Summer on the Homestead
Summer seems it has nearly gone by. We are entering the edge...where days are a curious mix of summer and fall, cooler temps and breezes, blooms coming and going, sunlight waning, the ripening peach and the beginning of apples.
I love the milder days (especially this year...I seem to be running a bit warm with this baby) but I am always torn, because I love swimming and cooler days and nights mean the end of swimming season approaches. My favorite summer memories of late are late evening swims at the pond with my family, the warm sun setting behind the trees and simmering on the surface. The pond is almost always abandoned at that magical hour, so it often makes this rather accessible pond feel so secluded, so serene.
But summer you haven't quite left us yet, we are hauling in tomatoes like there is no tomorrow...I have already put up endless jars of tom sauce, whole toms, dried toms, and tom jam. The relish has been canned. So much of our garden's abundance is tucked away in the freezer or the pantry (and also our bellies). Over lunch today, Johnny told me today that "this is the time of year when he feels rich", I asked why, "because we have some many tomatoes that we can eat them to our hearts content and don't have to skimp!" How beautiful, to enjoy abundance, to let Anna eat all the cherry tomatoes she desires without fear of "not having enough", to in fact have such abundance that there are plenty to put up for winter and plenty to pass on to neighbors and friends...this warms my heart so much, even in unideal conditions, on a relatively small scale, there is abundance in a tended garden.
Summer you have been full, fast, and beautiful. It has been a joy to see progress (small and large) happening on our little homestead. To that end, below is a brief account of some of the projects that have been underway in May, June, July and August.
We finished our little greenhouse in May and I spent many hours in it with Anna, starting trays and trays of seeds and tending the seedlings, enjoying the warmth and new growth while she filled pots with soil. Every available space was taken up by trays and pots, annuals and perennials both for our garden and for the Modern Homestead Nursery.
And with seed starting there was a lot of planting, a LOT of planting, both for ourselves and in starting the beginnings or our Modern Homestead Permaculture Nursery.
We ordered a lot of trees and shrubs that would be hard for us to source for the growing season and we potted them off or planted them in nursery beds. The nursery is doing great, we feel like we are just dipping our toes into running a permaculture plant nursery, but so far it has been success and immensely satisfying! I am already looking ahead to how I can expand the operation next year.
The Children's Garden
The Children's garden has finally come to fruition, it has been on our mind to create one every since we had Anna. This summer it has finally happened. Or at least its first season is underway. Like any garden or any person, things grow evolve with the seasons and the years, so I expect that each season it will grow and change with us and our children.
This season we have a play area that has a mix of annual and perennial plants and structures for play and imagination. We are designing the garden to be full of plants that offer different thing to little hands and childhood imaginations, things to touch with interesting texture, things to eat, things to smell, all of which are safe for children.
We planted artemasea for its soft foliage, there are buttercup head lettuces for peter rabbit and slicing cucumbers on trellis for hungry gardeners to much on (this garden has completely changed Anna's view on vegetables). There is lemon balm, chamomile and catmint for fragrence and kitchen use (Anna loves tea, the process of harvesting it and then packing the teapot with the herbs and then of course the enjoying of ice tea on these hot days). There is some curly kale and rainbow chard that add color and texture and some tall lovage that smells like celery and all add some more greens for cooking.
In the shaddiest spot Johnny built a little stone fair house, every children's garden needs a home for fairies. Near the stone fairy house there are ferns and hosta. It is a little forest for the fairies to play in. So far I think the fairy house has brought more joy to Johnny than Anna, but that is what we love about children's gardens, when done well, they are magical for children and adults alike!
We just planted some shade tolerant clematis to grow up the teepee we built, which Anna has named Eeyore's House. It isn't much to look at now, but I can't wait for it to grow in and cover the house with huge flowers. There is a weeping mulberry in the middle, it is just a little squirt now, but eventually it will be another sort of secret fort, that in season, the inside will be filled with juicy berries for little harvesters.
We were gifted an old doll house and one of those turtle sand box structures, they are fun additions. Anna likes to "dig for clams like daddy" in the sandbox with her garden tools. And the doll house, though desperately in need of some love in the form of some new materials for roofing, is always full of such a random party of creatures. There are a few more potted herbs around, sorrel and basil, the kitchen garden for the doll house ;)
We love sharing our love of growing things with Anna. Every time we bring her with us to a plant nursery she asks to bring home a plant for her garden, which how could I say no to that! She loves picking flowers, so I imagine next year we will add a lot more perennial flowers to her garden.
Johnny has been hard at work hauling stone up the slope to build some more stone walls to support the swales / terraces. In July he finished a huge section, well he at least finished it for now, upon finishing it he decided that it needs to extend a little on both sides, so he plans to revisit later maybe this fall / winter. I love all the stone on our property, and I love that Johnny has a passion for building with it.
This project has been hanging out for a long time, but at the end of July we finally push past our insecurities of not knowing exactly what we are doing and dove in! We have the first few layers down, and our hope is that we can get it done in the next month...before baby girl arrives... Anyone interested in learning how to build and earth bag structure / want to help on a weekend???
We finally got to laying cedar flooring inside the closet in Anna's room. Which hopefully will stop the moth's from eating our clothes...
And while Anna was away with family I worked on getting her room all set up and ready to be a shared bedroom. There are still a few things to finish, some shelves still to put up, so organization still to happen, but it is finally a cozy spot for play, sleep and reading. Something about getting that space ready for both my girls makes me so happy.
As always I am trying to purge...our house is small, a little over 1000 square feet, and I hate clutter and feeling like there is too much stuff. So before baby gets here I am combing over the house to bring things to donate. My goals is to have a home full of life and food, not possessions.
This year, I didn't plant quite as many annuals around as I did last year, but I still I planted a lot...and it has been a great year for the gardens! Never have I enjoyed such success with cucumber or watermelon, the vines have been heavy with fruit! I made so many jars of pickles and are toms plants are overloaded. Still waiting on the watermelons to ripen, but there are so many on the vine! Our Raspberries are full of fruit, we are picking handfuls just about everyday. It has become a thing in our home to pick a basket of raspberries and cherry tomatoes and bring them over to the hammock to snack while we swing. We just started snacking on the ligonberries that are coming in, our plants are still small, they will slowly take over as a ground cover.