September 22, 2014

Fall Garden and What I've Learned This Year

My fall garden is a bust.

This is the first year I've planted a fall garden. It's always been so hot when it was time to plant that the date would sail right past me. Who wanted to be out in the heat, pulling weeds, preparing seed beds, and sweating?

I planted late this spring for several reasons. The lettuce, onions, and beets I planted in the late spring did well, but I was too late to plant the cabbage, broccoli, peas and more that I wanted to grow.

So I planned a fall garden. I planted turnips, spinach, more beets, more lettuce and planned to add more to it. The weather was hot and humid with temperatures in the high 90's and low 100's. Evidently it was too hot for those cool-weather seeds to germinate, because they didn't.


The lettuce sprouted and is growing pretty well. Like in the spring, I planted the seeds in a tub near the orchard so that they are in partial shade, which kept the temperature down. The tub already contained the cayenne pepper plant and a dark opal basil plant, which further shaded the seedlings. I grew onions in this particular tub in the spring.

I have one lonely little spinach plant in the tub where I grew spring lettuce.

I've come to the conclusion that growing in containers is easier than growing in the ground, at least where I live. I've amended the garden but evidently not enough; the containers are filled with rich black dirt, compost from the bedding we cleaned out of the goat shed several years ago, but I'd need a lot more than I have to spread on the garden. Plus there's the difference in weeds: there are fewer weeds in containers and they are much easier to pull. My garden is covered in bermuda grass that would be beautiful if it were in my pasture.

But in order to grow enough to fill our needs, I'd need a whole lot of containers!

Spring lettuce and onions

I learned that one tub of lettuce isn't enough. The bed of beets I planted in the spring provided three side dishes plus some beet greens. I need to plant a lot more than I did this year, not more varieties but more quantity. Maybe my answer is raised beds and containers.

Arkansas Traveler tomato plant

If I dig down into the ground along the fenceline and bury some corrugated tin panels about six inches down, would that help keep the bermuda runners from getting into the garden?

My tomato plants gave up in August; I've never had that happen before. I think I planted just about the right number of them, and if they'd continued to produce I'd be happy with the amount of tomatoes this year. The one and only Arkansas Traveler plant has some nearly-ready-to-change-color tomatoes on it finally, so I will have some fall tomatoes hopefully.


I planted Jepeto sweet peppers and red bell peppers. The sweet peppers are still producing like crazy, but the red bells aren't as productive as the variety I grew last year. My paprika pepper plant (just one) is finally putting on some fruit, and the little cayenne peppers are turning red. Next year I'll plant those in a sunnier place; they did better when the weather finally got hot so they might have been too cold in the current location.

My carrots and beans were eaten by grasshoppers. I need some screen covers for those plants - maybe for my entire garden!


I also learned that I'm planting my onion sets too deep. I thought I was planting pretty shallow, but next year I will let them peek out of the soil. I think my beets were planted too deep too, although I thought I barely covered the seeds with soil. I need to be more frugal with the soil.

Even though seed packets might say "plant in full sun," the sun is so hot here in central Oklahoma that some full sun plants do better with a little shade. I'm still experimenting with which ones need to go where. I have basil plants in both places for instance, and the two plants in afternoon shade are much fuller and have bigger leaves.

Monster-sized basil leaves

In spite of the fact that I didn't grow as much as I wanted to and tried to grow this year, I've learned a great deal so it wasn't wasted effort. I'm not very good at keeping detailed notes, but I do write down things I've learned in retrospect.

How about you? Do you keep detailed notes as the season goes by?



