if I could ferment it a bit to pull more color out.  I’ll let keep you posted on those results!

The yarns cure/dry for at least 2 days before they are washed.  Once the are dried again and reskeined, we’ll put them in our Fern Fiber naturally dyed yarn store (well, not all of them.  Sometimes us dyers take our payment in skeins of yarn!! :-) )

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PS. I know I haven’t been posting nearly as much on my blog, but I do have a pretty active Instagram account.  If you’d like to follow my homesteading, homeschooling, and fiber frenzy, you can also find me at @ninja.chickens  and our Fern Fiber naturally dyed yarns can be followed at @fernfiber.

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Spoon Markers

Friends of mine recently gave me some Ashwagandha, Arnica, and Sochan.  They are wonderful medicinal herbs, but I’ve never gotten to know them well as live plants.  So, I decided  I’ve finally acquired enough odd plants that I am in need of garden labels.  This past weekend, I went out to the Good Will and rummaged through their utensils bins.  I bought a large variety, but it’s the cheap spoons that were the easiest to hammer flat.  I pasted the labels on with Modge Podge, and coated it with an outdoor varnish.  I’ll let you know how they hold up.

Raising the garden space

The soil in our garden area is pure clay.  Seriously!  Red and solid!  We put in raised beds when we built the garden area a few years ago.  Still, I’ve had no luck growing root vegetables.  So, this year, we built a root bed.  We used what we had on hand (roofing tin and pipes) and constructed a three tiered bed for our beets, carrots, burdock, and maybe dandelion.

Leif insisted on helping by making thunder noises while running over the roofing tin (over and over again).

Then, he became a backhoe, which little 4 year olds can do, and dug out the root bed area for us.

 

So far, I’ve seeded the beets and carrots.  With all this snowy weather, nothing has popped up yet.

 

We also purchased some 55 gallon drums to make into strawberry and potato beds.  The barrels were cut in half and drainage holes were cut into the bottom.  For the strawberries, Toby drilled large holes in the sides of the barrels for the strawberry plants to grow from.

I’ll put the strawberries in as soon as we get a litter warmer weather.  I may put a borage (one of strawberry’s companion plants) on top of each strawberry barrel, too  The potatoes should be here in a week or two.

I’ll let you know how they all work out!!

Garden planning

Last year, I really slacked on the garden.  I guess I was just tired of doing it all myself and wanted to focus on other things in the warm weather.  I learned that having a not-so-great garden was just as much work as a full garden.  So, this year, I’m picking up the pace and even growing some new things, too.  I hope to encourage the kids to spend more time in the garden with me, and let them pick out some things they want to grow.

On the list to add to the garden this year is:

  • green beans
  • kale
  • cabbage
  • lettuce
  • arugula
  • spinach
  • malabar spinach
  • carrots
  • beets
  • burdock
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • cucumbers
  • brussel sprouts
  • shelling peas
  • potatoes
  • butternut squash
  • crookneck squash
  • zucchini
  • garlic
  • popcorn
  • watermelon
  • jerusalem artichoke
  • herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano,  thyme, dandelion
  • and lots more flowers and medicinal herbs.
I’m hoping to build a small green house for starting all these plants as well as a nice deep raised bed for the root veggies.

Have you ordered your seeds or planned your garden yet?  What are you going to be growing?

Raspberry Figgy Puddin’ Fudge

Right now, we have raspberries and figs coming out the wazoo!  The raspberries get eaten by the fist full, canned up, put in smoothies…..  I’m sure I can do the same with the figs, but this is our first year harvesting them, and I’m still learning what to do with figs.  I mean, you can only eat so many of them without your bowels talking to you, you know?


So, I was having a hankering for something sweet, the kitchen counter was covered in raspberries and figs, and my food processor was calling to me.

