Every August I get the distinct sense that I’ve been running a five month garden sprint, and should have paced myself for a marathon instead! It’s so easy to have grand visions in March; after all, we’ve been cooped up for months indoors, and the promise of copious amounts of fresh produce is just so enticing.
Then the rains come, and the weeds grow, and that small bed into which you quite possibly might have planted a few dozen too many winter squash seeds has essentially taken over a quarter of your garden, turning it into an impenetrable tangle of squash (not that that is a bad thing, mind you).
And in that moment you promise yourself that next year will be different. You will pace yourself, you will plant fewer tomatoes, you will space the cucumbers further apart, you will actually harvest the beans on your trellis. The simple fact of the matter is that July-September are the busiest months of the homestead year, and at times totally overwhelming, and yet when you’re knitting by the fire in January, you’ll already be dreaming and scheming about how to make next year’s garden bigger and better!
But, I digress.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been diligently preparing beds for planting. I’ve found that if I commit to tackling one bed per day, I make real progress. So, each day I either get a bed completely ready to seed/plant, or I do the seeding or planting. I’m aiming to have a real fall/winter garden this year, complete with low tunnels. Beets, carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, kale, chard, and lettuce have already been seeded, and some will be re-seeded in the coming weeks.
One reason for the big push in planting is that we’re starting the very exciting process of siting and preparing for our next big homestead project – a root cellar! If you peer through the fencing of the photo above, you’ll see a dying oak tree with a ladder propped against it. That tree will be removed, and the root cellar built in its place. The project will require the renting of a compact excavator, so we won’t begin to tackle it in earnest until mid-September, after we return from a family vacation. I will be certain to document the entire process to share.
Our yard and orchard continues to be mowed in the most adorable way possible – by these two sweet lambs. Although I have already gotten myself a bit attached to them, they are intended for meat. But the real reason I included this photo is because if you look closely, you will see our first apples! We planted fruit trees the first year we moved onto our land, and it’s so exciting to imagine the bounty in our future.
I heard from so many readers that their tomato crop was also damaged by blight. I made a strong initial effort to stay on top of the problem – removing dead leaves and spraying with organic neem oil. But the rains never stopped, and I got discouraged. Since I planted 100 tomato plants, I still have a decent crop, but many plants were adversely affected, to the point of death.
The morning harvest that becomes the most delicious meal imaginable, the sunny marigolds in the garden, the jars of canned food slowly filling the pantry, the feeling of peace and clarity that comes from digging in soil, the sense of empowerment that comes from growing my own food … This is why I love to garden.
What’s growing in your garden right now?
If you’re looking for a great tool to keep your gardening records organized, my friend Angi from Schneiderpeeps is running an amazing sale on her eBook, The Gardening Notebook, this month. For the entire month of August, it is only $5! I reviewed The Gardening Notebook here, and consider it a great resource. Plus, I think it’s really cool that sales this month are helping their son achieve his acting dreams in NYC.
All in all it looks like things are going really well! I did notice those apples. How lovely! We planted two apple trees back in January. We got two apples from one of the trees. I was so surprised.
My garden is doing well or alteast least the tomatoes are. We got early blight here in May and I kept it under control but then it seems to have come back with the monsoon storms. But I still have gotten 71 pounds of tomatoes from the 28 plants I planted.
Teri Page says
That’s quite an impressive yield! I didn’t know you could grow apples there- aren’t you in S. Arizona?
Ed Brown says
Experienced greens envy when I see your chard/kale bed!
Blake Downing says
I love reading updates like this. It’s so wonderful watching you make progress! It’s really inspiring, and keeps me on the track to one day having a homestead of my own. c:
Teri Page says