Monday, August 4, 2014

Around the homestead- End of July, beginning of August.

i started this post back in July, when my garden was still looking pretty fantastic. Every year, once i hit about the second week of July it seems to peak, and then i lose complete control of it after that.  By the first week of august i am usually pulling many of my early crops and replanting for my late summer garden.  < not ready to use the F word (f@ll). 

In defense of this years gardens, we did not till 2 years in a row (so the bugs and voles were out of control) and we did not supplement our soil other than a bit of chicken/goat manure that i shoveled in there. Even our compost had been neglected last year, so we didn't even have usable compost.  i keep having to remind myself of that, since this years gardens have had a lot of different struggles. 

July is always a time of non-stop harvest. The month goes by so quickly, as there is always so much to do. After an incredibly dry May/June we had quite a bit of rain in July.  Once i start freezing/canning preserving harvest the weeds begin to take over the garden and everything else sort of gets neglected. 

Mid July i was getting tons of squash. i planted zucchini, golden zucchini (yellow squash) and patty pans. i ended up with tons of crooked neck squash, which i didn't plant. :)  i was also getting yellow wax beans, green peppers, a few tomatoes and the last of the snow peas and broccoli. Although the broccoli heads were harvest in the spring, the plants will continue to make smaller side shoots all summer. 

My cucumbers had a really bad year so i only picked a handful. i had to pull most of my plants but i have a couple that are still hanging in there.  i also planted new seeds in early July, so we'll see if they do anything. Often times they have a harder time pollinating and setting fruit once the temperatures start to cool down. 

Tomatoes have just started to come in. i still have lots of green ones on the plants, but i'm getting a ripe one here and there. i've picked enough to can a dozen pints of sauce, and am planing to make more this weekend. With the wet July and cool temperatures comes disease. Tomatoes have become really sensitive to diseases, and there are so many in our area it's almost impossible to have disease free heirloom tomatoes without spraying the crap out of them with fungicides. So far i have not seen any late blight this year (fingers crossed) but,  i think i have a different disease in each garden. i'm already seeing the usual diseases like Septoria and early blight. They mainly affect the foliage and can be somewhat controlled by constantly removing the spotty foliage. i also lost a few plants to Bacterial canker (which i've never seen here before), and i think i have V. wilt on my Brandywines.  Later this season i'll post a thread on 'Guess that tomato disease'. ;)

i dug the purple potatoes, and replanted beans in the empty space.  i have red and white potatoes planted again this year too, but they are not quite ready to dig. i didn't plant as many potatoes this year as i have in the past, do to the late blight. i'm still hoping that we'll have around  50+ lbs for the winter, once they are all dug.

i'm unsure how my sweet potatoes will do this year. i put in 18 plants and the vole killed two of them so far.  i have sweet potatoes planted in three separate beds, hoping that the voles don't find them all.  i dug a few early and they look pretty good, but i really want to keep them in the ground a bit longer. 

All of my onions bolted really early in the spring, but my garlic did okay. i had a couple of really nice fat bulbs, but most were smaller.  i braided them and have them hung up to cure in the basement. i'm looking forward to planting more this fall. i allowed some of my plants to form the bulbils. So i've been collecting them to replant at the end of summer. 

Husband has been working to get the house stained. The color ended up a bit darker, a bit redder and a bit more saturated than we were expecting. It doesn't look bad, but i think it looks more like paint than stain.  i was expecting to still see the wood grain underneath it. 

He is also started painting the doors green to match the window frames and roof. So far only one door has been painted, but it's going to look really nice when they are all done. 

So we are finally starting to feel like we are getting back to normal. It's been one heck of a year and so much change.  We have a pretty good flock of birds right now and are finally getting lots of eggs. Despite the struggles with the garden i'm getting a good harvest.  We put in a 1700 gallon rainwater collection system, so i was able to actually water my garden without fear of draining the well. 

 i hope to put more focus back into the garden and property next year, and actually have them tilled up and start work on building up the soil again. i'd like to do raised beds for the tomatoes, since we have so many soil borne disease here. Our main focus since the house burned was just getting back home and rebuilding. So many of our goals and prior focus were put on the back burner. Kenan turned into a workaholic, spending long days in the glass shop and having no time to do anything around the property.  We had done so much to build our homestead for 13 years, and now we are having to start completely over again.  

Next year, we can start making our way back to pursuing the road to (semi) self sufficiency. We plan to put in a woodstove, so we'll no longer be dependant on the electric heat (although i'm still a little scared of woodstoves). i'm also still looking for a dairy goat, as i don't think Delilah will ever be a good milker. i'd like to extend the gardens again, and actually plant for canning and winter storage, not just for fun. i bought myself a new water bath canner, but am waiting until next year to buy a pressure canner.  We're also planning to put in fruit trees on some of the cleared land, and Kenan is now working toward building a separate glass shop/studio on our property.  Eventually we would like transition to solar. 

So yeah, lots going on here. Once garden season start slowing down i need to figure out what i want to do. i admit, i'm still feeling a bit lost these days.  i'm somewhat torn between making dolls and jewelry, or pursuing something completely different. i'm just starting to plant my late summer garden though, so i still have a while to figure it out!


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