Raspberry Figgy Puddin’ Fudge  (makes ~40)

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dates (chopped)
  • 1 cup fresh raspberreis
  • 10 fresh figs
  • liquid stevia
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
Put your almonds in the food processor and grind them up to a pretty fine consistency.  Then, put in the dates and do the same.  Add the raspberries, figs, and 60 drops (that’s about 2 squirts) of stevia and blend it in with the almonds and dates.  You should have a pretty pink mush :-)  Add the cocoa powder, coconut, and vanilla and keep pulsing.  Then add the coconut oil and blend until smooth-ish.
Place large (tablespoon sized) dollops of the mix onto a cookie sheet covered with wax paper and put this in the fridge for about an hour.  Once they have firmed up, you can put them in a ziploc and keep them stored in the fridge.  I can’t tell you how long they keep, ’cause we ate all of them in 24 hours :-)
I really loved the flavor, but the raspberry seeds were a tad bit annoying.  Next time, I might try other fruits, like banana or mango…. or maybe avocado???

 

Natural Orchard Care

For the last few years, I’ve been letting my fruit trees and berry bushes grow as they please, not doing much maintenance other than pruning.  But most of them have been in the ground for 3+ years now and are starting to produce, so I wanted to follow a better care plan to ensure a good harvest.

I am doing a modified version of this checklist by Michael Phillips.  It looks daunting at first, but is actually pretty simple.  So far, I’ve been using a spray of neem, effective microorganisms, and fish/seaweed fertilizer.  Once the trees dropped their flower petals, I added Surround to the mixture (I’ll probably only use the surround on the fruit trees and not the berries.  The berries don’t seem to have the same bug problems as the trees.)

I’ve so excited to see how this works.  We are a fruit loving family, so the more the merrier!  (Oh, I’m also using the fertilizer spray on the strawberries and roses.)  I’ll keep you updated.

Surround on apple leaves

Addendum: I’ve noticed that the two pear trees have some black spots on them that only appeared after using the neem.  I think it may have burnt them a little.  I’ve read that you can use neem on pears, but also that new growth can be susceptible to burn from neem.  I’ll hold off on neem-ing the pears for now.

 

Squashes and Sweet Potatoes, Oh My!

Well, the harvest is complete and most of the veggies have been canned or frozen for the winter.  The pantry looks pretty good and we have lots of soups to savor when it’s cold and bitter outside!  But, we also have many pounds of winter squash and sweet potatoes strewn about on the floor (we don’t have a basement or root cellar to store them in).  I’ve already canned up lots of squash soup and I have many gallons of puree in the freezer.  Unfortunately, I really don’t know what else to do with these veggies other than pies.  I’ve found a few yummy recipes on the internet that I’ve already tried, but I would love to hear some of your favorites!  Can you help me build my file of recipes?  Feel free to leave it in the comments, or if you post it on your blog, be sure to leave a link.

July Harvest

  • 365 eggs
  • plums
  • peaches
  • tomatoes
  • green beans
  • eggplant
  • cucumber
  • squash (yellow and zucchini)
  • mint
  • black berries
  • red raspberries
  • blue berries

And I put up 5 quarts of ‘mock’ apple pie filling, 5 pints of cucumber relish and 4 quarts of green beans.  My counter tops are covered with squash and cukes!  I need to do more processing!!  We are eating squash burgers, squash casserole, squash waffles, and squash muffins!  Got any good squash and cuke recipes???

Also, sorry posts have been so sporadic.  I’m trying not to spend so much time at the computer!  We are cleaning house, cleaning the yard, getting rid of things that aren’t needed, trying to simplify.  See, Toby recently left his job and has been looking for work (work that would also include benefits and a good salary and possibly working with others!)  But, for the last 2 months, we thought that meant we were going to have to move!   AND I’ve moved 14 times in the last 18 years!!  I am SOOOOO ready to be settled.  So of course, at first, we were not excited about the idea of moving.  Yet, I’ve thought this was my dream life for so long, and now that I have it, I’m resenting it.  I look at my friends who get to play on the weekends or relax when they are done work and I just wish I could have some time off.  We are always tending to something here… animals, buildings, land, gardens… People are always saying to me “I have no idea how you do everything that you do.”  I guess that should be my first clue that I’m doing too much.  Now we need to look at all we do and figure out what truly brings us joy and drop the rest of it.  Really, when we built our homestead, we went about it wrong.  We built so many structures and have half-assed our landscaping.  Now it all needs to be tended and that’s not what I want to do.  I realize that, as we settle in here and the kids get older, the stress load on us will lighten.  But the idea of moving almost seemed like an ‘out’.  We could start over and try to do it better.

