Oh, this is supposed to be the slow season? I feel this every year, we should be relaxing into winter, cozying up and spending time together. Instead, we are busy, busy, busy. For us this year it means, still cutting firewood and building a WWOOFER cabin. WWOOFER’s are people that work on your farm in exchange for food and shelter. This was our first year having wwoofers and one thing that was lacking was somewhere warm for people to stay during our winter season, otherwise known as preparing for sap season.
River has been working on the cabin and it is coming along just fine. a composting toilet, bunk beds, desk area, wood stove, and an area for a comfy love seat is coming together very nicely. The electrical is complete and the insulation is in. The wood stove is in and the doors and windows are ready to go up. Once the door is on, the mudding and taping can commence. I am going for white as the paint color in here, it is a small space.
The boys are excited that they will have a tiny home to stay in if they want when workers aren’t there.
This is all very exciting and time consuming, I can’t wait for it to be done!
This is a little update on our garden and what is growing right now.
We haven’t had a lot of success with fruit this year, only 5 quarts of canned peaches, no blueberries and no apples, apricots or plums on our trees this year, so I was thrilled that our Musk Melons actually grew to an edible size this year and thrived! We have eaten one delicious, juicy melon so far and there are several more on the way! So exciting!
Also exciting our delicious ever bearing raspberries, this variety, that I cannot remember the name of is sooooo sweet. My friend Kaite said it is one of the sweetest raspberries she has had in a long time.
We haven’t had a lot of fruit success this year, however this is the first year I have had success with melons. We have eaten one of these Musk Melons and they are sweet and yummy!
A Musk Melon on its way to becoming ripe! Whoot! So excited about these, we will see how many we get before the frost as there are quite a few coming along on the vines, soooooo exciting!
These every bearing raspberries are so sweet and tasty, unfortunately, I can’t remember what kind they are! My sister in law said they are the yummiest ones she has had in awhile!
Our peppers are exploding with yellow, orange, green, purple and jalapeno peppers galore! Some will get chopped and put in the freezer for stirfries and some will go in tomato sauce.
Peppers! A variety, they are arriving in a small drove, purple, orange, yellow and jalapeno!
Our basil is going like crazy even though we had some wet and humid weather. I have dried quite a bit of it for gifts and use during the winter. I have also frozen quite a bit of it with garlic, but not cheese and nuts. This is my first year with really booming basil plants. I have been very excited about this success.
Our weedy beets. They are growing great, even without a lot of attention.
I was trying to avoid my winter squash plants growing all over the garden this year. I managed to get help with one trellis for our squash, I needed at least 4. I love how well it seems to be working in this section. It has kept many of the pumpkins contained and I can’t wait to see how they look when they turn orange. It will be so pretty. Next year more trellis before these beautiful plants take over the garden!
What I was hoping to avoid was the squash taking over the overgrown raspberries so I could fix that bed how I wanted it this fall, hahaha. Clearly not going to happen right now!
We have been eating a lot of summer squash this summer. I thought I had one zucchini plant and three summer squash. It turned out I had four summer squash plants and no zucchini. I did end up with a volunteer zucchini plant in the beans. We got one zucchini on it. Better then nothing I say!
I have swiss chard and kale up the wazoo, but my salad greens didn’t come up this time, too hot perhaps?
One of my favorite garden surprises was the tomatillo plant that was gorgeous, but not producing. I have it on a large trellis and thought perhaps it needed a buddy to make fruit. The other day we were in the garden and noticed that there are some fruits growing! It is just a late producer! So strange, but so exciting, I can’t wait for tomatillos to make salsa!
Our carrots, planted very late are looking good, it has been a struggle to keep the children from eating them all now!
We also have cucumbers, yummy! Number 2 likes them straight from the vine and Number 3 only likes pickled cucumbers, Number 1 doesn’t care for them at all, so it is a mixed bag around here!
Tomatoes are starting to come in like crazy, yeah for tomato sauce, ketchup and salsa!
Our leeks are looking well too!
Sweet potato vines are growing well, the true test will be when we dig them up to see if we have vole damage like last year. These are the vines I started this year, so I am excited to see how they produce!
Our garden this year has been late, but beautiful, some things have been disappointing and others have been exciting and unexpected.
Every year on a farm brings new challenges, we learn from them and hope we are able to improve our knowledge for the next year. We are always learning and always up for the challenge even though it can be exhausting!
