We’ve been harvesting corn for about a week now. We probably could’ve started even a bit earlier.
For the record, I like chard.
Welcome to our 2020 garden! Let’s take a tour, shall we? I’ll share some of my favorite garden spots.
I transplanted six broccoli plants to take over as my pea plants die back. Heather transplanted a Vietnamese coriander plant.
I picked the first two gypsy peppers of the season.
I picked the first plum of the season. It will be a smaller crop this year, but that’s ok — we had way more than we needed last year!
We picked our first ounce of beans today. 😉 The beans that were barely alive are now looking quite healthy and should produce a good crop. The first cucumber and pepper should be ready this week. My peas are almost done for the season. They weren’t nearly as productive as last year but still provided some good table fare. The chard and kale continue to produce like gangbusters.
Our neighbors’ field was cut and bailed over the past week. They generously gave us some bales for our sheep.
Our other neighbors have us three probably-fertilized turkey eggs, and one of our chickens is broody, so we’re letting her sit on them. It’ll be a couple more weeks before we find out if they hatch.
We transplanted a bell pepper plant and basil today. The pepper plant is larger than the one we transplanted way back in early May. I think we really need to be more patient with planting. Things that are planted too early languish and get ravished by bugs. Now that the soil has warmed up, things are finally taking off: corn, bean, beet, tomato, cucumber, and squash plants are all looking fairly healthy.
On the other hand, I wonder, if we fix the pH problem, will plants do better earlier in the season?
Lastly, today we transplanted an oak tree we got from our friends.
For the last few weeks Josh has been threatening to pull out the kale if we don’t start using it. The truth is that by the time I’m done making dinner, the last thing I want to do is harvest a fistful of raw ingredient, dirty up another pan and prep a side dish–I’m just mentally ready to sit down and relax. Truly, I LOVE having kale with dinner. When Josh comes in from work with a bouquet of kale and pulls out a pan, I am so grateful.
Late last night as we sat around the table with the kids, Josh started looking up ways to preserve kale. (No way I’m canning it–that’s gross) He suggested freezing it raw or blanching it first then freezing it. Less work is better, so I ran out to the garden in the dark and grabbed some to wash and freeze so we could test it out.
This morning I cooked the frozen kale, which didn’t even need to be defrosted. I put a little water in the pan, threw in the frozen kale, steamed it, then quickly and buttered/salted it. It was PERFECT!
Today I picked, portioned, and processed 2 lbs 12 ounces of kale (both varieties that we have). I froze them in 3 ounce chunks, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in a freezer bag. I was able to get 9 three ounce pouches of washed, deveined and ready-to-steam kale.
Our garden continues to languish while we see lots of things growing around us.
We did a red cabbage pH test yesterday, and I think we found a major problem.
From right to left, the first four are the rows of our garden from south to north. All rows are too alkaline, especially #2 and #3. Next is soil from north of the barn, where we plan to plant blueberries, cranberries, and raspberries next year. It’s also too alkaline, especially for blueberries. Next is the only good news in this test: our well water is pH neutral! After that is tap water, which is alkaline. Then distilled water, our pH neutral control.
We also bought an electronic soil pH tester yesterday. I can’t get any reliable results out of it.
We immediately went to the at store, bought 50 pounds of granular elemental sulfur, and spread about 10 pounds on the garden rows (including a little on rows 5 and 6). We’ll spread the rest in the future berry patch area later this summer.
Fortuitously, it rained last night and absolutely poured today, so that will help get the sulfur into the soil… but it will still take months for bacteria to concert it to sulfuric acid and lower the pH of the soil. In the meantime, Heather is experimenting with a watered down vinegar solution to see if it helps in the short term.
My replanting of beans is sprouting.
First pea harvest of 2020.
Heather brought home another rabbit today, so we have one buck and two does. This one might be pregnant.
We planted the rest of the garden today:
- Row 1: transplanted two tomato plants
- Row 2: seeded bush beans
- Row 3: transplanted 2 tomato plants
- Row 4: seeded corn, transplanted delicata squash, two watermelon plants, and pickling cucumbers
Grant transplanted a bunch of chives along the north wall of the carport.
