I’ve been pretty busy the past couple of weeks. Sorry I haven’t posted much lately.
The wild blackberries are ripe now. Every couple of days I’ve been walking the land, picking berries. When we first moved here, I was under the impression that all of the berries would ripen at the same time, and that if I could just catch them on the right day I’d be able to pick enough to make jelly or something with. It always seemed that the animals beat me to the punch. I’ve since realized that I’ll need to pick berries several times a week if I want to collect enough to process. The berries ripen a little at a time instead of all at once.
Our raspberries have been the same way. Jada (9 yrs) has been reading the Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and has been pretending to be Huckleberry Finn every morning, choosing to go berry picking for breakfast. She collects as many ripe raspberries and blackberries as she can find, and satisfies her hunger long enough for me to get some eggs scrambled and on her plate. It’s so cool to watch her enjoying her foraging efforts.
The other day a friend up the road called me and asked if I wanted any zucchini and cucumbers. I was more than happy to take the produce off of her hands, and was glad I had some fresh eggs I could give her in return. I’ve been busy working my way through it all. She ended up giving us about 25 pounds of cucumbers, and 36 lbs of zucchini.
Seeing as I have plenty to play with, I thought it would be cool to try fermenting some pickles. I’ve been reading how amazing fermented foods are for your gut, so I filled a half-gallon jar today to see how it turns out. I followed directions posted at Nourishing Days. I thought it was cool that I had the grape leaves and fresh dill the recipe called for. I just love it when I happen to be growing the ingredients I’ll need!
I’m curious to see how it turns out. I’ve never tasted fermented pickles, and I’ve read it can be hit and miss when you try making them, so we’ll see! I’ll have to let you know how they turn out.
My tomatillos looked like they were doing really well, until I got a closer look and found that almost all of the big ones had green worms in them, completely devouring the growing globe inside. I had to pick off several large tomatillos with worm holes in them. Which, of course, is a big bummer.
By the way, while I was weeding out the tomatillo bed, I came across a huge Black Widow. They live in the rocks I have bordering the bed. I need to figure out a way to get rid of Black Widows for good. It’s scary to have something so dangerous so close to where our kids often go. I always show the kids the spiders when I come across them, before I squish them, so they know what to always watch out for. As pretty as the rocks are, I’m considering just ditching them as a border if they’re just gonna harbor poisonous arachnids. It seems like every time I weed this bed I kill a couple of Black Widows.
I was still thrilled to find our first ripe tomatillo. I’ve never even eaten one before. Hoping I get enough to make something with.
Our garden is doing okay. The onions are done producing and are starting to die back.
I’m considering whether I should leave them in the ground, or harvest them all at once. Do I let the tops die back and then mulch over them to keep them for the winter, or do I pull them up and hang them to dry? I have no idea. Some are white onions, which I think store longer, and some are yellow onions. Any suggestions?
The tomatoes are completely out of control. I always regret not staking or caging them, and this year is no exception. In a desperate attempt to lift the sprawling vines off the ground, I’ve used everything I could find to trellis them. I’ve got some tomatoes in wire plant stands, some strung up in a Florida Weave using PVC pipes I rigged up with zipties, and even a couple of plants tied up around an old ladder. Hey, whatever works right? The other twenty some plants are a lost cause.
They’re loaded with green tomatoes; I’m hoping they ripen and do well for us. I have had a few with blossom end rot, so I’m afraid I’ll lose more. I sprinkled Epsom salt around the plants hoping to stave off more rot. I haven’t used egg shells this year, just out of negligence. Definitely something I need to be sure to do next time around.
The cucumbers haven’t produced very much yet. Probably too much leaf mulch in the bed. I actually thought I planted cowpeas here, and was surprised to find cucumbers growing, hahaha. It’s good to always make notes of what you plant and when.
All I’ve managed to get from our vines have been four little cucumber balls. I think I’m gonna give up on the small pickling varieties and stick to the larger cukes. The small ones aren’t worth the time and space they take, as compared to the longer ones, like the Japanese Long Pickling cucumbers.
I planted green beans a couple of weeks ago. Hoping to get a late crop.
I have cowpeas growing here for the first time. It’ll be fun to see how they do. I don’t even know if I’ve ever eaten cowpeas. Are they the same thing as black-eyed peas? I dunno. But if they do well we’ll learn to like them.
The pepper bed hasn’t changed much at all. It seems like the plants just don’t wanna grow!
Even though the pepper plants are small, they’re still producing little peppers. That’s encouraging! Here’s a cayenne pepper growing.
The kids have little watermelons growing in their raised bed. Fun!!
And that’s pretty much it for the raised beds.
I’ve also been drying and storing our oregano. I can’t believe how well this stuff grows! I just hung small clumps of oregano on the clothesline I have over the bathtub, and then raked off the dried leaves into jars after about two weeks of hanging.
I’ve got a half a gallon of dried oregano put up, and tons more still growing. It’ll be nice not to have to buy it anymore.
So, there’s a little glimpse into what I’ve been up to lately! What exciting things have you been up to this summer?