What a year! The first thing I learned about running a website is that a camera is really important. When the camera gave up on me, I decided to let sleeping dogs lie. The second thing I have learned, and am learning to live with, is the frustration of maintaining a website when you have dial-up connection on your computer. I guess that could be the ONE thing that is better about living in the city, but I think I'll just deal with the dial-up and stay where I am thanks.
|fence around garden|
We got fencing up around the garden this year in early spring. We not only have to protect the garden from wildlife, but the chickens can do some major damage to strawberries and tomatoes if they aren't protected. Add to that the horses and goats, which are not always on the correct side of the fence, and much devastation can happen in a very short period of time. Early one morning last spring the "Caprine Advisory Board" here at our place advised that our fencing was not adequate for keeping out goats. They were merrily prancing around in the garden and had already devoured my strawberry plants!! Well, that very afternoon the fence was tight and secure. So far so good. No more notices from the Caprine advisory as yet. The fence isn't pretty, but it works. A combination of hedge tree trunks and large branches, old fence posts salvaged from the property, and a few metal fence posts holding up cattle panels, chicken wire, and old chain link fencing that was also salvaged. It is a hodge podge fence for sure. I am working on planting vining plants around the perimeter to cover the fence, and then it will not matter what it looks like underneath!
The 2004 season was a productive one. We never really had a summer. Very mild. Just sort of went from spring to fall. The tomatoes didn't care for this, but everything else seemed to flourish. (In spite of the tomatoes being temperamental, I put up 100 quarts of tomatoes and 150 pints of salsa!!)
The potatoes were planted "Ruth Stout" style, by tossing them onto the hay covered ground, and then placing more hay over the top of them. I was duely impresseed with the results. I harvested enough potatoes to feed my family through the winter! None of the hard work from the year before and an even better return. Now that's gardening. All of the other crops came through except the winter squash. Major squash bug infestation. I'm trying a new thing to combat them in 2005. Moth balls. Going to set them out on old lids so that the poison can not get into the earth/plants, but the smell should do the trick according to the old timers in the feed store.
The herb garden that was started just outside the kitchen door this year did great. This is the garden bed that I prepared by simply laying down a thick mulch of hay in the designated area. Then in the spring, I went out to the north end of the main garden and dug up transplants to plant them in the new location. They flourished! Not only that, all of the herbs I had planted the previous year (both annual and perennial) came up in great splendor all over the north end of the garden. So I now have two herb gardens. Goats and herbs are a match made by nature and every day the goats come up to the fence at the north end, where we pick armfuls of herbs to feed them. Without purposely doing so, I planted an herb garden for the goats--a highly recommended activity for people raising dairy goats.
I learned a lot about drying herbs this year, and thanks to a friend that loaned me her dehydrator, I have herbs a plenty in the pantry. It is amazing how much nicer the herbs are when you use a nice dehydrator! I also learned that dehydrating food is the best way to preserve the maximum amount of nutrients. Dehydrating you have a loss of only 3-5%, freezing you have a loss of 40-60%, and canning you lose 60-80%!! Wow! Would I have still invested in my canner last year if I had known that? You bet. I love my canned tomatoes for soup, stew, or spaghetti sauce; I don't know a better way to do salsa for taste; and I am crazy about canned green beans (I think they are even better than fresh!)