Trying to keep up on what Heather has been planting…
The carrots she planted on April 11 didn’t sprout. She replanted today.
Half of the beans that she planted on April 17 didn’t sprout. She replanted today.
She transplanted a gypsy pepper plant today.
Miniature slugs have been eating several of our garden plants the past couple weeks. We have been picking them off and they seem to be diminishing, but not before doing a fair bit of damage to my peas.
Heather seeded pole beans.
A couple days ago we got a male duck on loan from our neighbors. We might have ducklings sometime.
Heather seeded beets and carrots today.
The peas we seeded on March 25 are starting to sprout.
The kale and chard are a bit yellowish but surviving. I think nitrogen availability must be lower when the soil is cold, perhaps due to decreased microbial activity.
The basil got killed by the cold nights, but most of the other herbs are doing well, especially both types of parsley.
The plum tree is done blossoming, the pear tree is in full blossom, and the young fruit trees are starting to grow again.
I transplanted kale and chard, and I direct-seeded Oregon sugar pod peas, which were really productive last year. This time, I only seeded one row, leaving more room for planting beans later.
Heather transplanted rosemary, parsley (curly and flat), sweet oregano, and Italian basil (with cloches covering the oregano to promote growth and basil to protect from frost).
I noticed chives growing next to the well.
Yesterday, our friend help us get the town-behind lawn mower that our neighbor gave us running. A kit with a carburetor, spark plug, fuel filter, and air filter was $20. Next I need to buy new wheel bearings for it and for the small tractor trailer.
We changed the oil and spark plug in the Sears tractor.
The Case tractor is not doing so well. The past few weeks, it has been hard to start, which was not a problem before. I replaced the spark plugs today. Most of them were black with carbon. I also topped off fluids. It took about 3 quarts of fluid in the torque tube and a gallon of oil in the transmission. The 3-gallon cooling system took a gallon of coolant. I replaced the engine oil, and there was coolant in the oil. That probably means it has a bad head gasket. Also, yesterday the clutch started to fail. Today I had to use the hand clutch, and even then, I had to turn off the tractor to change gears. One of the back wheels still has a slow leak, too.
I re-routed the temporary pasture fencing on the north side of the barn so that I can access the tractor parking area again. The sheep will probably have that extra pasture area finished off in the next two weeks or so.
The chickens have finished off my kale. 🙁
A few months ago, we got to use a hydraulic log splitter to split a bunch of wood we had gotten from arborists. Today, we stacked it along the west side of the barn, probably about 1.5 cords. We don’t have a woodstove, though.
We also reapplied wood chips around the young fruit trees after adding some landscaping fabric.
The sheep have mowed the entire pasture down to stubble, due to our not implementing paddocks. Heather has installed some temporary fencing allowing them to graze the area north of the barn.
We haven’t gotten any chicken eggs for months. But they don’t have a proper chicken coop in which to lay eggs, nor are we giving them any feed beyond table scraps and what they find in the pasture.
Something happened to the carburetor on the John Deere mower and it will barely idle at full throttle. I fiddled with it a bit, then ordered a new carburetor. At about $15 to buy new, they’re hardly worth trying to troubleshoot.
The Case tractor has a rear left tire that loses air over the course of about a week. I need to see if I can remove the wheel so I can take it to a tire store for repair. Otherwise, it’s probably about $100 for a field service call.
We’re still getting some kale from the garden, but the chickens have been escaping the pasture now that we extended it for the sheep, so the kale isn’t going to last much longer.
Our squash harvest… not bad for being an afterthought planting.
Info I found said to leave squash on the vine as long as possible, but harvest before heavy frost.
We had our first significant frost last night. Frost was in the forecast about a week ago, so we harvested our basil, but it was a light frost.
We left the garden in the care of Hannah for a week and came back to find destruction. My newly planted areas are completely dug up with huge holes, and the largest chard plant has been almost completely eaten. I’m guessing it’s the work of our non-egg-producing chickens. No yellow squash were picked all week, so I just had to pick five humungous ones that may be of no use to us.