Sunday, August 25, 2013

My August Garden

 I am thrilled with my life this time of year. I feel so accomplished and productive. Yesterday I harvested green tomatoes and zucchini followed by the produce in the above photo. The cabbages were starting to split, so I picked the large ones in the top garden. I still need to harvest about eighteen smaller heads in the lower garden. Last night it got down to 34 degrees and I believe it supposed to get almost that cold again tonight. Then we have a reprieve and at least according to the forecast we get another week of warmer highs and lows. Everything survived last night, although a couple squash branches that were sticking out under the plastic got nipped. But the plants that were not covered were fine - I'm guessing they have been hardened off more maybe?

Every year I am pleased with how some things do in the garden and disappointed with others. My motto this year is to be happy with what I have, and learn from my mistakes, but not to be to fazed or disappointed with what I don't have. I do have to remind myself that I am not in a survival situation. I can and will buy onions and garlic and whatever else I need at the store.

Yesterday I started a second gallon of dill pickles. Since I never have more than a handful of pickling cucumbers every couple days, I have an ongoing refrigerator gallon jar of pickles and brine that I add to over the course of a couple weeks. I make three quarts of brine and put in enough garlic, dill and mustard seeds for three quarts of pickles and then I just keep adding in cucumbers as I pick them. I've lacto fermented a gallon of dilly beans that are now in the refrigerator. Today I canned some green beans along with two batches of raspberry jam. I also started two gallons of sauerkraut, all from my biggest head of cabbage - a nine pounder; Golden Acre.

I've picked raspberries at a local U pick place three times in the last week. The picking has not been good compared to previous years, but I've managed to get about eighteen pounds. I won't have as much raspberries or jam as usual. We'll have to eat more blueberry jam and honey (oh darn). We do have our own raspberries but they are young canes. This week I've picked a cup of golden raspberries almost daily. It took me a while as I was often occupied with tending to the animals first, but I've learned to go right to the raspberries, before the kids pick them all.

I did take most the honey from my bees. I had lots of problems this summer with my queens getting killed off, so unfortunately I didn't have the population I needed during the honey flow. I do have two gallons of my own honey. Which considering how much I spent on bees, is pretty laughable... and yet I'm more than happy to have my two gallons of honey. I've been using it to make jam - on one hand it is hard to pour a cup of honey into each four cups of mashed raspberries, but considering that my kids eat most of the jam, I'll feel better feeding it to them, knowing that is several less teaspoons of refined sugar they'll be eating a serving. Next year I am planning on raising bees at a different location, hopefully in town where it is warmer and get's earlier sun.

 The lower garden was an experiment. I put a little bit of a lot of things down here just to see what would do well. I knew that it was cooler and shadier, but I had high hopes for the fertile soil. The cauliflower didn't do well, but the broccoli did alright. The cabbages are smaller, but then I started and planted them later than the ones in the top garden. The peas didn't do too well, but the beans are rockin right now. The beets look ok, but the carrots are puny. The greens and potatoes look great. So, what to make of it all. My guess is that the soil was higher in nitrogen and lower in phosphorous and trace minerals than I was hoping, which was why the peas and cauliflower didn't do well. The carrots don't like the soil type - it isn't very sandy and has too much compost.

Next year I am going to plant half of this garden in potatoes and the other half in greens. I'm going to plant the back rows in peas, where it is sunnier, but I'm going to mix in a significant amount of bone meal this fall to help with phosphorous. I think I could also get away with planting broccoli, beets and zucchini down here if I needed to. I am not planning on putting any greens, lettuces, kale, chard, spinach, etc. in the top garden next year. I do want to plant more grains in the top garden, and they need the heat and sun, and moving the greens out will give me more room.

 If only I had a couple of months to reap the benefits of those happy cucumbers. Ah, such is a Fairbanks Summer.

This is my first year growing carving pumpkins. We have yet to make carving pumpkins a tradition with the kids. In the past we've painted and colored on them, and kept them around for decoration, but this year I have one big one, above, and a couple smaller ones. The kids are already excited to carve them. Carving pumpkins are expensive up here, so as much as I lust after the pumpkins and squash - mostly the heirloom ones like the big pink Cinderella ones, I will refrain from paying big bucks to tote one home.

 Oh, how I adore Sweet Peas and foxglove!

 And I'm smitten with how pretty the grain crops are turning out. Hopefully we get some decent grain, although I'm not counting on more than a few loaves of bread. Anyone have an oat roller? How well does it work, and how do they compare to store bought rolled oats? I know I don't have enough oats to justify an oat roller, but maybe next year.

With silver bells and cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row.


Wendy said...

Your garden looks fabulous to me!

Anonymous said...

Hello Beautiful!

I'm new to your blog and I'm already a fan! What a beautiful young family and beautiful piece of land. You really are cultivating your own bit of paradise.

Just wanted to say THANKS for Rising Appalachia. Of course I'm instantly hooked. In exchange, a couple groups that you might like from my neck of the woods: The Be Good Tanyas and Po' Girl. Pretty much every Be Good Tanyas song is excellent. As for Po' Girl, I prefer the "older" stuff (an assertion that always sounds pretentious, so forgive me)...

Happy Harvest!

gotomakan said...

Have you heard Carolina Chocolate Drops? I know I have told you a hundred times, but I love your blog. Thanks for letting me live vicariously. :-)

Emily said...

Grace, I haven't heard of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. I'm guessing it is a band, or is it chocolate? :)