Summer is finally here and the garden loves it!

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It has been a while since our last post, so there is lots to share. It has been busy on our little homestead. We have been adjusting to a bigger family, maintaining a garden, our poultry and everything in between.

Paul has made major progress on weeding and making more garden beds.  The poor guy has been working in the smoldering heat and at night with his head light.  We are now proud owners of a very impressive asparagus patch.  We will either expand it or try to stick a few more plants into this one in fall.  We eat a lot of asparagus, so the more the merrier or should I say yummier! In the new garden beds we planted more tomatoes, squash, corn, peppers and cucumbers.

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With the summer days being hot, the garden has taken on a new meaning of growth.  The tomato plants are becoming giants, producing lots of green tomatoes of different sizes.  With the temperature being in the 80’s, they actually have a chance to ripen this year.  The last few years in the Puget Sound region have not been tomato years.  We have high hopes to finally enjoy our tomatoes and who knows, maybe even preserve a few.IMG_20140710_184150113IMG_20140725_102331907IMG_20140710_184136379

I have an unhealthy attachment to the garden. I generally (time permitting) do fast morning rounds to check on the garden beds.   Later in the evening the veggies get a more thorough inspection–it puts me at peace.  Nonetheless, a few days ago, in the morning I noted that there was a zucchini that was almost eating size (not too big, and not to small) but when I went out in the evening to take a second look-see…the thing had almost doubled in size.  We are turning that bad boy into some delicious zucchini noodles.  l have to say, I love my new vegetable noodle maker and highly recommend it to anyone who is trying to be more carbohydrate free but can’t make peace in the world without noodles.IMG_20140720_105324882_HDRIMG_20140710_184531722

We are noting a similar habit with our corn. We planted them from starts, much later than we should have.   Paul had pretty much declared them doomed.  However, the same day we discovered our massive zucchini, I noticed the corn. Unbelievably, the plants have doubled in size in just a few days. Hopefully a few more days in the 80’s (and the forecast is on my side) and our corn will be head high, and putting on tassels.  It would be nice to enjoy our own corn!

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The potato plants are the only plants that seem to not fully appreciate the sun.  I take full responsibility for that!  We planted them and then sort of neglected them, providing only the bare minimum.  We have not been adding as much additional soil to our towers as we could have, exposing a lot of the stem and losing a lot of potential potatoes.  The vegetation of a few plants died completely and I had to dig them up so the potatoes did not rot or get eaten by bugs.  Once I got going, I yanked all of them…sparing Paul the trouble  of watering that specific part.  We got about 24 pounds.  A bit disappointing, since these were to produce up to 80 pounds but since we did not follow the rules, we’ll take it.  I was actually pleasantly surprised we got so much, the plants did not even bloom.  We will use the tiny potatoes as seeds for fall potatoes and stick them back into the soil in the beginning of August.  Maybe our luck will change for fall potatoes.  We have even bigger plans for the potato crop next year!!

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The raspberries are doing well in their new home, we have been collecting a handful here and there.  We kind of forgot we had berries and when I went to check on them, I realized that many had over ripened and fallen on the ground.  The placement of the berries is not in, what is referred to in permaculture as, zone one.  Though not ideal for a fruiting plant that requires frequent harvest, we are running out of sunny space in our yard.  Because our kids LOVE berries, especially ones that they can pick themselves, we really wanted to include as many plants of as many varieties as we could in our plans.  The location may end up problematic, and will probably require improving access and maybe installing some seating to make this a more desirable space in our yard to hang out.  But for now, finishing up the beds for the blueberries will help with access, as there are big piles of tree limbs and dirt waiting to be turned into hugel mounds.  We purchased 20 pots of 10 different varieties of beautiful blueberry bushes back in late spring, but have yet to get them planted.  Despite being confined to a pot and being kept in the shade the blueberries are producing delicious berries.  The kiddos are having fun grazing.

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Our chicken run is still in it’s planing mode.  Because it is taking us longer than anticipated, we went ahead and integrated our chicks with the laying hens.  The hens accepted the babies well–probably because some of the “babies” were bigger than they are.   So far we are up to eight roosters and boy have they learned to crow.   Nothing like laying in bed at five o’clock in the morning listening to all of them take a turn to crow and praying that the neighbors are not going to be knocking on your door.  The worst part is, the process of learning to crow is very similar to that of a pubescent boys’ changing voice–not the most appealing noise.  The buggers insist on doing it many times in the morning and then a few thought the day.

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We have also started the season of food preservation!!  I am excited and can’t wait for it to kick in full gear!  We had a lot of strawberries from our CSA and my folks garden, so I have been making fruit roll-ups for the kids and they like it!   Fruit, plus equal parts sugar, low heat and 7 hours and you got yourself a tasty treat (without all the junk!)  After strawberries, we have had a steady inflow of raspberries and blueberries and whatever does not get eaten, gets converted to jam!  This year, we need to stock up on some jam as we completely depleted our stocks.   Here is a list of other goodies we are planning on making this year.IMG_20140607_220218136IMG_20140608_175527798

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  • Plum, Apricot and Blackberry Jams
  • Lots of canned tomatoes
  • Salsas: tomato and tomatillo
  • Pasta sauce
  • Pickled squash
  • Canned and pickled green beans
  • Canned and pickled beets
  • Pickled tomatoes
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Pesto
  • Freezing and drying of various herbs
  • Freezing and drying of mushrooms we will forage
  • Making and freezing breakfast burritos (egg production will decrease in the winter)
  • Soups
  • Pesto
  • Baby food for baby boy (he will be eating solids in the middle of the winter, so we have to stock up for him).
  • Canned dog food (our dogs won’t eat just kibble, so we have been saving scraps/cuts of meat to can our own dog food–meat and sweet potatoes)

What do others can, preserve, freeze or dry?  Please share your thoughts and comments…we are always looking for new things to try.

As always, we hope you enjoyed our blog and will come back soon!  Happy Reading!