Things have been really busy on the farm, it is amazing how many things need to be done at the same time! Our most recent adventure in farming involves a potato blight. My research has led to the conclusion that this blight is related to the Irish Potato Blight that led to the Irish immigrants coming to America. Potato blight is caused by a fungus called Phytophthora Infestans. Humid weather plays a huge part in the blight taking hold of potatoes, and the last few weeks have had several days of over 90% humidity so I am not surprised that we have gotten blighted. Blight is carried through the air so unless your crop is completely surrounded and covered to keep out any breeze, you are lucky to avoid the blight. We planted 70 pounds of potatoes in a new field this year and I was hoping we could avoid the blight here since no crops had been grown recently. No such luck. We got it bad. I spent three of our hottest, humid mornings last week removing all the potato stalks from our plants and putting them in trash bags so we can hopefully preserve the potatoes in the ground.
I had noticed some brown on our plants and deluded myself into thinking it was just from the potato bugs that were showing up. No such luck, I dug some potatoes, they tasted great by the way, then I noticed a couple of rotten potatoes in our storage bin. Hmmmm. they had been perfectly good when I dug them up, then I realized that some of our stalks were looking soft and squishy, aha, the blight. Awesome.
Some people burn the stalks as they start to show signs of blight. We don’t have the equipment to do this so I cut them and threw them away. What I have read is to keep the potatoes in the ground for three weeks to try to prevent the blight from taking a hold of the actual potatoes. Cross your fingers, I am certainly crossing mine!
I have had late blight on my tomatoes for several years and I have managed to control it and still keep a crop by removing any infected leaves, keeping vines off the ground and mulching with either plastic or hay. I spent Saturday removing blighted tomato vines from the plants and throwing them away. I also trimmed back a lot of the lower vines to keep them away from splash back off the ground. My tomatoes are just starting to ripen this year so I am desperate to keep it from taking hold which means a trip to the tomatoes every day to remove anything suspicious looking.
Ahhhh, I dream of really cold weather this winter. Be gone blight and ticks!
‘Tis the season for new potatoes and peas. If you have never had a fresh new potato dug from the garden or a local garden, do yourself a favor and go to the farmers market to get some. There is no comparison between a freshly dug new potato where the skin is peeling off and a potato that has been saved for storage. They are fresh, they are crisp, they are amazing. Slice one and cook it up with a couple garlic scapes. You won’t believe how good it is!
My dad’s family is from Northern Maine, potato country, and this is a recipe that we have eaten since I was little. My grandmother used to make it every time we went to Limestone.
Step one: get the children to stop eating all the peas before they get to the house…
Step two: Clean your potatoes gently, the skin is tender so you don’t need to peel it or anything. Just wash gently and chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces, better yet, get your children to help you, our five year old is a pro.
Boil potatoes gently in water until mostly cooked. Add your fresh peas and cook for about three minutes. Drain the water and add cream and butter, bring to a simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir gently. At this point your potatoes will be gently cooking and should be almost done.
The best way to eat this dish is by mashing your plate of peas and potatoes together so they absorb as much of the buttery cream as possible. So delicious, if I had a photo of me eating my first bite of the year I would post it, I’m sure it would have shown a look of pure pleasure…
We harvested our first summer squash today from the garden, I’m not sure how many more squash will appear from this beauty. My huge and beautiful summer squash plant, has been damaged, my guess is by a boy…they are sure it wasn’t, but you know, summer squash is in the greenhouse this year, so not so many other creatures could damage our plants…
Tonight I made a lovely dish, I put chopped up garlic scapes in some bacon grease and sauteed them while #2 sliced the squash, then I added the summer squash and sauteed until cooked adding salt and pepper. When they were fully cooked I added chopped basil and turned off the stove.
I also made a lovely salad with leaf lettuce, cilantro, basil and oregano. I added some apple (procured in the discount basket at the local market), goat cheese (I usually like to make my own, my brothers goats aren’t producing enough for me to barter with them right now), balsamic vinegar and olive oil, soooo delicious!
I sauteed up a ham steak just to warm it slightly to serve on the side.
All the greens and veggies and the ham was from our farm, I love that!
Enjoy what you can produce on your land, everyone can grow
We have piggies! Our piggies are happily rooting up the hillside at Mahalo Farm with there piggies. Mahalo Farm has an area that needs to be cleaned up in preparation for a future orchard. It is awesome that while growing our food, we can also prepare an area for growing more food!
