The Weekly Digs #128

by Becky
Published: Updated:

Searching for Grapes

A few weeks ago I called around looking for grapes from local farms. I purchased a steam juicer this year just for making grape juice and I was so excited to use it! I am also working with a homesteading supply company to do a blog post writing about how to make grape juice with the steam juicer.

So the pressure was on! After calling around to four places, they all said the same thing. There would be very few grapes this year due to the late frost we had. I suddenly felt a bit worried I wouldn’t be able to get any.

Fall Gold Raspberry

I called every couple days to the place I had bought last year and they kept pushing out the date they would be picking. I wanted to make sure I was one of the ones to get the few grapes they would pick since I had a lot riding on it.

On Monday I called and they said they didn’t have any Concord because they aren’t looking good this year but they were able to pick some Sunbelt grapes (also a slipskin grape). 

A few weeks ago, they had said they would probably only be able to sell the quart size. But by a miracle when I called on Monday, she said they had enough to sell in half bushels. Wahoo!

I asked how many she had and she said six. I then asked her to hold them for me because I was coming to buy them all. Haha. 

I brought some coolers and filled them with six half bushels of grapes. It was a good day!

Spaghetti sauce and grape juice

This week I canned 26 quart jars of grape juice from it and still have one half bushel left. I’m thinking I might do some jelly with the last of it if I get time and don’t eat them all first. Cameron wants to make some homemade grape ice cream too.

In the Garden

As I mentioned in weeks past, because of all the preserving and time spent homeschooling, I haven’t been able to spend very much time in the garden.

This week I realized too late, there is a devastating pest killing all my radishes, turnips, arugula, and cabbages. Have you ever heard of a harlequin bug? 

I had to look it up. And basically googled “Bug eating all cabbages and turning them brown”. There it was, the harlequin bug. I’ve never had a bug do so much damage in such a short time. 

My turnip plants

I feel like these came out of nowhere and thousands of them! I was so sad, I cried. So much work all getting eaten and destroyed. Then, instead of crying about it I started to shake the plants and step and crush as many as I could. 

I had the kids come out and help for a while. We made a small dent. I’m not sure what to do next but know that I will definitely use bug netting next year. The bug netting is expensive but I wish I had invested in it now. 

I am afraid to plant all the fall kale, broccoli, and bok choy I had planned. It will get destroyed.

My game plan is to pivot away from the cabbage family plants for fall and instead plant cold hardy lettuce and much more spinach than originally planted. 

A long time ago I decided never to spray pesticides in my garden, including the “organic” ones. This was the first time I was ever tempted to do so! 

This has definitely been the year of the bad bugs. I keep thinking God wants me to work with nature not against it. There must be another way. For now, I’m practicing patience and trying to look on the bright side.

We did have a really good harvest year for a lot of other plants.

This week we’ve been harvesting lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and tons of yellow beans, nearly 20lbs!

Coastal Star and Tropicana lettuce

Preserving

  • 26 quarts of Grape juice
  • 7 quarts of Spaghetti Sauce
  • Froze 10 lbs of Yellow Beans
  • 21 pints of Salsa- this fills our year quota- we are over 60 pints total now YAY!

I need to freeze more yellow beans but we are out of freezer space. The freezers we had on order that were supposed to be here Friday got delayed. I am praying we get them soon, our beef is coming back from the butcher in a few days too and we need it for that.

House Updates

The other good thing this week is that we got the grading around our house done. We waited for nearly two months but it finally happened. 

They also smoothed out the circle drive we put in and lifted our wood boiler into place.

Cam was able to call and get some gravel put down. We got five dump trucks worth and they made it to our barn. We have a long driveway so we’ll need to get more to do the rest.

After weeks without rain, it rained today and we were able to see how the drainage around the house looked. 

The other nice thing is that the gravel kept the driveway nice and driveable and not muddy. It’s a small thing but after months of driving a muddy driveway I feel very grateful and happy to have it better.

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4 comments

Kate September 5, 2021 - 6:10 pm

I’m also having trouble with bugs in the garden. I went to pick the kale and it was covered in cabbage moth caterpillars. The leaves were completely destroyed and unusable. I was too discouraged to go remove the bugs by hand, which I know is what I’ve got to do. I started some fall cabbage seedlings but I don’t want to plant them. I’ve got to figure out some kind of row covers.

Reply
theseasonalhomestead September 11, 2021 - 7:07 pm

Hi Kate, thank you for sharing. It’s good to know we are all in this together, waging a war against the pests. Row covers work well, just make sure you have them tucked down securely. We have lots of wind where I live and I didn’t put enough sand bags down to secure my row covers this year so have some bugs which still managed to get under them. Always new things to learn in the garden! I wish you luck with your fall crops!

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Laurel M. September 5, 2021 - 10:11 pm

I’m glad you got your grapes!! We have a red grape vine, Canadice. It makes the best juice, so much better than Concord from the store. If I wait to pick until after a frost, it doesn’t need sugar and steams almost to a syrup. I know you can fill your steamer with grapes still on the stem, but if you get kids to pull the grapes off the stems before you steam the juice, you can run the pulp through a food mill and make the most delicious grape leather from the leftovers. Sorry about the bugs, any chance the chickens would eat them and leave the plants alone?

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theseasonalhomestead September 11, 2021 - 7:02 pm

Nice! I’ll have to look into that type. We are planning on planting some grapes within the next few years. And that is a good idea about stemming the grapes prior to steaming and making grape fruit leather. Thanks so much for sharing that with me! In the years before I had the steam juicer I made fruit leather with the pulp but I didn’t think I still could with the steam juicer. That’s great!

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