This week I haven’t done as much preserving and instead have been trying to focus on getting fall crops in on time! It’s perfect because I’m harvesting a lot of peppers. Peppers are my easiest thing to preserve because my favorite method is drying. It’s so easy, all you have to cut into whatever size you want and then set on the dehydrator trays.
I have a very special guest post today by Cameron! He is the builder around here and because he can explain this way better than I can, he is going to give you all the details on how to build a low tunnel. I also made my first ever YouTube video to explain the process if you prefer to just watch rather than read (please keep that in mind as your watching haha!).
Christmas came twice this week. Once was the first watermelon of the season! The kids ran after me when they saw the watermelon in my hands and the excitement in the air was palpable. I was surrounded until I made the first cut into the melon and man was it a beauty. I’ve never picked one so perfectly ripe. The kids patiently waited as I photographed the watermelon and it was gone in a flash when I gave them the green light. See below haha!
Cold Hardy vegetables can be killed anywhere from 30ºF all the way down to -5ºF and possibly lower. It covers such a wide range of temperature that they are usually put into two different groups, semi cold hardy which can take light frosts and cold hardy which can survive to 20ºF and below.
First let's talk about the crops that can take several light frosts. Light frosts would be in the 28-32ºF range. Crops that can handle light frosts include lettuce, swiss chard, arugula, radishes, beets, chinese cabbage, collards, cauliflower, celery, turnips, and green onions.
Last Friday night was a hard day for us. It was the appointed slaughtering day we chose for our three roosters. We knew when we hatched out chicks it was likely we would have roosters and the plan was to butcher them. Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to have roosters where we live. Otherwise, I think we would have kept our favorite rooster.
Planting a fall garden seems easy enough. And yet there are always a few details and kinks to work out when it comes to planning for any garden.
A fall garden is ready to harvest in fall which means you are planting and sowing seeds in the summer. Do you want to know the secret to success? Psst… the secret is do not miss the planting window.
In years past, I’ve been so busy with harvesting and preserving my summer crops that I miss the window for certain fall crops. This year, I’m already doing better (though not perfect haha!). I made a fall planning chart to help me to plant on time. I’m sharing my fall planner below as well as some tips in hopes that it helps you too!
So many good things have happened this week. Most important is my tomatoes are bearing a lot of fruit. Back in the beginning of the season the tomatoes were struck with awful Septoria leaf spot. It rained here almost everyday from the beginning of May when the tomatoes were planted to the beginning of July.
The first time I had greek salad was only a few years ago. It took me a while to accept the flavor of kalamata olives but when I tried this salad, I fell in love with the combination of flavors.
I’ve tried several versions in the years following and I knew that I wanted to come up with my own recipe that would work for what was growing in the garden. One that would showcase all the fresh vegetables with out being overpowered by dressing or cheese.
We’ve had lots of hot 95 degree days happen this week and I’m melting in the garden. Good thing my plants are more resilient than me! My peppers are just loving the heat and I have them tucked under a thick 5 inch layer of mulch so the soil stays cool and moist.
Tomatoes are coming on. Though a bit slower than last year.
I talked all about the basics of crop rotation in the home garden inTHIS article. I wanted to go beyond the basics and address an issue that often comes up with crop rotation. The problem is growing a lot of one crop family, resulting in an uneven rotation of crops. In most cases this is the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.)
I feel like I blinked and summer is half over! How does it even happen so fast?! Perhaps with how busy I am picking, preserving, and gardening it makes it seem like time is going faster.
Seriously, with so much to do in so little time, it can get overwhelming. I know some of you can relate to the lack of sleep from late nights canning and preserving. It is worth it in the end and it’s such a good feeling to be able to open a jar full of summer bounty in the middle of winter.
Zucchini and summer squash are a gift that just keeps on giving. It’s common to feel overwhelmed by this summer crop when you harvest several a day. That’s a lot of squash and usually more than you know what to do with! I’ve put together a list of recipes so you can eat your summer squash and zucchini day after day and not feel sick of it. After all, if you put in all the work why not reap the benefits?
The garden is officially in full swing! These are the days when I wish I had a wagon or big basket with different compartments for all the produce. I always find myself in the garden not really planning on picking anything and then making my shirt into a pouch to carry a bunch of cucumbers or peppers or whatever I end up with!
I’ve never been naturally thrifty. It takes a conscious and consistent effort for me to be frugal. However, it is something that I find important to because we have a budget that we need to stick to and I want to keep our homestead garden profitable. And by profitable, I refer to the money I “make” by saving money at the grocery store. I like to keep a tally of garden expenses vs. garden returns.
The harvest is increasing and I’m so excited! I love this time of year! I’m always surprised at how much the kids eat from the garden on a daily basis. It’s a good problem to have, but I keep telling Cameron we need more acres and space to grow if we are going to keep up with the appetites of the kids.
If you are growing an organic garden, prevention of diseases and pests is so important. We have several preventative tools to use. In last weeks post, I talked about the importance of cover crops in the home garden. The next step in maintaining a healthy garden is crop rotation. Crop Rotation means moving different crops around the garden in set time intervals. A common practice is to rotate crops yearly. However, if you have a long enough season to do some succession planting, rotating crops may happen more often.
Last night as we were putting our chickens in the coop, I noticed that in our coop the plywood that made a floor in the nesting area completely collapsed. A steady dripping from rain and years of rot and aging finally made the floor give in. It brought down with it some of the hardware mesh which crumpled to the ground under the broken plywood (this is an A frame coop). And to top it all off, Cameron wasn’t home to help at all.
We often hear of cover crops used on large scale farms but what about the home garden? I’m here to tell you, you can do this as a home gardener and it will improve your garden soil and as a result your yields. I personally have used several cover crops in my home garden and they are worth the effort and not hard to do.
This week we’ve finished a few garden projects. The most important being we got two of the blueberry trellis’ with netting over the top built. I will finally have some blueberries! Yay! I’m working on a blog post with more details and some tips on how we built the trellis.
Fresh seasonal food has maximum flavor and nutrition. My goal is to eat as much garden food as possible while it’s in season and with the excess preserve for when there isn’t as much abundance. This year, I’ve been working extra hard to meet my goal of a year of homegrown vegetables. It’s had me thinking of all the ways I need to preserve for winter, my hardest season to complete 100% vegetables from my backyard garden.
I wanted to give you some ideas on how to preserve what you have right now. In some parts of the US you may already be done with your spring harvest and others are just beginning. I’m right at the tail end of these early crops.
I’m Becky. Gardening and eating from that garden is my passion. I’m a believer that a year-round self-sufficient homestead can begin no matter where you may live. My goal is to empower others continue on their journey toward a self- sufficient life.