In just 2 more months we will be in a whole new year. It is quite hard to believe. They year isn’t over yet! There is still much to do!
Rotting Raised Beds
At the outset of the year we knew we were going to need to replace our raised beds. As we have mentioned in pervious blogs, we used non-treated wood for these beds and knew their life would be short. The hope was that in the meantime we could grow our business and later be able to sustain purchasing cedar raised beds which would last longer. However COVID hit our farm hard! So we had to pivot and adjust. We began researching galvanized raised beds which seemed to be the most practical investment since this is a life-style for us now. We will grow food forever! When it comes to galvanized raised beds there are many companies out there. It can be hard to know which way to go. Well recently a fellow vlogger, Lazy Dog Farm, shared a video about the Olle raised garden beds and we were intrigued! The prospect of not having to replace the raised beds for 20+ years was very appealing! Although it really is a pretty large investment, we made the dive and received our first Olle raised bed just a few weeks ago. You can watch us put it together here. It has since been planted with beets, turnips, radishes, and Swiss Chard varieties.
One thing I really appreciate about the configuration we went with is the height. At 17 inches, it is the perfect height for me to sit on my stool and plant! On bad body days this will be crucial! Over the next year we plan to install these in all the places where our wooden raised beds were previously. At a minimum of $199.00 per bed it may take a while however we have time! If you would like to make the dive into galvanized raised beds you can purchase through our link and get a 10% discount.
It has been a while since I referred to our rabbits with the above title and honestly it makes me a little sad. I really miss Simba! He opened my heart back to they young girl that had her first spoiled rabbit. I’ll always remember him for that. Lionhead rabbits in particular just have wonderful personalities. So when I saw the cutest Lionhead Angora YOU ALREADY KNOW MY HEART WAS ON FIRE! We are proud to add Sweet Pea to Simba’s pride! She is absolutely hilarious! Our boy Gizmo has been trying diligently to get her attention but as you can see, she cannot be bothered! The hope was to breed her to Gizmo but there seems to be a size discrepancy. Yikes! We haven’t given Gizmo the opportunity yet however if it doesn’t work out for Gizmo then Domino is also an option. Either way we will have some really cute babies hopping around and joining our fertilizer team!
Preserving the Harvest
I have complained enough about all the crop failures 2022 has had for our farm anyway. When the #everybitcountschallenge came around in August I was so discouraged that we really didn’t have much to preserve. Well that has taken a sharp change over the last month! We have harvested basil, bee balm, fig leaves, figs, goldenrod, grape leaves, roselle calyces and leaves. Once all of these are harvested then they have to be processed in one way or another for storage. Let’s just say that the dehydrator has not been off often. We are using these items to build our stash of teas, tinctures, and spice blends. Right now you can find two tea blends on our shop page. We are happy to be able to ship these to you if you do not live local to Dothan, Alabama.
Herbalism has become quite an interesting rabbit hole for us! Late nights spent on YouTube researching have proved very valuable! Along the way we have learned quite a bit about the benefits and medicinal uses of what may seem to be weeds growing right here on our property. Goldenrod is a great example! For years I have mistaken it for Ragweed and wrongly thought it was the culprit aggravating our allergies. How wrong I was! One thing Ive come to observe is that bees REALLY love Goldenrod. Turns out there is a reason for that! See, unlike Ragweed, Goldenrod contains nectar that draws the pollinators. Whereas Ragweed is wind dependent. Its literally blowing in the air which is why it aggravates us so much UNLIKE Goldenrod. We learned that it was actually just the opposite – Goldenrod actually offers relief to allergy symptoms when used as a tea or tincture! How ironic! We harvested a full basket from around just two of our raised beds and still have a section behind two more decommissioned beds we need to harvest. There is so much of it on our property. We have used some of it already to begin a tincture that will be ready near the end of November. Don’t worry though, we left plenty for the bees!
