When we first got started with this farming gig it seemed to roll reeeaaallll slow. We were busy, but not too busy. Mostly we were just waiting for that magical date and sitting still in the planning phase. Then all of a sudden, our frost free date hit, June 1st, and bam! We suddenly had everything to go in all at once it seemed and everything that wasn’t done had to get done stat. It got a bit overwhelming and we quickly realized that we are only two people and could only move as fast as we could. I am happy to say though, after a whole lot of work we finally have our whole garden planted and seeded and everything, minus one row of beans. Given that we do have two and a half rows of beans planted…if we don’t get to that third row, I think we will suffice. I feel way behind in saying that given it is the fifth of July, but then again…it’s only been one month! Phew! and everything has blossomed so. much in this past month!
Now we move on to a bit more of a relaxed pace with garden maintenance. One row at a time we weed, and squash cucumber beetles, and harvest when ready. We still have our kale, chard, and spinach going surprisingly strong. But our lettuce mix seems to be done for now. The head lettuce on the other hand has been taking it’s place on our dinner table and at the farm stand. We are growing our tomato plants this year using the trellising system as pictured above. Jason runs a tight line of string across the fencing posts and as the tomatoes grow taller, we weave them in and out the strings from opposite starting strings. Exactly like weaving. We’ve had a bit of fixing to do in that department this week. We were using twine, but it just wasn’t staying taught enough to hold the plants steady, so Jason re did all the trellising using a nylon string that could be pulled and tied very tight.
The tomatoes are kinda like his babies. Most of them we started from seed and they are just doing so well…that well, he has a lot to be proud of. Many of the plants are beginning to form little tomatoes which is like music to our eyes. We can’t wait to pick and devour our first red ripe juicy tomato!
Our cucumbers are coming along nicely too. They also are starting to grow teeny tiny cucumbers. Pickles is all I can think of! But I guess there’s always a good dose of cucumber salad to be eaten in summer too. We have had just about every insect in our garden imaginable this year, which just surprises us since it is the first time that we know this land has grown food. Yet here we are and here they are. Many of them we’ve never had problems with in our gardening experience ever! The cucumber beetle has been no exception. Arg! Jason takes a daily stroll past the cucumber plants to crush them as he spots them. I have read that you need to get rid of them at first sight or they will destroy your garden. We have also been experimenting with some homemade hot pepper garlic spray as well as some Insecticidal Soap. So far, I really can’t tell what either of them are doing if anything, but I am just happy to see things growing. Yesterday, I spotted the chickens over by the cucumbers gobbling those bugs, so I just left them there for awhile. I figure if there are no small seedlings to trample they will most likely do more good then harm. I just kept an close eye on them.
We finally have peas! Beautiful green sugar snap peas! I hope to be harvesting plenty of these for eating, freezing, and selling. Because the peas grow up a trellis there is not really any maintenance for them and I haven’t seen any bugs on them at all this season.
Aside from the initial tractor tilling of our garden plot, every single thing has been done by hand. A pitchfork and digging fork have helped Jason endlessly remove rocks from the soil to prepare it for planting. We just got the Peaceful Valley Farm and Garden Supply magazine in the mail. It has Jason dreaming of having a Broad fork someday soon as well as a Wheel Hoe. For now though, a simple stirrup garden hoe and a four tine cultivator have been working wonders in keeping our garden pathways looking nice and weed free. It’s amazing what a few simple tools can do to help time and effort wise. I always marveled at that drawing in the beginning of The Garden Primer, where Barbara has all of her many garden tools all neat and tidy in her tool shed. Not that we keep any tools organized at all over here by any means…they mostly are strewn about the garden, but someday…someday…I aspire to have a neat and tidy tool shed just like Barbara’s drawing.
Our curly kale has finally kicked into good standing now that the chickens seem to be leaving it alone. We have three rows of winter squash and three summer squash planted. I kind of consider squash similar to a weed in the way it grows and it’s level of production. I know by next week these plants will be huge! It doesn’t take them long to grow in size! And before us northerners up here know it will be harvesting buckets of zukes!
As we are learning, each phase of farming has it’s general flow. I personally love the part where you get to see the fruition of all of the efforts put into it, but then again…it’s important to start at the beginning, planting the seed, putting out your intentions…that’s what makes the maintaining and harvesting parts so special. You can sit back and marvel at all the hard work and effort put into it all. I think it may even make the food taste just a little bit better that way too.