Independence Days: Finding Space

Sharon July 22nd, 2010

The problem is that all the new garden beds are not yet built.   This makes it very hard to fit in my fall crops, as planned.  Why are they not yet built?  Well, because I was building a buck pen, so that Frodo and Cadfael, our slightly smelly gentlemen could have their own spot.  Why didn’t I build the buck pen earlier, so I could have the garden beds ready?  Well, because I was building a second kidding pen to accomodate the very close due dates of our goats.  Why didn’t I build the kidding pen earlier?  Well, because I was building the herb production beds.  Why didn’t I do those earlier?  Well, I was away visiting my family.  So there’s definitely a way to blame it on my Mom ;-) .

The late cukes are where the peas were.  The mesclun mix, instead of bolting, has actually gone on producing beautifully, so I can’t take that out.  The herb beds are already crammed tight - half of what’s in them is going to come out again and be moved into other beds, also not yet built.  I had another herb bed, but it turned out the dogs really liked to lie on it, and dogs are not good mulch, just in case you didn’t know.  Everything there had to come out  - I may still be able to make it work, but now I have to raise the beds up.

The green beans I hoped would be ready to come out aren’t yet, so I don’t have their space, and I have already cut down on zucchini plants - one needs extras in July, but by August, they aren’t worth it.  The sweet corn will be out soonish, but not yet.  So what’s a girl to do, but dig, dig, dig.

I’ve also got to set up another rabbit cage - the little doe that came out of Rosemary’s last kindling needs to be moved out before Rosemary has her second batch of babies.  I’m planning to buy another doe and buck this year - maybe from she of the bunnies if she’s got stock (hi Michelle), but I want to check out the fair first in a couple of weeks.

We’re harvesting all the good stuff  - the one advantage of a hot, dry summer is all the stuff I usually struggle with is doing really well.  My first eggplant is ready.  I’m getting enough tomatoes for salads, if not yet for canning.  The basil is exploding, and it is time for pesto making.  The hot peppers are booming - yay - speaking as a serious pepper-head, this is a real novelty and a joy. Hot sauce and salsa, here I come!

The rain hasn’t been ample, but it has mostly been enough to get along, and we’ve got more coming.  I hear an inch tomorrow - woohoo!  I’m trying to keep up with the herbs, and while they don’t dry quite as fast as I’d like in the drying room (previously known as the mudroom) the quality is great - green, fragrant, perfect.   

The boys are excited about naming all the baby goats.  We’ve decided that this year’s theme will be herbs and flowers.  We’re keeping the best of Frodo’s boys as a buckling, since Frodo is getting on in goat years and we’re a bit paranoid about losing his brilliant genetics.  The boys quite innocently suggested that we could name a buck “Goldenrod” or “Mandrake” and I admit, Eric and I had a good laugh on that. 

It is time to order my garlic and fall bulbs - I always get ornamental bulbs as part of my birthday present (in a couple of weeks) and this year we’re planning on radically expanding our garlic production.  The rest of the garlic is just about ready to harvest, and that’s tomorrow’s job.  The major challenge here is keeping the garlic out of Eli’s hands - he loves the long stems to play with.

I’m going to set up a segment of this blog to show farm products for sale and goat genetics and things, if I can pull it off, and ideally lots of pictures!  All of this is coming just as soon as I actually get time for it - but that will have to be soon, because there’s a nagging feeling in the back of my brain that I have a book contract to deal with at some point ;-) .  Best get things done soon.

Plant something: Echinacea, eclipta, mesclun, turnips, beets, kale, broccoli, peas, scallions, lettuce, arugula, daikon, kohlrabi.

Harvest something: Tomatoes, eggplant, basil, mesclun, zucchini, summers quash, green beans, carrots, daikon, new potatoes, bok choy, lettuce, meadowsweet, yarrow, mongolian yarrow, holy basil, mint, curry plant, sage, plums, raspberries, blueberries, eggs.

Preserve something: Dried many herbs, made blueberry-honey, blueberry jam and blueberry crisp filling.  Dried blueberries.  Made rhubarb sauce.  Dried peaches.  Made red currant jelly.  Saved pea seed.  Froze eggs.

