Wednesday, October 7, 2015

September Garden

The backyard garden is still producing this fall.

We found a long lost Trombetta Squash hanging deep in the indeterminate tomato jungle. It wasn't very tender anymore, but sure made a lot of shredded veggie for the freezer!

The heirloom tomatoes are finally producing some nice sized fruits.

Here is a rather large meaty one in little 3 year old hands and another picture of my hand full of garden-fresh deliciousness.

My peppers seem to produce best in late summer. The jalapenos are blooming like crazy and the bell peppers are growing big and long before they turn shades of red.

The sweet potato vines are making a nice thick carpet despite the grasshopper and beetle munched holes in the leaves. I'm hoping for a large harvest just before the first frost.

The okra also grows furious these last hot summerish days. The grasshoppers have put a severe dent in the beauty of the stalks, but they are still making plenty for us to eat several times a week and even dill some for winter munching. Caramelized-blackened sauteed okra is a family favorite dinner dish.

We have three varieties of pumpkins fattening on the vines: pretty peach colored ones, green fairy-tale mammoths, and small dark winter squash.

The cantaloupe harvest is winding down, but there are several watermelons still sweetening.

A collage of one late September morning's pickings.
Big tomatoes, little tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, sweet bananas, spaghetti squash, scalloped squash, green beans, okra, watermelon, cantaloupe, and a lone cucumber.

After weighing and washing the vegetables, 
I used my new gifted colander to drain them in.

Jars of preserved Hot Pepper Jelly and Zucchini (yellow squash) Relish.

Produce harvested in September : 195 pounds
(including 51 pounds of watermelon, 40 pounds of tomatoes, and 26 pounds of cantaloupe)

Produce harvested in September 2014: 113 pounds

Teenage Days with Annie Rose

The food.

The gifts.

The cake.

Miss Annie turned 13 in September!

She declined inviting friends and their families over, so we had a simple celebration at home with just us. And dirt dessert cake (that melted really fast) plus her chosen menu of Bacon Avocado Quesadillas, Mozzarella Ranch Bread, and Caesar Chicken Potato Salad.

She has been spending her Saturdays getting up in the wee hours baking for farmers market, sitting & selling until noon, and napping the rest of the day away.

The month of September also presented a short volleyball season... 
a first for Annie and a first for the homeschool group. 
She had a few practices and two games... 
lots of fun and new friends.

Then to top off fun days, we were able to spend a sunny crisp fall afternoon riding horses at our neighbors. Something Annie has wanted to do since she was introduced to equine at another friend's ranch on our trip west a couple years ago.

 A happy start to her teen years for our oldest girl!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

August Garden

Snapshots of our Kansas garden in August...

A morning picking of peppers, tomatoes, carrots, and zinnias.

The volunteer sunflower towering in the corner by the patio.

The Flat Dutch cabbages survived the spring and summer, despite the heat and worms. The strawberry plants have sent out runners and the patch is enlarging. The tomato vines pulled over their stakes and are growing into the yard, and over some cabbages.

Swiss chard was left uncut for several weeks and we harvested five pounds in one cutting. That's heavy for lightweight greens. You know how big a bag of 10 oz. lettuce or spinach is in the grocery?!

Here is part of it washed and waiting to be cooked or refrigerated. Some of us like it warm and salted, others eat it only in berry smoothies where it is undetectable.

The sweet potatoes have filled up their space (where I ruined our regular potato plants). Hopefully we will get a nice amount of pretty orange ones just before frost.

I've been cutting okra 2-3 times a week. It's situated on the edge of our newly expanded garden area this year and unfortunately the grasshoppers are doing their damage. Anywhere our grass grows tall, the pasture bugs abound.

Some fruits and veggies ripening on the vine...

After our two week absence visiting relatives back east, we gathered quite a few piles of produce.

Produce harvested in August: 126 pounds
Tomatoes, summer squash, cantaloupe, okra, and cucumbers as the main weight bearers, though we picked 3 varieties of peppers, turnips, red beets, carrots, and 3 kinds of greens as well.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

End of Summer Virginia Visit with Family

The cousins did a chalk pastel art lesson together. They also took bubble baths and had slumber parties, went to singing class, rode four-wheelers, went shopping with Grandma, watched Auntie's movies and stayed up too late, tore down the old fort, and went to work on the dairy farm.

Our family spent an evening with friends we hadn't seen in several years. We got a house tour of their recent IKEA installations for homeschool organization and had a good general catch-up chat that lasted late into the night.

We swam and some camped at a nearby pond. 

The first day moms,  friends, and seventeen children splashed and relaxed.

The second day the dads and granddad came too as we celebrated August birthdays. (Can't believe I missed a picture of the cakes!)

We cut up bushels of fresh peaches for the freezer. And brought home a boxful too.

The grand Ben and Betty Bowman Reunion that instigated this far summer travel in the middle of garden harvest was near the end of our stay. Over 600 relatives showed up for the event at a Franklin County park. B & B had nine children many a year ago, and the the multiplication of family genes continues on.

The children rode this tractor pulled train all afternoon while the older ones played ball, and the oldest ones chatted and smiled, sharing memories into the microphone as grilled chicken, sweet tea, watermelon, ice cream, and popcorn abounded.

The last day ended with a bang touring Thomas Jefferson's home at Monticello. We took it all in and enjoyed learning together...architecture, inventions, science, botany, history.

Of course, my favorite part was the garden and grounds tour. And generally wandering through the 2 acre impeccably organized massive garden, gazing on the mountains beyond this "Little Mountain".