Now that it is winter, I thought I would post photos from the summer. We certainly didn’t have much time for posting on blogs when there were tomatoes to harvest, but now that the snow is flying we have a little time on our hands. I (Emily) am leaving for Europe in about a week for a couple of months to work on a few small organic farms in the UK with my sister and niece. Before it is too late I’d like to share some of the lessons we learned from this last summer. I spent a number of days making detailed records of each enterprise we had this summer and came up with some numbers that I’d like to share with you all. But first, here are some photos!
Here is our tomato tunnel in full swing! We could hardly keep up with the harvesting and many of the tomatoes ended up as animal feed. We had always wanted to have too many tomatoes and it was fantastic! We were able to can to our hearts content, sell tomatoes at a reasonable price (well, a little too reasonable), and eat them for weeks!
We planted a few hundred basil plants in the tomato tunnel. We sold some basil at the market, added lots of fresh basil to our meals and ended up making a big batch of pesto just before the first frost in the fall.
We grew two varieties of cherry tomatoes and sold them at the market. These were our favorite: The “candy” variety from Baker Creek Seed Company. They were fantastically sweet, but had a short season. By the end of summer they were splitting on the vine and had to be given to the chickens.
We had tons of ground cherries as well! They are such a pain to harvest, so we didn’t sell them at the market, but we did eat many fresh ones while we worked in the garden and I canned a few at the end of the summer and made ice cream topping. I even ate some last night!
Here is a photo of our early market stand. At the very beginning we only sold greens and radishes (the radishes did really well!). We eventually moved up in the world and started selling squash, root vegetables, and tomatoes!
We tried selling our heirloom tomatoes at $4 a pound (just down the street in the local food co-op they were sold for $5-6 per pound). But before long we were selling entire flats of them for $10.
We sold kale and chard all summer long. They were the first thing available in the spring, and the last thing available in the fall. They weren’t always popular but these plants provided us with endless food and a trusty market seller.
In this photo you can see our squash patch, the skid-able broiler shack, and the sawmill, hen house, and pine stand in the background.
We planted lots of marigold and nasturtium around the garden.
These zinnias flowered for many weeks and we were able to sell little bouquets at the market. Very popular with little girls!
I planted a nice patch of tulsi in the garden and was able to harvest it multiple times throughout the summer. Tony built hanging drying racks that we kept in our yurt. For months, we always had herbs drying there. I have been using my dried tulsi in teas. I also made a tulsi tincture, vinegar, and glycerate. So tasty!
We also planted Anise Hyssop in the garden and dried that for tea as well.
There I am working in the garden. As you can see, I didn’t spend too much time on “weeds.” There was a lot of grass in the garden, but it was productive. With our mulch, and the grass the garden soil stayed very moist throughout the summer. We only watered the garden when we first planted something and relied on rain and mulch the rest of the time.
Our trusty kale and other brassicas at the top of the garden.
When we were done brooding chicks, we used the brooder as a storage box for our root vegetables and started plants on our shelf.
Here you can see the garden surrounded by mammoth sunflowers. We sold sunflowers and later the seed heads at the market.
And here you can see that we eventually added a second table! And canned goods!
We participated in a tomato tasting party in Viroqua with some friends. I love tomato season!
Somehow none of the butternut squash appeared in the garden (I lost track of what was what when planting squash) but we ended up with a lot of fabulous pie pumpkins. We sold them at the market, gave some away, and froze a lot of pumpkin puree.
By the end of the summer we were selling tomatillo salsa (very popular), tomato sauce, bloody mary mix, and tomatillos.
And here are our turkeys, hanging out in the woods.
The broilers sure had a nice salad bar!
We experienced an incredible abundance this summer and even after we left the farm in October I spent a month processing all of the food we raised… making soups, pureeing pumpkin, rendering lard, making bacon and sausage, making bone broth, jarring popcorn, making teas with dried herbs etc. We drank spring water and ate fresh pastured eggs and veggies for months. When we drove away from the farm with our truck full of canned goods, boxes of vegetables and enough meat to fill a small chest freezer. In the next post I will break down some of the finances from our enterprises this summer, which some of you may find very interesting and helpful!