Summer is OFFICIALLY here and while I love having the freedom from schoolwork with our baby girl, I could certainly do without the humidity! Notice I didn’t say heat. We have been getting a very steady supply of rain. As a result our temperatures as yet have not creeped up too high. The results on the humidity on the other hand is a whole OTHER STORY! Just checking the mail guarantees a clothing change! Let’s just say we are washing a lot more than usual! Fortunately, much of what we have growing now actually enjoys humid weather. Guess we just have to deal with it!
While the rainfall ensures everything is lush and green it also makes it increasingly difficult to manage pests. Squash bugs, aphids, slugs, leaf hoppers – ah the list goes on – thrive when the environment is moist. Not to mention many of our treatments for pest have to be reapplied after a rain. So you see how busy we have been! We have watermelon, tomatoes, and most recently some of our beans, fighting the above pests. The fight continues but we will stay vigilant!
Proper weeding goes a long way towards keeping the pests at bay. They have fewer places to hid and are easier to remove manually and much easier for our organic sprays to to find their desired audience. This too has been a challenge due to the rain. Even with a scheduled program of weeding things can easily get out of hand. We find it best to spend a little time each day weeding. As we do we often find pests and are able to destroy them as we go, killing two birds with one stone!
Thankfully the pests have been a minimal problem in the high tunnel. Our pest exclusion system is certainly doing its job! The traps are changed out biweekly and the information is recorded. In the image to the right you can see Cabbage Looper (CL) and Squash Vine Borer moths eliminated from the inside! We are certainly thrilled to have any assistance in keeping the pests at bay!
All the hard work – we needed a get away! It was only a day that we got to break but it did just what it was supposed to! We felt so refreshed and ready to get back to the grind! We are planning more of these little mini vacays because we recognize this time together is a vital part of what helps us face day to day challenges along with staying vigilant prayer, meditating on God’s Word, and building our faith! These essentials cannot be lacking in our lives. It is okay to pause the farm to refocus.
We began this month by harvesting our garlic. The oddest think happened with it- it was ready about 60 days earlier than projected! A few of our bulbs over matured and split. With the wild weather we have had, we aren’t actually sure why. It could be that this rate of growth is is normal for our particular zone. These split heads will make up some of our our seed stock for the next season. In a couple of weeks we will place them into the freezer to cold stratify them so they are ready to plant come October. Funny how when you’re a farmer you are always planning! We learned though exactly which varieties are good for growing in our soil and climate. Check out our analysis here.
We also harvested our first and second round of potatoes. The first batch was our Superior Early Potatoes. We planted 5lbs and sadly only got 5lbs back! We aren’t sure if it’s the variety or again the weather. Our second batch, a red variety, of which we planted 5lbs yielded only 6lbs – what is going on?! While this is pretty horrible we believe we know the culprit is and have taken steps to correct the issue with the soil nutrients. Whether or not we are successful will be told with our third and fourth succession planting which has already been done. We are hoping the best! Look out for those results in the August and September newsletters.
We harvested our corn and potatoes on the same day. Corn harvest was really good for us! If you have followed our journey then you know that over the last few years we have tried our farmer hands at growing corn. First failure was soil content. Next issues was ants. This year we have applied all lessons learned and came out on top. We only wish we had planted more! It’s definitely been trial and error but much like the final success with carrots, we are well on our way to being even more successful with corn. We know it’s risky but we will be planting one more succession planting of corn this month of July. Stay tuned for those highly anticipated results!
While we love having a bumper crop we are happy to accept whatever the earth gives us back. So if it’s 5 pounds… it’s 5 pounds of naturally grown produce that we didn’t have before!
Tomatoes are growing very nicely. If we can keep the leaf hoppers and worms off we should be good for the year. In our family garden we planted mostly Paste tomato varieties. We use tomatoes so often that we needed to restock on our salsa, tomato sauce, and this year we hope to can some whole & diced stewed tomatoes. If they keep producing as they are then there should be no issue there. In the high tunnel we have plenty of salad tomatoes or snacking tomatoes. These are excellent in salads or just eating as a nice snack.
Zucchini in the high tunnel is doing fairly well. While our squash and zucchini in the family garden had to be pulled though due to being over run with pests. Squash bugs, aphids, Leaf hoppers – you name it, they had it! While it was a little upsetting we did get to store quite a bit for the year so not all was lost.
Perennials are a favorite of ours. We like that no muss no fuss kind of life that they offer. On our property we have fruit bearing trees, bushes, and vines that fall into this category as well as a number of herbs, and of course asparagus. Our newly established asparagus bed is doing fantastic! Our 5 year old asparagus bed finally gave us asparagus berries, better known as asparagus seed pods. We have collected these to save until we can figure out where we can establish a 3rd asparagus bed. Can you tell we love asparagus?!
Mint and Lemon Balm are doing great. We recently began dehydrating them and combining with other herbs like Basil to make loose leaf tea. We will continue to experiment and we will let you know when our Certified Naturally Grown tea is available for purchase!
Our newly established rosemary bushes have been accidentally weeded and cut with the lawn mower and hedger and somehow they are STILL ALIVE!
Spanish Lavender is flowering while the English Lavender is just as green and lush as you would expect it to be after as much rain as we have had. Chances are they will not flower this year however I’m still holding out hope.
We are most excited about our Muscadine vines. We told you all about them last month but wanted to show you how much they have grown! I’m not sure when these will be ready for harvesting but we are keeping a real close eye on them.
The chicks are growing nicely. We settled on names for them. Zig & Zag. Zig is the one that genetically belongs to the hen and Zag is the brown one. They are very funny! If you missed our video documenting the experience of dealing with a Broody hen and meeting our chicks for the first time you can watch it here. Shrillex is the best mama hen ever! I absolutely love the call she does at breakfast and dinner. It is so adorable! Did you know roosters will make a similar call to let his girls know he’s found food!
Since we have allowed Shrillex to hatch these chickens almost all the hens have tried going into brooding mode. It’s made the daily egg harvest quite interesting. One of our girls (the sassiest brooder) even growls when we open the nesting box… GROWLS! Well we call it a growl. Quite interesting! What she doesn’t know is that we plan to let one of them hatch out chicks again around September. I’m sure she will be pleasantly surprised! We hope to get more females as this batch will began to slow in their egg production by next Spring.
The other flock or herd that is growing is the rabbits. The babies are now two and a half weeks old and are already eating veggies and getting into mama’s feed. They have mama’s taste for fennel but they really don’t care for tomatoes. Thai is creating them their own channel and we may even give them their own Instagram page as well. We both have to just find the time to get it done. Stay tuned!
We have got so much more to tell you but we will save that for next month! Stay dry, hydrated, and keep growing – from our family to yours!
What to look for this month on our YouTube channel:
- What was our favorite snap bean this year & why
- How we skin our tomatoes for processing tomato sauce & salsa
- Cold stratification – how and why
- Turn unsightly spent sunflowers into chicken feed
The rain also made it impossible to record two videos we planned to for your guys. We hope to get those done this month as well! Be sure to like, share, and subscribe!