The Gardens in June {2014}

{The Kitchen Garden}

Gardens in June on Farmstead

{June 1st}

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{July 1st}

Please don’t laugh.

Lord willing, I’m going to look back on these posts in a couple years and laugh myself about how deplorable our conditions are we’re trying to work with here. Surely, we’ll get better at this?! But in the meantime, please don’t laugh at my gardens.

I’m working so bloody hard at it, I might burst to tears if you do and as it is I’m already embarrassed about posting this. But then there is something over there on the sidebar about triumphs and failures and I’d be a deceitful liar if I just skipped this month (year) and hoped you didn’t notice.

Every day is a sweaty, stinky struggle to get to the point where we are just maintaining and I can move on to other work. Maybe make some butter. Maybe brush the kids up on their reading & math skills before testing next month.

Above you’ll see the Kitchen Garden a month ago. And then underneath the same space today. It was pathetic then and it’s just about as pathetic now.

Down in front are the cucumbers. Praise God, the cucumber beetles haven’t found them yet. If we can hold off a bit longer, then when they do, I might still be able to pull a crop.

Next, you’ll notice squares… that space was designated for peas. Yesterday, I discovered that the second crop (I’m trying for a fall one) failed. I checked the forecast a couple weeks ago… only 2 days of rain. Sounded good, so I chitted the peas and they had a great germination. I no sooner got them in the ground 4 days later and the whole garden flooded under days of rain. Two inches in as many days. Now the seeds that didn’t float away (literally) are rotten. Stubborn woman I am, I think if I start this week I might still get a fall crop. If not, I’m planning on overwintering some just in case this spring is what spring is like around here at least I won’t have to worry about planting.

Moving on, behind the peas, there’s a bit of green. That’s hot peppers & celery. The celery is doing beautifully so far. I’ve never seen it so green! The peppers are pretty stunted. Next to them, on the left is nothing. Seeds that rotted in the ground.

It’s the same story the all the way to the tomatoes.

Chard– stunted.

Summer squash– Being eaten by an unidentified bug.

Broccoli & Cabbage– So stunted you have to squint to see them, but they won’t die either.

Eggplant– Flea beetles have had all but three.

Sweet Peppers– Stunted.

The lettuce next to the arbor is plugging along. Thankfully, it hasn’t bolted yet. It’s not that big, but we’re going to start eating on it this week because I’m nervous it will at any moment especially in this heat.

The tomatoes are doing well where they aren’t in standing water. We were so busy planting, replanting, and weeding we didn’t get to the cages until today. Next year, I vow not to sink a single plant until the trellising system is ready to go up. Hopefully we didn’t do too much damage. In the Pantry Garden, we’re not even going to mess with them. They are determinate ones and won’t sprawl the way indeterminates will.

Behind the tomatoes are beans. They didn’t germinate well either. Bummer because it was our own seed. I didn’t plant them and the children were heavily involved (thinking how bad could they mess up beans?) so it’s hard to say what went wrong.

And finally we come to sweet corn. Only two rows as we slowly trial what variety of heirloom sweet corn we’d like to work with. A couple pumpkin plants are intermixed. I found my first squash bug of the year this evening on them, munching away.

If it would quit raining long enough (forecasted to some more tonight and tomorrow) I’d like to give it all a little boost with some fish emulsion. Maybe hit the ones that will get attacked by pests with neem oil. Squash bug get special treatment.

On the bright side, the hay mulch is officially all down and now the rains will hit the soil a bit more gently since there is that buffer. Plus, weeding just got a whole lot easier.

Gardens in June on Farmstead

The problems here are threefold:

1.) Too Much Rain

One map I looked at (on NOAA) has us at a departure from normal of over 12″ so far this year. Need I say more? Really, it’s no wonder all our seed has rotted in the ground.

2.) Heavy Clay Soil

I don’t need to do an analysis to see how heavy this soil is. My daughters are taking it by the handful and shaping it into animals and calling it “dough”. In hindsight, we should have done one last year though. When we moved in we thought it was so light and airy… now we realize that’s because it was rototilled to death… literally. Now that it has had a few months to settle, it’s as hard as a rock. But that’s if it dries out.

