Monday, September 24, 2012

Autumn Garden

 Autumn is busy. It is busy in the garden, it is busy at home, work and school. This season always instills some feeling of newness in me, even though it is a time to start putting things to bed. We are still hauling in buckets of vegetables! This chore never stops being amazing. We should be pulling up potatoes, but the beetles got ours. We should be pulling up beets, but we jumped the gun a little. We should be canning tomatoes and complaining about it, but our 41 tomato plants produced very small fruits. There should be more zucchini, but again... the bugs got to them first. But, you know zucchini it just keeps going and going, so I'm sure we will have one or two more before the season bows out. 

Here is a photo tour of our garden.

transplanted raspberries and hostas

The animals are just being animals.  We have built a chicken tractor in addition to the Taj Mahal of chicken coops because these little ladies like to take flight and see what is going on in the neighbors yard. We are trying to keep a low profile here, but they don't seem to care anything about that. So... they have been sentenced to time out.  Some of the earlier issues we were having, like food waste and noise are still issues. They aren't as loud, thank goodness (one girl went broody for a while and had a fit when we collected eggs). They still waste some food, but we have adapted their food tray so it sits in a holder and their watering cans are changed so frequently that I guess I just don't think about it too much anymore.
We experienced the water balloon egg for a few weeks...That was weird. I started adding about a cup of yogurt to their feed every 3 to 4 days and so far that seems to have stopped the bizarro thin-shelled eggs. It could have just been a phase, I don't know. Either way it's no longer a problem. They are really into treats and being pet on the back right now. Except for one girl who is just a nasty mean little bean. Her fate may be the soup pot if she doesn't chill out and fall into line soon. Punk.

Kenny Rogers is still doing her thing. Yeah...her.  We found out she is a she over the summer when she pulled out chunks of her hair and built a nest in one corner of her house. I thought maybe she was a girl when we got her, but rabbit sex organs are so so tiny it's near impossible to see what is going on down there. She is still hopping around and pooping up a storm.  We are tossing the manure directly into the garden. Bunnies for the WIN!

 tomatoes & kale

Last year we planted about 20 cloves of garlic in the fall as an experiment, we had never grown garlic before. It was such a fantastic pay back that we will always grow garlic now, forever and ever. You plant one little clove in the fall, you get a beautiful bulb of 4 to 10 cloves the next summer. And... and!..You get scapes in the spring. WIN. This year we planted about 60 cloves (all from our bulbs and about 10 from a friends organic farm).

 This is Jacobs Cattle. It's a bean. We are just starting to get this in. The pods turn near white when they are ready, it's like a little reminder of what spring was like. We are hoping to eat some and save some for next year. 

We are saving as many of our seeds as we can. 1. Because I hate re-buying things I had at one time. 2. Because non GMO seeds shouldn't be handled by children (it says so in every book everywhere... but you can feed it to them later? weird) 3. Because many of the plants we grow have come from the Seed Savers Exchange and I don't want to waste the hard work done by anyone.

Right now we are saving green peppers, peas, beans and squash seeds. (I'm still not very good at saving tomato seeds.) Our green beans are mostly from our 2011 bed of Kentucky Wonder Beans. I get a huge kick out of saving the seed and watching it sprout back up from the ground the very next year.  Nature is an amazing ferocious beasts.

 green pepper seeds


Last year we ate a whole meal from the garden maybe 3 or 4 times. This year we eat 3 or 4 whole meals from our backyard per week. The eggs help tremendously of course, but we are also learning to eat what is available and save as much as we can when there is an abundance. We are making and eating about 2 -16 ounce jars of tomato sauce a week right now. I could save some of these back, but the crowd cheers for pizza and lasagna and who wants to argue when the smell of fresh tomato sauce is lingering in the kitchen? I haven't canned or frozen any of our tomatoes, which is kind of a bummer. Maybe next year. 

Our thoughts are moving into winter already. We are shifting our routines earlier with the sun setting before the kids go to sleep. This means one of us is usually putting the chickens to bed with a baby on our hip or a toddler screaming at our feet while we flick one last Japanese Beetle off the beans. 

We are dreaming up cold frames and cold season crops. We hope to get more kale & spinach in the ground soon before the frost comes barging in like it owns the place. This season isn't over but I definitely feel it coming to a close. There is a lot of relief and a lot of resignation. It was a hot, dry, buggy season. We didn't battle weeds like we usually do but we fought pests constantly. I am looking forward to fires on cool nights and soups simmering in the crock pot. Hope your garden is feeding you well!

Our Autumn Garden plantings: Garlic, Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Peas, Carrots

Our Garden Chore List: Mulch leaves & cover beds that aren't planted, Build Cold Frames, Plant cold season veggies in cold frames, Add a light bulb to chicken coop for heat, Empty compost bins and work into mulched beds, Research indoor starter plant set-ups

Our Reading List: