I planted 12 corn seeds in half of the area where Heather harvested garlic today. I’m just three days later than when I started last year. I’ll plant some more each week for the next month or so as the rest of the garlic gets harvested. I love having a month-long supply of corn on the cob in late summer. Yum!

Today I harvested 130 heads of Italian garlic. It was so satisfying.

This garlic was part of Josh’s birthday gift to me in September 2022. He ordered a beautiful purple italian variety for me to plant last fall. He also connected with a friend and got several pounds of another variety (which I call the “Roberts’ garlic”). Top 10 birthday gift. ❤️❤️❤️

During the 2021-2022 gardening season, ALL of our garlic plants (and leeks) were eaten by a gopher. Because of this, I over-planted garlic last September to ensure that we not only had backup garlic this summer, but backup-backup garlic, and worst-case-scenario garlic, and apocalyptic end-of-days garlic.

My strategy has worked so far. Kinda. We still have a gopher popping up near the pasture garlic patch (with only one alliumicide so far). But the garlic patch by the front door is untouched, as is the allium row in our main garden. We even had three renegade clumps of garlic pop up under the grape vines, which is where they had been planted the previous season. Those lucky three garlics somehow evaded the Great Gopher Garlic Gorge of 2021-2022.

When we lived in upstate New York, there was an older lady in our apartment building who gave me some advice. “If it’s 5 o’clock and you haven’t started cooking dinner, start sauteing some garlic– it’ll trick your husband into thinking dinner’s almost ready.” Not sure I’m on board with tricking my husband (plus, he’s always so willing to be a part of anything I do in the kitchen), however I do believe that the smell of sauted garlic is inspiring. It’s a solid flavor base for any meal.

None of the other garlic I planted last fall is ready to harvest yet. In my very first year of garlic growing, I harvested everything the week of the 4th of July. Today is only May 26th!! Hurray for early harvests!! Maybe the rest will be ready in July. You know when it’s time to harvest after you remove the scapes, then watch for the third leaf to begin browning, and that’s when you harvest. If the first bulb you pull isn’t fully formed wait a week and try, try again.

This September I will plant more and more and more garlic. My goal is to grow the garlic under the grape vines and beneath the fruit trees. We dumped a bunch of wood chips under the grape vines early this spring (Josh almost got the tractor stuck, but he was able to dig himself out with the bucket). Hopefully the area under the grapes and beneath the fruit trees will become a happy home for my allium allies.

The Italian garlic is curing in the carport on some wire racks. Lots of airflow. It’ll rest there for about 2 weeks, then I’ll be able to braid or otherwise process my beautiful, beautiful garlic.

I love garlic. I love **everything** about garlic.

And if you’re a TL:DR kind of person, I’ll give you Josh’s version of this post:

“Heather harvested 130 garlic bulbs this morning. It’s curing on racks in the carport. She planted different varieties of garlic in several spots on our property. The other varieties she planted aren’t ready to be harvested yet.” ☺️

The neighbor’s hay got cut on May 17, way earlier than usual. I wonder if there will be a second cutting this year.

The garden is mostly planted now. Transplanted: hops, kale, peppers, and tomatoes. Seeded: beans.

Grant’s garden is also started: Old Mother Stallard beans and a couple dozen watermelon seeds.

We transplanted a rhubarb plant on the north side of the house.

The cilantro that overwintered is blooming, so we should be able to harvest coriander seed soon. Heather checked a couple of garlic plants, and they have about four plump cloves per head. Hopefully by harvest time on June, they’ll have more cloves, but they’re looking great.

Karen the sheep was late to lose her winter coat this year. She still has a small patch on her back.

The mushrooms got “planted” (or whatever the word is) today.

Heather seeded rutabagas in the garden about a week ago, and they’re sprouting.

We had another cool, wet week after the hot day. The pear tree has just finished blooming, and the apple tree is in bloom.

We transplanted celery in the garden. It’s our first time trying to grow it. We also transplanted leeks.

We transplanted kale today on the south side of the house. We’ll see if it gets too dry this summer. “It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine,” Heather says just now.

I’m enjoying harvesting dandelions this year. We didn’t even have to plant them, and they’re one of the first harvests of the year.

