Tag: tomatoes

Happenings Around the Homestead

Work and a special photography project I have been working on have kept me busy enough lately that there hasn’t been too much activity from me around the homestead outside of the chickens (more on that tomorrow), but some things of note have happened.

  1. Cicadas!  Wow, these things came out in force this past week!  I don’t ever recall seeing so many that they were on car tires, grass blades, small plants, and anything else they could latch onto.  Wow, this is a bumper crop this year.  😀
  2. Sweet Potatoes – despite not putting much of a garden out this year, I am putting out sweet potato slips.  They arrive this past week, and I neglected to get them out over the weekend.  I’ll try to do that Tuesday of this week.  This year I have purple, white, and orange.  Hopefully some will grow this time.
  3. Volunteers – Again, despite not putting out a garden this year, the leftover seeds in the compost had a different idea.  We have at least three volunteer tomatoes growing that we will let continue to grow.
  4. Grass – We have a buch of grass peeking its head through our new woodchip covering on our garden.  Time to move the chicken pen to let them take care of it.

Finally, I ran across a good article about Ten Things We Can Learn From Old Homesteads.  I really liked this list.  Is there anything you would add?

Happenings Around the Homestead

It is October 20 and we still haven’t had our first frost.  In fact, there is not one in sight, though that could change tomorrow.  The average first frost of the year is normally October 17 here, so it isn’t as if we are breaking new ground with a late frost, but it still feels as if we should have already had one.

Due to the weather outlook still looking like it will stay above freezing with no frost in sight for the next week, I have chosen to leave my super-hot peppers in the ground another week.  I am still getting about 3-5 ripe Carolina Reapers a week, and there are probably a dozen or more that could still ripen, so I plan to leave them in the ground as long as I can.  I am also going to pot my two Pineapple Sage plants as well, though I don’t have the room in the house to let them continue to bloom, so I am leaving them in the ground as long as possible too.

The work this weekend consisted of pulling up most of the tomato plants, which have really given out already, though they were still full of green tomatoes.  Even if they had ripened in time, they sure don’t taste like a summer tomato.  I did leave a few cherry tomato plants, as those are still palatable.  Once I was done with that, I planted three new types of garlic: Purple Glazer, Duganski, and Mount Hood.  Let me share a few pictures:

Purple Glazer Garlic

Purple Glazer Garlic

Duganski Garlic

Duganski Garlic

Mount Hood Garlic

Mount Hood Garlic

I have traditionally planted my garlic in my raised Square Foot Garden beds – wait, that is not true.  I have planted as much in the ground each year as I have the raised beds, but all of this new garlic has been planted in the ground.  I am hopeful that I have picked a location where the garlic will get plenty of sun in the spring and early summer.  Here’s a pic of the planting:

Planting Garlic

Planting Garlic

Though some say the garlic needs to be a couple of inches deep, I have always just put mine right below the surface and then ensured there was adequate ground cover to protect it from cold weather.  I suppose I might regret this if we have a bitter cold winter, but it hasn’t failed me yet.

The one last harvest I look forward to this year is the sweet potatoes.  This is a new crop for me, last year being the first year I attempted to grow it, to no success.  This year I have changed things up a bit, and I am hoping to have a nice crop of them to harvest after the first frost.

I think that has covered the happenings of the week, but don’t miss out on tomorrow’s post on the chickens – you will be surprised!

 

Happenings Around the Homestead

Wow, the growing season sure is coming to a close quickly.  I noticed our tomatoes are starting to look very ragged, and the popcorn patch is now totally done.  In fact, I cut down the stalks yesterday, and layed them on the ground to start decomposing.  Even though the Cherokee White Flour Corn is not done yet, I also cut two rows of it down yesterday.

I do need to try to get some radishes and lettuce planted.  It is Sunday as I write this, and I may not update this post before I put it on the blog, but by the time this is published I hope to have started some of both to keep through the winter in a make-shift greenhouse.  I did that one year, and we actually ate fresh lettuce all day long, even though there were many days of very cold weather.  As I am typing this, I am convincing myself that I should probably go out and do that today.

Speaking of chores, I need to repot some of my mint.  I have made square foot garden beds out of cinder blocks, and I grow mint in those cinder blocks, but it is obvious some of the mint plants need to be repotted.  I think they are beginnning to look leggy and straggly.  I generally use potting soil to fill the new cinder block holes, and I don’t think I have any right now, so I may or may not get to this over this weekend.

One of the other chores I have this weekend is to measure my garden beds.  I have done this before, but honestly, I have no idea where I documented that.  I’m measuring because I want to make better use of my space next year, particularly for the corn.  Corn is a crop that suffers badly from inbreeding depression, and to prevent that you need at least 200 plants.  If I plant the popcorn at the proper spacing, I think I can do that in one of my garden beds.  The Cherokee White Flour Corn and the Cherokee Gourdseed Corn are a different subject.  It seems for those corns to fourish, they need more space per plant, which I will seek to give them this year.  To do that though, it will mean I may have to expand my garden or I may have to keep ordering some seed every year to ensure I don’t allow inbreeding depression with these plants.

