Maybe we’re a hobby farm

Maybe we’re a hobby farm. Maybe. We don’t sell our produce, but we do supply ourselves with vegetables, herbs and fruit throughout most of the year. We do concentrated gardening in raised beds from re-claimed lumber and boards from a local sawmill. The compost is from our horses and our produce waste. The place already had five dwarf apple trees when we bought it, but I’ve added pear trees, plum trees, cherry trees, an apricot (that was supposed to be hardy to zone 4 – no luck) and fruiting shrubs most purchased late season/discounted or on some sort of special to reduce the initial cost. So maybe we’re a mini-farm.

We don’t have any ducks, nor any chickens. Nor do we grow any animals to eat. Are those required? I would kind of like chickens for eggs, but the woman down the road has chickens and sells her pretty multi-toned eggs for a dollar a dozen and it only requires a walk, or drive, down Wester.

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The garden and the fruit trees make enough work to think we’re farming. I thinned the apple trees, ya, ya so one isn’t quite finished and the ladder is still sitting there. But the apple harvest should be wonderful and bountiful in late August. This year is the first year the apple trees I planted have fruit.

The strawberries were done producing the first week of July. The June berries just made a few in late June. I picked the cherries; not many yet on the young trees and the birds love them. I picked the raspberries; not many yet, but next year I think they will be good. The plums aren’t ripe. The honey berry bush I planted last year looks good, but didn’t produce anything.

I’m afraid for when all my trees and bushes become mature and start really producing, eek! I have pear trees that have yet to produce, maybe next year and one plum and one apple tree that hasn’t. But I’ll have frozen and dried fruit picked in our yard for the whole winter and if I don’t get to it the wildlife will and excess apples can go to the horses. Last year, with the late frost I had few apples, not enough to dry and hardly any extra for the horses. Having eight trees on lean years might be the right number.

We’ve graduated to rotational planting in the garden, starting early usually and have given up on window sill starting of tomatoes and peppers – because ours were never as good as the purchased transplants.

The weather was not kind to seed starting this spring, we resorted to letting lambs quarters grow and harvesting that – it tastes close to spinach and is voluntary (a weed). The radishes were done a long time ago and new ones are coming up, the spinach came in and was harvested,  lettuce is starting to get old and new has been planted, the mustard has bolted, the collards have been cut back as has some of the broccoli. I really like collards, they seem to do well, are very nice to freeze. It’s fun to have something that nutritious.

Beans, green beans always too many of those since they aren’t my favorite although I do like them fresh occasionally. Carrots are still pretty spindly, beets not ready except for tops, and tomatoes – ate one yesterday. And squash, yellow summer squash now, the rest for later. Last year were potatoes and corn, this year neither. The voles loved the potatoes and the corn took too much water and too much space even with an under-planting of squash.

My herb beds have been overtaken by chive plants. I suppose I must whack them back, but they’re daunting. Chives don’t freeze well and dehydrated look good, but not much flavor- great flowers and nice fresh in salads. And borage, I planted seven years ago, keeps re-seeding itself. I do like the flowers and so do the pollinators. Borage is edible, but it’s kind of prickly, furry. The flowers are nice in salad. I’ve dried bunches of thyme. I even got to it before it flowered this year. The dill is ready to dry. Cilantro has been best frozen, as is basil. The garlic is mostly ready to pull and dry. I planted a new lavender plant and some more chocolate mint as my old plants that had done so well, didn’t do so well over this last winter.

Maybe the plants have taken over. When the plants schedule all your time, is that a hobby?

And flowers. This year the lilies I planted from bulbits two or three years ago (those round seeds on the stem of some lilies) actually made it to bloom. Astonishing that it worked.


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