Hello farm family! We hope that you and yours are doing well. On the world scene things have been quite tumultuous. We want to take a moment to send well wishes and condolences to those who have experienced loss in the wake of the latest disasters. Although we do not know, you we pray for you.
So September is the month that most farms are succession planting those leafy greens and earthy root crops and we are no different. We began Fall starts back in July and they will be going into their planned spaces this week. Just what is on the docket?
- Kale – Since we started farming we found that kale really is our favorite leafy green! We love all types so it it ALWAYS included in the planting for Spring and Fall. Last Fall and this Spring we struggled horribly with pests and had a very minimal harvest. This year we are at it again! We have already implemented some prevention techniques that we believe will be very beneficial to the crops going forward. One thing is we are covering with mosquito netting from the start. This will protect from pests that prey from above. As for those that tend to live in the ground we plan to use pyrethrin as needed. So far we have started curly and flat leaf varieties. This week will will succession plant those and also start Lacinato & Red Russian varieties as well. Kale chips here we come! We also need to restock our greens powder and Fall is the best time to do so!
- Mustards – They are our second favorite green. We like all varieties! This year in addition to our Red Giant & Curly Mustard we are planting a new variety called Ultra Violet. I’m so excited about this green I can hardly stand the wait! Our mustards suffer terribly from the beetles each year. They are notoriously hard to control. This year will try pyrethrin for them as well alternating with neem as needed. Alternatively we have interplanted some of them with Marigold flowers which we hope will distract some pests.
- Collards – While we know most Southerners love collards we are not in as close of a relationship but what garden is complete without them! Of course you know we will be making these available to you as they are ready. We planted a small leaf variety and the standard large leaf variety and will continue to succession plant these until Winter. Worms target the collards like nobody’s business and can decimate a bed in no time! BT works wonders when applied regularly and reapplied after heavy rains.
- Leaf Broccoli – A few seasons ago we planted broccoli in our high tunnel but we planted it too late or something. Either way, most did not form heads but we took advantage of the beautiful, tasty leaves. So this year we decided to plant leaf broccoli to have plenty to go around. Leaf broccoli tastes like a mix between kale and broccoli to me. We cook them the same as we do collards. Our first planting should be available by the end of the month.
- Beets – We do not like beets, plain and simple but we cannot deny the health benefits so we always grow some to have in the freezer for smoothies. This year we are expanding the square footage planting more. If we get sizable roots we will be sure to let you know when we harvest.
- Carrots – Again we are adding to our variety this year by adding more colors to the standard orange carrot we normally grow. Carrots did so well for us this year and we hope that means we have found the secret to the sauce. What is it you ask? Plant in Hoopty! The humidity of the high tunnel gives us the best germination for carrots that we have ever seen! We are also noticing sizeable roots and beautiful tops! What else could a farmer want?! I can say with confidence that the rabbits appreciated them!
- Parsnips – When we first started growing for the public we had accidentally grew a bunch of parsnips. Accidentally because they came in an organic cover crop mix we used. That was our first encounter with the “white carrot” as our daughter referred to them at the time. We loved the flavor and have since tried to grow them unsuccessfully a few times since. They can be a little challenging to germinate. This year I think we have found a variety that will work. Time will tell.
We had planned to harvest our last round of potatoes but the rain had a whole other idea. As soon as we have some dry days we will hopefully get around to that. We are still harvesting peppers like crazy! We have come up with meal plans to include them in the weekly meal prep and we have also preserved them in many different ways. Two new varieties are finally coming into production and that is the Carolina Reaper and the Red Habanero pepper. Both pack a serious put you in the hospital punch, so we hear. The bushes are loading up with babies as I type and I should be able to harvest before the month is out.
White & Green varieties of eggplant are also in mass production. I have to say after trying for 3 years to grow the white eggplant IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT! I find it extremely funny that the eggplant varieties that most people love and commonly grow refuse to grow well on our farm. So you won’t find any Black Beauties (besides the humans) growing here – nope! You will however find those out of the ordinary varieties and we are just fine with that!
Long Beans are killing it! They have become quite the okra here of the farm. You best pick while your are looking at it because tomorrow it will be too big! Granted long beans are still edible after they reach longer sizes but not as a snap bean which is how our family uses them. This is the time of the year we prefer to grow the Thai Long Beans as they stand up best to the leaf hoppers, ants and (get this) wasps! Wasps love these vines! They hover around the flowers all day so harvesting must be done with care – not by me of course as I am deathly allergic. Our son harvests them for us daily and he observed that they are extremely docile after exploring the blossoms. His thought is that some chemical calms them to the point that he’s touched them with no consequence! There could be some truth to that after all who doesn’t feel calm after sniffing flowers – just sayin’.
We are always harvesting arugula this time of the year. It is our go to green of the Summer since the heat does not seem to be an issue for it. Succession plantings ensure we have plenty to go around!
Every Little Bit Counts Challenge
As we mentioned we participated in a yearly challenge that we just found out about whereby one preserves food items every day for the entire month of August. This is great because August can be a month of Summer abundance for many. This makes one more cognizant of finding creative ways to preserve their harvests. It did for me anyway. THIS WAS A LOT OF WORK! I did not actually make it every single day but only skipped maybe 5 days – one because I was simply too busy with other projects and the other days because of health and energy issues. I will definitely do this again. I can personally say this month forced me to grow as a homesteader. This month we tried so many things for the very first time:
- Eggplant Chips
- Honey Fermented Garlic
- Potato Flakes
- Ground Cherry Salsa
- Dehydrated Muscadine Leaves & MORE!
Things have been a bit crazy here as far as home life. One huge adjustment our family is making is unexpectedly having another family member move into our home. At the end of March my brother came to stay with us. He is younger than me. He is also a special needs individual. This is where the crazy comes in. Our life is very busy as it is. Adding another person has just added a level of wild that we haven’t had to deal with in quite some time. We do not know how long this living situation will be but I have to say although it has been complicated he is adjusting nicely to our farm life. He has his farm chores which he looks forward to handling each morning and he has come to love the rabbits and chickens. It has almost been therapeutic for him. I have been working on a blog about how farm life can be beneficial for those with special needs. So many times we tip toe around these facts of life as if ignoring them will make them go away. I find addressing some issues head on is best. Many are caring for aging loved ones, sickly loved ones, or in our case ones with special needs. If we share ideas and techniques it creates a community where we can all find a little success. Who knows when I’ll get that blog done but be on the lookout for it.
The family has been very accommodating to my brother. Living with someone who has special needs requires compromise and structure at the same time. It is a tight rope to walk but this family with God’s help has done excellent. Our crazy silly attitude has risen above the challenges and created even stronger bonds of love and friendship.
As we decided to join the every bit counts challenge last minute we were honestly way to wrapped up to get the videos planned for last shot, edited, and uploaded. So we will try all those again this month. Stay tuned!