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.

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:

It’s June 14th–not even summer yet–and we’re getting small, daily harvests. (Still no peas.)

Today I cut leaves off our lettuces. I love “cut and come again” types of lettuce. It means I can harvest as soon as a leaf is the size I want, then come back tomorrow to get another few leaves. Next year I’d love to try some different lettuces. Josh was all excited this year about planting lettuce, but I wasn’t. But now I am. Lettuce is an early win. You can harvest lettuce before almost anything else (except for overwintered crops). I guess I wasn’t too excited about lettuce back in February because we had so much kale and chard. Now that it’s gone, I’m so grateful for our little patch of tender greens.

We also harvested 5 beets. We eat the beetroot and the leaves. Beet leaves always look sickly and unappetizing, but they transform when they’re lightly steamed and tossed with butter. They turn a glossy, rich green.

I cut a few stalks of what I call our “grocery store green onions” because that’s what they were. Since planting the little stublettes from the bottom of the green onions last year, we have been harvesting non stop. Something that normally ends up in the trash has been a source of reliable flavor and color for well over a year now.

We also harvested our first real cutting of winter savory. Winter savory is an herb that I almost wrote off as just an old fashioned, outdated herb. You never see it in sexy poses on magazine covers. Winter savory never gets lead roles in Broadway musicals or even bit parts in made-for-TV-movies. I really don’t know why. Winter savory has got her act together. She grows upright, has a bright, fresh herbal scent, she’s easy to grow and she fits in with any recipe (never overpowering).

I love getting early spring harvests! The overwintered kale is about done– and getting aphids, so it’s time to pull it out–but the chard is super sweet and should keep going a bit longer… hopefully long enough to tide us over until this year’s planting starts to produce. I’m optimistic about the tatsoi.

Front the incubator, we ended up getting six ducklings. Turkeys are more fragile: some never made it out of their egg, and a couple died after hatching, but two have survived.

We applied about three yards of aged manure to the garden today. It’s still soggy out there, so we got the trailer stuck a couple times.

We’re still harvesting kale, but it looks like it’s going to start going to seed soon.

This is our first big tomato harvest. It makes me happy. We have some paste tomatoes, some heirlooms, some “dollar store tomato seed” tomatoes, and some volunteer yellow pear.

Tomatoes have to be a part of any happy garden because they provide the visual and flavor payoff of all your hard work. I’m the beginning, everything in a garden is green–peas, lettuce, kale, beans, herbs–up until the first blush of the first tomato. It’s a magical moment.

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.

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.

I harvested the last of my peas, and I’m going to remove them from the pods and dry them. I pulled out the plants, too. In their place, I planted (from west to east) rainbow mix carrots, danvers half-long carrots (north), chantenay carrots (south), some marigolds by the tomato plant, bloomsdale spinach (north), cylindra beet (south), calabrese broccoli (north), and chioggia beet (south). I also tried running some twine around my tomato plant on the east end to get some of the tomatoes off the ground. In doing so, we accidentally harvested some green tomatoes.

Our plums surprised us with how quickly they went from looking unripe to being ripe. The tree is loaded.

So far, we’ve figured out that a 50/50 combo of plums and blackberries mixed 1:1 with sugar makes a wonderful jam. We canned about 8 quarts tonight. We probably need to do about that much again to have enough jam for the year and to give away.