posts tagged with 'farming'

the garden in mid June

the garden on June 15

who left that shovel on the ground?!

I can't believe I forgot to do a garden update at the beginning of June! The garden changed more between May 15 and June 1 than all of March through mid-May put together! Oh well, now the comparison with the last update is even more stark. All the beds are filled now, and tomato and pepper plants are growing well (the beans would be too if the baby rabbits would stop nibbling them). We've let the asparagus go, after eating as much as we ever wanted. The strawberries are disappointing—and frustrating!—but it looks like raspberries and blueberries are going to be great. And it's so exciting to look at the baby peas, zucchinis, and tomatoes!

Super Sugar Snap peas stretching five feet high on their trellis

much bigger than last time, and almost ready!

closeup of a small zucchini

baby one


Backyard Farm Club

This past Monday we started a new thing: Backyard Farm Club. Well, not just us; there are five families interested in getting together from time to time to share experiences of trying to do something different in our suburban yards. And also put our kids to work! That's what it's all about for me.

Zion, Elijah, and some friends removing grass with spade forks

whips not pictured

The idea germinated at Park Day when a couple of us were talking about our mixed feelings about the 4H clubs we're part of. There's definitely things we enjoy and appreciate about 4H, but it's not all that we expected. So one parent wondered about creating a homeschool-oriented club, which reminded another parent and I that we'd been talking before the pandemic about collaborating to share work in our gardens. Maybe those two ideas could go together?

For now, we're not worrying about the 4H part. We're going to try things out and see if we can figure out a schedule and a routine that works. Then maybe in September we can get more official. So far, our idea is to rotate between houses and at each gathering have a selection of chores and projects that the kids (and the parents!) can take part in. For our first meeting at our friends' house, we cleaned out the chicken coop, weeded the garden, fixed some broken fencing, and pulled out grass from a piece of ground that is transitioning from lawn to food forest. Or, some people did. I was on grass removal duty the whole time. There was also a nature drawing scavenger hunt. At the end we had snack: we brought cookies and rice-crispie treats and someone else had some delicious egg tart things, but the best of all was the "apple nachos" made right on the premises. Not all the kids loved being made to do things, rather than just playing with their friends, but hopefully the snacks will keep them coming back.

apple slices covered with melted chocolate and peanut butter and chocolate chips

this is what apple nachos is

And hopefully we can host the next meeting. There's a lot of work that needs to get done around here!


the garden in mid-May

the garden on a mid-May afternoon

slowly filling

It's warm now, and we're getting things into the beds. Thanks to hard work by the kids they're all in good shape, but we're held back by the poor condition of the fences. I don't want to put those precious seedlings in, only to have them all be eaten up by the rabbits and woodchucks! That's something I should have been working on a month ago. Sequencing is hard!

But with judicious use of chickenwire around individual beds we're doing our best. Since I took the pictures in this post I planted out more tomatoes and summer squashes, and I hope to get to peppers and cucumbers tomorrow. And we've got greens!

spinach seedlings and lettuce in the garden


And this time of year the future berries are all very exciting.

a strawberry flower

strawberries first

raspberry buds

then raspberries

blueberry blossoms

and finally blueberries

The only problem is I want to plant way more than I have room for! When can I get a bigger garden?

the garden as seen from the roof of the sandbox

all this space still isn't enough!


garden summer

Summer has begun in the garden. Studying the forecast, I decided on Monday that we wouldn't have any more frosts this year. So now I get to plant out all the seedlings that have been crowding up the house since February!

lots of seedlings on the porch

they look ready for some dirt

Well, there were only a few back in February, and they were little. But over the past few weeks there's been lots of back and forth from tables inside to different spots outside, with varying levels of sun and wind, as we worked to get seven or so trays hardened off and ready for life in the garden. The tomatoes were the first to go in, yesterday evening when I finally had a moment after a long day of learning and boating. The smell of the salt marsh hay mulch with is the best. Summery.

baby tomato plants mulched with marsh hay

lots of growing to do


the garden in early May

the garden mostly empty, but with beds prepped

look at all that great dirt!

Not a ton more growing outside compared to last time—though the tomatoes are so big I wish I could feel safe planting them out! Mostly the visible difference is that we've been working hard clearing the winter mulch off the beds and topping them off with compost. The compost operation is going great, and the kids have been a great help with all the steps of the process.

