Back in February of 2021, Brooke’s Dad had the idea of tapping a few of his silver maple trees to see if he could get enough sap to make syrup. Always her father’s daughter, Brooke decided to spend the ~$20 on a tapping kit from Amazon to see what we can get out of our sugar maple trees in the yard. Because those were practically the only thing on our property not being harvested for something (hence the title of this post).
We left the trees tapped for a few weeks, but in order to get a solid haul of sap, the temperatures need to be below freezing at night, and warm up a bit during the day. Last year, we had a solid stretch of days like that, but we weren’t prepared for the volume we would end up with. We ended up collecting enough to fill every vessel in the house (a lot of bottles used for brewing, various plastic containers, etc.) and take up a substantial amount of refrigerator space.
We used my turkey fryer that’s usually reserved for making beer (and now making syrup). We went through a few propane tanks in boiling off water and concentrating syrup down to its final viscosity. Brooke had to be careful with this, as boiling over is an issue (and it turns out sap is sticky), and over-concentrating the syrup could lead to crystallization.
In the end, we got 12 half-pint jars canned. It tasted good! More “runny” than I’m used to, but the flavor was shockingly good!
So this year, Brooke set up the rig again, but the temperatures were all over the place. January was warm at various points, we had multiple weeks with at least 2 snow days, so the “below freezing at night” and “sunny and warmer during the day” was few and far between. Brooke even disconnected the piping once to try and prevent mold from growing.
This time, Brooke planned ahead and saved gallon milk jugs. They were easier to store in the fridge(s), and we didn’t have to burn through almost all the glassware we have in the house. She also started the boiling process sooner this time, rather than waiting for the collection process to be done. Brooke figured that she could keep concentrating it over time while still collecting, and for the most part, that worked. But, we ended up collecting way more than last year. She estimates she collected 40(ish) gallons of sap this time around, so accordingly, we also ended up burning through three propane tanks (when oil prices are through the roof….yeah….we made expensive syrup…).
After Brooke reduced the volume down to one pot’s worth, she brought it inside to our gas range where she had a bit more temperature control. From there, she kept reducing the volume as much as she needed to, and kept it at the right temperature (219 F) to can it. This year, we ended up with 9 pints of syrup.
Now, is all of this processing worth it?! Well, our syrup cost $0.43/oz, which feels a bit pricey, but then again, we don’t always keep true maple syrup around. It’s an activity in the winter months, though, when we can’t grow anything outside and don’t usually have other projects going on (2021 notwithstanding…). When the weather is nice, it’s kinda charming hanging out in the garage having a beer while the sap evaporates!
To recap, we had enough snow to go sledding on January 15th. It wasn’t a ton (maybe 4″?), but it was “enough,” and was of a good consistency for outdoor activities. It was cold enough in mid-January that it hung around for a bit, though roads weren’t all that terrible.
Then, February 2nd, we got hit with another 7″ of snow. That time, it dropped some ice underneath, so the roads were a bit more treacherous. We were out of school Wednesday through Friday that week because of the snow and cold temperatures. Meg was supposed to have a competition in Cape Girardeau for robotics that weekend that ended up being shifted to a remote event due to weather.
Then, snow around town is almost melted, and we get yet another round. This time, they were forecasting 10.7″. We didn’t get quite that much, but we hit 9″, depending on where exactly you measured the snow drifts. This time, we were out Thursday and Friday, so more school delayed. I had to record a lecture for one of my classes because we’ve missed so many days already. The kids had a few remote school days, but they’ve exhausted all that they’re allowed for the school year now, so they’re going to have to start taking back Spring Break days, or tack on days to the end of the school year.
Suffice to say, I think we’re done with snow. The weather may not be “done,” but we’re done. I suppose Calvin is still having fun outside, but the amount of disruption this year feels worse than we’ve had the past few years (and that’s considering a pandemic, of course).
Also, the forecast for tomorrow is 54 F, and it’s supposed to be 65 F on Monday. Missouri…..has been a whole thing this Winter….