3.) Recovering Soil

We recently learned that the previous owner was big on Round-Up use to control weeds.  Between that and the tilling, we  have a recovering population in the soil food web. As it stands it’s prime ground for opportunistic weeds & pests. It’s going to take a lot of work to get it to where it needs to be. But I’m hopeful…. and seeing progress already. In fact one flower bed next to the house was a wonderment to us. We couldn’t figure out what on earth they had done there. It was so dead it looked like potting soil except without all those white thingies. Not a worm, not an ant, not a beetle was to be seen. That means there wasn’t anything microscopic either. I was pulling weeds in it yesterday and found two whole worms!

Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead
Gardens in June on Farmstead

{The Pantry Garden}

Gardens in June on Farmstead

{June 1st}

Gardens in June on Farmstead

{July 1st}

 The Pantry Garden needs weeded desperately. Again.

The seedlings here, such as the brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and onions, are so small I can’t mulch them so weeding it is.

I noticed tonight something topped every.single.onion. They’re all an inch tall again. How did anything ever find them amidst the weeds, I’ll never know.

We bought seed potatoes again… an early and a mid season variety thinking we’ll harvest them late. But the ground hasn’t been dry enough for me to feel like risking putting them in and losing them again. Some days I’m thinking the more prudent thing to do with the money I put in them would be to fry them up and eat the seed for dinner.

In the greenhouse, we planted melons. Tons of melons! But there are only about a handful of tiny plants. We pulled as many weeds as possible and tried to sow in some oats for a cover crop, but even those didn’t come up.

Finally, trying to end this on a high note, the cabbage is just beginning to curl inward. This is a serious accomplishment! I haven’t gotten this far in 5 years! The garlic is starting to die back and I’m looking forward to seeing how well they did. The sweet potatoes that didn’t die are starting to take off. The dent corn needs thinning, but otherwise is doing real well. Hopefully, the beans and squash in there are too.

We’ll see what next month brings. Honestly, if I was you, when the time comes, I’d be scared to even click on the link. You’ve got your own garden struggles no doubt. Why on earth would you want to read about mine? Misery loves company? Gloat over your own successes? No, you wouldn’t do that. But I do hope you have successes you can gloat over.

Gardens in June on Farmstead

Here’s the thing.

(And this is what I’ve come to love about gardening though it’s such hard work on this scale and makes me reek.)

Every year is different.

I know who’s sending this weather. It’s for our good. And if it doesn’t produce the food we want, that’s for our good too. I’ve learned that with every different year, different things grow abundantly, while others are struggling along. It’s interesting to see what we be given to eat from the land. Even last year, when we were growing nothing at all during a move, when we got here we were blessed with an abundance of fruit. Somehow we managed to surpass, even double our yearly totals midst a garden-less season and the death of our cow! DOUBLE!

The problem is we homesteader’s have this little person in our nature crying out, “I want to be self-sufficient!” But it’s a lie. A big fat one. We CAN NOT be this self-sufficient of which we all speak. Wrestle as we might against it, our sufficiency is of God.  He gives the weather. He gives an abundant harvest, a meager one, or none at all. And we have two choices: Trust in Him to provide our needs or struggle. I can’t imagine futility one must feel to be doing this without  trusting in the Lord. I’m ever so thankful to know that in the midst of the seeming fruitlessness, there is a purpose to it all and that because He has a plan, my labor is not utterly in vain.

That, my friends, is the beauty of living an agrarian life.

 How are your gardens shaping up? 

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30 Comments

  1. This was such a wonderful read Quinn. Frankly, I tire of the too perfect, all is well always gardeners out there on the interwebs. As a former and future gardener, I know what gardening is like, which in turn means I know they must be lying. Thank you for your honesty. There is absolutely no reason to be embarrassed. You are among friends here, who share your joy of finding TWO worms in formerly death soil. We, or at least I, understand what kind of achievement that is. Glory to God for slowly sending healing to his land when tended properly.