Waste Not: Cleaned out the old stable for its transition to buck and winter poultry housing, and put the remaining old bedding in the garden.  Otherwise, the usual composting, mending, etc…

Want Not: Nothing new

Build Community Food Systems: Spoke at a hearing on a local community garden proposal - I think they’re going to get one.  Began pestering folk at my shul about setting up a community garden onsite.

Eat the Food: Making a lot of potato salads - I don ‘t like mayo, so they tend to be with a mustardy vinagrette instead - I really like the one with capers, garlic and last year’s dried tomatoes.

How about you?


24 Responses to “Independence Days: Finding Space”

  1. The Mom says:

    Plant something: carrots, beets, spinach, pac choy, tatsoi, cabbage, broccoli, swiss chard, lettuce.

    Harvest something: green beans, cucumbers, jalapenos, anaheim peppers, bell peppers, zucchini, pac choi, tatsoi, beets, carrots, eggs, onions, garlic.

    Preserve something: freezing lots of green beans

    Waste not: nothing new

    Want not: nothing new

    Build community food systems: Spoke with a group of friends about restarting the farmers market in town. It was doing well until the market manager quit. Now we need to get it back up and running.

    Eat the food: Lots stir fries, egg rolls, and quick pickles.

    I’m really starting to make major headway in getting the fall garden in. There are a few more things to be planted, but overall, we’re looking good.


  2. Leigh says:

    There’s always more to do than time to do it in! Happy early birthday. Pick out some good uns!

    Here’s my update -

  3. NM says:

    Plant something: Nothing. But husband did rough dig the last garden bed for me; I now need to finish it and start fall planting.
    Harvest something: Strawberries, pie cherries, sweet cherries, local eggs, farmers market fruit, csa vegetables
    Preserve something: Froze pie cherries; canned sour cherry jam, strawberry jam, spiced cherry syrup, made strawberry liqueur, Oregon grape liqueur, sour cherry liqueur. Dried apricots, rhubarb and cherries.
    Want not: Made an appointment for Saturday to see the house of a perfect-in-every-way small farm that I really, really want. … It’s out of our price range, but I’m desperately hoping that can be worked out. Husband keeps telling me to remain calm and not fall in love with it. Pppbbbbttttt.
    Husband replaced the garage door, which was in very bad shape, so another small step toward getting this house sale-ready.
    Waste not: composting, etc. Another box of miscellaneous items to the thrift store. Identified more that’s got to go.
    Community food systems: Have been asked to participate with a group setting up a vegertable/healing garden at the hospital.
    Eat the food: Chard and mushrooms with fettucine, corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, pesto, broccoli pizza (my last jar of homemade sauce!) spaghetti, with sauce made from my last jar of home canned tomatoes, cherry pie …

  4. Lise says:

    My latest update is here:

    Happy birthday!

  5. Brenda@Coffeeteabooksandme says:

    The heat is causing all my summer crop to grow beyond expectations (even if early heat killed the butter lettuce and broccoli).

    I only recently realized I’d forgotten to thin out the green beans when they started growing, which is why they are a tangled mess now. However, they are all producing so I don’t want to pull any of them… except the plant which was growing into my Italian parsley and threatening it.

    This is the second year of our raised bed and we expanded by two beds. Next spring we plan to expand again. We are on a fixed income but have found one can accomplish a lot just a little at a time (much better than waiting for circumstances to be perfect).

  6. Claire says:

    More rain, 4.3 inches of it *just this week* and the week isn’t over yet. Over 7 inches so far this month. Why am I behind? in a word, rain. Oh yes, and did I mention the heat? And the dewpoints in the 70sF? Rain doesn’t feel too good when it’s still 80F outside while the rain is falling. Rivers are up, sump pump is pumping its guts out, again.

    Plant: nothing, just finishing digging the last bed for summer crops, will plant it tomorrow and report next week.