BUT!  Don’t worry folks!  In the midst of interviews as close as Raleigh (3 hours away) and as far away as Hawaii, Toby was approached by a friend who may (prospects are good!!) have an opening for Toby that would have benefits, a good salary, let him work with his friend, and allow us to stay where we are!  I have to say, even though we were getting excited about getting a place in the city with no yard, we are relieved now that we won’t be moving!  But all of this has started us seriously paring down what is not needed in our lives, fixing up the yard and house to make it closer to what we want and require less tending…. and it feels good!!!  Today we moved a pile of wood and another pile of rocks, started planning out our patio and retaining wall, cleaned out closets, the fridge, and my apothecary, rearranged dining and living room furniture… Tomorrow we will tackle Kaia’s room!!  (That may take all day :-)

June Harvest

As a part of my plan to try to simplify things in my life, I am no longer weighing out all of my harvest…. Though the anal side of me really wants to know exactly how many pounds of summer squash I picked, and how many ounces of herbs, it’s just not a priority.  So, I’ve let it go.  I did, however, write down what I’ve harvested this month.

June Harvest

  • Lettuce (now bolting)
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • Edible Flowers
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Berries (Blue, Black Raspberry, and Red Raspberry)
  • Peas
  • Summer Squashes
  • Nectarines
  • 336 eggs

I also put up 11 quarts of Kale Soup  (and we still have stuff in the pantry from last year!  YAY!)

What have you harvested?

Re-evaluating

We’ve had a great spring here on our land.  Things have felt really productive.  But, I have to tell you, we are beat!  I wake up in the morning, jump out of bed and get going.  Laundry, taking care of the animals, garden care, kitchen clean up, etc. all comes before breakfast.  Most nights I spend preparing for Kaia’s schooling, sewing, cleaning, or researching one thing or another on the internet.  Weekends we do chores around the land (and we usually don’t get done with our list of ‘to do’s).  I’m not complaining.  I’m simply stating how things are right now.  But I’m starting to feel resentful that we have very little down time, fun time, or time to play with the kids.  We have been working towards this life and lifestyle for years.  We now have our own land (25 acres!), our own house (built with our own hands and very earth friendly), we have chickens and gardens and orchards and bees and cottages.  And each of those things requires upkeep.  Well… we are tired!  We are re-evaluating this life style.  We want to live more gently, but this is definitely not more simple.  We don’t have time or energy for those bonfires and potlucks with friends that we wanted.  We have little time for travel and very little time to relax and read.  Having Heidi here helps tremendously, but she has been gone for much of 2010, and we won’t always have her here.  So, we are taking a look at our life and trying to decide what things we truly desire in it, and trying to figure out how to have those things and keep a simple and earth friendly life.  There may be some changes in store…. we’ll see.

Toby's new shirt

garlic and onion harvest

veggie gardens

more veggie gardens

Kaia got some goggles for swimming… Leif stole them!

Yes, the goggles work more effectively if you stick your tongue out.

Garden Season has begun!

YAY!!  I’m so excited!!  I can’t wait to have fresh food from the garden.  This past weekend, we set up a straw bale cold frame to start our seeds in and seeded kale, lettuce, cabbage, and parsley!   We are using a pane from a glass door as the top.   The greenhouse in our window that we did last year got things sprouted fantastic, but after that, they got tall and scraggly.  So, we’ll see how the cold frame does this year.

a break in the weather

Finally, it’s gotten above 35 degrees!!  The snow has been on the ground for a month and it seems like every morning I’ll wake up to a little more!  The past few days it’s gotten up into the 50’s and it’s been wonderful!  The chickens are having a field day taking dirt baths and stretching out in the sun.

Speaking of chickens… have you ever heard of longcrowers?  Check this rooster out!  If you have crappy neighbors, you need to get you one of these babies!!!

