Friday, August 5, 2011

Breaking Records!

Because we have only had the farm and lived in the Augusta area for 3 and a half years, we thought perhaps we were the only ones that felt the temperatures were hotter than usual. BUT when the meteorologist reported Wednesday that we had broken the old record of 104 by reaching 105 (!), and yesterday that we had broken the old record of 103 by reaching 104(!)...we knew our initial thoughts were right on!

And we are still very dry. When the rain does come, it has been very compartmentalized, meaning, it rains in the county east or south of us but does not reach our area.

We picked the last 2 squash and the final 2 cukes from the giving garden on July 18th. Since then we have been sharing what we have growing in our own garden: cukes, squash, and tomatoes. Our blueberry groves have provided approx. 4 GALLONS of sweet blueberries to Mrs. Patsy to bake muffins and cakes that became part of the lunches she gives her needy neighbors.

Our apples are coming in despite the dry heat. Their skins show the effects but the fruit is still quite tasty. That being the situation, we have decided to can the apples as applesauce and apple butter for Mrs. Patsy to give her folks. Our first jars of applesauce are pictured above!

In our final post for this season (next month), we want to give our thoughts about what we learned and hope to do better next year. We hope you'll come back then!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dry, Dry, Dry!

Amid horrible flooding and storms in the Midwest and South, in this area we have been praying for the blessing of good steady rain. Funny how particular we humans think we can be when asking for something from God! We didn't want flooding, mind you, just some days of a gentle but soaking rain. (1, 2)

Through all of June our temperatures stayed in the mid to upper 90's with an occasional record-breaking triple digit temp. The rains we did get toward the end of May and first weeks of June were very heavy at times and accompanied by strong winds. Our green bean plants took a beating, but all the other plants were drinking in every drop. Our neighbor, Mr. Pete (Fulcher), and my sister Margaret reminded John and I that watering your crops is fine but it is not the same as "rain water." Of course they were right on and the squash and cucumbers plants took off! (3)

But we have learned much for use in the planning for next year's Giving Garden and this first attempt is providing a bounty of squash, cucumbers, some tomatoes, and some green beans.

Some of parts of the blueberry groves have burned in the heat, but the remainder of the bushes have produced some sweet, sweet berries. The apple trees appear to be dropping fewer of their fruits before they are ready for picking.

All in all, as the growing season continues, we are coddling the plants that have survived, and are thrilled passing on the fruit and vegetables to feed other! (4) l-r Andrew, Dylan, and Denise Boyles delivering bags of vegetables and blueberries to Patsy Skinner. Mrs. Skinner feeds the homeless and needy in her neighborhood once a week from her kitchen.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Unfortunately, we may have lost all of the tomato plants...we may not have eliminated the grubs before they damaged all the plants' roots. We will replant sometime this week, after we have treated the soil again.

We should be picking our first squash this week and will let you know when we have delivered these "first fruits"!

Late in May, we began to notice a problem with some of the tomato plants. We discovered grubs under one plant that we pulled up. Apparently, they love the tender tomato roots. The next day we treated the soil for grubs and also sprayed all the plantings for other pests with an organic oil (neem)mixture.

Thankfully, the other plants still appeared to be healthy!

I had such good intentions of keeping all our readers up to date but as you see, I haven't been very successful. I do apologize.

Since the end of April, the weather in Hephzibah has been extremely hot and dry. We have had some rain, but it has come in the form of severe storms with damage to some of our trees in the pastures, but thankfully no damage to the garden area or fruit trees.

Here are some pictures from early May. The first 3 are: green beans, cucumber plant, and squash plant. And one of the apple trees.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First Plantings

After a break from the recent rainfalls, we have been able to plant the first 2 rows of vegetables! We are going to use a staggered planting calendar, in the hopes of keeping the produce available throughout the summer. We have one row of tomatoes, and one row of summer squash in.

Rain is headed our way again later today, possibly some severe storms so we'll have to keep an eye on these "baby" plants. Green beans and cukes will be our next pairing to plant.

By the way, the blueberries and one apple tree in particular are full of tiny fruit. The fig trees are filling out (if you have never eaten a fresh turkey fig, you would be amazed by the taste!)

We continue to be very excited about this opportunity to provide for others!

COMING SOON: The Giving Garden sign unveiled.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Spring Is Springing!

Let me start this post with a BIG thank you to Jason Beverley and Justin Ritchie for the monetary gift they gave toward the success of the Giving Garden!! You two are what makes giving to those in need an easier thing to keep doing!

The weather here has gone from winter to spring without a gradual change this year. Consequently, fruit trees and bushes are blooming a little early, so we have to trust there won't be a late freeze!

One of the things that many people don't realize is that it is important to spray the blooms of fruit trees once the blooms open to keep worms out of the fruit. That's right! That is how worms generally get in and ruin otherwise good fruit. That was my job today...spraying the apple blossoms with an organic insecticidal soap. Even while I was spraying, those blossoms smelled wonderfully sweet!

All of the apple trees and blueberry bushes were here when we bought the farm. Over the last three years we have been working on cultivating and pruning them to get the best and most fruit possible. In the first picture, the tree on the right is a great example of the right height and shape of a healthy, productive apple tree.

This third apple tree is located near our paddock and stable. I named it "Andrew's Tree" since a dear friend's son discovered he really liked the freshly picked green apples from this tree. By the way, one of our mares loves these apples, too!

The last picture is the first of our blueberry bushes to bloom. A video would have allowed you to see and hear the local bees busy at work. These berries are totally organic and though no one ever believes me until they witness it themselves, the bushes just keep giving and giving and giving!

You've probably already guessed that the fruit from these trees and bushes will be part of our giving garden also.

Hopefully, you have enjoyed this "pretty" post as a change from the "dirty" ones!!