Deep breath. The end is near. We made it. Almost...
Our first growing season is nearly over. We were absolutely shocked by the yield of our garden. It was a blessing to harvest so much bounty, but I need to work on a system for managing all the produce. We had more than enough to meet the needs of our family. Perhaps next year we will try a CSA type offering to a few families, or look into selling at a farmer's market or roadside stand. There were days when I would be blissfully working in the garden, pruning and harvesting, and before I knew it, I would have 50-60 pounds of produce to haul into the house. This caused some slight panicking because we only have one tiny fridge. Many hours were spent trying to pack the fridge as full as possible. Friends and visitors were sent home with piles of cucumbers and tomatoes.
But the garden has finally slowed down. I am no longer frantically canning tomatoes, only once or twice a week now. The canner seems to be breathing a sigh of relief. No longer do I need to harvest every single day. The big upright freezer is stuffed full of broccoli, snap beans, tomatoes, chopped bell peppers, celery and corn. The canning shelves in the basement are groaning under the weight of jar after jar of diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato basil sauce, tomato sauce, pizza sauce, tomato juice, salsa, tomatillo salsa, pickles, pickle relish and pickled jalapenos.
Lovely bell peppers. We have purple, yellow, orange, red, white and green.
Crop circles on my watermelon? Anyone know what made these designs?
Probably the most entertaining plants we grew this year were the sunflowers. I still cannot get over the fact that all I did was shove a tiny seed into the ground and walked away... and 3 months later had towering 15 foot tall plants in the garden. I mean, the seed packet said "Mammoth Sunflower", but I never expected it be so... mammoth. I'm going to collect the seeds and bring them to all the kids in my son's kindergarten class. What fun they will have watching their flowers grow!
"Mammoth Sunflowers". Notice the 6 foot tall corn in the background, being dwarfed by the flowers.
Heads from the "Mammoth" sunflowers. We're going to try roasting the seeds...or at least we'll have some great bird seed for winter!
The "Mammoth Sunflowers" were obviously too big for cut flowers, but I also planted some called "Goldy Double Sunflowers" and they were simply lovely as flowers for bouquets. Every day, my 3 year old daughter begs me, "Mommy, can we go pick flowers???" A day rarely goes by that we don't have a beautiful arrangement on our table, fresh picked by my little florist.
"Goldy Double Sunflower"
As I was looking back over my photos, I came across this photo I took in the spring. It's hard to believe how much the garden has changed in a few short months. Our hard work paid off! I don't even want to know how many pounds of manure I handled...
The garden is winding down and so is the rest of the farm. Tacori, the breeding buck goat we borrowed for the summer, went home a few weeks ago. Babette, the cow, will be butchered in late fall. Our three hogs are well over 200 pounds and have a date with the mobile butcher in mid October. Our resident goat, Toro, has become extremely fond of the pigs and spends every waking hour with them, even cuddling up with them at night. Poor goat has no idea all his buddies will be gone in a few weeks. He will have Babette the cow for company until late fall, but we're thinking we need to find a winter time companion for him, just for this year. Come spring, we plan on purchasing a calf to raise for beef, which we'll keep for about 18 months, and plan to buy a new calf each spring, so Toro will never be alone again, just this winter. Anyone have a buddy for him? :)
Toro the goat and Pearl the pig (eating, like always)
Our bees seem to be thriving and we're going to attempt to extract some honey in the next week or two. Last time we checked on them, the boxes were FULL of honey, so I think they will have plenty to feed them over the winter and some to spare for us. I'll be sure to let you know how that goes!
We're still receiving a steady stream of visitors. I enjoy showing people around and answering questions. I'm learning so much (and have so much MORE to learn) and delight in sharing this knowledge with others. Come on over and have a look around! But come quick - the hogs will be gone soon... and my freezer will be full of bacon and sausage. Yum.