"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Saturday, August 13, 2011


It's been a busy summer, the food gardens are coming along nicely but I am struggling to find time for this blog...you know, a day late and a dollar short type of thing when it comes to keeping it updated.:) I kind of feel like Old Dan Tucker -

"Get out the way for old Dan Tucker
He's too late to git his supper
Supper's over and dishes washed
Nothing left but a piece of squash"

Right...um...anyway, speaking of squash we are now officially overflowing in the summer variety, gold and green zucchini plus lots of little papaya pear squash.

Picked a couple gallons of Saskatoons and have been eating lots of thimbleberries while out on our morning runs.

The fruits on grandson's Sweetheart cherry tree are ripening and were ready just in time for his return from California.

Frogs too! But as we are not into the practice of eating frog legs we made the boy let this little fellow go.:)

I hacked another a 1600 sq. ft area of garden space out of the bush this spring and everything planted there seems to be thriving. Looking out into the forest I can see many more options for expansion...I'm already working on the next 2,000 square foot section.

Our White Stallions are once again leading the cucumber race, they always do...pickling some today and had a few fresh ones sliced over our salad last night...oh yeah - crisp and delicious.

Carrots are starting to form, much later than last season but I'm not complaining.

Onions are doing well too, slowly forming bulbs. We have two 50 foot rows planted this year and are down to our last basket in the root cellar from the previous season, this is the longest we have been able to store onions...most of the ones left are Jaune Paille Des Vertus, an old European variety that holds up remarkably well in storage.

- and introduced to me from a post on another blog (?) is this wonderful little Silvery Fir Tree tomato, I think we have three of them growing in this year's gardens and all are filling out nicely. I have a couple other standouts in the tomato department but for the most part it does not appear to be a good year for these enchanting fruits. Luckily, last year we canned like Old Dan Tucker with a red hot coal in his shoe and have more than enough sauce for this winter regardless of how the plants produce.

Peas were harvested a couple weeks ago and just yesterday we started pulling the fava beans. All the favas will be used as dry beans...they make the best refries and soup beans I have ever had.

That's me↓ pulling fava beans. After harvesting the plants are tilled right back into the soil, enriching it with nitrogen.

So much to say so little time, that's all for now but I'll be back soon enough with my thoughts on a most wonderful book and video revolving around permaculture I have recently been enjoying.


Dani said...

Mr H - Yum - all those fava beans :)

Can sympathize with the bush clearing LOL - but I'm curious - don't the tree roots interfere with your crops (take water / nutrients from them?)

I'm having big problems with roots from nearby plants invading my vegetable patch...

~Holly~ said...

There seems to be lots going on in your garden!

Anonymous said...

Such an abundance of fruit and veg...how are you going to find time to put your feet up with a book!!!

Out of interest, what are you planing to grow in the new section?

Julie said...

I can see why you might be a little busy this time of year ; )

So your onions continue to put on bulb size even though the days are getting shorter now? Learn something new here every time you post!

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I wonder how papaya squash look like. Its not the one in the photo isn't it? Enjoy your garden tour very much. Hope to see more of it soon.

randi said...

yep, it's crazy time right now but everything is looking good and it's only this last week I've been getting tomatoes so if the frosts hold off you may get more than you think. Mike, I was wondering, now that you've cleared new ground, have you ever figured out how many square feet you have under cultivation?

Daphne said...

I love those cucumbers. They are so different.

Alex said...

Excellent entry as always. You have a lot of "goings-on!"

Buttons said...

Mr. H it is always worth the wait for your wonderful posts. I love Dan Tucker :). Your garden is amazing you will totally reap what you sow. I love how you describe the different kinds of varieties and how they could fit into someones garden. Your knowledge is very valuable to me and many others. You should really be writing a gardening/survival book. I would buy it.
Have fun in the garden and I will be waiting for your next post. I am afraid winter will be here before we know it. I suspect you will be harvesting a lot before that. There will be plenty of time to post in bloggie land. B

Jane said...

Wow your garden is doing wonderful. It seems that your little nook of the world has kept you free of the gardening horrors circulating this season. You will have a very happy pantry :)

Heiko said...

Man, I wish we had the luxury of simply extending our growing area instead of having to carve square inches out of the side of a mountain hoping they won't go vertical again after the next downpour... Hey, I liked Old Dan Tucker!

kelli said...

wow, mr. h, you took me back to first grade with that song! everything looks great. those cucumbers are really interesting.

guess what? i found wild purslane growing all over my yard! yipee!=)

Jen the Ecoventurer said...

