Saturday, September 10, 2016

Wrapping Up The Garden 2016

My Main Herb Garden.  The Chickens have dug it up daily.  Notice all the mulch OUTSIDE the bed. So I have some SAD herbs clinging to life in there.  I have Marjoram, Oregano, Lavendar, Thyme, Parsley, Sage, Catnip and Celeriac in there.  I planted a few squashes because they fill up the space and provide shade in the hot season. But... it didn't work out this year.  NEXT year this will not happen.

Some of the HOARD.  I got the main group back into their pen today.  I know there is no lovely grass and peas and beans and mulch for them to play in, like the gardens.  They currently get about 8-10 gallons of feed daily, have two 7 gallon waterers and a kiddie pool that is filled a couple times a day.
They must remain penned for my sanity during the gardening season.

The Quail Hutch.  We have two mating sets right now and hope to expand in the future. They get about 1 half gallon of feed every other day and each cage has a two gallon waterer. Very low maintenance for delicious and high protein meat and eggs. I know, small.  But every little bite counts!

The sheep.  This is a new venture on our homestead.  The sheep are VERY different than goats and I am pleased with them so far.  They eat ALOT of greens though and as the season draws to a close here, we need to seriously consider the burden of feeding one, two or three through the winter.  The cut male will go in the freezer and the females hopefully will be bred for spring lambs!

They are INCREDIBLY friendly.  And when they have options they do steer clear of my gardens.  I appreciate that.

I try to grow my 'spreading' plants in tires, such as this comfrey.  It is a wonderful medicinal herb (drawing and healing), can supplement up to 50% of livestock feed (if you had enough), and is an excellent green manure, with a high nitrogen count.

Chocolate mint is another favorite here.  Nearing the end of the season, I'll be cutting this all down and hanging it to dry for tea through the winter months.  The kids like to grab leaves for car rides, as mint settles the stomach and can help alleviate car sickness.

These WERE the three sisters beds, with beans, corn and squash.  This section didn't thrive as it should have because it didn't get watered enough.  I learned that such intensive planting will only survive with LOTS of water.  It came close and was thrilling, but when the hot weather hit, it was hard to keep up with the watering needs of plants and animals.  The animals had the priority. So no corn this year. :(

I planted potatoes in here and grew.... a dozer! LOL The potatoes grew great in here and since the plant is now dead I can harvest those babies any day now.

This potato bucket can be left longer.  I try to harvest ALLLLL my potatoes and I still have them growing back time and again.  But one thing my family doesn't mind is more potatoes. Garden fresh potatoes. YUM!

Ahhhh, my real pride this year.  I only got half of the greenhouse ready and then proceeded to plant it with 5 rows.  This was obviously TOOOOOO much and I can barely walk in there.  But it is awesome to see. Cucumbers, Pumpkins, Tomatoes, Peppers and more.  I even have sweet potatoes under it all!  It is time to go in there and thin the vegetation to ease harvesting.  It will be an adventure for sure.  Notice all the milk jugs to the side (there are WAY MORE you can't see).  I do 'Winter Sowing'. LOVE IT! Works so amazingly well.

Soccer ball sized pumpkins hiding in the folliage.

Green tomatoes by the ton.  In the greenhouse I probably stil have two months for them to ripen, so I'm not worried.  I was surprised the greenhouse tomatoes ripened MUCH later than the outdoor toms.

I grew pickling cucumbers this year.  Yes, this is one of them.  I let them grow ENORMOUS because I love cucumber salad, everyday.  The skin gets hard when they are this big, so I skin them and they taste amazing.  But I still have a million little ones going in there and would like to try making actual pickles.  Because we love pickles too, everyday. :)

This pumpkin is completely hidden about 10 feet away from the plant.  Bigger than a basketball! Wow!

Yes, the shoddiest greenhouse you ever saw.  But you saw whats going on inside.  I can take all the flack with a smile. :)

A row of sunflowers, some ready to harvest. EXCITING!!!!  I have a few bunches elsewhere too, as I planted them 6 different times this year.  Previously I have had alot of issues with sunflowers. Chickens. Mice. Birds. Slugs. Goats.  I put alot of effort into these babies and it finally paid off.

My brassica bed.  I got alot of great kale salads (when you pick it young it is sweet and tender) and cabbage and broccoli leaves and a few little broccolis.  I have yet to grow a REAL CABBAGE.  Still trying.  In late July the kale in this bed got overrun with aphids and I wasn't able to kick them.  I chopped them all back and they regrew now and look great.  I look forward to my salad tomorrow!

Pattypans and white summer squashes.  I think I am falling behind on the zucchinis.

I clearly need to start making more zucchini bread!

First time trying Jerusalem Artichoke.  They grow ENORMOUS stalks and are supposed to flower in mid August.  They did not.  The flavor of the 'sunchoke' isn't great.  But the stalks and leaves make great fodder for the sheep (my son harvested some stalks yesterday and wasn't very thorough apparently). I hear SLOW COOKED sunchokes taste sweeter.  We'll give that a try soon.

My horseradish, although growing and spreading does not look happy.  This could be because of the water shortage again.  It doesn't take much root for a good sized jar though, so I'm not worried.  But I usually enjoy eating the leaves throughout the season, and these didn't look appetizing.  We're adding a spigot closer to the garden though and that should remedy lack of watering.

A line of fruit trees behind my garden.  These trees are 5 years old and this was the first harvest we got from the pear, peach and gala apple.  DELICIOUS!  I'm all for planting the whole acreage with fruit trees now. :)

My new fig tree.  So young and delicate.  I have a WALL of buckets around it for most of the year to make sure NOTHING touched it. It is so sweet, it even grew figs!

A 'weed' popped up in my garden (it had white flowers which have gone to seed).  I kept it around because I felt it was something important.  It turned out to be Yarrow!  This is another medicinal plant.  I'll have to collect the seed, collect some of the plant and roots and dry them. Then I'll research what it is good for and how to prepare it. Learn by DOING!

One of my mint beds.  It smells amazing.  I have some sunflowers to the front of it that have decided to bloom too late to accomplish much (but they're pretty). And to the left I had the hummingbird feeders and more Jerusalem Artichoke.  It made a lovely bed at the entrance of my house.  But the sheep needed them.  They'll grow back next year though!

My slapdash Chicken Coop and Quail Hutch, with an additional little hutch where I put the temporaries.  It may not be pretty for sure.  But it does the job and cost nearly nothing.  Right now I'm debating on moving my chicken coop and pen during the rainy season and using that area for a garden next year.... or shovelling all the stuff out.  Regardless, as I wrap up this harvest, I wend my way around to prepping for next spring and hope for a bigger, better garden and more birds and more sheep and maybe a milk cow.  Alot of work, but ALOT of fun too.

Hope you enjoyed the tour!!

This year's lesson...

Fences DO make better neighbors. I'm not talking my people neighbors right now. I'm talking chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, and sheep.

When they are in their spacious pens, all is peaceful, beautiful, a joy.  I provide their feed and water, fresh throughout the day.  They love me and look up to me.  I love them and enjoy them.

When they are out....  They destroy everything I hold dear.  They eat the gardens, dig up the roots of delicate plants, empty the beds of mulch and poop on the vehicles and porches.

Fences.  A farmer's BEST FRIEND. <3

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