It has been a very rainy month, but then yesterday was a high of 88°. The plum tree is done blooming, and now the pear tree is blooming.

The onions are growing really well. Heather planted a few more a couple days ago.

Today Heather transplanted cabbage, and she seeded some bush beans. It might still be too early for beans, but we’ll see.

Three artichoke plants survived last summer and through the winter. I finally mulched them with a thick layer of wood chips. Hopefully that will help them out this year.

Heather started parsley in trays a month ago, and it finally sprouted (parsley takes a while). She also has a bunch of lettuce starts waiting to be transplanted.

Heather planted potatoes on March 18.

This season has been cold and wet, and we think our about two weeks behind normal. I’m trying to pay more attention to the environment than the calendar to know when to plant things. Our plum tree is finally blossoming, and dandelions are starting to bloom. The pear tree and the young fruit trees are still at bud stage.

Heather planted peas yesterday. She also transplanted kale from the cold frame to the open air garden.

The onions are taking root and starting to grow shoots.

We’ve been slowly harvesting “perpetual spinach” (a type of chard) from one of the cold frames. I’ve also enjoyed harvesting the abundant dandelion greens.

Grant and I spent a couple hours spreading wood chips to double the size of his garden.

Heather and I planted about 10 feet of onions on row 1 of our garden.

We have a second cold frame now. This one has an auto-opening top based on the temperature.

The weather was cold and snowy in the second half of February.

I did winter pruning this week. Aggressive on the grapes as usual, lightly on the pear and plum, and almost nothing on the young fruit trees we planted in 2019.

We cleaned up the garden and put on a layer of wood chips today. And I gave the lawn its first cut of the year.

We also built a cold frame out of an old window we removed from the house and some scrap wood.

I had to split the tractor again. The clutch pressure plate levers all broke. Weird. I was quicker at it this time, though. It’s running nicely now.

We were fortunate to get another load of seasoned firewood, so we’ll probably end up using maybe two cords this winter. We’re using more now that we have more. We have lots of green wood to cut and split, including some humongous chunks of maple. That’s great wood for burning. We’re also gradually figuring out how to manage fires in the woodstove. It seems like it’s best to get it up to a high temperature (600º F) before switching the bypass damper and activating the catalyst. Otherwise, it smokes.

We’ve checked out a couple farmers markets last weekend and today to see what kind of produce they’re selling this time of year so we can improve our year-round gardening. Leeks, garlic, onions, potatoes, kale, radicchio, and a great find: January king cabbage.

Heather planted garlic all over the place last fall. It’s looking great so far.

Lots to catch up on:

The garden was later than usual this year but quite productive. We had days in the 80s into mid-October, so the harvest kept coming. I picked an ear of corn a day for dinner for about two months. Heather made lots of pasta/pizza sauce and salsa with the tomatoes and peppers, and salsa verde with the green tomatoes when the frost came. Heather planned a second crop of potatoes after harvesting the first, and she got a great second harvest.

Grant’s garden in the pasture was a huge success. He just covered the issue head with lots of wood chips during the winter, then planted in late spring. He had lots of corn and zinnias, and he was harvesting melons into early November.

The deer finally discovered our garden a few weeks ago. They’ve decimated some of the greens that we would like to harvest through the winter. I guess we’ll have to come up with some defenses.

Heather has planned a bunch of garlic, boy in the garden and next to the pasture. We’re going is not concerned by gophers again next year.

It looks like the commercial hazelnut harvest was good this year. They harvested the orchard behind us at the end of September and made a second round in mid-October just as the rain was coming.

We started using our woodstove in mid-October when weather abruptly turned from hot to rainy. (Then the rain went away again, but the cold stayed.) We have less than we would like for this winter, but it is enough to make a difference. Plus, when we get insulation installed upstairs in mid-December, we hope that will help a lot. We bought a catalyst for the woodstove, and we’re gradually learning how to use the stove efficiently. We should have plenty of wood for next year, though. A lot of it is pine, and I wish we had more hardwoods, but it’s all free, so we’ll take it. We have probably split and stacked about two cords so far, and we still have those big chunks of pine to cut and split.

Speaking of splitting: I’ll probably have to split the tractor again. The clutch is slipping, and I’m guessing one of the springs on the clutch may have broken.