Your garden is so inspiring! I am just getting ready to do all of our major planting as we live opposite seasons to you. Thanks for the inspiration :)

Kim said...

Your garden is looking great this year!

Our carrots and onions have been slowly shaping up also. A lot slower than last year for sure.

Mr. H. said...

Dani - The tree roots do interfere with our crops. In the places where our crops grow close to the trees I simply mulch the soil all that much more and try to, if possible, grow deep rooted plants in those areas.

Holly - It's a regular jungle, I sometimes worry I'll get lost out there.:)

Contandina - A little at a time...I have sometimes have 3 or 4 books going at the same time reading from each as the mood strikes me. But yes, never loan me a book as I am notoriously slow at returning them.:)

The newest section will, I think, end up being devoted to currants and herbs.

Julie - Our onions continue to fill out all the way into September, at this point the tops will soon stop growing and all the energy will go into bulb development. The Italian varieties Yellow of Parma, Borettana cipollini, and Jaune Paille Des Vertus seem to do best for us both in growth and storage but we are trying a few new varieties this year that I will talk more about when we harvest the onions this fall.

Malay Kadazan-girl - Those are just regular zucchini in the picture, I will try to post a picture of our papaya pear squashes in another post. They are a yellow colored summer squash shaped like a pear...very good in stir fry dishes.

Randi - We have our fingers crossed for tomatoes too. Last year we had an amazing 600 + lbs of (mostly green) tomatoes and this year I expect maybe 100-200 lbs...hard to say but my fingers are crossed. Including the new area I am working on I would guess that we will have somewhere around maybe 27,000 sq ft. The eventual goal being to have close 1 acre under production that will provide us with both food and financial self-reliance.

Daphne - The white Stallions are a nice cucumber and along with Boothbys Blonde are our earliest varieties. They don't pickle quite as nicely as the green varieties but we can't be to choosy in our short season.

Alex - Thanks.:)

Buttons - I love the Jimmy Kelly band, they provide and excellent combination of Irish and Spanish folk music that I really enjoy.

I'm trying not to think of winter inevitable return and was sad to see that some of the leaves are already falling from our maple trees...summer is never long enough.:)

Jane - Other than a very late start I have absolutly nothing to complain about. We are very fortunate to live in a place that does not experience extreme swings in the weather that so many others are forced to deal with. Around here the seasons are fairly reliable for the most part, a true blessing.

Heiko - I certainly don't envy you having to carve a garden from the hillsides like you do...talk about a lot of exhausting work. The Jimmy Kelly Band is quite good and I really enjoy their Spanish/Irish folk music.

Kelly - Yep, Old Dan Tucker is quite the classic. Wild purslane! How exciting, good for you...enjoy all those free omega 3's.:)

Jen - Best of luck with your garden endeavours this season. Thanks for stopping in for a visit.:)

Kim - Well you know what they say, slow and sure wins the race.:)

kitsapFG said...

That song always reminds me of the Laura Ingalls Wilder book "Little House on the Prairie" as Mr Edwards always sings this song to announce his arrival.

Your garden are producing beautifully despite the later start to most everything. The trouble with having some acreage available to you is that you can indulge in that constant urge to expand the garden! I must warn you that it is quite possible to eventually end up with the 100 acre garden if left unchecked! What varieties of onion are you growing. Mine are all long day varieties that are essentially done by late July. It would be better for my conditions to grow something that takes advantage of our later warm period (also known as summer in other parts of the state!).

Robert said...

I like your poopies. I've got ones like that, and they're crossing with the purples to make some really spectacular blooms.

LynnS said...

Everything growing in your gardens look beautiful! The white cucumber looks like an interesting one. This year I tried an Asian Cucumber and got a kick out of seeing it "ripen" to an ugly rust color.

Is that a Shirley poppy in the foreground of the first photo? It sure looks like one I have called "Raspberry Sherbert" which has such large blooms.

Your tomato harvest last year was outstanding -- didn't you pull the vines and allow them to ripen in a sheltered place? My memory is slipping here....lol

I'm sure with you on the forest-garden issue. Lots of work, lots of roots....whew!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yay! its great to see you out there workin' hard! (hardly working?? hee hee hee). great work on all the gardens. i still get an "F-" on onions and carrots. its killing me - why am i the only person who cant grow either? my Amish friend just laughs at me. oh well.... great to see all the goings on.

meemsnyc said...

