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 I’m more-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 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.

The months of February through June were a series of time-delayed successes.

A.k.a. “failures”

I learned, relearned, and forgot what I learned–then remembered it again.

All this is to say that today is June 7th and we have fresh sugar snap peas, new spring kale (as opposed to the old flowering kale from last year), orach, green chard, and lots of robust plants that we’ll harvest over the summer (like carrots, potatoes, beans, tomatoes, shelling beans, cucumbers, squashes, and peppers) .

This post is also to say that I will be taking up a new hobby next winter. This winter my hobby was “planting seeds too early and watching them die.” It was tedious.

I learned this winter that if you plant seeds that need to be in their pots for more than 2 weeks, you need to have a bigger pot. I used tiny cells and 90% of the seedlings died. I also learned that just because last April was hot didn’t mean that this April, or May or June (so far) will follow suit. It’s been a cold + wet spring. Even the cold weather crops languished.

Our family loves being outdoors–and we’ve hiked and backpacked together for many miles. Someone once asked me a question on one of our backpacking trips that I think can be applied to gardening:

Do you hike to camp, or camp to hike? (Not that it’s relevant here, but I’m a “hike to camp” person. I love getting hunkered, cozy and settled under a tree.)

So, when it comes to gardening + eating fresh produce, which do I love more–being in the garden or eating the food from the garden? Do I live to garden, or garden to live?

Both. The fresh produce feeds me physically and working in the garden feeds me spiritually. I love the cycle of sowing + reaping. I love the being surprised by scrappy, vigorous volunteer plants. I love watching seedlings reach toward the light while building a strong root system underground. I find physical and spiritual nourishment in both the garden and the harvest. It’s no surprise that throughout God relationship with mankind, he chooses to show his love for us in gardens. It’s a place where I feel gratitude, peace, and abundance.

I have a kale goal:

I want year-round kale.

That means that I have to plant kale seed indoors in the winter, so that when our over-wintered kale goes to seed (which it did last week) we can set out the new baby kale.

I did that. I planted my seed in early February, then killed it late February. I started more seeds in early March, but the plants are as teeny tiny as the lovely, lush Central American country of El Salvador.

We are eating our flowering kale like it’s broccoli, because it looks exactly like broccoli. I’ll steam it, then put a half pat of butter on it.

Because of my singular kale goal, I had to say goodbye to our last two turkeys. They were sweet, but the kale was their favorite treat. It was at beak level, and they nipped off every fresh leaf, every day this winter, leaving us NONE leafs of kale! We have a fenced back pasture, but turkeys can fly 10+feet, and no fence can hold them.

We have some fun varieties of chard and other greens that we’ll be growing along with our kale. The more greens, the better.

I’ll share one more goal. I want to eat fresh from our garden 365 days a year. I think I might make a little sign for our house that’s like “_____ Days Since Last Safety Incident” (but for Days We’ve Eaten From Our Garden) just to see if we can eat from our garden every day this year. I think we can do it.

This evening we planted tatsoi, muzuna, and orach in row 5, and little gem lettuce and cutting mix in row 6 (3×3 patches about 6 feet in from the east end). The seeds are so tiny, they remind me of having “faith as a grain of mustard seed.” It’s hard to believe that these ones will grow into food for the dinner table.