Friday, June 27, 2014

Homestead Update: End of June 2014

Hello Fellow Homesteaders!

Sorry I have been MIA. I'm still working on getting over my first trimester fatigue! This morning we played outside and worked in the garden. Even after a nap, I am exhausted! But I did manage to get a few pictures to share with you. Much of the garden is done and needs help. I had planned on doing some succession planting, but not sure that will get done this year! That's OK, each year I do a little more and a little better. Even if I don't touch my garden for the rest of the season, it's still doing much better than last year. Hopefully these are encouraging words for you if you have also had to neglect your garden for one reason or another. Even experienced farmers have crop failures from time to time. Don't let it get you down! Hopefully your garden is thriving!

The basic structure of our chicken coop is done! Not too pretty right now, but a coat or 3 of paint will make all the difference!

Our girlies love it! Took them a night or two to get used to it, but they have made themselves at home now.

Still working on the chicken run and hope to have it done in a couple days. The bolted lettuce buffet is all ready to go for my little red hens!

My square foot garden is still just a-growin'! I have harvested several things and planted warm weather crops like squash and melons in their place.

Here's my mystery seedling. A squash of some sort, but time will tell which one!

My root veggie garden looks insane at this point! I harvested almost all the turnips. The carrots and beets aren't ready. Not sure the beets are going to do much, though. They don't seem to be growing. The carrots sure are though!

My tomatoes and basil have really taken off! I have been trimming my tomato plants down like crazy and already have several little green tomatoes on them! I left a couple determined plants alone and one has yet to even flower! So I am sold on trim, trim, trimming!

Very pretty Calendula flowers. I was surprised how long it took these to sprout and grow. I honestly don't know much about flowers, but it seems the ones I have around my yard grow and flower quickly. Not these beauties. I was hoping to have a nice crop, but I think I may let them go to seed and try again next year.

My peas are done, done, done! I didn't get many since I was out of commission for most of the picking season for them. Now I have a clean fence and a bigger compost pile.

My potato tower is sad. It grew to this point then sort of stopped. As I suspected, this was too narrow for it. Well, we'll see if there is any potatoes in there at the end of the season.

My undercover lettuce garden seems to be doing OK. The volunteer watermelon vine is steadily growing.

Need to get some weeding done! Though my cantaloupe seems to be moving right along.

My straw bale garden is looking sad, but if you look close you'll see a teeny tomato! I watered this with some compost tea a couple weeks ago. I suspect it's going to need several treatments.

My brassicas bed is done. The heat fluctuated terribly this spring and I didn't get much but kale out of this. My broccoli went to seed before the heads were even big enough to eat and the brussel sprouts didn't do anything but leaf out. My cabbage is pretty well all dead, though I have one or two that are still hanging on. I need to clean all this up and try for a fall crop.

My milk crate potatoes seem to be doing well, though I wish I had been able to devise some way to keep building up straw on the stems.

Especially when I found this! These are potatoes! These are only about a foot from the top! There were 5 potatoes like this on this particular plant. Of course, once the sun hits them and they are green, they are toxic and not good to eat. That's why it's so important to build up dirt or straw around your potato plants.

So I dumped out the crate to see if any potatoes made it under ground. Sure enough! These were much bigger than I thought they'd be! There was a fourth, but it was partly rotted for some reason. There were dozens of teeny tiny marble and pea-sized potatoes in there too, so I will let the other plants go until they die. It's best to harvest a couple weeks after the plants are completely dead, but I will do a successive harvest this year. Since I planted Yukon Gold, they won't last as long in storage as other potatoes, like Russet. So, I will harvest them as we eat them. I may try to preserve some too if we have a good crop. I am so excited about his. What I hold in my hand from one plant is better than my whole harvest last year! Happy to make these with dinner tonight.

The tired potatoes look just as good. I should have kept piling tires up! Had no idea how much these little diddies would grow! More knowledge for next year!

Here's some corn that desperately need to be transplanted. I ran out of steam before I could get it done though. Hopefully I can get it into the ground before it dies!

I continue to be amazed at my Tiny Tim tomato plant! We have been having regular rain, so I haven't needed to water my garden. Well, little ol' me didn't think about my plants in the greenhouse! I thought I had killed this poor thing! It was all limp and many of the leaves had turned crusty. I flooded it with water, seriously filled the reservoir underneath 3 times as well as watering up above until it finally kept a bit of standing water underneath! It came back to life! I did need to trim several branches off that had died and it's a bit yellowy, but it's still going strong. I am going to give it a drink of compost tea to see if that helps it also. But...

Looky here! This teeny tiny plant is producing insane tomatoes! Had I remembered to water it, I'm sure I would have had 3 times as many. I have never seen so many flowers on one tomato plant, let alone on one this small! There are several smaller tomatoes on other parts of the plant. These are supposed to be cherry sized or smaller. They are nearing golf-ball size!

I think I'll be able to transplant some sweet potato shoots soon. I'm not sure they have enough time to do anything though. Next year I'll start much much sooner on these.

