Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fresh from the Garden

Watermelon has become one thing from the garden that I eagerly anticipate when it is ready to harvest! There isn't much that tastes better than ice cold, juicy, sweet watermelon :) (especially on hot summer days like we have been having lately!) We were able to harvest our first melon the other day and yesterday harvested our second.

A watermelon in the garden that is just about ready to harvest

The chickens like this time of year, too, as they love the watermelon rinds! They always come running when they see Leah or I walking out to their pen carrying something. :)

This year, having a harvest of watermelons has especially
been a blessing as it is just about the only thing we are getting from the garden now. While we were gone in South Carolina for the wedding, the deer completely destroyed both of the large green bean plantings and all of the carrots, and fungus killed the zucchini plants and most of the yellow squash. And since the onion crop and tomatoes were already lost to fungus, all that remains now is the winter squash, melons, cucumbers and peppers.

Pickling cucumbers that should begin producing soon - then it will be time to make pickles! :) The trellis they are on is one that I made earlier this year, and so far it is working well. (And yes, there are weeds in the foreground. :) The month before the wedding we were so busy that I got way behind in weeding - now I am in the process of catching up!)

One of our 'mystery squash' (and those of you who were reading this blog last year will probably remember them! :)

So now I have started planning for a fall crop of beans and then some cool weather crops as well. I am hoping to get the beans planted in the next week and then we are going to put a temporary fence around them to keep the deer out. (For next year, we are planning to put in an electric fence around the entire garden and our fruit trees which will be very nice!) I am really hoping we get a good crop of beans this fall . . . I can't imagine a year without them! We usually put up 80+ pounds in the freezer (and sell a bunch more) and this year I only got six pounds put up before the deer destroyed everything. Hopefully the plants will do really well! :)

In spite of all that, though, I have been able to do a little bit of canning which has been enjoyable! It's not much, and not nearly as much as what I had planned on doing, but some is better than none. :)

Canned tomatoes and sweet cucumber relish

And now the wild plums are beginning to ripen as well . . .

It won't be long before it is time to make wild plum jelly again, and I am looking forward to that!


  1. Thanks for sharing photos of your garden with us ... I didn't plant a garden this year (health issues and putting our house up for sale) - I never imagined I would miss it SOOOO much!
    Wild plum jelly ... Mmmmmmm, my FAVORITE!

  2. Wild plum jelly sounds yummy! I didn't even know it existed. We have been picking pears and making preserves. So far 2 cases! Peaches are next.

    Thanks again for taking the time for our questions!! Did you get the dayspring card? Hope you all have a lovely and blessed weekend! :D

  3. We planted beautiful giant sunflowers and just as they were about to bloom the deer ate them all and left little stalks. I would be interested in your electric fence. Julianne

  4. Happy to hear you are feeling better Sarah.
    Wow, good size watermelons.
    Sorry to hear about your garden and such huge losses it was.
    Deer seem to be a huge problem all over.
    The farmers here are losing to deer and also to canada geese. They can't afford to lose such loses as its their lively hood.
    They are deciding what the farmers can do to keep the deer down.
    We had that happen to our beans one year, went out and found that half the beans on every single plant was eaten.
    And the tomatoes too one year, dad was waiting and waiting and saying oh, the weather will never be hot enough and then it was and the tomatoes were awesome. My dad was so thrilled and happy seeing that. And then next day they were all gone, totally destroyed, we figured the raccoons did it.

    Now my dad only does tomatoes up on the deck to protect them.

    In our gallery he has pots of peppers and they are really growing and coming out.

    His cucumbers this year in the greenhouse that he always does, disappointment as there as I don't think there will be any this year to enjoy. too bad as there is nothing better then fresh cucumbers picked and eaten right away.


  5. What a shame to lose so much produce. An electric fence sounds a good idea!
    Plum lovely! I am about to make apple jelly from our apples.