I started writing this a week ago, but I realized I didn’t have any recent pictures of the garden as a whole, so I had to wait until I mowed the lawn and took some more. It’s been awhile since I’ve updated, eh?
As is typical for this time of year, some parts of the garden have slowed their production, while others have been picking up in recent weeks. Most notably, we’re well into tomato season, and this year’s crop has been substantially better than last year’s.
Why that is, exactly, is probably up for debate. On the one hand, we moved the plot from last year, it’s received plenty of sun, we’ve been around to keep it watered, and we didn’t have any major storms come through to drop hail on the plants this year. We also added some compost to each plant. On the other hand, because we’ve been here for most of July/August, Brooke was able to keep an eye on the plants and “trellis” them more appropriately than we are usually able to. That, and she’s trimmed them back a few times. It’s probably a combination of multiple factors, really, but either way…
…the tomatoes are doing fine! It was very hot in mid-August, so Brooke didn’t really want to do much canning, so she’s just been freezing tomatoes wherever we can stick them (as of this writing, we’re supposed to get our new basement fridge today, but we’ll see…we need that in order to make more freezer space available for produce!!).
Otherwise, we’ve still got soup beans on the vine(s). Brooke was going to pick those last week, but then it rained, so we’ll have to wait. She’s picked some already, as well as our other dried bean plants, but there are still quite a few soup beans yet to be picked.
Our sweet potatoes are also there in the background, moving along nicely!
As far as other things on the horizon, we’ve got a ton of apples falling off the tree! Way more than we usually have. We’ll probably pick them tomorrow so Brooke can process them into some applesauce. I’ve only tried the green ones so far, but the red ones we’ve got are new this year, and those came off the tree that fell over in late-June.
The other big news is that we actually got a few almonds this year! We haven’t eaten one yet, but we got a few! Crazy, right?! We waited until their shells popped open, then pulled these out and have been drying them for a bit. Maybe we’ll have Calvin try one, first….
Last, but not least, Brooke pulled 18 frames out of one of her hives last Thursday and we took them to Hannibal for extraction over Labor Day Weekend. We ended up with almost 60 lbs of honey, putting our total for the year close to 90 lbs. That’s quite a bit! We’ll probably have the kids sell some tomorrow, though getting enough half pint jars to put honey in for sales is still a challenge with ongoing supply shortages. Still, Brooke is pretty sure the value of the honey she’s collected this year offsets the purchase of bees for the year, so that’s a plus!
Actually, one more thing: we procured some strawberry plants from a coworker of mine that was wanting to thin their plot out, so we’ve expanded the strawberry patch a bit. No idea whether they’ll “take” or not, but I’m having to water them a bit to keep them happy, as we’re in something of a dry/hot spell this coming weekend. Brooke dug out the raspberry/blackberry “bushes” in the process and I’m going to make some more concrete bricks to line the plot, so we’ll probably just go exclusively strawberries in that space for the next few years. At least, until they die off and we get bored and want to put something else there…
There will probably be one more post later this month or early next month. There isn’t much more growing, but the garden isn’t quite done with us yet!
So, long story short, this actually happened two months ago, but I didn’t want to post anything here until we had new appliances in place. We’ve got two of the three though, so I’m going to count that as “good enough” for now.
To set the stage, on the evening of June 24th, we were forecast to get some rain. Some. Rain. Not all the rain, but some rain.
Instead, we woke up the morning of June 25th (happy anniversary!) to find that we had, in fact, received all the rain. It rained over 10 inches that night, and moreover, we had seen some rain in the days preceding. Suffice to say, 10 inches overnight was not the expectation, so when we went to bed and it was raining, we didn’t think anything of it.
Fast forward to the next morning, when Brooke got up early to go to work and looked downstairs, only to find over a foot of water in our basement. Now, when it rains 4-5″, it isn’t uncommon to find water down there. Usually, we just use the pushbroom and sweep it toward the sewer drain and it’s fine. A few times per day, while also keeping the dehumidifier active, is typically just find to keep things under control.
