Visitors to the farm are asked to the garden. We love to show off the variety that is being produced from a small plot of land. But the ultimate goal of enticing folks into the area is to get rid of as much produce as possible so the plants will continue to produce. I box, bag, dry and cook and send off loads each day.
The transparent apples have already turned soft and so any stragglers that finally fall from the tree become munchies for the cows in the show barn or the bulls in the bullpen.
The strawberry patch has been tilled under since the season for them is done. The ground will sit for a couple weeks, then tilled again with several more repeats. I’m trying to kill off all the buttercup roots that turn up with each tilling. The roots are so dense that they like to wind up around the tiller tines and I spend more time unraveling the bound-up mess than actual tilling, but each time should get easier.
The earliest of the plums are just starting to ripen. They have a wonderfully sweet taste even at this stage with a bit of crunch to them.
The cabbages are out of control and I have a hard time giving them away fast enough before they split wide open. I have lost three heads so far to this process but the cows are not complaining about the addition to their meals.
I noticed while walking past the garden that a couple of the cauliflower heads were sticking right out there in the sunshine. That is not a good thing. The heads like to form in the dark, all nestled inside the big green leaves. I tried to plant the seedlings close enough together to help hold the leaves tightly bound around the heads but I erred in distance. Continue reading
It seems like most of the day-to-day normalcy of farm life goes on hold as soon as hay season begins. It is a scramble just to do enough laundry to get by as the fields take center stage. The lawn does not get mowed, the cows only get a cursory glance every now and then just to make sure everyone is still hanging around and the garden is dismissed entirely except for a quick vegetable grab to make salads.
I finally got the chance to do some weeding in the garden. Over the last couple of weeks my radishes went to seed, the peas filled the pods and the plants died, I have so much lettuce that I filled a wheelbarrow and fed it to the cows in the show barn and the strawberries are kaput.
But on the good side the green onions are now ready to eat, there were a few ripe cherry tomatoes, the potatoes are blooming, beans are setting on and should be perfect sized for eating by the end of next week along with zucchini and hopefully a cucumber.
And then I got over to the kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, red and green cabbage area of the garden. While most of the cabbages are starting to form baseball sized heads, one oddball is not conforming to cabbage standards.
This one red cabbage plant is making several flower bundles where a head of cabbage should be forming. I broke off the middle one and ate it finding the familiar cabbage taste in flower form. Perhaps this was a hybrid seed accidentally slipped into the packet during packaging. It reminds me of the broccolini that is long single strands of broccoli so I think this should be called cabbagini. I may even try to let it go to seed to see if I can harvest this goofy looking cabbage.
I get up early, my natural internal clock is programmed and I am ready to start the day usually well before the sun comes up. There is a drawback to my internal settings because I cannot seem to stay awake in the evening time and would rather be sleeping by 7 pm that trying to do, see, or get any work done at the end of the day.
This morning I took a gander at the digital weather station as is my normal first objective as I stagger into the dining room. Even without my glasses on I could see that the temperature had dropped into the 30’s. I had to grab my glasses to make sure that I was not seeing things. Over the next two hours I watched as the temperature dropped even further.
At the lowest point the digital weather station clocked a mere 35 degrees. During the spring time, I have seen spots of frost around the garden and yard when the weather station reported 35 degrees.
I went outside to see for myself and sure enough there was a coating of frost over the pickup. It was too late to try running the irrigation on the tender plants for protection so I had to wait to see once the temperature warmed if there was any damage to the garden. At this point the leaves would already be frozen and the damage done. Continue reading
I’m sure I’m going to hear some snickers and maybe even a guffaw or two over the use of the farm tractor in the little garden plot at the front of the house.
Mike has a hard time keeping within the boundaries for each time he gets the tiller going, its at the end of the row and he needs to backup and move over. He spends more time getting into place than actual tilling.
The initial tilling by tractor saves me many hours of bouncing along the back-end of my walk behind garden tiller. With the biggest clods and verdant winter growth of chickweed, grass, clover and various weeds, I can now begin planting the main garden rows. Some of the areas will still need my small garden tiller to break down the soil even further for the small seeds of carrots, onions, lettuce and the like, but for now I’m itchin’ to get dirty during planting.
It has been nearly a month since the last frost, highly unusual for us. But this week has had the thermometer dipping down to 26 degrees at night. The killing frost did in my tomato plants that valiantly produced well into October. It leveled the Swiss Chard and melted the squash plants.
The garden looks sad right now. All the above ground vegetables need to be pulled up and the entire area cleaned for winter.
Still producing are the red cabbages, beets, carrots and potatoes.
The frost dries out the husks on the filberts which makes what nuts are left on the tree fall. I pick up handfuls several times a day to discourage pilfering squirrels and Stellar’s Jay birds from raiding the bounty. This has been a very good year for filberts and have been busy drying and shelling them for storage in the freezer.
It is hard to imagine it from the blistering weeks we experienced through August that any day we could have the first frost nip back the garden, but here on the farm we have had frost as early as the first week of September.
Watching the calendar and the thermometer as the days come and go help keep me on track to harvest, dry and freeze all the summer goodness that comes from the garden. We have made it past halfway in the month and have had no close calls with frost yet and the garden is still busy producing squash, beans and loads of tomatoes.
Since the weather has cooled a bit, I have also been sneaking out to the blackberry row on cool mornings and evenings to get my share of the crop that I couldn’t get close to while the bees took over the sweet berries during the warm weather.