There are five gardens total around this homestead. The main garden is also called the Kitchen Garden, and for two reasons. 1. It’s the one with the most general population of varied vegetables for cooking and preserving. 2. You can see it from the kitchen window. On this gray morning it looks glorious. Besides the tomatoes and peppers (and one transplanted rhubarb from our friends Elizabeth and Weez) it is entirely planted from seeds. Most of this year’s seeds came from High Mowing in Vermont. I am personally excited about this new type of yellow summer squash called SUPERSONIC. I’ve probably already talked about them, but I don’t care. What a thing to be growing! And we’ve already been harvesting radishes planted right around Mother’s Day. This weekend I did a super weeding and remulching with waste hay around the edges. This is the tidiest garden I ever had on this farm, and that is Shannon’s influence. Her grandmother always kept a tidy garden and I think the tending of this one in the same way is a homage to her Nana.
The second largest garden is the long-time Kailyard in the back of the barn. It’s shaded there by locusts after June, but open to full sun all spring beforehand. Perfect for cold crops and that is what is there. Lettuces, spinach, kale, brussels, onions, and snap peas. Had my first bite into a snap pea yesterday and it was such a loud crunch and so sweet it tasted better than candy. Because candy isn’t planted into your hard-fought-to-keep earth weeks ago and then slowly winds itself out of perfect white flowers on sturdy vines. What a delayed gratification! I sometimes feel every human emotion comes out in the process of keeping a garden.
Then we have the sisters gardens behind the farmhouse. There we have three mounds of Cider Jack pumpkins and a Three Sisters plot. The Three Sisters, for those who do not know, is corn, beans, and squash. You plant the corn first (ours is about a foot tall) and then the beans. The pole beans use the corn stalks as their trellis and grow around their base. In the center of this masterpiece of Mayan engineering is a happy few squash plants. We have Buttercups. I like them because while they don’t last as long as a Hubbard or even the Butt Nuts, they do keep well.
The last garden is the potatoes I wrote about. The one with the mangels in the center! I am so happy to admit that those potatoes are all up and THRIVING! It’s like aliens dropped a crop circle of spuds up in that retired piece of the horse pasture. The composted horse poop is perfect and loose for the potatoes (all of them seed stock saved rom last year’s harvest). I am really happy with it!
And of course, there are some losers. Our cucumbers and summer squashes are dealing with the cucumber beetles. We are fighting them best we can organically, including spending every night with a bowl of soapy water hand picking them off the leaves. But despite our best efforts we lost a heritage silver cucumber plant that couldn’t take the beetle heat - and one of the cider jacks is looking rough. And those mangles I planted are not doing well. But if even a few make it this experimental year and the pigs enjoy eating them - worth it. Fodder crops are new to me outside pasture and I knew this was a gamble going into it.
That’s the garden update! I think they are coming along splendidly. And between the eggs and the meat in the freezer we are eating most of our meals super local. Of course we add some cupboard staples or barters. Our neighbor Linda just dropped off a loaf of her amazing rosemary and raisin sourdough for a dozen eggs. We keep all the usual noodles, dried beans, rice, etc on hand for making a meal hearty and filling. Shannon has opened by eyes to the MAGIC of an Instant Pot, and how you can make the most amazing bbq beans flavored with just one or two small pork chops that make a bean base that can last all week in burritos, salads, etc.
That’s the garden update right now, and I hope all of your gardens are going just as well or better. If you have any tips on those ding dang beetles send us a note! Happy gardening, regardless!