Not this day! All of the water was in our basement, for reasons we didn’t know at the time. The first issue, though, was where Charlotte was. Brooke came and woke me up when she discovered the basement issue, but her concern was that she couldn’t find Charlotte, and because the water level in the basement was above the furnace and water heater, she was concerned that the water could be electrified, in which case she could have hurt herself if she had touched the water somehow overnight.
We called our fathers and our plumber to get a sense of what our risks were in the basement. It was still pouring down rain outside, so getting into the basement was still going to be a challenge. I put on rubber boots, after being assured that I should be fine, and waded through the water to get to the circuit breaker, cutting power to the HVAC system and the water heater. After I took care of that, I looked for Charlotte.
It ended up taking a few minutes to move about the basement (again…a foot of water down there…that I really didn’t want to splash into my boots…), but I ultimately found her on the air ducts in the ceiling where she would commonly climb around. She’d gotten stuck up there and had a deer-in-headlights look to her, which to this day, we think traumatized her (she has climbed up there since, but it took weeks before she tried that again).
When we first talked to our plumber, all he could tell me was that a). I probably wouldn’t die if I walked in the water, and b). it was an issue all over town, but at the time, we didn’t know what had happened. He called back mid-morning to ask if things had resolved, to which I replied “no.”
Apparently, the water treatment facility on the Salt Fork River had been breached. Water on the river rose above the levee, threatening the treatment facility, so they had to shut it down. When that happened, all of the storm water that would have left the treatment facility and be dumped in the Salt Fork, instead, backed up into everyone’s houses! And when I say “everyone,” I mean just about everyone in town. It depended on a variety of factors, such as how close to the sewer line you were, how high your house was relative to the line, etc. In our case, it backed up a foot into our basement, whereas our neighbor “only” had a few inches. Some others in different parts of down had 3 feet of water, rising up to the top of their beds as they got up that morning.
Once they were able to turn on the treatment plant again, then water receded quickly, with the water level in our basement dropping to puddles by 10:00 am or so. Still, by then the damage was done.
We had a lot of stuff in the basement, some of which was raised off the ground, but certainly not everything. I lost a few guitar amplifiers, some VHS tapes, and an old KitchenAid mixer we weren’t using. Our guitar cases were down there, but in the intervening weeks, I’ve mostly “rehabbed” them (I need to glue the padding back in, but considering I don’t really take our guitars very many places, I figure I’ll see if I can’t use the cases moving forward).
We waited for the folks who installed our HVAC system to come by later that day to check and make sure it would still work, as it was only a few years old. Against all odds, even though water had made it into the system, they only had to dry off the mainboard and get rid of some moisture around the blower and the thing worked! Brooke went and picked up a new air filter, as the one we had was soaked with storm water, but at least we’d have A/C again that night!
Other things, like our chest freezer, survived unscathed. The upright freezer, though, wasn’t getting a good seal. It was cold and keeping things frozen, but it kept beeping at us. After 3 days, the beeping stop and the freezer decided it was fine.
Sadly, our expensive washing machine wasn’t so lucky. It wouldn’t turn on at all. Our dryer turned on and “worked,” but its motor made a whining noise, indicating it was not long for this world. After we set up the insurance claim, we got the dryer ordered in early July.
It was just delivered last Wednesday. Turns out trying to get new appliances amidst a global pandemic isn’t great.
To that end, we lost our extra fridge downstairs and are still waiting on it to come in. Hopefully in the next few weeks, though! We need that extra fridge capacity, as the one in the garage isn’t going to be as usable once cold weather sets in later this Winter.
As far as outdoor damage, there were branches down, but everything was just so soggy, to such a degree that one of our apple trees actually fell over! I had to go out twice that day to prop it up and try to tie it down. Shockingly, the tree has survived and we should be picking apples in the next few weeks!