  2. I’ve only just found your blog but already I’m a fan. My garden issues with water, pests, crop rotation- all of it, is dramatically better this year than any year previous. Please, google Back To Eden film and watch it now with your family. It’s free online and…you’ll be astonished with how squash bugs and beetles and aphids and the like are nonexistent using this garden method. God is so releasing His heart for gardening and food production in this season, and I hope you will enjoy the film and encouragement as much as we have this year. Blessings on your harvest!

  3. This year was a tough year our garden. My husband has been down with a back injury for 4 months, so the garden was left up two the girls and I. I was blessed to have neighbors help till. They girls and I planted and a gulley washer rain came that night. I decided that I wouldn’t replant at all…..not sure what would come up and what wouldn’t. I decided that it is what it is during this season of life. We ended up with a fairly good green bean crop. I canned 26 quarts and we ate a few fresh. We had a fairly good cucumber harvest from the four plants that made it and a couple zucchini and yellow squash plants produced ok. We have about 5 sweet potato plants growing now and sad to say that is it. But, we have been blessed by friends sharing their abundances with us. So thankful to have had fresh tomatoes, potatoes, corn, and many other veggies given to us. Praying next year is better. Blessings to you.

  4. I’m sorry about your garden difficulties Quinn. I know just how disheartening it is to have something fail that you’ve worked so hard for. You are spot on with the last paragraph ~ God is in control & He knows exactly what we need!
    The first year is always the hardest & you’ve had some tough obstacles there. I’m sure you will use these to ensure you have an even better garden next year!
    Enjoy the produce you are getting though ~ it’s not all lost!
    Have a lovely day. We are enjoying rainy days here which is hopefully filling up our big dam so I can garden next summer!
    Blessings
    Renata:)

  5. Thank you for your post success as well as failure is the reality of gardening. I have been going threw gardening withdrawal as I am in a rental waiting to sign papers for the new house. After that the real battles begin deer fencing and finding out what the soil and weather are really like. Glad to hear the celery is doing well it is my intention to grow some this year I had fantastic success with celery a few years ago nigh on to being a weed.

    1. Well if you’re moving, I’m sure you’re dreaming big! I hope your move goes smoothly and that the new garden is everything you imagine it will be and more!

  6. I love hearing about how others are working so hard – their successes and their failures – because it is encouraging to me, no matter how my little garden is fairing. Thank you! This is my small little garden… just 5 rows… but I’m so proud of it! The bare row is a second planting of corn. 🙂 There are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (hot and sweet), corn, a trial sweet potato, and beans (hidden on the right). We have some summer squash and purple tomatoes in another spot. 🙂 Thank you again for sharing, and for allowing us to share with you. When the bugs appear, we generally use diatomaceous earth and it seems to work well, especially with the flea beetles that were eating our potatoes before we pulled them.

    1. Your garden looks BEAUTIFUL Julie! I’m so happy things are going well for you- what an encouragement to keep trying and have a year I can be proud of too 🙂 Enjoy that wonderful harvest!

  7. We moved our garden this year, taking it from our rocky unused field, to our front yard, and despite my using 2 year old seeds, and planting everything all wrong, it was doing well… Then we had a 2 hour storm with hail and wind gust up to 60 mph. Yeah, my first crop of corn, smooshed. It’s always a learning experience. I just keep reminding myself, that all the failures will be rotted into the compost, and will make the garden even better next year… right? 😉

    1. Way to look on the bright side Emily! Cornstalks do an awesome addition to the bottom of the compost especially. Get some air flow going on in there. Still that’s rough. I can imagine how devastated I would be too. The thing with corn these days is when you’re using an heirloom variety you love, you never know when the seed supply will become contaminated and cease to be. Bill planted our dent corn this year… all of it! It was all I could do not to go pick it out of the ground to save some… just in case.

      Hope your crop does doubly well next year!

  8. Yikes. We should be moving in about a year (God willing) and I’d love to have a garden. Sounds like you’ve just experienced many of the things I fear might happen in my first year of gardening! Hang in there.

