The Weekly Digs #133

by Becky

In the Garden

In the garden this week, we weeded and added mulch to rows. I have winter on my mind and my thoughts keep going to protecting and building the soil. I have been reading and researching a lot about cover crops. This came about because of something that happened with them just recently.

In the area that my cabbages are in, I had planted hairy vetch, a nitrogen fixing cover crop. In some parts of the row, I terminated the vetch prior to planting. But in other parts of the row, I let it be as a living mulch. 

The parts where I killed the cover crop by solarization (covered it with a clear plastic tarp) had cabbages that were attacked by bugs and on the small side. In the areas with living vetch left under the cabbages, the cabbage was larger, healthier looking, and had very, very few bugs.

I had thought to terminate the vetch prior to planting because it was huge and unruly. I also didn’t want it to set seed. 

The hairy vetch that kept on growing did make seed but I’ve yet to see any new sprouts of it. And I keep thinking why would that be a bad thing if it did set seed? With the pretty amazing results I saw from it being interplanted with the cabbages, I think it could only do good.

So that is why I am doing more research on cover crops and looking forward to trying some new experiments next year!

Pepper harvest

The cabbages were just about ready for harvest so I cut and harvested several heads and put them in our cold room. Even though most were decimated on the outside by bugs, if I peeled back a few layers the cabbage was looking good. I’m grateful that despite heavy bug pressure we still got a pretty good harvest.

Preserving 

I did a little preserving every day this week. This is my trick for how I am able to get so much done over a summer- adding little by little. It’s not really much of a trick after all but it is effective.

I purchased some apples and grapes from a local farm stand on Monday. We dehydrated apples every day this week. I can only fit about a quarter of a bushel in my Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator. I bought 3 bushels of apples! It takes about a day for each batch to dry.

I will make some applesauce too, but not tons since we like the apple chips a lot better. Apple chips are one of my favorite snacks!

From the grapes, I fully intended on eating the half bushel I got fresh, as is. I love concord grapes just plain and as they are! But I did end up making some jam from them. We had pulled out the food mill because Cruz (my oldest son) was making a homemade cheesecake ice cream with a grape swirl sauce. 

Fermented red pepper salsa

Then I figured since it was out, we’d make some grape puree for jam too. I made 8 half pints of low sugar jam. 7 cups of grape puree plus one and a quarter cups honey. I use Pomona’s Pectin and really like it for its ability to gel with low sugar. 

I also took my fermented red pepper salsas out of the crock and put it into jars then put it in the cold room. The cold room stays at about 48ºF so it’s a touch warmer than a refrigerator. I’m interested to see if my ferments keep fermenting in there or if they stop like they would in a refrigerator. 

I plan on checking on the jars and burping the lids just in case they are still actively fermenting. It would be bad if they exploded from the gas build up.

Homestead Projects

Cameron is continuing in making the walnut butcher block counter top for our pantry. He finished gluing up most of it and has run it through the planer a few times. It’s looking good.

Another project Cameron and his Dad have been working on is our driveway. It is very steep (the grade is 12%), and has washed out after every heavy rainstorm.

It’s bad enough, our neighbors across the street get dirt and runoff from the driveway in their yard. We decided it wasn’t very neighborly and that we needed to address the problem.

So when Cam’s Dad rented a mini excavator for another project, we thought it would be a good time to utilize it for the driveway. Over the years the driveway has created its own low spot, almost like a mini stream running down it.

To fix it, we are raising the height of the road, filling in the low spots and mounding the dirt in the center so it runs off the edges into ditches.

Cam dug the ditches deeper and it runs into a catchment pond lower in elevation. As long as the grading works properly, we’ll get some gravel down on it after it’s all finished. We do plan on paving it but probably not until next year after all the new dirt work packs down.

The steep part of the driveway is 500ft long so it will not be cheap!

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2 comments

Wendy October 13, 2021 - 11:22 am

Hello, I found your blog yesterday and have been reading and reading. You (both) have accomplished so much. Really admirable. I envy your energy levels and it is inspiring. Eventhough my garden is teeny tiny I know about the bugs (cabbageworms and blue mint beetles and and 🙂 still I would not want to be without it. I make our own kombucha and must try some kimchi. Will take a look at your recipes.
Kindest regards, Wendy

Reply
theseasonalhomestead October 17, 2021 - 12:49 am

Thank you Wendy! So glad to have you here!

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