I went for a run the next day and found this scene at the bottom of Indian Foothills Park. It was blocked off for almost a week after the flooding, as the Salt Fork River passed near this space and encroached on the disc golf course, as well as a shelter. There is still yellow tape up down there to limit people walking around in that area, but at least you can drive through it now.
So yeah, it was a pretty big deal that threw off Summer chores around the house a bit. I finally cleaned up the garage this past weekend, putting away the last bits that were salvageable, and setting up the rest of it for trash this week. It just took time to get things ordered, get things cleaned up and assessed, and put things where they belong. We had tools from our bathroom project downstairs, so we moved those outside to our garden wagon….where they remained until this past weekend when I finally put them back where they belong. It was just a confluence of lots of stuff going on that kept taking up time, so it took awhile to finish up.
Thankfully, things are almost back to normal. We received our homeowner’s insurance check pretty quickly, so getting all of the new appliances replaced was doable, though we had to wait for shipping. The fridge is probably the last piece yet to be resolved, so things are now, finally, closer to normal down there.
The garden is doing well, though I feel like it’s been a bit less prolific than previous years. We had a lot of rain in mid-to-late June, and now these last few weeks, it’s been mostly hot and humid, so we’ve had to return to watering. It’s not like we aren’t getting anything, but it just feels like we’ve got more “lulls” between harvests.
The beans, for example, are truckin’ along. Brooke’s canned at least 12 pints of beans thus far and there’s still more coming. We’ve picked every 3 days or so and are getting an ice cream bucket’s worth every time we go out.
Again, have we had more than that in the past? Sure. But we also planted shorter rows this year and got stuff in a little late, so it hasn’t been optimal conditions. Still, the green beans are coming in fine, as well as the other beans planted in that plot. We’ve got plenty of pods on there for the beans that need to dry over the next few months and, at this rate, it may only take a few weeks…
The tomatoes are also coming on, but again, slower than I’d like. I guess they aren’t too far behind usual, and we’ve actually got a decent number of ‘maters on there, but we literally have our first reddish one on now, so we haven’t actually had one yet. We’re on track to have some in the next week or two, so hopefully it keeps up. I just need to keep watering.
The zucchini worked alright for a bit, but randomly, 2 of our 3 plants just kinda….died….all of the sudden? Their big leaves went down and wilted first, and then it was just over. We’ve got one plant left that I’m nursing a bit, so hopefully it keeps producing. We’ve had 4-5 good sized zucchini so far this year and, frankly, that’s probably all I really need, but Brooke would still like a dehydrated supply to put in pasta sauces, etc. over the winter.
The zinnias Brooke planted have caught up and are doing a good job entertaining the bees. Honestly, I don’t see all that many bees on there, but it’s what I’m telling myself. They’re attracting butterflies and moths though, so at least other pollinators are taking advantage!
The soup beans are planted between the zucchini and zinnias. They’re doing their thing. We’ll have plenty, as usual, in October.
The more recent news involves the fruit trees. The Japanese beetles are out in full force, not as bad as two years ago, but still pretty terrible. The peaches are just starting to turn, so we went ahead and picked a bunch today.
There’s still a lot on there, so hopefully we’ve slowed the beetle’s appetite a bit by taking the ones they were about to feed on, while sparing the ones that aren’t ready yet? That’s what I’m telling myself at least. As usual, I’m not sure the neem oil is doing anything, but I’m still doing it, anyway…
We’ve got two fruiting pear trees, one of which produces an Asian-variety and has tons on it (but we never know when to pick them….like….every year….), and the other tree has never fruited before until this year! And of the two pears we can see on the tree, one of them is covered in beetles. Ug.
The two apple trees are doing their thing. With the flooding we had a month ago (which, yes, I will post about at some point….), one of the trees fell over and had to be propped up…twice… Still, there are still apples on there and they’re looking good!
