This weekend was the first big harvest in the garden. I’ve been so busy with my day job and keeping the pastures and gardens watered and taking extra care of the chickens and turkeys during the recent heat wave, that I have not had time to do much harvesting yet. I started with the potatoes. I planted Red Lasoda and Yukon Gold this year. The plants had grown large and lush this spring in their raised bed that was amended with much composted chicken manure. The plants had started dying back a couple of weeks ago, and as the foliage withered away I began to see potatoes revealing themselves at the ground surface. I had high hopes for a good harvest, and I was not disappointed when I started digging up the first potatoes. Clusters of large potatoes revealed themselves as I dug in the location of each of the dried up potato stalks. In years past, the potatoes have ranged in size of course, with most of them being what I would consider medium size. This year however, many of the potatoes were gigantic, weighing in at over a pound each, with the largest potatoes weighing close to a pound and a half! When the harvest was done, I had close to 70 pounds of potatoes. Not too shabby for a 4 foot by 8 foot raised bed.
Next up it was time to harvest the garlic. I planted it in a new spot this year, where it had deeper soils that were better amended, and it did much better than usual. I harvested about 3 dozen heads, most of which were a decent size. The onions are about ready to harvest too, now that their tops are falling over so I will try to get to those in the next couple of weeks. I have been doing a good job of keeping up with eating the chard, zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, and the spaghetti squash are getting close to being ready to harvest. They always do well, and I can already see a couple of dozen big ones on the vines. Our tomatoes are a bit behind schedule this year, and although the plants are huge and covered with tomatoes only the cherry tomatoes are ripening. I started my seeds a bit later than usual this year, and now I am regretting it. Hopefully there will still be enough warm sunny days for us to get a decent harvest. I also need to can the kale soon before the aphids take over, but I will have to save that for another day.
With the veggie garden until control for the time being, it was time to move on to more exciting things. The apples and pears put out a bumper crop this year. There was already a dwarf pear tree here when we bought the farm, and we planted a second dwarf pear tree several years ago. The tree we planted has put out a few pears for the last couple years, but this year it gave us a whopping 15 pounds and it’s barely taller than I am! I picked them all, and as soon as they ripen I am planning to make a big batch of pear butter and maybe some pear-applesauce. We have lots of apples this year on our tree, and friends and neighbors have been giving us their extras too. I picked a big bucket full of blackberries from the blackberry bushes that surround the farm. The one good thing about having huge blackberry thickets in the areas of the farm that we don’t have time to maintain is that I don’t have to go anywhere to pick them. I also picked a bunch of giant rhubarb stalks from the garden and froze it in pre-sliced and pre-measured amounts with the blackberries, ready to be turned into blackberry-rhubarb cobbler at a moments notice in the winter. Well that’s enough garden stories for now, I’ll tell you all about our exciting apple creations in the next blog post.