Kaia and I had a great week of school!  She always starts with math.  She loves using the abacus.  Most of what we are doing is review as we try to get caught up to her skill level in her new math program.  She’s really enjoying so much hands on and not a lot of workbook pages.  Leif really likes the abacus too… I’m going to need to get him one of his own :-)

She’s also enjoying spelling, and usually does more than one lesson a day.  There is a chart that comes with the program that you mark off each lesson you complete.  She’s on a mission to put stickers on the chart as fast as she can.  It really is amazing how fast she is progressing, though.  She’s soaking it all up.  It’s not that they didn’t teach it at her old school, but the kids had the choice to spend their day how they wanted and she always wanted to color.  Me… I’m a task master.  I think it’s important for her to start learning this stuff, so if I present it to her in a way that she enjoys, then we both win.  All About Spelling has lots of hands on too… she’s all about that!  Her reading skills are really blossoming!  She’s feeling so much more confident and she’s started reading to Leif, writing letters to friends…

spelling

This week we also continued with Prehistory and the Precambrian period.  We’ve started making a time line similar to this one.  It’s fun to see the way her mind works with stuff like this.  As she is filling in the pages, everything she pastes on the page goes in perfect alignment with the last piece.  It’s all square and in order.  Funny how some things must be in their proper place while other things (like her room) can be chaos!  We focused on volcanoes this week and she made one out of model clay.  We were supposed to create an eruption (with baking soda and vinegar) but she wanted to make a volcano just like Mako Island (from the show H2O: Just add Water, the Australian show about kids that are mermaids).  So, she didn’t want to make it erupt.

Here are her little hands hard at work.  You can see the secret entrance to the magic cave where the girls turn into mermaids.

volcano

She pulled the top of the volcano off so that she could paint the magic pool of water inside!

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And here it is… Mako Island in all it’s glory!  I think she should call it Phallic Island :-)

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Leif is keeping me on my toes, too.  He finds all kinds of stuff to keep himself busy while I’m occupied with Kaia… like boxes full of shredded paper:

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Even with his hands in the box, he can still give you a great “Who Me???  What did I do??”  look!

While we aren’t busy doing fun learny-type stuff, I’ve begun planning this years garden.  My cucumber, peas, greens, and beans did fabulous last year, but the squashes (winter, summer, and pumpkins) got hit hard by borers, and the tomatoes and melons just crapped out.  So, I’m going to fill each bed with a good helping of chicken poop compost to see if that helps the soil.  I’m also rotating what goes into each bed so that the heavy feeders aren’t draining the soil in the same place.  I think the only thing I’m going to drop from my list is melons.  I’ve never had good luck with them… you can’t can them up and save them for the winter, and for the space they take, you get so little return.  I’ll just buy them at the markets when they are in season and use that space for other goodies.  I’ve never had luck with Eggplant either, but it’s supposed to be so easy to grow.  I think I’m going to try the good-old standard eggplant this year instead of trying to grow the skinny kinds.   How do you grow your eggplant?

September Harvest roundup

Things have mostly stopped producing in the garden now.  I still have kale, chard, snap peas, a little bit of tromboncino squash, and some arugula that reseeded itself.  But, I’m not doing much harvesting.  I’m so over the kale and chard.  I haven’t felt like eating it in months!  My plans for any type of winter garden have ended.  I need a break.  I want to put the garden to bed and not think about it for a while.  I’m sure there’s something I’m supposed to be doing to it right now… adding compost or cover crops or something, but I just don’t want to be out in the garden.  I hope this will pass next year and that it’s just related to having a new baby.  I feel like my time is so stretched thin.  If I have a moment to myself, I want to do something for myself, not be out weeding.

So, the harvest is a little light this months:

  • Eggs – 127 (most of the girls are now molting…. considering we now have about 25 laying hens, we should have 3 times that amount of eggs a months)
  • Raspberries – ~3 quarts
  • cherry tomatoes – never get weighed, they are eaten right off the vine
  • Leeks – 3#
  • chard – 4 oz
  • peas – 1#
  • Summer Squashes – 6# 9 oz.
  • Winter Squashes – 11 #
  • Cukes – 10# 4oz (gave it all away… couldn’t eat another cuke, and we have over 50 qt. in the pantry!!)
  • potato – 16# 5 oz
  • Sunflower seeds – 8 oz
  • Green beans – 8 oz (these are still producing, but the trellis collapsed on itself, and I didn’t feel like picking it all back up :-)

It was a very rainy month!! – 8.25 inches  The chickens were not happy and have been ill on and off because of all the yeast and molds.