Wow, I never heard of thimbleberries before. What do they taste like? I am so loving your cherry tree. Nice! I am amazed by your onions. Wow!!

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Mr H. it's a wonder you even have time for supper! maybe your ole Dan Tucker ( I enjoyed the video, kinda rocked in my seat :o)..Everything looks scrumptious, I've never seen a white cucumber..live and learn. I just have to say it "You have a wonderful Garden".

foodgardenkitchen said...

Everything is looking GREAT! It's time to harvest that zuc you're holding in the pic :)

Are you planning on growing for markets or selling some of your produce? The size of the cleared area and the plan seem really big!

Phoebe said...

I love the poppies in the plot! I'm growing the large oriental poppies this year in the veggie garden and am really looking forward to them! They look great mixed in with the veggies.
The broad bean harvest is huge! I love them too!

ST said...

That's a serious fava harvest! How do you know when to pull them do you dry them in the pods? The books I've read say to wait until the pods are black. When I do that all the beans have black spots too.

Mavis said...

What? You don't have time to blog? What's up with that? :) Maybe we'll all turn into seasonal bloggers... I'm thinking mid winter... How about you guys... does that work for you? :)

Mr. H. said...

Laura - Yes, good old Mr. Edwards was one of my favorites.:) As to the onions, this year we are growing Yellow of Parma, Jaune Paille Des Vertus, Stuttgarter (new to us), Candy, and one other new variety that slips my mind at this time.

Robert - I think some of ours have crossed as well which does make it all that much more interesting.

Lynn - Years ago my wife and I were hiking up to a mountain lake and about half way up the trail noticed a few poppies growing, a coupl eof which had already gone to seed. That is where the ones in the picture came from, so I don't know which variety it is.

Last years tomatoes did not ripen on the vine so we picked them and ripened them slowly on our porch in shallow boxes. This worked out really well and all of them ripened up nicely...we were still making sauce in early December.:)

Ohio - We all have our garden challenges, for me it's leeks...try as I might I have never once grown a decent specimen. Do you rent pigs?:)

Meemsnyc - Thimbleberries are so very sweet with a unique taste that is hard to describe. They are also very hard to pick and bring home as they fall apart so easily.

Ginny - Thanks, those white cucumbers are nice, especially fresh, but the green ones still make better pickles. Glad you liked the song.:)

Foodgardenkitchen - We did harvest that zuc but ar equickly becoming overwhelmed with them...which is good news for the chickens. We are not into selling produce but do have plants like strawberries, raspberries, currants, and others that we sell each spring.

Phoebe - Your poppies will be beautiful I'm sure and they do brighten up a persons veggie patch.:) The fava beans did quite well this year, I didn't use as much space for them as last season but planted them very intensly instead and was quite pleased with how they turned out.

ST - We use to wait until the pods dried on the vine but like you said it discolors the beans. So now I usually wait until the plants leaves start to lose some of their color and the majority of the pods seem to be filled with plump beans...some of the pods will start to wrinkle a bitat this point. We then shell them and set aside to dry on screens in a warm dry place out of direct sunlight.

Mavis - Mid winter sounds good to me.:)

Eden said...

I got a package of Silvery Fir Tree seeds as a freebie in a large seed order I placed, and the fruits have turned out to be my earliest large tomatoes, and decently yielding. They started to ripen two weeks ago, and my favourite thing to do is slice them up with a bunch of zucchini and some onion, layer them in a foil packet, add some oregano and salt, and grill. (Although I feel guilty about using foil.)

Mike said...

That looks really good! I feel the whole busy summer thing. I have so much to do everyday and I go back to school next monday.

I would love to see your garden someday.

6512 and growing said...

Good, good stuff up there in your neck of the woods.
We call Saskatoon's "serviceberries" (genus: amalanchier) here in Southern Colorado. They are my favorite wild berry.

Mr. H. said...

Eden - I like the way you are using your tomatoes...sounds really good. Glad you were able to experience the Silvery Fir Tree plants, we are excited to grow them again next season as they are doing pretty darn well considering they are such a small plant. I have not had a chance to taste them yet and am looking forward to that.:)

Mike - Sounds like you have a pretty full plate and I am glad that the two of you are making time to do such an excellent job on the homestead front as well. Yes, you will have to stop in one of these days when you are in the area.