And pictured above, we’ve still got almonds! I think we’ve got 7 up there, maybe? Definitely more than last year. Are we guaranteed to actually get to eat them this time? Uh, absolutely not. But hey, here’s hoping!
And last, but not least, we harvested honey a few weeks ago! The “package” hive is doing well and we got maybe 30 lbs of honey from it (plus some excess from the wax Brooke brought back from her parents’ house). The “nuc” hive is a bit more problematic. For some reason, they bees weren’t heading up into the super and didn’t put any honey there, even though it seemed like there was plenty of honey and brood in the bottom, deep hives. It was kind of weird, so Brooke will be getting back into it sometime soon to see if they’ve started pushing upward. With as dry as it’s been, there may be more capped honey in there, but we’re also slowing down a bit as we’re in the “dog days of Summer.”
Hopefully we have more tomatoes by the next time I update things!
The garden’s off to a decent start for the year! We had a relatively mild late-May, but it seems like the sun’s been out for the last few weeks now and we’re already having to water everything to keep stuff growing.
The kale is over and done with, but we left it out for awhile because it seemed like the bees were enjoying the flowers. Brooke planted a few more kale plants that are still out there (aside from that gigantic one on the right that’s very much gone to seed…), but with the heat, I doubt they’re going to last long. We also don’t have any spinach in there either, so I’ll probably just be trying to keep a lid on the weeds until we decide what to put there.
One of the squash plants Brooke put in didn’t make it, but the other three are moving along. The soup beans in the background are moving along, though they aren’t particularly large yet. The flowers Brooke planted seemingly a month ago really haven’t done much, surprisingly, so I’m not holding my breath.
The other bean plants, though, are doing great. They’ve started to flower a bit, but no pods have shown up. I need to do some more weeding around the plants, but if we keep them watered, I suspect we’ll have plenty to pick in 3-4 weeks.
The tomatoes are looking good, too! We’ve got 16 plants, one of which looks to be on the outs, but relatively speaking, that’s pretty good. We’ve also got 4 pepper plants, one of which already has 3 baby peppers on it.
We’re struggling with the trellis system, though. We were going to get cattle panels, cut them, and bend them into cages, but we’re looking at $150 for that kind of an upgrade. This year, we’ll probably still go on with some metal fence posts and string to wrap around the plants as they get taller. There are a few plants that are tall enough that they need some support, so this weekend, we’ll probably get out there get it set up.
The strawberries are done for the year. This past weekend, Brooke went out there and transplanted all of the shoots that had inserted themselves outside the bounds of the border and moved them to the surrounding area. We added some grass clippings and compost to bury them, but now we need to keep an eye on them and keep them wet. Really any additional strawberry plants are a “bonus,” so if anything survives, great! But if now, then ah well.
Brooke thinks we ended up with 15 quarts of strawberries by the end, which is more than last year by a decent amount. She made some freezer jam with it, and otherwise, we just tried sharing them with neighbors. We were gone to Florida during the height of picking, but the neighbors were able to keep tabs on them and make sure someone enjoyed them. They saved us plenty, too!
The cherries have been the next thing to deal with! Brooke made a cobbler with some of them, so now we’re struggling with what to do with the rest. We’ll probably leave some for Calvin, since he really liked eating them last year, but Brooke may try to make some canned cherry pie filling for use later on in the year!
Similar to the strawberries, the cherries were probably “ready” while we were in Florida, though they were still delayed a bit relative to the strawberries. Last year, Calvin would go out daily and just pick and eat them by the handful. This year, he hasn’t been here enough to do that! There’s always next year, I suppose.
Last but not least, Brooke got into the bees last weekend and they looked great! She put another super on the nuc hive, so hopefully we’re ready to start extracting around July 4th. We may take some to Hannibal this year, as we should have a little more time to get an extraction in among the usual mud volleyball festivities. As you can see above, the frames don’t look capped, but there’s plenty of honey in there, so give it a few weeks and we should be good to go.
We probably don’t have much more to harvest until July! Once the beans come on, we’ll be busy with more!