Oh, that reminds me!  Let me show you one of the Cherokee Gourdseed Corn cobs:

Cherokee Gourdseed Corn

Cherokee Gourdseed Corn

Look at those kernels!  It looks nothing like any other corn I have seen, and it is supposed to make some a-maizing 🙂 cornmeal.  It is also supposed to be very easy to shuck, though I might not know that for a few more months.  Who knows though, if I get impatient enough, I might find out in a few weeks.  🙂

Speaking of corn, I am way behind and I am still testing popcorn from last year.  As I type that, I am sure you are wondering what I mean, and I am probably needing to write a post on that sometime.  For now, just know that I am testing my popcorn for poppability and other factors.  I then only save the seed from the best of it, which makes for better popcorn year over year.  At this rate, I will not be done testing 2013’s corn until sometime in October.  I am going to be more concerted in my efforts with this year’s crops though, and I will try to be done testing it by the end of this year.

Wow, this post is already getting a little long and there is so much more to say.  I’ll just have to save that for later.

Happenings Around the Homestead

One of my favorite things to do, usually, is walk through the garden in the morning.  I love the cool of the morning, the dew on the ground, and the quiet.  It is a real source of enjoyment for me.  However, I do NOT like walking through the garden at 7:00 AM when the humidity is high and the temperature is already warm.  Unfortunately, that happens sometimes, and Saturday was no exception.  I knew I had some work to do in the garden, and I was so hoping for a cool morning, but alas, that was not to be.

The tomatoes seem to be on their last leg now.  The plants are looking quite haggard, and the tomatoes themselves are not even as appealing.  In fact, the chickens were able to dine on several of them today.

The corn is getting most of my attention this year, and today I harvested several ears I hope pop well, as I would love to get their coloration worked prominently into the popcorn seed.  Let me show you four of them:

Landrace Popcorn

Look at this beautiful white kernel licked with flame-like colors!

Landrace Popcorn

More of the flame-licked colors on this cob, and I love the variety of colors.

Landrace Popcorn

I am confident this one has some glass-gem corn mixed in with it, and I like it. I love the greens – they are a rare treat in my seed stock.

Landrace Popcorn

More flame-licked colors. This one looks a lot like some seed stock I saved last year, which I am sure is what has pollinated all of these. I sure hope this pops well.

Look at that last picture a little closer.  See the red kernel just to the right of the middle?  See the spots?  I wonder what they are.  If you look at the one below it, the purple one, it has the same spots.  Even so, these kernels are things of beauty!

Believe it or not, we have a winter squash plant that is growing like gangbusters!  I doubt anything will come from it, as it has yet to set fruit, but it was a late starter, and it happens to be the only winter squash I have that survived the squash bugs and squash vine borers.  I sure would love to get some seed stock from it.

Sweet potatoes are a new crop for me, and even though I grew some last year, I cannot remember for the life of me when to harvest them.  I think it may be after the first frost, but I need to look it up.  I am so hopeful that I have a good crop of sweet potatoes.  I grew purple and white sweet potatoes, which taste very similar, though the purple ones are generally more dry.  Even so, I enjoy them.

Usually at this time of year I am not yet thinking about next year, but it sure is on my mind this year.  I think it is because I didn’t do such a good job getting the garden out on time this year, and I am hoping to redeem myself a little next year.  🙂  It won’t be long until I start planning.  Until then, I have a few other projects I am working on which I will be sharing here, including a homemade smoker and a homemade dehydrator.

Happenings Around the Homestead

This has been a slow garden year for us.  First of all, spring arrived late this year, and, second of all, with my work travel schedule, I was hardly home to work on the garden.  I also started a new garden spot this year which didn’t account properly for the position of the sun in the spring, and the new chicken coup is partially shading a garden.  In short, we have struggled with our garden.

We have yet to harvest peppers worth speaking of, and while we have harvested some great tomatoes, the crop has been small.  I have only harvested my first cucumber in the last week or so, and the summer squash, while being one of the plants which was out as early as possible, has already stopped producing.  Speaking of squash, my winter squash was hit by vine borers while on the mission trip, and there is nothing left.  My okra landrace project is coming along, however, it isn’t producing quite like I had hoped.  Oh, and let’s not forget the sweet potatoes!  The deer are having a hay day with the leaves.  🙂  I still expect a good harvest from them though.  The corn has done well, I think, other than the possible cross pollination issue.  Even so, the corn looks healthy and I am expecting a good harvest.

It may sound like I am whining about the gardening year, but I am not.  I consider every year a learning opportunity.  I have several good take-aways from this year that I will be sure to implement next year, and if the Lord so blesses me, next year this will happen on a proper homestead property.

Speaking of vegetables, last Friday we stopped off at The Farmer’s Market in Nashville, Tennessee.  If you haven’ t been there, you have really missed out.  This is a true joy for me.  Let me share just a few pictures:

Heirloom Tomatoes

Heirloom Tomatoes

Huge onions

Huge Onions!

Colorful Bell Peppers

Colorful Bell Peppers

My family is really blessed though, despite the lackluster garden year.  My father-in-law also gardens, and he has blessed us with an abundance of melons, peppers, tomatoes, and more.

Speaking of peppers, we have already smoked a good amount of peppers, some of which are already dried and ground.  Others are in various stages of processing, but I should be able to share a picture soon.

The chickens didn’t work as hard for us yesterday, and only produced two eggs: one blue and one brown.  I did eat the first of the eggs last night, and wow, were they tasty!  Hopefully there will be three more today.  I had to smile at my first egg issue yesterday.  One of the ladies laid her egg in the run below the cage, which is not fun to get into during the day while they are playing.  I could have just waited to get it, I suppose, but I was impatient.

I have to wonder, am I the only person out there who is already thinking about next year’s garden?  The growing season is not even over yet, and I am sitting here dreaming this morning of what I will do different next time.  Don’t worry, I am sure I will share the plans here as the days roll on.

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