Archive for the ‘urban homestead’ Category

The Good and The Bad in July so far

The Good - Harvested 2013 Garlic

The Good – Harvested 2013 Garlic

Garlic as far as the eye can see.  I harvested all the garlic from both my own back yard and the farm location where I ran a trial garden over the last year.  This year it didn’t grow quite as large as last year, but I still think it was a success.  I need to get it a bit more separated for curing, but right now it’s so hot and dry out that it’s drying nicely even in a heap.  I’ll hang them from the rafters soon.  With a little bit of luck this garlic, replanted, will turn into a for-profit crop in 2014

The Bad - They took my corn!

The Bad – They took my corn!

Last night when I went to bed I had about 30 ears of sweet corn JUST about ready to pick in my 10’x10′ three sisters garden.  This morning there were about 7 or 8 little ones left.  Something–probably Raccoons–harvested all the rest and removed them while I was sleeping 20 feet away.  They knocked down and broke the corn stalks, so now the pole beans have nothing to grow on either.  And obviously if they ate here once, they could be back for the cucumbers and melons that are starting to grow on all those vines.  This is what we get for no longer letting our cat(s) outside.

But enough bad–More good!  I have been eating tomatoes every night all week.  This year of trialling new varieties has exposed me to at least 2 more favorites that are doing quite well in my yard.  I will definitely add “Church” to my permanent list of tomatoes to grow, and I think “Pink Sweet” will be on there as well.  I will review them here within the next week or 3.

My 8 pepper plants seems to be doing better than average this year.  I usually don’t get to pick any peppers until August and this year they are already sizing up and producing lots of fruit.

How is your garden growing?

Planning Three Sisters

This weekend I put in another 12 or 14 hours getting things squared away in the back yard.  I cut down and hauled away three truckloads of arborvitae.  The place looks bare, but at least there isn’t any more dead brown showing.

There was a big dead spot in the yard where the tree house used to sit, so my wife and I decided to install a 10 x 10 three sisters garden there this year.  I tilled up the whole area, and then put a brick border around it.  I made 15 hills in there; 7 for sweet corn and pole beans, 8 for various vining squashes.

The lack of arborvitae bushes to conceal my large (ugly) compost piles (from my 5 backyard neighbors) meant that the piles need to be rethunk.  I removed one completely and took down the sides and fence from the other one, leaving a minimal amount of nearly-finished compost that I won’t add to this year.  I’ll use up the pile as I can in the garden and then perhaps build an attractive enclosure at some point in the future when I feel like spending money.

It is already time to mow in some spots, especially after today’s rain. The forecast doesn’t look dry until next Friday or Saturday.

A few weeks ago I potted up my bareroot Gooseberry bush delivery, and several of them have now put on new leaves.  I have been in love with Gooseberries since they were growing at my Grandfather’s house in the early 80s.

The plants in the basement need to come outside to begin hardening off, but the patio is a huge mess.  I’ll have a place for everything after I get that new little shed built.

Venison in the Freezer

One thing I have been up to is deer hunting. I tried last year and didn’t see anything. I had much better success this year and now have over 90 pounds of meat.

New Cats


Here’s something new around our house.  Our former roommate went away and did not return on a nice evening about 7 or 8 months ago.  These two kittens are–comparatively–quite a handful at the moment.

Sauercrock Sauercracked, Sauerkraut Sauercanned

My Sauerkraut was finished some time ago.  I held it in the refrigerator to SLOOOOW down the fermentation for a while, then I canned 2/3 of it.  The remaining third will be eaten the proper way…alive.

While I was scooping kraut out of my fermenting crock, I noticed some bad news:

My 4 gallon crock has developed a crack all the way through from the inside, out.  That stain is dried cabbage juice and salt.  This is disappointing, because I don’t want to spend a small fortune on a new one, but I can’t trust this one again.

This is the color I achieved this year with my mixture of purple and green cabbages.  I hate to kill the beneficial bacteria by canning it, but the kraut won’t last until next July if I don’t can some of it.

On an unrelated note, today is the first day in 8 days that I haven’t taken any headache medicine.  I have been down twice with a migraine, and it’s still up there, lurking around, threatening to come back again.



It’s dead, Jim.


Sweet Potato Vines


Brussels that didn’t sprout

Gourd Vines

I am giving up on much of the garden for the next few weeks. Isn’t it nice that when there is a drought I can just run to the grocery store instead of worrying about how I’ll live until spring on a few gourds?

Yes, I am done watering everything except two of my four tomatoes, and MAYBE my sweet potato hills, we will see.

Tomato Growths

Click to see this larger.

I don’t know why tomatoes sometimes grow fingers, noses, whatever-you-want-to-call-these, but they are fun!

Bigger Cabins

16, 17, an 20 ounces

16, 17, and 20 ounces

20 ounce Cabin tomato on the scale

20 ounce Cabin tomato on the scale

Compare this with an average of 6 to 10 ounces during the last 3 years and you can be sure that I had them in a much shadier spot before.  I didn’t save seeds from any of these.  We ate them!  And they are good.

Drought Stricken Tomato Giving Up

One of my two Cabin tomato plants is giving up the fight for water!

The basil is badly gone to seed as well. It’s hard to convince the plants to play nice when they are seeing extreme weather and all they really want is some water.

However, on the other other end of the patio, this Cabin tomato is looking healthier than ever.  It’s basil is horrible, yes, but the tomato is doing FINE.  It has just reached 8 feet tall and I expect it to live through fall.

Large Cabin Tomatoes this Year + Saving Seeds Round 1

14 ounce Cabin tomato

15 ounce Cabin tomato

I have been seeing some Cabin tomatoes that are much larger than the last 3 years.  I guess when they get full sun they produce at a better size!

Seed Saving Round 1 - 2012 Cabin Tomatoes

Seed Saving Round 1 - 2012 Cabin Tomatoes

I saved seeds from these two tomatoes. They are fermenting in this jar on my counter. Soon I’ll clean them and dry them.

Only 4 of the 8 people who said that they wanted to grow Cabin tomatoes next year have sent me their mailing address.  If you are interesting in growing Cabin and you didn’t reply to my e-mail last week, please comment here.


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