We’re a bit late to get our planting in this season, largely because the weather has been very inconsistent (i.e. rain, cold, cloudy, etc.), but also because we were gone to Yellowstone last week (more on that in future posts!). Brooke also had grand plans to burn a large pile of leaves and branches a month or so ago, but because we kept having cold, wet weather, the pile never quite caught fire.
She did get some spinach and kale planted in one of the plots, though some of the kale survived from last year (flowering above). We had a nice spinach salad last weekend, so we’re getting plenty of it, and Brooke dehydrated and chopped up some kale a few weeks ago for smoothies, so the “leafy greens” side of the garden has been working just fine so far. She also planted some flowers that are starting to pop up in the foreground of this shot.
Today, I tilled the rest of the garden after Brooke raked off the remnants of the “burn pile that wouldn’t burn.” She planted green beans, pinto beans, black beans, and soup beans (that one’s close to the existing kale and spinach plot), and we plugged in tomatoes and various pepper varieties in another plot (pictured above with the milk jugs on top). We think the tomatoes and peppers have waned a bit in recent years, so Brooke grabbed some manure bags today to try and supplement a bit, so hopefully that makes a difference this time around.
The strawberries are back in full swing. We’re going to be gone again in early June which, based on last year’s pictures, we should then have fruit ready. The plot has branched out a bit, so we definitely have more plants than last year. Hopefully that leads to more strawberries! Also, it looks like the raspberries have randomly decided they’re going to start shooting up more branches after 4 years?? It’s a bit weird….to be filling in…now….
The fruit trees are also moving along! We had a crazy cold spell a few weeks ago, so we were a bit afraid of whether the trees would bear anything, but low and behold, they have. Above, we’ve got some almonds growing, though still not all that many. Maybe 5 on the tree right now? There could be some higher off the ground, but we aren’t expecting much.
There are a metric tons of cherries, though. Again, the cherries will probably be ready when we’re out of town, so hopefully the birds leave a few for us…Calvin will be very disappointed if there aren’t any left for him…
The apples and peaches are also coming on well, though some of the branches on the peach tree look a bit dicey, for some reason (like, no leaves on some of the larger branches? Strangely?!). So yeah, there are definitely peaches on there, but it’s tough to know whether we’ll have as many as last year.
Last, but not least, we have new tenants in the beehives! Brooke got a package for the tall one and a nuc for the smaller one, a few weeks separated from one another. They’ve been relatively active, despite the lack of quality weather. She’s probably going to add a super to the big hive tomorrow, and maybe another deep on the nuc hive. We expanded the bee area a month or so ago so that I can mow near the boxes more easily, and also to level out the boxes better (there used to be a tree in the ground behind where those boxes are, so there’s some ground sinking slowly…making it hard to keep the boxes level long-term…). There’s a spot for a third box, but we’ll probably just wait until we get a split from Brooke’s Dad.
The flowers I grabbed from Mom and Dad’s house last year also came back pretty well, too. The columbine has been flowering for a few weeks now, and the irises came out while we were gone on vacation. This plot of flowers are probably going to spread out quite a bit over the summer, so I’ll have to keep an eye on it. I’m sure the bees will be happy, though!
It’s supposed to rain quite a bit over the next week, so hopefully we’ll have more to share in a month!
It’s been just over a month since the last update, and relative to where we were in July, things have definitely slowed down. Brooke planted beans and zucchini where we had the radishes and kale and those things are doing wonderfully. The soup bean pods just showed up this week, and the black beans are drying out quite a bit, so they’re going to be ready to pick soon. The zucchini have been doing well, way more than we actually want let alone need…
As far as zucchini go, we’ve picked two or three like this every other day or so. It’s been pretty silly. It’s great to grow stuff and have them work really well…….but we only have so many things we want to use zucchini with (e.g. fried, bread, cookies…..muffins?)
