If you are following our blog, yes we did survive the snowstorm. Everything we covered actually made it through fine. Unfortunately it is the end of the Luffa Wall. The good news is we have been told that Luffa squash that have gone through a cold snap are easier to harvest and peel. The leaves of the plant vines rapidly died off but our Luffa squash are fine.
Since the plants died off and the squash is still green the Luffa are still not ready. We left the squash hanging on the vine until they turned brown and dried completely. It took roughly one month before we were comfortable they were completely dry. Shaking the Luffa you can feel that the inside moisture is gone. If the Luffa was completely ripe, you can also hear the seeds shaking loosely inside. At that time we cut every Luffa off the vine wall with pruners and found the actual yield was one good sized luffa per plant. There were many smaller ones but they were not big enough to be usable as a Luffa sponge.
Simply, if the Luffa was perfectly ripe we were able to easily peel off the outer dried brown skin. If we had difficulty peeling the skin off, we soaked it in a bucket of water which loosened the skin enough to finish the job. Then we shook the dried Luffa to get all the black seeds out. We can use those seed for our next planting.
Some farms bleach their Luffa. It gets rid of any dark spots and also makes the Luffa softer. Since we use no chemicals our Luffa will look more organic. It was nice to see the interest in a chemical free Luffa sponge that can be used not only in the shower, but also as a scrubbing sponge in your kitchen. It’s been reported they can easily last a year!
Watch us peeling a Luffa on the farm’s YouTube Channel:
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:
It’s August and you know what that means! Garlic is ready to harvest! With 4 rows of garlic this year it took 3 of us a couple days to pull it all.
The size of the garlic is larger than last year and MUCH larger than the year before. It seems like 3rd time is a charm for us. The third year we grow something we seem to have all the issues resolved. A tip I received from a garlic farmer for this year was to put a pinch of bone meal in each hole that you drop a clove into. It definitely increased the size of the bulb!
Next step is to cure the garlic or letting it dry. While we hung the garlic in the room we grow the transplants the last 2 years, this year there are too many large garlic to do that. The smell would be overwhelming! We decided to dry it in the hay loft of the barn. Lots of space with a lot of heat and very dry to reduce chances of mold.
We are 1 week into the curing process and it needs to dry for 2 weeks before we can sell it. We are very much looking forward to not only eating it ourselves but also to get great customer feedback!
After pulling up the pumpkins in spring due to cross-pollination and then cleaning them out due to the hailstorm, they now went through snow which devastated the plants. But look! We still managed to get over 50 pumpkins? That’s 3 growing cycles the plants went through in this areas short growing season! Clearly squash plants like our environment!
Pumpkins are the last item to harvest for the 2018 growing season. Nothing else survived the October snow except our wintering over carrots which are now in a covered tunnel. If you didn’t see the post on the tunnels you can see how well they wintered over last year. Search on tunnel.
So what are the sales figures for the year? Let’s just say we lost this year. The hailstorm took it’s toll. The bees swarmed and either left or died last year so we are not able to harvest any honey this year. The new bees we got in the spring need to build up their stores for the winter.
I also need to personally take the blame on lost sales on eggs. We have had these chickens for over 2 years and I didn’t have the heart to get rid of them to bring in fresh new egg layers. I had convinced myself that they would continue to lay enough to cover our egg customers and I was wrong. Not only did they slow down they also started laying strange shaped eggs and started to have physical difficulties. Kind of like a woman in menopause, but unfortunately a chickens egg laying system can be fatal when they don’t work properly and that was the case here. We are starting to lose chickens to old age issues. Lesson learned. New chicks are in order for next year.
See what’s left of the garden on the farm’s YouTube Channel:
I guess we shouldn’t complain. We didn’t even know we had a black walnut tree until last year. We are finding food producing plants everywhere we turn around on this property.
When yellow round pods started to show up on a tree I searched online until I was able to identify it as black walnut.
After the pods grew fairly large and started falling off the tree I decided it must be time to harvest and collected them in paper bags. I read they needed to dry awhile before cleaning off the pod from the shell.
Come February I started to extract the shells out of the dried pods and tried to crack one open. None of our nut crackers would crack it. It is one hard shell! We bought a cracker online that was made specifically for black walnuts and we finally were able to get one open!
The nut wasn’t as large as a regular nut, and I understand that’s normal. It certainly was a good looking nut! Unfortunately, we were sorely disappointed when we tried to eat it and it was bitter.
I was confused. Where did I go wrong? I did more research online and found that I was supposed to pull the pods from the tree BEFORE they started falling off and turning brown. I believe I was supposed to extract the shell from the pod right away and THEN let it dry.
Just goes to show you, it’s important to get multiple opinions online on how to do something. Don’t take the first suggestion you get.and run with it. Do your research! I just lost 3 large paper grocery sacks of what could have been delicious black walnuts!
The season was good for the grape vine and now I finally know what type of grapes we have; Concord grapes with a large amount of seeds! While the grapes taste fantastic, the seeds make them less than marketable to sell as an eating grape. I’ve never been much of a jelly maker but I love real fruit juice.
After a little research we found a canning recipe to make grape juice from whole grapes and decided to give it a try. It might make a great novelty for selling. An attractive shelf stable jar of grape juice with grapes in tow that just requires a strainer to be drink ready!
It’s a good thing we have bee keeping suits because they were needed to harvest the grapes. A combination of our honey bees, wasps and yellow jackets took over the fully ripened grapes, so I had to fight for them. When we were all done there was not much left to look at!
Once washed and cleaned, we poured the grapes into jars, sprinkled sugar in and filled with boiling water. Then we did a standard water bath until the jars sealed.
We waited a few days and cracked open the first jar to try our juice. The taste was good but a little weak. Next year I will add more grapes to see if that improves both appearance and taste. I’m also going to break down and try making jelly. We will eventually find the best format to sell these grapes!