Our garden’s are not perfect. What is perfect about our potato garden (as I am calling our away garden as we have planted only potatoes, onions and shallots there), is that I have gotten to spend time with the entire family in them, all five of us working together (OK, sometimes more play or eating or drawing is happening by some members of the family). Which has been so great, even though it can be challenging (only walk on the walkways boys, please don’t try to jump the beds, bahhhhh, I just asked you NOT to do that!)
We are also reorganizing our home garden. We realized that we were wasting a lot of space on pathways in the garden so we have been moving soil and laying down cardboard to cover weeds. Our goal is to cover all our garden area with cardboard, manure/compost and put wood chips in all the walkways. Two years ago in the fall we spread a lot of manure in four foot wide rows, the entire width of the garden, there were four rows between some of our raised beds, we spread the manure on landscape fabric to repress some weeds think, bad idea, don’t do this, it keeps the new soil and the old soil completely separate and you can’t plant any root crops in it. I have been trying to remember why we did this, perhaps because we had landscape fabric and not cardboard to put down, not sure, can’t remember. Trace and I having been pulling up as many weeds as we could from the soil, finding the end of the landscape fabric, putting cardboard on the area we were moving the soil to, moving the soil and putting wood chips on the cardboard around the soil to give a visual area for people to walk on. The idea of the cardboard is to kill the weeds underneath it and help the roots rot, the cardboard will disintegrate eventually letting the soil on top meet the soil underneath. My hope is to not have to disturb the soil too much when harvesting etc, to keep weed growth at bay. I am also going to try putting a large dark tarp over my beds that are not in use, this is supposed to help kill weed seeds, killing them before you have things planted makes a huge difference in the time people spend hand weeding. We do not have a tractor so everything we do is done with people power.
Needless to say, this is hot heavy work and River has been working on other projects, so T and I got to tackle this one ourselves. He is 12 and really into basketball and lacrosse and other sports, sometimes I have a hard time connecting with him as my interest in sports is slim unless he is the one playing. Being in the garden together, working towards a common goal without any distractions or little brothers has given us some time for him to talk when he is ready and for me to ask questions and give him lots of time to answer between sweaty grunts as we pulled up landscape fabric covered with 2 to 4 inches of soil, because we haven’t been hurried, it was a slow and steady kind of job.
This has been one of the slowest garden seasons for us in terms of getting seeds in the ground (I have never planted Brussel sprouts or carrots so late before – eeeekkkkk), but it has been rewarding for me in other ways. I have really appreciated the time spent with #1 and he has been proud of the hard work we have done together, things I needed an extra hand on and he is now big enough to be that extra hand. Seeing the potatoes sprout prolifically in the new field has been very satisfying for him as he has hoed, planted, covered and helped to hill (we haven’t gotten very far on this part) the potatoes. Number 2 is more interested in farming then #1, but #1 is willing to help which is awesome, my philosophy is if you like to eat, you get to help it grow in one way or another.
Our peas should be ready this week, yeah! We have lettuce, kale, swiss chard, garlic scapes, and a few strawberries ready.
We have tomato’s and pepper’s blossoming, our next task is to make trellis’ for our tomatoes, I think T and I will tackle that this weekend. I have to measure the gardens to make the right size trellis’. I am using a trellis design from Four Season Harvest by Elliot Coleman. I will be hanging ropes for the tomatoes to climb instead of using actual rope trellis’ as that is less expensive to buy. I am so excited about this. We are also going to put up a rope grid between the pepper plants that will support them as they grow and get heavy fruits.
I am enjoying this season of garden work and trying not to rush too much and stress myself out making for grumpy mama. This has been a challenge at times, but we have come up with a few things that help. I work in the mornings, I mostly take Tuesday and Thursday’s off for adventures or friend time and I let the littles watch some Daniel Tiger in the afternoons on Monday, Wednesday and Friday so I can write or do doTERRA research/work. This is a huge change as we have been a very low screen time family and I am still struggling with the guilt of feeling like they are watching too much TV, and needing to get some things done uninterrupted.
I am becoming immersed in essential oils, they are amazing, we are even going to use them in our chickens water to promote healthy gut health and prevent bacterial infections, so excited about this. If you would like to learn more about essential oils and uses in farming, contact me, I can help you find the answers if I don’t have them already! Visit my site below or send me an email.