    Harvest: some tomatoes, the ones the rain didn’t rot out. Cabbage, calendula flowers, carrots, rose hips, beets, a few shiitake mushrooms, the first of the potatoes. One cucumber. Gathered some of the black walnuts that dropped into our yard from our neighbor’s tree.

    Preserve: drying the calendula flowers. Leaving the black walnuts outside to allow the husks to dry - much easier to remove when they are dry. Froze the rose hips for winemaking.

    Waste not: a good friend wanted to remove some of her excess hostas. I volunteered to be the home for her wayward hostas. Used them to plant up the space under redbud trees that poison ivy is trying to use for itself. The DH found himself a suit jacket he can wear to another friend’s wedding at a local thrift store for $6 (none of the couple he had fit). Using the AC but minimally, just during the worst afternoons and evenings, set to 80F. We did get some hours of cool air after some of the rains; at those times we opened up the house and cooled it down that way.

    Want not: ordered extra sugar for future winemaking.

    Community food systems: can’t think of anything I did along those lines.

    Eat the food: braised potatoes. Stir-fried cabbage using curry as the spice. Coleslaw with all ingredients from our garden (cabbage, carrots, onions).

  7. jb says:

    I am harvesting and drying calendula and chamomile. My lack of enough drying trays is soon going to interfere with drying fruit. Sharon (or others) what do you use for drying trays? I would make my own if I knew what the best material would be. thanks!

    claire - how do you process the black walnuts? I have heard they are really hard to crack.

    planted: kale, cabbage, carrots
    harvest : peas, broccoli, collards, apples
    waste not: normal composting
    community food systems - worked with my neighbor on our shared raspberry patch

  8. Michelle says:

    She who has rabbits wonders if she who needs rabbits might be enticed to Western Mass to help evaluate some Nigerian Dwarf does… services to be recompensed with a buck and doe of her choice?

    A day trip would suffice….

  9. Evey says:

    I had a great week long visit from my sister, whom I haven’t seen in two years, and her partner who misses gardening. I got a lot of work out of them!!

    Plant something: the last of teh sweet potatoes slips(probably too late but they were healthy so why waste them), 2nd planting of provider green beans, kable for fall, chard for fall, cutting mix for fall, reseeded some flats of non germinating brussels sprouts for fall. My guests did a great job of cleaning out/weeding teh kitchen garden bed that will be soon planted for the overwintering harvest under fabic and plastic.

    Harvest something: green beans, corn, beets, 23 lbs of new Yukon Gold potatoes, celery, 13 Chinese eggplant, 1 tomato to date, eggs from our new chickens!

    Perserve something: wee apricots from a friend of a friend’s yard-jam and frozen, a few jars of pickles, made up a gallon of cut/sauted eggplant, green beans, summer squash which I froze withd canned tomatoes for a summer veggie stew in winter.

    Waste not: snagging bones off families’ dinner plate on the way to the garbage- I plan to have the freezer full of broth bones by winter.

    Want not: I’m checking out bulk prices on some common items and will see about getting friends to split with me for the lowest price, picked-up a few packs of disposible vinyl gloves on sale.

    Community food systems: the town wants to help set-up a farmers’ market as part of the “Interpertive Center” they just recieved a grant for. No cost to farmers at least for the first year!!!

  10. Duane De Vries says:

    Regarding black walnuts… definitely a labor of love (grin)!
    In my method, I have a piece of 1 inch by 4 inch board about a foot long. I have drilled two holes in it, one about an inch and the other about an inch and a quarter. After letting them sit for a few weeks to soften the husk, I take a hammer and pound the nut through the appropriate size hole. This removes nearly all the husk. Now let them sit in the garage until late January. I then take the nut and put it in a small vice I have mounted on my work bench. I think it’s considered a 3 or 4 inch vise. Put the nut in the vice pointed end toward the part of the vice that is moving and slowly exert pressure. Eventually the nut will crack, probably into four wedges. Now put each wedge into the vise ‘longways’ and slowly apply pressure. This should crack the nut enough to remove the meat. In my experience, it takes me between three and five minutes PER NUT from start to stop. And I have to clean about 40 nuts to get ONE CUP of the walnut meats. But my wife loves them (I don’t) so that’s why I call it a labor of love!