This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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September 21, 2014

Silver Sunday and Being Thankful

I am thankful to the Lord, my God, for:

- sunsets
- foggy mornings
- changing leaves
- lunch with family
- praying for friends
Silver Sunday

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.

~~~~~

September 19, 2014

Friday Follow-Up

Our county fair has ended. I typed the results of the fair winners, edited my photos, and sent them all to the newspaper. I tracked down the poultry judge to fill out a needed paper. I wrote reports and did the banking and paid the fair's bills.



And I realized that the biggest category of entries at our little county fair this year was canning. I find that rather fascinating - and encouraging too. I'm thankful that the "old time arts" are making a comeback.

I learned how to turn off the water to the house when we had a hot water tank issue. I cleaned the mudroom because of that issue.


I chased down the two horses who escaped from the pasture one morning. At least I knew where to look for them the next day when they were missing again. They're telling me that grass is getting scarce in the pasture; in other words, summer is over. Now that my neighbor has moved his cows home for the winter, I shouldn't have any more bovine visitors, and I can let my horses out into the hayfield soon to graze for the winter.

Our weather has gone up and down and it seems as though fall is here. The elm trees have yellowing leaves and the weeds are beginning to die back. We've had some cool nighttime temperatures.

Autumn is my favorite time of year. I know it means the eventual end of the garden and cold weather to come, but it's the season that appeals to me most, that gladdens my heart and tugs at my soul.


The fall wind pattern has arrived and the wind has knocked over my only Arkansas Traveler tomato plant several times. I think I have the tomato cage stabilized now; I used tent pegs and tied the cage to them with baling twine. I still haven't had a red tomato off that plant, but it's loaded with green fruit now so I am hopeful that I will be able to taste one before our first frost.

Are you preserving everything you can get your hands on? I've been drying basil this week, and I have a gallon of yellow pear tomatoes to turn into sauce... but I can't find the recipe online that looked so good...

~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
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September 17, 2014

Ten Ways to Use Basil - A Roundup

Basil is so easy to grow. It loves summer heat and grows like crazy. Prune your plants and they will grow bushy and provide lots of leaves. 

(By the way, none of these are affiliate links, so feel free to click away. Some links are to my own posts, others are to other blogs or websites that I thought you might enjoy.)

Dark Opal Basil

Pinch off the stems with flowers - ideally, you should do this before the flowers appear, before it looks like this - so that you can continue harvesting the leaves through the summer. You want to keep your basil from flowering and going to seed.

Photo by C. Allison

You might even end up with too much basil, which is where I've found myself this month. My plants are trying to go to seed and I'm about to let them. If you're in the same boat, here are ten ways you can use up all that basil.

1. Dried Basil - take cuttings, remove the leaves from the stems and dry the leaves. See How to Dry Homegrown Herbs for easy instructions on how to do this. Pack the dried leaves into a jar, or several jars, and crumble them as you need them.

2. Use dried basil in almost everything: sauces, soups, seasoning mixes, and more.

3. You can - and you should - make pesto. I've always used walnuts instead of pine nuts because I just can't find pine nuts out here in rural America.

4. Freeze chopped basil leaves with water in ice cube trays. When you need some basil flavor in a dish, just drop in a couple of cubes.

5. Make basil sorbet - you could add lime or lemon or even strawberries.


6. Make a tea of dried basil to calm coughs and colds.

7. Sooth insect bites and stings with a chewed-up leaf of basil, just like you would use plantain.

8. Make spinach and basil noodles. This recipe looks easy!

9. Add basil to your daily green smoothie. This one pairs basil with blackberries.

10. And the obvious, add it to salads, sandwiches, or sliced tomatoes with homemade mozzarella cheese.


Then let your basil go to seed in the fall. The seeds are easy to collect, they are in little round pods that you can open by rubbing them together in your hands. Keep the little black seeds to plant next spring.


There are over 40 varieties of basil, so choose your favorite to grow, or grow a basil garden with several varieties. Hobby Farms has a list of ten basil varieties and their best uses, and GRIT offers some tips on growing basil.

Left to right: sweet Genovese, dark opal, cinnamon, and purple basil, all growing in my herb garden this year.

Enjoy your basil garden, and the fruits of your labors!


This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


~~~~~

My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email

September 16, 2014

A Slice of My Life




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My hope is to inspire you, and to encourage your homesteading plans and your dreams of a
simple, self-reliant, God-dependent life. You can follow me at: 
  Facebook | Pinterest | Bloglovin | Subscribe via email
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