August garden update: Potatoes, garlic, pumpkins, canning, sunflowers, and more

Mixed berry jam bars

Mixed berry jam bars

I’ve been MIA from my blog lately because I’ve been busy. As Toni at Backyard Feast points out, it doesn’t feel as though there are enough hours in the day during the peak summer months. A lot has been going on in the garden and the kitchen. Let me do a quick recap.

First, I’ve been canning. In addition to making strawberry and mixed berry (raspberry and blueberry) jam, I’ve also canned a couple of boxes of peaches. I don’t get enough peaches from my trees to can, so I bought two boxes of peaches when we took the kids to Remlinger Farms for an afternoon of fun on the rides. Per usual, I’ve been making too much jam (yes, this is possible). As such, I decided to make a batch of mixed berry jam bars today. OK, maybe it’s not possible to have too much jam when there are always more jam bars to make.

La Ratte potatoes

La Ratte potatoes

Outside, I’ve been harvesting a variety of foods. Today, I took out the last of the potato patch. These are La Ratte potatoes, a fingerling variety good for soups and salads. I’ve also been harvesting green beans, lettuce, Sungold tomatoes, and cucumbers. The crop of tomatoes inside the greenhouse is looking good this year in spite of the cool weather, although only the small Sungolds have ripened so far.

Garlic braids

Garlic braids

A few weeks ago, I harvested all the garlic. I ended up with a braid each of German Extra Hardy, Inchelium Red, and Broadleaf Czech. Well, they aren’t exactly braids. I kind of suck at braiding garlic so I used twist ties to fake the braids. It worked out pretty well.

Cover crop planted raised bed

Cover crop planted raised bed

In the old garlic and potato beds, I completely cleared the beds, added a layer of compost (I still have a giant pile of compost I haven’t used up), and then planted cover crops in the beds.

Baby sugar pumpkin

Baby sugar pumpkin

The squash plants haven’t been happy about our cool summer. It has just been in the last few weeks that they’ve put on substantial growth. The sugar pie pumpkin plant has been doing the best and now has several pumpkins forming.

Sunflower in greenhouse

Sunflower in greenhouse

Inside the greenhouse, the sunflower plants have grown as tall as they possibly can. These  “Humongous” sunflowers are living up to their name. The top of the greenhouse is about 12′ tall, so these plants have far exceeded the 5′ – 7′ size noted in the plant description.

Goats on the job

Goats on the job

Outside the greenhouse today, we had the goats hard at work. Derek has set up a series of “hitching posts” to stake out the goats so they can graze and cut down grass and vegetation. This is a winning solution all around. The grass and vegetation get cut down, the goats get food, it’s quiet, and doesn’t involve heavy labor with a gas guzzling mower.

Shiro plum

Shiro plum

One area where we can’t stake out the goats is the orchard. They’d just love to eat the delectable fruit tree leaves and I just can’t let them happen. It’s a no-goat zone for sure. In the orchard, the Shiro plum is getting close to being ripe. Compared to my plum crop last year, I have about half as many plums and they will be ripe at least two weeks later than they were last summer. The apple crops are ripening nicely, but I only have one peach on my outdoor tree (again, far less than last year) and no pears at all.

Baby kiwi fruit

Baby kiwi fruit

Even though we won’t have any pears this year, we will have kiwi for the first time. I’ve got a good number of baby kiwi ripening on the vine.

Grapes ripening

Grapes ripening

Growing on the same pergola, the grapes are starting to plump up as well. It will be at least a month before these are ready. I think the kiwi might be ready about the same time.

Our tiny rooster

Our tiny rooster

Finally, I’ll end with a picture of our mini rooster (upper left). Based on his age, he should be getting close to full size at this point. He’s a Golden Campine rooster and this is a smaller breed. He really does look small next to our standard-sized hens. So far, aside from being dumb as a post, he’s not a bad rooster. If he continues to behave himself OK, we’ll keep him. Otherwise, we’ll be posting the “free rooster” ad on Craigslist, with the “no questions asked” clause.

Hope you are enjoying the summer bounty in your garden.

Sandy

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5 Responses to August garden update: Potatoes, garlic, pumpkins, canning, sunflowers, and more

  1. Derek says:

    As an addendum to Sandy’s post – one project I will be working on over the next several weeks is to enclose the orchard area with a fence and build a henhouse (or move the henhouse from next to the house) for winter quarters for the chickens. Because it will be winter quarters, I’ll be excluding the upper air vents and will be adding insulation between the inner and outer layers of plywood. This will allow the chickens to clean up the rotten fruit and bug larve from under the orchard trees as well as fertilize the orchard and give the goat pasture a rest from the chickens’ incessant scratching.

    -Derek

  2. kitsapfg says:

    I like your addendum idea Derek!

    I have some blackberry jam and peach jam that needs to be used up to make way for the current year preserving and those jam bars sound like just the way to accomplish that.

    So glad to hear someone else struggles with doing garlic and oniinn braids. Mine just end up as twisted up stuff, hence I quit even trying to do them and just use good mesh bags to store them in now.

    Your garden seems to be at much the same point as mine except we have been getting full size tomatoes (not a huge amount but a steady dribble) which I attribute to my ultra early start on all the plants this year. The sugar pie pumpkin is the only winter squash that has fruit set and they are small.. The butternut is running but has no flowers or fruit and even if it should set now it is too late to produce ripened/mature fruit before the killing cold rains of fall arrive. Even the zucchini are late to the party this year.

  3. This article focuses on the growth of “white” potatoes – your standard every day potato which is a member of the Solanaceae family which includes tomatoes, eggplants and capsicums.  Sweet potatoes are a different family than white potatoes.  The sweet potato is a member of the morning-glory family, Convolvulaceae.  Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas) are not actually a tuber, but a storage root.

  4. Pingback: Tomatoes & hummingbirds | The 10 Year Challenge

  5. Pingback: Garlic | The 10 Year Challenge

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