Friday, September 30, 2011

~Fall Garden~

Redecorating Our Summer Garden

Harvesting, maintaining, and enjoying our plot of land has kept me very busy, September has kept me hustling at Paradise Basin for sure.  October is tomorrow (yay) and by now quite a few of our summer vegetables have been harvested. We do still have many summer veggies that are still producing. Even though last week was nearly 100 degrees, I made as much space as possible for our fall garden (it was not feeling like fall). The earth changes and moves forward, even if we aren't quite ready. I'm taking notes from Mother Nature.

I have several gardening locations here on my micro farm.  The garden plot out back measures about an acre, the side yard about a quarter, and our two front yard locations equal about a half.  Because my husband has a demanding job, I have taken on this farming responsibility solo.  With three children and countless other responsibilities, let's just say that I have firmly promised myself that ONLY the side garden will  be planted for our fall garden this year.   

Last Sunday the process began. Once all necessary plants were removed, I made room for the seedlings by first amending our soil with a combination of our compost and Alpaca manure.  If you haven't used Alpaca manure before you should give it a try. All of our vegetables this year seemed to thrive as a result of this miracle manure. 

Next,the planting phase began.  We had an enormous amount of heirloom lettuce seeds this year so I made my own lettuce blend by mixing together a hodge podge of seeds in a paper bag.  Once the different lettuces emerge, a wide variety of colors and textures will be packed into our lettuce patch.  I'm hoping for a lot of color and texture.

I also planted interesting varieties of radishes, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, beets, carrots, basil, chives, catnip, and lemon balm.  Five days have passed since I planted the seeds so nearly everything is beginning to germinate. The hot weather has helped to hasten the process as it has been in the high 90s all week.  Consequently, I've had to water 2-3 time per day out there.  Every few hours I would run out, water and then run back in. I felt almost neurotic about the seeds.  I worked too hard to let the soil dry out.  I was not going to let that happen. Glad we are past that now.

 Gardening is worth the effort for so many reasons.  Most importantly though, it is a way for me to give back to my family.  I don't take for granted being able to walk right outside my kitchen door to harvest organic, heirloom produce.  I will forever look back on our fond garden memories including the copious quantities of flowers that Gabriel and Sarah pick just for me-even if they were among my favorites at the time. 

Photo Gallery

Welcome to our mini garden patch.  Our Fall seeds have been planted and germination has already begun!  Do come in for a visit.  I'd love to show you around. 

This was my first year planting broom corn. I am hoping for a broom or two from this corn, if all goes well.  I noticed that in the October
Martha Stewart Living magazine their is an article about broom making!
I recently learned that it is best to pick broom corn before the seeds turn red.  Oh well. I guess we'll find out soon if it really matters. I harvested about four times the amount shown here.  It takes a lot of broom corn to make a single broom. 
This was the last Hawaiian Pineapple tomato of the season.  These tomatoes had a slight citrus flavor.
Ever seen one of these?  When I first moved to the county and started growing tomatoes, I found a few of them on my plants and thought they were really cute.  Then I found out what they were doing to my tomatoes and I was not pleased. 

As I was inspecting our existing tomato plants, I was not happy at how many of these guys were in there feasting on my work.  I hand picked the Horn Worms from my plants  and discarded them.  If you ever see one of these on your tomatoes, get rid of them immediately, even if they resemble cute caterpillars.  Yes, the are very hungry.  Remember the book?
Sarah wanted to help me rake the Swiss chard bed.  She did a great job.
This watermelon-pumpkin cross is still growing.  It was supposed to be a watermelon but then it ended up crossing with some of our pumpkins.  I can't wait to cut into this to check out the inside.
The open spaces here were planted with an assortment of beets.
Sarah was having a wonderful time being silly.
Our Feverfew is still growing strong.  I made feverfew tinctures, infused oil, and dried some for tea.  Our dog Chester enjoys spending time in the garden with the family.
Out back we just let nature take its course. The property is home to many wild creatures, among them are wild turkeys. 
This is our lemon bee balm.  I've made tinctures, infused oil and dried some for tea.
The tiny sprouts have emerged!  Our soil still has a lot of small debris from our compost so we are still removing particles here and there. Keep in mind that nearly all of our of of our summer crops have been harvested so the garden space looks a little barren.
Gabriel likes to camouflage himself behind feverfew and catnip. He doesn't think that we can see him. 
See that barn in the distance?  In a few weeks, the trees in front of the barn turn the most brilliant shades of orange, yellow and red.
Near the garden entrance Ben's peanut patch is still thriving.
More seedlings emerge. 
A different view of the garden. In the center of this picture is borage.  I cook the leaves just like you would chard.  The flavor is very similar to cucumber.
The two trellises on the right are used to house tomatoes.  There were only a few tomatoes on the vine so I removed them and planted beans instead. Along the base of the trellis are Swiss chard and kale seeds.

In the distance beyond the entrance you can see some of our corn that will be ready for harvest in about a week.  We planted a second crop this year to extend our corn season.
Cauliflower was planted in the foreground.
Awhile ago we found this tub in the pasture.   I thought it would make a great planter, similar to a raised bed.  This year we planted carrots and beets inside the tub.  The carrots are yellow, red, and orange colored.  The funny stalk on the left is from one of our sunflowers.  I could not remove the darn thing as its root system is massive. 
Gabriel is very proud of his garden space.  The trellis area is his patch.  We have four "squares" and so each kid has their own space.
This plot is our beet patch.  The green plant in the center is lemon verbena.
Here is Mom and Dad's patch.  The existing plant here is Salvia.  Around the base of the trellis are beans and kale. 
This picture was previously shown but from a different angle.  The plant in the center is borage and to the left next to the rocks you can see some seedlings that are growing.
This bed houses kale, chard, and carrots. The two marigolds are great at keeping away some garden pests.
This is our heirloom lettuce patch.  The few plants shown here in the center are lemon balm and a volunteer tomato plant that we decided to keep around.  Look closely and you can tell that Chester has been  romping around.

On the left side of the fence (from the above picture) we have a walkway that Ben turned into a gourd tunnel.
Woohoo! We got one loofah.  Once the loofah has dried, it will become a scrubbie for our outdoor cast iron, clawfoot bathtub.
This is another gourd. 
The pumpkins!  About 90 percent of our pumpkins have been harvest so far. Last year I grew close to 200. 

Let's go back to the garden to check out a few more things before you go.
Wow!  A tiny tree frog lives in our tomato plant.  This is a great way to organically fight pests...frogacide-style.
If you have tomato hornworms this is what they will do to your tomatoes. 
This s what a hungry caterpillar does.
Hornworms are sneaky.  Look at how well they match the leaves.
Thanks for coming and I hope that you enjoyed our little fall garden tour.

~Get Growing~

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