Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fall Crops, Time To Learn

We basically missed the boat for many plantings for the summer.  We started some tomatoes indoors, as well as basil, zinnias, and a bunch of herbs.  We direct sowed peas, mustard greens, chard, carrots, radishes, endive, kale, leeks, broccoli and cabbage.  Some of these things we sowed into a cold frame that were then to be transplanted.  Much of these things grew, don't get me wrong.  Many of them failed to get transplanted by me, when I was too busy mothering.  We did eat a bunch of lettuce, have pesto from the basil, froze and ate some kale and mustard greens, snacked on carrots, and will actually get a few tomatoes off of the plants that are growing great despite being all crammed together.
The tomatoes here are resting on the center piece of the cold frame above.  Those were our neat little rows of seedlings, all happy-like and filled with promise.  Some grew and were eaten, but as you can see we just let the tomatoes stay in the other side and get messy.  When I finally thought to transplant some of them it was too late and they were a little too big to get moved around in the hot sun and they died, so I left the rest as they were.
I'm not feeling too down on my little family, we did our best, and we're learning.  But, I am determined to get better at this, and that means practice.  I consulted the Oracle of Homesteading and Sustainable Living (that would be Mother Earth News) and found their "what to plant now" page, so I could find out what to pant now.  It turns out I was just about to miss planting a bunch of stuff...again!  I prepared the garden beds, and so far have planted turnips, chard, kale, carrots, dry beans, and lettuce.  I did this about a week a go and couldn't write about it because my husband was away in Oregon learning how to build earthen bread ovens, and it was something of a surprise for his homecoming.  They have already started coming up and they look wonderful! I am really excited, maybe more than I should be, but I feel like I finally did something right with this gardening on time thing.
 Calipso Dry Beans (they look like yin yangs!)
We also built two cold frames so we could do some winter gardening.  According to Elliot Coleman, we can be planting some crops as late as October and get food all the way through December or later!  The idea of having fresh spinach and lettuce all the way until December is so exciting that I can't even think about it lest my little heart burst with hope and longing. 

I'm starting to watch the clock a little as August approaches.  I know a lot of crops ripen in the next two months, but I am looking at my pantry and my freezer, and I find myself feeling like it's not going to work.  What will I do!?  (I should probably start with breathing).  The tomatoes still haven't come in, the peppers are just starting, the potatoes aren't up and the winter squash is still months away...I will be fine, people. Don't worry about me.  I won't starve.
Turnips! I think I'm most excited about these.
But the farm share we have been members of since our oldest daughter started eating (her first foods were from this farm) has stopped, for now, giving out the extras to the shareholders.  This is a reaction to some people being pushy at "extra pick-up times."  Our farm share is only a farm share and so their extras don't get sold at a farmer's market.  They give some to the employees, people take them to food pantries and they do sell a little at the nature camp they run, but there is always more.  Up until this year they have offered extras a couple of days a week.  This results in a bunch of Prius driving vultures standing around the distribution table, reusable bags clenched in their hands waiting for the "go" signal and then snatching up what they can.  It really wasn't all that cut throat, but I guess that last year some people were being rude and greedy.  My husband experienced this and really didn't want to bother picking up the extras.  After that we kind of just hung back and took everything that was left.  Seriously, we took it all.  All those tiny, topless carrots mixed in the the greens at the bottom of the bin, we washed, peeled, shredded and dehydrated them.  Bins and Bins of huge eggplants?  You know I canned them.  Contractor grade bags of tat soi?  We washed and froze the hell out of it and ate it for two years!    Without the ability to get huge quantities of produce for (basically) free, my little homesteading dream kind of falls apart.
Carrots! I know I could have sowed more into this area and thinned them out, but I find it really tricky to think carrots, and I thought if I had small rows it would be easier for me to thin them...we'll see.
We are taking steps to make our yard more hospitable to gardening on a larger scale.  But there could be all the space in the world, and if I still don't know what I'm doing it won't matter.  Is my panic palpable?  Can you feel it oozing thorough your keyboard to grab you by the wrists?  I think the thing I have the hardest time with in all this earth living, is the time frame.  I am a procrastinator, I am a little scatter-brained at times and I am a job jumper (I bounce from one project to the next without actually finishing what I started).  All of these traits have been with me for a long time and we are all very cozy.  I am in the process of freeing myself from these balls and chains, but it's a long, slow, break-up.  In the mean time, when I don't get something done because "I'll do it tomorrow," tomorrow comes full of seedlings that have died because they did actually want to be watered yesterday.  I think it's very good for me and my personal development and all that, but it's like nails on a chalkboard to slowly reform the well-grooved ridges of my brain. 

That said, I'd better get into the kitchen to process the 30 pounds of zucchini into things that I will eat in the winter before tomorrow comes correct with rotten produce.

1 comment:

  1. You do know the old saying "Rome was NOT built in a day" right? You have to give your self a break here. you are doing more fot your family to help feed them healthy, homegrown food than most people do! You have to go thru the time of trial and error to accaully learn anything and remember it. You will (and already are) learning from your mistakes. Then you have to remember, there is only so much time in a day and you also have to pay attention to those cute girls of your AND you husband too! Just think of the day when the girls can accually work in the garden and help harvest! It will all come together eventually, but remember to RELAX a bit and enjoy your homestead life you are working so hard for. On the other hand I feel your pain, I have a gazillion zuchini and tomatoes I should be taking care of as we type!!!