To end on a happy note… here is Leif in one of his favorite positions (that smile looks kind of crazy upside down, doesn’t it?):

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Fairy self portrait in the zucchini?

Fairy self portrait in the zucchini?

Moonflower

Moonflower

Potato art

Potato art

Leeks

Leeks

Just took 7 quarts of potato leek soup out of the canner!!  Mmmm, Mmmmm, Gooood!

August Garden Roundup

Things are petering out in the garden…. well, I’m letting them peter out.  The weeds have taken over, the tomatoes gave in to blight, the green beans are collapsing.  The squashes have all succomb to mildew of some sort.  The chard and kale are still going strong.  There’s probably 10# of it out there, but we just don’t eat it much.  I have to say, we are all kind of tired of food from the garden :-)  I need to get more recipes, but when do I have time to cook with canning all day?  And MAN, the cucumbers just won’t quit!  I finally found a recipe for a hot cucumber soup, so I will probably be putting more of that up for the winter.  So, here’s the august harvest:

  • Eggs – 148 (about half of the ladies started molting)
  • Cucumbers – 56# 4 oz.
  • Chard 5# 2 oz
  • Tomatoes – 15# 9 oz (all of the tomatoes that I have put up for the winter were from a local organic farmer who sold 30# boxes of romas for $10 a box!!!
  • Dill seed – a few ounces
  • green beans – 11#
  • Culinary herbs – ~2#
  • Winter Squash – 12#
  • Summer squash – 16# 2oz.
  • Potatoes 25#
  • Melons – 11# 6oz
  • Raspberries – a few quarts
  • Cherry Tomatoes – did fantastic, but we threw all of them to the chickens as treats… many pounds worth!
  • sunflower seeds ~1#
  • Apples – 3# Our first harvest from our baby trees!

It rained at least 5 1/2 inches last month, although I forgot to write it down a few times.  Seems like it’s been raining every day!

Bartelby Barnes Strikes Again!

The other day when I went out to harvest the zuchinni, I found this:

bbzuchinni

I swear, no one carved this!  Kaia’s explanation… Bartelby Barnes, the fairy of the garden, carved it to claim his zuchinni.  I think he was just letting us know that he has been hanging out in the garden beds.

Photo updates

Of course, we’ll start with the cutest!!

Leif had a few bites of rice cereal yesterday, and he downed it!!!

“Hmmmmm, I think I might have a bite, thank you!”

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“WOW!  I LIKE!  Give me that spoon!”

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“Mine!!  ALL MINE!”

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“Yes, boys can too play with Barbies!  They are very tastey!”

eatingbarbie

I finally got around to harvesting most of the chard.  I blanched it and stuck it in the freezer.  (There’s no more room in there now, with all the frozen greens and 3 gallons of blueberries!!  A fourth gallon I made into Blueberry Jam and Brandied Blueberries!!)

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I’ve been knitting up a little headband to keep my ears warm this winter.  Kaia wants one for winter and one for summer!  I might use some light weight yarn and make myself one for summer too!

headband

We have MORE hens!  A friend moved and couldn’t take her 11 chickens with her… so she gave them to us!  That makes 35 chickens at our home!  Some of the babies from the spring will turn out to be roosters and we’ll find them new homes.  But, it looks like we will start selling eggs!  And we need to get on the new coop!