6512 and growing - Yes, they are such wonderful berries. I grew up calling them June berries but as they never really ripen in June around here we have taken up the Canadian name of Saskatoon intead.

Ms. Adventuress said...

That is the most perfect frog photo, ever! And it's completely understandable, time away from the blogging (oh, how do I know?!). Keep having fun in the garden.

Rafael said...

Hi, I see that you are growing Jaune Paille des Vertus onion ... it is so usual here in France that I have never tried it, I suppose that it is not sexy enough ... But if you said that the storage is very good, I found a raison to try because all my onions are not very fresh in March-April every year.
About broad beens (feve), I have tried some recipes but it is still hard to make people love it.


Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress - Everytime I turn around the grandson has a frog in his hands.:)

Rafael - Yes, both the Jaune Paille des Vertus and Yellow of Parma seem to do extremely well in storage for us. We are also growing a German variety called Stuttgarter that is supposed to store well...we shall see.

Thanks for the fava bean recipe ideas, I like the Lebanese way with tahini and will have to try that soon.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

say, Brother! come by my place when you get a chance... i got something for ya and its BETTER than an award.

Amish Stories said...

Greetings from the Amish settlement of Lebanon,Pa. Have a very nice weekend everyone. Richard from Amish Stories.

Ms. Adventuress said...

P.S. Just did my "Saskatoon" research. I'm a blueberry nut and had no idea that something else existed. I wonder if the taste is more bitter? Or just a tad wild? Looks lovely!

Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress- They have a really unique almond flavor and are not bitter at all but rather sweet.

Lrong said...

Agree very much with your statement on the feeling of blogging vs. gardening... so much to say and yet, so little time...
The amount and variety of harvests you do amazes me... and your zucchinis, lovely...

Mr. H. said...

Lrong - Ah but to be more like Thoreau.:)

"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. ~Henry David Thoreau

Mrs. Mac said...

I'm eying my front lawn for a future garden space .. such a waste of water! Now if I can come up with a plan that works! The kids still like playing on it. We've got a few frogs up our way too .. it's sorta fun sitting on the porch rocker and knitting to their 'rhythm' :) Blog .. who has time for that in the dog daze of summer ??

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac - It is turning out to be a pretty nice summer isn't it.:)

Anonymous said...

Your garden is an inspiration! Its great to people works so hard, for such beautiful rewards.

Re nitrogen fix and return to soil;

"When the grain from a grain legume crop is harvested, little nitrogen is returned for the following
crop. Most of the nitrogen fixed during the season is removed from the field. The stalks, leaves and roots of grain legumes, such as soybeans and beans contain about the same concentration of nitrogen
as found in non-legume crop residue. In fact, the residue from a corn crop contains more nitrogen than the residue from a bean crop, simply because the corn crop has more residue."

From Nitrogen Fixation by Legumes. Guide A-129.



Mr. H. said...

Eva - What a great article on nitrogen fixation, thanks for sharing it with me. In reading the article I think the important factor is to make sure and use the entire crop for its nitrogen which is what I did.

"A perennial or forage legume crop only adds significant nitrogen for the following crop if the entire biomass (stems, leaves, roots) is incorporated
into the soil."

Even then is sounds as if one would be better off with a cover crop of clover. I was surprised at how little nitrogen some of legume crops really do add acccording to the document...very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Nitrogen not being added to the soil makes sense as it goes to the beans instead. Can't have both.

Wikipedia: Nitrogen is a constituent element of amino acids and thus of proteins.


Anonymous said...

Mr. H: As always, your photographs are wonderful.

I must say that a lot of people I've talked with in our area of northeastern CO have also had a tough time with the tomato crop - me included.

Take care, Robert

Mr. H. said...

Eva - Thanks, I will have to read up on this some more. We do rely on composted materials for the majority of our soil building needs and it would be interesting to know just how high or low our soil is in nitrogen. Perhaps I will test it this next spring.

Robert - Very interesting about the tomatoes, I guess it was just a mix of bad weather that set them back. It has been in the high 80's the past couple weeks and some of the plants are producing better now but unfortunately we are almost out of summer. Thanks for stopping by.:)

Mr singh said...

Such an abundance of fruit and veg...how are you going to find time to put your feet up with a book!!!

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