There really is nothing better than having the summer off. Though I have a few short trips planned, most of my weekends and time has been devoted to our new garden, which we built last summer. Now that the majority of the actual work is done, it's 1200 sq. feet of pure bliss, and we've begun harvesting the literal fruits of our labor.
The rhubarb plant that I split last fall is flourishing! In fact, I regret not splitting it into even smaller crowns. It sits in the back corner of the garden with the other perennials - strawberries, gooseberries, and honeyberries. Michael calls that section his pie factory.
My first garlic scape harvest was a momentous time for me. I first became obsessed with scapes when my friend Liz and I shared a CSA from Red Fire Farm. Scapes are shoots that come out of hardneck garlic varieties when the garlic is trying to flower. We harvest them before it flowers so that the garlic plant can redirect its energy downwards towards the bulb. Scapes are SO delicious sauteed, grilled, or made into pesto. They have a milder garlic flavor and are tender, like green beans.
Since much of the land is just wild upstate, there are tons of wildflowers to be picked at any given moment. None of the flowers I planted in the garden are really enough to supply a whole bouquet, but my friend Deej and I went on a 'Wildflower Walk' this past weekend and managed to pick a whole basket-full of gorgeous wildflowers.
We are lucky to get full sun in the garden and orchard, since it is located on the upper field (we are called Upper Field Orchard, after all). Because of the size of the garden, we knew that raised beds simply would not work. The amount of soil we'd need alone would not be economical at all. Instead, we tilled the ground, at first with the tractor, then by hand, several times, amending aged manure each time. I'm proud to say that I shoveled poop to keep this space organic!
The garden is set up with a timed irrigation system and soaker hoses, to keep our plants cool and happy, There is a small path leading through the center of the garden, and a flower/herb bed in the middle. Since the walls are so high (9 ft.) to keep out deer and larger animals that might eat our vegetables, Michael planted different hop varieties in the corners to have them climb up the sides, and by mid-June, they'd already reached the top! If you look closely, you can see our beehives in the distance, behind the hops (upper right picture).
Since it's our first year planting and we did not know what vegetables would take really well to the soil, we ended up planting a huge variety of our favorite vegetables - tomatoes, peppers, garlic, eggplant, cucumbers, okra, sunchokes, artichokes, lettuces, and much more. So far, we've harvested garlic scapes, tons of lettuce, rhubarb of course, strawberries, and some rainbow chard. I confess that I still don't feel like a real gardener quite yet, but perhaps my first homegrown tomato will change that!