  6. I am glad that you feel better and I am sorry that the deer did not leave you a little.

    The watermelon looks wonderful. We bought some seeds yesterday but the melons were vetoed as we just do not have room.

  7. Sarah...your resiliency is admirable, as is your perseverance. Rather than focusing on your losses, you are grateful for what you have, and are moving forward with a plan for more crops. Thanks for reminding us that there is always something for which to be thankful!

    One suggestion I might give is to purchase some fresh produce to preserve from a local farmer's market, if you have one nearby. We have friends who sometimes do this when their crops don't do well.

    Also, is there a post somewhere in which you describe how you made the cucumber trellis? Also, we have a delicious recipe for a simple, pesto-style dressing that we've enjoyed on our cucumbers this summer. I'd be happy to share it with you if you'd like.

    ~ Betsy

  8. What a shame that the deer feasted on your platings so much.:( We lost tomatoes to pivot hawk caterpillars...they just ate and ate.
    Hoping you have many blessings with cool weather plantings and putting a small fence around them. :)
    Do chickens mind the heat much? Does it effect their laying?

  9. I always love to see pictures of your garden! I'm surprised that we don't have more deer problems. We have woods surrounding the 10 acres we live on, and we often see white-tailed deer grazing in the pasture at dusk. I wonder if the cows keep them away, because they are also in the pasture.

    We've been getting so many tomatoes, a fair amount of beans, some zucchini, hundreds of banana peppers, and we're just starting to get okra. Hopefully next year we can plant more so that we can preserve some things!

  10. Oh, I forgot to mention that I love the new photo of you! You look just beautiful! :)

  11. You’re welcome, Mrs. B! I can imagine how much one would miss not having a garden . . . hopefully next year you will be able to have one! :)

    Wild plum jelly is delicious, isn’t it?! It’s one of our favorites, too. :)

  12. It is, Angie! I hadn’t realized it existed either until I started looking on the internet a few years ago trying to figure out how to use wild plums. After trying the recipe, it has become a summer tradition to make it now! Mmm . . . pear and peach preserves sure sound good. Enjoy making them and eating them! :)

    You’re welcome in regards to answering the questions! And no, I did not receive a dayspring card . . . hmm . . . I wonder where it ended up? (I did check my spam folder just in case it was there and it wasn’t.) Thank you for your thoughtfulness in sending it! :)

    I hope that you have a wonderful week as well!

  13. I am sorry to hear about your sunflowers, Julianne! That would have been disappointing. I hadn’t realized that deer would eat those!

  14. Thank you, Kathleen! :) Yes, the watermelons are good sized! We have been enjoying them lately and the chickens even got to eat one as the plants had produced more at one time than we could eat. They sure liked that treat!

    That is too bad about the geese and deer causing so much damage to the farmer’s fields up where you live. Isn’t it interesting how it seems that each year there is something different happening in the garden? Either a new insect pest to deal with; a new disease; or a new species of wildlife that starts to visit the garden and eat. There is always a lot to learn, that is for sure! I’m glad your Dad was able to figure out a way to protect his tomatoes. That is great that the peppers are doing well, but I’m sorry to hear about your cucumbers. If we lived closer, I would be happy to share some with you! That is one thing from the garden that we have had in abundance this year!

  15. It was disappointing, Elizabeth! But then I can just look forward to next year and hopefully having an electric fence to keep the critters out. :) Oh, the apple jelly sounds good! Have fun making it!

  16. Thank you, Suze! The watermelon sure tasted good, too. :) So juicy and sweet! I can well understand not having room for melons . . . they take a lot of space! I hope that your garden does well for you!

  17. Thank you so much for the encouragement, Betsy! :) I have to say, though, it took a bit for me to start looking forward and to not feel disappointed and discouraged about the large losses. I had to remind myself that the Lord works all things for good for those that love Him and that even a destroyed garden can have character lessons that can be learned from it!

    Thank you for suggesting about visiting the farmer’s market . . . we’ll definitely consider that!