  11. Sharon says:

    Oh, she who has rabbits - that’s possible, depending on timing. I literally can’t go anywhere for about 3 weeks, since I’ve got to be around to play obstetrician. And we’re likely to have a Fresh Air Fund guest here until late August - maybe towards the end of August? Or do you need it before?


  12. (: Sunshine :) says:

    Sharon, what do you do w the rabbits? I thought you couldn’t eat them? Just curious! Thanks!

  13. Gabrielle says:

    Plant— I have a few hollyhocks, an elephant ear and a few other plants that a friend at church passed my way. It rained yesterday and this morning so my plans to get them in the ground were foiled. I’ll try to get them in the ground this afternoon as if it dries up a bit.

    Harvest—Onions, scallions, basil, blueberries, jalapenos, herbs, okra, bell peppers, cucumbers, crookneck squash, tomatoes, and flowers. I had plans to pick peaches at a local farm on Friday, but they weren’t ready yet. Instead our daughter and I picked around 8 lbs of thornless blackberries and bought a couple of cantaloupe while there.

    My husband brought me jewels this week, or at least that is what I call the beautiful red raspberries he picks for me each year. He has a spot that he has marked and every year he makes me very, very happy when he returns home from work with my rubies in tow. We ate some and froze the rest for a future cobbler.

    Preserve—I made a batch of pickled beets and a batch of blackberry jam. Froze some blackberries and the raspberries mentioned above.

    I hope to pick peaches this week and to get my hands on some corn.

    I’m starting to feel a bit better about the home canning now that I have a few of the basics stored. I liked Crunchy Chicken’s word for it—canxiety. Until I put away enough jam, a few green beans, and a few fruits in storage, I feel a little out of sorts.

    Waste Not/Reduce Waste— I think I’ve done a little worse in this area this week. I had a few foods in the fridge go bad before I could use them. The green beans have turned to seed on the earliest vine because of my lack of picking (at least I can use the seed, though!)

    I passed a few egg cartons to a friend who owns chickens.

    Want Not/Prep/Storage— I cleaned out the freezer and reorganized. I’m embarrassed to say I found a quart bag of blueberries from last year in there! Whoops! We’ll use them quickly this week to make room for other things.

    I added a lot of food to storage this week, probably the most significant addition being 12 cans of tomatoes from the grocery.

    My dad moved into his house this week. After months of living with us and all of that adjustment, I’m now missing him. He’s only a few miles away, but he had become a fixture in the household.

    Building Community Food Systems— I didn’t make it to the farmers market, missing a week for the first time this year. Since our garden is not yielding as much as last year, I’m especially disappointed that I missed going. I’ll try and go to some of the smaller markets this week to fill in with what we need.

    We had quite a few communal meals this week—having a few of our daughter’s friends over on different evenings for supper, going over to a friend’s house another night, helping to host a bridal shower at church, and eating the first supper my dad cooked on his stove in his house. A friend who owns chickens gave us half a dozen eggs as a thank you for having her daughter for a sleepover.

    A friend at church passed some larger zucchini to me, knowing I could use them for zucchini bread. I helped with the food pantry at church this week.

    Eat the Food— I can’t think of anything that different or “fancy” that I made this week. We had a lot of fresh veggies and beautiful fruits, and they didn’t need dressing up too much.

  14. ChristineH says:

    We’ve been having a banner year in our gardens so far ( I say so far because I hate to tempt fate), with everything pretty much exceeding our expectations. Years like this make it easy to forget about the years where it was so wet we couldn’t walk in the gardens without sinking, or the year everyone’s lawns turned brown in June and there was only one skimpy cut of hay. We’ve been getting a decent dump of rain about once a week, although I would like a bit more - there are some alarming cracks in the soil of what we call our main garden. But it’s on the last leg of the rotation and will get lots of manure and a cover crop and a rest next year. I can’t even complain about the bugs, I think in part because of my own laziness. I never got the parsnips out of the ground this spring so I just left them with vague plans to collect seed. They ended up attracting swarms of wasps and lady bugs and all sorts of other things I can’t name, and I ended up not having anything to squish but a few cabbage worms. Only now that the parsnips have set seed am I seeing any pests, but we seem to be in the midst of a wolf spider boom, and combined with the toads, I just sit back and let them do their thing. The only quibble I have this year is that, at least once a week we have been getting hail warnings. At one point this week they were predicting 2 cm diameter hail. Having had everything pulped once before, it’s enough to send me into an internal panic until the threat has passed.

