Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Wow! Watermelon!

My daughter video called me while I was on vacation to show me that the watermelon was finally ready to pick! They weighed the watermelon and it ended up being 30 lbs. Last I heard they were going to cut it open soon. I can't wait to see what it looks like inside!  They promised that they would take pictures or video call me when they cut it open. It is our first time growing a normal sized watermelon, and I'm not sure what it's going to be like since the sugar baby watermelons we grew last year never seemed to be right; they were either over ripe or not ripe enough. I hope we have better luck with these large ones. Stay tuned for an update.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Late August Harvest And Preserving

This year we grew four varieties of beets. We have red Detroit, cylindra, golden, and chioggia.  Oh how I love beets! They are so tasty and look like jewels on the plate. I like them every way I've had them- boiled, roasted, pickled, and juiced. 

10-year-old Tame Dame # 3 likes pickled beets. Her dad and older sister prefer their beets cooked and plain. 

Ever get a sneeze right before a pic?  Did it look something like this?

Dame Dame number 3 pulled up this beet that happened to have two beets growing together as one.  While her sister was trimming and stringing the green beans in the house, she was pulling the rest of the mature beets from the garden, pulling off the greens and placing them in a bag for our neighbor, and hosing off the dirt before bringing them into the house to be canned.  
Preserving the garden never seems to be a convenient activity, and it is a lot more work then you would anticipate if you have never seen or done it before.  On this occasion, it was the day before I had to leave on a trip and I had a church activity to be to that evening, and there was homeschooling to get done, and chores, and packing, but the garden produce would spoil if I didn't take the time to preserve it that day, and all that hard work of planting, nurturing, watering, weeding, and caring for the garden would have been wasted.  Thank goodness I am a homeschooler because there is no way I could have canned all the green beans and beets on my own! My daughters were a very huge help, and they got to learn a lot about preserving food!  This was a hands-on school day activity where they learned many things including capacity, measuring, proper food handling, sterilization and why it's important, and cooperation!  I would say it was a very successful and educational experience.

The things that have ripened and we have been harvesting are our corbaci peppers, aspabroc, cantaloupe, string beans, beets, turnips, onions and chives, and a few carrots, tomatoes and potatoes.  Wahoo!  We've canned and frozen green beans and beets so far.  And it's all organic!  Our hard work is paying off. 

This next month there will be heavier harvesting, so more preservation is to come. I'm so thankful to have the health to garden and the support I get from friends, family, and others. 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Garden Tour - May 23, 2017

 With the intention of getting the garden in on Memorial Day, we began to harden off our seedlings we've been raising in our garage.    I learned a few things from that.

We've raised seeds for the last 4 years, and I'm continually learning more.  This year I realized that I don't need a 6 inch pot for tomato plants, a 4 inch would be sufficient, and actually, I believe it would've been preferred.  Even a large plastic cup would've been about right.  Here's what our seedlings looked like at the end of April.
 And here's what they looked like around mid-April:

They grew to these beauties by the end of May.

Now, let's get on with the tour.  Our batchelor buttons are thriving along the edge of our path.  We don't water those and that's just how they like it.
 Our colombine came back and didn't look very healthy, but it's trying to live.  The succulents behind it are thriving.
Our pretty desert Rose is blooming.
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The Norland Apple tree... Oh man!  What an unpleasant surprise it was too find out that we got sprinklers all set up for that tree and there is no valve to be found. So, we have to hand water that until they figure it out and fix it. The weeds are coming up anywhere they can get past the landscaping barrier, which you can see behind the Apple tree, and Steve just recently used "killzall" on it and it seems to be working now. 
After all the weeding we did this spring, we laid down 6ml black plastic in our Curbit bed so we won't ever have to deal with that again. There are 8 mounds and we have cut a little hole in the plastic at the tops of the hills for our plants to grow. We planted blue Jarradelle winter squash, yellow zebra tiger squash, zucchini, big moon pumpkin, cantaloupe and watermelon.
This next bed has lovely walking onions, chard, garlic, and chives that came back from last year! We laid down some cardboard to keep the weeds down next to that bed. I'm thinking of putting rocks or mulch in that path, but leaning toward rocks to avoid pests. 
The chard is nice and tall and is going to seed! I'm excited to see what that ends up looking like. 
We love our chives and chive flowers. I really should use it more in cooking, but honestly, my cooking lately has been really sporadic with how busy the yard, garden, homeschool, and relief society responsibilities have kept me. We've eaten out way more than we should. 

We covered our cabbages with netting to prevent the moths from destroying our crop. We'll see how well it works.

In another cabbage bed, we covered it with a shade fabric to help protect it from bugs and keep the ground cooler, hoping to harvest in the summer and not just the fall after it cools down.
In addition to cabbage, our come crops include aspabroc, Minuteman cauliflower, flat Dutch cabbage (these get huge!), and golden acre cabbage.
My neighbor friend, Jax, helped me plant the popcorn. He loves helping garden and he's really good at it!
Our lilac isn't prolific, but it did bloom a bit. And the bloom is beautiful. 
We had parsnips come up in the spring and they're going to seed. I've never seen that for myself before. 

Nutrimulch was added to all the beds we planted in. Hopefully that gives them a great start. 

