June, as always, is an explosion of work on the homestead. I’ve been (wonderfully) busier than ever in my pastry making for farmers markets and other ventures (when’s the last time you went to see some live theater? Grab yourself a cookie while you’re there). And, of course, there are all of the crops we planted for the Big Plant.
So, today is an update on what we’ve been up to on our little mountainside homestead.
Our ladies are alive and well, but their coop is (once again) being mucked out for mites. They’ve been on a camping trip for about a week and a half – hanging out in their chicken tractor and mowing our lawn with their little talons. I’m trying harder than ever to eradicate the mites as much as possible because we’re getting three new members added to the flock. Whee!
Stay tuned for quality chicken content, and a (hopefully) smooth transition for our feathered friends.
Our vegetable bed is exploding again, a la 2019, huzzah! Thank you, crop rotation, compost amendments, mulching, cover cropping, and companion planting. Oh, and a ton of digging. So much digging. (No thanks to commercial pesticides, thankyouverymuch.)
We are finally getting zucchini, and yes, we’re hoping to be absolutely inundated with them, as we’ve been wishing in years past. We’ve literally eaten about five of our own summer squash in the past four years. Not cool. The award this year for the first zucchini eaten goes to Tikka, who escaped from the tractor and pecked at the big one I was looking forward to picking. Jerk chicken.
Apparently, I didn’t take a picture of our beautiful cucumber bed, but those, along with our tomatoes, are thriving the most in our veggie bed. If anyone wonders why I don’t do every market every day, it’s because I’m spending my off-weeks pickling and preserving like a madwoman. I’m only half-joking.
The tomatoes pictured are about twice as big now, and flowering. Yay! Oh, and the basil is pretty happy, too.
So, okra. As I think I mentioned in my Big Plant video, we’re participating in the Utopian Seed Project this year for okra. They sent us seeds cultivated and saved from a bunch of different varieties of okra growing in one place, and our job is to save the seeds from the specimens we like best, for whatever reason (e.g., early fruits, spine factor, flavor, etc.). Personally, I’ll be saving the ones that a) taste the best, b) have the most slime, and/or c) produce prolifically and among our horrible crabgrass.
As I mentioned on Instagram, I planted radishes among the okra to mark the beds, not actually expecting to get any decent veggies from them. Lo and behold, I’ve never gotten so many tasty radishes so late in the season. Any other time I’ve tried to grow radishes (other than black winter radishes), I’ve failed miserably. My takeaway? Throw seeds wherever and forget they’re there, and you’ll have radishes. Geez.
The Three Sisters are finally working! Okay, that’s kind of a lie – we used really old bean seeds that we got from a neighbor for the bean part, and none of them came up. Not a one. But purslane decided to make an appearance, so I’ll take what I can get.
Either way, our corn and squash (both butternut volunteers and purposely-planted candy roasters) are looking lovely and getting along with each other nicely. The corn looked like it had fallen over last week, but appears to have perked back straight up again.
The only plants that aren’t doing so hot are our peppers, which is especially disheartening, as they are both my and husband’s favorite crops. I partially blame it on the soil, as I didn’t amend their bed with compost as much as the other beds, but even our peppers in containers aren’t thriving. I bit the bullet last week and bought some pepper plants from our favorite gardening store, so hopefully these will produce enough for our needs this season.
Our strawberries are growing bigger and putting out feelers for next year. Fingers crossed for lots of strong berry plants in the coming year!
The peach tree is bursting with potential fruits, which still have a little ways to go for ripening, but I’m hoping to make a good amount of peach jam and chutney this season with what we get, since we don’t spray and tend to get ugly (but delicious) fruits.
*cue triumphant music* I present the first fruits from our crazy-amazing blackberry bramble, which is already producing pints a day. Here’s hoping for gallons (and lots of blackberry baked goods) very soon.
Finally, I’ll leave you with some of the gorgeous passionfruit, bee balm, lavender, and borage blossoms we’re enjoying this summer.
Until next time, happy gardening and homesteading!