    No, I hadn’t posted about when I made the cucumber trellis. It’s pretty simple, though, to make, but I’m not sure exactly how to describe it. :) Maybe if I build another one sometime I can do a post about it.

    I would love to have your pesto recipe that you use on your cucumbers! Thank you for offering to share it! :)

  18. It was disappointing, Ellen! I am sorry to hear that you lost your tomatoes to caterpillars . . . it is amazing how much those little guys can eat! And how quickly they can destroy a plant. I hope that next year you won’t have problems with them!

    The chickens do start getting stressed when it gets really hot, and the days have been so hot and humid here (with heat indexes above 110 degrees) so the chickens start having a harder time towards the end of the day. Their pen has a large area that is shaded by trees where the chickens go in the heat of the day, so in the mid-afternoon, we spray the dirt down with water and that does a lot to cool the air, and thus makes the chickens cooler. On the really hot days we also give them fresh water in the afternoon, too (as opposed to just in the morning and evening.) The heat does effect their laying some (it has decreased a bit lately), but they are still laying pretty well!

  19. Thank you, Joy! And I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. :) That is amazing that you don’t have problems with deer what with your surroundings and all. What a blessing!

    How wonderful that you are getting so much produce! I’m sure you all have been enjoying it. :) And I hope that you are able to plant more next year, too!

  20. wow! That's so awesome! I just love gardening! It's so cool to be able to harvest your own food! I don't have much space or sun where I live (we live in a wooded area) but I have a small spot where I plant a few things. Do you have any advice for a beginning gardener?

  21. Gardening is a lot of fun, isn't it, Mary?! That is wonderful that you have a small spot where you can garden. Hmm . . . any advice for a beginning gardener . . . well, I can't think of anything off hand, but I would recommend reading some gardening books. I found those so helpful to me! Two of my favorites are The Joy of Gardening and The Vegetable Gardener's Bible. I hope that helps! And if you ever have any specific questions, please feel free to ask!

  22. Thank you so much, Sarah! I have read the 'Joy of Gardening' it was a really useful book! But I have not read The Vegetable Gardener's Bible! I'll have to look into it!

    I do have one question... I'm not sure if you planted tomatoes, but I always have problems with these big green worms...I didn't know if you knew if there was anatural way to get rid of hem or not!?! They seem to eat most of the leaves, and just when you think they've had their fill, they begin on the tomatoes themselves

  23. You’re welcome, Mary! That’s great that you have read Joy of Gardening . . . it is probably my favorite gardening book that I have ever read. So helpful and inspiring!

    Oh, yes, big green worms on tomatoes – that sounds familiar! :) They are called tomato hornworms, and as you mentioned, can destroy a plant quite quickly. There are a couple of ways to get rid of them that come to mind:

    --Hand pick them (though, this is decidedly the most unpleasant course to take! I can handpick most insects without any problem, but for some reason these worms are just, well, too disgusting. :)

    --I have heard that planting borage, basil, and/or marigolds among the tomato plants helps to repel the moth that lays her eggs on the plants.

    --Another option is to spray with Bacillus thuringiensis (which is organic.) It kills all caterpillars, and I have used the brand called thuricide successfully.

    I hope that helps! :)

  24. Thanks for the suggestions! Yes, I had been handpicking them off the plant (which was quite disgusting :) and putting them somewhere else. I didn't have the heart to harm them, so I tried to place them on another plant (as far away as possible) where he could still munch! Thanks for the other suggestions, though, for no matter how much I took them off the plant, it seemed two more would come in it's place! I can't wait to try these! Thanks again!!!

  25. You're welcome, Mary! I hope that these ideas will be successful for you. And have fun gardening! :)

  26. Thanks! And thanks for letting me bother you with all those questions! Hope you have fun gardnening, too!

  27. You're welcome, Mary! And no, you weren't a bother at all! If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask. :)


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