Speaking of beans, our rattlesnake beans came back voluntarily! You can see some of them there at the top of this pic. We probably won’t end up with more than a handful of beans from the pods, but hey….we did almost literally zero work for these, so whatever.
Our peppers have been hit-or-miss. The “lunchbox peppers” Brooke planted are starting to come on pretty well now, so we’re getting a few of those every day or two. The bigger Margaret peppers have also come on better than last year, but still not tons of them. Obviously the green beans are way done, but there are still some pods growing on some of the plants. The sunflowers, though, look beautiful!
You can see some of the lunchbox peppers in orange , as well as a few tomatoes (more on that in a second). We also picked our granny smith apples! They were starting to brown at the top, so we didn’t want to let them go any longer. I picked 7 and sent them to Mom and Dad’s last weekend, so these represent the rest of the litter from the tree. We ended up with way more than we expected, and they seem to taste pretty good! Not as good as a gala apple or something, but hey….these were free(ish)!
Speaking of the tomatoes, we’ve been pretty disappointed this year. We got some really, really nice “slicer” tomatoes a few weeks ago, but since then, they’ve almost literally dried up. The cherry tomatoes are coming on very nicely, which has been good since Meg’s been home over summer, but other than that, the paste tomatoes Brooke planted have barely done anything, and the others have been one- or two-at-a-time, so never enough to process sauce or anything.
This gigantic plant is a volunteer. I’ve thought it was a watermelon for the past few weeks.
Things like this are what we’ve seen. Maybe 11 or 12 of them coming off that one plant.
Welp….we don’t think they’re watermelon anymore…
We found this out there, yellowing and, incidentally, rotting. Apparently, we’ve got a whole bunch of pumpkins growing!
That’s enough for now! Maybe one or two more posts as we finish out this year’s growing season. One last thing I should probably mention so we remember when these were planted…
Brooke ordered more strawberries! They’re June-bearing berries from Jung Seeds, this time. Since we got such a good yield this year from the existing plants, we want to keep things rolling by refreshing the plants from time to time. Hopefully we’ll end up with more than we did this year!
I’m catching up after a few weeks, so bear with me a bit…. The bean crop kinda got the best of us when it ramped up in earnest after we returned from July 4th in Hannibal. We picked…and picked….and picked….multiple rounds like this, to the point where Brooke was quite done with canning… We ended up with around 30 pints of beans, plus the ones we’ve been eating on here and there. We didn’t end up giving many away because our beans came on late and everyone we’d usually give them away to was also inundated, so they didn’t need more. We should be set in the veggie department for, oh, a few years….
Around the same time we were dealing with the beans, the zucchini plants had grown pretty full, but we hadn’t seen many zucchini on the plants…until we found this gigantic one just chillin’, waiting to be picked. Brooke ended up shredding and dehydrating it, so we haven’t actually used it yet, but we’ve got another one or two on, so she’ll get creative with them momentarily.
We’ve also got other bean plants surrounding the zucchini plants, so as those start to slow down, the beans are going to take their place. The soup beans are vining well, so I’m sure we’ll get our usually ridiculous crop of those by the time we pick them in October/November…
The foreground still isn’t doing a lot, but there are some kale plants, spinach, and a random giant thing that’s either going to make a watermelon or pumpkin. Who can say? Certainly not me.
The tomatoes in the background are starting to produce quite a bit, mostly in the cherry tomato department, but just today, Brooke picked some beefy ones that we look forward to turning into BLTs later this week.
So yeah, not a ton yet, but certainly enough to start enjoying! That one in the upper right is one I’m particularly excited to chomp on…….
The green bean plants are in the middle there, and they’ve slowed down quite a bit. There are still some beans on there, but we’ll probably just keep an eye on them and grab a handful here and there. Brooke also planted sunflowers on the north side for the fun of it, and they’ve been blooming for a week or so.
The pepper plants still don’t look great, and in fact, a storm knocked a few of them over to the point they may not make it, but we’ve gotten some margaret peppers comin’ on that will hopefully be tasty.