    Ok, enough novel, on with the show:

    Plant Something: Beets, turnip, started a flat of asparagus from seed

    Harvest Something: raspberries, a few (ever-bearing) strawberries, kohlrabi, cukes, zukes, green and yellow beans, daikon and winter radish, an assortment of hot and sweet peppers, chard

    Preserve Something: froze beans, raspberries, will be drying some peppers and beans today

    Waste Not: just the usual composting, etc. Salvaged a wire tomato cage my father ran over with the lawn mower (don’t ask)

    Want Not: Can’t think of a single thing. How nice is that? :)

    Community Food Systems: putting together a bin for the food bank today, gave a couple garden tours to curious people, gave some composted manure to a co-worker for her veg garden

    Eat the Food: beans and more beans, raw radish and kohlrabi, need to figure out how to make kimchi asap

  15. madison says:

    Hi Sharon! Glad to hear your summer is going so well. I am always amazed at how much you get done! I understand about the kid thing - I went for my first job interview in 6 months, and ended up wondering what my kid was doing the whole time!

    Speaking of, we just relocated from Oregon to Colorado last week. Been outta work for over a year now, so time to do something different. I am amazed at how gorgeous the Boulder area is. Can’t wait to hit the farmers markets and start finding out what is here, though it’s really difficult to do without a car.

    Yes, officially homeless, jobless and carless. What a combination!

    But, I’m hoping to find good things here and I still wanna be like you when I grow up :D

    Take care,

  16. KC says:

    In Virginia:
    October beans are coming in now - (I planted them early). they are big flavorful beans and beautiful too. I will grow these again next year. I am saving seed and eating them fresh plus drying some for winter. The fava bean crop was ruined by untimely rains (while I was away). Hopefully they still helped the soil as a cover crop. I will plant fall crops in both of these beds soon.

    planted: burdock, beets, carrots, salsify, rutabaga, dill, vitamin green, tatsoi, and other asian greens . I plant the greens between the rows of roots. They should grow fast and be harvested before the roots start to mature. Also planted in flats: parsley, kohlrabi, purple peacock broccoli, rapini, michili, cabbage (january king and melissa), - all are up but the parsley. Planted a late crop of Mexican gherkins and one last row of beans (from seed I saved last year.)

    harvest: green beans, October beans, cucumber, tomatoes, dill (for seed) and coriander seed, basil, kohlrabi, beets, chard, onion, also some asian greens that reseeded themselves from last fall’s plantings. What a surprise to find chinese cabbages in with the tomatoes! Also eating tomatoes from plants that reseeded themselves.

    preserved: dehydrated green beans , drying basil, dill seed, coriander seed, drying october beans for seed and for eating.

    waste not/want not: the usual

    build community food systems: a neighbor shared her chart for keeping track of canned and frozen goods from year to year.

    eat the food: I love kohlrabi (who knew?). For breakfast this AM, onions, kohlrabi strips, asian greens, yellow tomatoes, with sunnyside eggs on top.

  17. Anna says:

    Our dog obsesses over raised beds off and on too. I’ve discovered that when I first see her on a bed, I need to put a few brushy branches over it — just enough that the bed doesn’t look comfy any more. That generally does the trick, and I can take the branches off once the contents start growing.

  18. Kate in NY says:

    For some reason, your post today makes me think of the Passover song “Chad Gad Ya.”

  19. Claire says:

    Since you asked about black walnuts: my DH says slit the husks with a knife, then leave the walnuts outside and let the husks dry off. They don’t seem to be that attractive to squirrels, unlike hazelnuts. I generally don’t bother to slit them, just leave them outside to dry the husks, but the husks might dry faster if slit. I’m going to try my DH’s suggestion this year.

