The Year of Wacky Gardening–Midsummer report

I’ve decided that this is the year of wacky gardening. Due to upcoming life changes, unlike previous years, I don’t know where we are going with a garden for next year. We may not have much of a garden, if any. Or we may co-garden with a friend in a different, more coastal, microclimate. I don’t think we’ll have Farpoint up and running yet. So this year I am determined to do the things I’ve wanted to do with my current gardening space all along–such as a coherent autumn/early winter/overwintering strategy, for one. It’s all good, but the key is that this year, late August does not mean I have to start cramming writing into the morning, work and horse into the afternoon/evening, and I have little time and energy for maintaining the outdoors. New adventures lie ahead for late summer and fall gardening, and by golly, I’m going to try them.

Additionally, a neighboring urban hen has decided that our yard is Chicken Heaven. I don’t mind her scratching under the bird feeder, but her sampling of the windfall apples and the broccoli is Right Out. She’s a pretty thing–a White Rock, well-conformed, would probably win blue ribbons at a chicken show if not championships. Neighbor says she is a good layer. From what I’ve seen, she’s also an excellent forager with a wide range of preferences.

She’s smart. She started by crawling under the fence, then, when I blocked it, she went the long way around. Flew over the driveway gate, walked up the driveway of the flag lot she lives on, around the front of our long house, and back along the side to the delights of our backyard. That’s a pretty involved route for a chicken brain to figure, but she’s got it down. She would make a wonderful free-range farm hen with her smarts, but an urban hen? Not so much.

Some days I have chased her out of the yard up to three times. This morning, I caught her meandering around the front, just as the neighbor came around to catch her. He saw her fly over the fence.  We pursued her, he captured her, and Things Will Happen. Alas, but if I wanted chickens in my yard, I’d have a more protected garden. We’ll see if I still chase chickens for the rest of the season.

Meanwhile, in the name of garden succession, I’ve been plotting on how to replace cabbages. I’m going to see if we can get regrowth from this batch of cauliflower (done so before) but not with the cabbages. We’ve eaten two of the four cabbages and I think Number Three will get harvested tonight. Three of the four cauliflowers are viable and we’ve harvested one. I think Number Two gets harvested tomorrow. I’m going to check out a couple of hipster Portlandia garden shops to see if I can get late season cabbage starts and hope for cabbage for Thanksgiving.

I harvested the last crop of edible pod peas on Monday and pulled the vines. This batch has been quite prolific and I still got over a pint on the final picking. But the vines were mostly dead, with about six inches of green. Still, I was harvesting edible pod peas for a month. Not bad. Now we’re moving on to green beans. The first harvest of Blue Lakes was quite productive–a pint and a half, and I need to pick again.

The garlic was disappointing. I did harvest some heads with big cloves, but I didn’t get all the regrowth I wanted. I think this line has petered out. Too bad. I’ve been cultivating it for twenty years, but the past three years have not been as productive as I like to see. We’ll eat it all this year.

I’ve been harvesting onions all along. Besides planting a full packet of sweet yellow onion starts, I planted some red onion starts. They aren’t big but they are yummy. I’m hoping to be able to harvest a batch that will keep in the basement and have my own onions to eat all winter.

The Gravenstein has been dropping apples for two weeks, and I’m at the point of being buried. While I’ve been taking apples to the horses, it’s time to pick apples and put some away in the basement. I’ve made one apple crisp (will make another today) and an apple cake. I’ll probably make apple pie later on in the week. I canned twelve pints of applesauce and froze a scant quart of applesauce on Sunday. Today I plan to make apple juice (after I go buy quart jars, alas, I keep letting hubby talk me into getting rid of canning jars). I should be able to get six quarts out of that, and I might do a second round. However, I’m also going to start putting apples away in the basement and giving some to friends. It’s a good apple year, and the apples are both plentiful and big. I definitely want to take advantage of the bounty. I might even fire up the dehydrator.

Tomatoes are just starting to come on. This year, if I get buried, I’m making tomato sauce in pints.

Yesterday, I started the fall harvest replanting. More edible pod peas that I hope will be ready to start picking about the time that the Blue Lakes peter out, plus onions, in one bed. In another, more onions, plus beets and rutabagas. I’m contemplating finding a spot for carrots and, of course, thinking about when I need to plant overwintering crops for early spring harvest. I’ve never really tried to do this before. Should be fun.

And now it’s time to wander off and pick up jars. Onward.

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