In other news, the peach tree is….truckin’ along…to the point that it’s so weighed down with peaches, that branches are breaking…
I mean, on one level, I’m pretty pleased that there are so many fruit on there! But they aren’t ripe enough yet, and the japanese beetles have found them, so even with a billion peaches on there, we still may not get many… I’ve been using neem oil on them once a week, but we’re expecting rain this week, so I may need to wait until the rain subsides a bit.
Our apple trees and pear tree are also producing. The granny smith apple tree, especially, has a solid number on there, but Brooke says it isn’t time yet, so she isn’t letting me test any out… Hopefully I get to before the squirrels get them……ug…..
And last, but not least, so much honey! Brooke collected around 28 frames last Thursday, and we took them to Hannibal this weekend. We ended up with around 8-10 gallons of honey, which is a mostly ridiculous amount to get from two hives, one of which was just established a few months ago. Mark pulled 70 frames himself, so altogether, we ended up with around 30 gallons (and hundreds of pounds….) of honey this weekend between Hannibal and Marshall. I think the kids are going to try and set up a table and sell honey along the street, so we’ll see how that goes. Brooke’s going to try and contact “the powers that be” at our Farmer’s Market to see if she can set up there, in which case, we should be able to offload it relatively quickly. Plenty to get rid of!
It’s been a minute since I updated about the garden. We’ve got some tomatoes on the vines now, including some pretty beefy big ones that’ll help make some great BLTs in a few weeks. The cherry tomatoes are moving along, but we haven’t seen any red ones yet. Also, some of Brooke’s paste tomatoes are looking to be a good size, but again, I think we’re a few weeks away.
The green beans and peppers can be seen in the lower left of the above image. No beans yet, but plenty of flowers on the plants, so in a week or so, we’ll probably be picking. It’s been pretty hot this week and last, so once that happened, the plants really started perking up.
I happened upon these margaret peppers yesterday when I was seeing why one of the plants was mostly on its side. It was apparently weighed down by huge peppers! We’ll wait until these are red, so it’ll be a bit before we can pick them, but what a pleasant surprise! We don’t usually have peppers on at this point in July, let alone peppers this size. Excellent!
Here’s a better view of the pepper plants and green beans. You can see all the flowers on there, so yeah…tons of beans coming on… At the back of this plot, Brooke planted some sunflowers, so those are slowly rising above the green bean plants.
In the background, we’ve got raspberries on the plant, so Calvin’s been going out and stealing them. The strawberries have been done for a few weeks, but we were soooooo pleased with how many we got. We were getting bowl-fulls daily for awhile there, so plenty to fill ourselves with and plenty to share! Brooke ordered some new plants, so we’ll add some more to the plot and expand it for next year. We didn’t get enough strawberries for a pie (well, total, we probably did, but not enough to split and use for other things, too…..), so gotta put more plants in.
Lastly, Brooke never planted any “pole beans” (just didn’t get around to it), but we do have a volunteer growing from last year, so we’ll probably end up with a few, regardless!
Brooke replanted the spinach and kale plot with zucchini, black beans, and soup beans. Those plants are all doing really well, but are a bit behind the green beans in total size (aside from the zucchini, of course). I need to do some weeding around that plot, and with the kids being gone next week, maybe I’ll find the motivation….(hah!).
The lettuce is looking good still, too! Probably getting done with it in the next two weeks, but we’ve had a good run of lettuce this year! Brooke dehydrated the kale and put it through the food processor, so we’ve got a few pint jars of powdered kale sitting in the freezer. What will we do with it? Who knows! Expect Christmas presents of powdered kale. 🙂
Last, but not least, so many peaches! Like, I said this last year too, but this year is so many more. Unfortunately, the japanese beetles have reared their ugly little heads, so Brooke’s already doing battle with them while I spray neem oil every week. Not sure it’s actually doing any good, but it makes me feel like I’m trying, at least…..
That’ll do for now! Another post coming once we start getting ‘maters!!