This is an End of Summer Sustainable Homesteading Update showing the status of the garden and farm in Romney, WV. This post includes updates on the sheet mulched garden, the drought, and harvesting grapes and apples.
Earlier this year I sheet mulched my garden and planted close to eighty perennial plants. In between the perennials I added annual plants just to fill the space until the perennials get larger. Both annuals and perennials have taken off this year and produced greatly. I have picked hundreds of tomatoes and I’m now getting some cucumber and squash that are starting to ripen. In the near future, I’ll be harvesting watermelon, which is one of my favorite fruits.
The video at the bottom of this post shows some of my plants. These include sea kale, hardy rosemary, artichoke, and many different types of mint. I also show amaranth and the seed head that will provide a gluten free grain later this fall.
Harvesting Butternut Squash
I have dozens of butternut squash in the back part of the garden. The way you tell when butternut is ready to harvest is via the lines at the top of the squash. As they are actively growing, the lines are green. When it is done growing and ready for harvest, the lines turn brown. You want your fruit to be hard and a solid tan color. When you do harvest them, make sure you leave at least two inches of the stem on the fruit so that the fruit won’t rot during winter storage.
I have at least a dozen watermelons that are growing in the garden. Some are huge and some are just starting out. The way to tell if watermelon is ripe on the vine is to look at the tendril that is growing right at the stem of the fruit you want to pick. The tendril is green when the watermelon is still growing. When the vine stops sending nutrient to the watermelon meaning that it has stopped growing, the tendril will turn yellow and then brown. The rind of the watermelon will turn dull and the bottom of the watermelon, where it touches the ground, will turn from white to a slight yellow color. Now it’s time to pick that bad boy and slice it up.
That’s a huge Comfrey
My comfrey plant started out in April as a one-inch root cutting. I simply put the root in the ground and now it is 3 feet tall and around. This shows how fertile the ground is as well as how fast comfrey grows.
And what is an end of summer sustainable homesteading update without a grape harvest. My buddy Russ, who was out at the farm this weekend, went next door and harvested a bag of Concord grapes. The outer skins are sweet as candy and the inner fruit is as sour as a sour patch candy. They are awesome!
I have had apples that have been ripening since the fourth of July weekend. The first ones to ripen were the yellow apples, followed by some green apples. I now have a couple of varieties of red apples that are ripening. I will have apples on various trees until almost Halloween.
Drought is in Full Swing
We are in the middle of a drought that has been going on for over a month now. While southern West Virginia has been hit with flooding, all the rain has been avoiding northern West Virginia. The trees I put in last year are not looking to good at all and I actually had to water them this weekend. I do not like doing that in the second year of a tree, but I’m afraid I’m going to lose quite a few if I don’t water them.
More Wood Chips
Obviously I’m a gluten for punishment. I saw some tree trimmers in the area the other day and had them dump 10 yards of wood chips in my driveway. I’ll spread those out around the flower beds and should be done with mulching around the residence for the next year or two. Thank goodness the mulch lasts for more than one year if you put it down thick.
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