And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land.... Numbers 13:20
For the first time ever, Jr. Farmer is growing a watermelon in our garden! He is thrilled beyond words and babies that plant with generous amounts of compost tea he has created. He actually had to move the plant to an area with more sun in the garden and carefully planted it in an old tractor tire stuffed with composted manure while the middle was filled with quality soil. Oh, the waiting!
Mom was thrilled to harvest her first larger heirloom tomatoes that had ripened. We learned from Farmer Daryl (at the Black Diamond Farmer's Market) that tomatoes will actually go dormant and not ripen as they are saving their energy during excessive heat cycles. We learned from Frankie (at the Orting Farmer's Market) that California growers all plant their tomatoes to grow along the ground (like indeterminate vines), rather than being staked, to keep them cooler in the high heat. Interesting! We love learning tidbits like this, just from talking 'shop' with other farmers in the region. So, this year our first BIG tomatoes didn't ripen until August 12th. Even though they are quiet large, their skin is soft and they are sweet and delicious! Oh, nothing from the store tastes like it does from the garden, trust us on that!
This pumpkin, and several others like it are coming up from an heirloom, organic pumpkin we had picked up at the store, but had rotted before we got to eat it. What we bought was not ripened (although we didn't know it at the time) and was a beautiful dark green and yellow speckled squash. This is how it should have looked, and will likely store better because it was able to complete it's growth cycle. The rotten squash was just tossed onto a bed that hadn't been used much along a path to the rabbitry. This year, we dug out the pathway, filled it with wood chips and piled up the extra dirt on these seeds and decaying shell. We are blessed with a large number of squash plants happily growing in this sandy soil we didn't even need to amend!
This is a great example of how we are blessed by the natural fertility of the Lord's creation but things can be very different - here's another experience we had:
This summer we have been hard at work maintaining garden moisture while trying to keep up with our weeding and successive planting. Successive planting essentially means that you are continually planting and adding to your garden as the season persists and/or while you harvest. For instance, when you pull up a delicious beet, put another seed in the ground - it could be another beet, a radish, or perhaps heirloom lettuce- and you'll be harvesting again soon enough! You must take care to consider when the plant will mature, how big it will get, if it will cast shadow on the crops, (sometimes you may want that- to shade a lettuce crop, for example) and ultimately, know what you want to eat.
This year we have done the best yet, but we've had help from our dear friend Miss Judy who started a few more plants in her cold frame (article 2) than she was able to use. Her generosity became a successive planting of cabbages, cucumber, kale and lettuces - what a treat!
The difference between the farmlands of Eastern and Washington State are significant. We learned how much we appreciate all the greenery of our side (western) and how very much this depth and variance of color affects our own perception of life around us! All of Washington state is experiencing record heat and drought, but vibrant color is still apparent in so many places.
You can see that Mt. Rainier does not have much snow left on it's glacial exterior and there is nothing on the hillsides surrounding; but there is still life in the trees and the grasses that are grazed by cattle. After all the days and hours of dry, brown hillsides and sparse vegetation (with few exceptions around the rivers), we were so happy to see the greenery again!
This is our journey.