Although it is not the most beautiful lettuce, it is December after all and we’ve limped this patch of lettuce through this far.
December garden lettuce is a big bonus! We’re now marking the longest number of days without a snowfall of any kind, 277 and counting. If winter ever does come again, I won’t recognize it.
For the first time, we’ve had a problem with rabbits eating OUR vittles this fall. So, this small patch of lettuce and spinach gives a chance to repurpose a farm item for a new use.
This was originally a turkey tractor, but I thought it might do a good job of keeping the rabbits out as well, and it has without the hassle of building a separate rabbit fence.
It’s time to get the garlic in the ground. It’s so much easier to dig a trench with the tractor than by hand!
Here, the trench is dug and the garlic is going in the ground. It did take a bit longer to plant this year because it is so dry. I didn’t want to put the garlic in a dry soil, so after I pushed the cloves in, I dumped buckets of water from the rainwater collection tank, covered the trench with the soil from one side of the trench, then soaked that again before covering it up. Hopefully the moistened soil will help it sprout and be better insulated when the ground freezes.
OK, the growing season, except for chard, beets, lettuce, and kale is over.
It’s time to pull all the dead plants from the garden and dispose of them. It’s both a relief and disappointment when the last garden vegetable dies for the season – a relief because the work of eating, harvesting, and preserving is over for the year and a disappointment that there are no more fresh goodies from the garden.
With a freeze warning tonight, looks like the growing season for frost-tender crops is over tonight.
It was a mad rush through the garden, grabbing whatever is left. A bushel of sweet peppers.
A bunch of hot peppers.
Most of the haul, including peppers, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cucumbers.
Today was the first flush of tomatoes in bulk.
I’ve kept them watered and they have rewarded us. This is only the beginning. Let the tomato processing begin!
First step is to drop them in boiling water. I use this propane turkey burner. They are cheap after Thanksgiving and make it possible to keep the mess and heat out of the kitchen. Leave them in there until the skins begin to crack.
Then put them in cold water until you can cut out the core and slip off the peels. Usually we’ll put them in cans and process them, but we didn’t have enough time today, so we just threw them in bags and froze them until we have time to can them.
Here’s the yield from the baskets in the first photo – 10 gallon bags.
Like many things this year, the garlic has matured weeks early. There has been a bit of buzz on some of the local farm listserves about a very poor garlic crop this year, with some reporting “wrinkly, soft garlic” or more culls than in 22 years of growing. That made us a bit concerned and motivated us to go check ours,
For the most part the crop at high hopes looks fine. About the only difference seemed to be the stalks seem a bit more thick than usual.
Here’s the yield from a 50 foot row, briefly drying before getting ushered off. Looks like about 130 plants per double row.
Here’s about half of this year’s crop, ready for transport in the cart.
It was a great “getting things done on the farm day.” It was the first day that Linda and Claire were home all day, so the garden and other things were transformed.
First, Claire volunteered to clean out winter from the hen house. About five overflowing loader buckets (liberally soaked with water to aid the composting process) and the hen house was ready for fresh bedding, and next year’s compost is on the way.
Many plants and seeds and mulch found their way into the garden as well. We got the recycled lumber tarps out of the barn, Linda planted a bunch of peppers and tomatoes. I went to the neighbors via the bumpy dirt trail between the crop fields and retrieved two loads of loose straw from the loft of their barn and put the tomato cages on, pounded the stakes in, spread the mulch and wet it all down.
This photo shows some hearty garlic on the right, a cattle panel trellis that we put up this weekend. It has pole beans on the outside and lettuce and spinach underneath, hopefully to last a bit longer into the summer with the shade of the beans. To the left of the trellis is some space reserved for viney plants before a row of tomatoes. It’s nice to have that mulched portion of the garden already weeded for the whole season!
At the end of the day, I took some time to pull thistles from the pasture. It appears that last year’s pulling them out by had greatly reduced the population in the paddock we tested last year. We’ll continue that on the other paddocks this year.
It’s prime lettuce season.
Doesn’t this look yummy?
We continue to be weeks ahead.
The garlic has poked its way up through the mulch.
Even the spinach we kept covered until January and then gave up on has rejuvenated itself for another early harvest. Yes, this overwintered from last summer!
Spring is coming way too fast.
Won’t be long before the first rhubarb crisp is thrown in the oven!
With the non-winter we’ve had, it’s hard to ignore the calendar. Nevertheless, the ground is unfrozen, it’s warm with no subzero cold blasts in the forecast, so it’s time to gamble with a few cents worth of seeds for the reward of some early season produce.
We found some space with a southern slope and the barn to the north to block any strong north winds, worked up the soil a bit and put some stiff wires in the ground. I put some wires on the ends straight across and put the rest at an angle. Then we planted and watered.
Put the plastic across, stick another round of stiff wire crossing the first wires now inside the plastic, secure the edges, and wait. I’ll have to come out and open up a side on warm, sunny days so the plants don’t wither in the heat.
OK, the streak continues, now 12 consecutive months with a harvest!
On pizza earlier this week, springtime favorite spinach from the garden made it on the homemade pizza.
How’s this for wonderful – we’ll be eating fresh lettuce out of the garden into December!
We’ve picked a bunch for the fridge, to guarantee December lettuce. Any day we could get that first day it’s in the low teens at night and not above freezing during the day to finally kill it off.