    1. Prep your site well, get to know your soil, and work it accordingly. We did neither of those. In my defense there wasn’t anything I could do. I was pregnant and could barely walk last year let alone do garden work because of my back problems. In hind sight, I would have done a whole lot more nagging to get someone else to work it for me. I’m sure you’ll do well- especially if it’s a new garden site. Those are usually pretty productive if you can stay on top of the weeds (hay mulching helps with that). Hoping everything goes to plan for you!

  9. Oh Quinn, we feel your pain! Sometimes our timing just doesn’t work out well in the garden. For all the bugs, have you ever tried dusting with DE or Kanolin Clay? I find that it works pretty good at controlling most bugs; the downside is having to dust every three or four days depending on wind and rain. Great thing is that they are both non-toxic so the kids can do it and have fun painting the garden white. It also helps by adding organic matter to clay soil. We add our fall leaves every year and that helps too.

    1. I haven’t tried those Sherry… I thought I’d see about neem oil this year and have only used it once and I’m not sure if it sort of worked or if we just have a low pest load this year. Have you tried either one of those on cucumber beetles with any success? They’re my worst pest I can’t figure out how to put a dent in their population yet. Best way so far is to hand squish before the sun hits them. They’re at least a little sluggish then and I’m quicker.

  10. Well i hate to say it but thank you for your post. In some ways it is nice to see that other people are in the same boat as us. We purchased our house last year but started a brand new garden this year (breaking sod and all). We got most everything planted on a saturday morning but that afternoon we got 4+ inches of rain. Then the next week we got around 7 inches of rain. So for the month of June we got around 12 inches of rain. Now that really put a damper on our gardening. Now we have a garden full of weeds and we are trying to replant and praying for a decent harvest this year.

    We do thank God for the house and Land he gave us even through this trying year were it seams like we cannot get ahead ofour todo list.

    1. That’s why I do it. 🙂 I get so discouraged by others whose gardens (kids, marriage, homeschool, housekeeping, etc…) are perfect. I mean I *know* they’re not, but still. I’m sorry to hear you’re in the same boat as we are (pun not intended). Hoping it dries out some for both of us! And we still get a respectable yield.

      Your last sentence really resonates with me. That’s exactly how I feel this year. Exactly. I trust,hope,cling to knowing that it will get better and we won’t have so much to do/learn in successive years. It makes me all the more adamant to “preach” starting slow for new homesteaders who don’t have the hands on knowledge base that we did with all the gardens & livestock. Technically, we didn’t add anything new, just expanded and we’re still so far behind. At least it will help us appreciate the break this winter! 🙂

  11. Quinn, I love your post. I love that you put it all back to our Loving Creator. We too are on a new property and my husband prepared a garden spot for us. I planted, but we have the opposite problem in Central Alberta. We haven’t had much rain at all and we couldn’t get water to the garden when I seeded it. Anyway, let’s just say your garden looks great!
    God bless!
    Crystal

  12. Take heart. Every year is different, thank goodness. This year hail hit before I was prepared and the tomatoes and peppers took a hit but most seem like they will be OK. The squash are finally coming along. I read that planting dill among them will deter squash bugs. I will be experimenting with that. Potatoes also took a hit from the hail but have bounced back. Have a few Colorado potato beetles but not doing too much damage. Root crops seem to be doing alright. Every year my soil gets better and the worms flourish.

  13. I appreciate hearing this although I feel disappointed for you. I have had such a failure in my veg patch this season and I feel like it is a running streak – to know that others who are diligent struggle with their garden from time to time too further encourages me to keep on trying and learn where I can. Hope things pick up for your gardens quickly!! 🙂

    1. Oh no Naomi! So sorry to hear that your garden didn’t do well this year! Hoping that it doesn’t keep you from dreaming and making big plans for the next growing season and that it does better for you then!

  14. What is the plant that the honeybee is on? It looks like asparagus in the picture where the bee is, but the next picture, maybe not. Scotch Broom, maybe? I haven’t seen my bees on the asparagus, so just wondering.

    1. Yes- it was asparagus. They were only on for a few days, but boy were they sure busy! You could hear a constant hum the whole time I was working out there… a good sound when so many others aren’t finding any bees!

