Fall Clean-up & Summer Wrap-up

Even though the garden hasn’t frosted out yet, we took some time this weekend to clean up what we could.

My husband tackled the garden.  He pulled out the dead tomato plants and cucumber vines.  He also pulled out the associated stakes, cages, and trellises and tilled up the newly vacated parts of the garden.  Our beans, bunching onions, kale, peppers, and Brussels sprouts are still doing pretty well.  Those two volunteer tomato plants are on the decline but are still producing a little so those were left in as well.

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I pulled out my gladiolus and calla lily bulbs and put them on a rack (this was from a fridge of some sort) to dry.

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I’ll leave them here until next weekend then I’ll brush off the excess dirt, put them in ice cream buckets (probably with a little pine bedding thrown in for good measure), and store them in the basement for the winter.  I did have a number of bulbs that rotted in the ground before I could get to digging them up, but that was largely a function of the repeated couple-inch dumpings of rain we’ve gotten over the last two months!

I didn’t pull out my dahlias yet… because they’re still blooming!  I’m very impressed with my Sam’s Club dahlias!

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Two of my day lilies – Purpleicious and The Jury’s Out – produced seed pods this year.  Some have dried out already, so I harvested them and have plans to try and start them next spring.  I’m still waiting on some of the pods to dry out, but I’ll collect them as they do.  I would love to see what kinds of hybrids I get from all of my day lilies.

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When I planted this spring I showed you that I put down newspaper and straw to help keep the weeds down.  Did it work?  At first.  The issue was that the weeds that did work their way through were the larger and more aggressive weeds, so when I pulled them they left a hole in the paper and let more weeds populate that area.  Will I do it again?  Probably not.  It’s easier to just hoe or till the weeds in between the plants.

Tomatoes are always boom or bust around here.  This year was bust – thanks to early blight.  Luckily, we had a bumper crop in 2015 and still have ample tomatoes in the pantry.  We ate some fresh, I made and froze some tomato paste, and canned some jalapeno hot sauce.  I found a different fungicide that I felt was working at least marginally better than the stuff I had used prior, so I will buy more of that next year and use it regularly as a preventive in hopes of keeping the pesky blight at bay.

We had a pretty typical crop of green beans.  We were running a full batch of quarts through the canner about once a week.  They’re still growing pretty good, and are actually still flowering.  We definitely haven’t put the canner away yet – there’s a batch of beans going in today!  If you missed my post on how to can green beans, you can find it HERE.

The corn.  Well, that was a lot of corn.  We ate a lot of corn, we gave away a lot of corn, we canned a LOT of corn.  If you’re following me on Facebook or Twitter you likely saw this photo one morning about a month ago…

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All that corn was cut up the night prior and was ready to be canned that day.  We ultimately put up about about 70 quarts of corn.  We just ate our first quart a few days ago and (luckily) we’re very happy with how it turned out.

The cucumbers did okay.  As usual, it took a couple replantings to get them going so we didn’t get a terribly abundant harvest.  We ate a good amount of cucumbers fresh, and I canned some relish.  Next year I really need to be on top of things and start my cucumber seeds indoors.  I’ve historically had terrible luck starting seeds, but I think the birds are getting at my cucumber seeds when I direct seed them.  So, I need to give seed starting another shot – at least with the cucumbers, anyway.  If that doesn’t work I’ll have to resort to buying them from the greenhouse.

The cabbages and Brussels sprouts had a great year, with the exception of one cabbage that rotted on me (from the inside… it was weird, I had never seen a cabbage do that before… but we got a LOT of rain towards the end of the growing season).  The cabbages got made into cole slaw, then what we couldn’t eat fresh (which was a lot) got made into sauerkraut.  Here is one cabbage, all shredded up…

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It’s still fermenting, so you’ll hear more about that if it turns out (so far it looks promising).  We’ll leave the Brussels sprouts in the garden through winter or until we’ve eaten them all.

After a pretty successful growing season we have a fully stocked pantry and are ready for the apocalypse…

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…or just another Wisconsin winter!

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One Vengeful Zucchini

In a previous post about two weeks ago I told you I had replanted my zucchini three times only to have my husband till it up after the last planting then dump a bunch of manure on top of that spot.  Well, this past weekend I was out in the garden and I noticed that one of the plants had sprouted!

Zucchini, of course, have the reputation of being prolific.  I’m a bit worried to see how this one produces after having been tilled up and having manure dumped on it… it is going to be ready for some payback!  Bear in mind it is also growing in a pile of manure.  It is certainly wasting no time… this photo was taken on Sunday:

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Kale Powder

Due to my abundant crop of kale, I’ve begun making kale-infused smoothies for breakfast.  I always wanted to get into smoothies, but the idea of hauling out the blender and all the cleanup that entailed wasn’t appealing to me.  Suddenly, this past weekend I remembered the Magic Bullet set we got for our wedding and pulled that out.  I’m pretty much obsessed with that thing now.  I’ve literally been blending my iced coffee just because I can.

Yesterday morning as I was blending my smoothie, I was thinking about what I could do to preserve my kale to continue adding it to my smoothies long after the growing season is over.  I would never buy kale.  Maybe our small-town grocery store is a bad example, but I checked the price last time I was at the store… ouch!  I thought for a minute about freezing my kale into kale cubes, but between beef and milk (for the baby) we don’t have much freezer space.  As it turns out, the obvious solution was on the shelf right next to me – my dehydrator!Read More »

The Mid-July Garden

It’s that time of year in the garden where everything is starting to take off like crazy and the onslaught of vegetables is becoming more and more imminent.  The proverbial “calm before the storm.” I don’t have a lot to say right now, but I do have a few things to show you.

Our corn started to tassel earlier this week, and now the tassels are abundant and the corn is starting to silk.

The calendar shows this early corn should be ready in about two weeks, with the next batch maturing only a week after that.  We’ll see shortly how our venture in to sweet corn turns out!Read More »

First Harvest

It was the first time, and it wouldn’t be the last time that we eat these leafy greens!

Last night was my first harvest from the garden this season, not including the herbs we’ve been snipping here and there.  Each year, lettuce is always one of the first things, if not the first thing, ready to harvest.  However, as exciting as my first harvest from the garden always is, this one happens to have something new, something other than just lettuce…

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Weeding

I feel like I have nothing to talk about.  I feel like all we’ve done for the last two weeks is weeding.  But it is that time of year, so I’ll roll with it…

My priority this weekend was taking care of this garden that has been overrun with mint.  I’ll take the blame for this.  When we first moved in, this little patch was nothing but purple violets.  I ripped those out and planted chives, mint, and basil.  It looked really nice that first year.  Then the mint took over.  It probably wouldn’t be so bad if I hadn’t had the bright idea to plant both spearmint and peppermint.  If that minty mess was a monoculture I’d probably be more ok with it, but since I can’t tell which mint is which I can’t really do anything with it.

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