We have as much asparagus as we can eat, and the rhubarb is ready to go if I ever have enough time to make a pie. I sowed some spinach and arugula that hasn't come up yet, and planted out some lettuces from the garden store. Most exciting of all, the peas are up!

closeup of pea seedlings

you can do it, little peas!

I'm going to take extra good care of them after mysterious failures each of the last two years. I want some snap peas!


first asparagus

I had the first cooked asparagus of the year with my lunch today. There was just enough for one person, which was fine, because the boys were away at their grandparents' and Leah was on a training meeting for her new job. Before I dug in I thought about taking a picture to commemorate the event—but then I decided that would be silly. I probably write about eating the first asparagus every year, I figured, and one picture of a bunch of asparagus doesn't look any different than another. So I just enjoyed without photographing. Well, it turns out that I don't comment on asparagus nearly as much as I thought I had. Barely at all since this paean back in 2015. So a totally missed opportunity! Oh well, even without a picture I think it's worth mentioning that, today, this 21st of April, the garden is up and running and producing food.

the garden mid-April

a view of the garden

a little different

Not a lot of change compared to last time. The garlics are bigger, and there are some kale plants in. There are peas sowed, but it's been so chilly since they went in I'm sure they're not doing anything at all. We've eaten the first couple asparagus spears, but the rhubarb didn't go fast enough to produce a pie for Easter. Though it won't be long now!

The seedlings we started way back at the beginning of March are doing great, and could go in if we could be confident of no more frosts. Which of course we can't! So they're just hanging out, getting some outside time when they can and becoming a little leggy. In the meantime I'm late starting the next round of seeds. But we'll get ther e!

big seedlings on a table in the backyard

ready and waiting


the garden in early April

the garden at the beginning of the season, with most beds empty

starting the season

It's always hard to remember how far along we were in garden prep in any other year, but I feel like we're doing pretty well this year compared to our past attempts... even if the garden itself doesn't really show it. In the photo above you can see the garlic is coming up well, and way in the background the rhubarb. Spring onions are also doing well, but the chives, usually an early spring stronghold, seem not to have survived. Inside there's lots going on: tomatoes and peppers are ready to be transplanted into individual pots, and the first kales are ready to go into the ground when I get a bed ready. And the seed starting is continuing with herbs and flowers. And (outside again, thankfully) there's lots of good compost to prep the beds as soon as things dry out a bit. Looking good so far!

seed schedule

The seeds came in the mail yesterday. It's always an exciting time of year, with the whole growing season in front of us and no big failures or disappointments yet on the books. Not to say, though, that there's no chance of disappointments: every year before I put in the seed order I feel a growing sense of panic that I've left it until too late, that things will be sold out, that they won't get here in time for planting. And every year I feel like I must have just got it in under the wire, way later than I usually do. The plan is always to start thinking about seeds right after Christmas! Well, yesterday afternoon when I opened the box I found a slight mistake with the order—instead of a five-pack of six-cell inserts (H117A) I received five mesh trays (H117)—so I signed on to my account on the website to make sure the mistake wasn't on my end. As I looked at my order history I was just delighted to notice that, despite my impressions to contrary, I put in this year's order at almost the exact same date I do it every year. The last six years: February 19, February 19, February 10, February 21, February 16, February 17. Good to know that I'm consistent in my delay. Does that mean I can be more relaxed about next year, or is ever-increasing stress from mid-January on an essential part of my process?

the garden in mid October

As much as I like gardening, and all the delicious food we grow, I also have a fair proportion of relief when the growing season draws to a close. All those plants are so messy from August on! It's nice to clear them out and start thinking about how to do things better next year. That's what we're doing now. We're still getting parsley and arugula and a few beans, and all but two or three of the winter squashes look ripe and ready. Plus the raspberries are having their best fall crop ever—there was even enough to bring a little bowlful inside this evening!—and there are still a few apples on the Northern Spy tree. But everything else has closed up shop. It's strange because it's still so warm, but I'm starting to prep things for winter. The compost pile did amazing this summer, so there should be plenty for adding to the beds; I've just started that. The garlic will go in soon, which I guess means that the 2022 garden season is about to kick off!

the garden on October 15

less tall now