What About Produce
As we look back on last months blog we are actually pretty proud that we have planted nearly all we said we would and then some! The majority of the planting we have done over the last month has been in Hoopty primarily because of our raised bed issue. We have interplanted a couple of mustard varieties that we think will look quite beautiful growing together. We love the versatility mustard greens offer. Young greens are a fabulous addition to salads and more mature leaves are great cooked! More on the farmer side of things we can get multiple cuts from the plants as they grow.
Every year we push to make sure we have plenty of collard greens for the community come Winter since it seems to be the leafy green of choice for our area. We do struggle though with growing them for some odd reason. We always have a few, however, it is never enough! This year we are not taking any chances and we have planted triple the amount we would normally and thankfully we can say that we already see them coming up!
Snap peas are growing nicely and we are considering growing more outside of Hoopty but aren’t quiet sure if maybe we have waited too close to the first frost. In our zone the first frost is predicted to be around mid November. Although most of the peas we grow can handle frost, they do need to be well established. If we do plant any outside it will definitely need to be in the next day or so.
Fall snap beans just seem to have the very best flavor ever! We are harvesting the long beans from Hoopty and the standard green bean from the field areas. Both delicious! We have had to fight with the aphids in the high tunnel for every bean we get but it is definitely worth the fight!
Arugula is growing well and should be up for harvest by this time next month which means we are already behind in succession planting but what else is new! We will get more arugula planted this week. It pairs well with almost any green in our opinion and can hold its own! So we like to keep a steady supply of it!
Kale is also growing ! Then again no Fall garden is complete without it! We have planted a couple different flat leaf varieties thus far. Curly, Lacinato, and Red Russian Kale is on the agenda next. While we do have some Curly kale that has survived the Summer, we will not begin harvesting from it again until after the first frost.
Carrots, carrots, and more carrots! We have planted so many varieties of carrots over the last month! This is yet another item we can never have enough of! Over planting cannot really be an issue! We love to put carrots up for ourselves but we also love having them in the Spring for Farmers Markets. They are the most beautiful thing to see laid out on the table!
Kiwano Jelly Melons are coming on late this year as we were late planting them. We think we may get a few before the first frost arrives.
We experimented with growing Sorghum this year to get to know it a bit. We have been impressed with how durable it is. We definitely neglected it but it still thrived! We hope to use it as a trap crop next year but this year we may be experimenting with using it as a grain particularly for our chickens. Nutritionally speaking it’s close to corn. We plan to see how our girls enjoy it in the near future. It seems also that the grain and leaves can be used as fodder for rabbits. We are doing further research on that. Stay tuned for those videos over on our YouTube channel.
We thought we would sneak in a planting of dill before the weather got too cold. We used nearly all of our dehydrated supply in spice blends over the Summer! We are happy we had it! However, we don’t want that jar to stay empty too long so we interplanted some dill with our leafy greens. Additionally, if we can grow it now then we can dehydrate and experiment with more spice blends for you over the Winter having them ready come Spring and Summer when cucumbers and in full swing!
Fennel has also been direct sown in the high tunnel. We are growing a different variety this Fall and hope that this isn’t a mistake. We desired to find a variety known for larger, rounder bulbs. We hope that we find success. If not we have time to fall back to our OG variety.
We are continuing growing our microgreens and we also grow them for the birds and bunnies. Wheatgrass is definitely a favorite of theirs!
Roselle is STILL GROWING and we are STILL HARVESTING it! We are now offering the tasty leaves over on our shop page so you can enjoy this delicious treat as well. Our family has tried the leaves as a side salad and thoroughly enjoyed it!
As far as produce available to you now, we have our rosemary, oregano, roselle leaves, and microgreens available over in our shop. Oh and dont forget our CNG eggs!
By the time we talk again we hope to have set out our very own, grown from seed, onion starts along side the sets we will purchase. By the end of the month our garlic should have shipped out to us as well. Lettuce needs to be direct sown. Cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cabbage will be set out. Chinese Pink and White Celery are nearly large enough to be set out so they will soon need a home. We also hope to get some sort of Asian green planted. If all goes well we hope to bring our Greens Box back no later than January 2023. This will be helpful in reaching those health centered new years resolutions! Stay tuned!