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And here is one of our regal Fezzik

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July Harvest Wrap Up

From the garden this past month I harvested:

  • Eggs – 70
  • Lettuce – 1oz
  • Chard – 1# (although there is a bunch out there that needs harvesting… we just haven’t felt like eating it)
  • Herbs (culinary) – 4 oz
  • Summer Squashes – 15# 2oz
  • Peas – 6 oz
  • Kale – 3# 4oz
  • Green Beans – 6# 2oz
  • Cucumbers – 50# 7 oz (!!!)
  • Onions – 2# (they did horribly)
  • Garlic – 11oz (did even worse than the onions)
  • Beets – 2# 6oz
  • Winter Squashes (just starting to come in) 7#
  • Berries – 3 quarts
  • Tomatoes (also just starting to turn red) – 6# 5oz

We had 4.9 inches of rain and I put up:

  • 7 1/2 pints of relish
  • 17 quarts of Dill pickles
  • 5 quarts and 9 pints of bread and butter pickles
  • 5 1/2 quarts of green beans
  • 19 half pints of Mango-Cucumber chutney
  • 7 Quarts of Indian Split Pea Soup
  • 9 Quarts Curried Zucchini soup
  • 12 Quarts Mulligatawny

WOOO HOOOO!  I love the way the pantry looks!

garden post

Sorry for the lack of posting lately.  It’s hard to sit at the computer during these busy summer days.  Especially with a 5 month old banging on the keys :-)

I have started planing my fall/winter garden already!  Seems crazy in these summer days to be thinking about what I will harvest in Jan!  But, this year, I’m going to try to keep some things going all winter long.  I’m right on the edge of zone 6b (Asheville is 7a, but I’m in a little cove that keeps us a tad bit cooler), so it’s possible to have a harvest all year long without too much work.

Last week, while the moon was in Taurus, I planted peas, broccoli and cabbage (the cabbage would do fine under a leafy sign too).  The peas will hopefully be ready to harvest before the first big frost, and the broccoli and cabbage I plan on using row covers and hope to keep them alive through the winter.

During the weekend, in Gemini, I put in some carrots and bunching onions.  These are in a raised bed that I could put some glass over and make a cold frame out of it.  That will also help keep the heat in during the winter.

Later on, I plan on putting in Kale, garlic, winter lettuce and maybe a few other things.

The garden has done well this year.  No major losses (the squash and pumpkins recovered from the vine borrer and are putting out new leaves and flowers).  Still, the garden will need to be a good bit bigger to produce what our family needs to carry us through the winter.

My squash have been decimated!!

I just pulled one or two squash vine borers from every single winter squash, summer squash, and pumpkin in the garden!!!  The leaves have become yellow and wilted, and growth has been stunted all in the past few days!  I doubt I will get much of a harvest at all!  I’m really sad, ’cause I was looking forward to having squash throughout the winter, carving my own pumpkins, canning up lots for the pantry!  Do plants come back to health from vine borers???  I sprayed everything off with neem to protect the plants from reinfestation where I slit them open (I don’t know if neem will even do this, but I don’t fugure I have much to lose now.)

How are you supposed to keep these buggers out of the vines in the first place???

Garden assesment

I thought it was a good time to take a look at how the garden is faring, then in the years to come I can repeat (or not) those things that worked (or didn’t):

Tomato bed – so far, they are all looking great!  No ripe ones yet, but should be soon.  The dill and parsley in this bed are doing wonderfully, the basil not so much.  It’s genovese basil, but it wanted to bolt early and hasn’t gotten as big as I would have expected.

Pea bed – they did wonderfully and are now on their way out.  Next time I will have many more and taller strings for them to climb.  Our harvest would have been much larger if they hadn’t fallen all over each other.

Summer Squash bed – The Raven Zucchini and Saffron yellow squash started out with a bang.  They still look good, but aren’t producing much… lots of flowers but not fruit.  The Tromboncino squashes seem to be doing well.  The Jarrahdale Pumpkin squash is very slow going… lots of blooms but no fruit yet. The eggplant is growing slowly and small as usually with me.  I don’t know what it is about me and eggplant, but I can never seem to get a good harvest.  The bees are loving the garden, so I know I have lots of pollination going on.

Raven Zucchini

Raven Zucchini

Trombonccino squash

Trombonccino squash

Cucumber bed – the cukes are booming!!  I’ve harvested over 13 pounds so far and there are many more little ones growing.  I’ve noticed some spots on some of the leaves and I don’t know what it is.  I don’t want it to take over and kill the plants!  Ugh, that would be tragic… they are looking so great!

