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 Winter savory is an herb that I almost wrote off as just an old fashioned, outdated herb.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.
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.
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.
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.
I tried in vain to find replacement pins for the quick release mechanism on the tractor loader. Then I remembered, with old things you’re supposed to be able to make your own parts. So I did. Now the quick release works again.
I lifted the old well cover today, and the water was 7 feet below ground level, giving us 16 feet of water.
I got my first handful of beans a few days ago. We haven’t been able to keep up with the pea harvest of a pound every few days, so I’ll plant half as many next year. My kale and chard are very healthy and producing well. My Mortgage Lifter tomato finally has some blossoms that have become fruits. Overall, my garden row hasn’t needed much watering.