Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss}

Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss}

Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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.

growing garlic in Wisconsin - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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!

growing onion in Wisconsin - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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!

Related posts:
Garlic and Onion Green Beans
Double Garlic Cast Iron Meatballs
Smashed Sweet Potatoes with Garlic Butter

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!

wisconsin harvest - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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!

refrigerator pickles bread and butter - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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.

Related posts:
A New Way to Preserve Fresh Basil (freezing method, and not in an ice cube tray)
How to Freeze Lettuce
How to Freeze Kale

Homestead Loss
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!

chicken loss - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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.

Related Posts:
The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do to Prepare for Chicken Emergencies
Chicken Behavior During Molting, or… Why Have My Chickens Gone Crazy

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.

scarlet napa cabbage -Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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.

grow shiitake mushrooms wisconsin - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

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!

blue jade sweet corn - Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss} | Whole-Fed Homestead

Related Posts:
How to Get Started Collecting and Growing Rare Seeds

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2 thoughts on “Homestead Monthly: July & August {harvesting, preserving, and loss}

  1. O my, you “Lucky Chic”! Your garden experiences have been terrific and I am envious. I have not had your luck. I am so very sorry about your loss of Val. I would guesstimate predator also . You mentioned only 31/2 and I have had chickens almost go to 20, even though they say the average is 7 to 10.

    I would love you know more about your mushroom luck????? I have not got to try them yet and I can never grow an onion or radish. I even tried on the porch and had no luck – just strings in the ground?????

    You are young and strong and talented and try hard. Do not give up- we all need what Mother Nature provides for us. Thank you so very much for sharing.

    • Hi Linda- wow, an almost 20 year old chicken?! That’s incredible!! Thank you so much for all your kind words, they are much appreciated.

      And don’t feel too bad- we have plenty of garden failures too… tomato blight, potato bugs, voracious chickens! :)

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