Cucumber leaves - what is that?

Cucumber leaves - what is that?

Brassicas – The kale has done wonderfully and still going strong.  The beets not so much.  I planted varieties for lots of greens, but haven’t gotten much.  The spinach all did poorly.  I planted 3 different varieties and none of them grew very large or produced very much…. I’ve never had much luck with spinach.  The broccoli has gotten eaten up by some bug that I dont’ recognize.  But we’ve had almost no harvest from it.

broccoli bug

broccoli bug

broccobug

Broccoli bug (blurry close up)

Potatoes – so far so good… no major complaints

Lettuces – they all did fabulous.  We weren’t a fan of the mixed greens… there was something in there that was too bitter and too spicy.  So they ended up just bolting, but this created a nice shady spot for the lettuces to grow, and they have done great.  The chard in the bed is also doing wonderfully.

Bright lights chard

Bright lights chard

Pumpkins – doing well.  Not too much fruit yet, but there are a few.

Cinderella Pumpkins - Rouge Vif d'Etampes

Cinderella Pumpkins - Rouge Vif d'Etampes

Green beans – going strong.  I’ve noticed some spots on the lower leaves… trying to figure out what it is.

Green Beans

Green Beans

What are the spots?

What are the spots?

Winter squash – The Zeppelin Delicatas seem to be doing great, the David’s Dakota Delight is growing, but I haven’t seen much fruit yet.  The Squisito Spaghetti squash seems to be doing ok…. I’ve not grown much squash before, so I don’t know what a good yield is from one plant.

Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash

Yellowing spaghetti squash leaves??

Yellowing spaghetti squash leaves??

Melons – so far so good.  The vines are only a few feet long but there are flowers and small fruits.

Garlic – The garlic bed has done horribly.  Partly because one of the cats is using it as a litter box, but mostly because the soil is too hard.  I need to plant it, and the onions in one of the deeper, raised beds next year.

And for Junes Harvest: (Some of it seems so piddly, especially the greens, but we really aren’t harvesting and eating it like we should… there’s a bunch out there!)

4.25 inches or rain

90 eggs (the count is down ’cause we have 3 hens either sitting on eggs or raising chicks, and the other hens seem to have slowed down a bit with hot weather)

1 ounce garlic scapes (the garlic has done poorly this year!)

1 pound kale

14 oz lettuce

4 oz. chard

~6 ounce of herbs (parsley, dill, basil…)

5 # sugar snap peas

2# 4oz potatoes

6# 6oz. summer squash

2 baby onions

12 oz broccoli

13# 9oz. cucumbers

total of ~31 pounds of produce in June   (not too bad for a new garden)

Garden Progress

Things are growing nicely in the garden! It was early blight on the potatoes.  But, it was only on 5 of my fingerlin potatoes.  So, I pulled them up and burned the tops.  The potatoes looked fine, albeit small:

fingerlinpotatoes

We’ve got zucchini and summer squash starting to come in, cukes the size of my pinky, snap peas galore (yum!) and still lots of greens.  I’m having to get use to eating from the garden and not from the pantry… it’s nice…. but major canning time is just around the corner.

Here are shots of the garden from the roof… lots of progress from a month ago

gardenjune2

gardenjune

And a shot of some blooms on the roof:

yarrow and calendula

roofflowers

Melons and cordials

I know… way to many posts today… I’m just trying to get caught up!

I planted 37 melon plants yesterday while the moon was in Leo… there was only room for 18 in the bed I’d made and I didn’t want to throw away the other seedlings, so I planted them in a big hill of dirt we have in the back yard.  We should be flush in cantaloupe, watermelon and muskmelon come late summer!!

Oh, and right now we are overflowing in strawberries, roses, and lemon balm.  No use in letting all this yummy goodness go to waste!  So, I decided to make cordials out of all of them!  I followed Kathie’s recipe and made a quart of each.  Tomorrow I will strain them and add the sugar!  Mmmm mmmmmm!

cordials