Carrots

The drought has made gardening a little difficult.  The carrots were so hard to get out of the ground, you had to chisel them.  Then, they were not happy with the low volume of water and began to show the stress.  So we had our guys help us to pull them all up, at once.

carrots 1

carrots 2

And off to the pigs it all went.

Tomatoes

The tomato plants are coming into full harvest.  I say coming into because we planted tomatoes in two waves – wave 2 hasn’t ripened yet. Even so, we have been feeding them to the chickens, the pigs, our neighbours, selling some, and we are eating lots too.  I have taken to cooking and freezing them.  It actually works out well because while I can buy tomato sauce in the market, one cannot purchase stewed tomatoes.  So I am freezing what I can.  I am also freezing whole the little yellow cherry tomatoes that Jon likes to eat like grapes and come winter weather, roast them for part of a meal.  Next year we might invest in a dehydrator, and preserve even more.

tomatoes 1

tomatoes 2

tomatoes 3

 

Garden photo update

We posted photos of these plots newly planted so I thought maybe you all might like to see them growing and producing.

Here is our tomato plot.  We are getting a few delicious tomatoes as they come ripe.  Jon is our tomato lover and is discovering which varieties he likes the best.  I am busy making stewed tomatoes and freezing some for winter. We also have been sharing tomatoes with friends.

tomato field 1

tomato field 2

And here is the corn and melon and pumpkin bed.

corn and pumpkin plot

In trying to work with the weather, our second dry hot summer with little or no rain, the crops we planted that like the heat are doing well.  The ones that need shade or cooler temperatures, are not doing so well.  Each year we learn a little more about our soil and climate and the needs of our plants.

Small harvest of small apples

A few apple trees gave us delicious little apples this year.  The trees are only a few years old – and those years have been bad water years. So any apples are a stroke of luck right now. Someday we hope to have enough to try making home made cider.

apple tree

apples

apples

We have nine different varieties of apples planted.  We had two colanders of a combo of Fuji and Granny Smith.  They were delicious to just pick and eat. In theory we should have a lengthy harvest period due to the varieties having different ripening times. Not this year. Maybe next year.

 

How our garden grows in pictures

Do you know your vegetables? Can you figure out what all we have growing, blooming, and seeding? Here is what we have in our outside garden plots:

garden 1

garden 2

garden 3

garden 4

garden 5

garden 6

garden 6a

garden 7

garden 8

We have eight outside garden plots.  One has been seeded for animal feed/grass.  The rest are vegetables (except for the strawberries).  Megan starts the veggies as seeds from two to four week intervals, so we will have rotating seasonal crops and not just a one time harvest.  She also keeps track of companion plantings and which plants follow another for soil nutrient replenishment.  Yes, this is a lot of hours in the planning and doing.  She has only one helper, Ruben.  He comes from a family of vegetable gardeners and comes to work with a smile, ready and willing to do what ever is asked.

Inching into a CSA

So summer has arrived full force here on the farm. It’s well over 90 F today, scorchingly bright sunshine, high humidity, and little to no breeze. So it gives me moment to catch my breath while sitting under a fan.

Last week I delivered the first four boxes in La Piccolina’s CSA. Last year I tried to get one up and going – and I failed to be able to produce enough produce. The drought, lack of irrigation, and not being quite prepared enough just didn’t quite let me get there. Customers in nearby Garzon were wonderful last year. And excited to try the adventure with me again this year! I have wonderful, enthusiastic customers. Heidi, who very graciously agreed to be the central drop-off location, also happens to be a fabulous photographer (you can find her at: .heidilender.com,  heidilender.tumblr.com, and instagram.com/heidilender). When I dropped the boxes by she promptly set up an impromptu still life. Her resulting photograph is so gorgeous I asked to be able to share:

Copyright Heidi Lender 2015

Copyright Heidi Lender 2015

I’m going to get a print to put up on the farm office walls. No, I haven’t actually painted those wall yet and no, there is no floor. But that’s not the point. Look at the gorgeous photograph of La Piccolina’s CSA vegetables!

 

tomato field

We have one garden plot that will be just tomatoes. It is a shame that Megan is allergic to them and cannot enjoy all the different flavors from all the different varieties. That doesn’t stop her from planting new varieties. I’m not sure how many colors are planted this year but I don’t pick tomatoes – ripe doesn’t necessarily mean red with Megan’s plants.

prepping tomato beds

Preparing the tomato bed – and hardening off seedlings. The bed was rototilled and mounded just like the rest of the beds. Unlike the rest of the garden beds it will have permanent trellis supports installed. Tomatoes are one of the few vegetables that like to be planted in the same place year after year. As long as the soil gets a good dose of compost in between growing seasons.