    Once the husks are dry, I put on gloves and rub the husks off (if you don’t wear gloves you’ll dye your hands). Now the hard part comes: cracking them. I use a cracker with a very long lever arm designed specifically for black walnuts. Stark Bros sells them. I put the cracker in a cardboard box to keep the pieces from flying across the room. Then I have to dig out the meat with a nut pick. As noted above, it’s a heck of a lot of work. But I do like the nuts in cooked dishes. They are too strong to eat raw IMHO.

  20. Green Assassin Briade says:

    Plant something - no, just waiting for the peas to end and the frist of the early cabbage to come out before I start my next wave of fall stuff.

    Harvest- oh yeah,, drowning in zuchinni, yellow beans, a few tomato, herbs, spinach bolted but there been lots of chard. I’ve sampled the early potatoes, I expect a bushel from a 10X5 space. saving parsnip seed.

    preserve something, pickled eggs, Lacto ferment yellow beans, pickled lemon beans, mix veg mix pickle, a 2 batches of zuchinni relish,

    Waste not,, not really, scoping out the Restores and a couple of soon to be torn down houses to get glass for cold frames.

    Community food systems, Networking with various coucilors and the folks who run the food bank, shelter, community gardens. Joined the brand new Transtion Town group,.
    Shared garden surplus with 3 families,

    Eating food,, as fast as can,, our preserving is not keeping up with the bounty so we eat zucs and beans every day.

  21. sumac carol says:

    I am always inspired by the humanness of Sharon’s posts. They always strike a chord with me. Learning patience in the face of “always being behind” at this time of year is central to maintaining one’s sanity, I think.

    Okay, what have I done? I have frozen some beautiful brocolli, cauliflower and cilantro. I also made a brocolli salad and a curried cauliflower dish for supper.

    It has been a pretty fantastic gardening year here.

  22. Brandie says:

    Plant something: nothing, it’s been ridiculously hot (105)

    Harvest something: potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, chickens

    Preserve something: canned 7 quarts and 6 pints of our chicken, and 5 quarts of beef stew. Froze and dried at least 25 pounds of Roma tomatoes.

    Waste Not: my attempt at saving tomato seeds went awry when the container got uncovered, so I fed the resulting maggots to the chickens :-)

    Want Not: bought 25 pounds black beans, 50 pounds rice, cover crop seed

    Build Community Food Systems: had a long talk with the owner of a new indoor farmer’s market on our side of town, who drives an old school bus to take farm foods to the inner city and accepts food stamps. Mulling over how I can participate in this as more than just a customer.

    Eat the Food: buckwheat-potato casserole, lots of cucumbers, scrambled eggs with tomatoes, beef stew

  23. Lynne says:

    Ok, I just have to tell you guys, the cookbook “Fast, Fresh and Green” by Susie Middleton is amazing for the gardener. It has changed my cooking life, and is a really great help for the gardener/cook. I got it for my birthday from my mother-in-law.

    Plant: turnips, radish, bietina

    Harvest: oregano, summer savory; potatoes, fava beans, green beans, broccoli, last of the peas, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, red, green and white onion, garlic, patty pan squash and zucchini, cucs, peppers, tomatoes, cut flowers - sweet peas, zinnias, cosmos

    Preserve: frozen raspberries and peas

    Waste not: usual - I think this is going well, we’re producing very little garbage these days

    Want not: huge excitement! super fancy high tech cots for guests to sleep on as we have a small house and only one extra bed; and you can take these cots camping - what an insane luxury

    community: just sharing produce

    Eat: bbq potatoes, carrots and squash; bulgur/lentil/greek salad; fava beans with parmesan; beans with summer savory; potato salad with lime and mint; berries straight up; mojitos with lots of mint :) ; just tons of veggies plain - raw or steamed - I feel really good what with eating all these veggies…seriously, I haven’t had a gall bladder “attack” in ages

  24. Anisa says:

    Update is here:

    Sharon - you must share that potato salad recipe! Sounds amazing!

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