Reseeding Lettuce

We completed succession planting the lettuce resulting in a very full lettuce row! It was so impressive that grasshoppers and other insects moved in. Can you see that grasshopper on our red lettuce? That is just one of Many! On top of a grasshopper infestation, the lettuce started to bolt from the heat. Even the wild birds couldn’t keep the grasshoppers under control!

This all resulted in a decision to pull the bad lettuce and replant before it got too late in the season. According the Farmers Almanac we can plant new lettuce up to August 1st and it will still have enough time to grow full size before the first frost.

Some of the lettuce had already bolted, or went to flower and to seed. We collected seed from those plants to replant, and left a few other plants to grow so we could collect seed later for next year. This is the ultimate succession planting!

Spoiler alert…..Not only did we get a great second crop, it lasted almost all winter!

Check out the farm’s YouTube Channel!

The Luffa Wall

This is our second try at growing Luffa. Last year we grew it on the ground and only produced a couple small Luffa squashes that never fully ripened. We could tell early on that having it growing on the ground resulted in too much shade from the neighboring plants. They didn’t get enough sun. After further research we also found that Luffa need well over 200 days to ripen the Luffa. The growing season is too short in our area to meet that.

So this year we grew transplants inside for weeks to be sure they had a good head start. We also built this Luffa wall to give them the sun they needed.

What we weren’t prepared for was how fast the plants grow with the right environment and how much wall real estate they take up! It’s clear the the vines are quickly going to take over the arches. There are plenty of flowers growing and lots of pollinators and other beneficial insects thriving.

There was still room on the ground to grow a few sun loving plants so we added some okra and melons in front of the wall which did well.

Get a closer look at the Luffa wall on the farm’s YouTube Channel:

Garlic Harvest 2020

Time to harvest the garlic!

Last year we harvested in August but it was a hot year this year so the garlic seemed to ripen faster. We had more garlic than we needed last year so we planted half as much this year. It also made hanging it in the hay loft easier. There was so much garlic last year we ran out of room!

We also have the curing process nailed down by hanging the garlic, leaves and all, in the hay loft where it stays warm enough to dry the skins hard enough to preserve the inside juicy garlic.

You can see how we pull the garlic out of the ground on the farm’s You Tube Channel:

Making Dried Basil

When you know it’s going to snow and you have a large row of basil what do you do? You make dried basil so you can have the luxury of home grown basil all year long. After trying a number of different ways to dry my basil we found one way that maximizes both flavor and appearance.

First we hand pick only the best, non-blemished leaves. Bigger is easier in this case but it is not necessary. We wash the leaves in a bucket or bowl of water and lay them out on paper towels until they dry completely.

Leaving the leaves on the paper towels, we tear them into individual squares, placing another paper towel on top, sandwiching the leaves between 2 pieces of paper towel. Placing the leaf sandwich into the microwave we cook for 30 seconds and check to see if the leaves are dry. If they are not dry, we cook for another 30 seconds. We usually cook for 1 minute.

After all the leaves are dry, we put them into one big pile and crush by hand. We usually do this on top of a piece of paper and then use a funnel to pour into a seasoning bottle.

It will take a lot of leaves to fill a bottle but it is so worth the effort. Ours lasts all winter long.

Baby Hawk in the Rain

The hawks on our property successfully hatched one chick. They were very protective and anytime we moved out of our normal space the parents would literally growl at us. I know how much a small bird can scratch you if you encroach on their nest. I can’t even imagine how badly you’d get injured from a large talon predator with a wing span of 4 feet!

Just to give more perspective, our space is 200 yards away from their tree. It has crippled us from traveling about half our property. I wouldn’t want to take the chance. But since we don’t farm or have animals on 75% of it we are okay leaving them alone.

Today the baby hawk got it’s first experience with rain and it was hysterical! The chick was standing on it’s tip toes, hopping around trying to avoid the wet stuff falling from the sky. Shaking it’s head and flapping it’s wings and giving out a little peep here and there. It was fun to watch.

You can watch the video on the farm’s YouTube channel. Keep in mind it’s not great quality since we had to stay so far away.