It’s been a busy week down on the Ashram.
The break between spring planting and summer harvesting is quickly coming to a close. Cucumbers are ready to be pickled, leeks are ready to be fried, celery is ready to frozen, tomatoes are almost ready to processed, and the sweet corn is almost ready to be enjoyed.
We spent a good chunk of this last week cleaning up the yard and garden. We have had beautiful, almost fall-like, weather which was perfect for mowing and trimming the lawns and paths. Some of the corners had grown some fairly tall weeds, so it was good to knock those down with the weed eater. I also took the time to tie up the first year grape vines to encourage their upward growth.
This has been a horrible year for Septoria Leaf Spot on our tomatoes. I usually try to run a garden totally free of all sprays and fungicides. That was not going to work this year if I wanted to have any sort of tomato crop. I have been spraying the tomatoes with two organic fungicides. The first is a microbial fungicide called Serenade. The second is a generic organic copper fungicide. The cool temperatures and low humidity of the last week seem to have also helped control the Septoria, so I hope to have a good, but not great, tomato crop.
I think the lesson for next year is to utilize some resistant hybrid varieties of tomatoes to help slow the spread of disease, rather than grow all heirloom tomatoes.
We finished harvesting the winter wheat crop. It was our first year with winter wheat, so the harvest involved a bit of trial and error. We tried pulling the wheat by hand, tried to cut the wheat with a corn knife, tried to use the weed eater (an epic failure), and tried hand clippers. Ultimately we used a hedge-trimmer to give the wheat field a haircut. We bundled several sheaves, but must of the wheat went into a giant tub to dry. We need to thresh the wheat over the next few weeks. That seems likely to be another adventure in experimentation.
After the wheat harvest, I took the flame weeder to the weeds left in the wheat field. I intend to till the field this weekend and plant our summer barley crop.
Looking forward, there are a number of things we need to get done in the next week:
- Pickle our first batch of cucumbers.
- Order more organic fungicide.
- Install grape support wires on the trellis.
- Plant the barley.
- Harvest the carrot crop.
- Prepare for canning season (jars, pots, food mill, etc.).
- Weed and mound potatoes.
- Clean the front and back porches.
- Catchup on dishes and laundry.
On a final note, our outdoor cats, Joey and Emily, died last fall and this spring respectively. They were both great cats and will be missed. In their absence the bird, squirrel, and rabbit populations have exploded. So we now have two new farmhands in training. Shadow and Ghost are going to be great hunters…someday.