Here’s our entire plum harvest for this year:

But the blackberries– wow! It’s a bumper year!

The pole beans are late but looking really lush:

We have a new “garden tool:” the drone. Now we can get super accurate shots of the garden throughout the season. This one is from June 16:

We had a super rainy winter and spring, somewhere around double the average. But all of a sudden the rain stopped on June 20, the day before summer.

I pulled out the soaker hoses today. They were chewed to bits by rodents. I ordered new ones.

Today I got stuff done.

I planted all my cilantro (15 plants??). I put a few mizuna plants on the greens row. I planted 3 packets of carrots (white, red, black). I also planted a few kales. Happy day!

This week is spring! I think the ground is ready to get things growing.

I wanted to plant spring hard white wheat this week, but the ground is water logged in the area where I want to plant it. I might wait until fall. Or I might wait a few weeks and plant once the ground drains a little.

I talked to my sibs this week, and they said they’re not planting a garden this year because of the drought where they live. Having a garden not only heals the earth, provides biomass, and sequesters carbon, but the large leaves of some garden plants can serve as a mulch and living shade, which preserves precious moisture. Many plants are water wise. When they said that none of them were planting a garden, I felt my heart rip in half. And then rip in half again. And then one more time, but not as loud as the first two times. So, eight pieces total. Of my heart. Sad.

Back to happy things. My greenhouse is working! Everything in there is growing and happy! I even have a gopher that pops up every couple days to say hello, and bask in the warmth. The gopher’s name is Sheila.

One. More. Thing. Let’s all give a big South Dakota welcome to our new drake, Franklin. Franklin is from Newberg. He was best friends with two donkeys before he joined our farm. He adores Maggie. They swim together all day. Their goal is to raise 12 ducklings this spring, then 12 more next spring. ❤️

Sometime in the fall, Heather obtained a boatload of manure for the garden. Actually, not a boatload; more like a yachtload. Today I used the tractor to scrape off a few cubic yards of it and spread out the remainder across the garden.

Heather is super excited about having seeded her first indoor starts for the season: little gem lettuce, red Russian kale, mizuna, romanesco broccoli, Chinese broccoli, and green cauliflower. She made some garden markers, too.

Today my heart is overflowing–mostly with gratitude, but also with a little aching. I’m just feeling all the feels, and it’s a net positive. Our son just left for a two-year mission to El Salvador as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He gets to teach los gentes Salvadoreños how to find peace in this life through Jesus Christ and his atonement. What a beautiful gift!!

And while Isaac is gone, life on the farm goes on. Nixon (our boy rabbit) will miss Isaac’s daily visits. Karen (our sheep) will miss him, too. Maggie (our mommy duck) will NOT miss Isaac, because he and Grant were the ones who caught her every day and put her back in the pasture.

Regardless of the tender hearts in our family today, we’re getting things done out in the garden. That picture of the overgrown radishes is actually our rutabagas. I harvested them today, and prepped them to be roasted (along with some other garden veggies) for dinner. I fed their tops to the rabbits. Our fridge is kind of overrun right now with beet greens. (A girl can only eat so many!) I wasn’t about to add more root veg tops to the collection.

And here’s our full garden. It looks so bushy and busy. I feel great about this year’s garden, but part of me wants to start planning next year’s garden. And maybe I will! I can observe now and incorporate what I’ve learned into next year’s garden. (My recent observation: Move the squash out to the pasture or the outer edge of the garden. It’s too big for inside a garden row.)

I did a brave and maybe stupid thing today. I lopped off some tomato branches so they would “no me molestan”. I kind of did the same thing with the squash. I’m going to be more intentional about pruning the tomatoes and squash next year. And maybe widen the spacing by 12″. Tomatoes and squash are space hawgs. Or maybe I’ll move the tomatoes to the area where the basil is this year. There’s definitely room to tuck in 3 or 5 tomato plants. I did another dumb thing (maybe?). I decided not to prune off the suckers on the tomatoes back in June. Oh wait, one more dumb thing–I bought all one variety of tomato this year (plus only two cherry tomato plants). Yeah, I made some colossal gardening mistakes, but maybe the Master Gardener and Creator of the Universe will answer my prayers and give me enough tomatoes to can homemade salsa. I neeeeeed it.