  15. WARNING: BOOK COMMENT!!!

    Back when Shaye was doing the whole Homesteadian feature I wrote a blog post about that very thing- how a pet peeve of mine is when people claim to be self-sufficient and how we truly never can be. It was pretty eloquent, from what I recall, but I emailed it to her without saving it myself (stupid!) and then she stopped featuring homesteadians! So- in order to blog about it, I would have to spend time verbalizing it all again and that would require….work. So- I entirely agree with you. And, as hard as it is to live through, those trials are perfect opportunities to point us toward God again when perhaps we begin taking too much credit ourselves. That is actually one of the wonderful reasons I love homesteading- because we have an opportunity to clearly see God work in His mysterious ways and not ours through seasons and life cycles.

    That said- it pretty much stinks to live through and I am sorry that you are having so much trouble! Having a hay garden myself, I know just how much work it is to make such a huge space look so lovely and weedfree and I know just how much work you’ve put into it. The good news is~ your clay soil and tilling issues will be resolved (or well on their way!) by next year. So the work that you are doing now, even if it doesn’t show up in eggplants or squash, is well worth the sweat!

    OH- and I have said that VERY SAME THING about tomato staking every year and it STILL doesn’t happen! Though I am SUPER excited about the system I have in place now…I think it might just be the ticket!

    Your gardens look massive! And beautiful! And a greenhouse! I totally forgot about your greenhouse! Perhaps the Lord is protecting us all from coveteousness this year. 😉 Perhaps you’ll have a bumper crop of fruits this year to make up for your frustrations with peppers.

    ALL of my peppers have been almost entirely eaten. Bugs are a serious problem for me this year and I think it might be because of the (gasp!) HAY. I’ll be lucky to get a pepper or two from my 18 or so plants. grumble, grumble.

    PS. I had a dream about you last night. I think it must have been because I read this post last night and waited to comment until morning. You were fresh on my mind. It was nice! 🙂

    1. Oh man Rebecca! I would have loved to have read that post! I’ll bet it was good stuff! I don’t know why, but not to long ago those posts of hers popped into my head and I wondered why they fizzled out. Well now I guess I might know! Gotta love her- it’s so good to see her glorifying the Lord on her homestead and on the site! (Plus, she’s a hoot and a half! :D)

      I am SO glad that I didn’t have time to respond to the comments on this post until tonight! Do you know why? Because I now have insider knowledge- I know that you had “an opportunity to clearly see God work in His mysterious ways and not ours through seasons and life cycles” because he ended up giving you more pepper plants than you knew what to do with and for FREE! How amazingly awesome is that?!!

  16. Quinn be encouraged, you have a beautiful property with so much room to grow. Your children are learning wonderful lessons, and you are growing a greater fruit in their lives than any crop you could ever grow on your land. I don’t see clay or too much rain, I see God’s wonderful provision for your family full of endless possibilities. I look forward to the coming years and reading about his great blessings, in your family, through the ups and downs and with the rain and sunshine. Blessings it looks good!

    1. Ah, thank you Cheryl! When it seems like just about everything is going wrong in one way or another these days, that’s some much needed encouragement friend! Hope all is going/growing well with your and your family this summer!

  17. Quinn, take heart! You are so far ahead of many of us who don’t have a garden, except in our imagination. When I read about all the “fancy” things people are supposed to do to grow a garden I wonder how Ma and Pa Ingalls ever fed their family without all of that. It discourages me before I can even begin. And just one more thing: no single family has ever been totally self-sufficient. I’ve read enough history to know that families throughout US history, traded with and helped each other. Keep up the good work, and God bless you and yours.

    1. Excellent points! And that is part of the reason I like to share how badly I’m tanking here… I’ve been gardening so many years and I really want to encourage everyone else out there to get growing something and take control of their own food supply in some way (not talking from a “self-sufficiency” angle… we need to not see ourselves as providers, or corporations/gov’t/supermarkets as providers, but rather the Lord- even if it’s in the tomatoes from the patio on your BLT 🙂 ) And I if one does get into it and have a bad year, I want them not to get discouraged, but keep plugging away knowing that it’s a good pursuit and that bad years happen to us all!