Our strawberries are beautiful on the side yard. 
The girls use gardening as hands on science. Without them, this garden wouldn't likely exist in the marvelous way it does. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Our new seedlings, and a big fire!

Hi! Tame Dame #3 here! Also known as amara, and We planted seedlings!!!!! They are growing amazingly, and we have the plastic off of them now. We fill up the tubs with water, and it soakes into the plant!!!! A couple days ago, we were pulling up the dry weeds from the side of the house, and we lit them on fire! Jax, our friend came to watch it too.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Sea Of Putrid Purple Posies

"They're pretty," I remember saying the year I moved here. "I love purple flowers, and there are so many of them!"

"Oooohhh no!" The woman standing at my door from the Jehovah's witnesses contradicted, "Those are the stinkiest flowers you've smelled, they last for a week, then they turn into monsters with inch-long thorns!"

Sure enough, I witnessed the deception of the pretty purple posies as they unveiled​ their true identity. The putrid flowers fell (yes, they really do stink) and thick, inch-long thorns portruded abundantly from every stem, the little weed bushes drying up and covering the ground with a mass of hard, pokey spines!  It was a hot mess of spiky-ness!  

I don't like those purple flowers anymore. I've been fighting them every year. Over conference weekend (first weekend in April) I tackled bunches of them that were over running my garden. An hour of hard, heavy pulling, and I only got a corner of the garden weeded. The ground was still so very wet that the mud just clung to the roots, heaving up so much earth and worms that it made the process slow going. 

It's been a high water year for us and the water table has caused flooding in our subdivision since February. We've been pumping out our crawlspace pretty much every day until just recently. Here's what it looked like conference weekend:

I paid for a service project from the Young Women at our church fundraiser and I decided that they would be my weeding helpers. I arranged to have them come a couple weeks after I tried tackling the project on my own.  They gave me 2 hours of their hard work and I was so blessed to have been the winner of their service project. 

They pulled, picked, and piled every one of those pukey purple weeds, leaving 8 large mounds of the things to die and dry and eventually to be set afire. 

With the help of my daughter, we hauled the piles over the fence to be burned, thus leaving the ground ready for the black plastic to kill the other weeds. 

I was so sore the next day, but it's all part of fighting for a garden in the Wild West!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

SEPT 2016- Warm Days, Harvests, Preservation, and Floods

 We enjoy the outdoors a lot in September.  My family is learning photography, and we took several opportunities to practice what we're learning.

This cloud was right above our house.  I've never seen one like it!

September is a good month for harvesting!

Yukon gold potatoes- a meager harvest for as many plants as we had.

We neglected the strawberries, but they still produced some for us.

Here we see romas, baby romas, italian determinate, yellow pear, purple grape heirloom, brandywine heirloom, and rutger tomatoes!

Chard never disappoints.  It has a long growing season and the bugs don't bug it too much.

Our pole beans of 3 varieties- emerite (Green), rattlesnake (stripey ones), and golden filet (yellowish)

We began to harvest beets.  We should've planted more and gave them more attention.  These were so good roasted.  The tiny ones are a pain to deal with, so I'd really thin them better next time.

funny tomato

Our little gardener!  Harvesting her haul makes her happy!

Wowzers!  Those brandywine tomatoes are unpredictably large.

Not all our tomatoes did well.  This plant had blossom end rot, and I believe a tomato horn worm as well.

The plant next to it was giving us pretty tomatoes though.

diseased and dying

Madi and Amara head to the garden with the wagon and a box to start harvesting.

Then, one day, the rains came down and the floods came up!

I thought the rain made our chicks n hens look pretty!
 All that rain called for a warm meal with all those garden veggies.  Here we have crockpot chicken and veggies in a Sweet-Thai-Chile Sauce

The weather was also cause for creating a flotation device.  Lily and Amara invented this lovely ship to sail the seas in our front yard.

 It was featured on KSL News facebook page!  I had posted pics on facebook and a friend of mine asked if she could feature them on her facebook page for local news because most of the stories about the flooding in Roosevelt were depressing, but ours was a nice spin on it all.  Then she gave me a link to send the pics to KSL.  I did just that and 2 hours later, they were featured!

While it rained and rained, I used my new pressure canner to preserve 20 pints of tomatoes.
 Our property gets flooded quite a bit whenever the snows melt or the rain pours or the sprinklers in the farmer's field above us leak.  I got brave and wrote up a letter to the city council and presented it at one of their meetings.  I was nervous, because I really wanted to persuade them to put in a culvert to divert water from my property, but I didn't have a lot of confidence because the secretary didn't seem to think they would rule in my favor.  The day came, I gave my speech, gave them my best proposals and they agreed that something needed to be done.  They couldn't tell me when, but they agreed to do something about it.  Yay!

The rest of the photos in this post are a part of our photography practice in September.  Many were taken and processed by my kids.

P.S. our corn harvest was meager and the corn wasn't tender.  I think our tough kernals problem came from cross pollination of the 2 varieties. I ended up husking and shucking it all and blending it up to make cornbread, which was tasty.  The strawberry popcorn were cute kernels, which popped up fine, but they were probably the smallest little popcorns I've ever seen.  They're a little hard to shuck off the cob when they've dried sufficiently, I may need to find an easier way to do it.  1/4 of the ears were being eaten by plump caterpillars.