September Homestead Update

This late post brought to you by a holiday weekend, traveling to and from a friend’s wedding (yay!), and general exhaustion. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy this week on the homestead front. Here, there are no days off!

Firstly, a big shout-out and thanks to my aunt and uncle for keeping an eye on our chickens while we took our first multi-day trip away from the homestead. While we did leave them in their coop for a night and a day to go camping a month or so ago, we didn’t want to do so for the long weekend. I hope they enjoyed Chicken TV as much as we do every day!

We’re realizing that, as we continue this homesteading journey and add new things to take care of, we also must plan more if we ever need or want to take a long trip “away from it all” (although frankly, this homestead life often feels like it’s away from it all, which is pretty great). We can’t leave our plants without watering for a week (except this year, when we certainly could have used a little less from the sky), and we can’t leave our beloved chonks enclosed to peck at each other for days on end.

But anyway, we’re back! And as I mentioned, we’ve been busy the past couple of weeks finally getting around to our fall/winter planting, and prepping and planning for wintering our spring and summer garden beds. We’re also getting some good end-of-summer produce and materials coming in (finally), both old and new to us.

Tomatoes (Roma, black cherry, yellow grape, and summer varieties), okra, and corn have been producing quite well. Not pictured, for some reason, is the plethora of hot peppers (jalapeño, habanero, and poblano) that are now coming in. Everyone pray for a late frost, please!

Speaking of corn, we’ve had a large animal (presumably, a black bear) chomping down on some of our corn on two occasions, which was not cool. The chickens, however, were happy to eat the leftovers. Ever seen a group of chickens go after a corncob? They finish that sucker in minutes, and it’s highly entertaining.

Oh my gosh, I cheered out loud when I saw this today: our winter squash is finally fruiting! We planted late, attempting a Three Sisters bed, so these guys have been super late to the party. I just hope we have enough warm days left to give them all time to fruit. At least I know from last year that I can ripen squash off the vine, but I’d like to give them as much time as possible in the ground.

(Ignore the leaf mold. It’s not there. I cut it off after the picture.)

Pictured is a proto-butternut squash from last year’s seeds, and a pumpkin flower. Other specimens in the bed that I am praying will fruit soon are candy roasters and pumpkins, which are both spreading and flowering beautifully.

We are so planting more flowers next year. We have two rows of sunflowers (planted with our squash, corn, and melons) giving us joy (and they grow quickly!), as well as some seriously tall marigolds that I plan to, ahem, tame more next year. The marigolds do a fine job of keeping many critters from chomping on my herbs, so they’re a keeper forever. We also have some sunflower heads that are ready for harvesting seeds, which I’m pretty excited about.

Speaking of herbs, this is one of our danged cilantro (and, as you can see, coriander) plants. They haven’t liked any containers we’ve tried on the porch, but they loooooooove the garden bed, so in the garden bed they’ll stay, as will our dill.

Not pictured, but doing fairly well, are lima beans (they’re hidden in the weeds, but they’re there!), melons (crossing our fingers for a few more fruits, at least), and bell peppers.

A farewell to the following:

  • Our very short-lived cucumber plants, which produced maybe about fifteen cucumbers total. Late sowing, followed by a rainy season, resulted in a very small harvest. (I just went out to the farmer’s market today and bought a bunch for pickling, because I’m not about to survive a winter and spring without pickles. No way.)
  • Eggplant. No matter what we do, eggplant does not like our gardening ways. We got nary an edible fruit this year, and will likely leave the eggplant growing up to other farmers.
  • Zucchini. Leaf mold, erosion, and torrential rain prevented more than a few fruits in our harvest. We enjoyed the few that we got!
  • Borage. This, as usual, grew prolifically, and some specimens remain, but I pulled a good deal from our moon garden yesterday. Until next year, friends!

As I mentioned earlier, we also did some planting these past few weeks, as well. Learning from last year’s, errrr, experiments, we’ve tamed our list of winter crops to the following:

  • Red Russian Kale
  • Collards
  • Mustard Greens
  • Parsnips
  • Carrots
  • Black Radishes (yeah, you read that correctly)

We’re not messing with Brussels sprouts or cabbage this year – the aphids were no joke, and hardly anything was worth harvesting from those plants. The greens and parsnips, however, were a huge success, and we loved having easy veggies throughout the winter, so we doubled up on those. We’re also super stoked about black radishes (which we’ve been calling “bladishes,” because important), which sound exciting. Will report on their progress.

Until then, friends, happy homesteading, and send the good vibes to the garden!

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