Summer is flying by. I feel like this is the first year we’ve actually used the land for what it is. A homestead. It used to be a farm. Acres and acres of soybeans or corn depending on the year. Soybeans were the cover crop. But we finally told the farmers we didn’t need them anymore and tilled the whole property up. I’m so glad we did. Because we have acres upon acres of walking trails and a nature preserve right in our backyard. And oh yeah, the garden too!
I asked my husband for a garden this year and he delivered. He spent weeks cutting down or finding fallen trees to make the posts. We nailed wire fencing to each tree post and it ended up being an 85’x90′ garden space. I really had no idea what I was doing. But once it was built I was on my own. I grew 80% of my veggie plants from seed and wow did I learn some lessons along the way. But for my first year, I’d say it was a smashing success.
Currently what is being harvested is green beans, zucchini, cucumbers and peppers. My cucumbers got blight this year but I treated them with a copper fungicide and they still seem to be producing. Which is fine with me as we don’t eat many cucumbers and I end up just canning them into pickles anyways.
I accidentally planted pole beans instead of bush beans and they are so tangled. But they are producing about 3 pints of green beans a day so I can those as they grow. It’s a constant battle, but the more you pick your green beans, the more they will produce.
As for the peppers, it looks like we didn’t get hit with peppergate this year. Most of those get vacuum sealed and placed in the freezer for later recipes. The zucchini is canned just like the cucumbers. Turned into bread and butter pickle slices and placed on the canning shelf. We have an endless supply of zucchini and cucumber pickles. I prefer bread and butter but I did make a few dill recipes for my husband.
My potatoes got blight and started to die fast so we had to dig them up. I was disappointed we didn’t make it to their true harvest. We planted gold yukon and russet potatoes this year. It wasn’t a complete fail of a harvest, although many potatoes were still quite smaller. I’ve canned all of them either into french fries or garlic potatoes, and froze some of the smaller ones into hashbrown. I’ll have to make a tutorial on the hashbrowns soon, because it’s so easy and much cheaper than buying bags of frozen hash browns at the grocer.
My canning area is filling up fast. This weekend we will have to build an additional shelf for more canning storage. I shared an entire post on our canning storage and cellar and how we store our preserved foods. Every day I’m bringing down several new jars as I harvest from the garden. I’ts overwhelming because the garden just keeps providing and at an alarming pace. But I know come winter time, we can relax and enjoy our food. Plus, our grocery bill thanks me. We don’t wait until winter to eat our canned food. We enjoy it now too, as we need it and to avoid unnecessary trips to the grocery store.
Our flower harvest has also been bountiful. We have a flower field that comes back year after year. I’ts full of purple coneflowers and black eyed susans. We’ve never reseeded it, but last fall we did mow it down when it was all dry and gone to seed. This year it came back stronger than ever and we had many people stop to compliment the field of flowers. We also planted a wildflower hedge along the field in our yard. It is full of zinnias, cosmos, sunflowers and a variety of other flowers. I collected many for bouquets and also for drying. I bought a cheap microwave flower drying kit off Amazon and use that to preserve my most colorful flowers.
The mixes we planted were from Eden Brothers and were the fairytale mix and a sunflower mix. We didn’t expect them to do very well the first year, but man did they show out!
Even my pumpkin patch is doing great. So far it’s looking like we will have both a mix of small and large pumpkins and they’re growing into the beds next to them. Next year I’ll have to reserve a larger garden space for them. We just grew your typical orange pumpkins this year, but next year I plan on adding heirloom variety to this space. I heard many gardeners had issues with pollinating this year. They had mostly male flowers but no female flowers. We clearly did not have that issue. I have already harvested many mini orange pumpkins and it’s just the beginning of September.
My herbs also did fairly well this year. Some got sunburned and I didn’t grow as many as last year. But what we did grow, I’ve been dehydrating in my new dehydrator and stocking them away in mason jars for homemade spices later on and cooking.
My favorite herb to grow has been curley parsley. It grows so fast and so big. And it smells absolutely divine, even after being dehydrated. In the spring, you can buy small herb starts at your local green house. They do great in raised beds right on your patio which is where I grow them. I may try some right in the garden next year too.
That’s really what’s been happening lately on our homestead. We are still waiting for our huge harvest of tomatoes, peppers and squash, but until then, the green beans will keep me busy. You will find me often laboring over this kitchen table. And every day, it’s filled with a new color of fresh produce, canned goods and flowers.