It’s been a while since I gave you guys a tour of the garden.
August is the time of year when all the hard work of spring is paying off. The produce is coming into the kitchen by bushels and it’s time to eat, save, or put all that harvest into cans.
That is what’s happening around here anyhow.
What we’ve processed/ frozen/canned so far:
- Canned Peaches
- Peach Spice Jam
- Peach Bourbon Conserve
- Peach Butter
- Peach Sorbet
- Spaghetti Sauce
- Pizza Sauce
- Tomato Juice
- Strawberry Preserves
- Blackberry Jelly
Whew! Yes, I have sooooo many of these in partially completed posts. Late summer is a hard time of year to be a Homestead & Garden blogger!
Still to can:
I’ve already put up a lot of food but the worst is yet to come. If you’ve ever canned salsa or spent 2 days snapping and de-stringing green beans you know what I’m talking about.
Canning is a commitment and it takes a lot of work and time to get all these good foods “put away” for the year. I think it’s worth it. I trade a few days of work during summer for a winter filled with homegrown food. In August, when I’m up to my elbows in spaghetti sauce I often ask myself why on earth I am busting my butt to can something I can buy in a store for $3.
The answer is an easy one: health. I know how the food was grown, handled & processed. I know it is good for me. It may take me 2 days of canning to get 30 jars of spaghetti sauce put up – but that’s a years worth of spaghetti sauce.
It’s worth the effort for me. 🙂
Let me show you what’s going on in the garden!
How to grow potatoes here. I’m growing a couple varieties of baking potato this year and 2 beds of sweet potatoes.
The baking potatoes look like this right now:
All the stems and leaves have died and the potatoes are underground getting huge for me. I will dig them all up in another couple weeks (usually in September).
If you’re wondering why they are covered in straw go here to read about weed free gardening. Bare dirt is a bad idea in my area. It will take approximately 3 seconds for the weeds to show up. Since I hate weeding I use straw.
I am growing sweet potatoes 2 ways this year.
My first bed of sweet potatoes are climbing a trellis. They are stunning and I love just looking at them.
My second bed of sweet potatoes is crawling all over the place. The vines and leaves are literally leaving the bed and are so pretty. I am looking forward to seeing what’s underground!
I usually plant a few crops of cucumbers in a season. My first crop provided me with endless amounts of pickles & then decided to turn brown and die. The nice thing about cucumbers, squash and zucchini (among some other plants) is that they germinate and grow so quickly you can easily get a second or third crop before the winter frost arrives. If your first cucumber plants are looking rough – stick some more seeds in the ground & start over.
This is my second crop of the year. They are some happy plants and are now covered with flowers.
The eggplants were slow coming along, but I now have purple flowers and big ol purple eggplants hanging off all my plants. I see some fried eggplant in my future.
How to stake tomatoes here.
Can I just take a moment and have some joy?
I have had blight on my tomatoes.
I have had squash bugs on my tomatoes.
I have had fungus on my tomatoes.
I always manage to get a nice crop of tomatoes despite the battles I go through to get them, but this year is different.
This year I HAVE TOMATOES!!!!
Not your average everyday tomatoes either – these guys are some gargantuan 7 footers.
How did I do it? I feel another post coming on to give you all the details so you can grow your own 7 feet tall tomato plants, but that’s for another day.
The net-net is I moved them. I got the tomatoes away from the blight infested problematic soil & started fresh. I put my new tomato plants where we had 8 pigs living last year – which I’m sure didn’t hurt anything either. Gardening with pigs is a great way to grow food. This year put your pigs wherever you want the garden next year. You won’t be sorry.
I am picking tomatoes like crazy and eating them like they are going out of season.
How I put in a pumpkin patch in less than 2 hours here. I started these guys on my back porch in June. I am growing all sorts of pumpkins. Some edible, some ornamental, some carvable and some are just huge and fun.
We are already eating the cantaloupes. The first couple I picked (2 weeks ago) were not quite ready – but they are sweet and amazing now.
The watermelons aren’t quite ready yet. They should be ripe in another week or two.
Kale is one of those wonderful crops that just can’t be stopped. Why can’t tomatoes be more like that? Hot cold, winter, summer, spring, fall – the Kale is always there. Always edible.
The problem is that it is always terrible. Of course the easiest plants to grow are the ones I don’t want to eat. Yes, I’m also talking to you, Turnip.
Kentucky is not the place to grow carrots. The soil is not right. The temperatures are not right. These things don’t stop me from trying, so I have a bed filled with fat, short carrots shaped like thumbs.
How to can green beans here.
I am so tired of snapping and de-stringing beans that I don’t think I’ll ever grow white 1/2 runners again. What a pain! I love the way they taste, but they are so much dang work if you would like to actually eat them.
Stringless is the way I’m going next year.
How to freeze peppers here.
I am growing so many peppers this year. I had big dreams of drying and salting and freezing and making spices. I don’t know if any of those dreams will come true since life just started to get nuts.
Maybe once all the kids get into their “school day groove” I will have a life again. Miracles do happen right?
The purple ones are my favorite. They look like eggplants & make me smile. Purple food is fun.
There are a few other crops out there who didn’t make it in this post. Things like: basil, asparagus, thyme, beets, turnips, rosemary, lettuce, radishes, oregano, cilantro, dill, chives, squash, zucchini, peas and cherry tomatoes (red cherry, grape cherry, and orange cherry).
Living off the land is not just a dream or a goal in August – it is reality. If you have plenty of homegrown meat in the freezer to go along with the fresh produce coming from the garden you will have more to eat than you know what to do with.
I love summer.
Speaking of summer, it’s slipping away quickly.
If you haven’t started to get your fall garden in – now is the time.
I started planting mine last week. Here’s what I have in the ground so far:
For a fall planting guide go here. I still have quite a few crops to get in the ground….. but that’s going to have to wait until I get out of the “back to school” fog I am currently operating in.
Do you have big plans for a fall garden or are you looking forward to a garden-free fall?
Happy Gardening Everyone!