Onion & Garlic Breath
In July we harvested nearly 200 bulbs of big beautiful garlic, and in August we harvested over 100 gorgeous onions- a first for both! Our first year growing garlic was a huge success- we grew 29 different varieties… and now we’re tasked with sampling them all and trying to whittle our selections down a little bit for next year’s planting. We’ve been eating a LOT of garlic.
I’ve tried to grow onions for years, always unsuccessfully as they never seem to get bigger than a golf ball. This year we did a few things differently and were rewarded with large, gorgeous onions! Instead of planting sets, we planted seedlings- I think this made the biggest difference. We also actually weeded them. But in my defense, it was a lot easier to weed a crop that looked like it was going to actually amount to something!
The garlic is cured and in storage, and the onions are currently drying on the back porch. We’re looking forward to enjoying both all winter!
Let the Harvest Begin!
Speaking of harvesting, July and August were when the gardens really started to take off. I barely had to buy any vegetables from the store in the past two months- which is a great feeling!
We’re still knee deep in zucchini and about ready for them to stop- I bet you know the feeling. The herbs are overflowing, I can’t each much more swiss chard, and the tomatoes are starting to fill up all the flat surfaces in the house! And in other good news: I finally conquered the potato bugs this year, and we even harvested a few hills of spuds already!
For winter stores so far I’ve canned pickles and sweet jalapeno relish, and frozen some raspberries, bell pepper strips, and green beans. The coming months are when the preserving should really take off!
I’ve also canned crab apple jelly, apricot jam and apricot sauce, as well as made dehydrated apricots and crab apple and plum leather. And there are 4 half gallon jars of our favorite bread and butter refrigerator pickles taking up a lot of space in my fridge.
In July we lost one of my favorite chickens- she disappeared one day… probably to a predator, but we’re not entirely sure. Most of our chickens are three and a half years old, so the possibility of them dying of old age/natural causes is something always in the back of my mind. It could be that she wandered off to a quiet spot under a bush to rest and have a peaceful passing. Either way, Val was one of our original chickens and one of the best. Look at that beard!
She was one of the most personable chickens we had- one of the few that would fall asleep on my lap for a mid-day nap. Somehow I taught her to jump on my arm, parrot-style, when I lowered it to her. She often took it upon herself to come out of nowhere and try to jump up onto my shoulder uninvited. She was a special chicken and I’m certain I’ll never have one quite like her again.
These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things
This harvest season has brought a few stand-out veggies- produce that get my adrenaline pumping! Seriously… I get so excited when I am harvesting these unique and interesting vegetables that I nearly forget what I’m doing and where I am.
The first is Scarlett Napa Cabbage- this is a mild Chinese cabbage that you’ve probably seen the green version of in your grocery store and in your egg rolls. This pink and purple variety was unbelievably gorgeous, and each leaf I pulled back revealed an even more vibrant and colorful leaf underneath it. Completely stunning! Oh, and the flavor was great too! We’ve been eating it in salads with a slightly sweet dressing or in stir fry.
Second is the Shiitake mushrooms. Karl was out doing some brush cutting and I was in the house when I got a text from him that said, “Holy shiitakes! Come quick and bring a huge bowl.” I did just that and ran outside to discover our mushroom logs had exploded. They took a break during the warm summer, and we hadn’t been watching them closely. The weather cooled down just enough that they went into hyper-production and gave us pounds and pounds of gorgeous Shiitakes. We ate a lot fresh, gave some away, and I dehydrated the rest.
And third is this unbelievable blue sweet corn! I had been watching it for weeks- I thought it should be about ready but it wasn’t turning blue. See, this variety actually tells you when it is ready by turning this gorgeous shade of blue-purple! I nibbled some raw right there in the corn patch and it was sweet and delicious. I’ll definitely be adding this one to the “must grow again” list!
How to Get Started Collecting and Growing Rare Seeds
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