tomato supports

tomato supports 1

Due to the wind the trellis supports are fairly well interred – end posts with buried dead heads, three posts in the row, three rows of taunt wire, four foot stakes well-hammered and tied to the cross wires – in a hope of helping the tomatoes flourish despite our constant wind.

tomato bed

With the new irrigation tape (YAY) there is one stake every 60 cm – or two feet – creating spacing for about 450 tomato plants.

tomato planting

Megan has about 400 tomato seedlings to plant, about fourteen different kinds this year. She currently has about 150 planted. It’s late to plant. But our last frost was in late October – so better planted late than dead from a cold snap. With the crazy weather the seedlings are such a variety of sizes that produce is going to be varied. With the dry weather – and drying wind – the only reason we have any chance of a summer tomato harvest is the drip irrigation that allows us to deep water the roots even when the wind blows and dries out the top soil.  Hopefully this summer crop will do better than last year.

 

 

Spring Vegetables

Typically Uruguay has three distinct seasons – four if you want to count the very brief period of almost-winter where frost is possible. At least that’s how Megan feels as someone who grew up with snow (i.,e. Real Winter). This past year we’ve kind of lumped eight whole months into Drought and skipped the typical seasons. But with the resumption of irregular precipitation (the weatherman LIED, it was NOT a wet spring) we tentatively planned on a spring. Which has sped by ridiculously quick. So quick in fact we never really got a chance to talk about it. And so, before we mention the lovely summer vegetables that are being seeded, here’s a look at what we planted in spring. (Or, more correctly, planted in late spring because the once warm winter weather went cold and didn’t warm up enough to plant. Why no, Megan wasn’t bitter at all.)

The switch from Spring to Summer was abrupt – one day it was too cold to put out the tomatoes and the next the greenhouses had an internal temperature of 42C (107F) and the spring vegetables are ready to be harvest all at once – even when you are not ready for them to be harvested.  The lettuce has been delicious, we have had a few varieties to enjoy, and about the time I thought we were going to have Romaine lettuce for a Caesar Salad, it bolted!  It was quickly joined by the Roxy lettuce, and the butter lettuce. All three were in the greenhouses, of course, Oh well, the chickens have really enjoyed them.  The lettuce outside is holding on a bit longer but will shortly be ready to be cleared and summer vegetables planted. The beet harvest is starting (Jon is very happy about this), the mustard is starting to go to seed (Megan is hoping for home-made mustard), the Kale has gone to the chickens and who knows what the Broccoli, Cauliflower, and Cabbages are up to – they’ve neither bolted nor headed up.

Here are a few garden pictures:

garden plot 1

garden plot

What we’ve been harvesting isn’t quite the same as the garden beds – the greenhouses – which are now over-hot – provided summer vegetables in spring.

velour beans

velour beans that turn green when you cook them, sweet and tender (with the high temps are now just pretty leafy plants – did you know that green beans don’t flower or set pods above 32C (90F)?)

bell peppers

Burran Sweet peppers – but the peppers are happy with the heat and are setting lots of flowers and fruit. With regular water they are very content with the saunas that are the greenhouses.

zucchini and red peppers

Zucchini and more peppers. Did you know that a normal, small, bushy zucchini plant goes a bit wild in a greenhouse? The greenhouse plants are nearly three times taller than their normal outside counterparts. Megan didn’t quite plan for that and is cursing them at the moment. But the zucchini sure is tasty.

cucumbers for pickeling

Cucumbers, planted in spring, but really, until the greenhouse heats up, they don’t even consider flowering, let along fruiting. They’ve decided it’s hot enough now and have started to yield lots of tasty fruit for pickling. Megan doesn’t even have seed for slicing cucumbers so all of our cucumbers are pickles.

Megan is busy planting, weeding, and harvesting.  We all are enjoying the veggies of her hard work. The irrigation system for the greenhouses has been a lifesaver. The main garden irrigation is nearly complete – otherwise there will be no summer vegetables.

First Head of Lettuce, Roxy Lettuce

Yay, we have picked our first head of lettuce! This variety is Roxy Lettuce and tastes delicious.  It is the prettiest head of lettuce I have seen in a long time.

lettuce

We had our dinner salad containing everything we produced here on the farm. YUM! ( Lettuce, carrots, radishes, tomatoes, and egg)

salad

Congratulations to us, we are slowly achieving our goal of being self sufficient.

Almonds

Between the weather and pure neglect the fact that the trees we planted last year are still alive this year is a miracle.  Then to discover that the hardy little things are not only budding out, but flowering – and in some cases fruiting – is amazing!  The almond trees, which, if asked we’d have said were dead twigs, have actually set a few fruit. Here are our first almonds:

almonds 3

almonds 1

almonds 2

Maybe someday we will get enough almonds to be able to make almond flour. This year we’re just relieved the trees are alive.