Since my last post, I've gotten the pantry more than half full. We made more jam this year- blueberry, blackberry, a tiny bit of raspberry, and peach. I canned a few peaches for treats. Peaches are pretty expensive, as we buy them from a local group who sells peaches from Pennsylvania. I do not think people have much luck growing peaches this far north. With the gray, cool beginning to summer, we really didn't start harvesting tomatoes until well into August, and then the tomatoes have been slow to ripen, as the temperatures began the fall swing at about the same time. This week, we had one morning that was 29 degrees and another day with the high of 91. Everything had a touch of frost damage the one day and looked extremely wilted and tired two days later. I'm just not sure we'll have the same full-to-bursting pantry we had last year.
On the upside, I managed to grow onions this year. They're beautiful. I have them laid out on the bed curing. We've been using leeks for most cooking, so that we can use the onions through the fall and winter. I know we can keep using the leeks and store them even, but the onions are still easier to keep. We also have a fair number of carrots, which is very pleasing, as I have never managed to grow more than a handful. The butternuts also managed to make.
The pumpkins, on the other hand, just never seemed to take hold. I'll do a soil sample within the next week or two, and then I will hopefully learn what I need to do to that soil to help out the pumpkins. At the moment, I am considering just doing a cover crop on that row next year. A little green manure seems like it couldn't hurt anything. I'll keep giving the soil the other amendments even if it's only in a cover crop.
We have the most amazing sunflowers this year, and we're looking forward to having sunflower seeds to munch on through the winter. There are so many that I feel certain there are enough for us and some wild life.
I haven't managed to get enough tomatillos for a batch of salsa yet. I think I'll put them in the hoophouse next year, as the last time I had oodles of them was when they were in the hoophouse. I think the plants look much prettier in the field, and I would only harvest seed from field plants. However, I plant the tomatillos to add some variety to our diet, and if I do not manage to harvest enough for a couple of batches of salsa then I might as well call them ornamental.
We culled the old layers last week. We killed about 15 chickens, leaving roughly 15 hens of laying age and another fifteen who should begin laying this winter. At the moment, we're getting precious few eggs, and it seemed wasteful to be feeding all those hens. If we cannot find a hidden nest, I might kill off more; fifteen is still too many to feed for 3 to 4 eggs a day.
In the coming week, I'll pull everything in the garden that will be killed by a hard frost to prepare for our trip. We have someone staying at the house, but there is too much garden work to expect of a housesitter who is already tending all these animals. We'll dig potatoes and other root crops after we get back; the basement isn't cool enough to consider putting them down there yet, and we just need to be sure to get them out of the ground before it freezes.