Other seedlings that really need to get in the ground.

I planted some beans and sunflowers along my chicken run to help shield them from the setting sun. They are slowly progressing despite not being in a nice garden bed.

My acorn squash is exploding! I still only see the tall male flowers, but soon I'll see the shorter female flowers that produce the squash I hope!

My second corn crop and the butternut squash getting lost in the weeds and grass.

My first corn crop is starting to tassel!

I am wondering if this is a real grape vine or something else. I am letting it grow just to see if it produces anything. With all the birds around here, not sure I'd get to try any anyway!

Here's my root crop of the day besides the potatoes. My beets aren't fattening up, but honestly, I can't remember what variety I planted, so they may not. The carrots aren't quite ready and apparently they are going to be mutants! I am not surprised since the ground isn't worked as well as it should be for them. As always, next year...

I hope your homestead is thriving and feeding you well! Until next time!

Happy gardening!

Jen Hen

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Homestead Update: Early June 2014

Hello Fellow Homesteaders!

I have to apologize for the lack of communication over the last couple weeks. Our homestead has had some exciting happenings! First, I'll announce that I, myself, have gone broody and we are expecting a new little homesteader! As with the other 2, I have been very down and out. I've been able to keep on top of the morning sickness a little better this time, but the dizzyness and fatigue are killing me! I haven't tended my garden in over a week and my Knight in shining armor has had to step in as chicken keeper. But this morning, we had quite the excitement that started the day with an adrenaline rush!

We woke up to the sound of very loud PEEP PEEP PEEPING! A day and a half early! I will post an article later about our chicken hatching adventures. These are the first 2 and there are several more hatching as I type!

I took advantage of that excitement and used that energy to get some housework done! My Knight tries to keep up, but this place gets insane fast! Not to mention he has to keep up with his own stuff on top of it all.

Despite it's lack of attention, my garden is doing ok. Root veggies are growing like crazy.

Here's a beauty of a turnip ready to be picked!

Amazing! Root veggies are so fun to pick!

Carrots are doing great, but it will be sometime before they are ready for harvest.

A yummy beet!

Though I should wait until they are bigger, I couldn't resist picking a few for dinner.

My tomatoes are growing away! I picked off all the suckers and bottom leaves. Tomatoes seem to do better the more air flow they have. I pulled a few weeds and mulched in a pile of grass clippings. It only covered half the bed, so time to mow for more!

My under cover greens pallet is growing away, with mostly weeds sadly. Even though we have had quite a bit of rain, these seeds didn't get water everyday and some of them won't sprout.

My cantaloupe starts seem to have survived.

Potato tower showing a bit of progress.

Square foot garden filling in.

The brassicas bed is full! Fortunately I did keep up with keeping BT on the leaves so the caterpillars didn't mow it all down. Though they tried. The wood sorrel growing between the plants has done a great job keeping other weeds out of there. I have some crab grass in the middle that I can't reach, though. I'll take care to fix that problem for next year.

This is already more broccoli than I got last year! I have heads forming on 2 others as well! Woo hoo!

Crate potatoes have started flowering! They are doing so great! Already better than last year. I can't wait to try some new potatoes in a couple weeks! Since I planted Yukon Gold, I am going to eat these as we harvest them and/or preserve them since they don't store as long as Russets. 

Tired potatoes are doing great too!

Alas, all my romaine lettuce has bolted! With the temperatures spiking so much this spring, greens have been a challenge to grow. Next year I'll be sure to put them in deeper shade.

Tiny Tim was in the greenhouse and almost died of dehydration! But thankfully, he perked back up with a lot of water. He has a ton of blossoms, but they are all wilted, so I hope I didn't kill a potentially nice crop.

Lots of seedlings sprouted and about died also, but I think they are all going to make it. Have some ready to transplant it looks like!

My sweet potato has certainly taken off!

Even my aloe had to get in on the baby bandwagon!

Straw bale garden not doing the best, but that's what I predicted. Taking notes for next year!

A close up of my Acorn squash blossom. I love love love squash blossoms! They are so beautiful!

My 1st corn crop is doing great!

The 2nd crop isn't doing as well. This is making me consider starting all my corn in the green house next year. The germination rate for corn is so low, it may well be worth it. My corn patch is one of the few places in my garden where I don't pull grass or weeds. It starts out clean, then goes from there. Hopefully the squash vines will spread enough to take care of that problem.

Last, and least, my original greens pallet that is pretty well done for. All the Romaine, Mustard, and Arugula have bolted. But at least the Mustard bolting is a good thing! I hope to harvest the seeds and see if I can use them. This spot is right where the chickens will enter and exit their home, so I will just let them have a buffet when the time comes!

Well, I hope you didn't give up on me! Rest assured, if you don't hear anything from me, it's for a good reason. Just means I'll have more juicy info to fill you in on! I'm excited to share my journey with you and hope you enjoy it too. Now, time to eat more pickles...

Happy homesteading!

Jen Hen