Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Winter Lull but Still Eating the Fatted Calf

One of my goals in 2012 was to lessen the garden waste due to end of summer burnout.  Are you familiar with this?  You have buckets and buckets of corn and you take the time to pick it, haul it, shuck it (*ahem, this taken a few days in years past) and by the time you're ready to process it for the freezer it's starchy and gross.

In July, I spent 2 weeks to find the perfect shade of aquamarine for the farm.  Red, White, & Aquamarine--kind of Americana with a twist.  I priced a high quality paint, swept in during a one a year rebate, then brought it home with big plans to freshen up some outbuildings once the kids started back in school.

But the thing is, once the kids started back in school the garden was unloading harvest after harvest upon us.  It was a frenzy.  So the bucket still sits in the garage, and August, September, and October I was in the kitchen canning garden produce!

Here are a few long overdue (I don't think I updated much about our own garden last year) pictures from Our 2012 Garden.
Prepare to do the scroll dance.

We had some raised beds built in the spring.  Here we planted the traditional 3 sisters.  3 sisters equals corn, pole beans, and squash.

Here they are the beginning of July starting to take off.

By harvest time I found some squash bugs that had been hiding under the leaves.  I tried to use the most organic chemical-free methods to promote garden health and for the most part it worked.  

Here I just sprayed the squash bugs with a solution of water with a little Ivory Soap.  Ivory Soap is one of the most biodegradable soaps there is.  Just spray spray spray and eventually they seize up and just quit.  To get the eggs, check the underside of leaves, grab some packing tape and pull them off with the sticky side of the tape.

Here the 3 sisters near harvest time.  This bed we planted sugar-pie pumpkin which are the perfect size for steaming, pureeing, then freezing for pumpkin muffins throughout the year.

I feel quite passionate about providing fun creative avenues for the kids to play in the garden setting.  I was enamored with the idea of a labyrinth (labyrinths are different than a maze! I won't elaborate to spare the boring details) so I found a pattern I liked and roughly shaped it out with flour.  Then we added new compost to the pattern and planted in that. 

 Here's the Labyrinth shortly after planting.  Eventually I laid down layers of cardboard in the paths to suppress weeds and it did a great job!  I planted a hybrid corn called Optimum Sweet because it is a very tall corn (and more importantly, a very sweet corn).
By harvest time it just looked like a big corn patch!  Eventually we had a big white PVC teepee at the end of the labyrinth along with 4 chairs for little people.  I'm kindof totally ticked off to report that my kids were scared of wasps all summer.  Next year I will come up with a game that will lure them in more effectively.  Also, I hope the coming year doesn't have the wasp problem that we had.

Two boys running through the tall corn.  We had some of our "Labyrinth Corn" in our soup tonight!

This shows the teepee a little better, along with my best garden helper last year, Gideon.  He loved to be outside with me while I worked in the garden.


Here was another addition last summer.  We took cattle panels and bent them.  They act as a support to peas, beans, while shading the cooler crops like spinach, salad, and broccoli.  Here it is pretty early on when our peas were starting to take off.
 Prior to a weedfest, my little orphan child in the hoophouse.
  A little later we got some mulch down to help with the weeds.  This is my favorite picture of Leif in the garden.
 I strung lights around the opening, it was so magical at night!  But darnit it didn't last with garden sprinklers hitting it 3 times a week!  Baby + Baby Rake = Happiness.

At the mouth of the hoophouse is the sandbox.  I wanted to clean it up a bit and bought lots of wooden alphabet letters, sea shells, and glass coins.  Here's my two blondies having fun!
This is my favorite picture of the hoophouse.  I took some old sheets to keep the shade coming.  Boy did we have a HOT summer.  

Also, did you know it takes about 8 hours to shell enough peas for a big pot of creamy potatoes and peas?  I had so many, and they were so intensive to shell, that we did have much go to waste in the pea department :(

After trying to grow a plethora of items in this top tier, I finally broke down in July and just planted the drought tolerant Portulaca flowers.  They filled it up nicely and could handle the HEAT.

Tomato guy!

We planted a cover crop of Clover after harvesting fava beans.  They will enrich the soil, suppress weeds, and provide happiness for our bees in the spring. 

The Mister of the House was cute.  I would stack a box of completed jars and ask him to take them downstairs, but instead he kept stacking them in the piano room.  He wanted to keep seeing our progress and take a picture when we were done.  

Although I know there are many awesome woman who canned more produce than I did, I was happy with the progress we made.  We still have lots of food preserved and it is serving our family well.

 Sadness = roasting peppers and garlic for a tomato sauce, only to ruin the entire HUGE patch with too much parsley for the garden.  Lame!
Peach Basil Jam and Dehydrated Pears.

 The pears came to Idaho with me and my mom helped me put them up.  Thanks mom!

Green tomato relish, peach jam (sweetened with honey), and peaches!

I love this jar of salsa with a mashed avocado and fresh cilantro.  Also good on it's own!

Here's our parting shot.  We took some trimmed branches and made an arch leading from the garden/yard to the "farm" area.  I love it!  Looking from the farm into the garden. Stay out chickens!


Janet O. said...

What a delightful visit to your garden, Amber. I would love to have seen the fairy lights on the hoop hose before the sprinkler did them in.
It must be fun to be a child in that yard. : )

Janet O. said...

I meant hoop house, not hose. Silly me.

LGH said...

Holy cow; you are amazing, inspiring and impressive...totally and truly.

Aimee said...

Talk about amazing Amber! I love every bit of your garden...the labyrinth, the hoop house with lights! etc,etc...
I love the tomato guy picture :)
You are the queen of canning. All your jars are so beautiful and impressive!
I need to learn a lot from you about gardening.

Anonymous said...

Your entry would be right at home in a Better Homes & Gardens magazine. You are talented and such a hard worker. Love, Mom

jennaloha said...

Idyllic, that's all. Seriously.